When the Indians passed Murphy's Station, the second day after they killed John Brown and Mrs. Sherman, and the succeeding day after they stole the horse of Jowell McKee, and gave Tom Mullins and Conatser an exciting chase, the savages were then reported to be riding at a much more rapid gait, for, no doubt, they expected to be pursued by citizens. They were pursued, but the citizens used an entirely different tactic, than the Indians expected.
Almost every able bodied man was in arms, and ready to retaliate against the Indians for the many crimes they committed on this particular foray. To allow the Indians to go unpunished would be more than the citizens could endure. Most every one realized, however, that before the Indians could be properly chastised, it would be necessary for the citizens, rangers, and soldiers to seek their villages somewhere along the head waters of the Texas streams, and perhaps not a great many miles from the Cap Rocks of the Plains. An enterprise of this kind of course, called for a large number of able bodied men, completely equipped for an extended invasion. Neither could such a thing be pre-arranged within a single day. So a call was made for volunteers, and a large number of splendid citizens responded. The company rendezvoused near the mouth of Rock Creek, across the river from the pioneer horn of Col. Kit Carter. Capt. J.J. Cureton, grandfather of the present Chief Justice of the Supreme County Court of Texas, and often called "Capt. Jack" was selected as a captain of the citizens' company, and a more appropriate leader could not have been found.
After his company was completely organized, word was conveyed to Captain Ross, who at the time was camped on Elm Creek with company of rangers, at a point several miles west of Fort Belknap.
Capt. J.J. Cureton's company was organized December 1860 and the following men composed the company:
J.J. Cureton, Capt. R. W. Pollard, 1st Lieut., M.D. Sanders, 2nd Leut., J.H. Baker, 1st. Sargt., Ben Milam, 1st. Corpl., J.L. Daves, 2nd. Corpl., M. Anderson, John Anderson, Chas. Allen, G.W. Baker, Wm. Brown, W.H. Blevins, Allen Baker, Abe Blevins, T.B. Blevins, J.P. Brown, S.M. Blevins, Front Ball, M. Bragg, Nathan Bragg, Jesse Bragg, W.A. Bell, John Bell, J.H. Coffee, J.H. Chick, Samuel Church, P.A. Chamberlain, Simpson Crawford, W. Grammer, Thos. Grammer, Jas. Dulin, G.W. Dodson, John Dalton, J.M. Elkins, W.J. Eubanks, J. Farris, John W. Flinn, Jack Flint, Phillip George, Chas. Goodnight, W. Henclewood, J.P. Hales, S.G. Harper, W.R. Hill, E.G. Hall, T.R. Harris, Geo. Harris, W. Hullum, Bev. Harris, C.T. Hazlewood, Pate Jones, Parker Johnson, Jacob Lemons, J.G. Moss, B.B. Meadows, Elisha Mayse, Cavelle Mayse, Rich Moss, W.J. Moseley, W.Y. Moss, Thos. Nelson, John T. Porter, J.T. Pollard, W. Porter, W.M. Peters, J.W. Robertson, Peter Robertson, Squire Robinson, J. Runnels, G. Huff, T.W. Robertson, Wm. Shirley, J.N. Sparks, C.C. Slaughter, V. Simonds. W.N. Shultz, Thos. Steward, James Sanders, John Standley, W. Strong, I.P. Volentine, D.F. Wells, Geo. Williams, Jas. Yancey, H. Williams, D.C. Smith, N.J. Deaston, Thos. Alley, M. Southerland, and Robt. Wood.
F.M. Peveler and two or three others not mentioned in the list, were along with this expedition. Capt. Cureton's company reached Fort Belknap December 6, 1860, and from here word was sent to Capt. L.S. Ross. It was agreed that the two companies join each other on California Creek, seven miles northwest of Belknap.
