Quanah Parker's mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was a member of the large Parker frontier family that settled in east Texas in the 1830s. She was captured in 1836 by Comanches during the raid of Fort Parker near present-day Groesbeck, Texas. She was given the Indian name Nautdah. Cynthia Ann was eventually married to her warrior captor, Puhtocnocony (called Peta Nocona by the whites). In 1860, Peta Nocona was killed in a battle against Texas Rangers under Lawrence Sullivan Ross. The victory resulted in the recapture of Cynthia Ann. Orphaned, Quanah took refuge with the Quahadi Comanches. Quanah Parker became a leader of the Quahadi, and led them successfully for a number of years. With their food source depleted, and under constant pressure from the army, the Quahadi Comanches finally surrendered and in 1875 moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. Parker's was the last tribe of the Staked Plains (Llano Estacado) to come to the reservation. Quanah was named chief over all the Comanches on the reservation, and proved to be a forceful, resourceful and able leader. Through wise investments, he became perhaps the wealthiest American Indian of his day in the United States. Quanah embraced much of white culture, and was well respected by the whites. Nevertheless, he rejected both monogamy and Christianity. He had seven wives and belonged to the peyote-eating Native American Church. His son, White Parker, became a Methodist minister.
Quanah Parker was born sometime between 1845 and 1849 in the Wichita mountain region of what is now Oklahoma, and died in 1911 in Oklahoma. In 1957, both he and his mother were re-interred at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.