Knox Beall was one of several youths who lived at least for a while at Quanah Parker’s home in Cache, Oklahoma. Others included Rudolph Fisher, David Grantham, Charles Hart and Tom Burnett.
Knox’s parents are believed to have been Otho Washington Beall (1845 – 1878) and Almira or Elmira Parker Beall (1853 – 1878). Knox is believed to have been born in 1878 in Rockdale, Milam Co., Texas which is located roughly midway between Austin and College Station. Little is known about his birth parents, but the accepted story is that Knox was orphaned soon after he was born, perhaps the same year he was born. His mother Almira/Elmira was also said to possibly have been a cousin of Cynthia Parker in some accounts (as was Zilpha Parker Hart, the mother of Charles Hart). After they passed, Knox was sent first to an orphan’s home. He was later placed in the home of a German couple in the Fort Worth area. At one point, the tale continues that Knox ran away from home literally to join the circus (a vaudeville troupe associated with the Mollie Bailey Circus). A more sensational and probably less likely account has him being kidnapped to join the group. In any event Knox was associated with this traveling troupe until he was about seven years old.
About 1884, the tour group was playing for some soldiers from Fort Sill and local people in Vernon, Wilbarger County, Texas when two young Comanche men from Quanah Parker’s tribe met up with Knox and invited him to come back with them to Cache to live. A sensational United Press newspaper account in 1949 said that Knox was kidnapped by the Comanches. The headline read “Boy Kidnapped by Indians In 1885 Now Respected Citizen.” However, Knox is not known to have ever said anything that implied that he did not go willingly with the Comanches. His wife Martha did say that the tribesmen had argued over who would raise Knox and took the argument to Quanah to be decided. Quanah settled the argument by stating that he would raise the boy himself. Knox was taken in by Quanah and his wives and raised as a foster son. Knox always spoke glowingly of Quanah and his family and he lived with them for the next thirteen years. Knox was treated like a member of the family, being about nine years older than Quanah’s natural son Baldwin Parker (1887 – 1963).
In an interview in the Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma that is dated November 15, 1937, Knox was sixty-five years old at the time. He described his childhood, that he learned to speak Comanche and also how to use a bow and arrow. Knox told of going hunting with Quanah and that they would kill game. Knox said that he did not have an extensive formal education despite Quanah’s desire that he attend the local Indian school. Knox emphasized Quanah’s generosity, saying that the Chief once had many horses and cattle but by the time he died in 1911 he had given most of them away to others.
In this interview, Knox also mentioned having met Herman Lehmann and Tuck Locke, two former captives, on a hunt in Texas. He also mentioned knowing Tom Burnett (1871 – 1938), son of Burk Burnett and his first wife. He noted that Tom had helped build Quanah Parker’s home in Cache in 1890. Other accounts have Tom Burnett living with Quanah Parker for some time, as noted above.
The possible connection to Cynthia Parker’s family through his mother Almira/Elmira is not usually emphasized and Knox is not known to have personally referred to this fact. Knox had two siblings, a brother named Charles Samuel Beall and a sister named Mary Elaine Beall Fly. Knox is believed to be the youngest. The father of all three siblings is said to be Otho Washington Beall, although genealogy records sometimes list a different mother’s name, Alice Mitchell, for some of them. The three were reunited over time. Mary Elaine (1873 – 1950) lived in the Fort Worth area and Charles Samuel (1876 – 1955) lived near Abilene in Potosi. Less is known about Mary Elaine, but Charles Samuel was a long time resident of Taylor County, having come there in 1907. During his career he had been an employee of the City of Abilene and later worked for many years for Citizens National Bank there.
Knox’s wife told of Quanah having called Knox in to see him after the Spanish-American war broke out. According to Mrs. Beall, Quanah told Knox that he had fought for his people and gave his blessing for Knox to do the same. Quanah went with Knox to enlist at Fort Sill. Knox served in the Army during 1898 and 1899 in the hospital corps in some capacity. Knox remained close to Quanah’s family. Quanah is said to have contacted him in 1911 when he contracted his last illness. Knox was with the family when Quanah died and served as a pallbearer at his public funeral.
Knox also spoke Comanche quite well and is said to have served for some years as an interpreter for the local Indian agency. Knox traveled a lot as an adult including spending some time in South America working for an oil company. Other accounts add that he worked in the oilfields in America, a geological survey group in Canada and as a trapper with the Hudson Bay company. Knox also remarked that he had visited every western state. In his later years, he returned to Cache and worked for the United States Postal Service.
Knox was married a number of times, lastly to the former Martha Carter, whom he married on June 9, 1917. He is known to have had one son, Knox Rush Beall, by his former wife Zula Williams. Knox was a member of the Fort Sill Oddfellows lodge and the Cache, Oklahoma Church of Christ. Knox passed away in 1958 at the Veteran’s hospital in Sulphur, Oklahoma after having suffered from poor heath for a number of years. Mrs. Beall survived him another five or six years and both are buried in the Cache Cemetery.
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