Capt. L.S. Ross, who had been previously commissioned to organize a company of Texas rangers, perfected an organization at Waco during October of 1860. The rangers enlisted for a period of six months. Thomas H. Kelliheir was made first lieutenant, and N.M. Summerville, and B.C. Sublett second lieutenants. The command marched directly from Waco to Palo Pinto, where seven men joined the company, making a total of thirty-nine. From Palo Pinto Capt. Ross and his company moved to Caddo Springs, where several citizens from Jack County also enlisted. When the command reached Fort Belknap, it was further augmented by the arrival of additional recruits and Capt. Ross' company now consisted of sixty-six men, including officers. His company then moved out on Elm Creek in Young County, about eight miles northwest of Belknap, where a permanent camp was established, during October of 1860.
We are not in possession of the complete muster roll of Capt. Ross' Company.
Since Capt. Ross assisted Major Van Dorn during 1858, in the battle of the Wichita Mountains, he was always highly esteemed by the soldiers at Camp Cooper. And when he sent an invitation to Capt. N.G. Evans, then in command of the post, to send a detachment of the Second Cavalry, the troop was gladly furnished. These troops rightly belonged to Col. Albert Sidney Johnston and Lieut. Col. Robert E. Lee, each of whom were away on detached service at this particular time. Capt. Evans furnished twenty-soldiers from Company H of the Second Cavalry under the immediate command of Sgt. W. Spangler. They were instructed to report to Capt. Ross for further orders. Lt. Spangler joined Capt. Ross' command at his camp on Elm about the 10th of December,1860. Then about two days later Capt. Ross and Cureton threw their forces together at a point on California Creek about seven or eight miles northwest of Belknap. Capt. Ross himself selected forty of his own men who had the best horses. The expedition now consisted of the following troops: Twenty men under Lt. Spangler; forty men under Capt. L.S. Ross, and about ninety-six men under Capt. J.J. Cureton, making a total of approximately one hundred and thirty-six men.
It was the pleasure of the author to personally interview a number of citizens who were living on the frontier at this particular time, and familiar with the expedition; also interviewed members of both Capt. Cureton and Ross' Companies, who played a prominent part in this important expedition. Each man, however, observed this expedition from his own individual angle, and company.
If all the stories that have been written concerning this expedition were compiled into a single edition, the material would aggregate many volumes. Many accounts have been surprisingly accurate, while others have been surprisingly inaccurate. But practically all, as we shall later see, have presented an incomplete story. The noble efforts of Lt. Spangler and Capt. J.J. Cureton and their men have been more or less, overlooked on the one hand, and the causes that led up to this raid on the other.
Scouts composed of members from both companies were thrown ahead, and the command moved as rapidly as possible in a northwest direction. They followed the general course the Indians pursued after leaving the settlements with approximately six hundred head of horses. Sometime during the afternoon of December the 17th, the expedition reached Pease River and soon reached a point where the sand was well packed because a large herd of buffalo only a short time before had crossed. So here the expedition crossed to the north side of stream, and camped for the night. Then during the 18th of December the command re-crossed to the south side of Pease River.
J.H. Baker who was a first sergeant of Captain Cureton and a school teacher at Palo Pinto, stated, "I kept a record of every day and can vouch for the correctness of the date and events partially narrated." He further stated, "We all traveled together in a northwest direction, following the Indian trail made by the horses stolen in Palo Pinto and Parker Counties, where we struck Pease River."
Late in the evening of December 18th, the scouts reported the discovery of where the Indians skinned a skunk on a sand hill. Some of the scouts followed the trail further, while others brought the news to main command; but the trail was soon obscured by darkness.
Cunningham and Marion Cassidy of Captain Ross' Company, Col. Charles Goodnight of Capt. Cureton's Company, according to the best evidence, numbered among the scouts. Either late in the evening of December 18th, or early in the morning of the following day the scouts also discovered where the four Indians, who skinned the skunk, joined others. A little farther, the advance guard found where the Indians had cut down a chittam bush. The Indians were exceedingly fond of chittam berries. The tracks of Indian children were also seen around these bushes. So every one knew the Indians were close at hand.
