Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895

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Seneca sachem born at Indian Falls, Genesee County, N.Y. in 1828; raised on the Tonawanda Reservation. Studied law and civil engineering; appointed superintendant of government works at Galena, Ill. in 1857, where he became a friend of Ulysses S. Grant. Served during the Civil War as Gen. Grant's secretary. Appointed U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs by President Grant. Died at Fairfield, Conn. in 1895.

From the description of Ely S. Parker correspondence and paper on the Iroquois, 1853-1895. (Buffalo History Museum). WorldCat record id: 77546773

A Seneca Indian who rose to prominence in United States Military and government service. A brigadier general during the Civil War, he was a principal military aid to General U.S. Grant. After, the War, he served as Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1869-1871.

From the description of Papers, 1846. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122611622

Ely Samuel Parker (Indian name: Do-ne-ho-ga-wa) was a Seneca sachem, engineer, soldier, and Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1869-1871).

From the description of Papers, 1794-1946. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 154298089

Seneca sachem; engineer and soldier.

From the description of Autograph note signed : to Maj. Gen. Burnside, 1864 Aug. 6. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270611625

Seneca sachem, engineer, soldier, and first native American commissioner of Indian affairs, 1869-1871.

From the description of Eli Samuel Parker papers, ca. 1850-1885. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 39280269

Ely (also called Hasanoanda and Donehogawa) Parker was born in 1828 in Indian Falls, New York, then part of the Tonawanda Reservation. Parker's Seneca family were leading members of the Iroquois Confederacy. He attended Yates and Cayuga Academies and studied law at Ellicottville, but was denied admission to the New York state bar because he was not technically an American citizen. Parker then took up engineering and worked on canals in New York. He also represented the Tonawanda Senecas in a dispute with the Ogden Land Company and helped negotiate a treaty preserving the Tonawanda Reservation in 1857. He was a leading ambassador of the Iroquois Confederacy and worked closely with Lewis Henry Morgan, who later dedicated his book on the Iroquois to Parker. Parker met Ulysses S. Grant while working for the U.S. Treasury Department in Galena, Illinois, and served on Grant's personal staff during the Civil War. Grant appointed Parker Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1869, and he was the first Native American to hold that position. He resigned the position after two years and retired to Connecticut, eventually spending 19 years as a clerk in the New York City Police Department. Parker died in Fairfield, Connecticut, on August 30, 1895.

From the description of Letters to Robert Campbell, 1870-1871. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 697632660

Ely Samuel Parker (1828-1895) was a full blooded Seneca Indian and sachem of the Six Nations. At the age of 19 he served as a representative of his people to Washington, championing their cause against removal to the west. During the Civil War he became Grant's military secretary and for meritorious service won the brevet appointment of brigadier-general. From 1869-1871 Parker was Commissioner of Indian Affairs. In later years Parker ventured into business, with mixed results, and held positions on the New York Police Department.

From the description of Papers of Ely Samuel Parker, 1803-1894 (bulk 1832-1894). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 228721146

Born on a Seneca Reservation in western New York, educated in white schools, friend of Ulysses Grant and his military secretary during the Civil War, he was appointed by President Grant as the first native American Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

From the description of Letter, Feb. 17, 1887. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 53458384

Seneca Indian, advocate of the Tonawanda Senecas and chief of the Wolf clan, civil engineer, military secretary to U.S. Grant, U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, stock trader, and clerk in the New York City police department.

Born in 1825 in Genesee County, N.Y. and educated at Elder Stone's Baptist School, Yates Academy, and Cayuga Academy, Parker worked to regain Seneca lands in western New York (1842-1857). Prior to the Civil War he was employed as a civil engineer on projects for the U.S. government and in New York; during the war, Parker served as a captain of engineers until 1864 when he was appointed Grant's personal military secretary. Parker continued on Grant's staff until 1869 when he was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs. There he attempted to root out corruption, and although exonerated of corruption charges himself, Parker resigned his position in 1871. He later made and lost a fortune on the New York stock market (1873-1875) and worked as a clerk in the New York City police department (1876-1895).

From the description of Ely Samuel Parker scrapbooks, 1828-1894 (bulk 1870-1894). (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 48548150

A sachem of the Seneca nation, adjutant to Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, and a political and cultural intermediary, Ely Samuel Parker (Hasanoanda) was a pivotal figure in the Seneca nation during the second quarter of the 19th century. Born on the Tonawanda Reservation in western New York in 1828, the son of Elizabeth Johnson and William Parker, Ely Parker was educated at a Baptist mission school and at the Cayuga Academy in Aurora, N.Y. A bright and articulate young man, he was well respected by his elders and was rewarded with positions of responsibility early in life. His teenage years were a time of crisis for the Seneca nation, which was beset on all sides by white settlers and by the specious claims on their land by the Ogden Land Company. Parker took on the struggle, serving as an intermediary with the federal government during negotiations over the Buffalo Creek treaties of 1838 and 1842, and he represented the Senecas in other legal and political affairs. Parker was elevated to sachem in 1852, assuming the name Donehogawa previously held by John Blacksmith.

