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AMES <s>. DESHIEDDS
~~ .fa ^-
CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
CYNTHIA AM PAEKEE.
THE STORY OF HER CAPTURE
At the Massacre of the Inmates of Parker's Fort; of her Quarter of a Century
Spent Among the Comanches, as the Wife of the War Chief, Peta No-
cona; and of her Recapture at the Battle of Pease River, by
Captain L. S. Ross, of the Texian Rangers.
JAMES T. DeSHIELDS,
Author of "Frontier Sketches," Etc.
"Tr-utH is Stranger tHan Fiction.'
for the Author,
Copyright 1886 by
JAMES T. DRSHIELDS.
All Rights Reserved.
CHAS. B. WOODWARD
Printing and Book Manufacturing Co.,
GEN L L. S. ROSS,
In the month of June, 1884, there appeared in the
columns of the Forth Worth Gazette an advertisement
signed by the Comanche chief, Quanah Parker, and
dated from the reservation near Fort Sill, in the In
dian Territory, enquiring for a photograph of his late
mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, which served to revive
interest in a tragedy which has always been enveloped
in a greater degree of mournful romance and pathos
than any of the soul-stirring episodes of our pioneer
life, so fruitful of incidents of an adventurous nature.
From the valued narratives kindly furnished us by
Victor M. Ross, Major John Henry Browi>and Gen.
L. S. Ross, supplemented by the Jas. W. Parker book
and copious notes from Hon. Ben. F. Parker, together
with most of the numerous partial accounts of the fall
of Parker's Fort and subsequent relative events, pub
lished during the past fifty years ; and after a careful
investigation and study of the whole, we have laborious
ly and with much pains-taking, sifted out and evolved
the foregoing narrative of plain, unvarnished facts,
which form a part of the romantic history of Texas.
In the preparation of our little volume the thanks of
the youthful author are due to Gen. L. S. Ross, of
Waco; Major John Henry Brown of Dallas; Gen.
Walter P. Lane of Marshall; Col. John S. Ford of
San Antonio; Rev. Homer S. Thrall the eminent
historian of Texas ; Mr. A. F. Corning of Waco ; Capt.
Lee Hall, Indian Agent, I. T., and Mrs. C. A. West-
brook of Lorena, for valuable assistance rendered.
To Victor M. Ross of Laredo, Texas, the author has
been placed under many and lasting obligations for
valuable data so generously placed at his disposal, and
that too at considerable sacrifice to the donor.
From this source we have obtained much of the
matter for our narrative.
In submitting our little work the first efforts of the
youthful author we assure the reader that while there
are, doubtless, many defects and imperfections, he is
not reading fiction, but facts which form only a part of
the tragic and romantic history of the Lone Star State.
JAMES T. DESHIELDS,
BELTON, Texas, May 19, 1886.
THE PARKER FORT MASSACRE, ETC 9-21
THE CAPTIVES CYNTHIA ANN AND JOHN PARKER 22-35
THE BATTLE OF "ANTELOPE HILLS," 36-46
GENL. L. S. Ross. BATTLE OF THE WICHITA..- 47-57
BATTLE OF PEASE RIVER. RECAPTURE OF CYNTHIA ANN
( 'VXTIIIA ANN PARKER. QUANAII PARKER 69-80
CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
The Parker Port Massacre, Etc.
CONTEMPORARY with, and among the earliest of the
daring and hardy pioneers that penetrated the eastern
portion of the Mexican province of Texas, were the
" Parker family," who immigrated from Cole county,
Illinois, in the fall of the year 1833, settling on the west
side of the Navasota creek, near the site of the present
town of Groesbeck, in Limestone county, one or two
of the family coming a little earlier and some a little
The elder John Parker was a native of Virginia,
resided for a time in Elbert county, Georgia, but chiefly
reared his family in Bedford county, Tennessee, whence
in 1818 he removed to Illinois.
The family, with perhaps one or two exceptions,
belonged to one branch of the primitive Baptist church,
commonly designated as "two seed," or "hard shell"
10 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
In the spring of 1834 tne colonist erected Parker's
Fort, l ) a kind of wooden barricade, or wall around
their cabins, which served as a means of better protect
ing themselves against the numerous predatory bands
of Indians into that, then, sparsely settled section.
As early as 1829 the "Prairie Indians" had declared
war against the settlers, and were now actively hostile,
1) The reader will understand by this term, not only a place of
defense, but the residence of a small number of families belonging to the
same neighborhood. As the Indian mode of warfare was an indiscrim
inate slaughter of all ages, and both sexes, it was as requisite to provide
for the safety of the women and children as for that of the men.
Dodridge's faithful pen picture of early pioneer forts, will perhaps
give the reader a glimps of old Fort Parker in the dark and bloody
period of its existence. He says :
"The fort consisted of cabins, blockhouses, and stockades. A range
of cabins commonly formed on one side at least of the fort. Divisions,
or portions of logs, separated the cabins from each other. The walls
on the outside were ten or twelve feet high, the slope of the roof being
turned wholly inward. A very few of these cabins had puncheon floors,
the greater part were earthen. The blockhouses were built at the angles
of the fort. They projected about two feet beyond the outer walls of the
cabins and stockades. Their upper stories were about eighteen inches
every way larger in dimension than the under one, leaving an opening at
the commencement of the second to prevent the enemy from making a
lodgment under their walls. In some forts, instead of blockhouses the
angles of the fort were furnished with bastions. A large folding gate,
made of thick slabs, nearest the spring, closed the fort. The stockades,
bastions, cabins, and blockhouse walls, were furnished with port-holes at
proper heights and distances. The whole of the outside was completely
It may be truly said that "necessity is the mother of invention"; for
the whole of this work was made without the aid of a single nail or
spike of iron; and for this reason such things were not to be had. In
some places, less exposed, a single blockhouse, with a cabin or two, con
stituted the whole fort. Such places of refuge may appear very trifling
to those who have been in the habit of seeing the formidable military
garrisons of Europe and America, but they answered the purpose, as
the Indians had no artillery. They seldom attacked, and scarcely ever
took one of them."
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 11
constantly committing depredations in different local
Parker's colony at this time consisted of only some
eight or nine families, viz : Elder John Parker, patri
arch of the family, and his wife ; his son James W.
Parker, wife, four single children and his daughter,
Mrs. Rachel Plummer, her husband, L. M. T. Plum-
mer, and infant son, fifteen months old ; Mrs. Sarah
Nixon, another daughter, and her husband L. D.
Nixon ; Silas M. Parker (another son of Elder John),
his wife and four children Benjamin F. Parker, an
unmarried son of the Elder 2 ) ; Mrs. Nixon, sr.,
mother of Mrs. James W. Parker* Mrs. Elizabeth
Kellogg, daughter of Mrs. Nixon ; Mrs. - - Duty ;
Samuel M. Frost, wife and two children ; G. E.
Dwight, wife and two children in all thirty-four per
Besides those above mentioned, old man Lunn,
David Faulkenberry and his son Evan, Silas Bates,
and Abram Anglin, a boy, had erected cabins a mile
or two distant from the fort, where they resided.
2) Elder Daniel Parker, a man of strong mental powers, a son of
Elder John, does not ligure in these events. He signed the Declaration
of Independence in 1836, and preached to his people till his death in
Anderson county in 1845. Ex-Representative Ben. F. Parker, is his son
and successor in preaching at the same place. Isaac Parker, above men
tioned, another son, long represented Houston and Anderson counties in
Senate and House, and in 1855 represented Tarrant county. He died in
Parker county, not long since, not far from 88 years of age. Isaac D.
Parker of Tarrant is his son.
12 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
These families were truly the advance guard of civil
ization of that part of our frontier. Fort Houston, in
Anderson county, being the nearest protection, except
their own trusty rifles.
Here the struggling colonist remained, engaged in
the avocations of a rural life, tilling the soil, hunting
buffalo, bear, deer, turkeys and smaller game, which
served abundantly to supply their larder at all times
with fresh meat, in the enjoyment of a life of Arcadian
simplicity, virtue and contentment, until the latter part
of the year 1835, wnen the Indians and Mexicans
forced the little band of compatriots to abandon their
homes, and flee with many others before the invading
army from Mexico.
On arriving at the Trinity river they were compelled
to halt in consequence of an overflow. Before they
could cross the swollen stream the sudden and unex
pected news reached them that Santa Anna and his
vandal hordes had been confronted and defeated at San
Jacinto, that sanguinary engagement which gave birth
to the new sovereignty of Texas, and that TEXAS
WAS FREE FROM MEXICAN TYRANNY.
On receipt of this news the fleeing settlers were over
joyed, and at once returned to their abandoned homes.
The Parker colony now retraced their steps, first
going to Fort Houston, where they remained a few
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 13
days in order to procure supplies, after which they
made their way back to Fort Parker to look after their
stock and to prepare for a crop.
These hardy sons o toil spent their nights in the
fort, repairing to their farms early each morning.
On the night of May 18, 1836, all slept at the fort,
James W. Parker, Nixon and Plummer repairing to
their field a mile distant on the Navasota, early next
morning, little thinking of the great calamity that was
soon to befall them.
About 9 o'clock a. m. the fort was visited by several
hundred 3 ) Comanche and Kiowa Indians. On ap
proaching to within about three hundred yards of the
fort the Indians halted in the prairie, presenting a white
flag ; at the same time making signs of friendship.
At this time there were only six men in the fort,
three having gone out to work in the field as above
stated. Of the six men remaining, only five were able
to bear arms, viz : Elder John Parker, Benjamin and
Silas Parker, Samuel and Robert Frost. There were
ten women and fifteen children.
The Indians, artfully feigning the treacherous semb
lance of friendship, pretented that they were looking for
a suitable camping place, and enquired as to the exact
3) Different accounts have variously estimated the number of In
dians at from 300 to 700. One account says 300, another 500, and still
another 700. There were perhaps about 500 warriors.
14 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
locality of a water-hole in the vicinity, at the same time
asking for a beef to appease their hungry a want
always felt by an Indian, when the promise of fresh
meat loomed up in the distant perspective ; and he
would make such pleas with all the servile sicophancy
of a slave, like the Italian who embraces his victim ere
plunging the poniard into his heart.
Not daring to resent so formidable a body of savages,
or refuse to comply with their requests, Mr. Benjamin
F. Parker went out to them, had a talk and returned,
expressing the opinion that the Indians were hostile
and intented to fight, but added that he would go back
and try to avert it. His brother Silas remonstrated,
but he persisted in going, and was immediately sur
rounded and killed, whereupon the whole force their
savage instincts aroused by the sight of blood charged
upon the works, uttering the most terrific and unearth
ly yells that ever greeted the ears of mortals. Cries
and confusion reigned. The sickening and bloody
tragedy was soon enacted. Brave Silas M. Parker fell
on the outside of the fort, while he was gallantly fight
ing to save Mrs. Plummer. Mrs. Plummer made a
most manful resistance, but was soon overpowered,
knocked down with a hoe and made captive. Samuel
M. Frost and his son Robert met their fate while hero
ically defending the women and children inside the
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 15
stockade. Old Granny Parker was outraged, stabbed
and left for dead. Elder John Parker, wife and Mrs.
