NEWS FROM THE CAGB - An E-newsletter


  • Monday, 6 August 2018
  • AN UNSUNG BRITISH HISTORIAN – In the Preface of his classic ground-breaking Men With Custer: Biographies of the 7th Cavalry, edited by Ronald H. Nichols and published by the CBHMA (1995), Kenneth Hammer rightly singles out Norman Walker of Newcastle, Wales* for the highest praise when he writes on p. vii “[Walker]… came up with new material and a great deal of patience in working on various questions about people involved in the Little Big Horn River Fight.” If anything that understates the vital, scholarly contribution Walker made to this volume which, despite its many short-comings, I still place at the very top of my all-time list of biographical works on the men who served in this famous regiment in June 1876. Others mentioned include Nancy Allan, Randall “Randy” Johnson, Brian Pohanka and Roger Williams. Hammer takes full responsibility for any errors, which he suspected would be many bearing in mind the dubious source, e.g. U.S. Army records, of much of the factual content. In short it is a book of reference, not a ‘Bible’, that along with its several successors should not be blindly quoted as fact without first verifying that it is so.
  • Note (*): Several years ago I inherited Norman Walker’s extensive research papers and correspondence which he exchanged not only with Kenneth Hammer but also with John Carroll, which makes for very interesting reading. Walker actually lived in Crosskeys, a small town close to Newport, South Wales, not ‘Newcastle, Wales,” which was a strange mistake for Hammer to make.  Walker was an active member of the English Westerners’ Society during the 1980s.
  • The extract below is taken from a typical 13-page foolscap letter from Walker to Hammer dated 24 February 1987.

Extract from a letter from Norman Walker, 31 Gladstone Street, Crosskeys, Newport, Gwent, South Wales, to Kenneth Hammer, dated 24 February 1987.

  • Friday, 1 June 2018
  • MEN WITH CUSTER UK CELEBRATES ITS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY by sharing two historically important photographs, the opinions expressed by John Doerner, a former Chief Historian at the battlefield, and some interesting notes on the elusive Irishman, Thomas Mullen, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry.


  • Both photographs were recently received at ‘Men With Custer UK’ from a direct descendant of Private Thomas Mullen, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry (?), having been previously be sent to the battlefield for a professional opinion, which is as follows: 
  • “Thank you for the opportunity to review your family photographs.  We also have original copies of both of your photographs, in the Elizabeth Bacon Custer Collection here at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Both of the photographs have been published. The tent view is actually Custer’s Headquarters Tent at the 7th Cavalry Camp/Bivouac near Big Creek, KS in the Spring of 1869, taken by W.J. Phillips of Preston, MO.  The tent just to the left of the tent fly is Custer’s Dining or Mess Tent.  Identifications are left-right: Lt. Thomas Ward Custer; Mrs. Elizabeth B. Custer; Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer; Dr Dunbar; Mrs. Donald McIntosh sitting; and Mrs. E.S. Smith standing although Lawrence Frost identified her as Mrs. McIntosh.

  • “The photo of Custer’s Osage Scouts with Interpreters is a slight variant of another photo taken with Lt. Col. G.A. Custer standing with the Scouts and his captured pet Pelican found near the area on a local river and tied to the 7th Cavalry Regimental Flag/Guidon Pole, Fort Dodge, KS November 1868.  Standing on the far right back row is I believe Custer’s Chief of Scouts Will “Medicine Bill” Comstock. Of particular historical importance of your photo is that the ink signature on the lower left corner is not the photographer’s, but “F.W. Benteen!” who was in command of H Troop, 7th Cavalry and participated in the Battle of the Washita on 27 November 1868. Benteen  also participated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn on 25-26 June 1876.  I recognize Captain Frederick W. Benteen’s handwriting, especially his “B”.  Benteen also  made the identifications of Osage Scouts “Trotter” and Hard Robe [Rope?]” as the ink and writing style is his.  It is my professional opinion that both of these photographs were from Benteen’s personal Collection.
  • “Your Direct Albumen Photographs are very historic, and sadly, have suffered serious damage over time.  Portions of Benteen’s signature appear to be missing along the lower edge but this is negligible and there is enough remaining to make a positive identification along with his identifications of the two Osage Scouts.  I highly recommend placing these in archival acid free folders or Mylar sleeves.  Be sure to keep them away from bright prolonged light and direct sun light, and store them flat if possible.
  • Sincerely,
  • John A. Doerner
    Chief Historian
    Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (2011)”


Frederick Benteen's personal photograph of the Osage scouts which is currently in the collection of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR. Please note the interesting written words below the photograph. Thanks go to Glen Swanson for supplying this image.

