November 12, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Writing - Kenya: History: SMU: Kenya RPCV Scott Zesch writes The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: Peace Corps Kenya : The Peace Corps in Kenya: November 12, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Writing - Kenya: History: SMU: Kenya RPCV Scott Zesch writes The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

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Kenya RPCV Scott Zesch writes The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

Kenya RPCV Scott Zesch writes The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

Kenya RPCV Scott Zesch writes The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier


by Scott Zesch

The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier is a narrative history following the lives of nine children who were abducted by Comanches or Apaches in Texas between 1865 and 1871 and adopted into these tribes. The narrative weaves their rugged adventures into a single tale, set against a background of intense political wrangling and bloody confrontations between the U.S. government and the native people. The book draws from author Scott Zesch’s extensive original research, including numerous archival and family sources that have not previously been tapped.

Scott got interested in this topic when he accidentally discovered a grave. One of the children featured in The Captured was his great-great-great-uncle, Adolph Korn. Growing up, the author had heard the family yarns about his relative. After Adolph came home, he ate raw meat, refused to sleep indoors, and even lived for a while in a cave. He was a "white Indian," the term some anthropologists use to describe assimilated European-American captives. After only three years with the Comanches, Adolph came to prefer the Indian way of life and even tried to kill the U.S. soldiers who attempted to rescue him. He held fast to his Native American ways long after the army "captured" him a second time and forcibly brought him back to his parents. Always an oddity among the Comanches-a blond, fair-skinned adolescent who spoke their language and helped them raid frontier settlements-he found himself even more of a stranger in the white world when he returned.

No one in Scott’s family knew much about Adolph Korn. One hot afternoon in June 1999, the author literally stumbled across Adolph’s barely-marked grave beneath a lone mesquite tree in a neglected corner of an old cemetery in Mason, Texas. After this chance discovery, Scott became obsessed with finding out who this Comanche warrior in his family really was. How could he have become so thoroughly Indianized after such a short time with the tribe? And why was he never able to put that part of his life behind him? The author set out to answer these questions, only to find himself confronted with many more.

Adolph Korn’s trail was hard to follow, and Scott soon realized that the only way to fill in the gaps in his tale was to delve into the lives of other child captives of Adolph’s generation: Rudolph Fischer, Dot and Bianca Babb, Temple Friend, Malinda Ann Caudle, Herman Lehmann, and Clinton and Jeff Smith. They all went through similar experiences. Several of them even knew each other while they were with the tribes. The author decided to track down the descendants of Adolph Korn’s fellow white Indians and listen to their recollections.

The trail of Adolph Korn and his fellow captives took Scott from his home in the Texas Hill Country, where most of the children were kidnapped, to the prairies of southwestern Oklahoma, where 10,000 modern-day Comanches struggle to keep their culture from disappearing. The captives’ stories still speak to us today, as we grapple with the legacy of brutal clashes among Americans from very different cultures. The Captured provides a vivid, ground-level view of Indian-white relations as experienced by typical families from both cultures. It explores the bloody history of race relations in America from a unique perspective-through the eyes of children who, for a time, became "the other."


"Scott Zesch’s search for the facts about a mysterious great-great-great-uncle led him to research all that is known today about the experiences of several Texas Hill Country children kidnapped by Indians in the 1800s. Most who survived the initial ordeal became Indian at heart and never quite reconciled to white society, remaining tragically adrift between two vastly different worlds. The Captured vividly tells it like it was without yielding to myth or political correctness."


"Scott Zesch brings to light the stark truth of the cultural clash between Native Americans and white settlers in this ultimate story of self-discovery told against a backdrop of bigotry and fear on the Texas frontier. This book reveals that both sides in the conflict were capable of alternating acts of compassion and brutality. It also helps readers realize how white youths taken captive by Comanche warriors could struggle between returning to their homes and blood ties and clinging to the nomadic lifestyle that some of them came to love. This is a true American saga in every sense."


"The captivity narrative is one of the oldest of American literary genres, and Scott Zesch breathes new life into the form in The Captured. In this stirring account of stolen children on the 19th century Texas frontier, Zesch traces the lives of nine children before, during, and after their captivity by Indians. The story of the ‘white Indians’ has many surprises and adds a complex depth to what we know about the past buried in old cemeteries and in forgotten documents."

DON GRAHAM, author of KINGS OF TEXAS and J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English literature, the University of Texas at Austin


The publisher of The Captured is St. Martin’s Press. The scheduled release date of the hardcover edition is October 13, 2004. ISBN 0312317875. The author’s agent is Jim Hornfischer of Hornfischer Literary Management.


Scott Zesch was born in Mason County, Texas, and received degrees from Texas A&M University and Harvard Law School. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and taught school in a rural village in Kenya. In recent years, Scott has served as an election supervisor in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

In 1999 Texas Christian University Press published Scott’s first book, Alamo Heights, a historical novel inspired by Adina De Zavala’s efforts to save the Alamo mission from demolition in the early 1900s. The Dallas Morning News called it "an authentic pageant of life in old San Antonio" and concluded, "Texas readers welcome a new voice." The Austin Chronicle said that Alamo Heights "brings to life one of the most riveting civic episodes in 20th-century Texas history," and Texas Monthly remarked that first-time author Zesch "proceeds with confidence." The Amarillo News-Globe described Alamo Heights as "a fascinating novel." Scott was a panelist at the 1999 Texas Book Festival.

In April 2001 Southwestern Historical Quarterly published Scott’s article "The Two Captivities of Adolph Korn," a precursor to The Captured. It won the Western History Association’s Ray Allen Billington Award for the best journal article on Western history. The same journal also published a version of Bianca Babb’s captivity narrative introduced and edited by Scott and Professor Daniel J. Gelo. Journal of the West will publish an article by Scott about the search for another captive, Alice Todd.

Scott spent three years working as an editor in New York and has been a freelance writer since 1993. He now divides his time between New York and a ranch near Art, Texas (population two).

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Story Source: SMU

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Writing - Kenya; History



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