Quanah Parker

Quanah was the oldest child of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white woman and Peta Nocona, a Comanche Chief. Cynthia Ann Parker's capture by the Comanche and her eventual rescue formed the basis of John Ford’s great western film "The Searchers" staring John Wayne and Natalie Wood.

Quanah's Relationship to the Darnall/Parker/Smart Line

Our family is not directly descended from Quanah Parker but we are related. Cynthia Ann Parker was born in Illinois about 1827 to Silas Parker and Lucinda Duty. Silas was the son of John Parker who's sister, Susanne Parker married John Daughetee, Mary Ann Stewart (nee Darnall) Smart's maternal grandfather.

Quanah Parker (1845-1911)

Quanah, in Comanche, means sweet odor or bed of flowers. Serving as a link between whites and Comanches, he was the most influential Comanche leader of the reservation era--the last great Comanche chief.

He encouraged Indians to get as much education as they could and to learn to farm the land. He encouraged Indians to increase their income by leasing pasture land to the white ranchers.

Quanah obtained full US citizenship for every member of his tribe. He numbered among his friends President Theodore Roosevelt and Charles Goodnight.

Yet he led a life of duality. He understood the white man's ways because his mother was white. He also understood the Indian ways as his father was a leader of the Comanches.

Source: Quanah Parker, Comanche Chief

The Battle of Palo Duro Canyon

In June 1874, he and a Comanche shaman named Isa-tai urged the reservation Indians to join them on a raid through Texas. They recruited a band of 700 warriors and attacked a party of buffalo hunters camped at the ruins of an old trading post called Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle. Although outnumbered, the defenders--28 men and a woman--were strongly fortified and , with their powerful buffalo rifles and superb marksmanship, held off the attackers for five days. Only one hunter was killed. About 15 Indians were killed or wounded. When reinforcements arrived, the Indians rode away but the battle touched off a two-year series of raids and battles called the Red River War where Quanah and his warriors rode on bloody raids in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, while the Army and Texas Rangers rode in pursuit.

Within a year, Quanah and his hungry warriors surrendered to Colonel Mackenzie and in June of 1875 moved to the Kiowa-Comanche reservation near Fort Sill in Southwestern Oklahoma.

Quanah's Later Years

Quanah remained with the tribe after the raid that killed his father and returned his mother and sister to her American family (see below). With the Nocones tribe virtually extinguished, he found refuge with the Quahadi Comanches of the Llano Estacado. He rode and fought with the tribe throughout the 1860s and into the 1870s.

Quanah’s exceptional ability to adjust to reservation life led the army to declare him chief of the scattered Comanche tribes under their jurisdiction. Quanah worked to improve the lot of his people and to defend them against further encroachments on their land. By 1901, however, the government broke up the reservation lands, and left the tribe to fend for itself. In 1902, the Comanche named him deputy sheriff of Lawton, Oklahoma.

On February 11, 1911, while visiting the Cheyenne Reservation, he became ill. He died at his ranch on February 23. 1911.

The Parkers Migrate to Texas

The Parkers and other members of their church came from Crawford County, Illinois. In 1832, Daniel Parker, a staunch theologian, gained permission to settle in Texas. After organizing those who wanted to go to Texas into the Predestinarian Baptist Church, they left Illinois in July of 1833 in ox-drawn wagons. Daniel and the majority of his followers settled near the present City of Elkhart, Texas, where a replica of the Pilgrim Baptist Church still stands. Other members, Elder John Parker and three of his sons (Silas, James and Benjamin), preferred to settle farther west near the Navasota River.

Silas Parker registered his family at Tenoxtitlán on January 29, 1834, for admission to Robertson's colony. After a dispute as to authority for settlement, he registered again on May 22, 1834, for admission to the Austin and Williams colony. His league, granted on April 1, 1835, lay in Limestone County and was described as being on the Sterling Fork near the headwaters of the Navasota River, near old Springfield and three miles north of Groesbeck

The Establishment of Fort Parker

In the spring of 1835, Silas and his brother James W. Parker built Fort Parker, a private fort--a stockade cluster of homesteads .

Cabins were built at the fort to be occupied by nearby families in case of Indian attack. The outer walls of the cabins were part of a surrounding stockade perforated with loopholes for defense.

In Illinois, Silas Parker had served in the Black Hawk War in 1832 under Capt. Thomas B. Ross. But it was his brother, James W. Parker who was elected a member of the Committee of Safety and Correspondence for Viesca. On October 17, 1835, he was named by the General Council as superintendent of a group of twenty-five rangers directed to guard the frontiers between the Brazos and Trinity rivers.

The Indian Raid on Fort Parker - May 19, 1836

Parker's Fort was attacked by 500 to 700 Caddo and Comanche Indians. Silas Parker and four others were killed during the attack. Five were captured and the 21 survivors made their way to where Palestine is today.

Those taken by the Indians were Cynthia Ann Parker, John Parker, Mrs. Rachel Plummer and her infant son James, and Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg. Silas Parker's other two children, Orlena and Silas, Jr., survived the attack and lived to raise families in East Texas. Survivors returned to the fort some days later and buried the dead in Fort Parker Cemetery, a couple of miles from the fort.

Source: Old Fort Parker

Cynthia's Life With the Comanches

Cynthia was only nine years old when taken to live with the Indians. Cynthia's younger brother John was eventually ransomed, but Cynthia Ann remained with the tribe. She adapted to Indian ways and later married Chief Peta Nocona when she was about 15 years old. She bore him three children--Quanah, Pecos, and Topsanah "Prairie Flower." Quanah, born where Lubbock, Texas now stands, took the last name of his mother.

The Rescue by Texas Rangers - Dec. 18, 1860

Texas Rangers under Lawrence Sullivan Ross attacked a Comanche hunting camp at Mule Creek, a tributary of the Pease River. The rangers captured three of the supposed Indians but were surprised to find that one of them had blue eyes; it was a non-English-speaking white woman with her infant daughter.

Col. Isaac Parker later identified her as his niece, Cynthia Ann. Cynthia accompanied her uncle to Birdville on the condition that military interpreter Horace P. Jones would send along her sons if they were found. While traveling through Fort Worth she was photographed with her daughter at her breast and her hair cut short--a Comanche sign of mourning. She feared Peta Nocona was dead and that she would never see her sons again.

Later Years of Cynthia Ann Parker

On April 8, 1861, a sympathetic Texas legislature voted her a grant of $100 annually for five years and a league of land and appointed Isaac D. and Benjamin F. Parker her guardians. After three months at Birdville, her brother Silas took her to his Van Zandt County home. She afterward moved to her sister's place near the boundary of Anderson and Henderson counties.

In the last years of Cynthia Ann's life she never saw her Indian family, the only family she really knew. Her return to her family was not a happy one. Several times she stole horses and set out to find her sons.

She remained separated from Quanah and Pecos the remainder of her life. After about four years, her daughter died. Devastated with grief, she was rumored to have starved herself to death in 1864.

However, the 1870 census enrolled her and gave her age as forty-five. At her death, shortly thereafter, she was buried in Fosterville Cemetery in Anderson County. In 1910 her son Quanah moved her body to the Post Oak Cemetery near Cache, Oklahoma. See Quanah's written request to Governor Campbell.

She was later moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and re-interred beside Quanah.