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Subject: [CUSTER] General Custer's history in Monroe
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:43:03 EDT


General Custer's history in Monroe

Although he wasn't born in Monroe, Gen. George Armstrong Custer spent much of
his non-military life in Monroe after age 10.

In fact, he and his wife, a Monroe resident, considered Monroe home.

Born Dec. 5, 1839, in New Rumley, Ohio, Gen. Custer moved to Monroe as a boy
to live with his half-sister, Lydia Reed, and her husband, David. His future
wife, Elizabeth (Libbie) Bacon was the daughter of a prominent Monroe judge.

Custer distinguished himself in the Civil War, leading the Michigan Cavalry
Brigade to victory in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. He had taken command of
the brigade just days before the Gettysburg battle.
Later, vastly outnumbered, Gen. Custer and his men were killed in the 1876
Battle of Little Big Horn in what is now Montana. The defeat is commonly
referred to as "Custer's Last Stand."

Today, the Custer name is well documented throughout Monroe. There are roads:
Custer Ct., Custer St., Custer Dr., S. Custer Rd., N. Custer Rd.; schools:
Custer No. 1 and Custer No. 2 Elementary Schools; and businesses: Custer Beer
Co., Custer Auto and Residential Glass; Custer Antique; Custer Mobil Mart, to
name a few.

As for items for public viewing, the Monroe County Historical Museum has one
of the largest Gen. Custer displays.



Gen. Custer researchers and enthusists will find an extensive Custer family
tree located at the museum, along with artifacts from his childhood home in
New Rumley, including items like a well handle from the Custer home well, and
several foundation stones used for the house.

Other Custer momentos, like a baby dress, family relics such as a Bible,
binoculars he used during a battle, paintings and photographs are on display
in several museum cases.

Among the more popular items displayed are a walnut desk that was transported
with Gen. Custer during the war years and books from his own personal
library. A few years ago, the desk was sent to North Dakota so designers
could build an exact replica.

One of the first display items visitors see when walking into the room are
two stones, one of Gen. Custer, the other of his brother, Thomas. At one
time, the stones marked the place where the two members of the Custer family
fell in the Battle of Little Big Horn. They were replaced at the battle site
and given to the museum by the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument
organization.

The museum's display has changed greatly since the early 1980s when Custer
items were placed into a separate room.

Although most of the items have been in place since then, there have been
additions to the display, like a recently completed diorama.

The miniature battlefield is a display of one of Gen. Custer's most glorious
moments: when he charged his out-numbered Michigan Cavalry Brigade onto
victory at Gettysburg with the cry, "Come on, you Wolverines."

The 42-inch by 36-inch battlefield replica shows Gen. Custer leading 25 men
on horses.

Besides the displays, the museum is also home to hundreds of photographs not
on public display, but available for viewing by appointment. Custer
memorbilia is available for sale.

The Monroe County Historical Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven
days a week, from May 1 through Sept. 30 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Wednesday through Sunday from Oct. 1 to April 30. The phone number is (313)
243-7137.

Besides the items on display at the museum, here is a list of some of the
other important sites in Monroe that are related to Gen. Custer (for a
complete list, see the Monroe County Historical Museum):


The current home of the statue, "Sighting the Enemy," designed by sculptor
Edward Potter, is the third since it was first ereceted in 1910.
The statue first stood in the middle of the Washington St.-First St., it was
declared a traffic hazard and moved to Soldiers and Sailors Park, along the
River Raisin. It was relocated to the corner of S. Monroe St. and W. Elm Ave.
in 1955.
When placed in 1910, the statue was dedicated by Elizabeth Bacon Custer and
President William Howard Taft.


First Presbyterian Church was the church in which Elizabeth Bacon and George
Custer were married on Feb. 9, 1864.


Woodland Cemetery. Although Gen. Custer is not buried here, it is a popular
site for history buffs. Buried here are George's brother, Boston, and his
nephew, Harry Armstrong Reed. Both died at the Little Big Horn.

Also buried in the cemetery, located at the south end of Jerome St. in the
City of Monroe, are Gen. Custer's parents, his sister as well as the graves
of Elizabeth Bacon Custer's parents.


Bacon home. Now privately owned, the house once stood on the same property
where the museum is now located. Mrs. Custer was born and raised in the house
before it was moved to 703 Cass St. in 1911. Gen. Custer and his wife also
lived in the home in the late 1860s and was briefly the home for Mrs. Custer
after her husband's death.


Young Ladies' Seminary and Collegiate Institute. An historical marker is all
that is left of the seminary, which was once attended by Elizabeth Bacon and
Margaret Custer, George's sister. The seminary building had several uses,
including an elementary school, until it was torn down in 1971.

The seminary is where George Custer was first formally introduced to Miss
Bacon at a Thanksgiving party in November, 1862.


Dorsch Memorial Library. The George Armstrong Custer Collection, including
the Dr. Lawrence A. Frost Collection of Custeriana, can be viewed at this
downtown Monroe library, by appointment.

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