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首页 » 英文名人传记 » Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs » CHAPTER XVI.
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Up to this point we have refrained from writing the biography of half-breed Indians, lest people should imagine their greatness was due to the infusion of the blood of the superior white race. But the story of Quanah Parker is so interesting, and he has such a remarkable personality in many ways, that we have decided to make an exception in his case. Then, too, as will be seen, his mother, Cynthia Anne Parker, at the time of his birth, was to all intents and purposes an Indian, though born of white parents.
It is said on good authority that the Apaches and Comanches are related through intermarriage and consanguinity, and at one period formed a single tribe.
During a scarcity of food these people were divided into the mountain tribes, who pledged their word and honor to their brothers who lived on the fish, water-fowl and swine, that they would never eat the fish from the streams, nor the fowls from the waters, nor the hogs from the mud. Their bottom-land brothers were to abstain from the game of the mountains and plains. This treaty, made in the time of famine, was sacredly kept in the days of plenty, and ever afterward those highland Indians refused to eat pork, fish or water-fowl.
The best account of Cynthia Anne Parker and her famous son, Quanah, is found in White's "Experiences of An Indian Agent." In it he quotes an article from General Alford on "The White Comanche," in which the general says:
"Amongst numerous illustrations of heroism which illuminate the pages of Texas history perhaps none shines with a brighter halo than the capture of Fort Parker. In 1833 a small colony formed in Illinois, moved to the then Mexican province of Texas, and settled in a beautiful and fertile region on the Navasota River, about two miles from the present city of Groesbeck, the county seat of Limestone County. The colony consisted of nine families, in all thirty-four persons, of which Elder John Parker was the patriarchal head. They erected a block-house, which was known as Fort Parker, for protection against the assaults of hostile Indians. This structure was made of solid logs, closely knit together and hewn down so as to make a compact perfect square, without opening of any kind until it reached a height of ten or twelve feet, where the structure widened on each side, forming a projection impossible to climb. The lower story, reached only by an interior ladder, was used as a place of storage for provisions. The upper story was divided into two large rooms with port-holes for the use of guns. These rooms were also the living rooms, and reached only by a ladder from the outside, which was pulled up at night, after the occupants had ascended, making a safe fortification against any reasonable force unless assailed by fire.
"These hardy sons of toil tilled their adjacent fields by day, always taking their arms with them, and retired to the fort at night. Success crowned their labors and they were prosperous and happy. On the morning of May 18, 1836, the men left as usual for their fields, a mile distant. Scarcely had they left the inclosure when the fort was attacked by about seven hundred Comanches and Kiowas, who were waiting in ambush. A gallant and most resolute defense was made, many savages being sent to their 'happy hunting grounds,' but it was impossible to stem the terrible assault, and Fort Parker fell. Then began the carnival of death. Elder John Parker, Silas M. Parker, Ben F. Parker, Sam M. Frost and Robert Frost were killed and scalped in the presence of their horror-stricken families. Mrs. John Parker, Granny Parker and Mrs. Duty were dangerously wounded and left for dead, and the following were carried into a captivity worse than death: Mrs. Rachel Plummer, James Pratt Plummer, her two-year-old son, Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg, Cynthia Anne Parker, nine years old, and her little brother, John, aged six, both children of Silas M. Parker. The remainder of the party made their escape, and after incredible suffering, being forced even to the dire necessity of eating skunks to save their lives, they reached Fort Houston, now the residence of Hon. John H. Reagan, about three miles from the present city of Palestine, in Anderson County, where they obtained prompt succor, and a relief party buried their dead."
Cynthia Anne Parker and her little brother, John, were held by separate bands. John grew up to athletic young manhood, married a beautiful, night-eyed young Mexican captive, Donna Juanita Espinosa, escaped from the savages, or was released by them, joined the Confederate army under Gen. H. P. Bee, became noted for his gallantry and daring, and at last accounts was leading a happy, contented, pastoral life as a ranchero, on the Western Llano Estacado (Staked Plains) of Texas.
Four long and anxious years had passed since Cynthia Anne was taken from her weeping mother's arms, during which time no tidings had been received by her anxious family, when in 1840, Col. Len Williams, an old and honored Texan, Mr. Stout, a trader, and Jack Harry, a Delaware Indian guide, packed mules with goods and engaged in an expedition of private traffic with the Indians. On the Canadian River they fell in with Pahauka's band of Comanches, with whom they were on peaceable terms. Cynthia Anne was with this tribe, and from the day of her capture had never beheld a white person. Colonel Williams proposed to redeem her from the old Comanche who held her in bondage, but the fierceness of his countenance warned him of the danger of further mentioning the subject.
