This is a tale that trails across much of early America.
Silas Mercer Parker was born 5 May 1804 in Bedford County, Tennessee, the son of John & Sarah (WHITE) Parker.
Lucinda Duty was born in 1801 at Elbert County, Georgia, the daughter of Richard & Sarah (PINSON) Duty.
Somehow their trails crossed and Silas & Lucinda were married on 31 Aug 1824, in Clark County, Illinois.
The Parker clan was a large one and occupied many farms in the area near what is now Westfield, Illinois. Dominated by "Elder" John Parker, the many sons and daughters married into local families and prospered. Silas and Lucinda settled in to farm and to raise a family. They were blessed with four children, only one of whom we will deal with in this tale.
Cynthia Ann Parker was born on 28 Oct 1827, in Coles County, Illinois. (some say Crawford County, but they err) At that period in time, the border between the area where the Parkers lived (Parker Township.. no surprise there ae?) and that of Coles County, was a vague notion and it could be that Cynthia was born in Clark County, but her birth is recorded in the Coles County records, so that is close enough.
In 1832, Silas, and many other Clark County Men, served in the brief Blackhawk War.
In 1833, "Elder" John moved with his family to Limestone County, Texas where they established Fort Parker, a fortified stockade for the safety of the families while the men worked in the fields. Most of the Parkers went along with "Elder" John to Texas, but not all. There are still Parkers living here who can trace their family line back to "Elder" John Parker.
Silas & Lucinda were with the group that settled in Texas
on 19 May 1836, through trickery, Comanche and Kiowa Indians gained access to Fort Parker while most of the men were away working the fields. According to surviving witnesses, The group of Indians approached the fort and displayed a white flag and though warned not to do so, one of the few remaining men within the forth went out to try and prevent the impending disaster. After talking with several of the warriors, Benjamin Parker returned to the fort, saying the Indians wanted beef, a place to camp, and directions to water. Benjamin returned to the Indians with beef but was quickly surrounded and lanced. The Indians then charged the fort before the gate could be closed.
In the ensuing mayhem, five whites were murdered and five taken prisoner. Silas Parker was among the dead. The remaining twenty-some whites managed to excape the slaughter and make their way to safety.
Nine-year-old Cynthia Parker was among those taken captive. She was to spend the next twenty-four years with the Indians. She was adopted by a Tenowish Comanche couple who cared for her, and she quickly became devoted to her adopted parents, forgeting her white heritage and becoming totally Comanche.
Later, she would marry Peta Nocoma, a young warrior noted for his fierce attacks on the white settlements in the area. They were to have three children: Quanah, Pecos and Topsannah, a daughter.
The Comanche council had refused all attempts to ransom Cynthia, at her request, but on 18 Dec 1860, Texas Rangers attacked a Comanche camp on the Pease River, and found, among their prisoners, a blue-eyed woman..it was Cynthia. Cynthia and her daughter, Topsannah, were returned to the Parker Family. Believing that her husband and sons were dead, Cynthia cut off her hair in the Comanche style of mourning. And that is shown in the photo above, taken shorty after her "rescue"
Never at home in a society that was foreign to her, Cynthia was shuttled from one family member to another. Her grief and longing for her lost family never left her, Her many attempts to escape and return to the only life she knew were thwarted. Cynthia dies on 28 Oct 1864 in Anderson County, Texas. some say of a broken heart. She was less than 40 years of age. (some sources say she died in 1870)
Her son, Quanah Parker, became the last War Chief of the Comanche Nation and was never defeated in battle by the whites. In later years he surrendered his forces and ended his days living in peace with the white man. The Quohada Comanche were the last free indians on the southern plains.
Quanah Parker died on 23 Feb 1911, and is buried next to his mother & infant sister at Ft Sill, Oklahoma.
Photos of Cynthia & Quanah Parker