Sunday, October 12, 2014

No. 87 – March 6, 2014 – Legends, and Truths from a Small Town in Texas

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

The town of Quanah holds surprises and an American example of courage, clear thinking, and integrity which intrigues those who look. The same town holds the roots for two very different families.

Quanah's population today is 2,599.

Frederick C. Koch, whose career in the oil business made him a millionaire, laid the foundation for Koch Industries. Fred was born in Quanah, the second son of Harry Koch, a Dutch immigrant. Fred's sons were born in Wichita, Kansas, 338 miles away.

Quanah was named for Quanah Parker, the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, captured in 1836 during the massacre at Fort Parker by Comanches in 1836. Cynthia was nine. Adopted by the Comanches she later married the chief, Nocona.

Quanah came to know his Parker relatives in later years but remained a firm supporter, and respected leader, for the Comanche, helping them survive attempts to destroy their sources of food with the annihilation of the buffalo herds and life on the reservation.

Understanding that respect in the white world necessitated having money, Quanah went into business. By becoming a cattleman when it became clear the Federal government intended to break up the reservation he was able to help his people transition from the grim future then overtaking other tribes by advocating assimilation. In business, he secured the funds necessary to help them. Quanah showed them how to assimilate into white society while keeping their own traditions alive.

Quanah invested in other enterprises, including the Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway, dying a wealthy man whose friends included President Theodore Roosevelt.

Remaining a man of integrity he died in 1911, held in esteem by both Indians and Whites.

Fred Chase Koch started a company which today is the first or second largest privately held company in the world. Now run by two of his sons, Charles and David, their multiple enterprises are responsible for billions in toxic waste while they rhetorically uphold the principles of the free market, substituting the reality of mercantilism, business dependent on a hand and glove with government, for freedom in commerce.

In Quanah the Kochs are rarely mentioned. On one website Fred Koch, the oldest son of Fred, Sr., appears,“"Fred Koch has been instrumental in preserving some of the buildings downtown and in reviving interest in the town's heritage."

Those who know you closest, really know you. These are the people who can best calculate your true worth.

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