  • Notes from the contributor with additional material by Peter Russell: Thomas Mullen, born 24 December 1843 (although his gravestone says 1844 and some census information gives he was born in 1849.), in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland, the son of John Mullen and Alice Sullivan. 
  • He claimed to have served in the Indiana 151st Infantry, Troop D, Enlisting 30 January 1865 for one year.  There was a Thomas Mullen who enlisted that date, but it’s not certain it is the same man. Released from service Sept, 1865.  Details that Mullen himself – namely age and height, don’t match the enlistee. He did receive a pension for this service, however.  
  • Regarding the 7th Cavalry pension claim, no records were ever found of him serving in this regiment, i.e. not in the U.S. Army, Registers of Enlistment.* However, there is some sign that he was moving with the 7th Cavalry.
  • He married Mary Josephine Sullivan (1842-1914, from Bantry Bay, Cork, Ireland, daughter of John Sullivan and Kitty Smith) 19 May 1868, in Fort Dodge, Kansas. Pension application says that they were married by Lieutenant Frank E. Brownell.  Mary appears in the 1870 U.S. Census as living at Fort Lyon, where the 7th Cavalry was located (haven’t found Thomas Mullen in that census). Their eldest child was born in the Colorado Territory in 1870.  Troop B was sent to South Carolina.  In the 1875 Kansas census, Thomas and Mary Mullen were living in Big Creek, near Hays, Kansas.  In that census, the oldest child is reported to have come to Kansas from South Carolina, so that fits if the family was moving with the 7th.  
  • They lived in Hays, Kansas for five to seven years – family stories say he shot buffalo with Bill Cody. Five years would be 1871-76.  Later records show they lived in Oregon and finally settled in Washington state.  Thomas Mullen died 29 May 1913, in Marcus, Stevens County, Washington, at the age of 69. His wife died 24 June 1914, age 73 years.**  Both are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Colville, Stevens County, Washington.
  • Note (*): The pension index card states he enlisted 6 August 1866 and discharged 6 August 1871. An application for an invalid pension was filed 7 January 1904 (No. 1307364 and granted No. 1125385) and for a widow’s pension 1 July 1913 (No. 1010529 granted No. 776280). 
  • Note (**): “Mrs.  Mary J. Mullen of Marcus, aged 76 years (sic), died Wednesday afternoon, and the remains were brought to Colville for burial. Interment was made in the Highland [Cavalry] cemetery Thursday by the side of her husband.” The Colville Examiner (Colville, Washington), 27 June 1914.

Mullen Family plot in Calvary Cemetery, Colville, Stevens County, Washington (left). Gravestone of Thomas Mullen (above).

A woman “of more than ordinary beauty”

  • Monday, 12 March 2018
  • Emily Mary Hones, wife of Captain James Montgomery Bell, 7th U.S. Cavalry, guaranteed her place in history as the victim of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by a predatory Marcus A. Reno, post commander at Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory, in December 1876. Found guilty on six of the seven charges filed against him, the much-maligned major was sentenced to be dismissed from the Army though, shortly after, this incredibly harsh sentence was reduced to suspension from rank and pay for two years with effect from 1 May 1877.  A meticulously-researched account of Reno’s trial, his other clashes with the United States Army, and the Correction Board Hearing:1967, can be found in “Case of MARCUS A. RENO” by Barry C. Johnson, English Westerners’ Society Special Publication No. 3, London 1969. It makes for some very interesting reading.
  • This writer is neither qualified nor inclined to pass moral judgement of his fellow countrywoman but is prepared to accept that there may have been times when this slender, dark-haired 25 year-old, described by the contemporary press as “of more than ordinary beauty and … of a vivacious disposition,” acted in an extrovert and over familiar manner. It should be borne in mind that this event took place in the last quarter of the nineteenth century when rigid Victorian values were far different from those we enjoy today.

94 King's Road (formerly 11 Colvill Terrace), Chelsea. Emily Mary Hones was born here. (Author's photograph, 12 March 2018.)

Emily Mary Hones was baptised at this font (dates from 1826), in St Luke's Church, Chelsea. (Author's photograph, 12 March 2018.)

