Author's Notes & Acknowledgments
Caution: **SPOILERS** Ahead
Table of Contents
I considered writing only about the people I am descended from, but I don’t live in Norway, Germany, or the British isles. I don’t know those places. When I visited a cousin in Hønefoss, Norway, though it was the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen, my heart did not recognize the mountains.
I live in Texas. I have swum in Barton Springs Pool, where Jim took Eva to feel the water. I can imagine a Comanche raiding party laughing around a campfire in my backyard. A spring that never runs dry is located conveniently at the bottom of the hill from my home. To drive into west downtown Austin is to drive through a Tonkawa village before the tribe was forced to leave. I regularly pass the intersection of Braker Lane and Mopac Expressway where Josiah Wilbarger, an early settler in Austin, was scalped and left for dead on an August day in 1832. After he revived, he tried to walk six miles to Reuben Hornsby’s house, but collapsed under a giant post oak tree. During the night, his deceased sister came to him in a vision and said, “Josiah, you are too weak to go by yourself. Remain here, and friends will come to take care of you before the setting sun.” Reuben’s wife Sarah saw Josiah alive in a dream, woke up her husband and the survivors from the attack who had escaped, and insisted they search for him. The men humored her if only to bury Josiah’s body, but were shocked to find him alive where she had said he would be and able to stand. He survived another eleven years, something of a local celebrity, though his injury killed him in the end when he hit his thinning skull on a low door frame. I shiver every time I cross the Braker Lane overpass and think of his ghostly beloved sister saving him.
As I travel south on Mopac, I can look to my right and see Mount Bonnell over which a raiding party crisscrossed to escape with captives. They headed north, riding hard, back along the road I have just driven when it was still just a trail. When they stopped at a spring, a little brother begged his older sister to calm down, but she would not and was killed and scalped on a small rise at Mopac and Spicewood Springs Road, now located beneath an office building and parking lot on Wood Hollow Drive. Her family, though heartbroken, mourned her death as the better, preferable outcome to life as a captive, even if they could have recovered her.
I live on the limestone balconies, gateway to the Texas Hill Country, and I was born on the Blackland Prairie. On the annual pilgrimage to Colorado many Texans make to escape the August heat, we pass through the Llano Estacado and Palo Duro Canyon, the Comanche’s last refuge before the reservation period.
I’ve always said, I’m Texan first, American second. All the people who have walked these hills and plains are my people. They are, quite literally and biologically, my cousins. All the beautiful acts of great humanity and the desperate, vengeful brutalities are the fabric of my community. When discussing any culture, romantics would have us focus only on the perfect, and enemies would have us remember only the savagery. Humans are both, and always have been. We are like siblings who love each other fiercely or are long-estranged and don’t know where to start to apologize or make things right. All of us have long memories when it comes to the wrongs other people have done us, but short ones with regards to our own cruel deeds, but we need to remember it all and learn from both.
My characters are individuals. Each deviates from the ideal Anglo, the ideal Mexican, and the ideal Comanche, just like all humans in any society that holds up an ideal of what it means to be a good man or a good woman.
In the current political climate, it’s a dangerous thing for a white woman to include non-white characters. The alternative, an all-white cast, is far worse, I believe. How would such a thing not perpetuate the sense that this land was open and free for the taking? How does one write a story set in 1836 Texas and not include Comanches, Mexicans, Tonkawas, Tejanos, and Africans? That said, I have chosen a time period in which the Comanche are at the height of their power, and I have steered clear of writing my main characters from anything other than the point of view of an Anglo or an Anglo captive.
Jim exists in an interesting space in time. No one alive today can write authentically from his point of view, but I hope I’ve done him justice. Each people, Anglo and Comanche, are privy to only half of his story.
When using the sources listed below, I followed the example of Scott Zesch (The Captured, p. 304): “When two sources disagreed, I gave more credence to eyewitness testimony than hearsay, and to earlier rather than later sources.”
Tikkun Olam is an ancient concept in Judaism and comes from the earliest use of the phrase mip’nei tikkun ha-olam, which means “for the sake of repairing the world.” As one can imagine, this concept has been picked apart, studied, prayed upon, argued over, retranslated, and reinterpreted by generations of faithful scholars. I have seen this phrase referenced in modern times as humanity’s partnership with God in the act of making the world a better place. Interestingly, some older interpretations discuss returning the world to a state of spiritual bliss, effectively ending the material world. Both ideas inspired Lux Libera and Pump.
