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Parker marks 100th anniversary
By Amy Crawford   - 06/30/2008

Yuma Sun

More Info on This Book: Parker

Parker has persevered through its 100-year history because of "true grit."

Once an "out of the way" Colorado River town, Parker is marking its centennial this year with a book commemorating the town's place in Arizona and the nation's history.

"Parker," by Deanna Beaver and the Parker Area Historical Society, is a 128-page book featuring more than 200 historical photos showing the trials and tribulations of pioneer families, the coming of the railroad and the influence of the then-untamed Colorado. Famous Parker figures in the book include Wyatt Earp and state Sen. Nellie Bush, whose efforts to preserve the state's water rights went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The town was once a part of Yuma County before La Paz County was formed in 1983.

But the book is not a compendium of all of Parker's historic moments, Beaver said.

"There is so much that we still haven't told of our history up here," Beaver said from her home in Parker. Beaver, who grew up in the Parker area and went to high school in Parker, is a third generation Arizonan. Her grandparents relocated to Arizona in 1916 and her grandfather, Col. Horald LaMar, was a section foreman for the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway Company, according to a release from the book's publishing company, Arcadia Publishing.

Having attended Lamson Business College in Phoenix, Beaver returned to Parker to marry her high school sweetheart, Dan Beaver, and help him run the family business, Parker Motor Co. Dan Beaver's grandparents were also early Parker-area pioneers, and started the company.

"That's not something that is as prevalent today, when you have those generational businesses like that," Beaver said, whose son is now helping his father, as the fourth generation.

Beaver, who serves on the board of directors of the Arizona Historical Society, has always had a keen interest in genealogy, tracing her ancestry to the Revolutionary War.

Her tenacity in that effort spilled over into helping write "Parker."

"My whole effort (with the book) was because I really enjoy history, genealogy. I love the whole aspect of research," she said.

The book, released on June 16, has swirled up residents' memories of the old railroad town.

"When you produce something like this, and people start reminiscing, then you start realizing how much you haven't covered everything," Beaver said.

"I have talked to some people since (the book came out), about little stories. For instance, when you talk to old timers, they can remember the first bag lady that we had here in town."

One anecdote Beaver relates was about a popular taco-burrito stand owned by a Mrs. Robles. The stand, now gone, was green, called the Saguaro and was a favorite of the locals.

Beaver has also listened in on some of the town's secrets.

"Once in a while you come across some scandalous thing that you hear about and you go, 'Oh! I didn't hear that one before!'"

Another of Parker's secrets is that Wyatt Earp spent more time around the area than he did Tombstone, she said.

"The more I listened to people reminisce, the more I found out I didn't know as much as I thought I knew," she said.

Putting the book together was not an easy task.

The book was completed in a short time frame, Beaver said, due to the small window between the time the publisher approached the society and when the material was due so the book could arrive in time for Parker's centennial celebration in June.

"We had to find people who had photos, we had to get the sign-off for copyrights for the pictures," she said. "There was a lot that was crammed into a short time."

The book wouldn't have happened, though, if it weren't for the community effort behind it.

"I felt my part in this book was more like as a surrogate," Beaver said. "I maybe brought life to this book, but it's the community's book, it's not mine."

By digging through Parker's past, Beaver said she tried to show that the town and its people have come a long way from being just a railroad stop in the desert and because of that, life there today is much better than it was 100 years ago.

"They had it a lot rougher than us and they were able to do what they needed to do to survive," Beaver said.

The early residents paved the way for the town's future, going out into the desert and building roads themselves and putting up signs, hoping people would come to the town, Beaver said. "Those roads are still there today."

"Had they not had that 'whatever-it-took,' that 'true grit,' to go out and dig in the sand - I mean the sand blew back then just like it does today, the heat was just as hot back then just like it is today - those people, they just persevered."

That giving, persevering spirit still survives in Parker today, Beaver said.

"When the going gets rough this community really seems to just come together, and that's the greater area, not just the Parker area, the whole county," Beaver said. "Parker has a big heart."

Buy It Now: Parker $19.99

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