FRONTIER BLOOD: The Saga of the Parker Family

Jo Ella Powell Exley, Author . Texas A&M Univ. $29.95 (331p) ISBN 978-1-58544-136-5

Captivity diaries, those often brutal accounts of settlers taken prisoner by American Indians, might be considered a genre in their own right. Drawing heavily on such first-person testimonies, Exley (editor of Texas Tears, Texas Sunshine: Voices of Frontier Women) traces the Parker family's trajectory, from Elder John (born in 1758) to his great-grandson Quanah Parker, a Comanche war chief. This family had a particular impact on the development of Texas and the West and was especially determined to make a life there, despite the likelihood of violence. Rachel Parker, captured in 1836 by raiding Comanches and brutally tortured along with her young son, is eventually rescued. Nine-year-old Cynthia Ann, also kidnapped, makes a life among the Comanches and bears Quanah and two other children. After 24 years, Cynthia Ann is returned to her white family but never adjusts. The rest of the book tells the story of Quanah, who ultimately negotiates peace with the white settlers. His speech (in English) at his mother's graveside underlines the changed attitude of the former war chief: "Forty years ago my mother died. She captured by Comanches.... Love Indian and wild life so well no want to go back to white folks.... I love my mother. I like white people. Got great heart. I want my people follow after white way, get educate, know work, make living when payments stop." Vivid, unsparing accounts, much insight into the pioneer experience and the details of early interracial relations will make this book popular among devotees of the history of the American West. 12 b&w photos. (Nov. 26)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
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Paperback - 331 pages - 978-1-60344-109-4
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