A “View” of Oliver Parker’s Lot #216 in Columbia in 1830

Oliver Parker’s Lot in Columbia in 1830

By David Sapp

Oliver Parker came to central Missouri soon after the the War of 1812 concluded and established what may have been the first store in Boone County on Thrall’s Prairie a few miles northeast of later Rocheport in 1818 or 1819. He gained a postmastership about the same time and named it Lexington. Later he married Augustus Thrall’s daughter, Mary.

The Parkers moved to Columbia about 1823 as Lexington’s fortunes faded. He purchased Lot #216 on the northwest corner of Eighth and Broadway for a home and store house, and, thanks to an amazing survey, we can accurately envision what that central Columbia lot looked like in 1830. For unknown reasons, Parker ordered a survey that included not only the usual lot lines but the exact locations of all structures on the lot along with detailed descriptions. This is the only recorded survey in all of the early Boone County records that carries such detail. (The survey description is not included here due to space, but the full description can be found in Boone County records, Survey #169.)

In addition to the unique survey, we have a photograph of the store circa 1870. It shows the north side of Broadway between Eighth and Ninth streets plus the eastern part of the block between Seventh and Eighth streets. A careful examination shows that Parker’s 1830 brick store-house was still standing in 1870, though the other wooden structures did not survive that long.

Parker prospered and became an important community leader. Around 1840, he built a beautiful home on the southwest corner of Broadway and College streets that is now preserved as Senior Hall at Stephens College. He died there on May 20, 1842.

Mary Alice List was an artist keenly interested in area history. She taught art in the public schools for many years. She created wonderfully detailed pen and ink drawings and agreed to translate the detailed information from the survey and the photograph into a drawing depicting the Parker family’s 1830 Columbia holdings, allowing us to visualize the setting more clearly. For reference, the entire frontage on Broadway was only 80 feet, and the lot was 142 ½ feet deep. Broadway and Eighth streets were dirt roads, badly rutted and sometimes a quagmire. The entire scene was not as idyllic as shown but her work allows a rare, early peek at part of Columbia.