Early in the morning of the 19th, Capt. Cureton's company became slightly delayed because of their horses. According to one account this delay was occasioned because Uncle Jim Chick's horses had gotten away and started back toward Palo Pinto. This necessitated the delay of Cureton's command for about an hour and a half or two hours, while a detachment was after Mr. Chick's horses. According to another report, the delay was occasioned because of the fatigued condition of the animals, necessitating Capt. Cureton and his men to travel somewhat slower than Capt. Ross, and his command. These different explana-tions were made by men who were members of the expedition. It is entirely possible that both conditions could have existed. Nevertheless, Capt. Cureton and most of his command were somewhat delayed. But some of the Cureton men, who served as scouts, were, nevertheless, following closely behind Capt. Ross, and as the citizens, rangers, and soldiers advanced, the Indians' signs became more and more numerous.
Just before the Indians were discovered, Capt. Ross numbered among the scouts, and concerning his experience he said:
"I galloped forward about a mile to a high point, and riding to the top, to inexpressible surprise, found myself within two hundred yards of a Comanche village, located on a small stream winding around the peak of the hill. It was a most happy circumstance, that a piercing north wind was blowing, blowing with it clouds of sand, and my presence, was unobserved and the surprise complete. By signaling my men as I stood concealed, they reached me without being discovered by the Indians, who were packing up preparatory to a move."
Jim Stewart was detailed to go back to Capt. Cureton's command and report the discovery of the Indians. Lt. Spangler and his soldiers were ordered to conceal themselves near the mouth of the creek on which they had been camped, to prevent the Indians from crossing the river to the north, and to take them by surprise, for it was reasonably certain that a large number of them would break and run in that direction.
he Indians were slowly moving as if they were unaware of the presence of the whites. Some were still in camp while others, some distance away; and at this particular time, the savages were considerably scattered.
Capt. Ross and his men made a sudden charge and the Indians became completely demoralized. Some of them took a northwest course and ran directly into Lt. Sprangler and his men. This, of course, turned a part of these Indians back toward Capt. Ross' command, others were killed, and a few successfully crossed the river. Since the Indians scattered, it became necessary for the rangers and soldiers to also break up into small bands and pursue the fleeing red men.
Two distinct views are entertained concerning the chief in command of these Indians. At any rate, the chief, who rode an excellent horse, dashed away and turned his Indians from the west towards the north, and then returned back toward Capt. Ross and his men. With this chief were eight warriors, and shortly afterwards a ninth followed in the rear. This ninth Indian riding a slow horse, was soon killed and proved to be half white and half Indian. The chief with a young girl behind him, now rapidly rode away, and was followed by Cynthia Ann Parker, riding a different pony. At first Cynthia Ann was thought to be a man because she was covered with a buffalo robe. The chief and Cynthia Ann were followed by Capt. Ross and Lt. Kellihier. After running for about a mile, Lt. Kelliheir ran up beside the horse of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was still riding near the chief, and Ross was in the act of shooting her, when she held up her baby and stopped. Ross continued to pursue the chief and when within twenty yards of him, fired his pistol and killed the Indian girl, whom he took to be a man. The same shot would have also killed the chief, had it not been for his shield which covered his back. When the Indian girl fell dead from the horse, she dragged the Indian chief to the ground also, but he landed on his feet. This was about one half mile from where Lt. Kelliheir was holding Cynthia Ann Parker and her child. Before Capt. Ross could control his horse, he was almost over the chief who was on the ground, and who wounded Captain Ross' horse with an arrow. The animal began to pitch, and it was with difficulty the Captain stayed in the saddle. During this time, the Indian was shooting an almost solid stream of arrows, all of which missed their mark only by a very narrow margin.
Capt. Ross said, "Being at such a disadvantage, he would have killed me in a few minutes, but for a random shot from my pistol (while I was clinging with my left hand to the pommel of my saddle, which broke his right arm at the elbow, completely disabling him. My horse then became quiet and I shot the chief twice through the body, whereupon he deliberately walked to a small tree, the only one in sight, and, leaning against it began to sing a wild weird song. At this moment my Mexican servant, who had once been a captive with the Comanches, and spoke their language as fluently as his mother tongue, came up in company with two of my men."
Ross then summoned the chief to surrender, but he refused and treated every overture with contempt, and at the same time was anxious for an opportunity to throw a lance with his left hand at Capt. Ross, who afterwards said: "I could only look upon him with pity and admiration. For deplorable as was his situation, with no chance of escape, his party utterly destroyed, his wife and child captured in his sight, he was undaunted by the fate that awaited him, and as he seemed to prefer death to life, I directed the Mexican to end his misery by a charge of buckshot from the gun which he carried."