Kellogg attempted to make their escape, and in the
effort had gone about three-fourths of a mile, when
they were overtaken and driven back near to the fort
where the old gentleman was stripped, murdered,
scalped and horribly mutilated. Mrs. Parker was
stripped, speared and left for dead, but by feigning
death escaped, as will be seen further on. Mrs.
Kellogg was spared as a captive.
The result summed up, was as follows :
Killed Elder John Parker, aged seventy-nine ; Silas
M. and Benjamin F. Parker; Samuel M. and his son
Wounded dangerously Mrs. John Parker; Old
Granny Parker and Mrs. Duty.
Captured Mrs. Rachel Plummer, (daughter of
James W. Parker), and her son James Pratt Plummer,
two years of age ; Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg ; Cynthia
Ann Parker, nine years old, and her little brother John
Parker, aged six years, children of Silas M. Parker.
The remainder of the inmates making their escape,
as we shall narrate.
When the attack on the fort first commenced, Mrs.
Sarah Nixon made her escape and hastened to the field
to advise her father, husband and Plummer. On her
16 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
arrival, Plummer hurried on horseback to inform the
Faulkenberrys, Limn, Bates and Anglin. Parker and
Nixon started to the fort, but the former met his family
on the way, and carried them some five miles down
the Navasota, secreting them in the bottom. Nixon,
though unarmed, continued on towards the fort, and
met Mrs. Lucy, wife of the dead Silas Parker, with her
four children, just as they were intercepted by a small
party of mounted and foot Indians. They compelled
the mother to lift behind two mounted warriors her
daughter Cynthia Ann, and her little son John. The
foot Indians now took Mrs. Parker, her two youngest
children and Nixon back to the fort.
Just as the Indians were about to kill Nixon, David
Faulkenberry appeared with his rifle, and caused them
to fall back. Nixon, after his narrow escape from
death, seemed very much excited, and immediately left
in search of his wife, soon falling in with Dwight, with
his own and Frost's family. Dwight and party soon
overtook J. W. Parker and went with him to the hid
ing place in the bottom.
Faulkenberry, thus left with Mrs. Parker and her
two children, bade her to follow him. With the infant
in her arms and leading the other child she obeyed.
Seeing them leave the fort, the Indians made several
feints, but were held in check by the brave man's
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. . 17
rifle. Several mounted warriors, armed with bows
and arrows strung and drawn, and with terrific yells
would charge them, but as Faulkenberry would present
his gun they would halt, throw up their shields, right
about, wheel and retire to a safe distance. This con
tinued for some distance, until they had passed through
a prairie of some forty or fifty acres. Just as they
were entering the woods, the Indians made a desperate
charge, when one warrior, more daring than the
others, dashed up so near that Mrs. Parker's faithful
dog seized his horse by the nose, whereupon both
horse and rider somersaulted, alighting on their backs
in a ravine. Just at this moment Silas Bates, Abram
Anglin and Evan Faulkenberry, armed, and Plummer
unarmed, came up, causing the Indians to retire, after
which the party made their way unmolested.
As they were passing through the field where the
three men had been at work in the morning, Plum
mer, as if aroused from a dream, demanded to know
what had become of his wife and child. Armed only
with a butcher knife, he left the party, in search of his
loved ones, and was seen no more for six days.
The Faulkenberry s, Lunn, with Mrs. Parker and
children, secreted themselves in a small creek bottom,
some distance from the first party, each unconcious of
the other's whereabouts.
18 CYNTHIA ANN PAKKER.
At twilight Abraham Anglin and Evan Faulken-
berry started back to the fort to succor the wounded
and those who might have escaped. On their way,
and just as they were passing Faulkenberry's cabin,
Anglin saw his first and only ghost. He says, "It
was dressed in white with long, white hair streaming
down its back. I admit that I was worse scared at
this moment than when the Indians were yelling and
charging us. Seeing me hesitate, my ghost now
beckoned me to come on. Approaching the object it
proved to be old Granny Parker, whom the Indians
had wounded and stripped, with the exception of her
underwear. She had made her way to the house
from the fort by crawling the entire distance. I took
some bed clothing, and carrying her some distance
from the house, made her a bed, covered her up and
left her until we should return from the fort. On ar
riving at the fort we could not see a single individual
alive or hear a human sound. But the dogs were
barking, the cattle lowing, the horses neighing and
the hogs squealing, making a hideous and strange
meadly of sounds. Mrs. Parker had told me where
she had left some silver, $106.50. This I found
under a hickory bush by moonlight. Finding no one
at the fort we returned to where I had hid Granny
Parker. On taking her up behind me, we made our
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 19
way back to our hiding place in the bottom, where we
found Nixon, whom we had not seen since his coward
ly flight at the time he was rescued by Faulkenberry
from the Indians." 4 )
On the next morning, Bates, Anglin and E. Faulk
enberry went back to the fort to get provisions and
horses and to look after the dead. On reaching the
fort they found five or six horses, a few saddles and
some meal, bacon and honey. Fearing an attack
from the red devils who might still be lurking around,
they left without burying the dead. Returning to
their comrades in the bottom, they all concealed them
selves until the next night, when they started through
the woods to Fort Houston, which place they reached
without material suffering.
Fort Houston, an asylum on this as on many other
occasions, stood on what has been for many years the
farm of a wise statesman, a chivalrous soldier and a
true patriot John H. Reagan two miles west of
After wandering around and traveling for six days
and nights, during which time they suffered much
(4 In the book published by James W. Parker on pages ten and
eleven, he states that Nixon liberated Mrs. Parker from the Indians and
rescued old Granny Parker. Mr. Angliu, in his account contradicts, or
rather corrects this statement. He says : "I positively assert that this
is a mistake and I am willing to be qualified to the statement I here
make and can prove the same by Silas H. Bates, now living near Graes-
20 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
from hunger and thirst, with their clothing torn into
shreads, their bodies lacerated with briars and thorns,
the women and children with unshod and bleeding
feet, the party of James W. Parker men,
and 5 ) women and children reached Tin-
nin's, at the old San Antonio and Nacogdoches cross
ing of the Navasota. Being informed of their approach,
Messrs. Carter and Courtney, with five horses, met
them some miles away, and thus enabled the women
and children to ride. The few people around, though
but returned to their deserted homes after the victory
of San Jacinto, shared all they had of food and cloth
ing with them.
Plummer, after six days of wanderings alone in the
wilderness, arrived at the fort the same day.
In due time the members of the party located tem
porarily as best suited the respective families, most of
them returning to Fort Parker soon afterwards.
A burrial party of twelve men from Fort Houston
went up and burried the dead. Their remains now
repose near the site of old Fort Parker. Peace to
their memories. Unadorned are their graves ; not
even a slab of marble or a memento of any kind has
been erected to tell the traveler where rests the re
mains of this brave little band of pioneer heroes who
wrestled with the savage for the mastery of this proud
5) We are unable to ascertain the exact number. Different accounts
variously estimate the number from 10 to 20.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 21
After the massacre the savages retired with their
booty to their own wild haunts amid the hills and
valleys of the beautiful Canadian and Pease rivers.
22 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
The Captives Cynthia Ann and John Parker.
Of the captives we will briefly trace their subsequent
After leaving the fort the two tribes, the Coman-
ches and Kiowas, remained and traveled together until
midnight. They then halted on an open prairie,
staked out their horses, placed their pickets, and
pitched their camp. Bringing all their prisoners to
gether for the first time, they tied their hands behind
them with raw-hide thongs so tightly as to cut the flesh,
tied their feet close together, and threw them upon
their faces. Then the braves, gathering around with
their yet bloody, dripping scalps, commenced their
usual war dance. They danced, screamed, yelled,
stamping upon their prisoners, beating them with
bows until their own blood came near strangling them.
The remainder of the night these frail women suffered
and had to listen to the cries and groans of their tender
Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg, soon fell into the hands of
the Keechis, from whom, six months after her cap
ture, she was purchased by a party of Delawares, who
carried her into Nacogdoches and delivered her to
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 23
Gen. Houston, who paid them $150.00, the amount
they had paid and all they asked.
On the way thence to Fort Houston, escorted by
James W. Parker and others, a hostile Indian was
slightly wounded and temporarily disabled by a Mr.
Smith. Mrs. Kellogg instantly recognized him as the
savage who had scalped the patriarch, Elder John
Parker, whereupon, without judge, jury or court-mar
tial, or even dallying with " Judge Lynch," he was
involentarily hastened to the " happy hunting grounds"
of his fathers.
Mrs. Rachel Plummer remained a captive about
eighteen months. Soon after her capture she was de
livered of a child. The crying of her infant annoyed
her captors, and the mother was forced to yield up her
offspring to the merciless fiends, in whose veins the
milk of human sympathy had never flowed, to be
murdered before her eyes with all the demoniacal
demonstrations of brutality intact in those sav
ages. The innocent little babe but six weeks old was
torn madly from the mother's bosom by six giant
Indians, one of them clutched the little prattling inno
cent by the throat, and like a hungry beast with de
fenseless prey, he held it out in his iron grasp until all
evidence of life seemed extinct. Mrs. Plummer's fee
ble efforts to save her child were utterly fruitless. They
tossed it high in the air and repeatedly let it fall on
24 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
rocks and frozen earth. Supposing the child dead
they returned it to its mother, but discovering traces of
lingering life, they again, by force, tore it angrily from
her, tied plaited ropes around its neck and threw its
unprotected body into hedges of prickley pear. They
would repeatedly pull it through these lacerating rushes
with demonic yells. Finally, they tied the rope at
tached to its neck to the pommel of a saddle and rode
triumphantly around a circuit until it was not only dead
but litterly torn to shreds. All that remained of that
once beautiful babe was then tossed into the lap of its
poor, distracted mother. With an old knife the weep
ing mother was allowed to dig a grave and bury her
After this she was given as a servant to a very cruel
old squaw, who treated her in a most bruatl manner.
Her son had been carried off by another party to the
far West and she supposed her husband and father had
been killed at the massacre. Her infant was dead, and
death to her would have been a sweet relief. Life was
a burden, and driven almost to desperation, she re
solved no longer to submit to the intolerant old squaw.
One day when the two were some distance from, al
though still in sight of the camp, her mistress attempt
ed to beat her with a club. Determined not to submit
to this, she wrenched the club from the hands of the
squaw and knocked her down. The Indians, who had
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 25
witnessed the whole proceedings from their camp, now
came running up, shouting at the top of their voices.