  • Emily Mary Hones, the fourth and youngest child of Thomas Maskell Hones, a fishmonger, and Sarah (Ball) Hones, was born at 11 Colvill Terrace, King’s Road, Chelsea, London, England on 12 March 1851. Together with her older sister, Sarah Frances, Emily was baptised by the Rev. Richard Lediard, at the parish church of St Luke, on 27 March 1853.
  • Thomas Hones fishmonger’s business had being going through a hard time and he decided to seek his fortune in America. It is presumed he travelled ahead of his wife, four children and sister-in-law, Emma Ball, who all arrived in New York from London on 1 June 1857 on board the sailing ship Mary Bradford. The family probably remained in New York until Thomas found work as a brewer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Hones lived at 61 Islington Street and this strongly suggests that he was employed at the famous Frank Jones Brewery which, in 1858, had moved into the area to start producing ale.
  • Sarah Ball Hones succumbed to ‘dropsy’, more commonly known as oedema or heart failure, on 14 December 1860 and was buried in Harmony Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth. Her bereaved husband lost no time in ‘tying the knot’ with the family’s young, live-in servant, Mary Kennedy from Scotland, who before the following year was out had presented him with a third son whom they called William.
  • Inland Revenue Service Tax Assessment Lists for the second half of the 1860s indicate that Thomas Hones, described as a brewer, was earning $1,100 a year on which he paid tax of $25, i.e. 5 per cent on all income exceeding $600.

A young, dashing Lt James Montgomery Bell, date unknown.

Trinity Church, Pittsburgh. completed 1872. Emily Hones and Lt James Bell were married here 12 March 1872.

  • In 1870, Sarah Frances Hones married Edward Vern Jewell, a captain in the 146th New York Infantry during the Civil War, and the newly-weds set up home in Manhattan, New York, though her younger sister’s whereabouts remain a mystery. We do know, however, that on 12 March 1872, her twenty-first birthday, at the Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Emily married First Lieutenant James Montgomery Bell, thirteen years her senior, who was “considered one of the greatest recruiting officers in military history.” Her father, Thomas Maskell Hones, was to die on 17 December the same year and joined his first wife in Harmony Grove Cemetery (no headstone).
  • Lieutenant Bell, on leave at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn and one of the three officers so derisorily called “Coffee Coolers” by Captain Frederick W. Benteen, was promoted to the rank of captain with effect from 25 June 1876. He succeeded George Yates as commander of Company F.
  • Details of the regrettable affair at Fort Abercrombie fall beyond the scope of this brief sketch of Emily Hones whose long life as the wife of an ambitious officer – Bell was appointed a brigadier general, United States Volunteers, in 1901 – appears to have passed without any further unpleasantness or other related incident worthy of note. The fact that Mrs Bell regularly played the organ at garrison church services and was “a general favourite with the officers and their wives” may have been sufficient reason for a resentful Benteen to speak ill of her, much in the same way as his well-documented, disparaging remarks about another beautiful and well-liked woman forever closely associated with the Seventh Cavalry, namely, Elizabeth Bacon Custer.
  • The Federal Census (1910) recorded the Bells living in New London, Connecticut while Passenger Lists reveal them arriving in San Francisco, California, from Yokohama, Japan, aboard the S.S, Korea on 19 May 1913, and in New York from Rotterdam, Holland, on the S.S. Potsdam on 5 September, less than seven weeks after the outbreak of the First World War.
  • In a letter to Elizabeth Custer from Cookstown, New Jersey, dated 15 December 1918, Brigadier General Edward S. Godfrey [a first lieutenant at Little Big Horn] wrote: “I had a letter from Gen. J.M. Bell, Pasadena, Calif., the other day. He is 81, and in fairly good health. Mrs. Bell was in hospital for operation for bladder troubles, he expects her to be out in several weeks.”  It is assumed that the patient made a full recovery as she lived for another twenty-one years!
  • James Bell died in Pasadena on 17 September 1919 and was buried in San Francisco National Cemetery. Following her husband’s death Emily invited her half-brother, William, a clerk in the Office of the Paymaster-General for over twenty years, to join her. The Federal Census (1930) finds them in South Euclid Avenue, Pasadena, where William Hones died on 23 August 1933. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the Hones’ family plot back in the Harmony Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The gravestone, left, and inscription, above, erected in memory of James Montgomery Bell and, his wife, Emilie (Emily) Mary Hones Bell, San Francisco National Cemetery - Memorial ID 58852658.

