DANIEL BALDWIN PARKINSON, A. M., Ph. D.,
President of the Southern Illinois State Normal University,
is a native of Southern Illinois, but traces his ancestry to the Cavaliers of the Carolinas.
Peter Parkinson, the paternal great-grandfather, came to North Carolina prior to the Revolution. He married Miss Mary Marr from which union there were born ten children namely: Daniel, John, Emanuel, Joanna, Washington, Willia-m, Peter, Marjorie and Lavine. It has always been a tradition in the Parkinson family that Peter Parkinson was a Revolutionary soldier.
Washington Parkinson, the grandfather of the subject of our sketch was born September 3, 1787. His parents came to Tennessee some time in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Here Washington Parkinson married Miss Mary Moore about the year 1807. The father of Miss Moore came to Highland, Illinois, about the middle of the nineteenth century where he died at the ripe old age of 95 years.
Washington Parkinson and his wife, Mary, had five children—William, George, Alfred Jackson, Catherine and Valinda. The third son, Alfred Jackson, was the father of the subject of our sketch, Dr. D. B. Parkinson.
Alfred Jackson Parkinson was born in White county, Tennessee, January 16, 1816. He was a farmer as was his father and his grandfather. About the year 1830 he came with his father, Washington Parkinson, to the vicinity of Highland, Madison county, Illinois. Here the Parkinsons entered land of the government and built a home.
At an early day there came from Connecticut to the region of Lebanon, St. Clair county, Illinois, about twelve miles from the Parkinson home, one Zera Baldwin, and his brother, Daniel Baldwin. Daniel settled upon a choice piece of land upon which stands the famous “Emerald Mound,” about two miles northeast of Lebanon. It was not far from this beautiful mound that Charles Dickens, the famous English author, stood when he beheld for the first time the noted “Looking Glass Prairie,” a real American prairie. Zera Baldwin was a hatter before coming to the
new west, but it does not appear that he followed the trade in Illinois. He settled a mile or so east of the mound.
Daniel built a substantial brick residence at the foot of the Emerald Mound. From the yard of this home a flight of steps led to the top of the mound from which a charming view could be had over all the surrounding country. This home of Daniel Baldwin was the center of the social life in that community, and to it often came the young people to while away the time on top of Emerald Mound. Among those who came often to this home was a daughter of Zera Baldwin, Miss Mary Eugenia Baldwin, whom her uncle Daniel greatly loved. Another guest often found in the same home was the young Tennesseean, Andrew Jackson Parkinson, from near Highland. The passing acquaintance of Andrew Jackson and Mary Eugenia ripened into love and matrimony. They were married at the home of Daniel Baldwin in the fall of 1842. They went to live upon the lands of the elder Parkinson near Highland where they lived many, many years happily together till the death of Mrs. Parkinson which occurred in January, 1890.
There came into this new home in due course of time nine children as follows: George Washington, Daniel Baldwin, Augustus Alfred, Julia Emily, Edward Henry, Charles William, Oscar Louis, Arthur Eugene, and Mary Emma. Daniel, the second son, was born September 6, 1845.
Alfred J. Parkinson, the father of these nine children, was a plain matter-of-fact sort of man, quiet, unostentatious, frugal and industrious. He was as his name might suggest a Jackson Democrat. But in 1856 he voted for Freemont and in 1860 for Abraham Lincoln. He remained a Republican till late in life when he allied himself with the Prohibitionists. He was a man of strong convictions and gave his whole heart to any cause which he espoused. His people had been converts of the new Cuinberland Presbyterian movement in the early part of the last century, but he was never allied with that church. He was the latter half of his life a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
In 1878 he was elected state senator on the Republican ticket in the forty-first senatorial district. He was a great admirer of General John A. Logan and took part in the election of that great leader to the United States senate in 1879. Mr. Parkinson died November 14, 1904.
Daniel Baldwin Parkinson grew to young manhood upon his father's farm. He knew what hard work was in those early days. He had the advantage of the country schools and remembers very gratefully his teachers at “Oak Grove.” He had also the help which comes from a well regulated home and from sympathetic parents. When he had finished the rural school he attended the schools of Highland where he pursued some advanced studies. In 1864 with his brother George he entered McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois. Here he came under the influence of Dr. Robert Allyn, the president of the college. He was graduated in 1868.
While he was attending school in McKendree, he roomed for several terms in the home of Prof. Samuel H. Dencen, the father of Illinois~ present popular governor. Prof. Deneen was the teacher of the ancient languages. The governor was a small lad at that time, some younger than our student friend, but the friendship formed at that time has never waned, and the two men are today warmly attached to each other.
