I am seeking the parentage of Virgil A.S. Parks, a young attorney and Civil War newspaper correspondent who was killed in battle at Gettysburg, PA, July 2, 1863, as a lieutenant with Company D, 17th Georgia Infantry, Benning's Brigade.
His full name might have been Virgil Adam Stewart Parks. An online family tree showing Virgil to be a son of James (or John) Parks and wife Mary Durham of NC & TN, is not supported by documentation and is highly questionable.
In a 1862 letter, written from Maryland during the Antietam Campaign, Virgil mentions he met some fellow soldiers from North Carolina that were Parks' "cousins" from "Yadkin", where his father's family had come from. This clue suggests Virgil's paternal roots go to the Yadkin River area, possibly Wilkes, Surry or Yadkin counties, where the Parks' surname appears to be common.
According to two separate published tributes following his July 2, 1863 death, Virgil was born in "Middle Georgia". Based on known records, I place his birth in the mid to late 1830s.
Both newspaper tributes indicate Virgil's parents' (names unknown) reportedly moved the family from Georgia to Texas when Virgil was a small boy (1840s ?). The mother died in Texas; and the father reportedly remarried. The father also died in Texas, and Virgil was left in the care of a stepmother, who reportedly abandoned the boy in Arkansas among strangers. Virgil reportedly had two sisters, whose names are unknown.
Virgil has not been positively located in the 1850 U.S. Census. However, a 15 year-old named "Vergel Parks" was residing with the family of merchant John Smith, of Osage Township in Benton, Arkansas. No other "Parks" were residing in this household. The name Virgil or "Vergel" Parks does not appear in the 1860 Arkansas census.
By the late 1850s Virgil is a student at the Ocoee Male Academy in Benton, Polk Co. Tennessee.
He has not been located on the 1860 U.S. Census.
From early 1859 to 1860 Virgil was known to have resided in Sparta, Hancock Co. GA, and was a member of the local Presbyterian Church.
In January 1861 he graduated from the University of Georgia law school in Athens, GA.
By spring 1861 Virgil is in Bainbridge, Decatur Co. GA, where he partnered in law with William O. Fleming, and joined the local Presbyterian Church.
In 1861 Virgil enlisted with the "Decatur Guards", Company D, 17th Georgia Infantry; killed in battle at Gettysburg, PA, July 2, 1863,in command of his company. He apparently was buried on the battlefield; his remains never identified. A will written 12/13/1862, and filed in Decatur Co. GA does not mention any family members.
Virgil was not married, and reportedly was a protege of Alexander Hamilton Stephens of Georgia, Vice President of the Confederacy.
Virgil Parks was a war correspondent for the Savannah Republican newspaper. I am editing his letters for publication.
Any information or leads you can provide regarding this man would be tremendously appreciated.
Gregory C. White
3101 Mills Ridge Drive
Canton, GA 30114
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