  • Emily (also spelt ‘Emilie’) Mary Hones Bell, long since a naturalised American citizen, died most likely in Los Angeles (rather than Hermosa Beach as widely quoted) on 1 June 1940, from hypostatic pneumonia; she was 89 years-old. It is not known if her cremated remains were buried in her husband’s grave where a fine cross-shaped, granite monument to both was erected in their memory to mark the spot.
  • The Bells’ marriage was childless and surprisingly, as far as this writer is aware, no photograph or other image of Emily is known to exist.  Can anyone help?
  • Peter Russell
  • E&OE


  • The author regards this tribute to Emily Hones Bell as ‘work in progress’ and ‘Notes & Sources’ and  more genealogical information will be added shortly. 
  • Wednesday, 28 February 2018 (updated 2 March 2018)

  • Lucretia Beaumont Irwin, the first Mrs George W. M. Yates died 102 years ago today.
  • Little is known, or appears to have been published, about Lucretia Beaumont Irwin, the first wife of Captain George Yates, Company F, 7th Cavalry, who was killed with Custer’s column, on the bluffs overlooking the Little Big Horn River, on 25 June 1876.
  • Her parents, Douglass (often spelt with only one ‘s’) Sims Irwin,1 from Virginia, a second lieutenant in the 3rd Infantry stationed at Jefferson Barracks, and Sarah Beaumont, were married in St Louis, Missouri on 19 March 1844. Sarah’s father, William Beaumont, an army surgeon during the War of 1812, is remembered as the doctor who pioneered the study of human digestion, created the nation’s first medical professional society and established the first medical school west of the Mississippi River.2   For a time Sarah went with her husband to the Texas border in Louisiana, but returned as tension in that area increased. Lucretia, known as “Lilly,” an only child, was born in St Louis on 4 February 1845.
  • Douglass Irwin, who had received a brevet on 7 September 1841 “for gallant and good conduct in the war against the Florida Indians” (Second Seminole War, 1835-1842) and promoted to first lieutenant and adjutant on 18 May 1846, was killed four months and three days later as a member of General Twiggs’3 Division on the first day of the Battle of Monterey (Mexican-American War, 1846-1848).
  • In 1847 William Beaumont arranged for a grieving Sarah, two of her siblings, and baby Lilly, to travel east to the Atlantic coast and, while there, they paid a short visit to Mary, Mrs Robert E. Lee, at Arlington.  Sarah Beaumont Irwin married Isaac High Keim in St Louis on 28 October 1857.
  • Lucretia, a young eligible socialite from one of the most prestigious families in St Louis, was educated at Washington University before falling for a handsome young captain in the 13th Missouri Cavalryfrom Albany, New York, called George Wilhelmus Mancius Yates, whom she married on 5 January 1865.
  • With the Civil War over, Yates was mustered out of the Army on 11 January 1866. Soon after he obtained a commission in the regular Army as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry at Fort McPherson, Nebraska, an outpost designed to protect travellers along the Oregon and California trails. Apparently life at such a desolate place became difficult for Lucretia, who was accustomed to an active social life. She began spending prolonged periods back in St. Louis, and on 31 January 1867, the couple divorced. On June 12, Yates was transferred to the 7th Cavalry, where he was united with his old friend, George Armstrong Custer, and, as they say, the rest is history.
  • Lucretia, for over 30 years a teacher of languages at the Mary Institute, a branch of Washington University, never remarried and lived all but three of her remaining years in St Louis with her mother who had been widowed a second time in 1880.5 At 12.15 a.m. 0n 28 February 1916, at the age of 71, while staying at the UsonaHotel, St Louis, she succumbed to a six-day bout of bronco-pneumonia after suffering from bronchial-asthma and chronic bronchitis several years.  The personal details on the death certificate were provided by her lawyer and executor, John F. Lee, who described Lucretia as a ‘Spinster’, which is not entirely surprising as she had been divorced for over 49 years, always went by her maiden name and her marital status was recorded as ‘Single’ in more than one Federal Census.  She was  buried the next day7 in Bellefontaine, Cemetery, St Louis, Block 50, Lot 71 – no memorial stone was ever erected.

Usona Hotel, St Louis from a period postcard. Lucretia Beaumont Irwin died here 28 February 1916.

