How Cynthia Ann became The Found One

Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter, Topsannah (Prairie Flower), in 1861 pictured after she was 'rescued' by government troops
Cynthia Ann Parker, aged just nine, was abducted as her family were brutally slaughtered around her. After her isolated Texan outpost was attacked by Comanche Indians, she was stripped from her mother and spirited away on horseback - brought up to live as one of the tribe. For 24 years the blue-eyed captive remained with her abductors, marrying and bearing children - even forgetting her native English tongue.
But in an incredible quirk of fate, one of her sons - Quanah Parker - rose to become one the most feared Native American generals of the 1800's and the last of Comanche leader to finally surrender the tribe to a life on the reservations under U.S. authorities.
The brutal tale of abduction, bloodshed and surrender is the subject of a new book, Empire of the Summer Moon. Author S.C. Gwynne takes up the tale of Cynthia Parker - Nautdah to her adopted Comanche family - weaving her unlikely narrative into the violent sweep of scalpings, raiding parties and bloody revenge that punctuated frontier life in the mid 1800s.
He begins the story on May 19 1836. A Comanche raiding party surrounded the Parker ranch in frontier Texas stormed the lightly manned station - demanding a cow to sacrifice and directions to the nearest watering hole. Suspecting a trap, the women and children fled out the back door, into cornfields, a dried river bed or open country.
As the men walked towards the saddled Comanche, unarmed and offering food, they were brutally attacked, and dismembered before their shocked family members. Fleeing with her mother Lucy and four siblings, Cynthia was run down by the pursuing Comanche, surrounded and torn away from her mother. Gwynne writes: 'The Indians caught them... forced Lucy to surrender two of her children, then  dragged her, the two remaining children and one of the men back to the fort.' Meanwhile, those who remained inside to face the marauding Comanche suffered the same fate as many other frontier settlers of the time - an agonising death.
'The logic of Comanche raids was straightforward: All the men were killed, and any men who were captured alive were tortured; the captive women were gang raped. Some were killed, some were tortured,' he wrote. 'Babies were invariably killed.' The Parkers were no different - Four male family members were pinned to the ground with spears and forcibly scalped. Others who tried to run were savagely attacked: 'Elder John Parker, his wife Sallie and her daughter Elizabeth Kellog ...were surrounded and stripped of all their clothing. The Indians went to work on them, attacking the old man with tomahawks...forcing Granny Parker to watch what they did to him. They scalped him, cut off his genitals and killed him.'
In unrelated episode, Gwynne describes a similar attack on another settler family.
After seizing a nine-month pregnant woman, the Comanche: 'Dragged her back to a point about two hundred yards from the cabin. There she was gang raped. When they were finished , they shot several arrows into her. They scalped her alive by making deep cuts below her ears and, in effect, peeling the top of her head entirely off. She lived for four days' But despite her violent introduction to the tribe, Cynthia - now known as Nautdah or 'found one' - eventually married a Comanche leader Peta Nocona. Over the next 24 years she became a fully integrated member of the tribe giving birth to three children including the infamous Quanah.
As the skirmishes between Texas Rangers and native Americans became more brutal, Washington took a firmer line on the raiding tribes, sending troops in ever greater numbers to hunt down the elusive master horsemen of the plains.
It was in one of these raids in 1860 that Cynthia,- barely recognisable as a white woman except for her blue eyes - was 're-captured'. In fact, so integrated was Cynthia, that the only English words she could speak were: 'Me Cincee Ann'.
Despite her 'rescue', Cynthia did not feel at home with her American relatives and tried to escape several times. Heartbroken at never again seeing her two sons - who escaped in the 1860 raid - she grew more introvert and ill. When her young daughter died at the age of five her health rapidly declined, and she died lonely and alone in 1870 aged 43. Her son Quanah however went on to lead a Comanche tribe before he was even 20. Unusually tall and athletic for the usually diminutive Comanche, Quanah sealed his reputation in a number of daring raids .
His greatest victory came in 1871 when he outwitted a government force of 600 soldiers, successfully attacking their camp at night while leading an entire village to safety.
But by the mid 1870s life was becoming impossible for the nomadic Comanche, and on June 2, 1875 Quanah led his village into captivity, the last Comanche commander to do so. In his remaining years Quanah enjoyed a certain celebrity and became a successful cattle rancher as the remains of the once proud Comanche empire collapsed around him.