Dr. Steve Lundy, Department of Classics, University of Texas helped with the translation of Lux Libera.
For Eva’s ability to travel between dimensions, I took inspiration from String Theory. Real physicists will scoff, but that’s why my book is science fiction.
Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. New York : W.W. Norton, 2003.
Greene, Brian. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
Living in Central Texas, the details of Anglo society were the easiest to research, and some I just knew from growing up here. Versions of both Jim’s small cabin and the McMullen’s larger house can be seen at the living history museums listed below. Several of the Anglo names can be found on Austin’s Old Three Hundred roster, including Pumphrey Brunet.
I think the most enlightening factoid I learned while researching this book was exactly how lucrative the cotton business was based on how much a single man could be expected to pick in a day, how many pounds an acre could yield on average, and the price of cotton. Jim earned $230 from his measly harvest in 1835. Think about that for a little bit, what that kind of money meant at that time, and one begins to have a sick understanding of the greed-induced ruthlessness and moral equivocation regarding the use of slavery to maximize mind-boggling profits.
San Felipe’s residents start panicking ahead of the Runaway Scrape a little earlier in Jim’s timeline than they did in ours. Rumors started trickling in that the Alamo had fallen over March 15th and 16th, but the fact wasn’t confirmed until the 17th with the arrival of Houston’s aide-de-camp bringing the news, though the Runaway Scrape had already begun in towns south of San Felipe. Those who waited too long to evacuate lost their wagons to Houston. I’d like to thank Bryan McAuley, Site Manager at the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site for corresponding with me.
The dance Jim and Eva attend is a contra dance, and it’s a lot of fun.
Keer, Jeffrey. The Republic of Austin. Austin: Waterloo Press, 2010.
Moss, Helen. Life in a Log Cabin: On the Texas Frontier. Austin: Eakin Press, 1982.
Temin, Peter. “The Causes of Cotton-Price Fluctuations in the 1830’s.” The Review of Economics and Statistics 49, no. 4 (1967): 463-70. Accessed July 25, 2021. doi:10.2307/1928330.
Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms in Austin, TX. https://www.pioneerfarms.org/
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site in San Felipe, TX. https://www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/san-felipe-de-austin-state-historic-site
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site in Washington, TX. https://www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/washington-brazos-state-historic-site
Land Grants and Political Divisions, 1821-1836. https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/atlas_texas/texas_land_grants.jpg
Association, T. A. A. D. (n.d.). Traditional Austin Area Dance Association. TAADA. https://www.taada.us/.
Texas State History Society Handbook of Texas website: https://www.tshaonline.org/home
Originally, Eva was the only protagonist, but when she met Jim, he insisted he wasn’t Anglo. He also would not shut up about it or let me sleep until I recorded his own point of view.
I’d like to thank Prof. Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez at Texas State University for his correspondence, advice, and willingness to have a zoom call to answer my many questions. He specializes in Comanche captivity and generously shared two excellent articles with me.
I also relied upon Scott Zesch’s The Captured, and Clinton Smith’s and Rachel Plummer’s narratives. Most of Jim’s experiences (both while living as a Comanche and being forcibly returned to Anglo society) can be found whole cloth, or as echoes, in the true life experiences of Rachel Plummer, Clinton Smith, Adolf Korn, Banc Babb, Dot Babb, Temple Friend, Minnie Caudle, Herman Lehmann (first taken as an Apache captive who then ran away to the Comanche), and (my favorite) Rudolph Fischer.
Of the nine, only Rudolph Fischer was able to return to his Nʉmʉ wives after being reunited with his German family. He lived out the rest of his days on the reservation as Quanah Parker’s right-hand man. Adolf Korn, who survived breaking his leg, crawling from camp to camp, and hiding from his master while he healed, never did readjust to life among the whites and died a hermit in a cave near Mason, TX.
I took only one poetic license with Jim’s story. While it is plausible Kiyu could have sold Jim to the mission, it is not probable. But that’s the fun of fiction and alternate timelines. A woman or a child would be sold by their owner for ransom (and that’s sometimes why they were taken in the first place), but a fully-integrated warrior would not have been. Such a man was no longer owned by anyone. Though a former captive might have to fight harder for status than a full-blood Comanche, they were not second-class citizens and someone selling a free man would have been committing a heinous crime akin to murder.