The year following his graduation, Dr. Parkinson remained on the farm to recuperate his health. In the fall of 1869 he took up his chosen profession at Carmi following his college mate and personal friend, Prof. J. M. Dixon. In the fall of 1870 he entered the faculty of Jennings Seminary, Aurora, Illinois, where he remained three years as
instructor in the natural sciences and mathematics. While teaching in Aurora, Dr. Parkinson formed the acquaintance of Dr. Frank Hall lately deceased and of Dr. W. B. Powell, for many years superintendent of the schools of the District of Columbia. In 1873 he entered Northwestern University for advanced work in science, and while here he was elected to a professorship in the Southern Illinois State Normal University which was to open at Carbondale in the summer of 1874.
In this new position Dr. Parkinson was to be associated with his old teacher, Dr. Robert Allyn, who had been made president of the new normal school. His work was the physical sciences. He remained in charge of this department of work from 1874 to 1897. A vacancy occurred at this time in the presidency of the school and Dr. Parkinson was elected “acting president.” He served in this position for one year and was then made permanent president, which position he has held for fifteen years. He has therefore been a member of the faculty of the Southern Illinois State Normal University for thirty-eight years—fifteen of which he has served as its president.
On December 18, 1876, Dr. Parkinson was married to Miss Julia F. Mason, whose father, Allen C. Mason, lived in Normal, Illinois. One son, Daniel Mason Parkinson was born to this marriage, October 12, 1877. He graduated from the normal, and married Miss Margaret Hill, daughter of Senator George W. Hill, of Murphysboro. They have two fine boys, William and Robert. Daniel, Jr., is a prosperous business man of San Antonio, Texas—district superintendent of the Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company. On August 6, 1879, Mrs. Parkinson died.
On July 30, 1884, Dr. Parkinson was united in marriage with Miss Mary Alice Raymond, who was also a teacher in the normal school. To this union two children were born, Raymond Fielding Parkinson, born June 7, 1886, and Mary Alice Parkinson, born May 9, 1891. Both of these children have been graduated from the normal school. Raymond has pursued advanced work in Northwestern University, and Alice is now a student in the Woman's College in Rockford this state.
Mrs. Parkinson is descended from a number of New England families of some note. She traces her ancestry to Roger Conant, the governor for more than a year of a commercial colony on the Massachusetts shore at the present Cape Ann. He filled this position from 1624 to 1626, and removed from there to Salem, where Governor Endicott found him in 1628. John Conant a direct descendant of Roger Conant was born in 1743 and died 1809. He was a Revolutionary soldier, married Miss Emma Thorndike. He had a son, Major John Conant, born 1771, and died 1859. He married Sarah Fiske and their daughter, Sarah Conant, married James Giles Raymond, the son of David Raymond and his wife, Hannah Giles Raymond. James Giles Raymond and hie wife, Sarah Conant Raymond, had a son Charles Fiske Raymond, the father of Mrs. Mary Alice (Raymond) Parkinson. Chas. F. Raymond was a business man, a contractor, in St. Louis where he was accidentally killed in 1860. Mrs; Parkinson also traces her ancestry through her mother, Jennie Fielding Raymond, to Ebenezer Raymond, who was in the British army at the outbreak of the Revolutionary war. He left the English army and joined the cause of the patriot army. It is said the Raymonds have occupied the same homestead in Beverly, Massachusetts, for two hundred years.
Dr. D. B. Parkinson and family are communicants in the Methodist Episcopal church. They are very faithful to their vows and seldom miss a service.
An estimate of the real worth of a man can not be justly made by those who are close to him in time and place. However, we may know
something of the real worth of a man by the every day duties he performs and the character of the contribution he makes to the lives of those about him. And if greatness is to be defined in terms of simplicity, and goodness in terms of “malice toward none with charity for all,” then truly Dr. Parkinson may be said to be a great and good man.
No man has come so vitally in touch with the life that now is in southern Illinois as has our good friend, Dr. Parkinson. More than twelve thousand young people have enrolled as students in the Southern Illinois State Normal University, and while he has not known all of them personally, they have known him. They all knew his interest in young people and they knew him to be a friend of them in every laudable undertaking in which they might embark. Dr. Parkinson has never sought notoriety, but has had for his guidance through all the years—' 'not for myself, but for others.”
On June 5, 1912, the Alumni Association of the Southern Illinois State Normal University, in the presence of the largest class that was ever graduated from the institution, and before an appreciative audience, presented to the trustees of the university a life size portrait of their beloved president. The portrait will hang beside one of Dr. Robert Allyn, presented by the Alumni Association to the school a score of years ago.