Born July 11, 1829 in County Leitrim, Ireland, he came to America in 1849, settling first in Ohio then in Fort Smith in 1853. His first business experience was work for Mitchell Sparks. A clerk and collector, he travelled throughout Indian Territory collecting on accounts in the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations.
When the Civil War broke out, Parke enlisted as a private in the King's Brigade of the Confederate Army. Later as a quartermaster, he was in charge of wagon trains at the battles of Oak Hill, Mark's Mill, Poison Springs and Prairie Grove. Parke also assisted with the evacuation of Camden and was in Texas when the Confederate Army surrendered. After the war, he commanded the local Ben Duval Camp of the United Confederate Veterans.
After some time in business in Kansas, Parke returned to Fort Smith in 1873 and started a business with George T. Sparks under the partnership of Parke & Sparks. Later, he joined the J.W. Patrick & Co. shoe business and had an interest in the Daniel Baker clothing business.
In January 1902, he retired from active business life and engaged mainly in managing his land interests. He is credited with "being largely instrumental in inducing Jay Gould to purchase and open coal mines at Jenny Lind.
Source: "Capt. Parke Passes Away," Fort Smith News Record, Dec. 23, 1902, p. 1.