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 Texas.|
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
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 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 Elkhart,
in Anderson County, they constructed a one-room log church.
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
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 during 1845.
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
Parker, moved her body to Cache, Oklahoma. She was later reinterred beside
Quanah at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.