Rachel Parker Kidnapping Case, which Involved Slave Catcher From Elkton, to be noted with Marker in West Nottingham Township; Commission Searching for Relatives in Preparation for Dedication

We recently received a press release from the West Nottingham Historical Commission advising that the organization is planning to erect a historical marker noting the forceful 1851 kidnapping of Rachel Parkier, an African-American. A slave catcher from Elkton, Thomas McCreary, was involved inthe abduction, which alarmed Pennsylvania and galvanized popular opinion against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Click here to read a webpage on the kidnapping. The press release follows.

Press Release from the West Nottingham Historical Association

We need your help!

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has approved an historical marker for the Kidnapping of Rachel and Elizabeth Parker. In preparation and dedication of this historical event, the West Nottingham Township Historical Commission is trying to locate any descendants of Rachel and Elizabeth Parker, also Joseph Miller.

Rachel and Elizabeth Parker, young black women, were kidnapped from Nottingham in December 1851. Falsely accused of being escaped slaves, the sisters were taken to Baltimore, MD and imprisoned for more than a year. The local community reacted to the Parkers’ abduction with indignation. Pennsylvania officials also sprang to their defense. This swift reaction brought attention to the incident and, tragically, cost Joseph Miller, one of the would-be rescuers, his life. He is buried in Union (Fremont) Methodist Church cemetery.

We only know the following information:

Rachel and Elizabeth were daughters of Ned and Rebecca Parker (who were free Blacks). Elizabeth worked for Mathew Donnely.

Rachel worked for Joseph Miller. Joseph Miller married Rebecca Kirk, had several children and resided in West Nottingham Township.

Elizabeth (Parker) Miller lived at 427 W. Barnard St., West Chester, PA.

In 1918, Rachel Parker died at the home of her daughter. This daughter, Lucy, lived in Oxford and was married to James Jones.

If you have any information on descendants, please contact any member of the West Nottingham Township Historical Commission. You may phone 610-932-3305, 717-529-2962 or Historical Commission Secretary at 610-932-8823.

We welcome any and all information. We are eager to include any descendants in the celebration of this historic event.


18 responses to “Rachel Parker Kidnapping Case, which Involved Slave Catcher From Elkton, to be noted with Marker in West Nottingham Township; Commission Searching for Relatives in Preparation for Dedication

  1. L. Harvey Kirk, Chester, VA

    Re: Photo of Rachel parker Wesley, posted July 15, 2011… I am writing a not-for-profit Kirk family history and have a chapter that includes the Rachel Parker kidnapping and the murder of Joseph Miller (Joe Miller married Rebecca Kirk.) I’d like to help illustrate my narrative with the image of rachel Parker Wesley. Please advise if you know of any copyright restrictions on it. If the image is owned by you, I ask for permission to reproduce it. If it is not yours, please advise as to its origin, or from whom you obtained it. Thanks for posting this article and the press release. I am from Virginia and found out too late to attend the marker dedication. Your article was well done. Harvey Kirk

  2. Kirk I got that out of an old newspaper. It was with her obituary I believe. I can check on that and let you know.

  3. Martha Carroll Vollmer

    I believe I may be a descendent of Joseph Miller. My mother’s maiden name was Miller, and my cousin (daughter of my mother’s sister) has done a lot of geneology research into our mother’s side of the family. I now live in Phoenixville, PA. My mother and her sisters grew up in Philadelphia.

  4. According to my cousin’s research into our family history on our mother’s side of the family, I am a descendent of Joseph Miller.

  5. Martha, it’s always good to hear about research getting done and compiled so it’ll be available for future generations.

  6. I might be an extremely obscure relative of Rachel Parker. Very difficult to confirm. Does anyone have information on her father? I believe he might be a brother to a relative on my family tree.

  7. Mary Lynn Miller

    I am a great great granddaughter of Joseph Miller and have the family tree of his son Jacob. Kirk lineage is in that family tree.

  8. Does anyone know where Rachel Parker is buried? I passed the marker about a year ago ( I live in the area) and I am fascinated by the story. I plan to visit Joseph Miller’s gravesite this weekend. What an American hero. Right down the road from my house!

  9. Marla the Oxford Paper ran a long obituary about Rachel when she passed away. I’ll see if I can find it and check to see if it contains the info. Also they have all the newspapers at the Oxford Library if you live up that way.

    • Mike, Thanks for the info. I do live in Nottingham and passed the historical marker one day. I just happened to see the “Who do you think you are’ episode that involved Zoey Deschanel’s ancestors from Christiana and the riot there. I stopped by the cemetery last night and visited Joseph Miller’s gravesite . This weekend I am going to go by the Friend’s Cemetery on Friends Rd here in Nottingham to see if I recognize any names there. I will definitely make some time to visit the Oxford Library. Thanks again.

  10. Hersey E. Gray,Sr.

    I just saw this blog. I am also interested in Rachel Parker’s genealogy, especially her descendants. I do ot see any responses to the inquiry other than she had a daughter Lucy Parker who married a Mr. Jones. Also I do not see where Rachel is buried. I hoped to see her obituary in this blog. Is that possible?

  11. Ms Rachel looks exactly like my husband’s family and his last name is Wesley. They are definitely family. She is a spitting image of one of his aunts and has family characteristics. Wow. We will definitely be calling you.

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