Essay on What Is Anglo-American Culture

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One thing to note is that life on the Texas frontier was very different from any other frontier state. Not only did Texas settlers have to adjust to rural life, but they were also exposed to many dangers such as murder, theft, and kidnapping. By the mid-19th century, Texas had become a target for Indian raids. In The Captured: A True Story of Abduction on the Texas Frontier, historian Scott Zesch embarks on a journey to learn about the lives of Indian captives along the south-central Texas Frontier. He does this by analyzing the experiences of nine adolescent German-American captives, starting from the end of the Civil War till about 1872. His analysis is based on the lives of Rudolph Fischer, Banc Babb, Dot Babb, Minnie Caudle, Temple Friend, Adolph Korn, Herman Lehmann, Clinton Smith, and Jeff Smith. The ages ranged from nine to thirteen years old. Zesch tended to focus on two Indian groups, the Apaches and Comanches. Both were known for taking young captives out of Texas. Due to the contrasting nature of Indian culture, Zesch argues that the experiences endured by these children before and during captivity affected who they were after being admitted back into Anglo society.

To begin his analysis Zesch takes a look at the lives of these children before captivity, to help explain how these factors helped foster their love for Indian culture. He notes that one factor that contributed to assimilation was the children’s backgrounds. Growing up these children were forced to work alongside their parents on farms. He learned that due to their experiences on the Texas Frontier, these children had already had some sort of dislike for the “American way of life”. He states that “ironically, captivity opened up a new world of freedom” which was extremely different than farm life (Zesch 114). Zesch repeatedly states that the captives were allowed to eat whenever they were hungry, a freedom that was not given to them before. Also, the children gained new freedoms such as horse riding, hunting, and fighting.

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Additionally, Zesch furthers his analysis by using the works of both anthropologists and psychologists. Zesch was very descriptive of the brutality that occurred during these raids. He notes that these attacks were traumatic and would shape certain behaviors to arise later in life. Many of these children witnessed the mutilation of their loved ones and out of fear they obeyed the commands of their captors. These commands became routine and the children copied such practices as they learned to raid. The children began to see themselves as a part of

Indian society. This was especially true among the males who would later struggle in courts to proclaim themselves as Indians. He states that they “were living with Indians as Indians” describing assimilation happening (Zesch 139).

Consequently, these children grew to love their new homes all while increasing a feeling of resentment for their past life. When it was time for the children to return to their American homes many did not want to leave. For example, Rudolph Fischer and Herman Lehmann had to forcefully return to their families. He also states that Banc Babb retained her Indian traits as she “moved from town to town” reliving her short nomadic lifestyle (Zesch 240). This was her way of coping with her new life. Other children also had a very difficult time readjusting to American life and were quite miserable as adults. For many decades after ‘redemption’ many former captives struggled to maintain stable jobs and marriages.

Zesch organized his analysis in a way that his readers would understand. First, he provided his readers with background knowledge in the prologue. Throughout the prologue, he explained why he was intrigued by this subject. In fact, this analysis was somewhat personal because it allowed him to gain a greater insight into what his great uncle Adolph Korn endured as a captive. Next, Zesch interestingly breaks his analysis into three parts, almost resembling a life cycle. The first section titled A Fate Worse than Death, analyzes the children’s lives up until they were captured. He describes the hardships and sacrifices that many frontier settlers endured during that time. The title suggested that settlers would have rather chosen death over captivity. In the second section titled In the Wilds, Zesch further dives into his analysis by revealing life during captivity. Within this section, Zesch explains the psychological processes that occurred during assimilation or ‘Indianization’. This section is the core of his analysis because it reveals why it was so difficult for the White Indians to revert back to Anglo-American culture. The third section titled Redemption, explains the struggles these children endured after captivity. In this section, Zesch’s readers learn that it was much harder to assimilate into Anglo-American culture versus Indian culture.

Zesch does an excellent job of balancing both his primary and secondary sources. To analyze the personal accounts of the children he uses primary sources such as memoirs, interviews, and articles written by local newspapers. Local newspapers provided eyewitness accounts for many of the events that took place. Additionally, he also uses newspapers from across the country which expressed how other Americans viewed the Texas Frontier. He

examines records that were collected by both Indian agents and county officials. Also, personal letters were written by military officials who were frequently stationed on the frontier. He gathers court documents from both the state and federal levels to provide evidence. For instance, he analyzes claims that were made to the state and federal governments by Anglos and Indians. The claims gave eye-witnessed accounts of what took place during the raids. The secondary sources he used were books and journal articles.

Scott Zesch was an author, who has written novels and non-fiction works. The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier is his best work to date. He grew up in Mason County, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University. Also, he graduated and attended Harvard Law School. The time he spent here I can conclude he became interested in the history of Texas. He is also the author of Alamo Heights, a novel based on the last battle of the Alamo. He was the author of The Chinatown War: Chinese Los Angeles and the Massacre of 1871. Some of his literary works were very successful, receiving great reviews and acknowledgments. All of his works were very researched and the topics were displayed to the readers.

Overall, Scott Zesch does an excellent job of recapturing the horrible events of the hostages both during and after captivity. Zesch does a great job of explaining his analysis through a historical context. In order for readers to develop their own reasoning for the differences between Indians and Anglo-American groups. Those who are not familiar with history can easily be persuaded to believe an Anglo point of view.

Zesch does an excellent job with remaining providing the effect Indians had on Anglo-American life throughout his analysis. He tells the story from both sides without diverting from the truth. Based on the language used for this book to reach anyone who is interested in the subject. This book definitely provides a different outlook on American life on the Texas frontier. Many will read this book and find it interesting. I really liked how he tracked and accurately described Indians' everyday life. One criticism I have about his book is how some captives fell in love with the culture. I wish he could have interviewed Sam Houston about his encounters with Indians. From a historian's point of view, I wonder if the Indians were treated fairly; given the land and food. Who would Indians be in our Society?

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Essay on What Is Anglo-American Culture. (2023, December 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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