  • Lucretia Beaumont Irwin was a most generous benefactor to several hospitals in the St Louis area, in addition to bequeathing a considerable amount of jewellery, luxury items and property, including three cane-seated chairs which had formerly belonged to none other than General Robert E. Lee himself, with whom her grandfather and mother (see letter, dated 11 March 1843, below) had been close friends.8  
  • Notes:
  • 1. Irwin, born c.1814, Old Point Comfort, Virginia, Cadet Number 1056 (“Appointed at Large”), graduated 40 out of 42 in the United States Military Academy (West Point) Class of 1840.  William Tecumseh  Sherman, from Ohio, a fellow cadet and  future General of the Army ranked sixth. At Fort Monroe, Virginia, one of four southern permanent forts that was never taken by the Confederacy, there was a Battery named ‘Douglas S. Irwin’, see image below.
  • 2. William Beaumont, born 21 November 1785 Lebanon, Windham County, Connecticut, died 25 April 1853, St Louis, Missouri.  Buried Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis (headstone).
  • 3. After the Mexican-American War, David Emanuel Twiggs (born 1790) was appointed brevet major general and commanded the Department of Texas. He was in this command when the Civil War broke out. Twiggs’ command included about 20% of the U.S. Army guarding the border of the U.S. and Mexico. As the states began to secede, Twiggs met with a trio of Confederate commissioners, including Philip N. Luckett and Samuel A. Maverick, and surrendered his entire command, which included the Federal Arsenal at the Alamo, and all other federal installations, property, and soldiers in Texas, to the Confederacy. He insisted that all Federals retain personal arms and side arms, and all artillery as well as flags and standards. Twiggs subsequently was dismissed from the U.S. Army for “treachery to the flag of his country,” and accepted a commission as a major general from the Confederate States. He was appointed to command the Confederate Department of Louisiana, but because of his age (he was past his 70th birthday) and in poor health wasn’t able to pursue an active command. He was replaced by Maj. Gen. Mansfield Lovell in the command of New Orleans and retired on October 11, 1861. He died of pneumonia in Augusta, Georgia, on 15 July 1862. (
  • 4. It seems Yates never joined this regiment and, according to Roger Williams Military Register of Custer’s Last Command (2009), p.320,  was on detached service with General Alfred Pleasonton in St. Louis on 23 October 1864, around which time presumably her met his first wife.
  • 5. Sarah Beaumont Irwin Keim born 8 June 1822, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan, died 14 February 1913, St Louis, Missouri. Buried Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis (headstone).
  • 6. An acronym for ‘United States of North America’.
  • 7. 29 February – 1916 was a leap year.
  • 8. Masser, Ruth and Krantz, John C., Jr, ‘The Friendship of General Robert E. Lee and Dr. Wm. Beaumont’ – Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine V1 (May 1938), pp.467-72.

Battery Irwin (1903-1920) - Battery Irwin was a reinforced concrete, Endicott Period 3 inch coastal gun battery on Fort Monroe, Virginia. The battery was named in G.O. 78, 15 May 1903, in honour of 1st Lt. Douglas S. Irwin, 3rd U.S. Infantry, who served with distinction in the war against the Florida Indians and was killed 21 Sep 1846 at the battle of Monterey, Mexico. Battery construction started in Feb 1900, was completed on 31 Mar 1903 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use on 28 May 1903 at a cost of $12,500.00. Deactivated in 1920.

  • Tuesday, 16 January 2018
  • Just three days after the news had broken of Custer’s calamitous defeat by an overwhelming number of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on the bluffs above the Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory, the following poem flowed from the pen of a prominent citizen of Bismarck which was published in the Weekly Tribune on July 27, 1876.  I thought it worthy of re-publishing, together with a short biography of the bard, on page 14 of the December 2017 issue of the Post Dispatch.

Marker for George Armstrong Custer, Custer Hill, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. Courtesy Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.


  • IN MEMORIAM – Bismarck Weekly Tribune, July 26, 1876 


  • The sun shone from an azure sky
  •   On that eventful day,
  • When, Custer’s band of troopers bold
  •   Rode forth in proud array;
  • With their loved Chieftain in command
  •   No trooper, on that field,
  • But what would face the cannon’s mouth
  •   And life’s red current yield.


  • The soul of chivalry, was he,
  •    He was their boast and pride,
  • Oft’times they’d heard his clarion voice
  •   Where rolled the crimson tide.
  • Oft’times they’d made the brave advance,
  •   Where gallant Custer led,
  • On many a blood-stained battle ground
  •   The legion brave had bled.


  • Shrill sounds the reveille once more,
  •   That balmy summer’s morn,
  • Its echoes wake o’er hill and dale
  •   On gentle zephyrs borne.
  • Each heart beats in responsive note,
  •   Each heart beats high with glee,
  • For fame and country, home and friends,
  •   And Custer’s Cavalry.