Pahauka, however, reluctantly permitted her to sit at the foot of a tree, and while the presence of the white men was doubtless a happy event to the poor stricken captive, who in her doleful captivity had endured everything but death, she refused to speak one word. As she sat there, musing perhaps, of distant relatives and friends, and her bereavement at the beginning and progress of her distress, they employed every persuasive art to evoke from her some expression of her feelings. They told her of her relatives and her playmates, and asked what message of love she would send them, but she had been commanded to silence, and with no hope of release was afraid to appear sad or dejected, and by a stoical effort controlled her emotions, lest the terrors of her captivity should be increased. But the anxiety of her mind was betrayed by the quiver of her lips, showing that she was not insensible to the common feelings of humanity.
As the years rolled by Cynthia Anne developed the charms of captivating womanhood, and the heart of more than one dusky warrior was pierced by the elysian darts of her laughing eyes and the ripple of her silvery voice, and laid at her feet the trophies of the chase. Among the number whom her budding charms brought to her shrine was Peta Nocona, a redoubtable young Comanche war-chief, in prowess and renown the peer of the famous "Big Foot," who fell in a desperate hand-to-hand combat with the famous Indian fighter, Capt. Shapley P. Ross, of Waco, the illustrious father of the still more distinguished son, Gen. Sul Ross, now the Governor of Texas. It is a remarkable and happy coincidence that the son, emulating the father's contagious deeds of valor and prowess, afterward, in single combat, in the valley of the Pease, forever put to rest the brave and knightly Peta Nocona.
Cynthia Anne, stranger now to every word of her mother tongue, save only her childhood name, became the bride of the brown warrior, Peta Nocona, bore him three children, and loved him with a fierce passion and wifely devotion, evinced by the fact that, fifteen years after her capture a party of hunters, including friends of her family, visited the Comanche encampment on the upper Canadian River, and recognizing Cynthia Anne, through the medium of her name, endeavored to induce her to return to her kindred and the abode of civilization. She shook her head in a sorrowful negative, and pointing to her little naked barbarians sporting at her feet, and the great, lazy chief sleeping in the shade near by, the locks of a score of fresh scalps dangling at his belt, replied: "I am happy wedded, I love my husband and my little ones, who are his, too, and I can not forsake them."
The account of the death of Peta Nocona, and the recapture of Cynthia Anne Parker, is best told in a letter written by Governor Ross to Gen. George F. Alford, from which we will quote a few paragraphs. It was dated:
"Executive Office, Austin, April 18, 1893.
"My Dear General—In response to your request, I herewith inclose you my recollections, after a lapse of thirty years, of the events to which you refer. . . . On December 18, 1860, while marching up Pease River, I had suspicions that Indians were in the vicinity by reason of the great number of buffalo which came running toward us from the north, and while my command moved to the low ground I visited neighboring high points to make discoveries. To my surprise I found myself within two hundred yards of a large Comanche village, located on a small stream winding around the base of a hill. A cold, piercing wind from the north was blowing, bearing with it clouds of dust, and my presence was thus unobserved and the surprise complete.
"In making disposition for the attack the sergeant and his twenty men were sent at a gallop behind a chain of sand hills to cut off their retreat, while, with my forty men, I charged. The attack was so sudden that a large number were killed before they could prepare for defense. They fled precipitately, right into the arms of the sergeant and his twenty. Here they met with a warm reception, and finding themselves completely encompassed, every one fled his own way and was hotly pursued and hard pressed. The chief, a warrior of great repute, named Peta Nocona, with an Indian girl about fifteen years of age mounted on his horse behind him, and Cynthia Anne Parker, his squaw, with a girl child about two years old in her arms, and mounted on a fleet young pony, fled together. Lieut. Tom Kelliheir and I pursued them, and after running about a mile, Kelliheir ran up by the side of Cynthia Anne's horse, and supposing her to be a man, was in the act of shooting her when she held up her child and stopped. {FN} I kept on alone at the top of my horse's speed, after the chief, and about half a mile further, when in about twenty yards of him, I fired my pistol, striking the girl, whom I supposed to be a man, as she rode like one, and only her head was visible above the buffalo robe with which she was wrapped—near the heart, killing her instantly. And the same ball would have killed both but for the shield of the chief, which hung down, covering his back. When the girl fell from the horse, dead, she pulled the chief off also, but he caught on his feet, and, before steadying himself, my horse, running at full speed, was nearly upon him, when he sped an arrow, which struck my horse and caused him to pitch or 'buck,' and it was with the greatest difficulty I could keep my saddle, meantime narrowly escaping several arrows coming in quick succession from the chief's bow. Being at such disadvantage, he undoubtedly would have killed me, but for a random shot from my pistol while I was clinging with my left hand to the pommel of my saddle, which broke