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The Parkes Project - part 2

This post is part of a series. To read part one, go here.

I started researching the Parkes family as soon as I got home from the antique store. Except for J. C. Parkes and Jessie Imogene, (the two names on the back of the images I purchased), I had very little to go on. "Grandpa Parkes" wasn't enough. The photographer's stamps on the back of the images gave New York City locations. I soon found that searching for this family would be harder than I thought.

With a common last name like 'Parks/Parkes', in a large place like New York City, it might be next to impossible to find them. I was undeterred. Given the date range I believed the images to be taken, I was confident that I was looking for generations of a family that spanned the late 1800's through the mid 1900's. I started by focusing on J. C. Parkes. Early searches in Ancestry turned up nothing promising. I created a list of every J. C. Parkes/Parks living in New York City. I searched for days and found many J. Parkes/Parks and even some J.C. Parkes/Parks. I was getting discouraged until I found one J. C. Parkes in the ancestry family tree searches and the birth date fit with where I would have guessed he would fall. 1872. Then I saw that his wife was listed as Imogene Saunders. Could it be?

It made sense to me that 'Grandma Saunders' would call her granddaughter by her first and middle name if her granddaughter's middle name was after her.

But still, that wasn't proof that the J. C. Parkes and Imogene Saunders Parkes I found listed online were the same people whose family pictures I had in my possesion. I needed more.

I decided to track J.C. Parkes and Imogene Saunders Parkes' family trees and find out if they had a granddaughter named Jessie Imogene. Census records showed that they had moved to New Jersey and had a son, James S. Parkes. James S. Parkes was quite a guy! He served in the Navy for both World Wars, was a Lt. Commander on Gen. MacArthur's staff, served as a city councilman in Red Bank New Jersey and then ran for mayor. I found a picture of him in old newspaper archives.

Clipping accessed on, originally published in The Daily Register,

Red Bank New Jersey on May 9, 1928 p 20.

I also found a biography on James S. Parkes who later became Freeholder Parkes.

Clipping accessed on, originally published in The Daily Record,

Long Branch New Jersey on October 31, 1941, p 11.

My sister in law Valerie found this picture of James S. Parkes touring a building project with Eleanor Roosevelt. James S. is the man on the far right. Mrs. Roosevelt is the woman in the center with the black hat.

This picture was taken in 1949. It was published as part of a publication 'Buildings in Monmouth, Stories and Styles' put out by the Monmouth NJ County Archives, edited by Gary D. Saretsky. p 15. Accessed at

The search for J. S. Parkes on turned up so many bits of information including the fact that his wife's maiden name was Gregory. I found this out in a wedding announcement for Virginia Gregory, Mrs. J.S. Parkes' sister. With that information I searched for a marriage record and found that a Grace D. Gregory married James S. Parkes on April 24, 1924.

I went back to the census records. I knew that there were two more census years I could find James S and his wife Grace in. 1930 and 1940 were available on and I found James S. and Grace living in Red Bank NJ in 1930 and they had two children. James C. and Jessie I.!!! I had found her and this was proof that I was researching the right Parkes family. Jessie Imogene was the daughter of James S. and Grace Parkes.

I can't wait to tell you all about Jessie Imogene Parkes, but will save that for next week's post.

Jessie's parents, James S. Parkes and Grace Gregory Parkes lived a long and full life.

Clipping accessed on, originally published in The Asbury Park Press,

Asbury New Jersy on April 26, 1974, p 12.

Jessie's mother Grace died in 1977. Her father, James S. Parkes died in 1985

Clipping accessed on, originally published in The Daily Register,

Red Bank, New Jersey on May 24, 1985, p 2.

Dr. James C. Parkes II (1935 - 1999) was the son of James S. and Grace Parkes and brother of Jessie Imogene. In 1986 he set up a prize with Dartmouth College in his parents' honor. It is presented each year to a graduating senior who has "a demonstrated record of concern for others and exemplifies the personal qualities of kindness, good fellowship, and respect."

Dr. James C. Parkes II was a remarkable person and had a fascinating career. He was a team physician for the NY Mets and the NY Knicks. You can read more about him here and here. I won't reveal anything about living descendants of Dr. James C. Parkes and Jessie Imogene Parkes, out of respect for their privacy. But I will say that from what I have read, their children have gone on to do incredible things and made their parents and grandparents proud.

We have only begun to unfold all the interesting details of a remarkable family. I have been researching non stop and have so much to tell you. In the following weeks I will take you with me as we climb the branches of this family tree, discover famous faces, learn about their accomplishments and successes and even century old stories of tragedy and loss.

There are still so many unanswered questions and I have more to research. I can't wait to see how this unfolds. Who was James S. Parkes' father, J.C. Parkes? Is there a picture of him out there somewhere? How did James C., a boy from New York meet Imogene Saunders from Texas? Who are J.C.'s parents? and Grandparents? I hope to find answers to these and more.

Their faces call to me 'Come find us.'

To read part 3, go here.

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