We recently wrote about the story of Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker. Today we continue the story by discussing efforts through time to remember their story by preserving Fort Parker.
After the events of the Parker story in Texas—Cynthia Ann’s capture by Comanche, her recapture and return to Texan society, her son Quanah’s role as military leader against the United States army, and his subsequent role as a political leader to help the Comanche on the reservation—the Parker story became a popular one in Texas. (See Part One of this blog series if you need a refresher.) With Texan interest in historic preservation growing due to the impending Texas Centennial in 1936, people began to work towards preserving the site of Parker’s Fort or Fort Parker.
While the original fort was long gone, the site was selected in the 1930s as a work area for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It was decided to build a replica fort, matching as closely as possible the original fort built by the Parkers. Several Parker family members visited the site of replica fort in the 1930s to help verify that it was the site of the original fort. Construction was still underway as the Texas Centennial came and went.
Only a couple of miles away, the same CCC camp built camping and outdoor recreational facilities around a 670 acre lake, formed from building a dam across the Navasota River. While the plan originally called for one site to be named Fort Parker State Park, which would include the replica fort, the lake, and all the recreational facilities, eventually the site was split into two separate areas. Confusingly, the recreation area with the lake became known as Fort Parker State Park, while the replica fort site became known as Old Fort Parker State Historic Site, or just the Old Fort.
In 1941, after years of planning and construction, Fort Parker State Park was opened to the public. Along with fishing, boating, and fireworks, people could also visit Old Fort Parker, where construction was complete on the replica fort.
After many years of use, the replica fort at the Old Fort site was rebuilt in 1967. Both Fort Parker sites were operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department until 1992, when the nearby cities of Groesbeck and Mexia, and Limestone County took over operations of the Old Fort. Fort Parker State Park continues to operate as a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department site.
Today, visitors to Old Fort Parker can tour the replica fort, various historic structures from Central Texas, and the visitor center. For research opportunities, patrons can visit The Texas Collection and view materials on the Parker family and Old Fort Parker.
The next post in this series will examine the various creators of the Selden collection. Mark your calendar for Selden’s lecture: Thursday, February 18, at 3:30 pm in the Guy B. Harrison Reading Room of The Texas Collection, located in Carroll Library at Baylor University.
The Texas Collection recently acquired a group of historic documents on the Parker family, including Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah Parker. This amazing collection is one of several record groups on the Parker family already at The Texas Collection. In anticipation of Jack Selden’s February 18 lecture, “Return: the Parker Story,” this blog post will be the first in a series of posts that tell the story of the Parker family in Texas.
Cynthia Ann Parker came to Texas with 38 family members from Illinois in 1833, and the family settled near Groesbeck. By the summer of 1835, the Parkers had a rough wooden fort built that was called Parker’s Fort or Fort Parker. The family tended crops on about 12 miles along the Navasota River, returning as needed to the fort.
By 1835-1836, situations in Texas had changed drastically from when the Parkers first came to Texas. Good relations with local American Indian groups had given way to open hostility, as Texans attacked a Kichai village to recover horses thought to have been stolen. For several weeks, this group of Texans used Parker’s Fort as a base to search surrounding areas for Indian groups that they believed had stolen their horses.
Working relationships with the Mexican government had also deteriorated. Military hero Antonio López de Santa Anna overthrew the previous government, put down rebellions that broke out in various Mexican states, and sent military units to Texas to enforce Mexican law. By 1836, Santa Anna himself was in Texas at the head of a Mexican army to put down a brewing rebellion among the colonists, who spoke openly of independence from Mexico. After a string of Mexican victories, Sam Houston led a Texian army to win the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836, and the Texas Revolution was over.
Just one month after the Battle of San Jacinto, on May 19, 1836, Parker’s Fort was attacked by an American Indian force of several hundred warriors, long understood by eyewitnesses to be predominantly Comanche. With many of the Parker men out working in the fields, the 30 people in the fort were quickly overwhelmed. Five Parker family members were killed and five others were captured, but the rest escaped. One group of Parker family members, traveling only at night for safety, trekked 90 miles in six nights to the safety of Tinnenville.
