Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fort Worth's Schools Close So Children Can See Cynthia Ann Parker

In the photo you are looking at Quanah Parker's mom, Cynthia Ann and Quanah's little sister, Topsannah (Prairie Flower). This photo was taken at A.F. Corning's studio in Fort Worth at some point in time in 1861. This photo of Cynthia Ann was taken later than the first photo of Cynthia Ann, taken in Austin, referenced below.

The following are 2 interesting paragraphs lifted from Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.

They passed through Weatherford - the seat of Parker County, where the worst of Peta Nocona's raids had taken place - and then stopped in Fort Worth, where Cynthia Ann became an instant celebrity. It is not known why the travelers stopped here. Some accounts say it was to have a photograph taken, but the first known photograph of her - a tintype, actually - was not taken until a month later in Austin. Whatever the reasons, her arrival caused a great commotion as residents of Tarrant County (who totaled 6,020 that year) clamored to see the famous captive and her child. Her arrival was considered such an important event that local children were let out of school. They came in groups to gawk at the terrified captives, who were on display in front of a general store in downtown Fort Worth. It was sort of a freak show: Cynthia Ann was bound with rope and set out atop a large box so that everyone could see her.

Texans could not get enough of her. There were many newspaper accounts of her return, all of which were uniformly obsessed with the idea that a pretty little nine-year old white girl from a devout Baptist family had been transformed into a pagan savage who had mated with a redskin and borne his children and forgotten her mother tongue. She was thus, according to the morals of the day, grotesquely compromised. She had forsaken the virtues of Christianity for the wanton immorality of the Indian.

When the carnival in Fort Worth finally ended, Cynthia Ann's uncle, Issac Parker, took Cynthia Ann and Prairie Flower to his big log cabin in Birdsville, a house that for many years was considered the finest in Tarrant County.

Birdsville no longer exists. The town was located near the northeast side of River Legacy Park in Arlington, near Bird's Fort.

Years ago I got an email from someone telling me I should check out the Bird's Fort remains and the neglected Birdsville Cemetery. If I remember right I did manage to find the cemetery. I think whatever remained of Bird's Fort was obliterated by the mothballed Huffines development that has blighted the northeast side of River Legacy Park.

There is a historical marker in River Legacy Park that tells the short version of the history of Bird's Fort. I don't think any mention is made of Birdsville.

Methinks some effort should be made to make some sort of memorial in the former Birdsville zone. Like maybe restoring the Birdsville Cemetery. Or building a replica of Issac Parker's log cabin as a museum telling the story of Quanah Parker and his mom, Cynthia Ann.

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