Samuel Parks (1784-1865) and Thomas Boylston Parks (1789-1861), merchants
c. 1810 – Parks Store - 233 Main Street
Part of South Berwick Historic District, this building is also part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. The Parks family came to South Berwick from Massachusetts about 1800. From at least the 1830s through the 1850s, the Parks Store was run by brothers Samuel and Thomas Boylston Parks and their brother in law Job Harris. Upstairs were the law offices of William Allen Hayes and Charles Northend Cogswell in the 1840s, followed by that of Abner Oakes. The building barely missed being destroyed by the fire of 1870. It then contained a grocery and dry goods business, Stackpole & Co. By the late 1800s it was the post office, and also contained a bakery. It contained Flynn’s News from the 1930s to 2004. Today it contains local businesses.
“The well known large and commodious store in [the] village, called the Parks store…” -- From a handbill of 1856
Early history. Situated across Main Street from the Jewett store of Sarah Orne Jewett’s family, the Parks Store was likely built by the brothers Samuel and Thomas B. Parks, as shown on a South Berwick map of about 1835. Thomas's son, Thomas Connery Parks, and, later, his brother-in-law, Job Harris, worked there as well. The Parkses seem to have dealt in merchandise shipped by packets, boats that sailed between Dover and Boston, in which the brothers owned shares.
The store also may have contained South Berwick's first home delivery business. Describing buildings along Main Street, Sarah’s sister Mary Jewett wrote, “The Parks store came next, with its busy proprietors Samuel and Thomas C. Parks, and at one time a brother in law Job Harris was associated with them. I have heard it said that they were the first to send out wagons to deliver goods at houses. I have never heard that this firm had much to do with shipping lumber, & c. but imagine that by the time their business was at its height the change had come in the character of all this.”
A memoir about the 1830s and 1840s by George Washington Frosst lists among "Citizens who lived at South Berwick village from 1834 to 1847" the names of "Samuel Parks -- Post Office etc." This is a clue that the Parks store may also have contained mail services at an early time.
The Parkses were energetic entrepreneurs, and owned property all over downtown South Berwick. Yet by the end of the next generation the family was gone -- had died or moved away -- and the most prominent merchant among them had been declared insane at age 72.
Upstairs in the early days, the building held important law offices, Mary Jewett said. "In the second story … was the law office of Hayes and Cogswell, and later of Abner Oakes,” she wrote. Judge William Allen Hayes and Charles Northend Cogswell were South Berwick’s leading attorneys before 1850. The Hayes and Cogswell law office, the 1880 History of York County states, “proved a most successful partnership, both being of high intellectual endowments and large business capacity. It is said that for many years more business was done in their office than in any other in the county.”
Charles Northend Cogswell - Courtesy of Berwick Academy
The Parks family of South Berwick. According to research by descendant Thaxter Parks Spencer, by the 1800 census Edward Park (sic) (1740-1807) and Jerusha (Seaver) Park (1744-1804), originally of Milton, Massachusetts, had come to South Berwick from Dorchester, Mass., with eight of their 14 children. “The family vanishes from the Dorchester Vital Records after 1774 to reappear in Atkinson, N.H. in the 1790 census,” Spencer writes, and he goes on to theorize why they may have moved. “Until 1776, Boston was under siege, and Dorchester was the key in driving out the Brits, as its Patriot fortifications commanded the only land access to Boston and the Royal Navy anchorage … Many Patriots removed to outlying places. I think the Parkses went to N.H. in order to escape the turmoil and to avoid the long arm of the Committee on Safety, which was enlisting young males for military service.”
Among the Parks children was eldest daughter Jerusha Parks (1763-1855), who in 1806 at age 43 married Jedediah Jenkins (1767-1852). She was his second wife, and they had no children known to have survived to adulthood. Their home is still standing at 105 Portland Street, and they are buried in Portland Street Cemetery.
