History

Parker’s Fort

The John Parker family established Parker’s Fort in 1833. The fort was the site of a well-known Comanche Indian raid in May 1836, in which the Comanche captured 12-year old Cynthia Ann Parker. She was the mother of the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built a replica of the fort, now known as Old Fort Parker, as a 1936 centennial project.

Springfield

The park encompasses the historic town of Springfield, established in 1838. When Limestone County was created in 1847, Springfield was its first county seat.

At its peak, Springfield’s population was greater than either Dallas or Houston. Springfield began to fade away in the early 1870s after the railroad bypassed the town and the courthouse burned. Groesbeck became county seat in 1873 and the Springfield post office closed in 1878. Springfield soon became a ghost town.

Only the cemetery remains. It is the final resting place of many East Texas pioneers, including an American Revolutionary War veteran and two veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto.

Creating a park

Fort Parker State Park came to be in 1935. The city of Mexia and three local landowners donated about 1,500 acres of land for the park. It is between Mexia and Groesbeck in Limestone County.

African-American men with the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from 1935 to 1942. They completed a dam across the Navasota River in 1939, creating Fort Parker Lake.

Fort Parker State Park’s grand opening was May 1, 1941. About 700 visitors attended.

Learn more about the park: