Sunday, November 18, 2012

Civil War Sunday - The Mystery of George Armstrong Custer's Son

Did I know a descendent of General George Armstrong Custer, a Civil War general before he went on to fame (and death) fighting Native Americans and dying at Little Big Horn? (I know, technically this happened after the Civil War, but Custer did fight in that war, and achieved the rank of Major General.)

I am reading a wonderful book on Custer, written by Larry McMurtry (who also wrote the Lonesome Dove series and The Last Picture Show, among many other books).  So far I love the book because it has a lot of historical pictures and drawings.  I am a visual learner, and having pictures in a book greatly enhances my experience.

I knew that, officially, George Custer had no children (from his marriage to his wife, Libbie, who was only 35 when she was widowed.)  But, as McMurtry's book discusses, it is possible Custer may have had a child with a Cheyenne captive in his custody. The boy, Yellow Swallow, has been lost to history according to McMurtry, but I have also read about oral legend that the boy, with other Cheyenne, ended up in Montana after the battle of Punished Woman Fork in Kansas.

Now fast forward to 1977.

In 1977, when we lived in Wichita, spouse and I befriended a couple.  The man, whose last name was Evans, once claimed to be a descendent of Custer.  (of course this could be bad memory on my part but it stuck because his wife had native American blood, and the irony wasn't lost on me.).  

We met his wife back when my spouse was in the Air Force and we arrived at McConnell Air Force base in Wichita, KS to start a 3 year tour of duty. His wife worked at the base housing office, which is actually how we met.  (it was like an instant "click" with me and her.)  This man was not a braggart by any means.  He was a very talented magician and artist.  I still have two paintings he gave me, too and they have his name on them.

Several months after we met, he got a job in Hannibal, MO with the Boy Scouts, and he and his wife moved.  At this point his wife was very pregnant with their first child.  We had no address for them, they never wrote us, and we have never had any contact since.

I once tried to do an Internet search for him.  Came up empty.  Well, there actually is someone with a little bit of fame with the same name, but it isn't him.  That person is too young.

So, I do not know if my "mystery man", a man I haven't seen since 1977, could possibly have been a descendent of Yellow Swallow.  In the years that I lived in Kansas, I found that a lot of "white people" had varying degrees of Native American blood, and were very proud of their heritage.  For now, I must consider this a mystery.

And wouldn't it be amazing if the person I knew as an unborn baby read this blog and could tell me more about what happened to his parents.  I so hope their lives were (and are) happy.

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