George S. Park
Park was born in Grafton, Vermont.
In 1835, he served under James Fannin in the Texas War of Independence. Parks joined with Fannin's men at Refugio, Texas. More than 400 of Fannin's troops were killed by troops of Antonio López de Santa Anna in the Goliad Massacre and Park was one of the few survivors.
In 1836, he moved to Jackson County, Missouri, where he taught school. Following the Platte Purchase, in which Native Americans sold what is today northwest Missouri in 1838, Park took on a 99-year-lease on a steamboat landing site, English Landing, in the purchase area building a home on the bluffs above the Missouri River and platted the town of Parkville which he formally platted in 1844.
In 1845 he organized the Parkville Presbyterian Church. In 1853 he started the Industrial Luminary, a newspaper some believed to abolitionist. Park, however, owned slaves and termed the newspaper pro-commerce. Park generally believed that slavery in Kansas would be bad for business there.
Park's newspaper was raided by a pro-slavery mob on April 14, 1855, and the printing press was thrown in the Missouri River. Park was in Polistra at the time closing a deal to turn over the town into a newly named Boston, Kansas to be run members by members of abolitionist New England Emigrant Aid Company (who in turn would rename it Manhattan). The Parkville Luminary, a newspaper based on the original Luminary, began publishing again in 2004. The newspaper's first issue contained unpublished letters from Park's last issue and frequently reprints Park's own editorials from the original Luminary.
In 1858 Park would pledge $500 toward the establishing of a college in the newly named Manhattan. The school, Bluemont Central College, would later become Kansas State University.
Immediately after the 1855 incident, he moved to Magnolia, Illinois, where he made a fortune in real estate, but he returned to Parkville again in late 1855.
In 1859 he promoted a railroad from Cameron, Missouri to Parkville to be called the Parkville and Grand River Railroad. The road would then cross the Missouri River at Parkville. However in 1869 Kansas City won the race for the first bridge across the river at the Hannibal Bridge which was to transform it into the dominant city in the region.
Park was elected to the Missouri State Senate in 1866, where he introduced a bill to establish an industrial college. The bill failed.
Park formally moved back to Magnolia in 1874. He donated part of his land on the bluffs for a college to be headed by John A. McAfee, then president of Highland College in Highland, Kansas. The school founded in 1875 which became known as Park College was initially aimed at preparing students for missionary life for the Presbyterian Church. Among the training was students building the school structures including its landmark MacKay Hall.
Park is buried on the Park College plot in the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Parkville.
- Eaton, David Wolfe (1917). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 342.
- TSHA, Muster rolls
- TSHA, Parks Bio