Thomas Boylston Parks
Sarah Jackson Parks
In 1819, Jerusha Parks Jenkins's much younger brother, Thomas Boylston Parks (1789-1861), married Elcy Connery of Boston in South Berwick, according to Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick. They lived on Portland Street the house later known as the Capt. Harding House. Elcy died 1820 at the age of 23, after giving birth to Thomas Connery Parks. Thomas then married Sarah Jackson of Boston, in 1824, and they had Lucy Jackson (b. 1826), Nancy Jackson (b. 1828), and Ward Jackson (1830).
Thomas Connery Parks was among the children who welcomed Lafayette to South Berwick in 1825, according to family members. He was also among the first of the Berwick Academy boys to receive a Bible from the Lord Fund (established in 1817). Then in 1833 the family moved to Somersworth, NH, where Thomas Boylston Parks kept a store at the Great Falls bridge in present-day Berwick, according to the History of York County.
In 1827 Samuel Parks (1784-1865) and Marianne Cutts (1796-1875) of Berwick were married, and lived in a large house at the site of the present gas station at the corner of Main and Academy Streets. Over the years, maps also show Samuel connected with property near the railroad station on Main Street, property on Salmon Street (lower Main), and the Jenkins house on Portland Street. Samuel and Marianne had at least four children: Edward Cutts (b. 1828), Elizabeth Cutts (b. 1832), Mary Jerusha (b. 1834) and Ann Mary (b. 1837), according to Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick.
Marianne Cutts Parks
The Samuel Parks House (below, right) stood on a later site of a gas station and fast food restaurant on Main Street.
In 1828, another Parks sister, Mary (1779-1860), married Job Harris (c. 1773- 1869), who seems to have originated from Portsmouth according to Parks family research, citing Ancestry of Beulah Harris by David Harris. Job Harris first married Mary Heard in Portsmouth in 1774, and then Betsy Mann in 1796. He may have come to South Berwick by 1819, when he witnessed a Parks Store deed. In 1832, four years after marrying Mary Parks, he had become a partner in the store, according to family records. At one point the firm was named Parks and Harris, and among their employees was Micajah Currier Burleigh, son of William Burleigh. Mary Parks Harris and Job Harris are buried in Portland Street Cemetery.
Mary Parks Harris
Other Parks family members in South Berwick, according to family records, included Abigail Parks (1775-1844), who was buried in Portland Street Cemetery, John Parks (1780-1804), and Nancy (1782-1814), also thought to have been unmarried.
Parks siblings were among the early leaders of the village Baptist Church. Descendants have an 1815 pew deed for Samuel and Thomas B. Parks, for the Baptist meetinghouse once led by Rev. Ebenezer Boyd at the intersection of Portland Street and Agamenticus Road near the soldiers monument today. At about this time, the brothers Samuel and Thomas B. Parks bought the William Lambert House on Portland Street, then sold it to Rev. Boyd. When that church folded and reorganized at the present location on Main Street in 1826, Mary Parks was one of ten founders, according to family records. Samuel was one of two members making up the building committee, who “used their own property so freely as to embarrass themselves,” according to the History of York County. In the 1840s, on one occasion, Thomas Parks is listed as performing a South Berwick marriage as justice of the peace.
The involvement of Samuel Parks near South Berwick Station indicates that perhaps the Parkses had been connected with this railroad line that once passed near the old Hanson Homestead, and followed the present highway route of Route 236.
South Berwick about 1860, with some of the Parks properties highlighted. The shaded area shows the approximate extent of the fire of 1870.
By 1856, however, Thomas had taken over his partner brother's affairs because Samuel, age 72, had been adjudged insane by the York County Court of Probate. On the morning of April 28, 1856, at the former home of the late Jedediah and Jerusha Jenkins on Portland Street, an auction was held for the Jenkins house and other Samuel Parks properties in South Berwick, in order to raise over $5000 to meet his debts. A handbill described the properties, among them “the well known large and commodious store … called the Parks store, now occupied by Quimby and Brother…” A South Berwick map of the period shows the former Parks store building occupied by Daniel W. Quimby, a Portland Street resident.
