the same decade that established Cynthia Ann Parker and her son, Indian
Chief Quanah Parker, as living legends, another clan of Parkers
wrote their own chapter of history in East
In the 1820s, Daniel Parker, an anti-missionary Baptist leader and
member of the Parker clan that produced Cynthia Ann, stirred up Baptists
in Illinois with his separatist beliefs and eventually led his family
and neighbors to East Texas
to write a new religious chapter in Texas history.
Parker, who had a limited education, was ordained to preach in 1806
by Turnbull Baptist Church of Dickson County, Tennessee. He was an
advocate of "Two Seedism," the doctrine that believes since the time
of Adam mankind has been the bearer of two seeds, divine and diabolical.
Parker's beliefs separated him from most Primitive Baptists, but he
retained their opposition to Missionary Baptists, with whom his conflict
began in 1815. Primitive Baptists do not support missionary or Bible
societies, Sunday schools or theological seminaries.
Parker served as a state senator in Illinois in 1822. In the l830s,
looking for a new religious frontier, he came to Texas to apply for
a land grant with the Mexican government with the hopes of organizing
a Baptist church in Texas.
Realizing he could not organize a protestant church without breaking
Mexican law and defying the government's Catholic leanings, Parker
returned to his home in Lamote, Illinois, where he and eight other
men organized the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church on
July 26, 1833.
church members traveled as a body to Texas, arriving at Stephen F.
Austin's colony in Grimes
County on November 12, 1833. They held their first church meeting
in 1834. When General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna began his march
into Texas from Mexico to put down the Texas rebellion, Pilgrim Church
voted on April 2, 1836, to give the church minute book to a group
of church leaders with hopes that the church could be relocated and
reorganized if Santa Anna was successful in squashing the revolution.
The church did not meet again until 1837, after Texas had won its
independence from Mexico. It convened at different locations until
1848, when the members decided to build a church near the cemetery
where Daniel Parker was buried when he died in 1844. On the site near
in Anderson County, they constructed a one-room log church.
The Pilgrim Church that stands today on the site is the fourth church
to serve the Parker family and its neighbors. A replica of the original
log church also stands on the site.
As the oldest continuous Protestant church in Texas, Pilgrim was responsible
for spawning a host of other Baptist churches in East Texas, including
Hopewell in Nacogdoches County during 1837. Fort Houston of Houston
County in 1840, Bethel (Sabine County) and Bethlehem (Shelby County)
in 1841, Mustang Prairie in 1842, Liberty County in 1843, San Jacinto
of Montgomery County in 1844, and Mound Prairie in Anderson County
Ann Parker, the daughter of Lucy and Silas Parker, who came from Illinois
to Texas with Daniel Parker, was taken by Commanche warriors in 1836
from Fort Parker in what is now
Limestone County. A group of soldiers found her living with the Commanches
on the Canadian River in 1846.
After repeated refusals, she was reunited with the Parkers, but she
was never happy living in a white society. She died around 1870 and
was buried in Anderson County, but her son, the great Commanche chief,
moved her body to Cache, Oklahoma. She was later reinterred beside
Quanah at Fort
April 17, 2006 Column
Published with permission
(Provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association.
Bob Bowman is a former president of the Association and the author
of more than 30 books about East Texas.)