This post first appeared on The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation
Introducing Cpl. William Parks, a newly found African American veteran of the Civil War. Nadia Orton, historian and secretary of the Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation, first uncovered the gravestone of Cpl. Parks over Decoration Day (Memorial Day) weekend in 2018. Cpl. Parks was born about 1843 in Mobile, Alabama. He enlisted on May 5, 1865, at the Ridgeway Depot in Warren County, North Carolina. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as five feet, seven inches tall, with a “yellow” complexion, black eyes and hair. Cpl. Parks mustered in on May 5, 1865, at Washington, D. C. He was promoted to Corporal on June 1, 1865 by special order, and mustered out four months later on October 23rd, at Louisville, Kentucky.
After his discharge from service, Cpl Parks returned to Warren County, and lived in the Smith Creek district with his wife, Lydia. In 1889, the family moved to Suffolk, Virginia. Cpl. William Parks passed away in 1897. His wife, Lydia, remained in Suffolk until her death on November 7, 1924. To date, we have not found her gravesite, but suspect she may be interred next to or near her husband in an unmarked grave.