I just returned this weekend from the annual meeting of the West Texas Historical Association, which always offers an interesting program of presentations on the region’s history. One of the most fascinating papers was by Holle Humphries on “Quanah Parker was Born Simultaneously in Both Texas and Oklahoma.”
Her presentation explored the legends behind Quanah Parker’s birthplace, which has been narrowed down to three possible locations in Texas and one in Oklahoma. Each location can make a legitimate, though not definitive, claim to being the future Comanche chief’s birthplace. The uncertainty is to be expected among a nomadic people as the Comanches were until they were forced onto the reservation.
Considered the last chief of the Comanches, Quanah Parker was a transitional figure who straddled both cultures as the son of a white captive, Cynthia Ann Parker, and a Comanche chief, Peta Nocona. After surrendering his band of Quahadi Comanche to federal authorities in 1875, Quanah helped his tribe make the transition to a new life.
Even to the end of his life, he gave contradictory signals to the question of his birthplace. After Holle’s presentation, which was moderated by Bruce E. Parker, a direct descendant of Quanah, a member of the audience asked the Parker family’s position on the great chief’s actual birthplace. Moderator Parker replied that it was not as important where he was born as much as that he was born.
The modern Parker’s response was a great answer and a reminder that some questions do not have historically definitive answers and likely never will.