Scott Zesch, |
(St. Martin's Press, 2004)
As a practicing genealogist I've known the difficulty and frustration Scott Zesch experienced in seeking information about his ancestor, Adolph Korn, who was abducted by an Indian raiding party in 1870 on the Texas frontier.
Finding information can be difficult even when those we seek led less dramatic lives. Adolph Korn not only survived but delighted in the rough, nomadic life of his Comanche captors. For three years he fought alongside them against settlers, buffalo hunters, soldiers and other enemies that threatened their lifestyle. And, when forced to return to his parents, he was unable to fit into white society and became an eccentric who spent his final years as a near recluse.
There have been captivity narrative books before including some by former captives. Zesch went beyond many of these in his quest, interviewing surviving relatives, digging into dusty archives and meeting with Comanche elders to gain a better understanding of tribal ways. He does not romanticize about the hardships of life on the frontier or that of the Native Americans. Nor does he mince in showing that compassion and brutality were not restricted to one side.
While Zesch found scanty records to piece together his third great-uncle's life, he did uncover a wealth of detail about other captives from the same area of Texas. What many readers will find surprising is that the majority of captives -- even some who witnessed the brutal murder and rape of family and friends -- came to sympathize with their captors and a few even went back to live out their lives with them.