Ripley Foundry interior photograph   Save
Ohio History Connection
Description: The interior of Ripley Foundry in Ripley, Ohio, founded by a former slave, John Parker (1827-1900). Parker resided in Virginia, where he was born, until the age of 8, when he was sent to Alabama after being purchased by a physician. Unlike most slaves, John Parker was literate despite the fact that it was illegal for slaves to be taught to read. The reasons for the strict illegality of teaching slaves was that their white owners feared that the more they knew, the more likely they would be to escape and flee to the safety of the north. The belief that these African Americans kept in servitude would be unable to learn was pervasive. Parker, of course, proved this to be entirely wrong as he would not only become literate but would go on to become a successful business owner. It was when he was still a slave that he first learned a trade that would become his career: iron working. Parker saved his earnings from the foundry, and eventually he was able to pull himself out of slavery. Parker would start a foundry of his own after he decided to leave the South and had already run his own shop for a period of a few years before moving to Ripley where the foundry would be built. Being a former slave himself and understanding their plight, Parker often brought slaves northwards so that they would be able to live freely. Parker spent the remainder of his life as a business owner until his death in 1900. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: AL06709
Subjects: Iron and steel workers--Ohio; Iron industry; Manufacturing industries--Ohio; Ohio Economy; Former slaves
Places: Ripley (Ohio); Brown County (Ohio)