Nocona’s Raid and Cynthia Ann Parker’s Recapture
Cynthia Ann Parker is the most famous Indian captive in American history. She was a member of one of Texas’s most prominent families, which included Texas Ranger captains, politicians, and Baptists who’d founded the state’s first Protestant church.
In August of 1833, Cynthia Ann Parker’s father, Silas M. Parker, took his family on a road trip. He loaded his wife, five children and all their belongings into the wagons and headed south from Illinois to central Texas.
The wagon train consisted of 31 families including Parker’s grandparents, uncles and aunts. It was a long journey and not without incident. Parker’s brother James was killed when one wagon lost a wheel, and he was hit in the chest by a piece of wood.
The purpose of the trip was the great American Dream: to apply for a land grant. Each head of household was awarded a “headright league” of over 4,000 acres, and the Parkers started calling Anderson County, Texas home.
The newly arrived settlers were well aware of the potential threat of the local Indians. In 1834, Cynthia’s uncle, Daniel Parker, led the effort to build Fort Parker in Mexia, Texas, between Dallas and Houston. Treaties were signed by the homesteaders and many neighboring chiefs leading to a peaceful coexistence, for a while.
In 1836, when Parker was nine years old, several hundred members of the Caddo, Comanche and Kiowa tribes attacked the fort. One Indian approached with a white flag accompanied by enough others to indicate that this was a ruse. Parker’s uncle, Benjamin, tried to negotiate with the attackers to buy time for the women and children to escape. Those five minutes of diplomacy allowed most of them to flee into the wilderness. But Uncle Benjamin, Parker’s father, grandfather and two other men were killed. Parker, her younger brother, a baby and two women were captured by Comanche.