Panhandle Plains History
Native Americans, Spanish explorers, cowboys, Texas Rangers, Buffalo Soldiers, and pioneers all gave the Panhandle a colorful history.
The Comanche Indians lived in teepees on the grasslands and in the canyons of the Llano Estacado. They were nomads who rode horses and hunted bison. There were many conflicts between the Native Americans and the white settlers. In order to move the Native Americans from desirable lands, the white people killed bison, the Indians source of food and trade. Some Indians and white people wanted peace and agreed to live cooperatively, only to have others attack an Indian village or traveling whites and undo the peace. Sometimes the Indians kidnapped Mexican, African-American, or Caucasian women and children to take the place of their own loved ones who had died in a battle.
Cynthia Ann Parker was one person to be kidnapped and adopted by the Comanches. She lived on the rolling plains of the eastern Panhandle. Her home was near what is now Copper Breaks State Park. When she was a little girl, the Comanches took her from her home. She grew up in the tribe and lived with them for 24 years. Her relatives found her after she was grown and had married a Comanche chief. Her relatives took her back to live with them again. Cynthia Ann had grown to love the Comanches and was unhappy in her new life. She died about five years later. Her son, Quanah Parker, later became a famous Comanche chief. There is a town named after him near this state park.
The stone ruins of old Fort Griffin and Fort Richardson have been designated state parks. These forts were established after the Civil War to help police the frontier from Indian raids and provide supply points for settlers and travelers moving westward. Only structures made of stone remain today. They were abandoned around 1881 after the Comanche were defeated. The African-American Buffalo Soldiers were at one time stationed at Fort Griffin. Also, Texas Rangers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday spent some time at this fort! They were later involved in the “shoot-out at the OK corral” with some outlaws in Arizona.