Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier by Scott Zesch

Inspired by News of the World by Paulette Jiles I noticed her recommendation of Captured by Scott Zesch.  This was in the Author’s Note at the end.   Well! – that’s me – inspired by the book and interested in the subject for a long time –  since I first heard about it back in college days.   Also,  Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynn (read in 2011 so scroll down on the link)  has information about Cynthia Ann Parker who was captured and had a child,  Geronimo,  with a Comanche man, a fascinating  but very sad story. Probably the most famous Indian captive child.  And the rather academic book The Comanche Empire by Pekka Hamalainen fascinated me, although it was about their economic confederacy more than child abductions.

So – there it was at Audible – and yes,  I purchased  the audio version first.  Then I discovered that the Kindle version includes maps, photos,  notes, etc. and yes, Dear Reader,  with that I proceeded to read and listen to Captured.

Captured:  A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier 
by Scott Zesch
2004 /  362 pages
read by Grover Gardner  10h 18m
rating:  7.5

It seems the author’s great-great-something uncle was one of  dozens of captured children.  Zesch had heard the stories as a child, about old Uncle Adolph Korn who never really lost his Indian way.   But  it was when he came across  the man’s  virtually unmarked grave it motivated him to find out more.

Adolph Korn was just one of dozens of children captured by the Kiowas and Comanches of the Southern Plains.  The victims were not just white children who were taken and “adopted,”   blacks, Mexicans, Germans, and other Native tribes were represented  – it was an equal opportunity experience.  There was a land war going on for much of this time and atrocities were committed by both sides.

To understand about these children  the situation of the Southern Plains circa 1840-1880  has to be considered.  In 1836 Texas had just achieved the status of an independent nation and the Indian/Anglo relationship was that of a hard-won peace with frequent breaks.  But  in 1846 the Germans settled on the Comanche side of the dividing line with intents to go further.

One day Adolph was simply snatched from a field in the Hill Country  where he was watching sheep with his twin brother Charlie who was also taken.   This was in 1870 or so.  They family had arrived as one of many families of German immigrants 1862.

Indians had been challenging white settlers since the 1840s but after the Civil War things seemed to went from only a bit tense to war. .

Zensch basically follows the trails of three captives,  all of German immigrant families,  Adolph Korn, Rudolph Fischer and Herman Lehmann,  but there is also information of other captives.  He considers various ideas about why they lost their ties with their families of origin so quickly,  including the Stockholm Syndrome.

It gets a bit long in some places,  but some of the tales are fascinating.  There is no academic type of study on this phenomenon and I think Zesch has done as much as can be done considering the scarcity of information.

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