Eleven-year-old Adolph Korn was

tending sheep on New Year’s Day,

1870, when three Apache warriors

shattered the tranquil day. Thundering

up to him on horseback, one of

the warriors grabbed Adolph, hit

dren, including two girls, abducted

by Indians in Central Texas between

1865 and 1871.

     During an interview at his

parents’ home in Mason, Zesch, a

former Peace Corps volunteer in

him over the head with a gun bar-

rel, pulled him onto his horse, and

rode away. That was the last his

Mason County family saw of him

until three years later, when a band

of Comanches, who had received

the boy in a trade with his abduc-

tors, surrendered him to govern-

ment authorities November 14,

1872, at Fort Sill, Indian Territory.

     Author Scott Zesch had heard

occasional references to his great-

great-great Uncle Adolph over family

meals as he was growing up.They

talked about how odd he was after

his period with the Indians and how

he lived in a cave for part of his life.

But it wasn’t until Zesch literally

stumbled over Adolph’s solitary,

untended grave in a Mason County

cemetery that he began to speculate

about his ancestor. His curiosity led

him to write Captured: A True Story of

Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

(St. Martin’s Press, 2004) about

Adolph Korn and eight other chil-

Kenya and a Harvard Law School

graduate, explained that child

abduction was not limited to the

Plains Indians such as the Comanches

and Apaches, or even to the 19th

century. The practice of capturing

enemies was common throughout

North America and predated the

arrival of Europeans in America.

Some people were taken for ransom

and some as slaves. When it came to

children, the tribes were usually try-

ing to increase their ranks.

     By the 1850s, smallpox, cholera

and warfare had decimated the

Indian population on the Texas

frontier. “The Indians thought that

if they captured young boys before

their cultural identities were com-

pletely set, they could retrain them

as Indian warriors and get them to

fight willingly for the tribe. And

that’s exactly what happened,”

Zesch said.

     The Texas children were among

thousands of North American chil-

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