HERBERT WOESNER, JUNE 23, 2000, PARKER REUNION
history of this house actually goes back to about 1802 when Ben Franklin
went to France and made the Louisiana Purchase. After the Louisiana
Purchase, this so called Louisiana Territory was opened for settlement to
The Parkers were
from mostly North Carolina and Tennessee. They came into what was supposed
to be Louisiana Territory but for some unknown reason they crossed the
river and got into Texas. I've talked to various people and it seems like
the consensus is they were from a hilly country and they didn't like the
flat level swampy land in the area where they could come into Western
The Comanches and
Texans both claimed that territory. So of course that's when the Comanches
raided the Parker settlement. Cynthia Ann, an 8 year old child and 2
others were taken to be raised by the Comanches as foster children. They
were adopted into the tribe, raised and became in effect Comanches.
Cynthia Ann was the wife of Peta Nocona. She had children by Peta one of
which was Quanah.
government had declared this country as Comanche territory. They had
established the ring of frontier force across North Texas at Fort Gibson,
Fort Townsend and Fort Belknap (oh there was 5 of them). And these forts
were North of that was supposed to be Comanches, South of that was
supposed to be Texans. The Comanches were settled in camp down there well
inside their territory. They were then attacked by Texans, what they
called at that time irregulars. We would call them a militia. Quanah was
not in the camp at that time as were most of his warriors. But they
attacked this camp and attempted to exterminate all the Indians.
I went to Texas one time to Dallas and did some research down there in the library. I found an account of that raid written by one of the participants and in the raid he said that they attempted to exterminate, that was his exact words, the tribe. That they called everybody. They shot the fleeing women off of their horses. The children they stabbed in the back with a knife. The babies they didn't waste powder on them, they held them by the heels and bashed their heads against the tree. Now we have heard about cruelty but this was white people being cruel to the Indians. This was not the way we usually read history. Now incidentally, one of Quanah's wives, irtiqua, who was Mrs. Birdsong's mother was presumed to have been a survivor of that raid. She would have been at the right age. She was given the Indian name, arrow attach them, "stabbed in the back with a knife."
After this raid Quanah of course went to war against the white people again. They went as far South as Blanco Canyon, nearly to San Antonio. As far North as Adobe Walls and as far West as out in the Staked Plains. But they were being starved because the buffalo had been more or less exterminated.
General Ranald Mackenzie was sent by the U.S. government to catch Quanah and do away with him. Mackenzie himself said that Indians were better soldiers than they were. They were the only troops that he could not catch. But he did meet with Quanah under a flag of truce, persuaded Quanah to come back into this territory, guaranteeing him free conduct, the right to bring his saddle, his horses, his camps, his side arms and to be a permanent residence in this area as a sovereign nation.
Quanah then came in down this trail, we now call it the Quanah Parker Trailway. Back in those days it was called Navajo Trail because it was the one used by the early explorers to go across New Mexico and West. Quanah came into this territory and camped right here on this creek. He was supposed to have gone to Fort Sill for a council but he still did not trust the soldiers at Fort Sill. So they had the council on the creek halfway between Cache and Fort Sill which is probably Blue Beaver Creek. At that council they were guaranteed all of the rights and privileges which they expected. They settled here. This became the Comanche Nation. Quanah then as spokesman for the Comanches, made the deal with the Texas Cattlemen who had been using this land free of charge to drive their cattle to Dodge City. Quanah made a deal with them for the so called "grass money." The money was paid to the Comanches but the federal government again intervened. They were afraid the Indians would not spend it wisely. So most of the cash was put in trust.
The Indians were
given commodities, cattle, horses, script and tokens. The script and
tokens could only be spent at the Indian store. The cattle and horses of
course they could use as they will. After a couple of years Quanah told
them that he had all the cattle and horses he needed and he could provide
his own commodities. But what he needed was a house like the general had
at Fort Sill. So these cattlemen under the direction of Tom Burnett hired
a contractor from the little town of Navajo which was located on this
trail. He came in here, copied the Sherman house at Fort Sill, built this
house for Quanah. It was on the hillside 2 miles North of here, facing
South, overlooking the Comanche Nation. The house was originally, the
front entrance right here where the double windows are and it has a 1
story porch across the front. The front entrance here went into a little
hall. This double room was a living room. Then there was a dining room
parlor and where the entrance is now was the kitchen. Quanah after he
moved in said he needed sleeping rooms more than he needed playing rooms.
So the living room was divided into two bedrooms and the parlor was
appropriated for his bedroom. The dining room became what we would call
the family room and was also the bedroom for the wife called Toncey. The
kitchen door became the front door. At the time that the Indians were
settled here the government built dog trot, as they were called in those
days, houses for several of the leading Indians including Quanah. After
they relocated the front entrance, according to Mrs. Birdsong, this dog
trot house was moved up to the West side where it became the new kitchen
and dining room. It was originally made out of 1 by 12 boards, batter
boards (up & down), had wallpaper on the inside on those single boards
and so siding on the outside. After it was moved up here Quanah had the
siding put on the outside and had the inside covered with beaded ceiling
to match the rest of the house. That became the new dining room and
kitchen. After Quanah lived here they relocated the front entrance.
Thatís when they built the 2 story porch on this side. Quanah enjoyed
the 2 story porch, said that upstairs you could sleep and there was no mosquitoes. And he like the idea of the up upstairs sleeping porches so
they were added all the way around. And the house achieved its present
appearance, probably about 4 years after it was built. There's a dated
photograph at the Fort Sill Museum dated 1892 which shows the house in its
present form with the upstairs porches, stars on the room, new front
entrance and extension on the back. Quanah lived here of course up until
he died in 1911. At that time Quanah had a number of dependents and
several wives. The federal government came in and they said in order to
settle the estate we will divide the furnishings and we will sell the
house. Mrs. Birdsong, Quanah's daughter, who was still living at the home
and who was working in the bank in Cache made arrangements and purchased
the house to keep it in the family. Mrs. Birdsong then lived in house,
raised her daughter and granddaughter here until 1956.
In the early 1950s,
Russia blockaded Berlin, invaded Checkosovalika and was making threats to
the rest of the world. Our federal government after World War II had sent
most of the soldiers home, had done away with a lot of the armed forces.
So in order to be strong and put out a threat to Russia they brought the
atomic cannon out of mothballs. This cannon had been developed during
World War II at the arsenal in Philadelphia and was moth balled. They sent
it to Fort Sill but in order to train with it they needed to extend the
firing range at Fort Sill. To do so they took without much grace, they
took 7 miles on the West side of Fort Sill which included where the house
was, Post Oak Church, Post Oak Cemetery, a number of ranches &
Craterville Park and without much regard for preservation or for history
or anything. This house was going to be torn down.
Sound: Native American Church "Sunrise Song" by Baldwin Parker Jr., Grandson of Quanah Parker
RETURN TO: HERBERT W. WOESNER JR.
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