Sunday, February 26, 2012


Guest Post By Elysa Hendricks

Elysa Hendricks,
Award Winning
Growing up in the mid-west, aside from John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies and TV westerns, I had little contact with the real West. My images were of tall, handsome, heroic cowboys fighting off savage Indians and outlaws, all the while never having to shave or bathe, while wearing white hats that never got dirty or fell off during a chase or gun battle. But despite my obviously misguided idea of what being a cowboy or a pioneer really was like, the American Old West fascinated me.

When I read Lucia St. Claire Robson's RIDE THE WIND and Larry McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE, my eyes were opened to the gritty reality of the Old West and the subject of Indian captives captured my imagination.

Cynthia Ann Parker and her
daughter, Prairie Flower or
 Robson's book fictionalizes the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year old girl kidnapped by a Comanche war band, who massacred her family’s settlement. Cynthia Ann Parker, or Naduah, meaning "Keeps Warm With Us" was then adopted by the Comanche and lived with them for 24 years. She married Chief Peta Nocona and had three children with him.

Big Bend area of Texas,
one of the Comanche's habitat
At the age of 34, the Texas Rangers 'rescued' and returned her to her family. There she spent the remaining 10 years of her life unable to adjust to life in white society. On at least one occasion she tried to escape and return to the Comanche, but was again rescued and brought back to Texas.

Cynthia Ann's childhood home
Though she didn't speak of her life with the Comanche, she apparently couldn't understand her iconic status in society's eyes as being redeemed from the savages - who she considered her people. In 1870 she died of influenza. Her only surviving child, Quanah Parker, later became the last Comanche chief. His story is every bit as interesting as Cynthia's.

Chief Quannah Parker
in Comanche dress
And . . .

Chief Quanah Parker
dressed as a
white businessman
While researching my western romances I devoured everything I could find about the 'real' Old West, Cynthia Ann Parker and other accounts of Indian captives. Here of just a few of the books written about this fascinating and unfortunate woman:

RIDE THE WIND by Lucia St Claire Robson

The subject of Indian abductions goes far beyond Cynthia Ann Parker.
KIDNAPPED AND SOLD BY INDIANS -- TRUE STORY OF A 7-YEAR- OLD SETTLER CHILD (First-Hand Account Of Being Kidnapped By Indians) by Matthew Brayton

What I found most interesting about the first-hand accounts of those abducted and then adopted by Indians was how they bonded with their capturers and became Indian in their hearts. The younger they were at the time of abduction the less likely they were to ever adjust back into white society, but even those that were older, in their teens, often felt more affinity to their Indian families than their birth families. And those who were older, especially women, had a difficult time when they returned to their original homes. Many had married Indian men and given birth to children, which didn't set well with a society that often feared and hated Indians.

T.R. Fehrenbach in his book COMANCHES: A DESTRUCTION OF A PEOPLE talks about how the two societies - western European and American Indian had little chance of co-existing. Though neither side of the conflict was totally good or purely evil, their needs, wants and belief systems were too divergent to live side-by-side without clashing. One or the other had to adapt or be destroyed. History shows us the outcome in our American West, but the same outcome has been seen across the globe when two opposing cultures clash.

When I decided to set my romances in the Old West, I wanted to convey to the reader the harsh realities of the frontier, both for the pioneers and the cowboys, and for the Indians who were losing their way of life. But I also wanted to provide the reader with a strong romance and a satisfying happy ending. Not every pioneer ended up abducted, scalped or dead. Some settled down to raise families and build the communities that exist today.


In a lawless west Texas border town, a woman has two choices: death or dishonor. Doctor's apprentice and former Comanche slave, KC O'Connor finds a third--she buries her femininity and longing for love beneath a boyish disguise. But the arrival of an injured greenhorn shatters the shell around her hidden heart.

                             CHAPTER TWO

Near a small creek, Red Buffalo stopped his horse. Four days and nights of hard riding brought his raiding party hundreds of miles from the site of their successful raid. Any who sought to pursue them had been left behind long ago. Swinging his leg over his horse's back he slid to the ground and led his sweat lathered animal to the water. They would make camp and rest here for a while.

Half-a-dozen warriors joined him at the creek. They drank in silence. Quiet, determined and intense, during the hard ride, they now looked to him, their leader. At his almost imperceptible nod, the air erupted with bloodcurdling howls and shrieks of delight. Red Buffalo grinned in satisfaction. They deserved to celebrate. They had done well.

The raid on the hated Tejanos had been almost too easy. He and his warriors swept through the unsuspecting Texan settlement like a sharp knife through flesh. In minutes, it ended. Tejano men lay dead and dying, their bodies broken and bloodied, arrows and lances piercing their hated, pale skin. Fire purged the land of their obscene dwellings. Acrid smoke filled the air, which echoed with the screams of women and children's cries of terror. Not one of his warriors bore even a scratch.

Red Buffalo allowed himself a small smile as he relished the memory of the Texans shrieking in pain and pleading for mercy. He hated the Texans. Someday he would drive them from Comanche land forever. He chose to ignore the fact his own mother came from that hated breed. Only his greenish-gray eyes and the striking red highlights in his shoulder length hair gave evidence of the white blood flowing through his veins. In all else, he was Eka kura, Red Buffalo, Comanche, son of, Tomooru Tosa nakaai, Winter Hawk.

Not joining in his men's celebration, Red Buffalo surveyed the spoils of their raid. Twenty fine ponies crowded the banks of the creek, herded by the youth brought on the raid for just that purpose. Goods of all kinds lay across the backs of his warrior's ponies, bolts of colored cloth, pots, rifles and jugs of firewater.

