The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 516
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In contrast, Adolph Korn left few documented traces of his rough and
adventurous boyhood with the Comanches or his troubled life after-
wards. This is unfortunate, as Adolph's story is remarkable for two rea-
sons. First, he became one of the most completely assimilated child
captives, even though he was taken at a comparatively advanced age
(ten) and spent a relatively short time with the Indians (three years).
Second, his reentry into white society was one of the least successful.
However, it was typically the case that those captives who "went native"
wrote no memoirs. As James Axtell pointed out, "The great majority of
white Indians left no explanations for their choice."2 Furthermore,
Adolph died in 1900, long before J. Marvin Hunter interviewed former
captives Herman Lehmann and Clinton Smith in the 192os. As a result,
what little information we have about Adolph is mostly anecdotal and
not necessarily reliable. The few published accounts of his captivity con-
tain many inaccuracies.
This article has two purposes. One is to document the recorded facts
of Adolph Korn's life. The other is to consider why Adolph, when com-
pared with other captives, became so thoroughly Indianized and experi-
enced such a difficult readjustment.
He was born May 8, 1859, in San Antonio, and his name at birth was
Adolph Bartruff. Three months later, his mother Johanna Bartruff, by
then a widow, married Louis Jacob Korn, a German-American widower
who had established a popular confectionery shop on Market Street in
San Antonio. "The confectioner Korn," as one newspaper called him,
was a kindly man and a devout Methodist. He adopted Adolph and his
twin brother Charlie; the Bartruff boys thereafter went by the name
In 1860 Louis Korn's friends convinced him to leave San Antonio and
move his family to the hinterland of Mason County, near the German-
2 Gary L. Ebersole, Captured by Texts: Purztan to Postmodern Images of Ilndzan Captzvzty (Char-
lottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995), 5; June Namias, Whzte Captives: Gender and Ethnzczty
on the Amencan Frontzer (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 70, James Axtell,
"The White Indians of Colonial America," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 32 (Jan., 1975), 88.
" Family history written by Louis Korn, May 1, 1899, photostat in the possession of the author;
Joyce Capps (comp.), Mason County Census for 19goo (n.p., n.d.), 149 (United States Twelfth Cen-
sus); Korn family "Vital Statistics," in the possession of Lela Korn Hennigh (niece of Adolph
Korn); Mason County News, July 6, 1900, p. 3 (obituary of Adolph Korn), Freze Presse Fiir Texas (San
Antonio), May 4, 1871, p. 2, reporting that one of Korn's sons had been injured in a runaway ac-
cident; letter of Lela Korn Hennigh to the author, Dec. 2, 1999, in the possession of the author;
in one source, the name Bartruff is spelled "Parthrop," Julius DeVos (ed.), One Hundred Years of
the Hilda (Bethel) Methodzst Church and Parent Organzations, 1856-1955 (Mason, Tex.: Hilda Unit-
ed Methodist Church, 1973), 10, 13 (entries forJohanna Parthrop Korn); Hulda C. Wilbert, Ker-
nels of Korn: The HzstoricalEvents of a Pzoneer Famzly (Burnet, Tex.: Nortex Press, 1982), 8-9, citng
Vminton L. James, "Market Street, Once San Antomo's Main Thoroughfare Had Its Joys and Sor-
rows," San Antonio Express, Dec. 31, 1933, p. E2. Wilbert obtained most of her information about
Adolph from her interviews with several descendants of Louis Korn.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/594/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.