The Parks and Harris store partnership was dissolved in 1859. Thomas Boylston Parks died in 1861, Samuel in 1865, and Samuel’s son, Edward Cutts Parks in 1871. By the mid-1860s, this once active family ceased to have a meaningful presence in South Berwick, as all other members removed to Newton, Massachusetts and surrounding towns. However, there continued a tenuous connection as some continued to own real estate even into the early 1900s, and nostalgia must have exerted a strong pull, as all but two returned to Somersworth for a final resting place.
The store after the Parks family, late 1800s. Mary Jewett related that other businesses soon followed in the Parks Store after 1860. “After a time the store was divided,” she wrote, “and was used for millinery and dressmaking by the Misses Twombley, Mrs. Murray and others, and Mr. Willard began his dry goods business there." Another memoir, by Edward B. Pike (1841-1928), said, “The … store was occupied at different times by Oliver Stackpole & Co., Geo. H. Wakefield & Co., B. F. Parks & Co.”
Benjamin Franklin Parks had lived in South Berwick since the 1840s and worked in the Parks Store, though perhaps only briefly. Research by Parks family descendants indicates he was not a close relative to Thomas and Samuel, and that he may have come from Connecticut or Palmer, Massachusetts. In 1860, records in the Counting House archives show, Stackpole and Parks were doing business together under the name B. F. Parks & Co. The Genealogy of the Parks Families of Connecticut states that Benjamin Franklin Parks (b. Oct. 12, 1826), went to Ohio after engaging in mercantile business in South Berwick, and finally, in the early 1870s, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he died in 1922 at age 96.
On the night of July 24, 1870, the Parks Store, then run by Stackpole and B. F. Parks, barely missed being consumed by a great fire that destroyed about 10 adjacent buildings at the present location of the brick business block (see annotated map excerpt, above left). The store was saved only by being covered by wet blankets and carpets, later recalled a witness, Rebecca Young.
South Berwick, 1872, after fire
Late 1800s. In the 1870s, Stackpole & Co. continued to run their grocery and dry good business in the former Parks Store. Oliver Stackpole was born in 1795, according to Old Kittery and Her Families, and Alonzo Stackpole lived from 1830-1880, according to the South Berwick Record Book of cemetery data. O. Stackpole & Co. was established in 1859, the History of York County states. The 1872 York County Atlas locates the business here and lists it as offering “Groceries, Dry Goods, Crockery &c.”
South Berwick maps of 1860 and 1872 show the home of Oliver and then Alonzo Stackpole stood across Main Street on property that is now the driveway and front lawn of South Berwick Town Hall. In the photo below, perhaps taken in the 1880s, the Stackpole house is at far right, foreground, and the Parks/Stackpole store is the light colored building at center toward the far end of the street on the left side.
An old West Indies warehouse dating to the early 1700s on the Salmon Falls River in Rollinsford, NH, much photographed in the late 1800s, was known for many years as the Stackpole Warehouse. It is unclear whether this structure and its maritime connection were related to the business of Oliver and Alonzo Stackpole.
After Alonzo Stackpole’s death in 1880, the Parks/Stackpole store contained South Berwick Post Office for many years. It is shown on a map in the 1884 Colby’s Atlas of the State of Maine. In 1908, a Sanborn insurance map, shown below at right, shows a bakery on the left side of the store with an oven in back. The Post Office was on the right hand side. The electric trolley line went right by the front door.
From before World War II, and into the 21st century, the old Parks Store housed the popular breakfast and lunch spot, Flynn’s News. It closed in 2004 after over 70 years. Today this historic building contains other local businesses.
(This article was written by Wendy Pirsig and revised in March 2021.)