It is also unlikely the mission would have been interested in buying a non-Catholic Anglo, and Jim’s family wasn’t around to lobby the government for his return. It was only during the transition to the reservation period that all captives and fully-integrated former captives were forced to return to their birth families by the US government. Prior to that, over the decades, some Peneteka chiefs worked towards ending the taking of captives and helped those they could to return to their birth families. Other individual captives were hunted down by Texas Rangers and rescued, though not all were thankful for it, such as in the tragic case of Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter Topʉ̠sana.
Smith, Clinton L., with Hunter, J. Marvin. The Boy Captives. 23rd ed. Distributed by Allen and Beth Smith, Campwood, TX, 2018.
Zesch, Scott. The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.
Full text of “Rachel Plummer narrative; a stirring narrative of adventure, hardship and privation in the early days of Texas, depicting struggles with the Indians and other adventures.” Accessed July 15, 2021. https://archive.org/stream/rachelplummernar00park/rachelplummernar00park_djvu.txt.
Rivaya-Martínez, Joaquín. “Becoming Comanches: Patterns of Captive Incorporation into Comanche Kinship Networks, 1820-1875.” In On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the Intercultural American Southwest, edited by David Adams and Crista DeLuzio, 47-70. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2012.
Rivaya-Martínez, Joaquín. “The Captivity of Macario Leal: A Tejano among the Comanches, 1847-1854.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 117, no. 4 (April 2014): 372-402.
I’d like to thank Hawana Hʉwʉni, an enrolled Comanche tribal member, for her careful reading of my manuscript not once, but twice. She was my first beta reader. Her feedback alerted me to things I needed to double and triple check, and she gave me valuable insight into a Comanche woman’s perspective. Some of Ohayaa’s, Rʉtsima’s, or Jim’s words are hers.
I’d also like to thank Carney Saupitty, Jr., Cultural Specialist at the Comanche Museum and Cultural Center in Lawton, OK. He patiently answered all of my questions over a series of phone calls, emails, and an hours-long in-person interview, including allowing me to bring my horse bow and teaching me how to shoot Comanche-style.
I am indebted to both Mr. Saupitty and Ms. Hawana Hʉwʉni for the time they spent with me.
I should also mention, in 2012 when I was writing a 4th grade curriculum for Texas history, Jimmy W. Arterberry and Tomah E. Yeahquo, who were working for the Comanche Nation at the time, recommended two of my main sources to me.
Wallace and Hoebel’s book (listed below) is considered the gold standard by the museum in Lawton, but it is not without its recognized flaws. The pre-reservation Comanches left no written records, and the Santa Fe laboratory study, upon which their book is based, didn’t take place until 1933 and was conducted by researchers of European-descent. Much of pre-reservation life was fading in memories by that time, and members of only a few of the bands were interviewed, so it’s not an exhaustively representative collection of information. Additionally, the informants were only speaking from their own experience, their own particular family, and their own particular band with their own unique taboos and customs.
To this day, the Comanche Nation is made up of individuals and individual families with their own family lore and traditions under the umbrella of what it means to be Comanche. Enrolled members may read my book and not recognize themselves or their family history in it. I humbly beg for their grace. At all times and to the best of my ability, I aligned my narrative, even to the smallest detail, with the Comanche Museum’s research, narrative, exhibit collection, and recommended sources. The official narrative is that the Comanches were a patriarchy (though other modern Comanches may disagree). They were also highly individualistic, which opened up space for my female characters to have a range of experiences along a continuum of more or less autonomy while still functioning within a patriarchy.
One criticism leveled against Wallace and Hoebel is that they misquoted their informants. For this reason, Comanche Ethnography became the most important source for me. It is simply the unedited field notes from the 1933 Santa Fe Laboratory study, and it is a thick, doorstop of a book. It was fascinating to read the source material for the Wallace and Hoebel book. Each informant’s voice shines through unblended, direct, and sometimes contradictory amongst themselves, and Kavanaugh does a great job of footnoting the instances where the Wallace and Hoebel book in turn contradicts the informants’ original interviews.
My second favorite source was the Life of Ten Bears. This is a collection of oral histories collected by Ten Bear’s great-great-grandson, Francis Joseph “Joe A” Attocknie. These are not “myths,” but true historical tales; actual deeds done by real people. Reading these versions of tales I had already read in other sources felt more like sitting around someone’s kitchen table and an uncle saying, “Did you hear about the time…?” They are rich with a unique voice and full of humor.