She fully expected to be killed, but they patted her on
the shoulder, crying, " Bueno ! bueno ! ! ' (Good!
good ! !) or well done ! She now fared much better
and soon became a great favorite and was known as
the " Fighting Squaw." She was eventually ransom
ed through the agericy of some Mexican Santa Fe
traders, by a noble-hearted, American merchant of
that place, Mr. William Donahue. She was pur
chased in the Rocky Mountains so far north of Santa
Fe that seventeen days were consumed in reaching
that place. She was at once made a member of her
benefactor's family, where she received the kindest of
care and attention. Ere long she accompanied Mr.
and Mrs. Donahue on a visit to Independence, Mis
souri, where she had the pleasure of meeting and em
bracing her brother-in-law, L. D. Nixon, and by him
was escorted back to her people in Texas. 1
On the 1 9th of February, 1838, she reached her
father's house, exactly twenty-one months from her
(1 During her stay with the Indians, Mrs. Plnmmer had many
thrilling adventures, which she often related after her reclamation. In
narrating her reminiscences, she said that in one of her rambles, after
she had been with the Indians some time, she discovered a cave in the
mountains, and in company with the old squaw that guarded her, she
explored it and found a large diamond, but her mistress immediately de
manded it, and she was forced to give it up. She said also here in these
mountains she saw a bush which had thorns on it resembling fish-hooks
which the Indians used to catch fish with, and she herself has often
caught trout with them in the little mountain streams.
CYNTHIA ANN PAKKER.
capture. She had never seen her little son, James Pratt,
since soon after their capture, and knew nothing of his
fate. She wrote, or dictated a thrilling and graphic
history of her capture and the horrors of her captivity f
the tortures and hardships she endured, and all the inci
dents of her life with her captors, with observations
among the savages. 2 In this book she tells the last she
saw of Cynthia Ann and John Parker. She died on
the 1 9th of February, 1839, 3 ust one Y ear after reach
ing home. As a remarkable coincidence it may be
stated that she was born on the i9th, married on the
1 9th, captured on the i9th, released on the i9th,
reached Independence on the I9th, arrived at home on
the 1 9th, and died on the i9th of the month.
Her son, James Pratt Plummer, after six long and
weary years of captivity and suffering, during which
time he had lived among many different tribes and
traveled several thousand miles, was ransomed and
taken to Fort Gibson late in 1842, and reached home
in February, 1843, in charge of his grand-father. He
(2 This valuable and interesting little book is now rare, scarce and
out of print. The full title of the volume is :
"Narration of the Perilous Adventures, miraculous escapes and suf
ferings of Kev. Jas. W. Parker, during a frontier residence in Texas of
fifteen years. With an impartial geographical description of the climate,
soil, timber, water, etc., of Texas." To which is appended the narra
tive of the capture and subsequent sufferings of Mrs. Kachel Plummer
(his daughter) during a captivity of twenty-one months among the
Comanche Indians, etc. 18 mo, p. p. 95 35, boards. Louisville, 1844.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 27
became a respected citizen of Anderson county. Both
he and his father are now dead.
This still left in captivity Cynthia and John Parker,
who, as subsequently learned,. were held by separate
bands. The brother and sister thus separated, gradu
ally forgot the language, manners and customs of their
own people, and became thorough Comanches as the
long years stole slowly away. How long the camera
of their young brains retained impressions of the old
home within the fort, and the loved faces of their pale-
faced kindred, no one knows ; though it would appear
that the fearful massacre should have stamped an im
press indellible while life continued. But the young
mind, as the twig, is inclined by present circumstances,
and often forced in a way wholly foreign to its native
and original bent.
John grew up with the little semi-nude Comanche
boys of his own age, and played at "hunter" and
" warrior" with pop-guns made of the elder stem, or
bows and arrows, and often flushed the chaparral for
hare and grouse, or entrapped the finny denizens of
the mountain brooks with the many peculiar and in
genious devices of the wild man for securing for his
repast the toothsome trout which abounds so plentifully
in that elevated and delightful region, so long inhab
ited by the lordly Comanches.
28 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
When just arrived at manhood, John accompanied
a raiding party down the Rio Grande and into Mexico.
Among the captives taken was a young Mexican girl
of great beauty, to whom the young warrior felt his
heart go out. The affection was reciprocated on the
part of the fair Dona Juanita, and the two were soon
engaged to be married, so soon as they should arrive at
the Comanche village. Each day as the cavalcade
moved leisurely, but steadily along, the lovers could be
seen riding together, and discussing the anticipated
pleasures of connubial life, when suddenly John was
prostrated by a violent attack of small-pox. The cav
alcade could not tarry, and so it was decided that the
poor fellow should be left all alone in the vast Llano
Esticado to die or recover as fate decreed. But the
little Aztec beauty refused to leave her lover, insisting
on her captors allowing her to remain and take care of
him. To this the Indians reluctantly consented.
With Juanita to nurse and cheer him up, John ling
ered, lived, and ultimately recovered, when, with as
little ceremony, perhaps, as consummated the nuptials
of the first pair in Eden, they assumed the matrimoni
al relation ; and Dona Juanita' s predilections for the
customs and comforts of civilization were sufficiently
strong to induce her lord to abandon the wild and no
madic life of a savage for the comforts to be found in a
straw-thatched Jackal. "They settled," says Mr.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 29
Thrall, the historian of Texas, "on a stock ranch in the
far West." When the civil war broke out John Parker
joined a Mexican company in the Confederate service,
and was noted for his gallantry and daring. He, how
ever, refused to leave the soil of Texas, and would,
under no circumstances, cross the Sabine into Louisi
ana. He was still living on his ranch across the Rio
Grande a few years ago, but up to that time had never
visited any of his relatives in Texas.
Of Cynthia Ann Parker (we will anticipate the
thread of the narrative). Four long years have
elapsed since she was cruelly torn from a mother's em
brace and carried into captivity. During this time no
tidings have been recieved of her. Many efforts have
been made to ascertain her whereabouts, or fate, but
without success; when in 1840, Col. Len. Williams,
an old and honored Texian, Mr. - Stoat, a trader,
and a Delaware Indian guide, named "Jack Harry,"
packed mules with goods and engaged in an expedi
tion of private traffic with the Indians.
On the Canadian river they fell in withPa-ha-u-ka's
band of Comanches, with whom they were peaceably
conversant. And with this tribe was Cynthia Ann
Parker, who from the day of her capture had never
seen a white person. She was then about fourteen
years of age and had been with the Indians nearly five
30 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
Col. Williams found the Indian into whose family
she had been adopted, and proposed to redeem her,
but the Comanche told him all the goods he had
would not ransom her, and at the same time "the
fierceness of his countenance," says Col. Williams,
"warned me of the danger of further mention of the
subject." But old Pa-ha-u-ka prevailed upon him to
let them see her. She came and sat down by the root of
a tree, and while their presence was doubtless a happy
event to the poor stricken captive, who in her doleful
captivity had endured everything but death, she refused
to speak a word. As she sat there, musing, perhaps,
of distant relatives and friends, and the bereavements
at the beginning and progress of her distress, they em
ployed every persuasive art to evoke some expression.
They told her of her playmates and relatives, and
asked what message she would send them, but she had
doubtless been commanded to silence, and with no
hope or prospect of return was afraid to appear sad or
dejected, and by a stocial effort in order to prevent fu
ture bad treatment, put the best face possible on the
matter. But the anxiety of her mind was betrayed by
the perceptible quiver of her lips, showing that she was
not insensible to the common feelings of humanity.
As the years rolled by Cynthia Ann speedily devel
oped the charms of womanhood, as with the dusky
maidens of her companionship she performed the
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 31
menial offices of drudgery to which savage custom
consigns women, or practiced those little arts of
coquetry maternal to the female heart, whether she be
a belle of Madison Square, attired in the most elabor
ate toilet from the elite bazars of Paris, or the half
naked savage with matted locks and claw-like nails.
Doubtless the heart of more than one warrior was
pierced by the Ulyssean darts from her laughing eyes,
or charmed by the silvery ripple of her joyous laughter,
and laid at her feet the game taken after a long and
arduous chase among the Antelope Hills.
Among the number whom her budding charms
brought to her shrine was Peta Nocona. a Comanche
war chief, in prowess and renown the peer of the
famous and redoubtable "Big Foot," who fell in a
desperately contested hand-to-hand encounter with the
veteran ranger and Indian fighter, Captain S. P. Ross,
now living at Waco, and whose wonderful exploits
and deeds of daring furnished themes for song and
story at the war dance, the council, and the camp-fire.
Cynthia Ann, stranger now to every word of her
mother tongue save her own name became the bride
of Pata Nocona, performing for her imperious lord all
the slavish offices which savageism and Indian custom
assigns as the duty of a wife. She bore him children,
and we are assured loved him with a species of fierce
passion, and wifely devotion; " for some fifteen years
32 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
after her capture," says Victor M. Rose, u a party of
white hunters, including some friends of her family,
visited the Comanche encampment on the upper Cana
dian, and recognizing Cynthia Ann probably through
the medium of her name alone, sounded her in a se
cret manner as to the disagreeableness of a return to
her people and the haunts of civilization. She shook
her head in a sorrowful negative, and pointed to her
little, naked barbarians sporting at her feet, and to the
great greasy, lazy buck sleeping in the shade near at
hand, the locks of a score of scalps dangling at his
belt, and whose first utterance upon arousing would be
a stern command to his meek, pale-faced wife. Though
in truth, exposure to sun and air had browned the
complexion of Cynthia Ann almost as intensely as
were those of the native daughters of the plains and
She retained but the vaguest remembrance of her
people as dim and flitting as the phantoms of a
dream ; she was accustomed now to the wild life she
led, and found in its repulsive features charms which
"upper tendom" would have proven totally deficient
in : "I am happily wedded," she said to these visitors.
"I love my husband, who is good and kind, and my
little ones, who, too, are his, and I cannot forsake
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 33
What were the incidents in the savage life of these
children which in after times became the land marks in
the train of memory, and which with civilized crea
tures serves as incentives to reminiscence?
"Doubtless," says Mr. Rose, "Cynthia Ann arrayed
herself in the calico borne from the sacking of Linville,
and fled with the discomfited Comanches up the Gaud-
aloupe and Colorado, at the ruthless march of John
H. Moore, Ben McCulloch and their hardy rangers.
They must have been present at the battle of Antelope
Hills, on the Canadian, when Col. John S. Ford,
"Old Rip" and Captain S. P. Ross encountered the
whole force of the Comanches, in 1858; perhaps John
Parker was an actor in that celebrated battle ; and
again at the Wichita."
" Their' s must have been a hard and unsatisfactory
life the Comanches are veritable Ishmaelites, their
hands being raised against all men, and every man's
hand against them. Literally, "eternal vigilance was
the price of liberty" with them, and of life itself.