The chief's weapons of war were sent to Governor Houston and deposited in the archives at Austin.
Capt. Ross further said: "We rode back to Cynthia Ann and Kelliheir and found him bitterly cursing himself for having run his pet horse so hard after an indigenous tribesperson." But when Ross looked into her face he said, "Why Tom this is a white woman; Indians do not have blue eyes." But, of course, at this time no one knew that she was Cynthia Ann Parker.
The hardest fighting occurred on Mule Creek. Here the Indians formed a circle with their horses and secreted themselves on the Inside. But they were soon demoralized by the Texans. Capt. Ross said, "Some of you fellows on fresh horses stop the front Indians." Twelve well-mounted men followed the lead Indians for about the same number of miles, before they were overtaken. As a reward for their efforts, however, they brought back seven scalps. Fourteen Indians were killed near Mule Creek, three elsewhere and the "half-breed" white youth made a total of twenty-five killed in battle. Three were captured, and not a single white wounded.
Before the fighting ceased, some of Capt. Cureton's men had begun to arrive on the scene, and the entire command arrived about the time the fighting was over. When the battle ended and troops were picking up Indian implements, Capt. Ross discovered an Indian boy about nine years of age hiding in the grass. This Indian boy began crying, for he thought he, too, would be killed. But when he was placed on the horse behind Capt. Ross, he soon became somewhat reconciled. Concerning this boy, several years later, Capt. Ross said, "And when in after years, I frequently proposed to send him to his people, he steadfastly refused to go."
When the entire command, including Capt. Cureton and his men camped for the night, Cynthia Ann Parker kept crying. Capt. Ross instructed the Mexican servant to tell her that she was in the hands of her own people, and would not be harmed. She replied that two of her boys were with her when the fight began, and that she was uneasy for fear that both of them had been killed. These boys were Quanah Parker and his brother, and each of them successfully made their escape. Capt. Ross then instructed Cynthia Ann to relate her past history, which she did and since her story corresponded with the Parker Fort massacre, the citizens were reasonably well satisfied they had re-captured Cynthia Ann Parker.
December 20th, Capt. Ross and his command returned to their camp in Young County. But Capt. Cureton and his men decided to push farther on out into the Indian territory.
A scout from Capt. Cureton's command, discovered a very large Indian trail, which led south. From every indication, it seemed that no less than two thousand savages were in this band. Since the citizens were poorly equipped and their horses fatigued, Capt. Cureton and his men decided they were in no position to meet such a large band of Indians. As a consequence, Christmas Day 1860, they turned their attention toward home.
During the 27th, they accidently met a party of Indians and a running fight occurred. When night came the company was so badly scattered, they did not get together until the following day. During the fight, Tom Pollard, Boyken Bradley, and John Dalton were wounded, but each of the three recovered.
Capt. Cureton and his men arrived at Fort Belknap December 30, 1860, and practically all reached their homes before the dawn of the new year, after being out for almost a month.
When the rangers reached their camp in Young County Cynthia Ann Parker was sent to Camp Cooper, where she could receive the attention she demanded. Capt. Ross also dispatched a messenger to Col. Isaac Parker, an Uncle of Cynthia Ann, to inform him that it was generally believed his niece had been recaptured.
After the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker, she was several times asked through the Mexican boy as an interpreter, if the ninth Indian who followed the chief back, during the early part of the fighting, and who later proved to be half white, was her son, Cynthia Ann replied, "That was my boy and it was not my boy." Several times she repeated this expression. It was afterwards ascertained that the boy was a son of another white woman who had been captured by the Indians and when his mother died, she requested Cynthia Ann to adopt him.
Just after the fighting F.M. Peveler requested Tom Kelliheir to present him with a buffalo robe, which had been captured from the Indians. Mr Peveler's request was granted, and today the buffalo robe is still in his possession.
