This post is part of a series. To read earlier posts, go here.
Just before my second visit to the antique shop, I had been in contact with a woman who I met on a family history site. She asked if I knew about the connection of the family to a famous baseball player. And just like that, another branch of the family revealed its wonders.
Here is what I knew so far:
I can't confirm that the man in the picture below is J.C. Parkes, Imogene's husband and Jessie Imogene's grandfather, so he didn't make it on the tree above. But I believe that there is a very real possibly that he is James Creighton Parkes (J.C. Parkes).
James Creighton (J.C.) Parkes was born on February 24, 1872 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Charles and Mary Ann Parkes. Just before he was born, J.C's father died of a heart attack, leaving his wife who was pregnant with J.C., a widow.
J.C. Parkes' mother was born Mary Ann Creighton, daughter of James Creighton and Jane McBrien.
And here is where the Parkes family takes us down another unexpected but fascinating road. Mary Ann was the only sister of John and James Creighton. Her brother James, also known as Jim Creighton, was a famous pitcher for one of America's first professional baseball teams. He was playing for the Brooklyn Excelsiors when he collapsed and died tragically at the age of twenty-one. There was a bit of controversy surrounding the cause of death and it is still debated today. However, everyone past and present is unified in this opinion: baseball lost a legend.
Image accessed at Society for American Baseball Research.
Image accessed on wikipedia.com
In 1859 Jim Creighton was brought in as a sub for the Niagras baseball team. He threw with 'uncommon velocity' and 'wonderful speed and wonderful command...fairly unhittable' according to observers. He became a desired pitcher and before the 1860 season Creighton was picked up by the Brooklyn Excelsiors. They quickly rose to fame with Creighton as their pitcher. He also became the best batter of his day. Creighton was paid to play for the Excelsiors and is said to be one of America's earliest professional baseball players.
After hitting a home run in the 6th inning of a game on October 14th, 1961, Creighton suffered internal injuries. He died four days later on October 18th, at home. This post is published on the 58th anniversary of his death.
Creighton is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, as are many of the Creighton and Parkes family. Interestingly, so are twenty-one of my ancestors.
Eleven years after Jim Creighton's death, his sister Mary Ann would lose her husband Charles to a heart attack and find herself a young widow with an infant son. A year later her brother John committed suicide.
Though the Creightons suffered many loses, the children remained to carry on. John left several children with his wife Sarah, and Mary Ann had her son to focus on and raise. That son, J.C. Parkes, would go on to have a son of his own, James S. Parkes. James S. had two children, Jessie Imogene and James Creighton Parkes (named for his grandfather). I wrote about them in part two of this series. I find it interesting that Dr. J. Creighton Parkes would go on to be a popular sports physician, as the great-great nephew of Jim Creighton, the famed baseball player.
A sports legacy in the midst of tragedy.
Grave of Jim Creighton, Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY. Photograph accessed on findagrave.com
This great family continues to amaze me and I feel honored to have come across their pictures.