Every night the dreaded surprise was sought to be
guarded against ; and every copse was scanned for the
anticipated ambuscade while upon the march. Did
they flount the blood-drabbled scalps of helpless whites
in fiendish glee, and assist at the cruel torture of the
unfortunate prisoners that fell into their hands? Alas !
forgetful of their race and tongue, they were thorough
34 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
savages, and acted in all particulars just as their Indian
comrades did. Memory was stored but with the hard
ships and the cruelties of the life about them ; arid the
stolid indifference of mere animal existence furnishes
no finely wrought springs for the rebound of reminis
The year 1846, one decade from the fall of Parker's
Fort, witnessed the end of the Texian Republic, in
whose councils Isaac Parker served as a senator, and
the blending of the Lone Star with the gallaxy of the
great constellation of the American Union during
which time many efforts were made to ascertain defi
nitely the whereabouts of the captives, as an indispen
sable requisite to their reclamation sometimes by soli
tary scouts and spies, sometimes through the medium of
negotiation and sometimes by waging direct war
against their captors, but all to no avail.
Another decade passes away, and the year 1856 ar
rives. The hardy pioneers have pushed the frontier of
civilization far to the north and west, driving the In
dian and the buffalo before them. The scene of Park
er's Fort is now in the heart of a dense population;
farms, towns, churches, and school houses lie along the
path by which the Indians marched from their camp
at the " water-hole" in that bloody May of 1836,
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 35
Isaac Parker is now a Representative in the Legislature
of the State of Texas. It is now twenty years since the
battle of San Jacinto twenty years since John and
Cynthia Ann were borne into a captivity worse than
death the last gun of the Mexican war rung out its
last report over the conquered capital of Mexico ten
long years ago ; but John and Cynthia Ann Parker
have sent no tokens to their so long anxious friends
that they even live : Alas ! time even blunts the edge
of anxiety, and sets bounds alike to the anguish of
man, as well as to his hopes.
The punishment of Prometheas is not of this world !
36 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
The Battle of Antelope Hills.
"Brave Colonel Ford the commander and ranger bold,
On the South Canadian did the Comauches behold,
On the 12th of May, at rising of sun,
The armies did meet and the battle begun."
The battle of the South Canadian or " Antelope
Hills," fought in 1858, was probably one of the most
splendid scenic exhibitions of Indian warfare ever en
acted upon Texas soil. This was the immemorial
home of the Comanches here they sought refuge from
their marauding expeditions into Texas and Mexico ;
and here, in their veritable "city of refuge," should
the adventurous and daring rangers seek them, it was
certain that they would be encountered in full force
Pohebits Quasho "Iron Jacket," so called from the
fact that he wore a coat of scale mail, a curious piece
of ancient armor, which doubtless had been stripped
from the body of some unfortunate Spanish Knight
slain, perhaps, a century before some chevalier who
followed Coronado, De Leon, La Salle was the war
chief. He was a "Big Medicine" man, or Prophet,
and claimed to be invulnerable to balls and arrows
aimed at his person, as by a necromantic puff of his
breath the missives were diverted from their course, or
charmed, and made to fall harmless at his feet.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 37
Peta Nocono, the young and daring husband of
Cynthia Ann Parker, was second in command.
About the ist of May, in the year above named,
Col. John S. Ford, ("Old Rip,") at the head of 100
Texian Rangers comprising such leaders as Capts.
S. P. Ross, (the father of Gen. L. S. Ross) ; W. A.
Pitts, Preston, Tankersley, and a contingent of in
Toncahua Indians, the latter commanded by their cele
brated chief, Placido so long the faithful and implic
itly trusted friend of the whites marched on a cam
paign against the maruding Comanches, determined to
follow them up to their stronghold amid the hills of the
Canadian river, and if possible surprise them and in
flict a severe and lasting chastisement.
After a toilsome march of several days the Toncahua
scouts reported that they were in the immediate vicini
ty of the Comanche encampment. The Comanches,
though proverbial for their sleepless vigilance, were un
suspicious of danger and so unsuspected was the ap
proach of the rangers, that on the day preceding the
battle, Col. Ford and Capt. Ross stood in the old road
from Fort Smith to Santa Fe, just north of the Rio
Negro or "False Wichita," and watched through their
glasses the Comanches running buffalo in the valleys
still more to the north. That night the Toncahua
spies completed the hazardous mission of locating defi
nitely the position of the enemy's encampment. The
CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
next morning (May 12) the rangers and "reserve" or
friendly Indians, marched before sunrise to the attack.
Placido claimed for his "red warriors" the privi
lege of wreaking vengeance upon their hereditary
enemies. His request was granted, and the Tonca-
huas effected a complete surprise. The struggle was
short, sharp and sanguinary. The women and chil
dren were made prisoners, but not a Comanche brave
surrendered. Their savage pride preferred death to
the restraints and humiliations of captivity. Not a
single warrior escaped to bear the sorrowful tidings of
this destructive engagement to their people.
A short time after the sun had lighted the tops of the
hills, the rangers came in full view of the hostile camp,
pitched in one of the picturesque valleys of the Cana
dian, and on the opposite side of the stream, in the
immediate vicinity of the famous "Antelope Hills."
The panorama thus presented to the view of the
rangers was beautiful in the extreme, and their pent-
up enthusiasm found vent in a shout of exultation,
which was speedily suppressed by Col. Ford. Just at
this moment a solitary Comanche was descried riding
southward, evidently heading for the village which
Placido had so recently destroyed. He was wholly un-
concious of the proximity of an enemy. Instant pur
suit was now made ; he turned, and fled at full speed
toward the main camp across the Canadian, closely fol-
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 39
lowed by the rangers. He dashed across the stream,
and thus revealed to his pursuers the locality of a safe
ford across the miry and almost impassable river. He
rushed into the village beyond, sounding the notes of
alarm ; and soon the Comanche warriors presented a
bold front of battle-line between their women and
children and the advancing rangers. After a few min
utes occupied in forming line of battle, both sides were
arrayed in full force and effect. The friendly Indians
were placed on the right, and thrown a little forward.
Col. Ford's object was to deceive the Comanches as to
the character of the attacking force, and as to the qual
ity of arms they possessed.
Pohebits Quasho, arrayed in all the trappings of his
"war toggery" coat of mail, shield, bow and lance,
completed by a head-dress decorated with feathers and
long red flannel streamers; and besmeared in " war
paint," gaily dashed about on his " war-horse" mid
way of the opposing lines, delivering taunts and chal
lenges to the whites. As the old chief dashed to and
fro a number of rifles were discharged at him in point
blank range without any effect whatever ; which seem
ing immunity to death encouraged his warriors greatly ;
and induced even some of the more superstitious
among the rangers to enquire within themselves if it
were possible that "Old Iron Jacket" really bore a
charmed life? Followed by a few of his braves, he
40 CYNTHIA ANN PAKKER.
now bore down upon the rangers, described a few
" charmed circles," gave a few necromantic puffs with
his breath and let fly several arrows at Col. Ford, Capt.
Ross and chief Placido ; receiving their fire without
harm. But as he approached the line of the Tonca-
huas, a rifle directed by the steady nerve and unerring
eye of one of their number, Jim Pockmark, brought
the "Big Medicine" to the dust. The shot was a
mortal one. The fallen chieftain was instantly sur
rounded by his braves, but the spirit of the conjuring
brave had taken its flight to the "happy hunting
These incidents occupied but a brief space of time,
when the order to charge was given ; and then ensued
one of the grandest assaults ever made against the
Comanches. The enthusiastic shouts of the rangers
and the triumphant yell of their red allys greeted the
welcome order. It was responded to by the defiant
"war-hoop" of the Comanches, and in those virgin
hills, remote from civilization, the saturnalia of battle
was inaugurated. The shouts of enraged combatants,
the wail of women, the piteous cries of terrified chil
dren, the howling of frightened dogs, the deadly re
ports of rifle and revolver, constituted a discordant
confusion of sounds, blent together in an unearthly
mass of infernal noise.
The conflict was sharp and quick a charge ; a mo
mentary exchange of rifle and arrow shots, and the
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 41
heart-rending wail of discomfiture and dismay, and
the beaten Comanches abandoned their lodges and
camp to the victors, and began a disorderly retreat.
But sufficient method was observed to take advantage
of each grove of timber, each hill and ravine, to make
a stand against their pursuers ; and thus enable the
women and children to make their escape. The noise
of battle now diverged from a common center like
the spokes of a wheel, and continued to greet the ear
for several hours, gradually growing fainter as the pur
suit disappeared in the distance.
But another division, under the vigilant Peta No-
cona, was soon marching through the hills north of
the Canadian, to the rescue. Though ten miles dis
tant, his quick ear had caught the first sounds of the
battle ; and soon he was riding, with Cynthia Ann by
his side, at the head of (500) five hundred warriors.
About i o'clock of the afternoon the last of the
rangers returned from the pursuit of Pohebits Qua-
sho's discomfited braves, just in time to anticipate this
As Capt. Ross (who was one of the last to return)
rode up, he enquired u What hour of the morning is
it, Colonel?" "Morning!" exclaimed Col. Ford, "it
is one o'clock of the afternoon ;" so unconscious is one of
the flight of time during an engagement, that the work of
42 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
hours seems comprised within the space of a few
4 "Hello! what are you in line of battle for?" asked
Ross. "Look at the hills there, and you will see,"
calmly replied Col. Ford, pointing to the hills some
half a mile distant, behind which the forces of Peta
Nocona were visible ; an imposing line of 500 war
riors drawn up in battle array.
Col. Ford had with 221 men fought and routed over
400 Comanches, and now he was confronted by a
stronger force, fresh from their village still higher up
on the Canadian. They had come to drive the "pale
faces" and their hated copper-colored allies from the
captured camp, to retake prisoners, to retake over four
hundred head of horses and an immense quantity of
plunder. They did not fancy the defiant state of
preparations awaiting them in the valley, however, and
were waiting to avail themselves of some incautious
movement on the part of the rangers, when the wily
Peta Nocona with his forces would spring like a lion
from his lair, and with one combined and desperate
effort swoop down and annihilate the enemy. But his
antagonist was a soldier of too much sagacity to allow
any advantage to a vigilant foe.
The two forces remained thus contemplating each
other for over an hour ; during which time a series of
operations ensued between single combatants illustrat-
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 43
ive of the Indian mode of warfare, and the marked
difference between the nomadic Comanche and his
semi-civilized congeners, the Tonchua. The Ton-
chuas took advantage of ravines, trees and other natu
ral shelter. Their arms were rifles and "six-shooters."
The Comanches came to the attack with shield and
bow and lance, mounted on gaily caparisoned and
prancing steeds, and flaunting feathers and all the
"georgeous" display incident to savage " finery" and
pomp. They are probably the most expert equestri
ans in the world. A Comanche warrior would gaily
canter to a point half way between the opposing lines,
yell a defiant "war hoop," and shake his shield. This
was a challenge to single combat.
Several of the friendly Indians who accepted such
challenges were placed hors de combat by their more
expert adversaries, and in consequence Col. Ford or
dered them to decline the savage banters ; much to the
dissatisfaction of Placido, who had conducted himself
throughout the series of engagements with the bearing
of a savage hero.