Col. Charles Goodnight and some of the scouts also picked up the identical Bible which had been stolen from the home of Mrs. Sherman, which was located near the Palo Pinto-Parker County line. Since the Indian trail had been followed from Palo Pinto County to Pease River and since Mrs. Sherman's Bible was recovered no doubt, some of the identical Indians who inflicted such a severe blow on the settlements November 26, 27, and 28th next preceding were partly punished.
Cynthia Ann Parker and her child were detained in the guard house at Camp Cooper until Isaac Parker, her uncle, arrived. Isaac Parker and A.B. Mason reached the David Peveler ranch in Young County and spent the night. The next morning at the request of Mr. Parker and his, companion, Champ Farris and Lewis Peveler piloted Isaac Parker to Camp Cooper, which was about forty miles away, and which was reached about dark.
The following day Cynthia Ann was seated on a box, in a tent, before Isaac Parker and others, and here was enacted one of the most dramatic scenes of all western history. Cynthia Ann Parker around the camp fire during the first night, after she was recaptured, related to Ross a surpirsingly accurate story of what had transpired at Parker's Fort in 1836, when she was captured by the Indians. But it seems there was some difficulty in establishing that this was really Cynthia Ann Parker. Col. Parker said, "If this be my niece, her name is Cynthia Ann." Prior to this time the despondent woman had been sitting on the box with her chin resting on her hands, and her elbows resting on her knees. This name, no doubt she had not heard for many years and its being repeated seemed to momentarily revive her despondent soul. She then stood up, patted herself on the breast, and said, "Me! Me! Cynthia Ann." Frank Gholson and Robert Gray were then sent to bring Ben Higgens, another interpreter, for it was thought she would perhaps, talk to Higgins more freely than she did to the Mexican boy.
When he arrived she did talk more freely, and told the interpreter that she once had a pale face father and mother, and that her name Cynthia Ann, both of which she regretted, but that she now had a redfaced father and mother, and that her name was "Pelux", which she pronounced "Peloch." She called her baby, she had in her arms, "Cullin," reported to mean "Prairie Flower," a name by which the baby afterwards went.
Again she described the massacre at Parker's Fort, with a surprising degree of accuracy. In relating her past history, although she was only about nine years of age when captured, she gave the time she had been in Indian captivity and missed it only about four moons, which was less than four months. She also remembered correctly the number of prisoners the Indians took away, but could recall only one name, and that was her brother, John.
Although the massacre at Parker's Fort occurred in territory not covered by the present work, but in order to give a uniform story with proper form and symmetry, we shall now relate briefly the past history of Cynthia Ann Parker.
During 1834, Parker's Fort was established about two and one half miles northwest of the present town of Groesbeck, in Livestone County, and was occupied by Elder John Parker, his family and close friends, which consisted of a son James W. Parker and his family, a daughter, Mrs. Rachel Plummer and and her family, Mrs. Sarah Nixon, another daughter and her family, Silas M. Parker, another son and his family, Benjamin F. Parker an unmarried son, Mrs. Nixon, Sr., mother of Mrs. James W. Parker, Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg, daughter of Mrs. Nixon, Mrs. Giddy, Samuel M. Frost and family, G.E. Dwight and family, David Faulkenberry and son, Silas H. Bates and Abraham Anglin. Parker's Fort was a citizens fortification of a truly frontier fashion.
