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Cynthia Ann Parker - Comanche Heart and Broken Spirit

Phyllis has a strong affinity for Native American traditions, beliefs, and spirituality.

Cynthia Ann and her Daughter Topsana

Cynthia Ann Parker (1827 - 1870)

Cynthia Ann Parker (1827 - 1870)

Cynthia Ann Parker, Child of the Settlers

Cynthia Ann Parker could not know that one day she would have a Comanche heart and die of a broken spirit. Nor did she know that one day, her eldest son, Quanah, would become the last Comanche chief and create a bridge for his people to meet the new world.

As a young child, Cynthia Ann was happy with the settlers in the fort. Children do not often think of the future or what could happen. The possibility of being torn away from her family and and all she knew to live a totally different way of life was too remote for her to even think about.

On a lovely spring day, Cynthia Ann was playing in the fort with her brother, sister and other children. She was happy. Her father, Silas M. Parker, had brought the family to Texas where he built a fort. Other families joined them and life, although difficult and different than what they had previously known, was new and challenging. They had great hopes for the future. Cynthia Ann did not know that an attack by the Comanche would change her life forever. She did not know that one of the war chiefs in the raiding party would one day mean more to her than anyone. To become a devoted Comanche woman was not in the mind of that happy little girl.

At the age of nine, on May 19, 1836, Cynthia Ann Parker was captured from Fort Parker in east Texas, near present day Groesbeck. A Comanche raid on the fort left a large number of people dead and five captives were taken. Among these captives was Cynthia Ann, granddaughter of Elder John Parker, her family's Patriarch. John Parker was a famous frontier Ranger and veteran of the American Revolutionary War. He was killed during the Comanche raid.

Fort Parker Near Groesbeck, Texas

Fort Parker, 1836

Fort Parker, 1836

From Captive to Comanche at Heart

Four of the captives were later released after ransom, but, Cynthia Ann was to stay with the Comanche for twenty-five years. Her early life Christian teachings and ways of the whites were soon forgotten by Cynthia Ann. From a frightened, captive little white girl, she became a devoted wife of a Comanche Chief -- she was a beloved mother and Comanche at heart.

Cynthia Ann was born to Lucy Duty Parker and Silas M. Parker in Crawford County, Illinois. There is some dispute about her age, for according to the 1870 census of Anderson County, Texas, she would have been born between June 2, 1824, and May 31, 1825. When she was nine years old, her family moved to Central Texas and built Fort Parker, a log fort, on the headwaters of the Navasota River in what is now Limestone County.

After her capture by the Comanche, Cynthia Ann was adopted by a family of the tribe who learned to love and raise her as their own daughter. She learned from them the Comanche ways of the women of the people.

Peta Nocona was one of the war chiefs involved in the raid on Fort Parker. He had formed his own band of the Comanche, the Noconi. A few years after Cynthia Ann was captured, Peta took her as his wife. He honored and loved her so much that he never took another wife, which was a common practice of successful war chiefs of the Comanche. They had three children, the famous Quanah Parker, who became the last Comanche Chief, another son named Pecan (or Pecos), and a daughter, Topsanna ("Prairie Flower").

Cynthia Ann lived as a Comanche woman among the people who were proud, noble and rode with the wind. They were the children of nature and lived with respect and harmony upon Mother Earth. She was happy in this life and loved her family. She was a proud, loved, and respected Comanche woman. From a frightened, captive little white girl, she grew to become a devoted wife of a Comanche Chief and she was Comanche at heart.

Victim and Captive From two Massacres

In December 1860, Cynthia Ann and her two year old daughter were among a party of women and children who were tending the camp where they had supplies and food in ready for their warriors when they returned.

A troop of Texas Rangers, led by Lawrence Sullivan Ross, had been involved in the Battle of Pease River. After fierce fighting, the Comanche realized they were losing and fled. Peta and his two sons survived the battle. The Rangers attacked the camp where Cynthia Ann was. Many were killed. Among the captives were Cynthia Ann and Topsanna, her baby.

It is believed that some of the Rangers urged Ross to set Cynthia Ann and her daughter free to return to the Comanches. He considered it best, however, to return her to her white family. Ross sent her to Camp Cooper with a message to Colonel Isaac Parker, the uncle of a young girl kidnapped in the 1836 raid. When Parker mentioned that his niece's name was Cynthia Ann Parker, the woman slapped her chest and said, "Me Cincee Ann." Isaac Parker took her to his home near Birdville.

Cynthia Ann could never readjust to her white family and their way of life. Several attempts on her part to escape and return to her Comanche family failed. She was always recaptured and locked in her room. In the ways of a Comanche woman, she cut her hair short, as a sign of mourning.

