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Old Fort Parker

Fort Parker is a reconstructed stockade style fort, typical of forts built in the
eastern U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Fort has been rebuilt twice, in
1936 and again in 1967. This most recent construction was done with cedars from
Buescher State Park in Bastrop County. Most of the stockade style forts in Texas
were built before 1845. None of the forts established by the U.S. Calvary were of
the stockade type fortification, contrary to what you have seen in the movies.

Daniel Parker, a staunch theologian, got permission in 1832 to establish a settlement
in Texas. He gathered a group together who wanted to go to Texas and after organizing
them into the Predestinarian Baptist Church, left Crawford County, Illinois in July
of 1833 in ox drawn wagons headed for Texas. Daniel and most of his followers settled
near the present city of Elkhart. Elder John Parker, his three sons; Silas, James and
Benjamin, along with several others settled farther west, near the Navasota River.
They began in December of 1833 to clear land and construct “Parkers Fort.”

The stockade was built of split cedar logs, buried three feet in the ground and
extending up 12 feet. A two story blockhouse was built at opposite corners of the
fort from which lookouts could view the surrounding area and spot any Indians
approaching. One room log cabins were built along two oposing walls of the fort. By
putting the cabins up against the wall of the fort, in the case of an Indian attack,
the arrows would go over the wall and cabins and land harmlessly in the middle of the
fort. The fort was completed and ready to move into in March of 1834.

One room log cabin built against wall of fort.

A corral was located inside the fort where the livestock could be kept at night, out of
reach of predators. In order to give more living space in the one room cabins, the
beds; made of cedar limb frames with rawhide strips interwoven inside them to hold a
straw pad, were attached to the wall by rawhide strips with other strips attached to
the roof to hold it in place for sleeping. In the daytime the beds could be folded
up against the wall to give more space inside the cabin.

On May 19, 1836 a band of Indians approached the Fort from the east. Most of the men
of the Fort were out working in the fields at the time. A lighter skinned man with
the Indians displayed a white flag. Though warned not to go outside the Fort,
Benjamin Parker went out and talked with several of the warriors. Benjamin returned
to the Fort, saying the Indians wanted beef, a place to camp and directions to water.

Benjamin returned to the Indians with the beef but was quickly surrounded, lanced and
killed. The Indians poured into the Fort, killing five settlers and capturing
five others. The remaining twenty-one survivors split into two groups and made
their way to Fort Houston, near the present city of Palestine.

The smaller group consisted of the men working in the fields at the time of the
attack. They returned to the Fort after dark, took the remaining horses, and after
finding “Granny” Parker, left for Fort Houston. The larger group took six nights
to travel the sixty miles. They had only two skunks and two sand turtles to eat on
the way.

The most famous of the captives was Cynthia Ann Parker. She was born in Illinois in
1827 and moved to Texas with her family at the age of six. Three short years later,
she saw her father killed, was caught and bound with rope and taken miles away from
her home and the only world she knew.

Cynthia Ann was adopted by a family of the Pahauka band of the Comanches. In time
Cynthia Ann, now called “Naduah,” adapted to the language, customs and manners of
her captors. While in her teens, Naduah became the wife of Chief Peta Nacona. They
had three children, Quanah, Pecos and Toh-tsee-ah.

In the winter of 1860, Captain Sul Ross and a group of Texas Rangers attacked the
Nawkohnees camp along the Pease River. While trying to escape, Naduah and her infant
daughter were captured by Ranger Tom Kelliher. Sul Ross noticed her blue eyes and
realized she was not an Indian.

After learning her identity, he returned Cynthia and Toh-tsee-ah to her relatives in
East Texas. However, she could not adjust to the Anglo-American society. Toh-tsee-
ah died of a fever in 1863. Cynthia grieved for her daughter and husband and sons
until her death in 1870 at the age of 43. Legend maintains that she died of a broken
heart longing to return to her Comanche family and way of life.

Quanah Parker - Last Great Comanche Chief.
1852 - 1911

Quanah grew and continued his fathers legacy, becoming a wise warrior and chief,
defending Comanche territory after most Comanches had gone to the reservation.
Finally in 1875 with his horses and food gone, Quanah chose to bring the remainder
of the “People” to Fort Sill. Quanah was determined to help Indians adapt to white
mans ways, so he established schools and helped them learn ranching and reservation
life. In 1886, he was appointed Judge of Indian Offences for several reservations
in the Indian Territory, which later became Oklahoma. As great as Quanah was in war
he was even greater in peace.

Quanah Parker, “Chief of Comanche Indians,” took his mother’s name of “Parker” after
learning of how she adapted to the Indian way of life. He then proved instrumental
in helping the Comanches adapt to white mans ways.

Fort Parker is located approximately 8 miles south of Mexia, Texas, one mile west of
hwy 14 on Park Rd 35. The fort is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily except
Christmas day. There is an admission charge.

Nearby attractions include Fort Parker State Park, Confederate Reunion Grounds State
Park and Fort Parker Memorial Cemetery, eight miles south, where the victims of the
Indian ambush at Fort Parker are buried.

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