Parker Island ----- Toledo’s Only Up-River Summer Resort
The Ross C. Parker Company of Waterville was advertising home sites 50 x 170 feet priced between $1000 and $2500 with a few special sites up to 185 feet in width at a higher price. There were to be at least 200 lots laid out. Every summer home site would face on the water and extend back in a generous depth to a scenic motorway. The Island had more than 150 acres with the entire inland of the island for recreation with a golf club and nine-hole course to be installed, tennis, playground and athletic fields, etc. It was to be a summer playground in the middle of Maumee River.
Chauncey (Ross) Parker’s father, Chauncey L. Parker (1838-1901) came to Wood County in 1883 and had owned the Island at least since 1901. It was originally patented to Collister Haskins in 1840 and part to Horton Howard totaling 300 acres. After Chauncey died and his will was probated in 1903 Ross inherited a ¼ interest in the Island and his two sisters received one-half. The island had long been used for agriculture.
The Parker Island was earlier known as Missionary Station Island as the Presbyterian Missionary Society bought it and established a school, or mission for the Ottawa Indians in 1822. The society also bought a tract of land on the Wood County side of the river opposite the island. This is how the island received it name. It has also been called Mission and Station Island and later became known as Indianola Island. It was about two miles long containing 246 acres. This is the largest of the Maumee Islands. The Mission was closed in 1839 when all Indian tribes were removed to western lands.
Parker Island was a popular summer place, owned and promoted by Ross C. Parker in the early 1920s. The problem with his plan was the stock market crash of 1929 and followed by the Great Depression and many including Ross lost money. A few lots were sold, summer homes built, the bathing beach, nine-hole golf course built. There was a small midway at the western end and an outdoor terrazzo dance floor which was claimed be the best in the area and had an acoustically correct band shell. They provided riding horses for adults and ponies for children, boats for all. Some renowned big bands played here. The Waterville annual town picnics were held there. For several years the Boy and Girl Scouts had weekend campouts on the Island. The Waterville Methodist Church held their annual Sunday school picnic there.
The island was located in the Maumee River almost at the end of Neowash Road. It is possible the bridge was about where the boat launch is now at Farnsworth Park. Some crossed over in scows or boats and some took the “Parker Ferry.” A cable ferry was used by the farmers when the island was farmed taking their tractors and equipment over to the Island. To reach the Island by car a pontoon bridge was mounted on oil drums connected to cable. This bridge would be taken up after the farm crops were harvested and before freezing of the river. At some point in the 1930s it froze before it could be removed and by spring the bridge was washed down river and destroyed. There may have been a bridge from Legion Island to reach the Parker Island as told to us by Joe Becker as the bridge shown in our photo doesn’t seem to be large enough to reach across the river at the point of the boat launch.
A few of the local families that lived or visited the Island were the Farnsworths, Grays, Baldwins, Squires, Detweilers. Ross Parker’s family lived there until the Depression when they lost everything and moved into Waterville to live. Since 1969 the island had been owned by the State of Ohio.