Her brother, Silas Jr., was appointed her guardian in 1862, and took her to his home in Van Zandt County. When Silas enlisted in the Confederate Army, Cynthia Ann was sent to live with her sister, Orlena.

The major cause of Cynthia Ann's unhappiness was that she missed her husband and sons and never knew what had happened to them. In 1863, another burden of grief was added to her already unhappy life, when her daughter, Topsanna, caught influenza and died. Her baby girl was the last part of her Comanche life -- her only link to her beloved husband, Peta.

With the death of Topsanna, Cynthia Ann had nothing left to cling to or bring her the joy she felt with her Comanche people and way of life. Cynthia Ann knew no other life than that of the Comanche. She was a wife and mother of the Comanche. With her spirit now broken, she stopped eating and died, mourning the loss of her beloved family. Cynthia Ann was Comanche at heart to the last. She died in 1870 and was buried in Fosterville Cemetery in Anderson County near Frankston.

Cynthia Ann died without ever seeing her husband or sons again. She never knew that Peta had never taken another wife, for he died still loving his Nadua (Cynthia Ann's Comanche name). She never knew that her eldest son, Quanah, had become the last Comanche Chief and had bridged the gap between the Europeans and Comanche in order to save his people from certain starvation and death.

Twice in her short span on Mother Earth, this gentle spirit was ripped away from those she loved and all she held dear in life. The only peace Cynthia Ann must have felt after being torn away from Peta and her sons, was when she gave up and welcomed the arms of death, so her broken heart could heal.

When the physical self cries from emotional hurt and pain, there are others to comfort, empathize, and help heal. When the spirit is broken, cries, and withers from a heart that longs for lost loved ones that will never return and a way of life that has been shattered, then sometimes only the arms of death can heal.
~ ~ ~ ~

Part one of This 12 Part Series is a Remarkable History of the Parker Family

Discrepancies on Topsana, Cynthia Ann's Daughter

When I first wrote this article, there was not a whole lot of information available on Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter Topsana. When updating the article I did more research and found a 12 part series of videos that provide a lot more information.

After watching part one of the above video series, I was surprised to learn there are serious discrepancies on the story of Topsana. Did she actually die when she was a baby? Did Cynthia Ann die from self--inflicted starvation after her baby was gone? Did Quanah do any research about what happened to his mother and sister?

There are so many questions and some answers in the video that shows the story of Cynthia Ann Parker is still unfolding.

I commend Meg Hacker, Director of Archives at the National Archives of Fort Worth, Texas for her in-depth research of Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker.

Note From Author

To learn more about Cynthia Ann's son, Quanah, please read the short story of Quanah Parker - Last Chief of the Comanche People. Quanah never forgot his dear mother and did not rest till her remains were returned to him, where they now lie in peace together.

© 2011 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 20, 2013:

LongTimeMother, thank you so much for the visit and votes. The story of Cynthia Ann just really touched my heart. She had such great love for her husband Peta and their children. Thanks again, I really appreciate your visit.

LongTimeMother from Australia on August 20, 2013:

Oh, that poor woman.

Awesome hub, Phyllis. Voted up and sharing it. :)

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 19, 2013:

angel, thank you so much for the visit and comment. I agree with you, Cynthia Ann should never had been forced to return to her white family. She was so happy with her Comanche family. I appreciate you stopping by.

Angel Ward from Galveston, TX on June 19, 2013:

I love this hub, I always felt so sorry for her, they should have never forced her to return!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 19, 2013:

brownella, again, thank you so very much for reading about Cynthia Ann. I feel like you, that the pain she went through is unimaginable for me. She really, by all rights, should have been returned to her husband and sons. She grew up with the Comanche and became a respected and honored Comanche woman at heart.

brownella from New England on June 19, 2013:

Another fascinating historical hub. That poor woman; to live in constant worry for her family and pain for the life she had lost...I cannot imagine.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 17, 2013:

MizBejabbers, I so appreciate your comments and views on my Native American hubs. I had known about Quanah Parker and Cynthia Ann for several yeas -- yet when I did some deep research and wrote about them, they were endeared to me in a very strong way. I cried also for the pain Cynthia Ann suffered in her short life. Peta loved her so much and their traumatic separation was just too much for them.

Thank you so much for your visit and comments -- and your votes.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 17, 2013:

I just read your hub on Quanah before I read this one, and I am sitting here wanting to cry. It is so depressing to know the things our ancestors did. Cynthia Parker was abducted at so young an age, she did the natural thing by falling in love with Peta. She must have been an extraordinary woman for him to have held her exclusively in his heart when the custom for a chief was polygamy. If she and her daughter had been allowed to return to her husband and the Comanche people, they might have starved to death, but at least they would have died happy. Both sides of my family are products of Native American and European mergers. It makes me wonder what their histories actually were. Again, you got my votes.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 16, 2013:

This hub originally included a short history about Cynthia Ann's son, Quanah. I removed that part about Quanah to make a separate hub.

