Lehmann, Herman (1859–1932)

By: A. C. Greene

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 24, 2020

Herman Lehmann, child captive of the Apaches, son of Moritz (Maurice) and Augusta Johanna (Adams) Lehmann, German immigrants, was born on June 5, 1859, near Loyal Valley in southeastern Mason County. His parents were married in Texas in 1849; after his father died in 1864 his mother married Philipp Buchmeier (Buchmeyer) in 1866. In May 1870, when he had never been to school and spoke only German, Herman, almost eleven, and a younger brother, Willie, were captured by raiding Apaches; two younger sisters who were with them were not taken.

Willie escaped and returned home in about nine days. Herman was adopted by his Apache captor, Carnoviste, and initiated into the rigors of primitive Indian life. He underwent harsh tribal training and initiation, became a warrior, and took part in expeditions against the Texas Rangers, Comanches, Mexicans, and White settlers, ranging with the tribe from the Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico down into the Mason County-San Saba region and into Mexico. After Carnoviste was killed and Lehmann himself had killed an Apache medicine man, he spent a year alone on the plains of West Texas before joining the Comanches, to whom he was known as Montechena (Montechina); he had also been called at various times En Da and Alamán. With the Comanches he fought the Tonkawas and United States Cavalry, and he again took part in Indian raids. He was with the last Quahadi remnant that joined the reservation at Fort Sill. He was adopted by Quanah Parker but was ultimately recognized as a White captive and forced to return in May 1878 to his Texas family, who had thought him dead for the eight years he lived with the Indians.

At home he refused to eat pork or sleep in a bed, and he embarrassed his family by sometimes appearing before his mother's hotel guests with his body painted, dressed only in leggings, breech clout, and feathers. He startled a revival meeting with an Indian dance, thinking the congregation was praying for rain. His brother Willie kept him from killing the neighbors' calves and hogs and from stealing horses from adjoining farms. He relearned German, learned English, engaged in numerous odd jobs, tried for a single day to attend school, and worked as a trail driver. Although he never adjusted to White society fully, Herman did accept his role in the Loyal Valley community, and his easygoing nature and good humor seem to have made him many friends. After an unhappy earlier marriage ended in divorce, he married Miss Fannie Light in 1890, and the couple had two sons and three daughters. Later, as a Comanche, he was given Oklahoma lands by the United States government, and he spent much of his time with his red brothers.

He was a local celebrity throughout the Texas Hill Country, where he gave many public exhibitions of skill at riding, roping, and archery. In later years he met many of the Texas Rangers and soldiers he had fought against as an Indian. He died on February 2, 1932, and was buried in Loyal Valley. See also INDIAN CAPTIVES.

Chester William and Ethel Hander Geue, eds., A New Land Beckoned: German Immigration to Texas, 1844–1847 (Waco: Texian Press, 1966; enlarged ed. 1972). A. C. Greene, The Last Captive (Austin: Encino, 1972). Herman Lehmann, Nine Years among the Indians (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1927; 3d ed., A New Look at Nine Years with the Indians, San Antonio: Lebco Graphics, 1985).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Native American
  • Captives and Victims of Attack

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

A. C. Greene, “Lehmann, Herman,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/lehmann-herman.

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November 24, 2020