his right arm at the elbow, completely disabling him. My horse then becoming more quiet, I shot the chief twice through the body; whereupon he deliberately walked to a small tree near by, the only one in sight, and leaning against it with one arm around it for support, began to sing a weird, wild song—the death song of the savage. There was a plaintive melody in it which, under the dramatic circumstances, filled my heart with sorrow. At this time my Mexican servant, who had once been a captive with the Comanches and spoke their language as fluently as his mother tongue, came up in company with others of my men. Through him I summoned the chief to surrender, but he promptly treated every overture with contempt, and emphasized his refusal with a savage attempt to thrust me through with his lance, which he still held in his left hand. I could only look upon him with pity and admiration, for, deplorable as was his situation with no possible chance of escape, his band utterly destroyed, his wife and child captives in his sight, he was undaunted by the fate that awaited him, and as he preferred death to life, I directed the Mexican to end his misery by a charge of buckshot from the gun which he carried, and the brave savage, who had been so long the scourge and terror of the Texas frontier, passed into the land of the shadows and rested with his fathers. Taking up his accoutrements, which I subsequently delivered to Gen. Sam Houston, as Governor of Texas and commander-in-chief of her soldiery, to be deposited in the State archives at Austin, we rode back to the captive woman, whose identity was then unknown, and found Lieutenant Kelliheir, who was guarding her and her child, bitterly reproaching himself for having run his pet horse so hard after an old squaw. She was very dirty and far from attractive, in her scanty garments, as well as her person, but as soon as I looked her in the face, I said: 'Why, Tom, this is a white woman; Indians do not have blue eyes.' On our way to the captured Indian village, where our men were assembling with the spoils we had captured, I discovered an Indian boy about nine years old, secreted in the tall grass. Expecting to be killed, he began to cry, but I made him mount behind me and carried him along, taking him to my home at Waco, where he became an obedient member of my family. When, in after years, I tried to induce him to return to his people, he refused to go, and died in McLennan County about four years ago."
{FN} Another account says she threw back her robe, held her child in front of her and exclaimed in broken Spanish, "Americano! Americano!"
"When camped for the night, Cynthia Anne, our then unknown captive, kept crying, and thinking it was caused by fear of death at our hands, I had the Mexican tell her in the Comanche language, that we recognized her as one of our own people and would not harm her. She replied that two of her sons, in addition to the infant daughter, were with her when the fight began, and she was distressed by the fear that they had been killed. It so happened, however, that both escaped, and one of them—Quanah—is now the chief of the Comanche tribe, and the beautiful city of Quanah, now the county seat of Hardeman County, is named in his honor. The other son died some years ago on the plains. Through my Mexican interpreter I then asked her to give me the history of her life with the Indians, and the circumstances attending her capture by them, which she promptly did in a very intelligent manner, and as the facts detailed by her corresponded with the massacre at Parker's Fort in 1836, I was impressed with the belief that she was Cynthia Anne Parker.
"Returning to my post, I sent her and her child to the ladies at Camp Cooper, where she received the attention her sex and situation demanded, and at the same time I dispatched a messenger to Col. Isaac Parker, her uncle, near Weatherford, Parker County, named as his memorial, for he was many years a distinguished Senator in the Congress of the Republic, and in the Legislature of the State after annexation. When Colonel Parker came to my post I sent the messenger with him to Camp Cooper, in the capacity of interpreter, and her identity was soon discovered to Colonel Parker's entire satisfaction. She had been a captive just twenty-four years and seven months, and was in her thirty-fourth year when recovered. I remain, my dear general,
                                           "Sincerely your friend.
                                             L. S. Ross."
A few more incidents of her subsequent life are told by General Alford. Said he: "Cynthia Anne and her infant barbarian were taken to Austin, the capital of the State; the immortal Sam Houston was Governor, the Secession Convention was in session. She was taken to the magnificent Statehouse, where this august body was holding grave discussion as to the policy of withdrawing from the union. Comprehending not one word of her mother tongue, she concluded it was a council of mighty chiefs, assembled for the trial of her life, and in great alarm tried to make her escape. Her brother, Col. Dan Parker, who resided near Parker's Bluff, in Anderson County, was a member of the Legislature from that county, and a colleague of this writer, who then represented the Eleventh Senatorial District. Colonel Parker took his unhappy sister to his comfortable home, and essayed by the kind offices of tenderness and affection to restore her to the comforts and enjoyments of civilized life, to which she had been so long a stranger. But as thorough an Indian in manner and looks as if she had been a native born, she sought every opportunity to escape and rejoin her dusky companions, and had to be constantly and closely watched."