One of those captured was Cynthia Ann Parker. Just twelve or thirteen when taken captive, she was adopted into the tribe and became thoroughly Comanche. She became the wife of Peta Nocona, a noted leader in the Naconi band of the Comanche. They had three children, two boys and a girl: Quanah, Pecos, and Topsannah. Peta Nocona was probably killed in the Battle of the Pease River in 1860. Cynthia Ann was captured by Texas Rangers in this battle, and was identified as the Parker’s Cynthia Ann, who had been with the Comanche for almost 25 years. Though she was returned to Texan society, Cynthia Ann never recovered from her capture and made several attempts to escape back to her life on the plains. She died in 1870, and was originally buried in Fosterville Cemetery, Anderson County, but was reinterred in the Post Oak Mission Cemetery near Cache, Oklahoma, in 1910. Cynthia Ann was reburied a final time in 1957 in the Fort Sill Post Cemetery, Lawton, Oklahoma.
Cynthia Ann’s son Quanah Parker became the last major Comanche chief to surrender to United States authorities. A leader in the Quahada subtribe of the Comanche, Quanah for years frustrated the efforts of the United States army to capture his people. After the Comanche defeat in the Battle of Adobe Walls in 1875, Quanah and his people were pursued by the United States army during the Red River War, the last major military campaign in Texas. After their supplies were destroyed, Quanah and his people were forced to surrender, and were taken to the reservation designated for the Comanche and Kiowa in southwestern Oklahoma.
Over time, Quanah adjusted to reservation life and became a very wealthy and influential man. Though increasingly powerful in Indian-government relations, he could not stop the movement to break up the reservations and distribute the land among the individual Indians, who were then forced to sell much of their land by unscrupulous land dealers. Quanah continued his efforts to help his people however he could, including negotiating leases of land to ranchers, which brought in much-needed income for the tribe. After a visit to the Cheyenne Reservation, Quanah became ill and died twelve days later, in 1911. His remains have been moved once, from Post Oak Mission Cemetery in Oklahoma to Fort Sill Post Cemetery, Lawton, Oklahoma.
The next post in this series will focus on the restoration of the Fort Parker historic site, and the final post will examine the various creators of the Selden collection. Mark your calendar for Selden’s lecture: Thursday, February 18, at 3:30 pm in the Guy B. Harrison Reading Room of The Texas Collection, located in Carroll Library at Baylor University.
Gwynne, S.C. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches. New York: Scribner, 2010.
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials, and Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist
For the past couple of years, “Research Ready” has featured our newly processed archival collections. Starting this month, we also will include a few highlights of items recently added to our print materials. As always, this is just a sampling of the many, many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!
E.S. James papers, 1938-1969 (#3965): Sermons, correspondence, and other collected materials about James, his colleagues, and subscribers to the Baptist Standard. E.S. James was editor of the Baptist Standard for twelve years.
Irvy Lee McGlasson papers, 1904-1931 (#3946): Materials include artifacts, photographs, and other materials about McGlasson, a doctor from Waco that served as the chief medical officer for the workforce building the Panama Canal.
Here are October’s featured print materials:
Le Champ-d’Asile, au Texas. Paris: Chez Tiger, 1820.
This volume, listed in Thomas W. Streeter’s renowned Bibliography of Texas, 1795-1845, provides a rare account of the failed Champ-d’Asile colony of Napoleonic loyalists who settled on Texas’ Trinity River in 1818.
Annual Catalogue Hill’s Business College, 1905-1906. Waco: Hill’s Business College, 1905. Print.
In 1881, Robert Howard Hill founded Hill’s Business College, which operated in Waco for more than 40 years. This volume offers a glimpse into the faculty, curriculum, and student body of the 1905-1906 academic year.
The City of Fort Worth and the State of Texas. St. Louis: Geo. W. Engelhardt & Co., 1890. Print.
Part of the Engelhardt Series of American Cities, this volume examines business opportunities in 1890 Fort Worth and includes information on the railroad, real estate, manufacturing, and finances.
Duer-Harn family papers. 1832-1928, undated (#26): Diaries, letters, legal and financial papers from the Republic of Texas and American Civil War. Notable documents include several diaries from the 1830s and 1840s written by German immigrant Johann Christian Friedrich Duer.
