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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fort Parker Massa

Fort Parker Massacre

by Daniel Parker

On the 18th day of May, just 27 days after the battle of San Jacinto, when Santa Anna and his invading army bad been conquered and driven from Texas, and all things looked like that it promised peace and prosperity. The men except a few had gone to work in the fields and the women were busy at their carries, wheels, and looms. The children were shouting and playing in their childlike spots, when suddenly as an outbursting of a volcano, about 500 Comanche and Kiowa Indians made their appearance on a hill three hundred yards from the fort. The frightened children flew to their Mothers, the men on guard seized their guns, but the deceitful demons raised a white flag as a token of peace and friendship. Mr. Ben Parker went forth to see what the Indians wanted. They professed to be very friendly, and asked him to show them a good camping ground, upon which he directed them to camp near the spring, they asked him for a beef as they were very hungry. Mr. Parker fearing that he might offend them promised that they should have the beef, and upon returning to the Fort he told the women what the Indians wanted but added, 'I am in fear that they intend to fight, but by kindness I will try to dissuade them from fighting.' His brother Silas and all of the women begged him not to go out again, but he went and immediately they surrounded him and murdered him, and then with horrid yells and death dealing clubs, axes and tomahawks they rushed upon the Fort, and battered down the doors. Then began one of the bloodiest tragedies Texas has ever known. Mr. Silas Parker was murdered trying to rescue his sister, Mrs. Plummer. She made a desperate effort but was knocked down with a hoe and was captured. Sam Frost and his son were heroically killed while trying to defend the women and children inside the fort. Old Grandmother Parker was stabbed and left for dead. Elder John Parker and his wife and Mrs. Kellogg were making their escape and were overtaken about three quarters of a mile from the fort, and were brutally murdered and scalped. Thus in one short hour the happy and prosperous colony was deluged in blood and filled with desolation and mourning. Elder John Parker, Silas M. Parker, Samuel M. Frost and his son Robert were killed. Mrs. John Parker, Grandma Parker, and Mrs. Duty were seriously wounded. Mrs. Rachel Plummer, daughter of Jas. Parker and her two-year-old son, Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg, and Cynthia Ann Parker, who was 8 years old, were taken captive as prizes to be redeemed by loving and sorrowful friends. After murdering Silas Parker they overtook his wife who was fleeing with her four children from the Fort, and compelled her to put her daughter Cynthia Ann and her brother John upon horses behind two of the Indians, and she was compelled to walk.+ She was rescued by the men that came from the field as they heard the screams of the women and children. The terror stricken men women and children seeing their once peaceful home in the possession of the Indians fled to the bottoms of the Navasota River where they could have shelter from being found. When night came Abraham Anglin and Mr Fortenberry started back to see if they could give aid to the and to know the extent of the ruins left by the Indians, The only living being that they could see was Old Grandmother Parker who the Indians had wounded and stripped except for her undergarments and was left for dead upon the ground. She had crawled to a cabin and concealed herself. They took her some clothing and carried her to a place of concealment until they could return from the fort. On reaching the Fort no human sound could be heard. All was silent as death, the dogs were barking furiously and the cattle were lowing, the horses neighing and the hogs squealing, making a hideous sound. The next morning Messers Bater, Anglin, and Faulkenberry went back to the Fort to get, if possible, some of the provisions and horses on which to retreat and to look after the dead On reaching the Fort they found five or six horses, a few saddles and some venison, bacon, and honey but fearing another attack from the Indians, who might still be lurking in the thickets, they left without burying the dead. They all concealed themselves in the thick timbers of the Navasota River Bottom, until they could set out for Fort Houston, which was 90 miles away. It was located near the present town of Palestine, and on the present farm of the Honorable John H. Reagan. We give the description of the mournful journey in the language of J. W. Parker, who says 'We were truly a forlorn set, many of us bare foot and bareheaded, a relentless foe on the one hand and on the other a trackless uninhabited wilderness infested with reptile and wild beast entirely destitute of food and no means of procuring it. Added to this the agonizing grief of the dead and the capture of loved ones, and the expectation of meeting at any moment another fate as had just been endured. Utter despair almost seized us. I took one of my children on my shoulder and led another. The grown people all followed my example. Our mournful party consisting of 18 persons made our way to Ft. Houston, through thick briers and tangled underbrush. My wife was in bad health, and Mrs. Frost was in deep sorrow and distress because of the loss