Quanah Parker with 2 Wives
"The civil strife then being waged between the North and South, between fathers, sons and brothers, necessitated the primitive arts of spinning and weaving, in which she soon became an adept, and gradually her mother tongue came back, and with it occasional incidents of her childhood. But the ruling passion of her bosom seemed to be the maternal instinct, and she cherished the hope that when the cruel war was over she would at least succeed in reclaiming her two sons, who were still with the Comanches. But the Great Spirit had written otherwise, and Cynthia Anne and Little Prairie Flower were called in 1864 to the Spirit Land, and peacefully sleep side by side under the great oak trees on her brother's plantation near Palestine.
"Thus ends the sad story of a woman whose stormy life, darkened by an eternal shadow, made her far-famed throughout the borders of the imperial Lone Star State.
"Cynthia Anne's son has been for some years the popular hereditary chief of the once powerful confederacy of Comanche Indians, which, though greatly decimated by war and the enervating influences of semi-civilization, is still one of the most numerous tribes in the United States. He is intelligent and wealthy; in personal appearance he is tall, muscular and graceful in his movements; is a friend of the white man, and rules his tribe with firmness, moderation and wisdom. He is located on his picturesque reservation in Oklahoma, not many miles distant from the city of Quanah, so named in his honor.
"A few years since I met the chief in Wichita Falls, and when informed that I had personally known his pale-faced mother, Cynthia Anne, or Prelock—as she was called by the Indians—he had a thousand questions to ask about her personal appearance, size, shape, form, height, weight, color of hair and eyes, etc. He gave me a cordial invitation to visit him at his 'tepee,' or wigwam, near Fort Sill, profusely promising all the fish, game, ponies and squaws I desired."
General Alford's statement that Quanah is the hereditary chief is incorrect. It is true he is the son of Chief Peta Nocona, but it by no means follows that the son of a chief will succeed to the chieftaincy, by "divine right" of inheritance. The son of a common warrior, if he possesses the elements of leadership, force of character, eloquence in council, and general ability, will stand a much better show of becoming a chief, than the son of a chief lacking in these essentials.
Fortunately we know how Quanah Parker became chief; he told part of his story to the author of this book and the entire account to E. E. White, the special Indian Agent. As the story is very romantic and interesting we will give it in full.
Said Mr. White: "By the death of his father and the recapture of his mother, Quanah was left an orphan at an age which could not have been more than twelve years. The same disaster that reduced him to orphanage also made him a pauper. Although the son of a deceased chief, now having no parents, no home and no fortune, he became, not the ruler of his tribe, but a waif of the camp. But being self-reliant, an expert archer, a successful hunter for one of his age, good natured and intelligent, he made friends, among the boys of the tribe at least, and found whereon to lay his head, and plenty to eat and wear. And while orphanage and poverty entailed sorrow and suffering upon the young savage, it was happily contrary to nature for those sad misfortunes to divest him of the 'divine right' to love and be loved. And although he was half a savage by blood and a complete one by habit and association, abundant proof that he was not devoid of the finer instincts of humanity is found in the ardent and constant love which he has always borne for his first wife, Weckeah, and the strong and undying affection and sympathy that he has always exhibited for his most unhappy mother. It is said that his first question upon surrendering the tribe to General MacKenzie, in 1876, was concerning her, and that his first request was for permission to go to see her, her death not then being known either to himself or the general.
"Proof of his captive mother's love for him, and the sentiment of her nature, are shown in the name she bestowed upon him, its meaning in the Comanche language being fragrance. I was one day on the prairie with a large party of Comanches. We stopped at a spring for water, and the chiefs, Tabannaka and White Wolf, the Jonathan and David of the tribe, walked down the branch a short distance and gathered a large handful of wild mint. Holding it to my nose, White Wolf said, 'Quanah, quanah. You take it.' I said, 'Sweet smell; is that quanah?' They replied: 'Yes; quanah—heap good smell.' Then plucking a bunch of wild flowers they inhaled their fragrance to show me what they meant, and then handing them to me said, 'Quanah—quanah—heap quanah—good smell.'
"Quanah's best friend and most constant playmate in his orphanage was Weckeah, Chief Yellow Bear's daughter. They rode her father's ponies to the water holes, played through the camps together, and were inseparable. He shot antelope and other game for her amusement, and she learned to bead his moccasins and ornament his bow quiver.
