John McGee Parkman had moved from Boston to Selma where he became a local bank president during the Civil War. He had purchased cotton stocks with the bank deposits. The soldiers had arrested him as the cotton stocks had plunged and the bank deposits had been lost. His friends had devised an escape from jail. They got a barrel of whiskey and got the guards drunk. Parkman then escaped the jail made a run for a boat hidden at the river where he was shot and drowned. They say his “ghost” now haunts The Sturdivant Hall. Ironically, a cousin of John McGee Parkman was Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who commanded America’s First regiment of 1,000 Black Americans during the Civil War (see previous page 2 of this blog for more details). The designer of the Sturdivant Hall was Thomas Helm Lee a cousin to General Robert E. Lee. Next door is a house that President Abraham Lincoln’s wife’s sister owned. Now Sturdivant Hall is a museum that is used for social events including weddings. Selma is where the “Bloody Sunday” march started with Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr. Mary Parkman Peabody participated in a restaurant sit in St. Augustine, FL and was jailed. Mary’s son was Gov. Chub Peabody of Mass.
The ghost of John McGee Parkman story @ Sturdivant Hall:
John McGee Parkman: The legendary “ruined banker” who still resides at Sturdivant Hall (his home in Selma). Legend has it that while serving time in the federal prison at Cahawba for poor investment of bank funds, Parkman attempted a daring escape with the aid of his friends. Legend has it that Mr. Parkman was either shot to death or drowned after diving into the Alabama river. Grave marker reads: “In Memory of John M. Parkman. Born January 12, 1838. Died May 23, 1867.”
His grave memorial:
This is the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, AL where in 1965 Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andrew Young lead a march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama in a peaceful protest for Civil Rights to gain the right to vote for blacks.