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EIU Media Relations

'Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker: The History and the Legend' Exhibit and Program Series to be Presented at Booth Library


Quanah Parker

Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker will be the topic of an exhibit and program series at Booth Library on the Eastern Illinois University campus.

The exhibit “Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker: The History and the Legend” will be on display from Feb. 7 to April 9. In addition, a series of related programs and film screenings are planned Feb. 20-23.

The saga of Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker is well-known in Texas history, but the story really began in East Central Illinois. Cynthia Ann’s grandfather, Elder John Parker, her uncles, Benjamin and Daniel Parker, and other members of the family were among the first white settlers of Crawford and Coles counties.

In about 1833, several members of the Parker clan moved to Texas and created Fort Parker there. A few years later, a band of Indians attacked the fort, killing many and kidnapping a few of the children, including Cynthia Ann, age 9.

Cynthia Ann grew up as a member of the Comanche tribe, married one of the chiefs and bore three children; the oldest was Quanah. Cynthia Ann was kidnapped again and returned to her Parker relatives in Texas in 1860, but she never forgot her Comanche family and wished to return to them, rejecting her family’s efforts to “civilize” her.

Quanah Parker grew up as a fierce Comanche warrior and became a leader of his tribe. Like his mother, he initially refused attempts by the U.S. government to civilize his people. But later, fearing for their survival, he led his tribe peacefully onto an Oklahoma reservation, where he became influential in fighting for their rights.

He was well-known in Washington, D.C., and became friends with political leaders, including President Teddy Roosevelt. U.S. officials later bestowed on him the title of the “last Comanche chief” in America.

“There are still many descendants of the Parker family living in the area,” said Allen Lanham, dean of library services. “We hope they and other community members interested in local history will enjoy the library’s program, and perhaps find a way to participate.”

The complete schedule of events is as follows:

Feb. 20

  • 1-5 p.m., Tours of Booth Library exhibit, “Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker: The History and the Legend”; Guided tours of Tarble Arts Center exhibit, “Early Folk Art in East- Central Illinois.”
  • 2 p.m., “Preserving Parker Cemetery,” West Reading Room, Booth Library, presented by David Parker and James David Parker.
  • 3 p.m., “Parker Pioneer Burial Ground Historic Preservation and Mapping Initiative,” West Reading Room, Booth Library, presented by Steven Di Naso, geospatial scientist, EIU Department of Geology and Geography.
  • 7 p.m., Opening reception, Buzzard Auditorium, Room 1501.  Light refreshments served.
  • 7:30 p.m., Keynote address: “On the Trail with the Parkers” and screening of documentary “Following the Parker Trail,” presented by Audrey Kalivoda, researcher and documentary filmmaker from Nashville, Tenn., Buzzard Auditorium, Room 1501.

Feb. 21

  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tours of Booth Library exhibit, “Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker: The History and the Legend.”
  • 9 a.m.-noon, Guided tours of Tarble Arts Center exhibit, “Early Folk Art in East Central Illinois” (exhibit open until 4 p.m.).
  • 10 a.m., “Quanah Parker and the Battle of Adobe Walls,” presented by Richard Hummel, professor emeritus of sociology, West Reading Room, Booth Library.
  • 11 a.m., “Turning Hell into a Home: Depictions of Native Americans on Film,” presented by Robin Murray, EIU professor of English, West Reading Room, Booth Library.
  • 1 p.m., Film screening and discussion: “Daughter of Dawn,” presented by Malgorzata Rymsza-Pawlowska, assistant professor of history, Buzzard Auditorium, Room 1501. “Daughter of Dawn” is a recently discovered silent film starring two of Quanah Parker’s children.
  • 3:30 p.m., Film screening and discussion: “The Searchers,” presented by Joe Heumann, professor emeritus of communication studies, Buzzard Auditorium, Room 1501. “The Searchers” stars Natalie Wood and John Wayne portraying characters inspired by Cynthia Ann Parker and her uncle, James Parker, who spent many years trying to find her after she was kidnapped by the Comanches.

Feb. 23

  • 4:30 p.m., Panel discussion: “American Captivity Narratives: A Literary Genre of Enduring Interest,” Terry Barnhart, moderator, professor of history; panelists: Janice Derr, assistant professor of library services; Laura Russman, graduate student in historical administration; Angela Vietto, professor of English; Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library.

For more information about the “Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker: The History and the Legend,” including complete program and exhibit descriptions, visit the program Web page.

More information also may be obtained by contacting Beth Heldebrandt, project director, at or 581-6064.

This program was made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly.



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Media Relations
Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

2142 Old Main
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-8444

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