"The years went by and Quanah and Weckeah were no longer papooses. They were in the very bloom of young manhood and womanhood, and each in form and feature without flaw or blemish. But they did not know that they loved each other.
"There were other young men in the village, however, and one day one of them, gaudily painted and bedecked with beads and small mirrors, came near Yellow Bear's tepee, blowing his reed flutes. Three days later he came again, and nearer than before. Only two days passed until he came the third time. Spreading his blanket on the grass in front of Yellow Bear's tepee, and seating himself on it, he looked straight at the doorway and played softly all the love songs of the tribe. Weckeah showed not her face to the wooer. Her heart was throbbing violently with a sensation that had never thrilled her before, but it was not responsive to the notes of the flutes.
"Nor had Quanah been unobservant and there were strange and violent pulsations through his veins also. It was the first time he had ever seen the arts of the lover attempted to be employed on Weckeah. Instantly his very soul was aflame with love for her. There was just one hot, ecstatic, overpowering flush of love, and then there came into his leaping heart the chilling, agonizing thought that this wooing might be by Weckeah's favor or encouragement. Then a very tempest of contending emotions raged in his breast.
"When the sun's rays began to slant to the east there came to Yellow Bear's tepee a rich old chief by the name of Eckitoacup, who had been, when a young man, the rival of Peta Nocona for the heart and hand of the beautiful 'White Comanche,' Cynthia Anne Parker. Eckitoacup and Yellow Bear sat down together, on buffalo robes under the brush wickiup in front of the tepee. They smoked their pipes leisurely, and talked a long time, not in whispers, but very slow and in low tones. When Quanah and Weckeah met that evening it was with feelings never experienced before by either of them.
"Weckeah was greatly agitated. She fluttered like a bird, and kneeling at Quanah's feet, she locked her arms around his knees, looked up in his face and begged him to save her.
"The lover with the flutes was Tannap, the only son of rich old Eckitoacup. Weckeah abhorred him, but his father had offered Yellow Bear ten ponies for her. Yellow Bear loved his daughter, and notwithstanding it was the tribal custom he was loath to sell her against her will. He had given Eckitoacup no answer for the present, and Weckeah implored Quanah to get ten ponies and take her himself.
"Quanah was filled with deepest pity for Weckeah, and alarmed at the prospect of losing her, for he owned but one pony, and Tannap's father owned a hundred. After telling Weckeah to be brave and note everything said and done in her sight and hearing, Quanah tore away from her, and gathering all of his young friends together, explained his situation to them. They loved him and hated Tannap, but calamities in war had made them all poor like himself. They separated to meet again in secret with others next morning. During the day nine ponies were tendered to him, which, with the one he owned made ten. These Quanah accepted on condition that others should be received in exchange for them whenever he could get them, which he was ambitious and hopeful enough to believe he could some day do.
"Driving these ponies, with the haste of an anxious lover, to Yellow Bear's tepee, Quanah there met old Eckitoacup, who greeted him with a taunting chuckle of exultation and a look of wicked revenge. His spies having informed him of the action of Quanah's friends, he had raised his bid to twenty ponies. This being an exceptionally liberal offer, Yellow Bear had promptly accepted it, and now the jealous and unforgiving old savage was exulting in his triumph over the poor but knightly rival of his arrogant and despised son, and gloating in his revenge upon the valiant and rising son of his own late successful and hated rival.
"Entering the tepee, Quanah found Weckeah prostrated at her mother's feet in deepest distress. In two sleeps Tannap would bring the twenty ponies and claim his prize. Weckeah was heartbroken and Quanah was desperate. He hurried back for another consultation with his friends, but not to ask for more ponies. It was to submit a new and startling proposition to them—to tell them of a new thought that had come to him—a new resolution that had taken possession of his very soul. Though he himself did not suspect it, the star of a new chief was about to rise above the horizon.
"The new scheme promising spoils and adventure, as well as triumph over a hated rival, Quanah's zealous young friends agreed to it with an enthusiasm which they could hardly avoid showing in their faces and actions.
"The unhappy lovers stole another brief twilight meeting in the shadows of Yellow Bear's tepee. Weckeah's quick eyes noted with increasing admiration and confidence that the past two days had marked a great change in Quanah. He was now no longer a boy. He seemed to have grown taller, was more serious and thoughtful, and spoke with an evident courage and consciousness of strength which gave her great hope and comfort. He told her that their only hope was in flight, and, as she knew, according to the inexorable law of the tribe, that meant certain death to him and at least the delivery of herself to Tannap, and possibly death to herself also, if they should be overtaken.