Parker's name in the white world was also established early. Before he turned 20, he met the protoethnologist Lewis Henry Morgan and became a principal consultant in preparation of the League of the Ho-Dé-No-Sau-Nee (Rochester, 1851), and through Morgan he gained access to the wider white world of intellectuals and politicians. With training as an engineer, Parker garnered positions on public canal projects throughout the state, seeing his circle of acquaintances steadily expand. He took a warm interest in partisan politics in New York, joining both the freemasons and the militia as well as Morgan's Grand Council of the Iroquois to further himself. Both he and his brother Nicholas were also regularly engaged to lecture on Seneca history and culture to white audiences, becoming recognized as authorities.

In 1857, Parker was hired to assist in the construction of the new custom house in Galena, Ill., where he befriended a relatively obscure army officer, Ulysses S. Grant. The Grant connection would serve Parker well. Although Parker's attempts to join the army at the outbreak of the Civil War were repeatedly rebuffed, first because of his engineering obligations and later because he was an Indian, he finally succeeded in securing a commission as Captain of Engineers in 1863. By the end of that year, he was assigned to duty on Grant's staff. Following Grant from Chattanooga to Virginia, Parker was given the honor at Appomattox of writing down the terms of surrender for the Army of Northern Virginia, and was brevetted Brigadier General for his services in 1865. He married a white woman, Minnie Sackett, on Christmas day, 1867.

Following Grant's election to the presidency, Parker was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs on April 13, 1869. During a controversial three year tenure, he spearheaded Grant's "peace plan," essentially abolishing the treaty system in favor of Christianization and assimilation and emphasizing the mutual responsibility of the federal government and the Indian nations in preserving peace. Political opposition to these policies plagued Parker, however, and his opponents leveled charges of fraud against him in Congress. Although he was acquitted, Parker resigned his post in 1871, and with his finances damaged in the Panic of 1873, he spent the last years of his life in Fairfield, Conn., in relative obscurity and poverty.

Having suffered for years from diabetes, Parker died after a lengthy decline on August 30, 1895. He was buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, Conn., but was reinterred in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo on January 20, 1897, and is now situated near several other Seneca notables, including Red Jacket. Ironically, forty five years previously Parker had vehemently protested the reinterment of Red Jacket's bones in this same cemetery.

