Francis Parker was known as the man who started the wheels turning in Petite. He was born January 17, 1797 and was a grandson of William Parker Senior who emigrated from Yorkshire in 1772. Francis married “Jennet” (Mary Janet) McNeil, eldest daughter of Captain Daniel McNeil.Their home, known as the Red House for its red paint and white trim, stood overlooking the river where the Walton Woods Road now meets Route 215. It was a two and one half storey wood frame building set into the slope of the hill. The main floor at street level was a large general store and counting houses. Living quarters on the second floor had access at the rear and a sun deck facing the street.
Jennet and Francis were called the handsomest couple appearing either in Windsor or in Halifax society. Jennet was known for her well-formed and cultivated mind and was said to embody a catalogue of the graces. Francis, known as the Squire, was well read in law, though not a lawyer, and was a man of fine and discriminating literary taste. The couple was known for the hospitality of their home.Francis was a believer in “the gospel of work.” When they were not at school his sons worked in the woods, the quarry and the shipyard (to the extent that they were able). His son, Daniel, was charged with hauling out ship timber for his father. Daniel claimed that at eight years of age he could handle a team of as many oxen in the lumber woods, and do it as well as any other man.
Francis Parker was successful in ship-building, quarrying, and the export of plaster and gypsum. He conducted a mercantile business and owned a considerable amount of timber land in the area. From the time of his settlement at Walton until his old age he was the Chief magistrate of the Township of Kempt.