"Weckeah, instead of being deterred by the hazards of the attempt at elopement, was eager to go, for in that step she could see the possibility of a life of happiness, and escape from a fate which, in her detestation of Tannap, she regarded as even worse than death.
"Just at moondown the next night, which, from the description given me, I suppose was about eleven o'clock, Quanah and one of his friends met Weckeah at the door of her father's tepee and conducted her to the edge of the camp, where their horses and twenty-one other young men were waiting.
"Then began the most remarkable elopement, and, in some respects, at least, the most remarkable ride ever known on the plains, among either whites or Indians.
"Quanah took the lead with Weckeah next behind him, and the twenty-two young men following in single file. For seven hours they did not break a lope, except to water their ponies in crossing streams. At daylight they stopped to graze their ponies and make a repast on dried buffalo meat. Here Weckeah saw with pride and increasing confidence that many of those twenty-two tall sinewy young men carried guns, and all of them revolvers, shields, bows, and quivers full of arrows, and were mounted and equipped throughout as a select war party.
"Stopping only a few hours, they changed their course, separated and came together again at a designated place at sunset. There they stopped again until moondown, and then resuming their journey, traveled together all night.
"They were now in Texas, and dared not travel any more in daylight. When night came on they changed their course again, separated into couples, and traveled that way several nights, coming together at a place which, from the description, I think probably was Double Mountain, in Scurry County, Texas. There they stopped several days to recruit their ponies, subsisting themselves on game, which then abounded in that region. From that place they traveled in couples from high point to high point until they came to a river, which I suppose, from the description, was one of the main branches of the Concho, and there they established their rendezvous, and, as Quanah expressed it, 'went to stealin' hosses.'
"It has been said—indeed, I believe it has been universally conceded—that the Comanches, before their subjugation, were 'the finest horse thieves the world ever saw.' Whether this has been conceded or not, I am sure no one who knew them then will deny that it was a well-deserved 'compliment.' And I doubt not that Quanah and his bridal party, or bridle party, whichever it may seem most appropriate to call it, contributed generously to the weaving of that wreath for the tribal brow.
"Eckitoacup's band being utterly unable to follow the trail, the fugitives remained undiscovered in that region for more than a year, and, in Quanah's own candid and comprehensive language, 'just stole hosses all over Texas.' In a few months they had a large herd, including many valuable American horses and mules.
"But it was not long until the young men began to sigh for the girls they had left behind them, and to venture back, a few at a time, to see them, and always with laudations of their chief, and glowing accounts of the magnitude and 'profits' of their 'business.' They invariably returned with their sweethearts, and many other Indians, of both sexes, also. With Quanah's encouragement their visits became frequent, and at the end of a year his band numbered several hundred.
"But through these visits old Eckitoacup had heard of the fugitive, and was now coming with a large war party to punish him and take Weckeah. Weckeah again became badly frightened. She would get behind Quanah from the direction of Tannap's approach, clasp her arms around him and beg him not to give her up. But her entreaties were wholly unnecessary. Quanah, of his own accord, was ready to die rather than suffer her to be taken from him.
"Eckitoacup found Quanah's band posted for battle. He was astounded at their numbers and became so alarmed for his own safety that he was glad to agree to an offer of compromise, rather than risk the hazard of battle. Four chiefs were sent from each side to meet half way between the two bands and arrange the compromise. After a great deal of smoking and haggling Eckitoacup's men proposed to accept nineteen horses, the pick of Quanah's herd, in full satisfaction of all demands. Quanah promptly approved the agreement with the cheerful and significant observation that he knew a ranch where he could get nineteen others just as good in a few hours. "This gave Quanah the right to return to the tribe, and as the Texans had him pretty well 'located' in that rendezvous and were becoming quite 'impudent' and inhospitable to him, and his band was now too large to be longer concealed anywhere in the State, he followed close after Eckitoacup. Continuing in the territory, to receive accessions from the other bands, including Eckitoacup's, he soon became the acknowledged chief of the tribe, and as a war-chief, before being overpowered and conquered, he had achieved great renown for prowess, enterprise, sagacity and true military genius, his sway perhaps never being greater, or even as great, as it is at the present day. He lives in a picturesque valley on the south side of the Wichita Mountains, where he owns a good home, a hundred horses, perhaps a thousand cattle, and has two hundred and fifty acres of land in cultivation, though I doubt if he has ever plowed a furrow himself, or would do it if he could. Weckeah presides over his household, happy and contented, proud of her husband, with immunity from burdensome duties, and provided with all the comforts and luxuries befitting her station in life. But there is a good deal of Brigham Young, or the Sultan of Turkey, in this untutored Comanche, and instead of Weckeah being his only wife, she is merely one of a harem of five—his devotion to her, which has always been constant and unquestioned, not precluding him from the polygamous custom of the tribe. It must be said to his credit, however, that Weckeah is still his favorite. This is quite evident to those who see much of them, and on one occasion, when something was said of the possibility of the Government arbitrarily divorcing all the Indians from their plural wives, I asked him which of his he would choose to retain if that were done. Without a moment's hesitation he said Weckeah."
