LOOKING BACK: Cemetery holds invisible monument to John Wilkes Booth

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Whether those who ramble through Oakwood Cemetery in Troy are genealogists researching their family histories or gravers who just “enjoy” visiting and photographing graveyards, it’s a good bet they pass “Pink” Parker’s tombstone without knowing the story of the man interred there.

Joseph Pinkney Parker, Born Aug. 16, 1839 Died Dec. 12, 1921, was a Confederate veteran whose grave is marked with a granite tombstone. On the back is carved Parker’s Confederate war record. But Parker’s story did not die with him.

Perhaps, the story began as Corporal J.P. Parker CSA stood among the tattered survivors who were surrendered on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Lee surrendered but Parker did not.

Early on, Parker’s family had moved to northern Barbour County from Georgia. There, his father, Milo Parker, prospered as a planter and as a merchant. The elder Parker died in 1855.

When Parker came home after the war, he found his family’s plantation overgrown in weeds, their fortune gone, their field workers gone and family members dead.  He was overcome with sadness and bitterness. He hated everything Yankee and blamed President Abraham Lincoln for the social and economic distress throughout the South and for Reconstruction, which he considered the continued destruction of the South.

Parker married and started farming near Inverness but found farm life too hard and too unforgiving. He moved his wife and three children to the house he bought on Madison Street in Troy. He was barely able to make ends meet on his meager salary as a grocery store clerk. He also worked as policeman and cotton compress worker.

Parker’s wife died in 1893 and his children had moved away. Alone, he mulled over the devastation the South suffered during and after the war and over his personal loss. Bitterness overtook him and he found a way to express his feelings.

In 1904, he had a granite marker made to John Wilkes Booth with the inscription: Erected by Pink Parker in honor of John Wilkes Booth for killing old Abe Lincoln.

Parker’s offer to place the monument on the square in downtown Troy was refused. So, he put the monument on the front lawn of his house on Madison Street. Although his neighbors were unhappy about its presence, it was Parker’s property to do with as he chose.


“Pink” Parker’s monument to John Wilkes Booth is shown in its original state. Today, the marker is a gravestone for Parker at Oakwood Cemetery.

Parker’s monument to John Wilkes Booth is shown in its original state. Today, the marker is a gravestone for Parker at Oakwood Cemetery.

Parker became ill and, in 1918, his son, Eugene, came and took him back to Sardis, Georgia. Parker had deeded his home to his three children and they sold it in 1920. The Booth monument remained but was toppled and weeds overtook it.

As it will, word traveled of the monument to John Wilkes Booth and as far as New York.  In 1921, the Troy Messenger received a large volume of indignant letters and the National Sons of Union Veterans wrote to President Harding demanding the monument be removed and destroyed. The Troy Messenger reported on July 13,1921 that the monument had been removed by order of the town council and had been put out in a shed and out of sight.

Pink Parker died on December 12, 1921 in Georgia at the age of 82. His body was brought back to Troy to be buried next to his wife. Confederate veterans were his pallbearers. While in town for his father’s funeral, Eugene Parker had the Booth monument recarved. It now stands at Oakwood Cemetery as a monument to Joseph Pinkney Parker.

Editor’s note: Information for this article was gathered from an article written by James O. Hall in a 1979 issue of Civil War Times and The Troy Messenger archives. The photo is from the personal collection of Karen Bullard.