of her husband and son, in fact, all were bitterly mourning for the loss of loved ones. We were all barefooted except for my wife and Mrs. Frost and our progress was very slow, Many of the children had nothing on save a shirt and their suffering from the briers tearing at their legs and feet were almost beyond human endurance. We traveled until about three o'clock in. the morning, when the women and children became worn out because of fatigue and we lay down on the grass and slept till daylight, then we resumed our perilous journey. At dark the second day after leaving the Fort the children and especially the women who were nursing infants began to suffer intensely from hunger, but we had not a morsel of food. Providentially a polecat came near and we pursued him and caught him just before he jumped in the river. The only way to kill it was to hold it under the water until it drowned, fortunately, we had the means of striking a fire, and we soon had it cooked and divided among us. This was all that we had to eat until the fourth day, when we were lucky enough to catch another Polecat and two small terrapins, which we cooked and divided, giving the Women and children the larger share. On the fifth day we found that the women and children were so exhausted that it would be impossible for them to travel much farther, and after holding a consultation it was agreed that I should hurry on to Ft. Houston for aid, leaving Mr. DeWight in charge of the women and children, and early the next morning I started for Ft. Houston, which I reached early in the afternoon. I have often looked back on those horrible hours, and wonder how I was able to accomplish those extra-ordinary feats. I had not eaten for six days, having always given my share to the women and children, and yet I was able to walk about 35 miles in about eight hours. The thought of the suffering women and children I had left behind inspired me with strength and perseverance and above all God in his bountiful mercy upheld me in those trying hours. The first person I met upon reaching the Fort, was the generous and brave Captain Carter, He soon had five horses saddled and other means of conveyance and he and Jeremiah Courtney went with me to meet our little band of starving, bleeding women and children. We met them just at dark, and placing the women and children on horses: we reached Capitan Carters home about midnight. Every preparation had been made to receive the mournful company that had suffered so much. On the following day May 25, my Son-in-Law, Mr. Plummer reached the Fort. He had given up all for lost. After so many years I look back over that scene of unparalleled suffering with inexpressible horror, yet with devout thanksgiving and praise to God for His merciful support and protection. Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg, Mrs. Rachel Plummer and her two year old son, James, and Cynthia Ann Parker, who was eight years old and her brother John, six years of age, who were the children of Silas Parker were carried into captivity to be slaves or to be redeemed by sorrowing relatives with large sums of money. The bloody Kiowas and Comanches having heard no doubt of the utter defeat of their allies at San Jacinto beat a hasty retreat to their hiding place in the Wichita Mountains, north of the Red River. They traveled until midnight and camped near where the Town of Waxahachie now stands, to hold their bloody war dance to commemorate their horrible victory at Fort Parker. They staked out their horses and picket guards, and brought their hopeless victims together and tied with rawhide ropes which cut the flesh and then threw the helpless captives on their faces. The savages with blood dripping from the scalps they had begin the usual war dance. The demons screamed, yelled and danced around their helpless victims at times beating them on the back with their bows and stomping on them with their feet. The helpless women and children remained in the position of torture bleeding and weeping during the night. What prayers ascended to heaven that night for mercy on their bloody persecutors. Early the next morning they hurried on their retreat fearing least General Burleson with his brave men should fall on their rear and inflict bloody vengeance on them for their crime. They soon found an opportunity to sell Mrs. Kellogg to the Keachies and Delawares, who after six months sold her to General Sam Houston for $150.00 and he conveyed her immediately to her sorrowing relatives. Mrs. Plummer remained a captive about 18 months, and we find the following extracts from her diary... 'In July and a portion of August we were among some very high mountains on which the snow remained for the most part of the year and I suffered more than ever in all of my life, It was very seldom that I had any covering over my feet and but little clothing for my body. I had a certain number of Buffalo skins and the horses to mind at night. My feet would often be frostbitten, and in October, I gave birth to my second son. It was a beautiful baby, but it was impossible for me to secure suitable nourishment for the baby and myself. I had been with them six months and would often beseech my mistress to advise me what to do to save my child but she always turned a deaf ear to my pleas. 