Comanche Cattle Rustlers
"Yellow Bear, Weckeah's father, became an ardent friend and admirer of Quanah, and lived until 1887, when he got what the Texans considered 'a mighty good joke' on himself. He and Quanah got to feeling rich and 'civilized,' put on their 'white man's clothes,' and went down to Fort Worth to have a big 'blow out' with a 'herd' of cattle barons who were grazing cattle on their reservation. They put up at the leading 'chuck-away tepee' of the town, the Pickwick, and coming in from a round-up of the city with their white friends at a late hour of the night, they dragged themselves wearily up to their room, and 'blowedout' the gas. When discovered next morning, Yellow Bear's spirit had been blown away to the boundless prairies of the Great Spirit above, never to return, and Quanah was crouched on his 'all-fours' at a window, unconscious, his own soul just about to wing its flight to the same mysterious realms."
I was living in Oklahoma in the spring of 1905, employed in preparing the manuscript of this book. As I needed a good sketch of Quanah Parker, in order to complete my "Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs," I decided to go and interview him and get my information at first hands and authentic. Arriving at Lawton, I was informed that Quanah Parker was at Cache, a small town in Comanche County, twelve miles distant. I immediately boarded the 'Frisco train, and in due time found myself at Cache, which is located at the foot of the Wichita Mountains.
I found the chief in his buggy just starting out of town, and seemingly in a hurry, but when I introduced myself and stated my business, he alighted from the buggy and expressed himself as willing to talk.
Though a half-breed, Quanah Parker has every appearance of a typical Indian, being tall, straight, athletic and as dark as the full bloods of his tribe. He rules his people with wisdom and moderation, by sheer force of character, and is very popular with both white and red neighbors. He is quite wealthy, and ambitious withal to represent the new State, shortly to be formed of the two territories, in the United States Senate. He argues that a large percentage of the population of the new State will be of his race, who will also be affected by many of the laws to be enacted, therefore there should be an Indian in the United States Senate, or it would be another case of taxation without representation.
As the population of the new State will be of both races, so a logical representative in the Senate should belong to both races. All of which clearly means Chief Parker. And he is perfectly willing to serve his people in that august body, when the time comes. And indeed the new State might hunt further for senatorial timber and fare worse, only in case of his election he would likely be refused a seat on the grounds of being a polygamist. The prophecy that "seven women shall take hold of one man" was fulfilled in his case; but of late years he has reduced his harem.
He prides himself on being a personal friend of President Roosevelt and was one of the six chiefs who were in the parade at the time of the inauguration last March, the others being Little Plume, of the Blackfoot tribe; American Horse and Hollow Horn Bear, of the Sioux; Geronimo, of the Apaches, and Buckskin Charley, of the Utes. When we were seated in the shade the chief said: "What do you want to talk about?" I answered by way of a leader, "Tell me of your last trip to Washington and the President's inauguration." He proceeded to comply with the request, but as this was reported in all the papers at the time, we will omit it and refer to something of more general interest.
The chief was easily understood, but spoke somewhat broken, and in a manner peculiar to the Indian. We will try to give his exact language: "How about the President's wolf hunt in the big prairie," we asked. "It's like this," he answered. "President came along in his special car. It stopped. President stood on platform of car, fix glasses on his nose, look all over crowd. I standing back good way among Injuns. President see me, motion first with one hand, then two hands, like this, but I no go."
"Why you no go," I asked in astonishment, "when the President motioned for you to come?" "How I know he mean me? Plenty Injuns in crowd, other chiefs around. Might mean other chiefs, so I no go at first; then he sent messenger after me. Messenger say, 'President Roosevelt want to see Chief Quanah Parker at car.' Then I know he mean me and I follow messenger to car through crowd; we elbow our way through crowd like this, and this [showing me how it was done]. President reach out over heads of people and grip my hand, so. He then give me big pull right up steps side him, shook my hand may-be-so like pump handle and pat me on back with other hand. He made a little speech and say, 'this is my friend, Chief Quanah Parker. I met him in Washington City. He friend to white and father to red man and 'titled to respect and honor of both.'