Says Col. Ford: "In these combats the mind of the
spectator was vividly carried back to the days of chiv
alry ; the jousts and tournaments of knights and to
the concomitants of those scenic exhibitions of gal
lantry. The feats of horsemanship were splendid, the
lances and shields were used with great dexterity, and
44 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
the whole performance was a novel show to civilized
Col. Ford now ordered Placido, with a part of his
warriors, to advance in the direction of the enemy, and if
possible draw them in the valley, so as to afford the
rangers an opportunity to charge them. This had the
desired effect, and the rangers were ready to deliver a
charge, when it was discovered that the friendly Indi
ans had removed the white badges from their heads
because they served as targets for the Comanches, con
sequently the rangers were unable to distinguish friend
from foe. This necessitated the entire withdrawal of
the Indians. The Comanches witnessed these prepa
rations and now commenced to recoil. The rangers
advanced ; the trot, the gallop, the headlong charge,
followed in rapid succession. Lieut. Nelson made a
skillful movement and struck the enemy's left flank.
The Comanche line was broken. A running fight for
three or four miles ensued. The enemy was driven back
wherever he made a stand. The most determined re
sistance was made in a timbered ravine. Here one of
Placido's warriors was killed, and one of the rangers,
young George W. Pascal wounded. The Comanches
left some dead upon the spot and had several more
wounded. After routing them at this point the rangers
continued to pursue them some distance, intent upon
taking the women and children prisoners but Peta
STOKY OF HEK CAPTURE. 45
Nocona, by the exercise of those commanding qualities
which had often before signalized his conduct on the
field, succeeded in covering their retreat, and thus al
lowing them to escape. It was now about 4 p. M., both
horses and men were almost entirely exhausted, and
Col. Ford ordered a halt and returned to the village.
Brave old Placido and his warriors fought like so
many demons. It was difficult to restrain them, so
anxious were they to wreak vengeance on the Co-
In all of these engagements seventy-five (75) Co-
manches "bit the dust."
The loss of the rangers was small, two killed and
five or six wounded.
The trophies of Pohebits Quasho, including his lance,
bow, shield, head-dress and the celebrated coat of scale
mail, was deposited by Col. Ford in the State archives
at Austin, where, doubtless, they may yet be seen, as
curious relics of by-gone days.
The lamented old chief, Placido, fell a victim to the
revengeful Comanches during the latter part of the
great civil war, between the North and South ; being
assassinated by a party of his enemies on the reserva
tion, near Fort Sill.
The venerable John Henry Brown, some years
since, paid a merited tribute to his memory through
the columns of the Dallas Herald*
46 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
Of Placido it has been said that he was the "soul of
honor," and "never betrayed a trust." That he was
brave to the utmost, we have only to refer to his
numerous exploits during his long and gratuitous ser
vice on our frontiers. He was implicitly trusted by
Burleson and other partisan leaders ; and rendered in
valuable services in behalf of the early Texian pion
eers ; in recognition of which he never recieved any
reward of a material nature, beyond a few paltry
pounds of gun-powder and salt. Imperial Texas
should rear a monument commemorative of his mem
ory. He was the more than Tammany of Texas !
But I am digressing from the narrative proper.
"Doubtless," says Rose, "Cynthia Ann rode from
this ill-starred field with her infant daughter pressed to
her bosom, and her sons two youths of about ten and
twelve years of age, at her side, as fearful of capture
at the hands of the hated whites, as years ago imme
diately after the massacre of Parker's Fort she had
been anxious for the same."
GENERAL L S Ross.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 47
Genl. L. S. Ross. Battle of the Wichita.
It is not our purpose in this connection^ to assume
the role of biographer to so distinguished a personage
as is the chevalier Bayard of Texas General Lawrence
Sullivan Ross. That task should be left to an abler
pen ; and besides, it would be impossible to do any
thing like justice to the romantic, adventurous, and
altogether splendid and brilliant career of the brave and
daring young ranger who rescued Cynthia Ann Park
er from captivity, at least in the circumscribed limits of
a brief biographical sketch, such as we shall be com
pelled to confine ourself to ; yet, some brief mention
of his services and exploits as a ranger captain, byway
of an introduction to the reader beyond the limits of
Texas, where his name and fame are as household
words, is deemed necessary, hence we beg leave here
to give a brief sketch of his life.
"Texas, though her annals be brief," says the
author of "Ross' Texas Brigade," counts upon her
"roll of honor" the names of many heros, living and
dead. Their splendid services are the inestimable leg
acies of the past and present, to the future. Of the
latter, it is the high prerogative of the State to enbalm
48 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
their names and memories as perpetual examples to
excite the generous emulation of the Texian youth to
the latest posterity. Of the former it is our pleasant
province to accord them those honors which their ser
vices, in so eminent a degree, entitle them to receive.
Few lands, since the days of the " Scottish Chiefs,"
have furnished material upon which to predicate a
Douglas, a Wallace, or a Ravenswood ; and the adven
tures of chivalric enterprise, arrant quest of danger,
and the personal combat, were relegated, together with
the knight's armorial trappings, to the rusty archives
of "Tower" and "Pantheon," until the Comanche
Bedouins of the Texian plains tendered in bold defi
ance the savage gauntlet to the pioneer knights of pro
gress and civilization. And though her heraldic roll
glows with the names of a Houston, a Rusk, Lamar,
McCulloch, Hayes, Chevellie, which illumine the
pages of her history with an effulgence of glory, Texas
never nurtured on her maternal bosom a son of more
filial devotion, of more loyal patriotism, or indomitable
will to do and dare, than L. S. Ross."
Lawrence Sullivan Ross was born in the village of
Bentonsport, Ohio, in the year 1838. His father,
Captain S.. P. Ross, emigrated to Texas in 1839,
casting his fortunes with the struggling pioneers who
were blazing the pathway of civilization into the wilds
of a terra incognita, as Texas then was.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 49
" Captain S. P. Ross was, for many years, pre-emi
nent as a leader against the implacable savages, who
made frequent incursions into the settlements. The
duty of repelling these forays usually devolved upon
Captain Ross and his neighbors, and, for many years,
his company constituted the only bulwark of safety
between the feeble colonist and the scalping knife.
The rapacity and treachery of his Comanche and
Kiowa foes demanded of Captain Ross sleepless vigi
lance, acute sagacity, and a will that brooked no ob
stacle or danger. It was in the performance of this
arduous duty that he slew, in single combat, "Big
Foot," a Comanche chief of great prowess, and who
was for many years the scourge of the early Texas
frontier. The services of Captain S. P. Ross are still
held in grateful remembrance by the descendants of
his compatriots, and his memory will never be suffered
to pass away while Texians feel a pride in the sterling
worth of the pioneers who laid the foundation of Tex
as' greatness and glory. Vide "Ross* Texas Bri
gade," p. 158.
The following incident, as illustrative of the charac
ter and spirit of the man and times, is given: "On
one occasion, Captain Ross, who had been visiting a
neighbor, was returning home, afoot, accompanied by
his little son, 'Sul,' as the General was familiarly
called. When within half a mile of his house, he was
50 CYNTHIA ANN PARKEK.
surrounded by fifteen or twenty mounted Comanche
warriors, who commenced an immediate attack. The
Captain, athletic and swift of foot, threw his son on
his back, and outran their ponies to the house, escap
ing unhurt amid a perfect shower of arrows."
Such were among the daily experiences of the child,
and with such impressions stamped upon the infantile
mind, it was but natural that the enthusiastic spirit of
the ardent youth should lead him to such adventures
upon the "war-path," similar to those that had signal
ized his honored father's prowess upon so many occa
Hence, we find "Sul" Ross, during vacation from
his studies at Florence Weslean University, Alabama,
though a beardless boy, scarcely twenty years of age,
in command of a contingent of 135 friendly Indians,
co-operating with the United States cavalry under the
dashing Major Earl Van Dorn, in a compaign against
# # -x- * # #&#
Notwithstanding the severe chastisement that had
been inflicted on the Comanches at " Antelope Hills,"
they soon renewed their hostilities, committing many
depredations and murders during the summer of 1858.
Early in September Major Van Dorn received or
ders from Gen. Twiggs, to equip four companies, in
cluding Ross' "red warriors," and go out on a scout-
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 51
ing expedition against the hostile Indians. This he
did, penetrating the heart of the Indian country where
he proceeded to build a stockade, placing within it all
the pack mules, extra horses and supplies, which was
left in charge of the infantry.
Ross' faithful Indian scouts soon reported the discov
ery of a large Comanche village near the Wichita
Mountains, about ninety miles away. The four com
panies, attended by the spies, immediately set out for
the village, and after a fatiguing march of thirty-six
hours, causing the men to be continuously in the saddle
the lattei sixteen hours of the ride, arrived in the im
mediate vicinity of the Indian camp just at daylight on
the morning of October ist.
A reconnoissance showed that the wily Comanches
were not apprehensive of an attack, and were sleeping
in fancied security. The horses of the tribe, which
consisted of a caballado of about 500 head, were graz
ing near the outskirts of the village. Major Van Dorn
directed Captain Ross, at the head of his Indians, to
"round up" the horses, and drive them from the
camp, which was effected speedily, and thus the Co
manches were forced to fight on foot a proceeding
extremely harrowing to the proud warriors' feelings.
"Just as the sun was peeping above the eastern
horizon," says Victor M. Rose, whose graphic narra
tive we again quote, "Van Dorn charged the upper
52 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
end of the village, while Ross' command, in conjunc
tion with a detachment of United States cavalry,
charged the lower. The village was strung out along
the banks of a branch for several hundred yards. The
morning was very foggy, and after a few moments of
firing the smoke and fog became so dense that objects
at but a short distance could be distinguished only with
great difficulty. The Comanches fought with absolute
desperation, and contended for every advantage, as
their women and children., and all their possessions,
were in peril.
'A few moments after the engagement became gen
eral, Ross discovered a number of Comanches running
down to the branch, about one hundred and fifty yards
from the village, and concluded that they were beating
a retreat. Immediately, Ross, Lieutenant Van Camp
of the United States Army, Alexander, a ' regular'
soldier, and one Caddo Indian, of Ross' command,
ran to the point with the intention of intercepting them.
Arriving, it was discovered that the fugitives were the
women and children. In a moment, another posse of
women and children came running immediately past
the squad of Ross, who, discovering a little white girl
among the number, made his Caddo Indian grab her
as she was passing. The little pale-face apparently
about twelve years of age was badly frightened at
finding herself a captive to a strange Indian and
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 53
stranger white men, and was hard to manage at first.
