guess you could say that Mr. Parker was very successful man. After all, he had
made some $40,000 dealing in railroad stock - he was a prominent rancher and entrepreneur
- a leader of men. Not too bad for a man once looked upon by the people of Texas
as a "half-breed savage." |
According to information acquired from the
Handbook of Texas, Quanah Parker was born around 1845 near the Wichita
Mountains in what is now Oklahoma. He was the son of Peta
Nocona, a war chief of the Nocone Comanches, and Cynthia Ann Parker,
a white captive. Cynthia was captured in 1836, when she was eight years old, during
a Comanche raid on Parker's Fort.
History has recorded that Chief
Nocona later married Cynthia and made her his only wife. It was the
way of the Comanche for a man to have several wives but Nocona
went against this tradition. It seems that over the years Cynthia Ann converted
to the Indian way of life. She went on to have two more children, a girl named
Topasannah (Flower) and a son named Pecos.
his book, They Rode for the Lone Star, author Thomas W. Knowles describes
Quanah Parker's childhood as fairly normal, but this all changed in December of
1860. While Chief
Nocona was away on a hunting trip, Texas Rangers under the command
of Capt. Lawrence Sullivan Ross attacked the Comanche camp. Cynthia Ann and Topasannah
were captured and returned to the Parker
family. There are conflicting reports as to what happened to Nocona,
one version has it that he returned during the battle and was killed. ||
|Cynthia and her young
daughter remained with the Parker
family - despite her pleas to be returned to the Indians she was not allowed
to do so. She tried to escape several times and was placed under guard. Cynthia
had been raised by and lived with the Comanches for over 20 years. She couldn't
speak English and she longed to take her young daughter and return home. |
Things got worse for Cynthia Ann; her little girl became ill with a "white
man's" disease and died. And in the way of the Comanche, Cynthia grieved with
wailing prayers and self-mutilation. She eventually starved herself to death.
an orphan, Quanah Parker was taken in by the Quahadi Comanches of the Llano Estacado.
This band was described as the most warlike of all the tribes. It seems young
Quanah adapted well to his new family and later became a war chief of the Quahadis.
He swore vengeance against the white man for the death of his parents and sister.
Quanah's Comanche band created havoc on the plains, raiding white settlements
at every opportunity. Although constantly pursued by units of the United States
Army, the Comanches continued to terrorize the frontier and were never captured.|
The end was near for the Comanches however, as the buffalo hunters poured
onto the plains and slaughtered the animals so important to the Indian's survival.
Again Quanah gathered his people for one last attempt to drive the white man from
the plains. He formed an alliance with the Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Kiowas. This
group was made up of about 700 warriors.
Finally, an attack by the Indians
on buffalo hunters at Adobe
Walls was a disaster for the tribes. The superior firepower of the hunters
proved to be too much for Quanah's men and they were soundly defeated. Fifteen
were killed and many more were wounded, including Quanah Parker.
was no fight left in the Indians - they were constantly on the run and near starvation.
Parker and his men finally gave up and allowed themselves to be moved onto the
Kiowa-Comanche reservation in southwestern Oklahoma.
of Quanah Parker in Borger's|
County Historical Museum
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, August 2009
Parker was a smart, resourceful man and a great leader. Again he urged his people
to make a transition; this time to the white man's way of life. Under his direction,
schools were built and children educated. He created a ranching industry on the
reservation and leased grazing land to the white ranchers. He showed his people
how to build houses and plant crops. Quanah advocated cooperation with the whites
but maintained that the Indians should never abandon their own traditions.|
Parker went on to become a wealthy man. Although he embraced the white culture,
to some extent, he continued the Comanche way. He refused to become a Christian
or become monogamous. Quanah maintained a 22-room house and had seven wives and
numerous children. One of his sons, White Parker, became a Methodist minister.
The federal government decided in 1901 that Quanah's Comanches were
becoming too powerful, in an economic sense. They decided to break up the reservation
into individual holdings and open it up to settlement by outsiders. Parker continued
to make money with his ranch however, and he maintained his position as the most
influential man among his people. They honored him in 1902, by electing him sheriff
of Lawton, Oklahoma.
On February 23, 1911, the white man's disease did
what their bullets couldn't do - Quanah Parker died of an "undiagnosed ailment."
has been kind to Quanah Parker. He has been remembered as a splendid warrior and
leader of men - an outspoken lobbyist using the white man's own law to gain rights
for the Indians. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment of all came when he won full
American citizenship for all of his people.
Author Thomas W. Knowles
said it best, "In the person of Quanah Parker, an extraordinary man in whom the
blood of two strong peoples flowed, the Lone Star and the Comanche Moon at last
found common ground."
The last great chief of the Comanche Nation is
buried near his mother in a cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Star Diary April 20, 2006 Column