"Then people in crowd around car shout out, 'two big chiefs, big white chief, big red chief, both good men, and good friends,' and they do like this [clapping his hands], long time. President say: 'Won't you go hunting with me in big prairie, and stay week and show us where to find the wolves?' I went with him, stayed five days, took tent, camping and cooking outfit, and some of my men and my family, or some of my family; had good time, killed plenty wolves."
Continuing, the chief said: "President Roosevelt, him all right, him different from McKinley and Cleveland. They way up in the air, standing on their dignity, but him down here on level with the people. Him Injuns' President, as well as white man's President. Him all kinds of man; when he with cowboys, he cowboy; when he with Rough Riders, he roughest rider of all; when he with statesmen, he statesman; and when he with Injuns, he just like Injun; all same he white Injun. We personal friends. I talk to him and use influence with him for pardon Geronimo. I got message for Geronimo, but I no tell you, tell him first." "Then you will be going to Fort Sill in a few days to deliver the President's message?" I ventured to remark. But the reply was, "No! no! I much heap big chief; he come to see me."
I told him I realized that fact and intended to give him a good mention in my Indian history I was just completing, and asked him if he could furnish me a late photograph to enable me to have a good cut made for the book. He said that he and Geronimo had some pictures taken together in Washington City, and added, "They no come yet, may-be-so they come to-morrow, may-be-so next week; when they come I send you one." The chief kept his word, and some time afterward I got a photograph from him.
It was hard to realize as I saw the good-natured looking Comanche Indians loafing or trading in the stores of the enterprising little town of Cache, that only a few years ago some of those same warriors had doubtless made night hideous with their dreaded war-whoop, which is said to resemble the 'rah, 'rah! of the college boys.
Quanah Parker is really a great man, and a born ruler. He seems to combine the shrewdness and stoicism of the Indian with the intelligence and diplomacy of the white race. He manages to conciliate that element of his tribe which hates the whites and doggedly opposes all innovations, while vigorously advocating progress.
When the lands were allotted to the Comanches he advised them to choose good farming lands and become peaceable, industrious citizens of the United States. They took his advice and chose lands close to those of their chief, thus forming a Comanche settlement and village which is beautiful for situation at the base of the picturesque Wichita Mountains, about eighteen miles from the military post of Fort Sill.
About two and one-half miles from Cache, on the south side of one of the Wichita Mountains, stands Quanah's home, known as the "White House of the Comanches." It is quite an imposing square, two-story frame building, with wide galleries running entirely around it. It gleams startlingly white and tall against the blue of the sky and the vivid green of the prairie, and presents a striking contrast to the somber gray and brown of the mountain side, which forms a background.
Built in the days when lumber had to be hauled hundreds of miles over rough prairie trails, it cost at least double what it would to-day. It is said to contain thirty rooms, and is furnished with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of civilization. Over the organ in his parlor hangs a life-sized oil painting of his white mother, to which the chief proudly calls the attention of all his visitors. For many years his was the only house on the reservation, and it became an object of wonder to the Indians and of interest to the white visitors.
The shrewd chief is a good financier, and looks after his own interest closely; owning large droves of cattle and at least a hundred ponies, and controlling thousands of acres of land, the allotments of his wives and children. To-day there are three "ladies of the White House," To-ah-nook, Too-pay and Too-ni-ce (we never supposed a lady could be too nice). They have separate apartments and each has her own sewing machine, of which she is as proud as a small boy with a new toy.
Quanah not only belongs to the two races, but is somewhat dual-natured. In appearance, as we have stated, he is decidedly more Indian than white, and when he is with the full bloods, the moccasins, buckskin leggings, gaudy blanket and eagle-plume headdress or war bonnet adorn his stalwart person. But when mingling with his white friends, he adopts the garb of civilization—cutaway coat, stiffly laundered linen and soft felt hat.
Too-ni-ce, his youngest wife, accompanies him on his trips abroad, when she, too, dresses like the white ladies at the agency, and poses as "Mrs. Quanah Parker," driving with the chief in his handsome turnout behind his team of prize-winning sorrels, that even a Kentuckian might admire.
Quanah has a large family of children, and is giving all of them good educational advantages, at the mission schools on the reservation, the large school at Chilocco, Oklahoma, and at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
We met one of his sons, Baldwin, who is a sprightly and handsome youth of about seventeen, the day we spent at Cache, and from him derived much of the information contained in this chapter. He has also a beautiful and accomplished daughter, Needle Parker, whose sad, sweet face resembles somewhat the portrait of her grandmother. She also brings to mind one of the night-eyed Castilian beauties of old Mexico, whose blood mingles with and tinges the life-current of the Comanche Indians.


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