"Ross now discovered, through the fog and smoke
of the battle, that a band of some twenty-five Co-
manche warriors had cut his small party off from com
munication with Van Dorn, and were bearing immedi
ately down upon them. They shot Lieutenant Van
Camp through the heart, killing him ere he could fire
his double-barrelled shot-gun. Alexander, the United
States Cavalryman, was likewise shot down before he
could fire his gun (a rifle). Ross was armed with a
Sharp's rifle, and attempted to fire upon the exultant
red devils, but the cap snapped. 'Mohee,' a Co-
manche warrior, siezed Alexander's rifle and shot Ross
down. The indomitable young ranger fell upon the
side on which his pistol was borne, and though partially
paralyzed by the shot, he turned himself, and was get
ting his pistol out when 'Mohee' drew his butcher-
knife, and started towards his prostrate foe some
fifteen feet away with the evident design of stabbing
and scalping him. He made but a few steps, however,
when one of his companions cried out something in the
Comanche tongue, which was a signal to the band,
and they broke away in confusion. 'Mohee' ran
about twenty steps, when a wire-cartridge, containing
nine buck-shot, fired from a gun in the hands of Lieu
tenant James Majors, (afterwards a Confederate Gen
eral), struck him between the shoulders, and he fell
54 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
forward on his face, dead. 'Mohee' was an old ac
quaintance of Ross, as the latter had seen him fre
quently at his father's post on the frontier, and recog
nized him as soon as their eyes met. The faithful
Caddo held on to the little girl throughout this desper
ate melee, and, strange to relate, neither were harmed.
The Caddo, doubtless, owed his escape to the fact that
the Comanches were fearful of wounding or killing the
little girl. This whole scene transpired in a few mo
ments, and Captain N. G. Evans' company of the
Second United States Cavalry, had taken possession of
the lower end of the Comanche village, and Major
Van Dorn held the upper, and the Comanches were
running into the hills and brush ; not, however, before
an infuriated Comanche shot the gallant Van Dorn
with an arrow. Van Dorn fell, and it was supposed
that he was mortally wounded. In consequence of
their wounds, the two chieftains were compelled to re
main on the battle ground five or six days. After the
expiration of this time, Ross' Indians made a 'litter,'
after their fashion, borne between two gentle mules,
and in it placed their heroic and beloved 'boy cap
tain,' and set out for the settlements at Fort Belknap.
When this mode of conveyance would become too
painful, by reason of the rough, broken nature of
the country, these brave Caddos whose race and his
tory are but synonyms of courage and fidelity would
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 55
vie with each other in bearing the burden upon their
own shoulders. At Camp Radziminski, occupied by
United States forces, an ambulance was obtained, and
the remainder of the journey made with comparative
comfort. Major Van Dorn was also conveyed to
Radziminski. He speedily recovered of his wound, and
soon made another brilliant campaign against the Co-
manches, as we shall see further on. Ross recovered
sufficiently in a few weeks so as to be able to return to
college at Florence, Alabama, where he completed his
studies, and graduated in 1859."
This was the battle of the Wichita Mountains, a
hotly contested and most desperate hand to hand fight
in which the two gallant and dashing young officers,
Ross and Van Dorn, were severely wounded. The loss
of the whites was five killed and several wounded.
The loss of the Comanches was, eighty or ninety
warriors killed, many wounded, and several captured ;
besides losing all their horses, camp equipage, sup
The return of this victorious little army was hailed
with enthusiastic rejoicing and congratulation, and the
Wichita fight and Van Dorn and Ross were the themes
of song and story for many years along the borders and
in the halls and banqueting-rooms of the cities, and the
martial music of the " Wichita March" resounded
through the plains of Texas wherever the Second
56 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
Cavalry encamped or rocle off on scouts in after years.
The little girl captive of whose parentage or history
nothing could be ascertained, though strenuous efforts
were made was christened " Lizzie Ross," in honor
of MissZzV^VTinsley, daughter of Dr. D. R. Tinsley,
of Waco, to whom Ross at that time was engaged ; and
afterwards married May, 1861.
Of Lizzie Ross, it can be said that, in her career, is
afforded a thorough verification of Lord Byron's say
ing: " Truth is stranger than fiction!" She was
adopted by her brave and generous captor, properly
reared and educated, and became a beautiful and ac
complished woman. Here were sufficient romance and
vicissitude, in the brief career of a little maiden, to
have turned the " roundelay's" of " troubadour and
meunesauger." A solitary lily, blooming amidst the
wildest grasses of the desert plains. A little Indian
girl in all save the Caucasian's conscious stamp of su
periority. Torn from home, perhaps, amid the heart
rending scenes of rapine, torture and death. A stran
ger to race and lineage stranger even to the tongue
in which a mother's lullaby was breathed. Affiliating
with these wild Ishmaelites of the prairie a Comanche
in all thingss ave the intuitive premonition that she ivas
not of them! Finally, redeemed from a captivity
worse than death by a knight entitled to rank, for all
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 57
time in the history of Texas, "primus inter -pores"
Vide "Ross Texas Brigade," p. 178.
Lizzie Ross accompanied Gen. Ross' mother on a
visit to the State of California, a few years since, and
while there, became the wife of a wealthy merchant
near Los Angeles, where she now resides.
Such is the romantic story of " Lizzie Ross" a
story that derives additional interest because of the fact
of its absolute truth in all respects. 1
(1. The following letter from Gen. L. S. Ross, touching upon the
battle of the Wichita Mountains and the re-capture of "Lizzie Ross," is
here appropriately inserted :
"WACO, TEXAS, July 12. 1884.
"MR. JAMES T. DESHIELDS. Dear Sir: My father could give
you reliable data enough to fill a volume. I send you photograph of
Cynthia Ann Parker, with notes relating to her on back of photo. On
the 28th of October, 1858, 1 had a battle with the Comauches at Wichita
Mts., and there recaptured a little white girl about eight years old,
whose parentage, nor indeed any trace of her kindred, was ever found.
I adopted, reared, and educated her, giving her the name of Lizzie Ross;
the former name being in honor of the young lady Lizzie Tinsley to
whom I was then engaged and afterwards married May, 1861.
"Lizzie Ross grew to womanhood, and married a wealthy merchant
living near Los Angeles, California, where she now resides. See History
of 'Ross' Brigade' by Victor M. Rose, and published by Courier-Jour
nal, for a full and graphic description of the battle and other notable in
cidents. I could give you many interesting as well as thrilling adven
tures of self and father's family with the Indians in the early settlement
of the country.
"He can give you more information than any living Texian, touch
ing the Indian character, having been their agent and warm and trusted
friend, in whom they had confidence.
"My early life was one of constant danger from their forays, and I
was twice in their hands and at their mercy, as well as the other mem
bers of my father's family.
"But I am just now too busy with my farm matters to give you such
data as would subserve your purpose.
-Yours truly, L. S. Ross."
58 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
Battle of Pease River. Cynthia Ann Parker.
For some time after Ross' victory at the Wichita
Mountains the Comanches were less hostile, seldom
penetrating far down into the settlements. But in
1 85 9-' 60 the condition of the frontier was again truly
deplorable. The people were obliged to stand in a con
tinued posture of defense, and were in continual alarm
and hazard of their lives, never daring to stir abroad
unarmed, for small bodies of savages, quick-sighted
and accustomed to perpetual watchfulness, hovered on
the outskirts, and springing from behind bush or rock,
surprised his enemy before he was aware of danger,
and sent tidings of his presence in the fatal blow, and
after execution of the bloody work, by superior knowl
edge of the country and rapid movements, safely re
tired to their inaccessable deserts.
In the Autumn of 1860 the indomitable and fearless
Peta Nocona led a raiding party of Comanches
through Parker county, so named in honor of the fam
ily of his wife, Cynthia Ann, committing great depre
dations as they passed through. The venerable Isaac
Parker was at the time a resident of the town of
Weatherford, the county seat ; and little did he imag
ine that the chief of the ruthless savages who spread
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 59
desolation and death on every side as far as their arms
could reach , was the husband of his long lost niece
and that the comingled blood of the murdered Parkers
and the atrocious Comanche now coursed in the veins
of a second generation bound equally by the ties of
consanguinity to murderer and murdered ; that the son
of Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker would be
come the chief of the proud Comanches, whose boast
it is that their constitutional settlement of government
is the purest democracy ever originated and adminis
tered among men. It certainly conserved the object of
its institution the protection and happiness of the peo
pie for a longer period, and much more satisfactorily
than has that of any other Indian tribe. The Co
manches claimed a superiority over the other Texian
tribes and they unquestionably were more intelligent
and courageous. The "Reservation Policy," neces-
essary though it be brings them all to an object level,
the plane of lazy beggars and thieves. The Co
manche is the most qualified by nature for receiving
education and for adapting himself to the requirements
of civilization, of all the southern tribes, not excepting
even the Cherokees, with their churches, school-houses
and farms. The Comanches after waging an unceasing
war for nearly fifty years against the United States,
Texas and Mexico, still number 16,000 souls* a far
better showing than any other tribe can make, though
60 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
not one but has enjoyed privileges to which the Co-
manche was a stranger. It is a shame to the civiliza
tion of the age that a people so susceptible of a high
degree of development should be allowed to grovel in
the depths of heathenism and savagery. But we are
The loud and clamorous cries of the settlers along
the frontier for protection, induced the Government to
organize and send out a regiment under Col. M. T.
Johnson to take the field for public defense. But these
efforts proved of small service. The expedition,
though at great expense to the state, failed to find an
Indian until returning, the command was followed by
the wily Comanches, their horses "stampeded" at
night and most of the men compelled to reach the settle
ments on foot, under great suffering and exposure.
Captain "Sul" Ross, who had just graduated from
Florence Wesleyan University, of Alabama, and re
turned to Texas, was commissioned a captain of rang
ers, by Governor Sam Houston, and directed to organ
ize a company of sixty men, with orders to repair to
Fort Belknap, receive from Col. Johnson all govern
ment property, as his regiment was disbanded, and
take the field against the redoubtable Peta Nocona, and
afford the frontier such protection as was possible to
this small force. The necessity of vigorous measures
soon became so pressing that Capt. Ross determined to
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 61
attempt to curb the insolence of these implacable
enemies of Texas by following them into their fast
nesses and carry the war into their own homes. In
his graphic narration of this campaign Gen. L. S. Ross
says : ' ' As I could take but forty of my men from my
post, I requested Capt. N. G. Evans, in command of
the United States troops, at Camp Cooper, to send me
a detachment of the Second Cavalry. We had been
intimately connected on the Van Dorn campaign, dur
ing which I was the recipient of much kindness from
Capt. Evans while I was suffering from a severe
wound received from an Indian in the battle of the
' Wichita.' He promptly sent me a sergeant and twen
ty well mounted men. My force was still further aug
mented by some seventy volunteer citizens under
command of the brave old frontiersman, Capt. Jack
Cureton, of Bosque county. These self-sacrificing pa
triots, without the hope of pay or reward, left their de-
defenseless homes and families to avenge the sufferings
of the frontier people. With pack-mules laden down
with necessary supplies the expedition marched for the
"On the 1 8th of December, 1860, while march
ing up Pease river, I had some suspicions that Indians
were in the vicinity, by reason of the buffalo that came
running in great numbers from the north towards us,
and while my command moved in the low ground I
62 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
visited all neighboring high points to make discoveries.
