General Discussion -  Did someone survive The Last Stand? (133 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
 
From: Cherokee21 DelphiPlus Member Icon4/14/10 11:02 AM 
To: All  (1 of 8) 
 2593.1 

Scouts find mystery in Carlinville cemetery
Photos

A marker on Mary Personeus’ grave in Carlinville identifies her as “Survivor Gen. Custer’s Massacre.” Photo courtesy of Dr. John Lapp.

By DAVE BAKKE (dave.bakke@sj-r.com)
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Posted Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:30 PM
Last update Apr 14, 2010 @ 06:29 AM
It had been nagging at me since Dr. John Lapp, a Carlinville optometrist, called to tell me about the strange grave marker he found in Mayfield Cemetery in Carlinville.

Lapp and some Boy Scouts were putting flags on graves at Mayfield when he saw this particular grave. He wasn’t sure that he believed his own eyes, so he called a few Scouts over. They saw the same thing.

“It’s a woman’s grave,” John said. “And below her name and dates of birth and death, it says ‘Survivor, Custer’s Last Stand.’”

How is that possible? History holds that the sole survivor of the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn was a horse named Comanche. Disney made a movie about it. An Indian scout named Curly is said to have left Custer’s forces before the battle and can’t technically be called a survivor of the battle. Everyone else was killed.

I asked a few other people what they thought. The only plausible explanation was that the woman buried in Carlinville was a member of the Sioux tribe. But she wasn’t.

She was Mary Personeus. She was born in 1845 in France. She died in 1931 in Carlinville. The exact wording on her gravestone is “Survivor, Gen. Custer’s Massacre.”

The Battle of The Little Big Horn was in 1876. She would have been 31.

I called Josephine Remling, longtime Macoupin County historian. She had never heard of this, even though the county historical society had previously indexed every grave in Mayfield Cemetery. She, like John and like me, was intrigued and baffled.

“Here I am an old lady,” Josephine said, “but I’m almost tempted to be out there walking and looking. I would like to see that stone.”

Josephine referred me to Dorothy Etter. Dorothy and her sister Mary do genealogy work for the historical society. I talked to Dorothy and promptly added one more name to the “intrigued and baffled” list. We started researching independently.

The best thing I discovered was entered in the Congressional Record. Mary had petitioned Congress for a federal pension. The record of the U.S. Senate for May 13, 1890, details that her first husband, William B. Crisfield, was in the Seventh Cavalry and was killed with Custer. (Lists of the dead verify that Crisfield was there.)

But her second husband, Martin Personeus, was also in the Seventh Cavalry and in the same outfit (Company L) as Crisfield. They were married a few months after Custer’s battle.

Military records Dorothy found show that Personeus enlisted in 1861 (he fought at Gettysburg) and joined the Seventh Cavalry in 1866. In 1872, four years before Custer died, Personeus was in South Carolina. He was discharged from the Army in 1877, less than a year after The Battle of Little Big Horn.

By 1886, according to the Congressional Record, Personeus was in the state mental facility in Jacksonville. “Personeus is now incurably insane,” reads the Senate record. Before his mental condition deteriorated too far, however, he had instituted paperwork for a federal pension, claiming his military service caused his decline. He died on Christmas Eve, 1889.

The House and Senate both agreed and voted to award a pension to Mary Personeus and her children, or as the official record has it, “the fruit of said marriage.”

But Dorothy Etter did much better than I did. This is where the story gets very, very intriguing.

Dorothy found Mary’s obituary from the Macoupin County Enquirer of February 1931. Mary was 86 at the time of her death. She had lived in Macoupin County for 47 years dating back to 1884. And then there is this:

“During the Civil War,” says her obituary, “she was a cook for Gen. Custer. Her first husband, William Crisfield, also a member of Gen. Custer’s force, was killed in the Custer massacre. She married a second time, to Martin Personeus, who was also a member of Gen. Custer’s forces but “escaped at the time of the massacre.” The italics are mine.

If Martin Personeus escaped from the Little Big Horn slaughter, we would have a scoop of major historical proportions. But where does that information come from? Historians believe none of Custer’s soldiers survived.

The Web Site littlebighorninfo.com, which is maintained by the Little Bighorn History Alliance, confirms that Personeus served in ill-fated Company L, but says of his role during the battle: “Not present, detached service.” No further explanation is given.

Was Personeus’ mental state perhaps responsible for his claim, if he ever really said it at all?

Quite a few people subsequently claimed to have survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn for one reason or another. There have been books written about some of those people, but their stories are dismissed as either being the beer talking or idle boasting.

As for Mary Personeus, she definitely knew Custer and probably met both of her husbands while cooking for the Seventh Cavalry. Her obituary, however, says only that she served as Custer’s cook in the Civil War, which was 12-15 years before the Little Big Horn. Why she is memorialized on her grave as a survivor of the massacre is unknown.

Members of the family have scattered — there is no Personeus living in Illinois, according to my Internet search. But, as often happens, there is probably a family member living here or elsewhere in the country who might be able to shed some more light on what is an interesting mystery.

If someone surfaces and has some good information, I’ll follow up on the strange case of The Custer Massacre Survivor.

