The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

The Two Captivities of Adolph Korn
SCOTT ZESCH*
THE TEXAS CHILDREN CAPTURED BY THE INDIANS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
typically went through two phases of harsh reeducation. The first was
assimilation, as they adopted the ways of their captors. The second, once
they had been returned to their families, was restoration. Adolph Korn,
described in the New Handbook of Texas as one of "the most formidable
'white Indians'," never made it full circle. By the end of his captivity, "Ca-
choco" (as he was then called) had become an exceptionally zealous Co-
manche convert, more decidedly set in his Indian ways than most of the
other captured children. Unable to resume a life of law-abiding domes-
ticity, this brash young warrior and horseman remained forever alienat-
ed from his own culture.'
Two of Korn's fellow captives in the 187os, Herman Lehmann and
Clinton Smith, are remembered today for their colorful and vivid ac-
counts of their experiences. Lehmann's Nine Years With the Indians and
Smith's The Boy Captives are both Texas classics of the Indian captivity
genre. J. Marvin Hunter, publisher of the popular history magazine Fron-
tier Times, coauthored both of these narratives, which were published in
1927.
* Scott Zesch is a great-great-great-nephew of Adolph Korn. He started researching this topic
after he accidentally came across Korn's barely marked grave inJune 1999. Zesch is the author of
the historical novel Alamo Heights (Fort Worth: TCU Press, 1999), which was inspired by Adina
De Zavala's battle to save the Alamo convent from demolition in the early 1900s
I am grateful to several people who helped me locate the sources for this article: Patricia Mc-
Crory, registrar, San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society; Jane Hoerster, chair, Mason
County Histoncal Commission, Beatrice Langehennlg, Mason County and Distnct Clerk, Mary Jo
Cockrell, Theresia Schrampfer, andJanice Walters, libranans, M. Beven Eckert Memorial Li-
brary, Mason, Texas; Gerry Gamel, editor, Mason County News; Al Dreyer (who also provided
translation); Lela Korn Hennigh; Jerry Korn; Julius DeVos; Robert and Linda Laury (who also
commented on my manuscript); Wanda Hitzfelder; and DamelJ. Gelo.
tJ. Norman Heard, "Indian Captives," in Ron C. Tyler, Douglas E. Barnett, Roy R. Barkley,
Penelope C Anderson, and Mark F. Odmtz (eds ), The New Handbook of Texas (6 vols., Austin-
Texas State Historical Association, 1996), III, 826. The meaning of "Cachoco" is unknown. It
does not closely resemble any existing Comanche term. Author's interview with DanielJ. Gelo,
professor of anthropology, University of Texas at San Antonio, Oct 2000. In one study, Adolph
was described as one of the few Indian captives who became "100 percent" assimilated. J. Nor-
man Heard, White Into Red: A Study of the Asszmilation of White Persons Captured by Indians
(Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1973), 47.
VOL. CIV, NO. 4 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY APRIL, 2001

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed December 24, 2014.