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Binker

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

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My IRL book group is reading News of the World about a retired Texas Ranger who is hired to return a girl who had been kidnapped by Indians from her point of "rescue" in North Texas to her family in San Antonio, Texas (about 300 miles).   The book takes place in 1870, but almost exactly follows the "back way" that I take when I drive to San Antonio.   I read the book a couple of years ago and really liked it, but wasn't inclined to read it again.  Instead, I focused on our "extra credit" book, The Captured, which is a non-fiction account of the lives of these kidnapped children.

 

This is a fascinating book.  The author had a great uncle who was one of these children, as, apparently, did many of the German families that settled in Central Texas (generally referred to as the Texas Hill Country), around Austin and San Antonio.   The Germans settled on the frontier, which is why it feels like they are targeted, but it also ended up inhibiting their interaction with the U.S. Government, where everyone speaks English and these children and their families did not.  But what is the most interesting is how quickly the kidnapped children integrated into Indian life and did not want to come "home."  The most famous of all is a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who was "rescued," but essentially died of a broken heart.  The author does not spend a lot of time on her because all Texans know her story (she was the mother of Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche chief), but goes into great detail about many of the other children who were kidnapped.  The most interesting part for me was why they didn't want to come home and what characteristics they all displayed during the remainder of their lives that they had essentially learned during their time with the Indians (the one who lived the longest just died in 1950).   

 

This was very thought-provoking for me since I am adopted and I thought about what it would feel like to be taken from my family and returned to strangers whose only connection to me was genetic (most of the children barely recognized anyone they were returned to). It is excruciating to contemplate and I felt very sorry for these children, sometimes young adults when they were "rescued."  It's easy to understand why their families, so heartbroken by their loss, wanted them back, but they almost never really adjusted and some of their family members realized that they should have just been left where they were.

 

I have recommended this to all of my friends, but especially those I know who are descendants of the German settlers in the Texas Hill Country (also a friend whose family were German settlers in Oklahoma).  

 

Sidebar:  most of the early settlers in Texas were Czech and German and their influence is obvious everywhere you go, but especially in Central Texas (Wurzfests everywhere, kolache shopes, etc.).  And boy did they have hard lives!  

 

 

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