Please see the hub Quanah Parker - Last Chief to the Comanche people, as related to this hub on Cynthia Ann. Thank you so much -- I greatly appreciate your support.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 16, 2013:

This hub originally included a short history about Cynthia Ann's son, Quanah. I removed that part about Quanah to make a separate hub.

Please see the hub Quanah Parker - Last Chief to the Comanche people, as related to this hub on Cynthia Ann. Thank you so much -- I greatly appreciate your support.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 06, 2011:

Thomas, thank you for stopping by and for your compliment. I got so involved in the story of Quanah and Cynthia Ann. I must say, I was so impressed with Quanah and his intelligence, plus his exceptional abilities as a war leader that I developed strong admiration for him. The story of Cynthia Ann nearly broke my heart.

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on November 06, 2011:


I think it's awesome when an historical personage can elicit such feelings so long after their passing. You have told their story exceedingly well!



Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on September 18, 2011:

Quester, Wayne does have a way with words, that is for sure. He is so right. The heartbreak Cynthia Ann suffered must have been unbearable for her - she died not knowing her son was still alive and would become so successful. I urge you friend to read "The Last Comanche Chief - The Life and Times of Quanah Parker", an awesome book! on September 18, 2011:

Wayne has said ti all - amazing story to read. I will share this will a friend who is researching Cynthia Ann's son.


Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 09, 2011:

Thank you for stopping by, Wayne, and for your very thought provoking words. Cynthia Ann just captured my heart when I researched about her. It would indeed have been an act of love if her white family had returned her and the baby to her husband and sons.

Wayne Brown from Texas on May 09, 2011:

Very informative, Phyllis. I find it interesting that two different people could commit the same selfish act on a child then as an adult. Her white family must have seen her heartbreak in being caged like a bird. What a shame they did not set her free to be with the people of her choice for her remaining days...that truly would have been an act of love. Thanks for sharing. WB

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 22, 2011:

Hi mysterylady. Thanks for stopping by. It is a small world indeed. I was very surprised to hear from someone who knows relations of Cynthia Ann.

mysterylady 89 from Florida on February 22, 2011:

What an interesting, sad tale this is! Also fascinating is the fact that L.J.'s sister is married to a man related to Cynthia Ann. It is a small world, isn't it?

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 21, 2011:

LJ, thank you so much. This is very interesting and I am happy to learn more about the Parker family. I hope your sister likes my hub article. I did some heavy-duty research and wrote about Cynthia Ann from a woman and a mother's POV. I can feel the pain that child went through when she was torn from her first family then the pain she went through as a wife and mother being torn from her second family. I feel she is at peace after such a struggle in life.

What touched me so much about Quanah was how, after so many years, he still felt such love and devotion to his mother. Quanah was a very intelligent man and did some pretty good bargaining and negotiating to get the land he wanted. He is quite high on my list of historical leaders.

lightning john from Florida on February 21, 2011:

Yes, they mentioned Quanah specificaly. John Sr. is real tall and it is obvious when you meet him that he is American Indian. He told me the story a couple of years ago about his family. And on the reasons they came to own so much land in Texas.

The fact that Cynthia Ann was torn away from her family twice is heart breaking. Thank you for writing this and I will send a link to my sister.


Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 21, 2011:

@Nell, it is good to hear from you. Thanks for the comments and for stopping by. The story of Cynthia Ann is sad and I cried when I was researching about her. Quanah was a great chief for his people, yet he knew when to toss the war path to save his people. What a guy!

@lightning John, nice to meet you and to know your connections to the Parkers. Are they descendants of Cynthia Ann? The story of Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker is really awesome. I read "The Last Comanche Chief" by Neeley and it is packed full of historical facts. A great book and beautifully written.

lightning john from Florida on February 21, 2011:

This is an awsome story. I like it even more because it is true. My sister is married to John Parker in Granbury Texas. And his father is John Sr. Parker. John Sr. is 94 yrs old and let me tell you he is quite a guy. When he met me he said, "Wow you're a strong one, we can use you out in the fields". I laughed so hard he is really funny. Cheers!

P.s. Thanks for the moldy cheese answer!

Nell Rose from England on February 21, 2011:

Hi, this was amazing, how sad that she was taken first of all from her family and then when she loved her new family she was torn apart again, and the story of her son was so sad too, I really enjoyed reading this history, rated up! nell

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 20, 2011:

AA Zavala, thank you for your comments. Quanah Parker is one of the most interesting historical figures I have ever researched. I so enjoyed Neeley's book about Quanah's life.

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on February 20, 2011:

This was absolutely fascinating. I've always wanted to know more about Quanah Parker and his past. Thank you for the information.

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