One Hundred Seventy-Five Years of Statehood
I've always loved my state, having been born here 85 years ago in June, 2021. Because of that love, most of my novels and novella are set in the Lone Star State. In doing research, I've come across interesting people and events I didn't learn about in seventh grade Texas history classes. Some of the things I found have fascinated me, so I plan to share a few with you over the next few months.
Most people know about the Alamo, Battle at San Jacinto, Sam Houston, the six flags that flew over Texas, and Washington on the Brazos, but so many other people and events molded and shaped Texas into the state it is today.
Texas is full of myths and legends that have arisen from actual events, and that makes the stories even more interesting. One of those is the Parker family and all the folklore that surrounds that family.
The Parker clan, headed by John, built a fortified stockade out of cedar thinking it
slaughtered, and they took captives. One of those was nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker, and her younger brother.
Her capture and then "rescue" twenty-four years later, 160 years ago last month, became the stuff of stories and legends picked up by newspapers, books, and
magazine because of its tragic tale. The tale was even picked up by the movies, and the movie The Searchers starring John Wayne was born. So much is known about Cynthia Ann and her son, Quanah, but what happened to her six-year-old brother, John Richard Parker, who was captured with her? His story is almost as legendary as his sister's, but John managed to elude the spotlight, so his story is not as familiar.
John, as did his sister. grew to adulthood among the Indians. While on a raiding party with his tribe, John fell in love with a Mexican girl, Dona Juanita. She returned to Texas with him, but he fell ill with smallpox, and was abandoned by his tribe. She nursed him back to health, and they returned to Mexico.
One account of his life describes John being found at age 14 by his uncle and returned to his mother, but later going back to the Comanches where he felt he belonged. After being abandoned and recovering from small pox, he began his life as a stockman and rancher, a member of the Confederacy, and as a scout. These events have all made for more legends and stories.
Years later, the story goes that Quanah Parker visited his uncle at the ranch where Quanah was gored by a bull. John treated his nephew with peyote, and historians say, without much question, that is how the use of peyote started among the Indians. John died in 1915 on his ranch.
Back in 1969, in an episode of Death Valley Days, William Smith plays John, and in the story line, Parker gets the small pox, is left dead by his fellow Comanche warriors, and is then rescued by his future wife who is named Yolanda in the story. So we have a little fiction based on fact to make a better story.
John Richard Parker was an elusive man, but his story is one of which Texas legends are born.The old family fort is now a State Park located near in Limestone County near Mexia and the county seat, Groesbeck, Texas.
Is there an interesting story or legend associated with your state? If you're from Texas, what's one of your favorite stories or legends about our state?
Martha Rogers is a multi-published author who lives in Houston, Texas with her husband Rex. They have been married 61 years and have three sons who have given them nine grandchildren. Three of the grandchildren are married to provide Martha and Rex with six great-grandchildren. Her books are both historical and contemporary romances along with a cozy mystery series set in a senior living community. Martha is a member of ACFW and writes the Verse of the Week devotional for their loop. Visit Martha on Martha Rogers Author on Facebook, martharogers2 on Twitter, and martha.rogers on Instagram. www.marthawrogers.com