|Strangers to Us All||
Lawyers and Poetry
Lester Shepard Parker
"[Lester Shepard] Parker's father worked for a shoe manufacturer in Chicago when Lester was young. Unfortunately for the Parkers, according to a biographical sketch in The Illustrated Sketch Book and Directory of Jefferson City and Cole County, 1900, they lived next door to Mrs. O'Leary, and their house was the first one consumed by Chicago's great fire of 1871. After graduation from college in 1879, Parker moved to Kansas where he practiced law, taught school and farmed, raising sheep and cattle. In 1894 he move to St. Paul, Minnesota, becoming foreman of the Kellog & Johnson shoe factor. One year later in chicago he became associated with C.M. Henderson & Co., organizing the Jefferson Shoe Company for the manufacture of shoes in Jefferson city, Missouri. Parker moved to Jefferson City in 1895, where he was superintendent and general manager of the Jefferson Shoe Company. Just before Henderson's death in 1895, Parker disposed of his interest in that firm and organized the LS. Parker Shoe Co., which brought him to the forefront of local shoe manufacturing.
The incentive for manufacturers such as Parker to locate in Jefferson City was the potential profits from using the Missouri State Penitentiary buildings, grounds, and inmates. . . .
Once the state took control of the industries operating on the prison grounds, a capable administrator was need. Governor Frederick D. Gardner appointed Parker as the first superintendent of industries at the penitentiary in 1915. . . . During Parker's tenure as superintendent, more than 1,500 prisoners were engaged in the manufacture of various goods. . . .
After the Capitol was destroyed by fire in 1911, a massive rebuilding effort was launched. To supervise decoration of the new Capitol in 1917, Governor Gardner appointed a five member Capitol Decoration Commission. IN 1922, an advisory committee was formed to work with the Capitol Decoration Commission. The advisors included . . . Lester S. Parker. Parker was included on the committee due to his interest in and appreciation of the arts, his interest in the Capitol, and his reputation as a local artist. . . .
In 1924, a year before his death, Parker published a book describing the building's artwork: State capitol of Missouri, with a description of its construction, museum, art features, mural paintings, sculptures, art windows and decorations. . . .
An avocational artist, Parker enjoyed painting scenes from his travels abroad in both oils and watercolors. He gave 100 pieces of his art collection toe the First Baptist Church, and one of his personal works remains on display there today. . . . Parker also wrote and published poems and songs, such as 'Come Back My Honey to Missouri,' touted by same as a possible candidate for state song. . . . Song titles included 'Rag Time Rastus, the Whistler,' 'The Pickaninny's Lullaby' and Parker's most popular song, 'People Will Talk.' . . . .
In addition to the shoe factory, Parker had various other business interests including mining near Joplin, Missouri, a summer resort in South Haven, Michigan, and growing cotton in the Missouri bootheel. He was president of the Economy Stay Company and the Capitol Telephone Company."
[Registration Form, National Park Service (NPS) Form 10-900, United States Department of the Interior, National Register of Historic Places, /signed/ April 11, 2000][online text]
Lester Shepard Parker, Nancy MacIntyre: A Tale of the Prairies (Boston: Gorham Press/Richard G. Badger, 1910)(St. Louis: Classical Literary Bureau Press, 1911) [online text] (St. Louis: Classical Literary Bureau Press, 1912)(Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1920)