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Cynthia Ann Parker – A White Indian By: Sue Eckhoff, Grundy County Heritage Museum

March 8, 2013
Northern-Sun Print
In May 1836 in northern Texas, nine year old Cynthia Ann Parker was abducted by a band of Comanche, who swooped down on the family home and killed her father. The child, Cynthia Ann Parker, was the favorite niece of Isaac Parker, a rancher, soldier and legislator. The story of her twenty-five year captivity and subsequent rescue is one of the most poignant of all the frontier tales. Cynthia Ann was forced to toil as a Comanche woman. As time went on, her complexion darkened from the sun and dirt, and her blond hair, clipped short, became greasy. Yet, she was still a blue eyed white woman and as such she was an alluring prize. The Chief, Peta Nocona, chose her as a bride when she was eighteen. She bore him three children; two sons, Quanah and Pecos, and a daughter Topasannah. For fifteen years she cared for her family, while the tribe staged forays into Parker County (named for her uncle). Cynthia’s return to white society occurred the same way she had left it, through a raid. While camped near the Pease River in 1860 the tribe was surprised by a detachment of Indian hunters, the Texas Rangers. Her husband and teenage sons escaped into the prairie. (Quanah would later become a noted Comanche Warrior and Chief). During the raid, Cynthia Ann’s short hair and buffalo robe gave her the look of a brave, but just as she was about to be shot by a white man, she held up her baby as a sign she was a woman. Closer inspection revealed her blue eyes, positive evidence that she was white. Almost certain they had found the long lost Parker, the soldiers summoned Isaac Parker. He tried to talk to her but she spoke little English. Finally Isaac Parker said “maybe we were wrong. Poor Cynthia Ann”. On hearing the name she remembered from childhood, she simply replied “me Cynthia”. She was welcomed back by the whites who voted her a pension and gave her some land. But she never smiled. Several times she stole horses and lit out in search of her sons. After about four years back amongst the whites, Cynthia Ann’s daughter died from a fever. After that Cynthia had nothing and simply starved herself to death. In 1909, writer Tom Champion wrote “I am convinced that the white people did more harm by keeping her away from them (the Indians), than what the Indians did by taking her at first.”


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