On the morning of May 19, 1836, James W. Parker and Nixon, the two Faulkenberrys, Bates and Anglin went to their respective fields, which were a mile or two from the Fort. About nine o'clock during the same day, several hundred Comanche Indians appeared on the prairie about three hundred yards from the fort and hoisted a white flag. This was, of course, an Indian intrigue. Benjamin F. Parker went out to the Indians first for a talk, and when he returned expressed the opinion that the Indians wanted to fight. He stated, however, that he would return to the savages and see if a hostile demonstration could not be averted. This he did over the protest of his brother Silas, and when he again reached the Indians, Benjamin F. Parker was surrounded and almost instantly killed. Only about three men were now left to guard the fort, and when the Indians came charging and giving their vociferous screams, the occupants of the fort then became completely demoralized. Mrs. Sarah Nixon hastened to the fields to advise her father and others. Silas M. Parker was soon killed on the outside of the fort, in an attempt to recover Mrs. Plummer, who was knocked down with a hoe, and carried by the Indians into captivity. Elder John Parker, his wife and Mrs. Kellogg attempted to escape, and were successful in getting about three fourths of a mile from the fort, when the Indians overtook them and drove them back. Elder John Parker was stripped, murdered and scalped. They also stripped Mrs. Parker and left her for dead but she recovered. Mrs. Kellogg, like Mrs. Plummer was made a captive. Mrs. Sarah Nixon had now conveyed the news to her father, husband and to Mr. Plummer. Plummer conveyed the news to the Faulkenberrys, Bates and Anglin. David Faulkenberry started immediately for the fort, and the others also followed when they were found by Mr. Plummer. J.W. Parker and Nixon started for the fort, but the former met his family on the way, and took them into the bottoms of the Navasota; Nixon who was unarmed continued on toward the Fort and soon met Mrs. Lucy and Mrs. Silas Parker and her four children just at a time when all were overtaken by the Indians. Mrs. Silas Parker was compelled to place her nine year old daughter Cynthia Ann behind an Indian warrior and her son John behind another. She and her two younger children and Mr. Nixon were then carried back to the fort. Upon arriving, however, she passed around the fortification and Nixon went through, and was on the verge of being massacred himself, when David Faulkenberry appeared with his rifle and caused the Indians to fall back. Nixon then hurried away to find his wife, and soon overtook Dwight who, as best he could, was protecting Nixon and Frost's families. Ross then went with John W. Parker to his hiding place in the Navasota bottom. David Faulkenberry left with Mrs. Silas Parker and her two children. Cynthia Ann and John were now in the hands of the Indians. One warrior came so close the dog of Mrs. Silas Parker, mother of Cynthia Ann, caught the Indian by the nose and caused both the horse and rider to fall backwards in a ditch.
By this time Silas Bates, Abraham Anglin, and David Faulkenberry who were armed, together with Mr. Plummer who was unarmed, arrived on the scene, and Mr. Plummer demanded to know what had become of his wife and child. He then armed himself with a butcher knife of Abraham Anglin and started out in search of his loved ones. After being gone six days, however, he returned without being rewarded for his efforts. During the fighting at the fort, Samuel Frost and his son Robert fell while they were defending the women and children. The Indians now withdrew and the results of storming Parker's Fort were as follows:
Killed: Elder John Parker, Benjamin F. Parker, Silas M. Parker, Samuel M. Frost and his son Robert; dangerously wounded: Mrs. John Parker and Mrs. Juddy. Captured: Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg, Cynthia Ann and John Parker, children of Silas M. Parker, Mrs. Rachel Plummer and her infant son James Plummer.
Mrs. Kellogg fell into the hands of the Keechi and was ransomed by the Delawares about six months later. The Delawares carried Mrs. Kellogg to Nacogdoches where she was delivered to General Houston who paid them one hundred and fifty dollars. Mrs. Rachel Plummer was ransomed by a Santa Fe trader at a point in the rocky mountains seventeen days travel north of Santa Fe. She then accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Donohue to Independence, Missouri, where she found her brother-in-law, Mr. Nixon, who took her back to her people. The 19th of February, 1838, exactly twenty-one months after her capture, she reached the home of her father.
Her infant son, James P., was snapped from her bosom soon after she was captured and she never knew what was his fate. After she had been in the hands of the savages about six months, she gave birth to another child, but it was cruelly murdered in her presence.
Cynthia Ann Parker was in the hands of the Indians twenty-four years and about seven months. She was captured the 19th of May 1836, and recaptured on the 19th of December, 1860.
During this time the fate of her brother, John, was often discussed. Cynthia Ann was occasionally seen by Indian traders, but in 1839, 40, 43, and 46, when treaties of peace were made with the savages, the Comanches invariably refused to release her. In 1842, however, about three years after the death of his mother, and after being in the hands of the Indians for approximately six years, James Plummer was ransomed and taken to Fort Gibson. He reached his home during the following year, and was placed in the hands of his grandfather, and afterwards became a respected citizen of Anderson County.
