Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


The George Armstrong Custer Collection of the
Monroe County Library System

Custer in the News
In Monroe County and throughout the United States

Magazine Features Humor of Custer

Monroe Evening News, Feb. 18, 1978, pg. 8A

An unusual autograph book provides an opportunity to peek into the private life of George A. Custer in the winter issue of Chronicle, the feature magazine of the Historical Society of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Back Page, a regular chronicle presentation of anecdotes from Michigan's past, takes a look at "A Bit of Custer's Humor". This month's account is provided by Gordon L. Olson, assistant director of the Grand Rapids Public Museum and a trustee of the Historical Society of Michigan.

Two pictures of Monroe also are used in the magazine to illustrate a story about small-town life in Michigan.

Born in Ohio, Custer moved to Monroe and married a local girl, Elizabeth (Libbie) Bacon. Libbie's cousin, Rebecca Richmond of Grand Rapids, kept an autograph book in which she asked Custer to write. It was not an ordinary autograph book in that each person who wrote in it was asked to answer 40 questions. Many of Custer's responses are included in the article.

His comments offer a unique view of a playful soldier, then 31 and a lieutenant colonel in the Army. A few examples of his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor can be seen in these answers: favorite object in nature - "Mrs. C's chignon used as a crow's nest;" favorite time of day - "Immediately after the second bell rings for dinner;" and the saddest words his ears could hear - "Reveille at 4 o.clock".

When asked his favorite style of beauty, his immediate response was "Blonde (a la Lydia Thompson)". Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes toured the United States in 1869-1870 and obviously made a lasting impression on Custer.

As he finished his comments, the twinge of uncertainty which accompanies most soldiers crept through. He admitted that his greatest fear was "The battlefield". And, to a final question about his aims in life, he responded "To avoid death". He was to die at the Battle of the Little Big Horn six years later.

The autograph is now part of the Richmond collection at the Grand Rapids Public Library.

The Chronicle is the quarterly publication of the Historical Society of Michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes the preservation of state and local history throughout Michigan.

Monroe Evening News, Feb. 18, 1978, pg. 8A

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