Empire of The Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne is available at all good book shops
Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker - a Texas legendQuanah Parker was the last Chief of the Commanches and never lost a battle to the white man. His tribe roamed over the area where Pampas stands. He was never captured by the Army, but decided to surrender and lead his tribe into the white man's culture, only when he saw that there was no alternative.
His was the last tribe in the Staked Plains to come into the reservation system.
Quanah, meaning "fragrant," was born about 1850, son of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, a white girl taken captive during the 1836 raid on Parker's Fort, Texas. Cynthia Ann Parker was recaptured, along with her daughter, during an 1860 raid on the Pease River in northwest Texas. She had spent 24 years among the Comanche, however, and thus never readjusted to living with the whites again.
She died in Anderson County, Texas, in 1864 shortly after the death of her daughter, Prairie Flower. Ironically, Cynthia Ann's son would adjust remarkably well to living among the white men. But first he would lead a bloody war against them.
Quanah and the Quahada Comanche, of whom his father, Peta Nocona had been chief, refused to accept the provisions of the 1867 Treaty of Medicine Lodge, which confined the southern Plains Indians to a reservation, promising to clothe the Indians and turn them into farmers in imitation of the white settlers.
Knowing of past lies and deceptive treaties of the "White man", Quanah decided to remain on the warpath, raiding in Texas and Mexico and out maneuvering Army Colonel Ronald S. Mackenzie and others. He was almost killed during the attack on buffalo hunters at Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle in 1874. The U.S. Army was relentless in its Red River campaign of 1874-75. Quanah's allies, the Quahada were weary and starving.
Mackenzie sent Jacob J. Sturm, a physician and post interpreter, to solicit the Quahada's surrender. Sturm found Quanah, whom he called "a young man of much influence with his people," and pleaded his case. Quanah rode to a mesa, where he saw a wolf come toward him, howl and trot away to the northeast. Overhead, an eagle "glided lazily and then whipped his wings in the direction of Fort Sill," in the words of Jacob Sturm. This was a sign, Quanah thought, and on June 2, 1875, he and his band surrendered at Fort Sill in present-day Oklahoma.

Biographer Bill Neeley writes:
"Not only did Quanah pass within the span of a single lifetime from a Stone Age warrior to a statesman in the age of the Industrial Revolution, but he accepte d the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe on the difficult road toward their new existence."
Quanah was traveling the "white man's road," but he did it his way. He refused to give up polygamy, much to the reservation agents' chagrin. Reservation agents being political appointees of the Federal Government, their main concern was to destroy all vestiges of Native American life and replace their culture with that of theirs. Quanah Parker also used peyote, negotiated grazing rights with Texas cattlemen, and invested in a railroad. 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. He learned English, learned farming techniques and Western Culture when he visited his mother's side of the family. He also became a reservation judge, lobbied Congress and pleaded the cause of the Comanche Nation. Among his friends were cattleman Charles Goodnight and President Theodore Roosevelt. He considered himself a man who tried to do right both to the people of his tribe and to his "pale-faced friends".
It wasn't easy. Mackenzie appointed Quanah Parker as the chief of the Comanche shortly after his surrender, but the older chiefs resented Parker’s youth, and his white blood in particular." And in 1892, when Quanah Parker signed the Jerome Agreement that broke up the reservation, the Comanche were split into two factions: (1). those who realized that all that could be done had been one for their nation; and (2). those who blamed Chief Parker for selling their country."
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.[1] 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 English corruption of the Comanche word 'Kwihnai, which translates as “eagle”.
Quanah Parker died on February 23, 1911, and was buried next to his mother and sister, whose bodies he had reinterred at Ft. Sill Military cemetery on Chiefs Knoll in Oklahoma only three months earlier. For his courage, integrity and tremendous insight, Quanah Parker’s life tells the story of one of America's greatest leaders and a true Texas Hero. Today many people remember him, because he was a Comanche warrior who did not lose any battles and also as a man of peace who helped preserve his people.

The inscription on his tombstone reads:
Resting Here Until Day Breaks
And Shadows Fall and Darkness
Disappears is
Quanah Parker Last Chief of the Comanches
Born 1852
Died Feb. 23, 1911