The Quanah Parker exhibit currently on display at the Alvin Historical Museum has local ties in the area. Alvin resident and retired teacher from Alvin ISD, Jo Nell Parker, is a fifth cousin to Cynthia Ann Parker.
The current temporary exhibit is about Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah Parker, two important names in U.S. frontier history.
In 1836, a Comanche raiding party took young Cynthia Ann from her family at Fort Parker. Cynthia was soon integrated into the tribe and lived with them 24 years.
She was given to a Comanche couple, who adopted her and raised her as their own daughter. She forgot her original ways and became Comanche in every sense, according to Wikipedia sources. She married Peta Nocona, a chieftain and as a tribute to his great affection to her, he never took another wife, although it was traditional for chieftains to have several wives.
Her Comanche name was Naduah, which means “someone found.”
They had three children, famed Comanche chief, Quanah, another son named Pecos (Pecan), and a daughter named Topsana (Prairie Flower). After Cynthia Ann was taken back by Texas Rangers, Quanah became one of the most important Comanche leaders both in war and peace.
The photo exhibit tells this story of the lives of these two persons caught between two different worlds.
Jo Nell Parker remembers her time with one of her cousin’s grandchildren.
“When I was about 10 years old, I recall talking to Alice Purdy, one of Quanah Parker’s daughters, who was in her seventies at the time,” Parker said.
It was her father, Joe Bailey parker, who had been encouraged by his father to research the parker family history and its connection with the story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son, Quanah Parker.
In 1953, her father helped organize an annual reunion of members of the Parker family and the Comanche descendants of Quanah. This reunion has continued over the years being held in various locations. The Parkers still hold annual reunions today and all are held at Fort Parker, now a State Park near Mexia.
The Alvin resident remembers attending many of these reunions and as a child going to the original location of Quanah Parker’s Star House.
“In appreciation for Quanah’s astute dealings with them, business men built a special house for him. The Indian Agent chose his ‘go to town wife,’ the only one of his seven wives who would be considered his legal wife,” Parker said.
Jo Nell Parker grew up in Elkhart, Texas. She began teaching in Alvin ISD from 1965-67 at Alvin Primary, at Longfellow Elementary from 1976-79 and at Disney Elementary from 1979-91.
Her three children, Walter Scott Nicholson, Benjamin Parker Nicholson and Janay Nicholson Andrade, attended Alvin schools.
She lent the exhibit a Comanche Indian doll, given to her in the early 1950s by Vance and Anna Tomakara. Vance was a grandson of Quanah Parker and the great-grandson of Cynthia Ann Parker. His wife Anna made the doll.
Other documents and artifacts belonging to Jo Nell’s family were donated to Baylor University in February 2016 to be placed in their Texas History exhibit.
Story by Karolyn Gephart