Being Comanche: A Social History of an American Indian Community shed light on the importance of language within the broader Comanche community, and we know from captive narratives that an individual wasn’t accepted until they could speak like a Person. Language is what turned a captive into a Comanche. I’d like to thank Kathryn Briner of the Comanche Nation Language Department for her help in making my translations as accurate as I possibly could.
Readers of both these sources will recognize my characters quoting directly from informants and the oral histories, such as “Onawia Takes A New Wife and Goes to Mexico.”
The coup story Parʉhya Kuma̠ tells is from Texas Indian Myths, titled “Comanche Boy.”
Topʉ̠sana’s parka and other items can be found in the Comanche collection at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
I spent the most time reworking passages on the practice of wife-sharing. Both Ms. Hawana Hʉwʉni and Mr. Saupitty have collective family memories of it being consensual, while the informants from the 1933 study describe something less so. As with every other theme in my novel, I wanted to explore the nuances. How could both be true?
For caught wives, it certainly was not consensual, though it’s easy to imagine the chief wives having a lot of autonomy regarding who they chose to sleep with, and we know they often dictated which of their sister wives got to sleep with their husband and when. But what about the grayer areas for women of lesser status? All born Nʉmʉ women would have had an unconscious bias towards polyandrous/sororal marriages, just as modern American women have been born into a culture where monogamy is the norm. The line between consent and expectation would blur for those women in the middle of that power dynamic. As the wife of a principled, status-conscious, anxious-to-please former captive who has enjoyed his brothers’ generosity many times in the past and is ranked lowest in their immediate family, Eva falls squarely in the gray middle. Plus, Jim got himself into a bit of a pickle with another former captive, Kuhtu, by disregarding established etiquette. Rʉtsima wouldn’t have made that mistake.
I worked from four main sources approved by the Comanche Museum and Cultural Center:
Attocknie, Francis Joseph. The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives. Edited by Thomas W. Kavanagh. Lincoln ; London: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
Foster, Morris W. Being Comanche: A Social History of an American Indian Community. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1991.
Kavanagh, Thomas W., E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert Harry Lowie. Comanche Ethnography: Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert H. Lowie. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
Wallace, Ernest and Hoebel, E. Adamson. The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.
Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee, compiled. Taa Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ̠ʔha Tʉboopʉ̠ (Our Comanche Dictionary). Lawton, OK: Comanche Language Department, 2017.
Wistrand-Robinson, Lila, and James Armagost. Comanche Dictionary and Grammar. Second ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International Publications, 2012.
“Search for a Word in the Comanche Language Dictionary.” Comanche Dictionary. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://www.webonary.org/comanche/.
Indigenous Languages Digital Archive: Comanche Nation. Ilda Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://mc.miamioh.edu/ilda-comanche/dictionary/entries/6
Archer, Jane. Texas Indian Myths and Legends. Lanham: Republic of Texas Press, 2000.
Gelo, Daniel J. and Pate, Wayne J. Texas Indian Trails. Lanham: Republic of Texas Press, 2003.
Houser, Steve; Pelon, Linda; and Arterberry, Jimmy W. Comanche Marker Trees of Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2016.
Wistrand-Robinson, Lila and Armagost, James. Comanche Dictionary and Grammar. 2nd ed. Dallas: SIL International Publications, 2012.
“Collections Search: National Museum of the American Indian.” Collections Search | National Museum of the American Indian. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://americanindian.si.edu/explore/collections/search.
The Tonkawas call themselves “Tickanwa-tic,” which means “real people.” The history of Anglo-Tonkawa relations is a complex one. Dunlay called it “cooperation and battlefield comradeship…always interwoven with mutual suspicion and fear and with contempt on the part of many whites.” Both communities relied on each other for survival, and those who worked closely, particularly frontiersmen and Texas Rangers, with individual Tonkawa warriors considered them to be friends.
By 1835, on the plains, the Tonkawas were pariah among the other nomadic tribes, not only for their alleged cannibalism, but also for their alliance with the Anglos. All friendly “reservation Indians” were driven from Texas in 1859, including the Tonkawas. They were settled near their traditional enemies in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), and on October 23, 1862, a group of Comanche, Delaware, Shawnee, Wichita, Caddo, and other tribes attacked the Tonkawas, massacring all but about 150 individuals.
Readers may object to Jim’s and my Comanche character’s attitudes towards the Tonkawas, but it is historically accurate. Additionally, of all the Anglo sins against the Native peoples of Texas, their mistreatment and betrayal of the Tonkawas has to rank at the top of the list. It’s an understatement to say that the Tonkawas got a raw deal from everyone and deserve to be remembered for their bravery and friendship.