He frowned. Red Buffalo did not like the white man's poison; it made strong men weak and weak men foolish. But he knew, now that they were safe from pursuit, he could do little to prevent the warriors from drinking it.

Their captives crouched on the ground, where the warriors had dropped them. One man, two women and three children. Red Buffalo had limited the number his warriors took. With only himself, a boy and six warriors, more captives would have slowed them down too greatly. By keeping their number small, Red Buffalo led his warriors deep into country the Tejanos thought safe from Comanche attack. The illusion of safety made the Texans lax. They paid for their carelessness with their lives.

Even his father could not object to this small number of captives. Of late, Winter Hawk spoke openly of his desire for peace with the whites. In order to keep the soldiers from their camps, he said, they must not take captives. But like all warriors of the Comanche, Red Buffalo was free to make his own decisions. While Winter Hawk might promise the white emissaries he would not raid their settlements or steal their women and children, Red Buffalo was not bound by his father's word.

The male captive looked half-dead. A broken arrow shaft protruded from his left thigh and blood matted his graying hair. His eyes stared vacantly upward. Red Buffalo nudged the man. No flicker of awareness crossed his face. His death would provide little amusement, his mind already gone from his body. One of the women knelt next to him, crooning softly. Plump and gray, well past her prime, she held little interest for Red Buffalo. If she caused no trouble and survived his men's attention, the women of the tribe would decide her fate.

Red Buffalo looked briefly at the children, two boys and a girl child of less than two summers. A boy, about ten, glared defiantly at Red Buffalo. The younger one, about six, clung to the older boy's leg. As Red Buffalo drew closer, the older boy stood up and pushed the smaller boy behind him.
Good, the boy had courage. Now, if he had sense he might someday be a Comanche. Children were always welcome among the Comanche.

HER WILD TEXAS HEART is available for $3.99 from Amazon at

Also at Amazon for western historical fans:

A convent reared innocent and a gunslinger with no memory struggle to survive and find love while crossing the dangerous west Texas frontier.

Abandoned by his father and betrayed by his half-brother and fiancee on the eve of his wedding, JAKE GALLAGHER no longer believes in love. Though he longs to go home, his undercover work for the Texas Rangers keeps him in a lawless Texas border town. Even though it jeopardizes his mission he refuses to stand by and watch outlaws rape and murder a young woman. Getting shot and losing his memory wasn’t part of his plan.

While fleeing from her stepfather’s plans to steal their ranch, CHRISTINA GOODWIN witnesses her brother’s murder and is left in the hands of a merciless band of outlaws. Raised in a strict convent, Christina has little knowledge of men or the world, its dangers and temptations. Frightened and alone, she is forced to accept the help of the dark gunslinger who rescues her. Though drawn to Jake’s potent masculinity, she hesitates to trust him, fearing her stepfather has sent him to bring her back. Unsure of Jake’s motives for helping her, she struggles against him, determined to find a way to avenge her brother’s death and regain control of her ranch from her stepfather.

Learn more about Elysa and her other books at


  1. Welcome, Elysa--I almost cried reading this, and believe me...I know it by heart. Having been born in North Texas next to Parker County, I heard stories of the Indians as a young child. Those Indians, I now know, were the Comanche, and even though they were the most fierce of all, they have been my focus when writing about them. I do have a novel in my files about a young Comanche brave who escaped the battles of Adobe Walls and Palo Duro Canyon and made it to Mexico. The publisher didn't like my choice of the Comanche because "they aren't a sympathetic tribe as some of the others are."
    Your books sounds wonderful, and I always enjoy reading about Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker, too.
    Thanks for being our guest today and tomorrow, and much good luck on your new releases!

  2. Celia,
    Though I've only been in Texas once, that visit left a lasting impression on me. Hot, dry and vast. :-) And T.R. Fehrenbach's book about the Comanche Indians solidified my interest.

    I think what fascinated me most about the Comanche way of life was that being a Comanche had more to do with what was in a person's mind and heart than what skin they were born with.

    Still, as much as I sympathize with them, I'm glad I didn't have to face them as they fought to keep their way of life. :-)

  3. Elysa, your post resonated with me on several levels. Fehrenbach's LONE STAR is one of my favorite research books. My best friend from childhood is descended from Quanah Parker, and that made his story more personal for me. He risked capture several times to visit his mom at night through her window. Cynthia Ann was shunned and ostracized, yet held captive by her relatives. When her brother was killed, she gave up and the influenza was only an excuse IMO to die of a broken heart. Still, as you said, I'm glad I didn't have to face the Comanche!

  4. Wonderful post, Elysa. Thanks for sharing it with us today. I've read several stories based on and/or about Cynthia Ann. She certainly endured a lot in her life. Best wishes on your releases!

  5. Caroline,
    How interesting that your friend is descended from Quannah Parker. I didn't realize that Quannah actually visited his mother.

    Indian captives who returned to white society had it rough, especially women. They were considered soiled because they had "been with" savages. I'd like to say that attitudes have changed since then, but sadly it doesn't feel that way. Women still get blamed when they're abused.

  6. How interesting your stories sound, Elysa. I loved learning about the Sioux when I wrote my first story. I was also a Camp Fire Girls leader for many years and we found the Indian culture to be fascinating and their lore beautiful. I believe we learn from each other and when we respect others and their beliefs we become better people.

    Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Nice getting to know you today.

  7. I remember reading about Indian captives as a child. The stories always stayed with me. (Wish the titles would have!) They were interesting reads then, and the adult versions are now.

    Best of luck on your new releases. They sound like fascinating reads.


  8. Interesting post! The difference int he cultures and how they battled has always intrigued me.


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