Did You Know...
Did You Know…
That General Custer finished 37th out of 37 in his West Point graduating class?
I spent several hours at Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, North Dakota. Part of the tour took us through the location and an exact replica of the home that Mr. and Mrs. Custer lived in, just before Custer was killed. The reason the house itself is no longer standing is that wood is scarce in North Dakota. When the fort closed, the local people stripped it down to the ground, taking doors, windows, and boards to build their own homes.
Many of their original pieces of furniture and photographs are in the replica, however. To see the state park, the house, and the furnishing, go to the Photo Gallery and look in North Dakota– Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
I learned many things about General and Mrs. Custer. For example, they loved birds and had them throughout their home. I learned that they liked to have their pictures made with their servants. Several pictures of General and Mrs. Custer and their servants are hanging in their home.
Mrs. Custer had the right idea about kitchens. She never went in one. When she gave directions to the cook, she stood at the entranceway to talk to her.
Since houses were taxed by each enclosed space, the house only had one closet. The trunks in the closet held approximately two outfits each for Mrs Custer because of all the pieces of clothing society dictated she wear. When she finished dressing, she would have added about 40 pounds to her body weight. Even with servants, it took her an hour and a half to get dressed each day. Women without servants took about 3 hours to dress. And men complain about how long it takes modern women to get dressed.
The basement of the home is original. While I couldn’t go down, I leaned over and took pictures which are on the website. Once, General Custer caught a wild cat and chained him up in the basement for 6 weeks. The cook had to go downstairs every day to get food. On one particular trip downstairs, the wild cat pounced on her. It scared her so badly that she took the steep stairs back up in three leaps, arriving safely back to the kitchen. General Custer eventually released the cat.
General Custer’s favorite cloth was black velvet. There were not standard uniforms for generals so each general designed his own. In one of the pictures, you can see the black velvet decorations on his sleeves. Eveningwear for women of the Custers’ time period was always black. In the photo gallery, you can also see a black velvet evening gown, draped across a bed.
On the night before General Custer left for the battle that took his life, he marched his troops up the hill (see picture on website) to spend the night. Mrs. Custer went with him and spent the night in his tent. Sadly, she never saw him alive again.
General Custer died, leaving his wife deeply in debt. Her debt was the equivalent to $500,000 in today’s economy. The military offered her no compensation and since General Custer’s brother, brother-in-law, and nephew were all killed in the same battle, she had to support his parents. She went to work as a secretary to a historical society, supplementing her income by writing books. Her most famous book was “Boots and Saddles.”
Mrs. Custer lived to age 91 and was always General Custer’s biggest fan. She and General Custer were deeply in love and it is said that he once wrote her a 40-page love letter. Mrs. Custer never remarried or had children.