"Every Day Seemed to be a Holiday":
The Captivity of Bianca Babb
EDITED BY DANIELJ. GELO AND SCOTT ZESCH*
INDIAN CAPTIVITY NARRATIVES OFFER SEVERAL ENTICING AVENUES OF
study-as folklore, as a literary genre, and as testimony to European
Americans' ambivalent attitudes toward Native Americans. For historians
and anthropologists, however, these rough-hewn autobiographies can be
problematic. Many of them may be justly criticized as biased, exaggerat-
ed, based on limited observations (often by very young eyewitnesses),
written to satisfy the public's taste for adventure or to illustrate religious
themes, and recorded from memory too many years after the fact to be
altogether reliable. On the other hand, they are among the few accounts
of pre-reservation Native American life written by insiders, so they can-
not be ignored. Moreover, their earthy, often humorous descriptions of
everyday events in the camps and along the trail are unparalleled.
Thus, a number of scholars studying the Comanches have cited captivi-
ty narratives as sources despite their limitations. Rupert Norval
Richardson, Carl Coke Rister, Ernest Wallace, E. Adamson Hoebel, Bill
Neeley and Stanley Noyes all relied on Theodore Adolphus (Dot) Babb's
1912 memoir, In the Bosom of the Comanches, in their own works.
Surprisingly, a separate, short narrative written by Dot Babb's younger sis-
ter and fellow captive, Bianca, has been almost universally overlooked.'
Bianca Babb's account of her experiences among the Comanches is
being published here in its entirety because it has not been readily avail-
able before and because it deserves a wider audience. The manuscript,
* Daniel J. Gelo is professor of anthropology and interim dean at the University of Texas at
San Antonio. Scott Zesch is the author of a forthcoming book about Comanche and Apache cap-
tives from Texas. The editors would like to thank Bianca Babb's descendants Anna Crooks,
Daniel Crooks, and Claudia Crooks, as well as Rosalie Gregg, chair of the Wise County Historical
Commission, and Carney Saupitty for their help in providing materials for this article.
'A notable exception is an article by Phoebe S. Allen, which credits Bianca Babb's manu-
script as "reveahng information of interest to the anthropologist," including "evidence of
VOL. CVII, No. 1 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY JULY, 2003
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed July 30, 2014.