In celebration of the end of the Civil War, this first blog will be on Reverend
George W. Parker. He was the first documented pastor of “Third Baptist Church” in Alexandria, Virginia.
Reverend George (Geo) W. Parker had many careers like many progressive African Americans in the 19th century in Alexandria, Virginia. Although the 1870 census stated he was born around 1842, no other documentation has been found at this time to confirm or disapprove his date of birth in 1842 or earlier. Based on the 1870 census, he was 38 years old, which would have correctly put his birthdate around 1842. His occupation was listed as clergyman. Three children were listed in his household: Abraham 15, Isaac 13, and Mary 13. Ann Quander 62 was also in the household, listed as a housekeeper and Oceola Richardson.
One of the earlier documents in the Freedmen Bureau stated that Reverend Geo W. Parker was one of the trustees and founders of “The First Select Colored School” in 1862 along with George Seaton, George W Simms, Charles Watson, Clem Robinson, Anthony S. Perpener, George W Bryant, Hannibal King, George P. Douglas, John Davis, J. McKinney Ware and James Pipe, all African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia. They were all freed people of color prior to the Civil War. Reverend Parker was not only a trustee of “The First Select Colored School” that was on the future site of Beulah Baptist Church, but he was also a teacher along with Reverend Clem Robinson and his wife and Miss Amanda Bowden (Borden). Reverend Parker with the other trustees were involved in several land deeds in 1865 – 1867 that resulted in land acquisition for the “Third Baptist Church”. He was a teacher and a minister for former slaves during the Civil War. The former slaves became the early members of “Third Baptist Church”. He became the pastor at “Third Baptist Church” from 1863 – 1875.
His list of multiple careers included Council member for the Jefferson Township, District 4 in Alexandria, Virginia. He was heavily involved with the Republican Party. Also he was the 1870 Assistant Deputy U.S. Marshal for the U.S. Census in Jefferson Township of Alexandria. The township had a population of 1,256 people.
Beyond Reverend Parker’s careers as a teacher, clergyman, trustee, and Council member, he became a hotel owner of the “Empire House” located on the North side of King Street between Fayette and Payne Streets in 1870. The Hotel was two square blocks from the Railroad depot, present day Alexandria Train Station. An article on November 22, 1870 stated, “The Parker House…Reverend George W. Parker, colored, Councilman from the Fourth Ward, repaired, refitted and refurnished, and under the name of the Parker House, opened for the reception of guests. A thorough inspection of the hotel reveals neatness, cleanliness and convenience in all its various departments, and with the table kept there no one can find fault.” Prior to Reverend Parker’s purchasing the “Empire House”, it was on the market for a decade because of two events, a young woman died in the hotel and because of the Civil War.
In 1875, Reverend George W. Parker died. In his life time, he impacted many people and he helped the disadvantaged African Americans and former slaves. Today, “Third Baptist Church” is located at 917 Princess Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Since 2001, Reverend James V. Jordan has been the minister at “Third Baptist Church”.