CYNTHIA ANN PARKER
Her life was to suffer two tragic incidents. Born the daughter of a hard-shell Baptist pioneer from Illinois, later to become wife to a Comanche Chief for almost twenty-five years. Her oldest son became a decatated enemy of the white man.
The Parker family migrated to Texas in 1833. They no doubt felt safe on the fringe of the Comancheria the homeland of the Comanche. The Parker clan built a log stockade, and cleared land near by for farming, along the Navasota River. Located in East Texas , near modern day Groesbeck, they called their settlement Parker’s fort.
As stated they felt safe being just out side the usual Comanche raiding range. But on May 19, 1836, the Comanche struck. Most of the men were in the fields working, and the rest of Texas were buzzing about Sam Huston’s defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto less than a month before.
It is unclear whether the Comanche came to trade for horses or to raid, but the seized the opportunity when it presented its self. Benjamin Parker and his brother Silas went out to parlay with them when they were struck down by lances. the party of more than one-hundred Comanche and Kiowa’s rushed into the fort. they quickly struck down the other two men inside. Granny Parker was pinned to the ground with a lance and quickly killed and scalped Elder John Parker. Granny was then stripped and raped.
Taking nine year old Cynthia Ann and her six year old brother John captive. They prepared to flee after also grabbing Elisabeth Kellogg, Rachel Plummer and her small son, James. The war part rode out of the fort just as the men from the fields ran up with their rifles. the short savage attack left five white men dead, two women later died of their wounds. Granny Parker with true western grit pulled the lance from her body and survived.
The captives were split up among the various bands that participated in the raid. The Parker children went on west to Eastern Colorado. they were adopted into the band of Pete Nacona’s band. Here they learned to ride and dress as Comanche and soon forgot their English.
The Parkers and agents made exhaustive efforts to find the children. Eventually John was recovered but attempts to find Cynthia were unsuccessful. the Comanche refused all offers of ransom and in 1840 they received a message from Cynthia Ann that she did not want to be rescued. she now called herself Nauda, and considered herself a true Comanche and was happily Married.
Peta Nacona (The Wanderer) had taken Cynthia as a wife, and contrary to Comanche custom refused to take any others. He was a respected warrior and chief of his band. Their first son, Quanh, was born in 1847. they had two other children a son named Pecos and a daughter named Topsanna (Flower).
After twenty-five years her world was turned upside down once again. On December 17, 1860, while Nacona was off hunting with his warriors and sons, tragedy struck. a force of Texas Rangers augmented by 2nd Calvary troopers, civilian volunteers and Tonkawa scouts led a raid against Nocona’s camp near the Pease River (near present Quana Texas).
Though Indian women and children were permitted targets, Texas Ranger and future cattle baron Charles Goodnight recognised blond hair under all the dirt and bear grease and held his fire. the woman and her eight-teen month daughter were spared. Although she could speak no english and call herself Nqaduahh she did recognise her name as Cynthia Ann.
The south-west was electrified by the news of the return of a white woman after nearly a quarter of a century. the Parker family welcomed Cynthia Ann and her little flower. the Texas legislature granted her a league of land and a $100 a year pension. Cynthia Ann did not feel she had been rescued but that she had been kidnapped. she pleaded continuously to be allowed to return to the life she was comfortable with. She was eventually put under guard after attempting to escape.
In 1864 her little Flower died of a “civilised” disease. Cynthia Anne grieved Comanche style by wailing and self-mutilation. Shortly after she died by starving herself to death.
In other books I have read that Peta Nacona never took another wife and for years searched his Naduah. Once it was reported that he got within twenty miles of her presence. Eventually he found his own relief from grief by neglecting a wound that became infected and died.
Cynthia Ann’s oldest son Quanah, would become a great war Chief of the Comanche, venting his hatred on the whites who had destroyed his family. but that is another story.
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