The Parker Family Saga
When pioneer Silas Parker arrived at the crossroads of a vast blackland prairie and the post oak woodlands along the Navasota River in the early 1800s, he had no idea that his life, and that of his children, would soon change forever.
Parker, together with his brother and father, claimed land south of the river and established a small settlement, building cabins and a large stockade, undeterred by the fact that Native Americans, including the Comanche, considered this country their own.
Known as Fort Parker, the settlement drew other pioneers to the region, creating a community around the confines of the stockade where farming and livestock raising proceeded uneventfully until the morning of May 19, 1836. Joined by allies from the Kiowa and Kichais tribes, the Comanche attacked the fort, killing Silas Parker along with four other settlers and kidnapping five inhabitants including Parker’s son John and nine-year-old daughter Cynthia Ann.
While four of the captives were eventually released, Cynthia Ann remained with the tribe for twenty-five years, eventually marrying Comanche chief Peta Nocona and producing three children with him, daughter Topsannah and two sons, Pecos and Quanah. In December of 1860, during a raid on a Comanche hunting camp along Mule Creek, Texas Rangers captured Cynthia Ann and her infant daughter and returned them to family members. It was believed that Peta Nocona died in the raid. A photograph taken in Fort Worth shows Cynthia Ann, her hair cut short in the Comanche tradition of mourning, with Topsannah in her arms. But Cynthia Ann never adapted to her new life, nor was she allowed to reunite with her Comanche family. Topsannah (known as Prairie Flower) died of influenza in 1864 and, devastated, Cynthia Ann followed her to the grave six years later. Her son Quanah had escaped capture at Mule Creek, however, and as an adult he would serve as final chief of the Quahada Comanche and help his people make the difficult transition to life on the reservation.
Parker family story survives in interpretation at a reconstruction at Old Fort Parker in Limestone County. Nearby Fort Parker State Park embraces the peaceful Navasota River environment that once motivated Silas Parker to settle his family here. Visiting both the fort and the park allows visitors to experience the natural landscape and details of pioneer life while imagining the tragic events that would end up defining one of the most compelling stories of the Texas frontier.