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Parry Obituary

Parry, David M. (Mar. 26, 1852 - May 12, 1915). Indianapolis businessman and foe of organized labor. Elected president of the National Association of Manufacturers in l902, Parry led the businessmen's fight against unions during the Progressive era. Despite never holding elective office, Parry, a lifelong Republican, was an influential figure in the careers of such Indiana politicians as Albert J. Beveridge, Charles W. Fairbanks, and Benjamin Harrison.


Parry was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. In 1853 Parry's father moved his family to a farm near Laurel, Indiana. At the age of 16 Parry took his first job as a clerk in a Laurel store. In 1872 he moved to Columbus City, Iowa, where he worked in a store owned by his brother Edward. Parry later was a bookkeeper for the New York Enamel Paint Company in New York City before returning to Indiana in 1873 to open a hardware store in Connersville.


Forced to sell the store in order to help his financially troubled father, Parry became a traveling salesman based in Cincinnati. With money saved from that job he bought a Rushville hardware store, selling it in 1882. Although he had planned to travel to South America to sell farm  implements, the death of his wife caused Parry to cancel those plans. Instead, he purchased a Rushville carriage firm.


In 1886 Parry moved his business to Indianapolis where he and his brother Thomas created the Parry Manufacturing Company, which built a variety of carriages. With the coming of the automobile, Parry turned from building carriages to manufacturing cars. He established the Parry Auto Company in 1909 and also founded the Overland Automobile Company, which was later sold to John Willys who moved the firm to Toledo, Ohio.


Parry, who had served as president and director of the Indianapolis Board of Trade and the Commercial Club, led the fight against unions and for the open shop at the beginning of the century from his post as head of the National Association of Manufacturers. Parry's anti-labor writings and speeches drew the ire of such labor leaders as Samuel Gompers.


Upon His return from a trip to study economic conditions in such countries as New Zealand, Australia, China, and Japan, Parry became ill. He died at his estate, Golden Hill, located northwest of the city, and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.



Indiana Historical  Society

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