From the guide to the Ely Samuel Parker Papers, 1794-1946, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Hopkins, Sarah Winnemucca, 1844?-1891. Letter ... to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Parker : Camp McDermit, Nevada, 1870 April 4. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Parker family. Papers, 1836-1903 bulk (1841-1870). Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Photographic Portrait File The Huntington Library
referencedIn Rowley, William Reuben, 1824-1886. Papers, 1862-1892. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Joseph Keppler Jr. Iroquois papers, 1882-1944. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Eli Samuel Parker papers, ca. 1850-1885. Newberry Library
creatorOf Johnson, Jimmy, 1774-1854. A translation of the speech made by Jimmy Johnson at the Grand Council of the Confederacy of Iroquois held at the Indian village of Tonawanda ... : this speech is an abridgement of his annual speech or a repetition in brief of their religious precepts pretended to have been communicated from heaven, 1845 Oct. / translated by Ely S. Parker. Newberry Library
creatorOf Wilson, Henry, 1812-1875. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Col. E.S. Parker, [Washington, D.C.], 1867 Jan. 28. Newberry Library
referencedIn Andrews, C. C. (Christopher Columbus), 1829-1922. Letter, 1870 May 25. Newberry Library
creatorOf Randall, Henry S. Papers, 1836-1861. American Periodical Series I
referencedIn One-lying-across: Lewis Henry Morgan, 1965, 1965 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Kelly, James Edward, 1855-1933. Notebook, 1892. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Meacham, A. B. (Alfred Benjamin), 1826-1882. Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs correspondence, 1869-1873. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Bryant, Wm. Clement (William Clement), 1830-1898. Papers, 1778-1889 (bulk 1829-1889). Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
creatorOf United States. Army. Letters between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, 1865. Newberry Library
creatorOf Wright, Asher, 1803-1875. Indian collection, 1788-1955. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 26: Office Of The Secretary, Incoming Corres..
referencedIn Colorado. Governor (1869-1873 : McCook). Letter : Denver, Colo., to E[ly] S[amuel] Parker, Washington, D.C., 1870 Nov. 4. Newberry Library
referencedIn Sherman, James S. Letters concerning Ely S. Parker, 1904 Aug. 31 and Sept. 14. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896. Grant and 8 staff members in front of a tent at headquarters, City Point, Va., [1864 July or Aug.] [graphic]. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Papers of Ely Samuel Parker, 1803-1894 (bulk 1832-1894). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Street, Alfred Billings, 1811?-1881. Letter : Albany, [N.Y.], to Col. E.S. Parker, 1838 [i.e. 1868?] Sept. 3. Newberry Library
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Documents relating to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, 1865 Apr. 9-10. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn William N. Fenton Papers, ca. 1933-2000 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Garrett, John Biddle. Papers, 1853-1961 (bulk 1853-1872). Haverford College Library
referencedIn Ely Samuel Parker Papers, 1794-1946 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Warren, Reuben B. Papers, ca. 1795- ca. 1920. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Papers, 1794-1946. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Ely S. Parker correspondence and paper on the Iroquois, 1853-1895. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Letters to Robert Campbell, 1870-1871. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Letter, Feb. 17, 1887. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Parker, Arthur Caswell, 1881-1955. Appendix to last grand sachem of the Iroquois : typescript, 1919. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
creatorOf United States. Army of the Potomac. Order : Appomattox Court House, Va., 1865 Apr. 10. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896. Grant, seated, surrounded by 14 standing staff members, in front of wooden building, City Point, Va., [1865 Apr. 12] [graphic]. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Converse, Harriet Maxwell, 1836-1903. Harriet Maxwell Converse note : Buffalo, to Mr. Langdon, ca. 1897. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft papers, 1788-1941 (bulk 1820-1856). Library of Congress
referencedIn Harold W. Felton, Papers, 1881-1988, 1920-1980 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library
referencedIn Keppler, Udo J., 1872-1956. Joseph Keppler Jr. Iroquois papers, 1882-1944. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Autograph File, P, 1554-2005. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Bouck, William C., 1786-1859. Letter : Albany, to E.S. Parker, Pembroke, Genesee County, 1844 Apr. 20. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Papers, 1846. American Periodical Series I
referencedIn Beall, Thomas B., 1832-1921. Letter : Office Indian Agent, Lapwai, Idaho Territory, to Rufus Ingalls, New York [N.Y.], 1870 July 12. Newberry Library
referencedIn Felton, Harold W., 1902-1991. Papers, 1881-1988 1920-1980. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
creatorOf Collis, Charles Henry Tucky, 1838-1902. Appomattox letters, 1865. George Washington University
referencedIn Henry Rowe Schoolcraft Papers, 1788-1941, (bulk 1820-1856) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896. Grant and 8 staff members in front of a tent at headquarters, City Point, Va., [1864 July or Aug.] [graphic]. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Autograph note signed : to Maj. Gen. Burnside, 1864 Aug. 6. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Parker, Arthur C., 1881-1955. Papers, 1790-1953. American Periodical Series I
referencedIn Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Commandery of the State of Massachusetts Civil War collection, 1724-1933 (inclusive);, 1861-1912 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Ely Samuel Parker Papers, 1794-1946 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Parker, Ely Samuel, 1828-1895. Ely Samuel Parker scrapbooks, 1828-1894 (bulk 1870-1894). Newberry Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 33: Office Of The Secretary, Outgoing Corres..
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Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)
New York (State)
United States
Tonawanda Indian Reservation (N.Y.)
United States
Illinois
United States
Cattaraugus Indian Reservation (N.Y.)
United States
Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians of New York
United States
Tonawanda, (N.Y.)
Seneca Nation of New York
West (U.S.)
New York (State)
United States
Subject
Military history
Seneca Indians
Engineers--New York (State)
Temperance
Seneca Indians--Religion
Science and technology
Indians of North America--Missions
Indians
Indians of North America--Wars--1866-1895
Indians of North America--Languages
Law
Freemasons--New York (State)
Tonawanda Indian Reservation (N.Y.)
War
Indians of North America--Government relations--1869-1934
Indians of North America--History
Seneca Indians--Missions
Indians of North America
Indian reservations
Indians of North America--Social life and customs
Seneca language
Indians of North America--Alcohol use
Government Affairs
Freemasons
Canals--New York (State)
Native America
Indians of North America--History--19th century--Sources
Religion
Navajo Indians
Indians of North America--Government relations
Manuscripts, American
Civil engineering
Dakota Indians
Education
Ogden Land Company
Indians of North America--Relocation
Fine Arts
Society of Friends--Relations with Indians
Eastern Woodlands Indians
Language and Linguistics
Iroquois Indians
Seneca language--Dictionaries--19th century
Seneca Indians--New York (State)
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1828

Death 1895-08-31

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