Four years after Cynthia Ann Parker was captured, Col. Williams, an Indian guide named Jack Harry and other packed mules with goods, and started on an expedition into the Indian territory. They struck Tahauka's band of Comanches on the Canadian, and with them was Cynthia Ann Parker, now approximately thirteen years of age. This was the first news received of Cynthia Ann since she had been captured. Col. Williams proposed to redeem her, but the Comanches related that all the goods he had would not ransom Cynthia Ann and he further admonished Col. Williams to approach him no more on the subject. The Colonel then, however, requested that he be permitted to see Cynthia Ann. She was then brought into his presence and sat down near the root of a tree, but had nothing to say. The citizens related to her the news of loved ones and play mates at home, but, perhaps, in accordance with her instructions received from the Indians, she remained as silent as a statute. Cynthia Ann afterwards developed into a beautiful woman and became the wife of the noted Indian Chief, Peta Nocona. Cynthia Ann was again seen by some Indian traders about 1851, and was asked if she preferred to return to her people. But she shook her head, and pointed to her own little naked barbarians playing about her feet, and to the Indian chief who was her husband. The Texas Almanac for 1859, mentions her being still in the hands of the Comanches, and it was not until Capt. J.J. Cureton, Capt. L.S. Ross, and Lt. Sprangler, together with their respective commands recaptured her on the 19th of December, 1860, that she was restored to her people.
All the credit that has been given and more is due to ex-Governor L.S. Ross for the part he played in this expedition. But heretofore, unfortunately, the noble efforts of Capt. J.J. Cureton and his men have been regrettably ignored. They largely initiated this expedition, as is shown by the reports of Sgt. J.H. Baker, who kept a diary of each day's transactions. This statement of Mr. Baker is corroborated by members of Capt. Jack Cureton's company, as well as by additional evidence. Capt. Ross, no doubt, was also contemplating such an expedition himself, but since the citizens of Palo Pinto and adjoining counties under their able leader, Capt. Jack Cureton, largely initiated the expedition in retaliation for the Indian's raid, into their settlements, it seems to the author that it is but fair that they too, should be credited for playing a prominent part in this expedition. It is true that only a few of Capt. Cureton's men reached the battle grounds before the fighting finally ceased and the remaining Cureton men arrived about the time the fighting was over. But the success of the expedition should rightfully be attributed to Capt. Cureton, Capt, Ross, Sgt. Sprangler and their respective commands for each had an important part to play.
There is yet another important phase of this expedition to be considered. It is generally stated that the Indian chief killed by Capt. Ross and the Mexican boy, was Peta Nocona, husband of Cynthia Ann Parker. The Mexican boy, who had been an Indian captive himself stated that he personally knew Peta Nocona, and that it was this chief that was killed. The correctness of this statement, however, has been questioned by Col. Charles Goodnight, Judge A.C. Tackett and others who for seventy or more years made their home on the northwestern frontier.
In 1878, Quanah Parker and about three hundred of his Indians became dissatisfied with the reservation, and went to the Palo Dura Canyon in the Panhandle. Charles Goodnight was ranching in this section at that time, and entered into a treaty of peace with Quanah Praker. Simultaneously Goodnight sent word to Fort Elliott notifying the authorities of the presence of the Indians, and requested that he be furnished protection. Whereupon the commander of the post detailed twenty-five soldiers to go to the relief of Col. Goodnight. Quanah Parker stayed in Palo Duro Canyon for about three weeks, and in a communication addressed to the author, Col. Charles Goodnight, said, "While Quanah was there, I got much of this evidence, and learned from him beyond a doubt, that Peta Nacona, his father, was not in the Ross fight, at all, but had left there the day before the fight."
It has also been reported that Quanah and his younger brother left the preceding day and were with their father, Peta Nacona. Cynthia Ann Parker, however, seemed to have entertained a different view concerning Quanah and her other son. After she was captured, and for some time, she continued to cry, and Capt. Ross thinking, perhaps, she was uneasy for fear she would be killed, requested the Mexican interpreter to relate to her that she was now in the hands of her own people and safe. But she stated that she was uneasy that her sons had been killed during the fighting.
