html 4.0 transitional//en"> Government loans help preserve Fort Parker's heritage


Government loans help preserve Fort Parker's heritage

NEWS ITEM: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Division approved an $80,000 long-term loan for the city of Grosebeck for the building of a visitor's center/museum at Old Fort Parker.

Fort Parker, East of Waco, between Groesbeck and Mexia, is the home of the mother of the last Comanche chief, Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia Ann and her family home have been famous in Texas since May 19, 1836, when a band of Indians attacked the area.

The Comanches raided the Parker home and area, killing five men and badly wounding several women. They took five captives. Among them were nine year old Cynthia Ann Parker and her five year old brother John.

One kidnapping would be enough trauma for a lifetime, but Cynthia Ann was to endure the shock of such an ordeal twice.

In December, 1860, Texas Ranger Sul Ross and cattleman Charles Goodnight, during a raid on the Comanches, saw a sandy-blonde among the women. She was holding her infant daughter and the men took her and the baby by force and carried them back to "civilization." Uprooted by strangers for the second time. Now she spoke no English and was as frightened with her own flesh and blood as she had been with the Comanches more than 24 years before. She starved herself to death.

Cynthia Ann had grown up on the plains with the Indians. She became the wife of one of the chiefs. Her most famous son, known as Quanah Parker by the Texans, was the last of the marauding Comanches chiefs. During the 1870s the Comanches, Kiowas, and the Cheyenne Indians agreed to unite against the white man. Quanah Parker became the leader of the alliance. The Texas Rangers and local militia could not defeat the Indians. It took the U.S. Army to finally bring the Plains Indians to the disgraceful reservations.

Comanche Chief Quanah Parker was the last to surrender. Forced to live by the white man's rule Quanah Parker became a valued personality, a credit to the heritage of his white mother and Indian father. Tradition says the old chief somehow found a picture of his dead mother and baby sister. He treasured it and kept it until his death in 1911.

In 1885 Quanah Parker and his friend, Yellow Bear were guests of a downtown Fort Worth hotel. The two of them were unfamiliar with gaslights, and before going to bed Parker blew out the flame in their room without turning off the gas. Yellow Bear succumbed to the fumes, but Parker, who collapsed near a window, was revived. (Aug. 20. 1999)

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