Sandburg's Hometown

April 27, 2015

Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County. Munsell Publishing Co., 1899.

Professor Isaac A. Parker

by Barbara Schock

When Carl Sandburg began attending classes at Lombard University in 1898, there were two “grand ancient” professors: Isaac Parker and Nehemiah White. As Sandburg remarked, they had white hair and solemn faces. They seemed to say to the students “we believe in books, diligence and decency. If you pay attention you can learn a great deal from the past.”

Isaac A. Parker began teaching at Lombard in 1858 and continued for the next fifty years. He taught ancient languages and literature to many young men and women through the years. His teaching career had began twenty years before Carl Sandburg was born.

Professor Parker was born December 31, 1825, in South Woodstock, Vermont. His parents were Isaac and Lucia Wood Parker. His paternal grandfather had responded to the Lexington Alarm at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. His maternal ancestors included four individuals who were passengers on the Mayflower.

Isaac showed an early interest in books and teaching. While working on his father's farm he devoted as much time as he could to studying books and expanding his knowledge. Parker began teaching in a district school when he was seventeen years old. He received bachelor and master degrees from Dartmouth College in 1855 and 1858. He also received a doctorate from Buchtel College in 1892.

He was principal of the Orleans Liberal Institute in Glover, Vermont for several years. Sarah A. Larrabee was Preceptress, being in charge of the female department of the school. On February 18, 1857, they were married and the following year came to Galesburg where he began his career at Lombard. The Parkers had two children, a daughter Izah and a son William. Izah and Mrs. Parker taught in the Preparatory Department at Lombard for several years. Izah died in 1891, two years after her mother. William received a degree in civil engineering and became the chief engineer for the St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad in Missouri.

For many years Professor Parker was a member of the board governing the Galesburg Public Library. He had a great deal of influence on selecting literature for the library's readers. He also served as clerk of the Unitarian Church.

Apparently, his hobby was growing Concord grapes. He had a large arbor in his back yard on the northeast corner of Brooks and Lombard Streets. There were boys, including Carl Sandburg, who climbed the fence and enjoyed eating the ripe grapes. Parker came out of the house and stood by the back door. He didn't say a word to the boys, but they were over the fence and down the street in a hurry.

When Professor Parker retired from Lombard University a banquet was given to him by the college in honor of his semi-centennial of teaching. The title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him. He had contributed to the advancement the institution and his influence helped the college grow larger.

Isaac Parker died October 12, 1912, in Galesburg Hospital. The funeral was conducted in the Universalist Church. He was buried next to his wife in Hope Cemetery. The Republican-Register obituary described Professor Parker as “a true and model citizen of Galesburg.” Sandburg put it better. He said “Parker's life had reminders of Puritan New England and seemed to say 'There was such a thing as Law and Order and ye do well to know it.'”


Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
April 27, 2015 Professor Isaac A. Parker
April 20, 2015 Celluloid Collars
April 13, 2015 Asparagus
April 6, 2015  Mayor John C. Stewart 
March 30, 2015 Basket Ball
March 23, 2015 The Courthouse of Knox County, IL
March 16, 2015

“Trifles make perfection...”

March 9, 2015 Uncle Tom's Cabin
March 2, 2015 Martha Sandburg Goldstone
February 23, 2015 Devotion
February 16, 2015  Gumbiner's Pawn Shop 
February 9, 2015 White Bread
February 2, 2015 The Monarch Club
January 26, 2015 The Silver Dollar
January 19, 2015 The Fulton County Narrow Gauge Railway
January 12, 2015 The Four Corners
December 22, 2014 Swedish Christmas
December 8, 2014 Christmas 1878
December 1, 2014 Bunker Boots & Shoes
November 24, 2014 Galesburg, Illinois
November 17, 2014 It was Buffalo Bill's Day
November 10, 2014 The Election of 1896 (A follow-up story)
November 3, 2014 The Election of 1896 (continued)
October 27, 2014 The Election of 1896
October  24, 2014 The Rissywarn
October 20, 2014 The Parlor Stove
October 13, 2014 Ashes to Ashes
October 6, 2014 Jesse James
Sept. 29, 2014 Lester T. Stone, Public Servant
Sept. 22, 2014 It's Who You Know
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014 4  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013 Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013 Lace Curtains
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity