Fort Belknap was founded in the summer of 1851 by Brig. Gen William Belknap, then commander of the Department of Texas, to provide support for the settlers against the Comanche and Kiowa tribes. It also served to protect traditionally friendly tribes like the Tonkowa against attacks from settlers and other area tribes. Belknap was also a waypoint on the Butterfield Overland Stage line that carried the United States Mail for a few years. It was the northern outpost in a string of forts established from the Rio Grande to the south to the Red River to the north. Located in Young County, it served the area for about 8 years.
Fort Stockton was originally an adobe fort built in 1859 by the United States Army as a means of protecting travelers, freighters and the mail service. It was located near what was known as Comanche Springs, the source of Comanche Creek. It served as a way point on the Old San Antonio Road, the Butterfield Overland Stage route and the Comanche Trail to Chihuahua, Mexico.
Cynthia Ann Parker’s tragic story is better known, but there were other individuals including Rachel Parker Plummer who were taken by the Comanches in the attack on Fort Parker. The battle occurred on May 19, 1836 at a fort near Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas. At the time, there were thirty or more members of the extended Parker family living in or around the stockade fort. Killed were Silas Mercer Parker, John Parker, Samuel Frost, Robert Frost and Benjamin Parker. Those who were captured included Cynthia Ann Parker, her brother John Richard Parker, Elizabeth Kellogg, Rachel Parker Plummer and her three year old son James Pratt Plummer.
Charles Goodnight wrote of the death of his friend Oliver Loving in the book The Trail Drivers of Texas by J. Marvin Hunter. The book is widely available for purchase, and also can be downloaded. In it, Hunter has assembled sketches and observations of the cattle drivers of the 1800s.
This haunting image is of Olive Ann Oatman Fairchild. Olive was born in 1837 to a Mormon family, one of seven children of Royse and Mary Ann Oatman. Royse had started raising his family in Illinois, briefly moved to Pennsylvania around 1849, and by 1850 had decided to join a wagon train of around 90 fellow believers to go west.