On one of these sand hills I found four fresh pony
tracks, and being satisfied that Indian videtts had just
gone, I galloped forward about a mile to a higher point,
and riding to the top, to my inexpressable surprise,
found myself within 200 yards of a Comanche village,
located on a small stream winding around the base of
the hill. It was a most happy circumstance that a
piercing north wind was blowing, bearing with it
clouds of sand, and my presence was unobserved and
the surprise complete. By signaling my men as I
stood concealed, they reached me without being dis
covered by the Indians, who were busy packing up pre
paratory to a move. By this time the Indians mounted
and moved off north across the level plain. My com
mand, with the detachment of the Second Cavalry,
had out-marched and become separated from the citi
zen command, which left me about sixty men. In
making disposition for attack, the sergeant and his
twenty men were sent at a gallop, behind a chain of
sand hills, to encompass them in and cut off their re
treat, while with forty men I charged. The attack was
so sudden that a considerable number were killed be
fore they could prepare for defense. They fled precipi
tately right into the presence of the sergeant and his
men. Here they met with a warm reception, and
finding themselves completely encompassed, every one
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 63
fled his own way, and was hotly pursued and hard
"The chief of the party, Peta Nocona, a noted war
rior of great repute, with a young girl about fifteen
years of age mounted on his horse behind him, and
Cynthia Ann Parker, with a girl child about two years
of age in her arms and mounted on a fleet pony, fled
together, while Lieut. Tom. Kelliheir and I pursued
them. After running about a mile Killiheir ran up by
the side of Cynthia's horse, and I was in the act of
shooting when she held up her child and stopped. I
kept on after the chief and about a half a mile further,
when in about twenty yards of him I fired my pistol,
striking the girl (whom I supposed to be a man, as she
rode like one, and only her head was visible above the
buffalo robe with which she was wrapped) near the
heart, killing her instantly, and the same ball would
have killed both but for the shield of the chief,
which hung down, covering his back. When the girl
fell from the horse she pulled him off also, but he
caught on his feet, and before steadying himself, my
horse, running at full speed, was very nearly upon top
of him, when he was struck with an arrow, which
caused him to fall to pitching or 'bucking,' and it was
with great difficulty that I kept my saddle, and in the
meantime, narrowly escaped several arrows coming in
quick succession from the chief's bow. Being at such
64 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
disadvantage he would have killed me in a few minutes
but for a random shot from my pistol (while I was
clinging with my left hand to the pommel of my sad
dle) which broke his right arm at the elbow, complete
ly disabling him. My horse then became quiet, and I
shot the chief twice through the body, whereupon he
deliberately walked to a small tree, the only one in
sight, and leaning against it, began to sing a wild,
wierd song. At this time my Mexican servant, who
had once been a captive with the Comanches and spoke
their language as fluently as his mother tongue, came
up, in company with two of my men. I then sum
moned the chief to surrender, but he promptly treated
every overture with contempt, and signalized this dec
laration with a savage attempt to thrust me with the
lance which he held in his left hand. I could only
look upon him with pity and admiration. For, de
plorable as was his situation, with no chance of escape,
his party utterly destroyed, his wife and child captured
in his sight, he was undaunted by the fate that awaited
him, and as he seemed to prefer death to life, I direct
ed the Mexican to end his misery by a charge of buck
shot from the gun which he carried. Taking up his
accouterments, which I subsequently sent Gov. Hous
ton, to be deposited in the archives at Austin, we rode
back to Cynthia Ann and Killiheir, and found him bit
terly cursing himself for having run his pet horse so
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 65
hard after an 'old squaw.' She was very dirty, both
in her scanty garments and her person. But as soon
as I looked on her face, I said, 'Why, Tom, this is a
white woman, Indians do not have blue eyes.' On the
way to the village, where my men were assembling
with the spoils, and a large caballado of 'Indian
ponies,' I discovered an Indian boy about nine years of
age, secreted in the grass. Expecting to be killed, he
began crying, but I made him mount behind me, and
carried him along. And when in after years I frequent
ly proposed to send him to his people, he steadfastly re
fused to go, and died in McLennan county last year.
"After camping for the night Cynthia Ann kept cry
ing, and thinking it was caused from fear of death at
our hands, I had the Mexican tell her that we recog
nized her as one of our own people, and would not
harm her. She said two of her boys were with her
when the fight began, and she was distressed by the
fear that they had been killed. It so happened, how
ever, both escaped, and one of them, 'Quanah' is now
a chief. The other died some years ago on the plains.
I then asked her to give me the history of her life with
the Indians, and the circumstances attending her cap
ture by them, which she promptly did in a very sensi
ble manner. And as the facts detailed corresponded
with the massacre at Parker's Fort, I was impressed
66 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
with the belief that she was Cynthia Ann Parker. Re
turning to my post, I sent her and child to the ladies at
Cooper, where she could recieve the attention her situa
tion demanded, and at the same time dispatched a
messenger to Col. Parker, her uncle, near Weather-
ford, and as I was called to Waco to meet Gov. Hous
ton, I left directions for the Mexican to accompany Col.
Parker to Cooper in the capacity of interpreter. When
he reached there, her identity was soon discovered to
Col. Parker's entire satisfaction and great happiness."
And thus was fought the battle of " Pease river" be
tween a superior force of Comanches under the implac
able chief, Peta Nocona on one side, and sixty rangers
led by their youthful commander, Capt. L. S. Ross, on
the other. Ross, sword in hand, led the furious rush
of the rangers ; and in the desperate encounter of "war
to the knife" which ensued, nearly all the warriors bit
So signal a victory had never before been gained over
the fierce and war-like Comanches and never since
that fatal December clay in 1860 have they made any
military demonstrations at all commensurate with the
fame of their proud campaigns in the past. The great
Comanche confederacy was forever broken. The in
cessant and sanguinary war which had been waged for
more than thirty years was now virtually at an end.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 67
The blow was a most decisive one ; as sudden and irre-
sistable as a thunder-bolt, and as remorseless and crush
ing as the hand of Fate.
It was a short but desperate conflict. Victory trem
bled in the balance. A determined charge, accompan
ied by a simultaneous fire from the solid phalanx of
yelling rangers and the Comanches beat a hasty retreat,
leaving many dead and wounded upon the field. Es
pying the chief and a chosen few riding at full speed,
and in a different direction from the other fugitives,
from the ill-starred field, Ross quickly pursued. Divin
ing his purpose, the watchful Pete Nocona rode at full
speed, but was soon overtaken, when the two chiefs
engaged in a personal encounter, which must result in
the death of one or the other. Peta Nocona fell, and
his last sigh was taken up in mournful wailings on the
wings of defeat. Most of the women and children
with a few warriors escaped. Many of these perished
on the cold and inhospitable plains, in an effort to reach
their friends on the head-waters of the Arkansas river.
The immediate fruits of the victory was some four
hundred and fifty horses, and their accumulated win
ter's supply of food. But the incidental fruits are not
to be computed on the basis of dollars and cents. The
proud spirit of the Comanche was here broloen, and to
this signal defeat is to be attributed the measurably pa
cific conduct of these heretofore implacable foes of the
68 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
white race during the course of the late civil war in the
Union, a boon of incalculable value to Texas.
In a letter recognizing the great service rendered the
state by Ross in dealing the Comanches this crushing
blow, Governor Houston said :
"Your success in protecting the frontier gives me
great satisfaction. I am satisfied that with the same
opportunities, you would rival, if not excel, the great
est exploits of McCulloch and Hays. Continue to re
pel, pursue, and punish every body of Indians coming
into the State, and the people will not withhold their
praise." Signed: SAM HOUSTON.
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 69
Cynthia Ann Parker. Quanah Parker.
From May I9th, 1836, to December i8th, 1860,
was twenty-four years and seven months. Add to this
nine years, her age when captured, and at the later
date Cynthia Ann Parker was in her thirty-fourth
year. During the last ten years of this quarter of a
century, which she spent as a captive among the Co-
manches, no tidings had been received of her. She
had long been given up as dead or irretrievably lost to
Notwithstanding the long lapse of time which had
intervened since the Capture of Cynthia Ann Parker,
Ross, as he interrogated his "blue eyed" but bronzed
captive, more than suspected that she was the veritable
" Cynthia Ann Parker," of which he had heard so
much from his boyhood. She was dressed in female
attire, of course, according to the custom of the Co-
manches, which being very similar to that of the males,
doubtless, gave rise to the eroneous statement that she
was dressed in male costume. So sure was Ross of her
identity that, as before stated, he at once dispatched a
messenger to her uncle, the venerable Isaac Parker ; in
the meantime placing Cynthia Ann in charge of Mrs.
70 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
Evans, wife of Capt. N. G. Evans, the commandant
at Fort Cooper, who at once, with commendable be
nevolence, administered to her necessities.
Upon the arrival of Col. Parker at Fort Cooper, in
terrogations were made her through the Mexican inter
preter, for she remembered not one word of English,
respecting her identity ; but she had forgotten absolute
ly everything, apparently, at all connected with her
family or past history.
In dispair of being able to reach a conclusion, Col.
Parker was about to leave, when he said, "The name
of my niece was Cynthia Ann." The sound of the
once familiar name, doubtless the last lingering me
mento of the old home at the fort, seemed to touch a
responsive chord in her nature, when a sign of intelli
gence lighted up her countenance, as memory by some
mystic inspiration resumed its cunning as she looked
up, and patting her breast, said, " Cynthia Ann ! Cyn
thia Ann I" At the awakening of this single spark of
reminiscence, the sole gleam in the mental gloom of
many years, her countenance brightened with a pleas
ant smile in place of the sullen expression which ha
bitually characterizes the looks of an Indian restrained
of freedom. There was now no longer any doubt as
to her identity with the little girl lost and mourned so
long. It was in reality Cynthia Ann Parker, but, O,
so changed !
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 71
But as savage-like and dark of complexion as she
was, Cynthia Ann was still dear to her overjoyed uncle,
and was welcomed home by relatives with all the joy
ous transports with which the prodigal son was hailed
upon his miserable return to the parental roof.
As thorough an Indian in manner and looks as if
she had been so born, she sought every opportunity to
escape, and had to be closely watched for some time.
Her uncle carried herself and child to his home, then
took them to Austin, where the secession convention
was in session. Mrs. John Henry Brown and Mrs.
N. C. Raymond interested themselves in her, dressed
her neatly, and on one occasion took her into the gal
lery of the hall while the convention was in session.
They soon realized that she was greatly alarmed by the
belief that the assemblage was a council of chiefs, sit
ting in judgment on her life. Mrs. Brown beckoned
to her husband, Hon. John Henry Brown, who was a
member of the convention, who appeared and succeed
ed in reassuring her that she was among friends.
Gradually her mother tongue came back, and with
it occasional incidents of her childhood, including a
recognition of the venerable Mr. Anglin, and perhaps
one or two others.
The civil war coming on soon after, which necessi
tated the resumption -of such primitive arts, she learned
to spin, weave and to perform the domestic duties.
72 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
She proved quite an adept in such work, and became a
very useful member of the household.
