Sunday, January 8, 2017

Who Was Little Johnnie Parker?

The Massacre at Fort Parker:
In 1833 a caravan of thirty-two Parker family members traveled to Texas and settled on the Navasota River, a branch of the Brazos River in North Texas. They found the Indians and the Mexicans very troublesome, and to guard against them they built Fort Parker to house and protect the large extended family.

Three years later in 1836 near Weatherford, Texas, the Kiowa and Comanche gathered into one large party and began a war dance that would result in the death of many white settlers.
Little Johnnie Parker, six years old, and his sister Cynthia Ann Parker, age nine, were torn from their mother's arms and taken captive.
Their mother, Lucy Parker, after seeing the father and grandfather of the children tortured and murdered, took her children and made a break for freedom. She was quickly surrounded by the warriors who forced her to lift Cynthia Ann up behind a Comanche torturer, and little Johnnie Parker behind a Kiowa warrior. In indescribable agony, she heard her precious children's screams, as they were  sped away in horrifying captivity.
They dragged her into the fort. Her fate was not related.

 The Fort Parker massacre resulted in the death of almost all male members. The majority of the women and children got away, but several women and children were taken captive.
Johnnie Parker was separated from the rest of the family and taken to the far Southwest. With the half-naked boys his age, he played hunter, warrior, and bad man of the wilds, as do boys in civilized life. He became a full-fledged Comanche, ready for any kind of raid for food or war.

Johnnie was ransomed back to his family after six years, but unable to adapt to white society, ran back to the Comanche.

He made a history of his own, becoming a leader of raids along the Rio Grande valley and on the Mexican border. His band sometimes made raids far down into Old Mexico, and on one such excursion he captured a beautiful senorita named Donna Juanita.
Johnnie took Donna Juanita with him to the camp, and treated her kindly as was justified by her beauty and loveliness. She took her captor as a lover and soon became the bride of the brave and daring John with all the tender devotion and honeymoon that camp life could provide.

All went well until John contracted smallpox. There is nothing more destructive to an Indian camp than this disease. The tribe abandoned John, leaving him to his fate and to die alone. They forcibly took his beloved senora with them and moved far away, leaving poor John in the deserted camp, alone, slowly dying with no one to give him a word of cheer, none to bathe his fevered brow, or give him water to cool his burning blood.

Juanita, the Aztec beauty, was haunted day and night by visions of her suffering and dying lover. When opportunity came, she fled and hastened to the wigwam of the suffering John. Having some knowledge of how to treat the disease, she soon nursed him back to health.

Here alone, far away from other tribes and free from civilization, they enjoyed their own little part of the world.
John was so resentful of the tribe abandoning him, that he disengaged himself from the group and went with Juanita to her people in Mexico. There they lived in a little straw thatched hut.

Since John knew so much of Mexico and Texas, he worked at being a guide. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederate Army in defense of Texas. When ordered to go east by the army, he refused to cross the Texas border and returned to the Rio Grande Valley.

Johnnie Parker was a peculiar person. With not one drop of Indian blood, he looked like a typical Comanche. He talked very little and would not visit his sister, Cynthia Ann, nor see his nephew Quanah Parker. He departed for the west.

Parker returned to the United States during the Civil War and served with Confederate troops  in Texas. After the war, he returned to Mexico, where he died in 1915 on his ranch.
He appeared to have been the only one of the Parker children who lived a happy life.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

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  1. What an interesting story, Celia. I love stories of the West and wish I knew enough about the area to write them. This is a heartbreaking account of a large family who helped to settle the West and I'm sure there are many other stories like this and many brave souls to whom we owe much for their courage and endurance. Thank you for sharing this one.

    1. Linda--it is hearbreaking, and there are more stories which are even worse. Yes, the Indians were ferocious and tortured the whites, but that was the way of the world then. Today, half of us want to support and defend the Indians, but let me tell you, after everything I've read, all my sympathy goes to those white settlers. So be it. Past history.
      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Thank you for the post, Celia. Very fascinating on so many levels,and love that she went back for him. What amazingly strong people back then.

    1. Yes, the woman who went back for Johnnie and nursed him back to health is a wonderful story.

  3. Fascinating! And terribly sad. The west is fill with stories of horrendous deeds and the people who lived through them.

    1. Thanks, E. Ayers..and I have many more which are even more gruesome. I wrote about Rachel Plummer--you can find it in the back posts on this blog. Rachel's story is the worst I have ever read or heard about. Sickening. And yet, she survived.

  4. Stealing other people's children seldom works out well. What I found so interesting about this account of Johnny Parker is how mixed up his feelings must have been--not an Indian, not a white man. It would seem to me that visiting his sister and nephew may have helped him in this internal conflict. Was it the custom of the Comanche not to visit white relatives?
    I was kind of amused by the part where he wouldn't go beyond the Texas border during his stint as a Confederate soldier. Was it because he thought Texas was all he wanted to defend, or because he didn't consider any state outside his own his home, or what?
    What a love he and his wife must have had for one another. I think I liked this part of his history best of all.
    This was a great article, Celia. I enjoyed every bit of it. I'm still wondering what happened to Lucy Parker.

    1. Little attention has been given Little Johnnie Parker, but I found him to be one of the most intriguing characters in all these stories. Amazing, isn't it? I hope we would have some men these days who might be as strong.

    2. Sarah--little has been written about Lucy Parker. What I did find was this: Lucy and her two youngest children were initially capture but were rescued by Luther Plummer as he ran from the fields.

  5. Celia, I've read several articles about Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter Prairie Flower, who died young. And of course about her famous son Quannah Parker. I even visited their grave site at Fort Sill in Oklahoma while researching settings for Dearest Irish, book 4 in my Texas Devlins series. But I have never before read what happened to Johnny Parker. Thanks for sharing his story.

    1. Little Johnnie Parker had little notice for many years. Some researcher worked on his story and found these fact. I think they are wonderful. Thanks, for commenting.

  6. This is really interesting. I didn't know this history about Cynthia Ann's brother. And he survived small pox!! Amazing. But how heartbreaking for his mother.

    1. Kristy..practically no one knew about Cynthia Ann's little brother. I found him to be one of great interest. Think of a story you might write using his story to some extent.

  7. Celia, I never knew what happened to Cynthia Ann's brother. This is fascinating. Sounds like the basis for a good book :-)

    Thanks for sharing this info.

    Nancy C

    1. Few people knew about Johnnie Parker. Oh, yes, just think of the possibilities for new stories! Thanks for visiting.

  8. Rather sad but occasionally happy life. He was a rather odd duck, but then who knows what his experiences may have done to him emotionally. Interesting story, Celia.
    JD McCall

    1. It seems many of those who were captured--here, there, everywhere--never acted or thought normally. It is a sad situation.

  9. Celia, Thank you so much for such and interesting yet sad story. I loved that Johnnie's wife went back for him. What an strong and determined women. I just wish he had connected with his siter and nephew--such a shame. Nice post. I didn't want it to end.

  10. Very interesting, my grand mother on my fathers side is a Parker and said to be kin to Quanah Parker.

    1. Very interesting. My sisters and I have relative buried in the Parker County Cemetery, but we've never heard of any connection we might have had with the Parkers. Thanks for that note.


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