• July 29, 2014

Traveling exhibit chronicles story of settler kidnapped by Comanches

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Posted: Monday, June 11, 2012 12:00 pm

By Audrey Spencer

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - A tale of kidnapping, assimilation, trauma, heartache and triumph, of sorts, is on exhibit at the Bell County Museum.

The exhibit chronicles the life stories of Cynthia Ann Parker, and her son, Quanah Parker.

Cynthia Parker was a 9-year-old settler from Indiana who was kidnapped by Comanche Indians in the 1830s. She eventually assimilated into the tribal culture.

Her oldest son, Quanah, became one of the tribe's most important chiefs.

"It's hard to go through what Cynthia Ann went through, which is trauma. Twice," said Stephanie Turnham, the museum's director.

The exhibit features numerous photos of Quanah Parker, as well as hands-on items for children's interaction, including a drum, hoop and stick game, turtle shell rattle and bow and arrow.

The Bell County Museum is just one stop for the traveling exhibit, an effort by the Texas Lakes Trail Regional Heritage Tourism Program, and will be available for view until Aug. 15.

"This particular story is so compelling," said Turnham. "It has all the elements of the human experience - conflict between peoples, different ways of life, romance, courtship and heartache."

Cynthia Parker traveled to Texas in the same wagon train as the Sparkes family, who settled in eastern Bell County, according to a news release. The Parkers, along with the Plummer family, built their stockade fort in what is now Limestone County.

In 1836, a Comanche raiding party kidnapped the 9-year-old Parker, along with four others. Eventually, the others were returned to their families, but Parker spent the next quarter-century becoming part of her new tribe.

She married a chief, Peta Nocona, and had three children by him, the eldest being Quanah, who eventually would lead the Comanches' resistance, followed by submission into the Anglo way of life.

Cynthia Parker was returned to her Anglo family shortly after her youngest child was born, and tried several times to escape back to her Comanche family before she died.

Contact Audrey Spencer at aspencer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476.

If you go

The traveling exhibit "A Woman of Two Worlds and a Man In Two Worlds: Cynthia Ann & Quanah Parker" opened June 1 and will be available at the Bell County Museum until Aug. 15.

The museum is at 201 N. Main St. in Belton. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

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