Civil War Photo Contest
Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
Here on Dec. 5, 1839, in a large, rambling frame farmhouse George Armstrong Custer was born to village blacksmith Emmanuel Custer and his new wife Maria, both of whom had been previously widowed prior to their marriage. Other siblings followed, including brothers Nevin, Thomas, and Boston and sister Margaret; as well as older half-siblings like Lydia Ann Kirkpatrick. Armstrong or "Autie" as he was called by the family, was always headstrong and became the leader of his younger siblings; indeed, Tom would accompany him to the Civil War, winning TWO Medals of Honor in the process, and both Tom and Boston would die with him on Custer Hill, along with nephew Armstrong "Autie" Reed, son of Lydia Ann, and brother-in-law James "Jimmie" Calhoun, husband of Margaret. The lot the farmhouse once stood on is now the site of the small Ohio State Park, called Custer State Memorial. There is an informational kiosk, flagpoles displaying the U.S. and Custer's own personal flag, and a statue of Custer as Major General in the Civil War.
The rather unimposing statue MAY be the original or a copy that once stood overlooking the Hudson River on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. If so, it wasn't any modern revisionist "political correctness" that caused its removal, though; instead it was the ire of Custer's long-lived widow Elizabeth Bacon "Libbie" Custer, who detested it! For over a half-century following the deaths of the Custer men at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876, she carefully protected his "image", both in writing and visually. Custer's remains were removed from the battlefield in 1877 to the military cemetery at West Point where Custer remained a revered national hero until after Libby's death in the 1930's. He only became "controversial" beginning in the cynical post-WWII years, likely after the creation of memorials like this one.
When I visited here in 1994, New Rumley remained a hamlet with only a scattering of farmhouses and other vacant lots like this where the Custer House once stood. The nearby brick Lutheran Church is said to have been where the family worshiped and the adjoining cemetery contains the graves of some family members. The Custers are thought to have been of Dutch or more likely German descent, and a rumor was current that the original immigrant to the U.S. had been a "Hessian" soldier during the American Revolution who remained!