"At about 5 feet 8 inches and 200 pounds, the robust Parker referred to himself as a ‘Savage Jack Falstaff.’"


Ely Parker was born in 1828 to Elizabeth and William Parker of the Tonawanda Seneca tribe of the Iroquois confederacy in western New York. Parker became a leader in his tribe at a very young age, trained as a civil engineer, and earned himself a reputation in that field. In 1857, when he was 29 years old, he moved to Galena, Illinois as a civil engineer working for the treasury department, and there his life took a fateful turn. He became friends with a fellow named Ulysses S. Grant.