Dunlay, Thomas W., “Friends And Allies: The Tonkawa Indians And The Anglo-Americans, 1823-1884” (1981). Great Plains Quarterly. 1904. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/greatplainsquarterly/1904
“Placido (Unknown–1862).” TSHA. Accessed February 28, 2022. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/placido.
“Tonkawa Indians.” TSHA. Accessed February 28, 2022. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/tonkawa-indians.
“The Tonkawa Tribe Official Website!” The Tonkawa Tribe Official Website! Accessed February 28, 2022. http://www.tonkawatribe.com/.
The Guardian sect of T’ibek’a is based off the real guardian of the Ark of the Covenant in Aksum, Ethiopia, and the churches of Lalibela, a world wonder. I’d like to thank my dear friend, Ezana Haile, for helping me with the Amharic translations.
When Kidisti places the food in Eva’s mouth, she is offering garusha, an act of love, honor, and respect with many social layers and nuanced meanings. To offer garusha to an enemy shows great compassion and opens a door for forgiveness and redemption.
Battle of Coleto Creek & the Goliad Massacre
The seed of this book came from learning about the Angel of Goliad while my 7th grader studied Texas history and we visited the museum at Presidio-La Bahía in Goliad, TX. Her story deserves to be better known.
There is very little information about the Goliad Massacre, and I relied heavily on Jay A. Stout’s book Slaughter at Goliad: The Mexican Massacre of 400 Texas Volunteers. I’d also like to thank him for my favorite email exchange while researching this book.
The Sons of DeWitt Colony website proved to be an amazing treasure trove of primary sources and is considered by the museum at Presidio-La Bahía to be a credible source of information.
I’d also like to thank Scott McMahon, Director Presidio-La Bahía for corresponding with me on a couple of questions.
Though Will and Daniel are fictional characters, everyone else at Goliad was a real person. Ehrenberg survived the firing squad and wrote some of our best accounts of that day. Hunter feigned death, but was discovered, bayoneted, and left for dead during the looting. After night fell, he crawled to the San Antonio River to hide. If you want to know the rest of his story, you’ll have to read Jay’s book. Unfortunately, most of the Greys, including West and Noah, were killed, though Spanish-speaking Spohn was spared execution at the last minute because someone noticed he had gotten in line to march.
Francisca went on to save more Texians and provided materially for their aid and comfort. When she returned to Mexico City, Telesforo abandoned her, penniless. No one really knows her true name, but she should be remembered for her great compassion and relentless courage.
Gary Brown. Volunteers in the Texas Revolution: The New Orleans Greys. Plano: Wordware Publishing, 1999.
Ornish, Natalie. Ehrenberg: Goliad Survivor, Old West Explorer : a Biography, With the First Complete Scholarly Translation of The Fight for Freedom in Texas in the Year 1836. Dallas : Texas Heritage Press, 1997.
Stout, Jay A. Slaughter at Goliad: The Mexican Massacre of 400 Texas Volunteers. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008.
“Map of Fannin’s Fight, March 19, 1836.” Map of Fannin’s Fight, March 19, 1836 | Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/goliad/fannin-map1.html.
Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas. Accessed July 15, 2021. http://www.sonsofdewittcolony.org/.
Corrie ten Boom was a real person during the Holocaust, and another person who chose compassion in the face of horror. Her memoir made a huge impression on me in middle school.
Boom, ten Corrie. The Hiding Place. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2015.
Everything I know about horse archery I learned from my buddy and competitive horse archer (and now kok-boru player) Mike Sabo. I miss riding and shooting with him as much as I miss his horses Joker (aka Nʉena) and Miss Buttons.
I’d also like to thank Mihai Cozmei, a world record setting horse archer, for double-checking my arrow count on how many arrows a great horse archer could release during a shooting contest.
The Saltwater Tribes may or may not have been real. My middle son’s U.S. history professor mentioned them in passing during one of his lectures, but could not point to a source when further questioned. Whether or not they were real in this timeline, I’ve made them real in Jim’s. I was also inspired by the podcast, Seizing Freedom. It was important to me that the enslaved characters in my book rescued themselves. Jim just pointed them in the right direction.
Williams, Kidada E. Seizing Freedom. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://www.seizingfreedom.com/.
Carney C. Saupitty Jr. Tahquinterup
Jean M. Roberts