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:
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 email@example.com 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.