John P. Parker (1827 – February 4, 1900) was an African American inventor, industrialist, and abolitionist who secretly participated in the Underground Railroad resistance movement. His house in Ripley, Ohio is a National Historic Landmark .
Parker was born in Virginia, the son of a white father and slave mother. He was also a slave who was sold a number of times until he was finally purchased by a doctor from Mobile, Alabama. He worked as a servant in the doctor's house and secretly learned to read and write. After an aborted escape attempt and repeated conflicts with authority, he was sold to another owner, a local widow from whom he purchased his freedom for $1,800. Parker earned this money through his work in two of Mobile's iron foundries and occasional odd jobs. After leaving the south, Parker first lived in Jeffersonville, IN, then Cincinnati, where he married Miranda Boulden. They then moved to Ripley, Ohio, where they had six children (including Hortense Parker). Parker joined the Underground Railroad while in Ripley, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. He continued in spite of a $1,000 bounty placed on his head and after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 meant that his forays into Kentucky endangered the freedom he had worked so hard to buy.
He also patented a number of inventions and founded the Ripley Foundry and Machine Company which he managed.