The ruling passion of her bosom seemed to be the
maternal instinct, and she cherished the hope that when
the war was concluded she would at last succeed in re
claiming her two children who were still with the In
dians. But it was written otherwise, and Cynthia Ann
and her little ' 'barbarian" were called hence ere "the
cruel war was over." She died at her brother's in
Anderson county, Texas, in 1864, preceded a short
time by her sprightly little daughter, " Prairie Flower."
Thus ended the sad story of a woman far famed
along the border.
How fared it with the two young orphans we may
only imagine. The lot of these helpless ones is too
often one of trials, heart-pangs, and want, even among
our enlightened people ; and it would require a painful
recital to follow the children of Peta Nocona and Cyn
thia Ann Parker from the terrible fight on Pease river,
across trackless prairies, and rugged mountain-ways, in
the inhospitable month of December, tired, hungry,
and carrying a load upon their hearts far heavier than
the physical evils which so harshly beset them. Their
father was slain, and their mother a captive. Doubt
less they were as intent upon her future recovery, dur
ing the many years in which they shared the vicissi-
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 73
tudes of their people, until the announcement of her
death reached them, as her own family had been for
her rescue during her quarter of a century of captivity.
One of the little sons of Cynthia Ann died some years
after her recapture. The other, now known as Capt.
Quanah Parker, born as he says in 1854, is the chief of
Comanches, on their reservation in the Indian Terri
tory, eencroft LibrgJ
Finally, in 1874, the Comanches were forced upon
a "reservation," near Fort Sill, to lead the beggarly
life of "hooded harlots and blanketed thieves," and it
was at this place that the "war-chief" Quanah, learned
that it was possible he might secure a photograph of
his mother. 1
An advertisement to that effect was inserted in the
Fort Worth Gazette, when General Ross at once for
warded him a copy. To his untutored mind it seemed
that a miracle had been wrought in response to his
"paper prayer*" and his exclamations, as he gazed in
tently and long upon the faithful representation of
"Preloch," or Cynthia Ann, were highly suggestive of
Cowper's lines on his mother's picture 5 and we take
(1 Mr. A. F. Corning was at Fort Worth in 1862, when Cynthia
Ann Parker passed through there. He (Mr. C.) prevailed on her to go
with him to a daguerreotype gallery (there were no photographs then)
and have her picture taken. Mr. Corning still has this daguerreotype,
and says it is an excellent likeness of the woman as she looked then. It
is now at the Academy of Art, Waco, and several photographs have been
taken from it, one of which was sent to Quanah Parker, and another to
the writer, from which the frontispiece to this work was engraved.
74 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER .
the liberty of briefly presenting a portion of the same
in verse :
My mother ! and do my weeping eyes once more
Half doubting scan thy cherished features o'er?
Yes, 'tis the pictured likeness of my dead mother,
How true to life ! It seems to breathe and move ;
Fire, love, and sweetness o'er each feature melt ;
The face expresses all the spirit felt ;
Here, while I gaze within those large, dark eyes,
I almost see the living spirit rise ;
While lights and shadows, all harmonious, glow,
And heavenly radiance settles on that brow.
What is the "medicine" I must not know,
Which thus can give to death life's bloom and glow.
O, could the white man's magic art but give
As well the happy power, and bid her live !
My name, me thinks, would be the first to break
The seal of silence, on those lips, and wake
Once more the smile that charmed her gentle face,
As she was wont to fold me in her warm embrace.
Yes, it is she, "Preloch," Nocona's pale-faced bride,
Who rode, a matchless princess, at his side,
'Neath many a bloody moon afar,
O'er tortuous paths devoted alone to war.
Long since she's joined him on that blissful shore,
Where parting and heart-breakings are no more,
And since our star with him went down in gloom,
No more to shine above the blighting doom,
'Neath which my people's hopes, alas, are fled,
I, too, but long that silent path to tread,
A child, to be with her and him again,
Healed every wound an orphan's heart can pain !
STOEY OF HER CAPTURE. 75
Quanah Parker is a Nocone, which means wanderer,
but on the capture of his mother, Preloch, and death
of his father, Quanah was adopted and cared for by the
Cohoites, and when just arrived at manhood, was
made chief by his benefactors on account of his brav
ery. His name before he became a chief was Cepe.
He has lived among several tribes of the Comanches.
He was at one time with the Cochetaker, or Buffalo
Eaters, and was the most influential chief of the Pena-
takers. Quanah is at present one of the four chiefs of
the Cohoites, who each have as many people as he has.
The Cohoite Comanches were never on a reservation
until 1874, but are to-day further advanced in civiliza
tion than any Indians on the "Comanche reservation."
Quanah speaks English, is considerably advanced in
civilization, and owns a ranche with considerable live
stock and a small farm ; wears a citizen's suit, and con
forms to the customs of civilization withal a fine-look
ing and dignified son of the plains. In 1-884, Quanah,
in company with two other prominent Comanche
chiefs, visited Mexico. In reporting their passage
through that city, the San Antonio Light thus speaks
of them :
"They bear relationship to each other of chief and two subor
dinates. Quanah Parker is the chief, and as he speaks very good
English, they will visit the City of Mexico before they return.
They came from Kiowa, Comanche and Wichita Indian Agency,
76 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
and Parker bears a paper from Indian Agent Hunt that he, Park
er, is a son of Cynthia Ann Parker, and is one of the most promi
nent chiefs of the half-breed Comanche tribe. He is also a suc
cessful stock man and farmer. He wears a citizen's suit of black,
neatly fitting, regular "tooth-pick" dude shoes, a watch and gold
chain and black felt hat. The only peculiar item in his appear
ance is his long hair, which he wears in two plaits down his back.
His two braves also wear civilization's garb. But wear heavy
boots, into which their trousers are thrust in true western fashion.
They speak nothing but their native language."
In 1885 Quanah Parker visited the World's Fair at
The following extract from the Fort Worth Gazette,
is a recent incident in his career :
"HE BLEW OUT THE GAS"
AND ON THAT BREATH THE SOUL OF YELLOW BEAR
FLEW TO ITS HAPPY HUNTING GROUNDS.
Another Instance in Which the Noble Red Man Suc
cumbs to the Influence of Civilization!
"A sensation was created on the streets yesterday by
the news of a tragedy from asphyxiation at the Pickwick
hotel, of which two noted Indians, Quanah Parker and
Yellow Bear, were the victims.
"The circumstances of the unfortunate affair were
very difficult to obtain because of the inability of the
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 77
only two men who were possessed of definite infor
mation on the subject to reveal it one on account of
death, and the other from unconsciousness. The In
dians arrived here yesterday from the Territory, on the
Fort Worth & Denver incoming train. They register
ed at the Pickwick and were asigned an apartment to
gether in the second story of the building.
Very little is known of their subsequent movements,
but from the best evidence that can be collected it ap
pears that Yellow Bear retired alone about 10 o'clock,
and that in his utter ignorance of modern appliances, he
blew out the gas. Parker, it is believed, did not seek
his room until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morn-ing, when, not
detecting from some cause the presence of gas in the
atmosphere, or not locating its origin in the room, he
shut the door and scrambled into bed, unmindful of
the deadly forces which were even then operating so
"The failure of the two Indians to appear at breakfast
or dinner caused the hotel clerk to send a man around
to awake them. He found the door locked and was
unable to get a response from the inmates. The room
was then forceably entered, and as the door swung back
the rush of the deathly perfume through the aperture
told the story. A gastly spectacle met the eyes of the
hotel employes. By the bedside in a crouched posi
tion, with his face pressed to the floor, was Yellow
78 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
Bear, in the half-nude condition which Indian fashion
in night clothes admits. In the opposite corner near
the window, which was closed, Parker was stretched
at full length upon his back. Yellow Bear was stone
dead, while the quick gasps of his companion indicated
that he was in but a stone's throw of eternity. The
chief was removed to the bed, and through the untiring
efforts of Drs. Beall and Moore his life has been saved.
"Finding Quanah sufficiently able to converse, the
reporter of the Gazette questioned him as to the cause
of the unhappy occurrence, and elicited the following
" 'I came,' said the chief, 'into the room about mid
night, and found Yellow Bear in bed. I lit the gas
myself. I smelt no gas when I came into the room.
When I went to bed I turned the gas off. I did not
blow it out. After a while I smelt the gas, but went
to sleep. I woke up and shook Yellow Bear and told
him 'I'm mighty sick and hurting all over.' Yellow
Bear says, 'I'm mighty sick, too.' I got up, and fell
down and all around the room, and that's all I know
" 'Why didn't you open the door?' asked the re
" 'I was too crazy to know anything,' replied the
chief, * * * * *
STORY OF HER CAPTURE. 79
"It is indeed, a source of congratulation that the
chief will recover, as otherwise his tribe could not be
made to understand the occurrence, and results detri
mental to those having interests in the Territory would
inevitably follow. ' '
The new town of Quanah, in Hardeman county,
Texas, was named in honor of chief Quanah Parker.
We will now conclude our little work by appending
the following letter, which gives a true pen portrait of
the celebrated chief as he appears at his home on the
"ANADARKO, I. T., Feb. 4, 1886.
"We visited Quanah in his teepe. He is a fine
specimen of physical manhood, tall, muscular as
straight as an arrow ; gray, look-you-straight-through-
the-eyes, very dark skin, perfect teeth, and a heavy,
raven-black hair the envy of feminine hearts he
wears hanging in two rolls wrapped around with red
cloth. His hair is parted in the middle the scalp-
lock is a portion of hair the size of a dollar, plaited and
tangled, signifying: 'If you want fight you can have
"Quanah is how camped with a thousand of his sub
jects at the foot of some hills near Anadarko. Their
white teepes, and the inmates dressed in their bright
blankets and feathers, cattle grazing, children playing,
80 CYNTHIA ANN PARKER.
lent a wierd charm to the lonely, desolate hills, lately
devastated by prairie fire.
"He has three squaws, his favorite being the daugh
ter of Yellow Bear, who met his death by asphyxiation
at Fort Worth in December last. He said he gave
seventeen horses for her. His daughter Cynthia,
named for her grandmother, Cynthia Parker, is an in
mate of the Indian Agent's house. Quanah was at
tired in a full suit of buck-skin tunic, leggins and
moccasins elaborately trimmed in beads a red breech-
cloth, with ornamental ends hanging down. A very
handsome and expensive Mexican blanket was thrown
around his body; in his ears were little stuffed birds.
His hair done with the feathers of bright plumaged birds.
He was handsomer by far than any I ngomar the writer
has ever seen but there was no squaw fair enough to
personate his Parthenia. His general aspect, manners,
bearing, education, natural intelligence, show plainly
that white blood trickles through his veins. When
traveling he assumes a complete civilian's outfit dude
collar, watch and chain takes out his ear-rings he of
course cannot cut off his long hair, saying that he
could no longer be 4 big chief.' He has a handsome
carriage ; drives a pair of matched grays, always
traveling with one of his squaws (to do the chores).
Minna-a-ton-ccha is with him now. She knows no
English, but while her lord is conversing, gazes, dumb
with admiration, at 'my lord' ready to obey his
slightest wish or command."