GEORGE DAVID PARKER
Among Riverside’s distinguished citizens who have been called to
home beyond was George David Parker, noted inventor of box-making machinery,
who long controlled an extensive and important industry as head of the Parker Machine
Works, the only firm in the United
States specializing in automatic box
machines and box handling devices. He
was born in Mariposa, California,
February 2, 1870, his parents being Robert and Henrietta (Patterson) Parker,
natives of Canada
and of English lineage. Both are now
deceased. Sir John Patterson, a cousin
of the father of Mrs. Henrietta Parker, was an official of the Bank of England
and one of the original promoters of the Panama Canal. Robert Parker, the father of George D.
Parker, came to California
Parker was but two years of age when his parents moved from Mariposa to Orange
County, California, where he was reared to manhood and acquired a public school
education. After putting aside his
textbooks he was employed in farm and orchard work until he had attained the
age of twenty-five years, and thus it was that he became familiar with the
fruit industry of California
from other practical standpoints than that of an inventor of packing-house
equipment. When a young man of
twenty-five, he entered upon a thorough apprenticeship as a mechanic and
machinist in shops at Los Angeles, where he remained until 1900.
time he developed his first box-making machine.
We quote from a biography of Mr. Parker which was published in
1922: “After working four years to
develop this machine he came to Riverside
with the idea that all his troubles were at an end. He found that he had only made a start, and
then ensued another period of four years in which he
was studying and contriving means of perfecting the machine to meet the most
exacting tests that could be imposed.
His first machine was sold to the Riverside Heights Packing House N. 10
seventeen years ago, and that machine was in good running order up to a few
years ago. Without recounting all the
details in the growth and broadening appreciation of Mr. Parker’s box-making
machine it is sufficient to say that there is not a carload of fruit shipped form California or Florida which does not pay tribute to
Mr. Parker through the agency of his devices.
number of years he did his experimenting and some of his manufacturing in the
Stoner Iron Works, then the only machine shop in Riverside.
It was afterward sold to Mr. Landwehr and
became the Riverside Foundry and Machine Works and was afterward owned and
operated by Theodore Hewitt, a prominent man of Riverside.
Mr. Parker bought in 1909 all other interests in the plant, and gave it
the name Parker Machine Works, which manufactured all the varied lines of
packing-house machinery covered by his patents and became the controlling
factor in the citrus packing-house equipment.
December, 1920, Mr. Parker consolidated the citrus packing-house business with
the Fred Stebler interests. The consolidation was considered beneficial
to the industry as a whole, as it eliminated competition, the purchaser now
being able to buy the best of the machines furnished by the two companies. The Stebler-Parker
Company was a closed corporation with Fred Stebler
and Mr. Parker as principals. At the
time of consolidation Mr. Parker was employing one hundred and twenty-five
mechanics and manufacturing citrus packing-house machinery exclusively. His plant is still manufacturing and
developing box-making machines and box handling devices, and is the only firm
in the United States
specializing in automatic box-making machinery.
patents of Mr. Parker are all established and settled by court examination and
decision. His were the first machines
placed on the market. He has many patents
on automatic nailing machines, four on a fruit separator, eight on fruit sizers, three on fruit sorters,
seven on fruit dryers used largely in the citrus trade and demonstrated as only
practical ones in use. Other patents are
on box presses, fruit weighers, conveying systems,
box emptying and elevating, combined box elevator and conveyor and pasting
machines. His automatic machines have a
normal capacity of twenty-five boxes per minute, and Mr. Parker expects to
increase this efficiency to an output of thirty per minute. Machines manufactured under the Parker
patents make seventy-five per cent of all fruit boxes in California.
The business involves a tremendous amount of material…Mr. Parker stands
out first and foremost among all who have had anything to do with box-making
machinery. He is considered an inventive
genius, and has been invited to membership in the leading engineering societies
of the world. To his genius is due the
credit for some of the most essential features of fruit-packing houses of the
present day, and especially the citrus industry. He has between fifty-five and sixty patents,
is engaged in working out others, and has taken out thirteen patents in nine
“History of San Bernardino and Riverside
Counties,” published in
1922, James Boyd wrote: “In justice to
George D. Parker of the Parker Machine Works it must be said that he had a
process of separating frozen fruit from sound by passing through a bath of
alcohol of a certain degree of strength.
The water method of separation, however, on account of its cheapness and
simplicity, supersedes all other methods.
Frost protection is also beneficial in other ways to the orchard, for
orchards protected come out in the spring in better condition than those not
protected. It is quite a task, when
frost threatens, to go over a large orchard and light
all the fires necessary for protection, but it is a cheap insurance against
loss. There are some growers in the
favored locations who say that it is about as cheap for them to take the risk
of frost as to go all the trouble of providing oil containers, filling them,
lighting and extinguishing them. There
are many years in which frost protection is not needed, the same as it is
everywhere, and many groves are pretty near immune, but the use of protection
devices makes profitable cultivation of the orange a success over a greater
area. Unlike most other places, a slight
elevation or some purely local condition makes quite a difference in
wire tying machinery patents perfected in 1930, stand as the finest and most
practical on the market.
On the 6th
of June, 1900 at La Center, Washington, Mr.
Parker was united in marriage to Miss Clara Barr, a native of Oregon and of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry,
her parents being George and Catherine (Baltes) Barr,
both of whom are deceased. George Barr,
a native of Ohio, went to Oregon
in 1852 and subsequently became a pioneer lumberman of Washington.
The father of Mrs. Catherine (Baltes) Barr was
also an Oregon
gave his political support to the Republican Party, while his religious faith
was indicated by his membership in the First Methodist
Church. He was also a member of the Riverside Chamber
of Commerce and the Business Men’s Association and enjoyed an enviable
reputation as a public-spirited, enterprising and progressive citizen. Mrs. Parker belongs to the Riverside Woman’s
Club. Mr. Parker passed away August 24,
1930, when sixty years of age, and letters of sympathy and condolence came to
his bereaved widow from everywhere, for his fame as an inventor was
world-wide. His name is perpetuated in
the great industrial enterprise which is known as the Parker Machine Works of
By: Michele Y. Larsen on March 3, 2012.
of the South Vol. II,
by John Steven McGroarty, Pages
157-161, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,
© 2012 Michele
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