Biography of James W. Parker

James W. Parker, born November 24, 1855, in Warren, Illinois, is a prominent businessman in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He moved to Hillsboro, Wisconsin, at age thirteen and later attended Hillsdale College in Michigan. Parker began his career in his father’s general store in Wisconsin and co-founded the Sioux Falls Lumber Company in 1881. He has managed the company since its incorporation, growing it into a leading enterprise. A dedicated Republican, Parker is also involved in educational work, serving on the board of education. He married Nellie Thompson on May 19, 1892, and they have two children, James Thompson Parker and Natalie.

James W. Parker.—The subject of this sketch is one of the leading businessmen of Sioux Falls and one of its representative citizens, having here maintained his home for nearly a quarter of a century, so that he is well entitled to the distinction applying to the name of pioneer, while he has contributed materially to the civic and industrial advancement of the city. On another page of this work appears a memoir of his father, the late and honored Joel Webster Parker, so that a recapitulation of the family history is not demanded at this juncture.

James Webster Parker was born in Warren, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, on the 24th of November, 1855, being a son of Joel W. and Rebecca (Colburn) Parker. He instituted his educational discipline in the public schools of his native town, and later continued his studies in the schools of Hillsboro, Wisconsin, to which state his parents removed when he was thirteen years of age. Later he attended an academy at Evansville, that state, while he completed his specific education in Hillsdale College, at Hillsdale, Michigan, one of the leading educational institutions of the Wolverine state. After leaving college he initiated his business career by becoming associated with his father in the management of the latter’s general store at Millston, Wisconsin, and in 1881 he entered into partnership with his father in the establishing of a retail lumber business in the city of Sioux Falls, under the firm name of J. W. Parker & Son. In the following year the title was changed to the Sioux Falls Lumber Company, James W. Leverett being admitted to the firm at that time. A few years later both Joel W. Parker and Mr. Leverett retired from the firm, their interests being acquired by the subject of this sketch. The Sioux Falls Lumber Company was then incorporated, the subject owning the controlling stock and having been secretary, treasurer, and general manager of the company since the time of its incorporation. The enterprise is one of the largest and most important of the sort in the state and the company has gained the highest reputation for reliability and correct business methods, having built up a magnificent industrial enterprise, while Mr. Parker has prestige as one of the prominent and influential citizens of Sioux Falls. He is a staunch Republican in politics and has ever shown a proper interest in public affairs, particularly those of a local nature, standing ready at all times to lend his influence in support of all worthy measures projected for the general good. He has served several terms as a member of the board of education and is president of the same at the time of this writing, being deeply interested in educational work and being a valued official. He is possessed of marked musical talent, having a finely cultivated tenor voice, and is prominent in the musical and social circles of the city. He is identified with several fraternal organizations in Sioux Falls and he and his wife are active supporters of the First Congregational Church.

On the 19th of May, 1892, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Parker to Miss Nellie Thompson, who was born in Carver, Minnesota, the county seat of the county of the same name, on the 27th of April, 1866, being a daughter of Peter and Christine Thompson. Of this union have been born two children, James Thompson Parker and Natalie.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top