Gertrude Wallace Davis papers, 1896-1959 (#2166): Includes correspondence, notebooks, newspaper clippings, and other materials about the life of Gertrude Wallace Davis. Several items are from the Catholic-affiliated Academy of the Sacred Heart, in Waco, Texas, where Davis attended school.
Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here are December’s finding aids:
Grant and Donell Teaff Baylor Football collection, 1948-2006, undated (#3835): Contains correspondence, football programs, newspaper clippings, and audiovisual materials relating to Teaff’s career as head football coach at Baylor University. As usual, the materials described in the finding aid can be seen at The Texas Collection, but many of them also have been digitized as part of the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive in collaboration with the Electronic Library. Check out game films, ribbons, and more in the online collection!
Onnie Clem Jr. papers, 1944-1948 (#3939): Letters between Marine Corps members Onnie Clem Jr. and “Julie” Cecile L. Julian Clem during World War II. Also included is a transcribed interview with Onnie Clem Jr. about his experience during the Bataan Death March and as a prisoner of war for two and half years.
Browning W. Ware papers 1928-2002 (#3885): Materials of Texas pastor Browning W. Ware, who led First Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, and wrote “Diary of a Modern Pilgrim” columns in the Austin-American Statesman.
Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for July:
Andrew Joseph (A.J.) Armstrong papers: The Andrew Joseph Armstrong papers consist of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials collected during his tenure as Chairman of the English Department at Baylor University. His wife Mary’s genealogical records comprise the final series of the collection.
Francisco Banda papers: Papers regarding Francisco Banda in relation to a 1922 conflict with his landlord, Clark Herring. Texas governor Pat Neff was asked to intercede.
Bryan First United Methodist Church records: The Bryan First Methodist Church Records, 1903-06, consists of documents created by members of Bryan First Methodist Church (now First United Methodist Church of Bryan). The papers contain meeting minutes, financial ledgers, and attendance records.
Charles and Lucy Exall Chaplin papers: The Charles and Lucy Exall Chaplin papers contain literary scrapbooks, and photographs pertaining to the Chaplin and Exall families in Texas. The papers document the lives of important Baptist leaders in Texas during Reconstruction, and the family’s service at several important churches around the state.
Royston C. Crane collection: The Royston C. Crane collection contains personal and family correspondence, financial documents, legal documents, literary productions, and photographic materials belonging to Royston C. Crane, the son of former Baylor University President William Carey Crane.
William Maury Darst papers: The William Maury Darst papers consist of manuscripts collected from 1894-1973. These papers contain literary productions and photographic materials, with essays, notes, slides, and other printed materials, reflecting his historical research interests and medical work in Texas.
Tracy Early collection: The Tracy Early collection contains professional and personal materials pertaining to newspaper and magazine articles written by Early, including correspondence, diaries, photographs, school work, books, and sermons.
Kate Harrison Friend papers: The Kate Harrison Friend Papers consists of correspondence, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, and photographs. The majority of the letters were to Kate Harrison Friend, philanthropist of Waco.
McLennan Family collection: The McLennan Family Collection consists of correspondence, legal, financial, literary, and photographic materials. This collection focuses on Neil McLennan, namesake of McLennan County.
Ben Milam papers: One letter from Ben Milam to Richard Pryor regarding the settling of Texas.
Rotan (Edward and Kate Sturm McCall) papers: The Rotan Papers contain literary productions, correspondence, photographs, clippings, and a ledger book. Edward served in the Civil War, then became a business leader in the Waco community as president of First National Bank, among other positions. Kate was very active in various civic organizations and helped establish Waco’s first public library.
John Kern Strecker papers: The John Kern Strecker Papers consist of correspondence, financial documents, literary productions, and a photograph. Strecker was curator of Baylor’s museum, which was named the Strecker Museum in his honor.
You can see how wide and varied The Texas Collection’s holdings are! These records—and the finding aids we have online—are just a small representation of the thousands of collections we preserve for future researchers. We’re working hard to make our collections more visible and hope that one of them will spark your interest!