In after years Col. Charles Goodnight, Judge A.C. Tackett, and others heard Quanah Parker say, that his father, Peta Nocona was not killed on this occasion, and as evidence of this, produced an elderly tribeswoman who confirmed Quanah Parker's statement. Quanah contended that his father died many years after, near the Antelope Hills, while on a plum hunt; nevertheless, Capt. Ross and his Mexican boy killed a chief who was being followed by Cynthia Ann Parker and who had sufficient interest at stake to return with eight warriors into the very jaws of death. But it is possible and plausible that this chief was not Peta Nocona.
Col. Goodnight, Judge Tackett, and others, who long lived on the northwestern frontier of Texas, were very firm in their convictions, and strongly contended, the chief killed was not Peta Nacona, but another chief. Others, however, have been just as firmly convinced, the chief killed was Peta Nacona. Quanah Parker himself, for many, many years after the above conference with Col. Charles Goodnight, continued to strongly insist his father was not killed in this particular battle.
The author has presented for the reading public both views and has made no attempt to say which version be correct.
John Parker, the brother of Cynthia Ann, after being in Indian confinement for many years, married a Mexican girl who had also been a Comanche captive. They finally became dissatisfied with their surroundings and moved into old Mexico. We are informed by F.M. (Babe) Williams that he met John Parker at Fort Belknap about 1862, and that Parker stated that before he and his Mexican wife left the Indians, they secretly took a quantity of gold the Indians had stolen from the mines of Old Mexico; that he had been separated from his sister for several years, and that he was present when Press Witt killed an Indian in Denton County, and had an opportunity to shoot Witt, but did not do so, because he had no desire to kill a member of his own race, and was afraid he might kill some of his own relatives. According to (Babe) Williams, John Parker at this particular time, had a ranch on the Nueces, and was schooling three of his children in San Antonio.
An act was approved April 8, 1861, whereby the State of Texas granted a pension of $100 per annum to Cynthia Ann Parker. Her mother tongue gradually returned and on one occasion she recognized Mr. Anglin, who lived at Parker's Fort at the time of the massacre. Little Prairie Flower died about two or three years after she was captured. And in 1864, the sad life of Cynthia Ann Parker came to a sudden end, and the angels of peace called her to a happier home.
She died at the home of her brother in Andrson County. In after years, the Federal Government appropriated money to move the graves of her and her little daughter to Oklahoma where they were buried by Quanah Parker. In company with Mr. Lester B. Wood, a student of Texas history and citizen of Breckenridge, it was the author's recent pleasure to visit their graves.
Note: In former years the author several times heard H.G. Taylor, C.T. Hazlewood, J.H. Chick, and others relate this story. And before writing this and preceding sections, the author personally interviewed B.F. Gholson, who was a "Ross Man" in the fight, and who was present when Cynthia Ann said "Me! Me! Cynthia Ann!" Also interviewed, Berry Fulcher, another member of Ross's Company; F.M. Peveler, who has the buffalo robe; talked and corresponded with Col. Charles Goodnight, who was a member of Cureton's command, who acted as a scout and was present when Mrs. Sherman's Bible was found. Also interviewed Babe Williams, A.M. Lasater, James Wood, and many others who were living on the northwestern frontier at the time. The author also rode approximately seven hundred miles, for the sole and only purpose of interviewing W.A. Bell, one of the members of Capt. Cureton's command. But his memory was so bad he was not able to furnish much valuable information.
Further Ref.: The author is also indebted to the following works: Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas by John Henry Brown; Cynthia Ann Parker, by James T. De Shield; Heightman's Register and Dictionary of the United States Army; Chronological List of battles, Actions, etc., a little bulletin issued by the United States Department of War; an account of this expedition written by J.H. Baker and printed in the Mineral Wells Index, perhaps during the latter part of 1910; Page 423, Vol. 5, Gammell's Laws of Texas; Frontier Reminesences by John M. Elkins, a member of Captain Cureton's company; Fort Worth Star Telegram, April 1, 1928.
The author drove several hundred miles to interview surviving "old timers," who were able to give additional information for this and other frontier events, and we believe, that after making this and other frontier incidents a personal study for over four years, this account is the most complete and as accurate as has ever been written.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.