Charles Parker is one of those quintessential “American Dream” stories whose business success was forged during the War Between the States and America’s subsequent western expansion. It’s a rags-to-riches tale that combined ingenuity, hard work, and determination to create a multi-generational, family-owned business known for both introducing small-bore shotguns and producing collector pieces. His firearms were so inspiring that nearly 90 years since the company was sold, and over 75 years since a gun has been crafted with the Parker name, these high-quality guns are still sought out among collectors and the Parker Brothers name is considered a classic among gun enthusiasts.
The eleventh of 12 children, Charles Parker was born on January 2, 1809, in the town of Cheshire, Connecticut. Although the family was poverty-stricken, Charles was not deterred in his ambitions and always strived for success. To help make ends meet, Charles started working as a farmhand during his teen years, and as he grew into adulthood, he worked as a button maker and then made coffee mills.
After four years in the coffee mill industry, Charles decided he was tired of working for others and was determined to create his own business. At the age of 23, with 70 dollars in his pocket, Charles Parker started a coffee mill plant. The original plant ran on literal horsepower (which rumors claim was blind and half lame) until 1844, when sales increased to the point that consumer need demanded he switch to steam engine power.