EN’s book review

Total Posts:  21959
Joined  11-03-2007
30 December 2017 21:39

Just finished a fascinating book - “The Captured” by Scott Zesch.  2004, Martin’s Press, 300 pages, plus copious reference notes and a complete index.  The writer is from Mason, Texas, and had an ancestor who was captured by Comanche Indians in the 1800’s.  The writer became interested in this ancestor and started researching other child captives (mainly German-American children like his ancestor) and detailing their experiences.  The most interesting aspect of the history is that if the child stayed with the Indians as long as a year, they usually did not want to be returned to American life. They had become “white Indians”.  They forgot most of their native tongue (English or German) and adopted Comanche or Apache culture. They never got over it. This was especially true of the boy captives.  Even those who were returned to American civilization in a short time spoke well of their Indian captors, even if they had committed savage acts against their own blood families.

These were frontier children, many of German ancestry, as Germans immigrated to the Texas Hill Country in large numbers in the mid-1800’s. They were truly on the frontier - up against Comanche country. Raids were frequent.  Their lives were tough, and they were put to work herding sheep or doing other manual labor early.  The author surmises that the relative freedom of Comanche life - conducting raids, hunting buffalo and other wild game, moving frequently - was more attractive to them than the drudgery of frontier life among their German families.

I highly recommend the book.  It’s a picture of an aspect of American life that seems so far removed from us now, but happened right where I live only 150 years ago.