Monday, August 16, 2010

Chief Quanah Parker - Comanche


Chief Quanah Parker


The birth date of Quanah (Quanna, Quana or Quannah) Parker is uncertain.  It is estimated that he was born between 1850 and 1852 in West Texas.. 


Quanah Parker's mother, Cynthia Ann Parker (born ca. 1827), was a member of the large Parker frontier family that settled in east Texas in the 1830s. She was captured in 1836 (at age nine) by Comanches during the raid of Fort Parker near present-day Groesbeck, Texas. Given the Indian name Nadua (Someone Found), she was adopted into the Nocona band of Comanches.[1]

Assimilated into the Comanche, Cynthia Ann later married the warrior Nocona, (also known as Noconie, Tah-con-ne-ah-pe-ah, or Peta Nocona).  His father was the renowned chief Iron Jacket, famous among the Comanche for wearing a Spanish coat of mail. He was said to have the power to blow bullets away with his breath.

Nadua and Nocona's first child was Quanah (Fragrance) born in the Wichita Mountains. The birthplace is debated, Quanah visited his birthplace at Laguna Sabinas (Cedar Lake) in Gaines County, Texas in his later years. They also had another son, Pecos (Pecan), and a daughter, Topsana (Prairie Flower). In December 1860, Nadua (Cynthia Ann) and Topsana were captured in the battle of Pease River by Texas Rangers under Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Peta Nocona, Quanah, and most of the adult men were out hunting when Ross' men attacked. Returning to the aftermath of the raid, they found it difficult to get information; only a few people had survived.

Meanwhile, Nadua (Cynthia Ann) and her mixed-race daughter were reunited with her white family, but after having made her life 24 years with the Comanche, she wanted to return to them and her husband. She was never permitted to do so. Her daughter Topsana died of an illness in 1863. Cynthia Ann lost her will to live and starved to death in 1870.

Soon after the Pease River battle, Nadua's husband Peta Nocona was said to be a broken, bitter man.[citation needed] Later wounded during a raid with Apaches and already in ill-health, he soon died. Before his death, he told Quanah of his mother's origins and adoption into the tribe. With this revelation, other tribesmen taunted Quanah as a half-breed. The band split after Nocona's death.

Life Events

Quanah joined the Destanyuka band, where Chief Wild Horse took him under his wing. Though he grew to considerable standing as a warrior, he never felt comfortable with the Destanyuka. He left and formed the Quahadi (Antelope Eaters) band with warriors from another tribe. The Quahadi grew in number, becoming the largest of the Comanche bands, and also the most notorious. Quanah Parker became a leader of the Quahadi, and led them successfully for a number of years. In October 1867, Quanah was among the Comanche chiefs as an observer at treaty negotiations at Medicine Lodge. He made a statement about his refusal to sign the Medicine Lodge Treaty. His band remained free while other Comanches signed.

In the early 1870s, the Plains Indians were losing the battle for their land with the United States government. Following the capture of the Kiowa chiefs Satank, Adoeet (Big Tree), and Satanta, the Kiowa, Comanche, and Southern Cheyenne tribes joined forces in several battles. Colonel Ranald Mackenzie led US Army forces to round up or kill the remaining Indians who had not settled on reservations.

In June 1874, a Comanche prophet named Isa-tai summoned the tribes in the Texas Panhandle to the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, where several American buffalo hunters were active. With Kiowa Chief Big Bow, Quanah was in charge of one group of warriors. He was shot twice in the conflict.[citation needed] In the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, on September 28, 1874, ManKenzie and his Tonkawa scouts razed a Comanche village and killed nearly 1,500 Comanche horses, a source of their wealth and power.

On the reservation

Quanah in European-American business attire.With their food source depleted, and under constant pressure from the army, the Quahadi Comanche finally surrendered in 1875. With Colonel Mackenzie and Indian Agent James M. Hayworth, Parker helped settle the Comanche on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation in southwestern Indian Territory.

Parker's home in Cache, Oklahoma was called the Star House. Parker's was the last tribe of the Staked Plains or Llano Estacado to come to the reservation. Quanah was named chief over all the Comanches on the reservation, and proved to be a forceful, resourceful and able leader. Through wise investments, he became perhaps the wealthiest American Indian of his day in the United States. At this time, Quanah embraced much of white culture and adopted the surname Parker. He was well respected by the whites. He went on hunting trips with President Theodore Roosevelt, who often visited him. Nevertheless, he rejected both monogamy and traditional Protestant Christianity in favor of the Native American Church Movement, of which he was a founder.