'My child was six months old when my Master thinking that it interfered with my work determined to put it out of the way, then one cold morning six Indians came to where I was suckling my baby, as soon as I saw them I felt sick at heart, my fears were aroused for the safety of my child, my whole frame convulsed with sudden dread, and my fears were not ill-grounded, one of the Indians caught my child by the throat and strangled it until all appearance of life was gone, It was dead.. I exerted all of my strength to save my child but the other Indians held me. The Indian who strangled my child then threw it up it up in the air repeatedly and let it fall to the frozen ground then he gave it back to me. I had been weeping incessantly while they were murdering my child, but now my grief was so great that the fountain of tears dried up, as I gazed at the cheek of my darling child. I discovered some symptoms of life and hoped that if I could save it they would let me keep it. I washed the blood from its face and after a time it began to breathe, but a more heart rending scene ensued, as soon as the Indians ascertained that the child was alive they tied a rope around its neck and threw it into a bunch of prickly-pears and then pulled it backward and forward until its tender flesh was literally torn form its body. One of the Indians who was mounted on a horse then tied the end of the rope to his saddle and galloped around in a circle until my little child was not only dead but was torn to pieces. One of them untied the rope and threw the remains into my lap. 'I took a butcher knife and dug a hole and buried my child. I sat down and gazed with a feeling of relief on the little grave that I had made for it in the wilderness and could say with David, 'You cannot come to me, but I can go to you.' Even now, as I recall the sorrowing scene I can rejoice that my baby passed from this sin cursed earth never to suffer anymore. I shall hear its dying cries no more, only relying on the Righteousness of Christ I feel that my child is with kinder Spirits in a world where there is no more suffering or sin. 'After the death of my child I was given to be the servant of a very cruel old Squaw who treated me in most brutal manner. My other son had been carried off by another party to the far west, I supposed that my Father and Husband were killed at the massacre at Fort Parker. Death seemed to me to be but a sweet relief. Life was a burden and driven to desperation, I resolved no longer to endure the cruel treatment of the intolerable old squaw. Then one day she and I were some distance from camp but still in sight, she attempted to beat me with a club, and I wrenched the club from her hand and knocked her down. The Indians who had witnessed the proceedings from the camp came running up shouting at the top of their voices. I expected to be killed immediately, but to my surprise they patted me on the shoulder crying 'Bueno Bueno, Good, well done.' After this, I faired much better and soon became a great favorite, and became known as the fighting Squaw.' Mrs. Plummer was afterwards ransomed through the assistance of some Mexican Santa Fe Traders by a noble hearted American Mr. M.M. Donahue. She was then made a member of her benefactor family. She and Mrs. Donahue on their visit to Independence, Missouri met her brother-in-law, L. D. Nixon and by him was brought back to Texas on the 19th day of February, 1838. She reached her father’s home 21 months from the time of the Fort Parker Massacre and her capture. She died on the 19th day of February 1839 just one year to the day after reaching home. Her son James Pratt Plummer after six long weary years of captivity was ransomed and taken to Fort Gibson late in 1842 and reached home in February 1843. Cynthia Ann Parker and her brother were held by a different band of Indians, the brother and sister thus separated, gradually forgot the language and manners and customs of their people and became thorough Comanches. John grew up with the seminude Comanche boys of his age and played at hunting and war. When he arrived at manhood, John Parker accompanied a raiding party down the Rio Grande into Mexico, and among captives taken was a beautiful young maiden whom young warrior felt his heart go out in tenderness to her, the fair Dana Juanita and the two were soon engaged to be married as soon as they arrived at the Comanche village. Each day as the cavalcade moved steadily along young lovers could be seen riding and discussing the anticipated life that lay ahead of them, when suddenly John was prostrated with an attack of smallpox. The cavalcade could not tarry so it was decided that the poor fellow should be left alone on the vast plains to die or recover as fate decreed, but the beautiful Juanita refused to leave her lover and insisted on her captors allowing her to remain and care for him. With her to care for him and to cheer him up, John lingered, lived and finally recovered. John settled on a ranch and became a great stockman. Nothing of Cynthia Ann Parker could be learned, large sums of money were offered for the recovery of the lost children. In 1840 Col. Len Williams and a Mr.Stout who was. an Indian trader, with a Delaware Indian guide made a tour on the Canadian River where they fell in with Pohonkas a band of Comanches and Cynthia Ann Parker was with the tribe. From the day of her captivity five years before she had not seen a white person. Col. Williams proposed to redeem her but the Comanches replied all the good of the white man could not redeem her. Return to Daniel Parker's Homepage

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