David B. Parker

The U.S. Mail was developed under the British Postal System prior to the Revolutionary War. When the Civil Ware broke out, mail distribution was largely disrupted, particularly to soldiers. David B. Parker, a future Post Office Inspector, stepped in and created a basis for military postal systems.

David B. Parker and the Civil War

David Bigelow Parker was born in Chautauqua County, New York, in 1842. At 18, Parker joined the Army as a member of the 72nd New York Regiment, quickly risking the rank of Lieutenant. In the heat of the Civil War, mail delivery was unreliable, except for in the 72nd New York Regiment. Lt. Parker was ambitious and diligent, moving between the regiment and Washington D.C., ensuring all soldiers' mail and vital communications was delivered.

In 1862, Parker was formally promoted to Second Lieutenant and placed in charge of all mail for the Army of Potomac. In 1863, Lt. Parker noticed soldiers struggling to pay for mail. He introduced and ran the money order system in the Army. The money order system would be formally installed in the Army on February 2, 1865 with David B. Parker in charge.

David B. Parker - Postal Inspector

When Parker's time in the military was over in 1864, Grant insisted on making him a Special Agent of the Post Office to continue his work in the Army.

When Richmond fell in 1865, Parker was sent to re-establish the postal system in Virginia - one of his most important missions as a Special Agent. Under President Ulysses S. Grant, Parker left the Post Office and spent eight years as a U.S. Marshal. Then, in 1876, when President Grant suspected his own brother-in-law of tampering with the mail, Parker was re-appointed as chief Postal Inspector for the Department of Mail Depredations.

He would stay in this role until 1883, making huge impacts on a post-war country. During this time, he was part of a group that helped initiate and perfect the railway mail system, rural free delivery, registered letters, and the money order service.

David B. Parker After the Post Office

In 1883, President Arthur offered Parker the position of Postmaster General at Washington, D.C. Parker declined, admitting in his memories that he did not think he was qualified for the role. Parker decided to join a start-up enterprise in Buffalo, NY, that would ultimately become the Bell Telephone Company.

Parker was forced to retire 1898, due to severe rheumatism. In the final years of his life, he dictated his memoirs in "A Chautauqua Boy in '61 and Afterward," with an introduction by Albert Bushnell Hard, at the request of his son Torrance.

Inspector David Bigelow Parker died in 1912 in his home in New York.


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