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Farming Town to Rural Suburb
Parker is a suburb of Dallas, Texas in Collin County on Farm to Market Road 2514 near Maxwell Creek and two miles from its much larger neighbor, Plano.
When the first settlers arrived in the 1840s, the land was covered with so much prairie grass. The settlers had to burn their fields two years straight before they could begin to prepare the land for farming. A few of the first families to settle in the area were the Parkers, Dillehays, Halls, Gregorys, Stinsons, and McCrearys. In 1846, the Corinth Presbyterian Church was established and the first school in the Community was operated out of the home of Comfort McMillen, who was the founder of the church. One of the original settlers, John C. Parker, had a son named William C. Parker who was residing in Tennessee. In 1855, William followed the family to Texas and established a gristmill and a cotton gin. William was a popular figure that was fondly known as “Uncle Bill,” and the Parker community was named in his honor.
Although the community was named Parker, in the 1880s, the community center was around the gristmill and general store built by T. L. Johnson. During this time, the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroads were planning to run a rail line through the area. The railroad’s original plan was to have the rail line run through Parker. Ultimately, the railroad decided to have the rail line run through Wylie, thus ending Parker's potential business boom. In 1910, Parker had one general store and a population of about 50 people. Over the next 30 years, Parker continued its slow growth and by 1940, had just over 80 residents. During this time, the local school was shuttered and the children in Parker started attending school in nearby Plano and Wylie.
Parker was officially incorporated as a city in 1969 but was still a small community of about 360 residents. In 1978, Parker became part of TV history through the incredibly popular TV series named “Dallas” that centered around the antics of the Ewing family and what happened on their “Southfork” ranch. The Southfork ranch filmed in the TV series is a house in Parker built in 1970 on the 200-acre ranch owned by Joe Duncan. The popularity of the TV show was so great that the home was converted into a conference center and museum that offers daily tours of the “Ewing Mansion” and the “Southfork Ranch.”
Like most Dallas suburbs, growth accelerated in the 1980s, and Parker’s population increased to over 1,000. Not wanting the urbanization of nearby Plano, at the urging of the residents, the city adopted a zoning plan that would preserve the rural feel of the community. To a great extent, the plans have prevented the massive growth and urbanization of Parker but the city continues to grow, and by 2010, there were over 3,800 residents.
Today, Parker covers 8 square miles and has approximately 5,000 residents. The city is proud to offer a rural suburban atmosphere that provides easy access to city conveniences in nearby Plano, Allen, and Dallas.