Cynthia Ann Parker was a white American who was kidnapped by a group of Comanche Native Americans who had massacred her family’s settlement. She lived as a Comanche for twenty-four years, marrying Comanche chief Peta Nocona. She was given the Native American name Naduah, which means “someone found” or “keeps warm with us.”
Cynthia was born in Crawford County, Illinois around 1824 or 1825. Her and her family moved to Texas when her grandfather, John Parker, was recruited to settle in North-Central Texas and establish a fortified settlement. Comanche raids had made white colonization of Texas and Northern Mexico nearly impossible. The Parker family established Fort Parker. On May 19, 1836, a Comanche raid devastated Ft. Parker, capturing Cynthia, who was around nine years old at the time.
Cynthia and Peta Nocona had three children, sons Quanah and Pecos and daughter Topsannah. Their son, Quanah, was the last free Comanche chief. In December of 1860, Cynthia was captured by Texas Rangers, who were looking for her upon her father’s request. Cynthia never properly reintegrated into her family and Euro-American culture. In 1864, the only child that came with her back to her birth family, Topsannah, died of influenza. After her daughter’s death, Cynthia began refusing food and water, resigning herself to die. She died in March of 1871.
Cynthia’s memory is still celebrated to this day. Crowell, Texas holds a Cynthia Ann Parker Festival every year and the town of Groesbeck, also in Texas, holds an annual Christmas festival at the former site of Ft. Parker. An exact replica of the old fort has been built on the site. Also, the 1954 novel The Searchers by Alan LeMay and the 1956 adaptation of the novel are loosely based on Cynthia’s life.