July 26: Joseph Griffin Parkinson (1916)

Joseph Griffin Parkinson was in the first graduating class of Gallaudet College. He was one of three members of the class of 1869 (middle figure in the accompanying photo). Parkinson had attended the Hartford School for the Deaf, the nation’s oldest permanent school for the deaf. Parkinson was born into a family with a legacy of higher education and professional achievement. His childhood had a rocky start due to an epidemic of scarlet fever that took the lives of his two youngest brothers and also took his hearing. Joseph and his twin brother, Robert, and two other surviving brothers all received degrees from Dartmouth College and pursued a career in law.

A job in the Patent Office brought Parkinson to Washington, where he worked for several years. His work was so good that he was eventually promoted to the position of chief examiner of patents. There were two other deaf lawyers in the United States, but Parkinson was the only patent lawyer. Parkinson seems to have become connected with Epiphany through his wife’s family. His mother-in-law is listed as a communicant and her death was at the church. Parkinson’s second daughter, Louise, was baptized at the church in 1877. Parkinson’s father, the Rev. Royal Parkinson, served as sponsor. Parkinson spent much of his time in Utah, where his appreciation of nature and the environment inspired him to support efforts to conserve the land and protect the wildlife dwelling there.

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