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October 22, 2013

YOUR FAMILY: Savagery on Savage Creek


The Savage children’s adjustment back to White society is typical of many of the captivity narratives found by historians of the frontier west. In 1886, after surrender negotiations with Geronimo in Mexico failed to apprehend the renegade Apache, a captive boy named Santiago McKinn was turned over to the U.S. Army at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory.

A correspondent for the Los Angeles Times reporting on the Geronimo campaign noted the boy’s emotional reaction to being taken away from his Apache captors: “He has had to share their long marches, their scanty and uninviting fare, and all the hardships of such a life … but he has not been maltreated. The Apaches are kind to their children, and are kind to him. The sorrow of it is that he has become so absolutely Indianized … When told that he was to be taken back to his father and mother, Santiago began boo-hooing with great vigor. He said in Apache – for the little rascal has already become rather fluent in that language – that he didn’t want to go back, he wanted always to stay with the Indians.”

The boys, apparently hesitant to discard their Comanche trappings, took months before feeling socially comfortable in the company of friends and family. The brothers, James and Sam, lived well into the 20th century. After marrying Arizona Pierce in 1881, Sam Savage reunited with his rescuer, John Fields, in Dallas in 1911 and was later hailed as a champion fiddle player. Sam Savage died in 1951 at the age of 90 and is buried at Staggs Prairie Cemetery in Palo Pinto County.


A Fate Worse Than Death: Indian Captivities in the West, 1830-1885 by Gregory Michno (Caxton Press, 2007).

A Cry Unheard: Indian Attacks In and Around Parker County, Texas 1858-1872 by Doyle Marshall (Annetta Valley Farm Press, 1990).

Dateline Fort Bowie: Charles Fletcher Lummis Reports on the Apache War by Charles F. Lummis, ed. Dan L. Thrapp (University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1979).

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