A vastly informative and rare early-American pioneer autobiography rescued from obscurity.
In this remarkable memoir, Daniel Parker (1781–1861) recorded both the details of everyday life and the extraordinary historical events he witnessed west of the Appalachian Mountains between 1790 and 1840. Once a humble traveling salesman for a line of newly invented clothes washing machines, he became an outspoken advocate for abolition and education. With his wife and son, he founded Clermont Academy, a racially integrated, coeducational secondary school—the first of its kind in Ohio.
However, Parker’s real vocation was as a self-ordained, itinerant preacher of his own brand of universal salvation. Raised by Presbyterian parents, he experienced a dramatic conversion to the Halcyon Church, an alternative, millenarian religious movement led by the enigmatic prophet Abel Sarjent, in 1803. After parting ways with the Halcyonists, he continued his own biblical and theological studies, arriving at the universalist conclusions that he would eventually preach throughout the Ohio River Valley.
David Torbett has transcribed Parker’s manuscript and publishes it here for the first time, together with an introduction, epilogue, bibliography, and extensive notes that enrich and contextualize this rare pioneer autobiography.