Everybody has a story. The problem is that some of them are boring. If yours is not, contact Dave Bakke at 788-1541 or dave.bakke@sj-r.com. His column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. To read more, visit www.sj-r.com/bakke.

Copyright 2010 The State Journal-Register. Some rights reserved

http://www.sj-r.com/bakke/x1661783355/Dave-Bakke-Scouts-find-Custers-Last-Stand-mystery-in-Carlinville-cemetery

 
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From: Cloud (CloudRider1) DelphiPlus Member Icon4/25/10 9:09 AM 
To: Cherokee21 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (2 of 8) 
 2593.2 in reply to 2593.1 

wow I would really like to hear any follow ups on this story... it seems that a while back there was some documentary that stated that many of Custer soldiers ran away from the fight by evidences of where they firearms were found, of course Hollywoods version is really a farce.. and should not believed

I love to rattle the bones and have dug up many interesting facts about my family tree and all its many branches



PTSD and Me               The Hunting Club


OSIYO...YIGAQUU OSANIYU ADANVTO
ADADOLIGI NIGOHILVI NASQUV
UTLOYASDI NIHI
DONADAGOHVI
 
 
"The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration." - Pearl
 
Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you. If you can only remember me with tears, then don't remember me at all....
 

I am a Mind Travler......Free to wander where I will......To touch with adult sophistication the COMPLEXITIES of other worlds......Come.... SHARE with me......... 
 

 
From: ctj20104/25/10 3:38 PM 
To: Cloud (CloudRider1) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (3 of 8) 
 2593.3 in reply to 2593.2 

First of all:

Given the era, of course whatever came out of Hollywood at the time was meant to boost the personae of the performers, etc., i. e., so the casting of Errol Flynn--as Custer--lol-- was a no brainer/the pic melodrama as a given, etc.

It was meant for mass (white public) consumption...

It was the light stuff...

So do tell me about the heavy drama/and the real story!

Thanks!

FYI...

  • Edited 4/25/2010 3:39 pm ET by ctj2010
 

 
From: Cloud (CloudRider1) DelphiPlus Member Icon4/26/10 2:59 AM 
To: ctj2010  (4 of 8) 
 2593.4 in reply to 2593.3 

heavy drama? that is not something you will ever get in past history books, movies etc.

however somewhere in the back of one of my computer chips of a brain I seem to have heard an account from the winning side of that battle, one that families handed down

I will try and follow thru on looking that up again...



PTSD and Me               The Hunting Club


OSIYO...YIGAQUU OSANIYU ADANVTO
ADADOLIGI NIGOHILVI NASQUV
UTLOYASDI NIHI
DONADAGOHVI
 
 
"The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration." - Pearl
 
Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you. If you can only remember me with tears, then don't remember me at all....
 

I am a Mind Travler......Free to wander where I will......To touch with adult sophistication the COMPLEXITIES of other worlds......Come.... SHARE with me......... 
 

 
From: ctj20104/27/10 4:18 PM 
To: Cloud (CloudRider1) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (5 of 8) 
 2593.5 in reply to 2593.4 

Good afternoon,  indian sis...

And,  it is good that we can reexamine the facts,  candidly/honestly/fairly/objectively...

But,  let us also remember,  and not that far back,  when those of us labelled 'minorities'  weren't all that proud of who we were or were about,  more like--regressed and retreated back to,   i. e.,   when the white powers that be reacted to what when on/down/etc.,   by the way of resistance etc.,  before and after the events of the Battle of the Greasy Grass had more or less been forgotten by most people,   though not all people...

Such as that so called 'battle'  at wounded knee (not the standoff which came long after it during our lifetimes)?

It was nothing of the sort!

Damn white congressmen added insult to injury,  by awarding those 'heroes'  (butchers) with congressional medals of honor!!

Obviously something else today's congress should take back!!!

Now flashforward and what do today's younger (or not so younger) generations remember about AIM's stands either?

So some disappointment/no 'suprise'  about 'skins' and being down with 'the rez'...

Full circle--again--sis-!

Some things others just don't forget:

Some things we better damn sure remember!

Another FYI for public consumption by all of my and our relations...

Take care...

Peace...

 



Edited 4/27/2010 4:22 pm ET by ctj2010
  • Edited 4/27/2010 4:23 pm ET by ctj2010
 

 
From: Coconut Queen (JEANNE2469) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/13/11 12:18 AM 
To: Cherokee21 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (6 of 8) 
 2593.6 in reply to 2593.1 

Did  you ever find out anything more?  I love history's mysteries!

Jeanne

 

 
From: Cherokee21 DelphiPlus Member Icon12/6/11 11:13 PM 
To: Coconut Queen (JEANNE2469) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (7 of 8) 
 2593.7 in reply to 2593.6 
hey jeanne,
never foud out anything more,
tim
 

 
From: Coconut Queen (JEANNE2469) DelphiPlus Member Icon12/10/11 1:03 PM 
To: Cherokee21 DelphiPlus Member Icon unread  (8 of 8) 
 2593.8 in reply to 2593.7 

Darn.  I've done alot of genealogy research.  Maybe I'll see if I can find out anything about her.

Jeanne

 

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