The man known today as Quanah Parker came from a culture where surnames were unknown. A man's identity was contained in a single word. Family oral traditions indicate that the name Quanah, as recorded in history, was an Anglo corruption of the Comanche word 'Kwihnai, which translates as “eagle


Quanah Parker - Businessman

With the buffalo nearly exterminated and having suffered heavy loss of horses and lodges at the hands of the US military, Quanah was one of the leaders to bring the Quahada (Antelope) band of Comanches into Fort Sill during late May and early June 1875. This brought an end to their nomadic life on the southern plains and the beginning of an adjustment to more sedentary life.

Burk Burnett began moving cattle from South Texas in 1874 to near present-day Wichita Falls, Texas. There he established his ranch headquarters in 1881. Changing weather patterns and severe drought caused grasslands to wither and die in Texas. Burnett and other ranchers met with Comanche and Kiowa tribes to lease land on their reservation—nearly one million acres just north of the Red River in Oklahoma.

Originally, Quanah, like many of his contemporaries, was opposed to the opening of tribal lands for grazing by Anglo ranching interests. But, Quanah changed his position and forged close relationships with a number of Texas cattlemen, such as Charles Goodnight and the Burnett family. As early as 1880, Quanah was working with these new associates in building his own herds. In 1884, due largely to Quanah’s efforts, the tribes received their first “grass” payments for grazing rights on Comanche, Kiowa and Apache lands. It is during this period that the bonds between Quanah and the Burnett family grew strong.

Burnett ran 10,000 cattle until the end of the lease. The cattle baron had a strong feeling for Indian rights, and his respect for them was genuine. Where other cattle kings fought Indians and the harsh land to build empires, Burnett learned Comanche ways, passing both the love of the land and his friendship with the Indians to his family. As a sign of their regard for Burnett, the Comanches gave him a name in their own language: Mas-sa-suta, meaning “Big Boss.”

Parker earned the respect of US governmental leaders as he adapted to the white man’s life and became a prosperous rancher in Oklahoma. His spacious, two-story Star House had a bedroom for each of his seven wives and their children. He had his own private quarters, which were rather plain. Beside his bed were photographs of his mother Nadua (Cynthia Ann) and younger sister Prairie Flower. Parker extended hospitality to many influential people, both Native American and European American. Among the latter was the well-known cattleman Charles Goodnight.

Of all his white acquaintances, Parker counted Burk Burnett the best. He reportedly said: “I got one good friend, Burk Burnett, he big-hearted, rich cowman. Help my people good deal. You see big man hold tight to money, afraid to die. Burnett helped anybody.”[citation needed]

During the next 27 years Parker and the Burnetts shared many experiences. Burnett helped with the construction of Star House, Quanah’s large frame home, which bore the inverted white stars signifying his rank. Burnett asked for (and received) Quanah's participation in a parade with a large group of warriors at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and other public events. The “Parade” lance depicted in the exhibit was usually carried by Quanah at such public gatherings. Burnett assisted Quanah in buying the granite headstones used to mark the graves of his mother and sister. After years of searching, Parker had their remains moved from Texas and reinterred in 1910 in Oklahoma on the Comanche reservation at Fort Sill.

According to his daughter Wanada Page Parker, her father helped celebrate President Theodore Roosevelt's inauguration by appearing in the parade.[2] Roosevelt visited Parker at Star House and they went wolf hunting together with Burnett.

Death and Burial

Quanah Parker died on February 23, 1911, and was buried next to his mother, whose body he had reinterred at Ft. Sill Military cemetery on Chiefs Knoll in Oklahoma only three months earlier.


If you are LDS (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and you have a new FamilySearch account, you can find Quanah Parker and his descendants on Once you are in, type in your user name and password.  Click on the Search tab. Click on the Search by Number tab. Type in L397-PK7 in the Person Identifier box.  Click on Search

Quanah Parkers' pedigree with children will appear. At this point you will be able to move around and see his ancestors and descendants.  If you have trouble, contact your ward family history consultant.

Family Tree

To find the family tree for Quanah Parker in Roots Web, click here.  This will take you to his individual information page.  To see his ancestors, click on the Pedigree tab.  To see his descendants, click on the Descendants tab.
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