Born: 1800-XX-XX Pennsylvania
Flourished: Licking County, Ohio
Zebulon Parker was a millwright, inventor, and amateur scientist who applied scientific methods to reaction water wheels. Working alongside his brother Austin, Zebulon discovered that water wheels operated by percussion as well as reaction. This led Zebulon and Austin to an innovation in reaction wheel design: a spiral casing which gave the water a whirling motion before it entered the wheel. In 1829, the Parker brothers received a patent for their reaction and percussion water wheel. Between 1831 and 1833, Austin designed a "draft tube," an airtight encasing for a turbine that allowed him to mount a turbine above water. After Austin's death in 1834, Zebulon continued to develop their invention and investigate the theory of the reaction wheel. In October 1843, Zebulon renewed the patent for another seven years. A year later, Zebulon submitted a paper on turbines to the Franklin Institute, but it did not get published. In 1850, he was living in Newark, Ohio, and working as a millwright.
Edwin T. Layton, Jr., "Scientific Technology, 1845-1900: The Hydraulic Turbine and the Origins of American Industrial Research," Technology and Culture 20 (January 1979), 68-69; Edmund Burke, List of Patents for Inventions and Designs, Issued by the United States, From 1790 to 1847 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1847), 234; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Newark, Licking County, OH, 2.