Luke Fisher Parsons was born in Brookville, Massachusetts, June 28, 1833. In 1839, the family moved to Byron, Illinois.
Luke’s father died when he was fourteen years old. He had limited schooling and he learned the wagon-making trade.
In the spring of 1856, a mass meeting of the people living in the Byron, Illinois area was called to devise ways to aid “bleeding Kansas.” Volunteers were called for and young Luke Parsons was one of those who stepped up. Each man was given twenty-five dollars and the men promised to stay in Kansas until it was made a free state. Parsons arrived in Kansas on May 1, 1856.
Luke Parsons was a devoted follower of radical abolitionist John Brown. Rather than ride with Brown at the tragic Harpers Ferry raid, Luke was given the means to head west toward the Pikes Peak rush. He got as far as Council Bluffs, Iowa when he received a letter from John Brown telling him to come back as the raid was a sure go. Evidently Pikes Peak held more allure for the young Parsons and he continued west. While crossing Nebraska, the party learned that the Pikes Peak Gold Rush was a bust.
Parsons headed south and went to Lawrence again. In 1860, he followed his friend, Col. Phillips, to Salina. He arrived in the frontier village on January 17, 1860.
His decision to not go to Harpers Ferry was probably the best decision he ever made. He outlived John Brown by 66 years.
Luke Parsons was appointed to be the first Sheriff of Saline County and all the unorganized territory west. Not long after the Civil War started, Parsons enlisted in the United States Army. He served three years and nine months.
Parsons returned to Salina after the war and remained for many years. He died April 22, 1926 and is buried in Gypsum Hill Cemetery.