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Cynthia Ann Parker's Long Journey

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Cynthia Ann Parker's body is reburied at the Post Oak Mission's cemetery near Indiahoma in Comanche, Oklahoma in 1910. Her son, Quanah Parker, paid and organized the removal from Anderson County, Texas to be closer to his home near the Fort Sill Reservation. Hardin Simmons University Library.

You might be familiar with the fascinating story of Cynthia Ann Parker's life, who, at the age of six or eight, was kidnapped at her family's private fortification in Limestone County, Texas, by Comanche warriors on May 19, 1836. What happened after her death in 1871 is equally interesting.

Adopted into a Comanche family, she was renamed Narua ("foundling") and eventually married Peta, Chief of the Nokoni band of Comanches. She became mother to three children: a son Quanah ("fragrant" as he was born in a patch of wildflowers); a son, Pecos ("pecan'); and a daughter, Topsana ("prairie flower"). Quanah led the Kwahadi band of Comanches during the Red River Wars of 1874-1875, and after surrender, was considered the chief of the first recognized nation of the Comanche people, though traditionally, Comanches did not have a centralized authority figure.

While Cynthia Ann Parker witnessed her mother's brutal death during the kidnapping, she nonetheless integrated well with the Comanches. They treated her as one of their own. However, the Parker family did not give up hope of eventually reuniting with her. They had been able to ransom for Cynthia Ann's cousin, Rachel Plummer, who was also kidnapped during the same raid. Rachel had been enslaved in Comanche camps until sold to traders. Her story is full of tragedy; she barely survived two years after reuniting with her family (her family may have had a hand in her death; that's a story for another time.)

Cynthia Ann Parker wasn't ransomed. During the Battle of Pease River (Foard County, Texas) in 1860 in which Texas Rangers targeted an encampment of mainly women and children, the rangers captured her and her daughter, whom she was still breastfeeding. She was spared murder due to the recognition that she was a white woman. She was taken to her uncle at Birdville, Tarrant County. The regulators pretended to have "liberated" her while in reality, she was heartbroken to have been, once again, kidnapped into a strange world. She also never knew what happened to her family, and would never see her husbands or sons again.

Cynthia Ann cut her hair with a knife as a sign of mourning. The Texas Rangers claimed to have killed her husband, Peta Nocona, during the raid, but her son Quanah maintained for decades that Peta was not present at the raid and that the rangers had targeted the camp because it was not well guarded. Quanah led the life of a Comanche warrior until he, too, was subjugated in the late 1870s.

Cynthia Ann's daughter, Topsana (Topsannah) died in 1864. Cynthia's only solace was the other children from the Parker family, with whom she reunited in Anderson County, Texas. Within a few years, though, Cynthia Ann Parker died, too. She purposefully starved herself to death.

Cynthia Ann Narua Parker Nocona was initially buried near Poynor in Anderson County, Texas but in 1910 Quanah moved her grave to the cemetery at the Post Oak Mission at Indiahoma in Comanche County, Oklahoma. He died soon after and was buried next to her. In 1957, her remains, as well as Quanah's and over 750 more graves, were moved, once again, to the cemetery inside Fort Sill, when the mission's graveyard was disinterred to make way for an expanded firing range.

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