  • “Forward! Brave hearts,” the chieftain cried
  •   That balmy morn in June,
  • “Fresh laurels gain, or cypress weave,
  •    A wreath for warrior’s tomb.
  • Our duty calls, and life, how dear,
  •   Will not be spent in vain
  • If laid down on the battle-field
  •    Among the noble slain.”


  • And slain they were, that gallant band
  •   Before the setting sun:
  • Their spirits winged their mystic flight,
  •   Their sands of life had run.
  • Not one was left to tell the tale—
  •   That legion bold and brave,
  • Their life-blood laved the dtstant (sic) wilds,
  •   They found a warrior’s grave.


  • In numbers vast the savage horde
  •   Bore down in fiendish rage,
  • And ten to one, with leaden hail,
  •   Did Custer’s boys engage.
  • No earthly force could stand such odds;
  •   No power stem the tide.
  • They nobly fought as heroes do,
  •   They fought and bled and died.


  • The Chieftain’s voice is hushed in death,
  •    The troopers’ battle cry
  • No more shall make the welkin ring
  •   Or enemy defy.
  • They nobly lived and bravely died
  •    In honor, glory, fame.
  • All hail! the Seventh Cavalry,
  •   And Custer’s honored name.


  • Bismarck, D. T., July 8, 1876.




  • Despite a near-exhaustive search the origin of the author of this epic poem remains somewhat obscure. In most records he is shown as Jedediah S. Carvelle, born c.1841, in Portland, Maine, son of John and Mary Carvelle, while the entry in the register of deaths for Manchester, New Hampshire, states that the deceased was Jediah S. Carvell born September 2, 1834 in Richmond, New Brunswick. To avoid any possible confusion however the former spelling will be used throughout this article.
  • The earliest known verifiable reference describes him as chief clerk in the banking house of C. Easton & Co., at Chatfield, Minnesota, where he was confidential clerk for Mr. Easton, who became one of the railroad kings of the West, and probably, for a time at least, the largest real estate owner in that state. Towards the end of the 1860s this “eccentric character from Maine” established a reputation as being the first real lawyer to practise in Clay County, also in Minnesota, for a few years before the county was officially organized in 1872.
  • We know for certain that Carvelle was one of the original settlers in Bismarck, Dakota Territory, and on July 30, 1873 was appointed the first Judge of Probate for the fledgling Burleigh County where he was already established as an attorney.
  • In July 1874, accompanied by John “Buffalo Jack” Wasson, the County Attorney for Burleigh, Carvelle went to Carroll when gold discovered in the area and this unlikely pair of prospectors was not expected to return home for some months. The Bismarck Tribune of September 9 drolly reported that “Buffalo Jack is living on catfish, and doing his own cooking in the open air. Carvelle is boarding with L.T. Marshall, and picks his teeth with as much sang froid as ever.”
  • During this period of seeking his fortune Carvelle devoted some of the time to collecting material for a book he was planning to write on the Black Hills and Dakota which, according to the Bismarck Tribune, was due to be published in the fall of the following year. The newspaper went on to say that “Carvelle is thoroughly educated and a man of extended experience and a close observer. He is also a ready and elegant writer and his work promises to be of much value to Dakota and the Northern Pacific region.” But whether this book was ever published is not known to this writer.
  • Along with the rest of the nation Carvelle was shocked by the defeat of ‘General’ Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876 and just twenty-four days later the Bismarck Weekly Tribune announced that his poem entitled ‘In Memoriam’ (above) would be published in its next issue, which was indeed the case.
  • It must be assumed that Carvelle left Bismarck relatively soon after and returned East where on January 5, 1876 he had married Mary Gambell (or Gamble), daughter of Samuel and Mary Wilson Gambell, in Boston, Massachusetts. They newlyweds went to live on Island Pond Road in Mary’s home town of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, where the groom continued to work as an attorney.
  • Jedediah Carvelle died of consumption in Manchester on March 10, 1883 and his wife died of typhoid pneumonia on March 2, 1894. They had no children.


  •  Peter Russell                                                                                             


  • Tuesday, 2 January 2018
  • “Buffalo Jack” Wasson – Civil War Soldier, Democrat and Attorney by Peter Russell
  • John E. Wasson, the adopted son of Horace Wasson, Keeper of the Insane Department of Erie County Poor House in Buffalo, New York, and his wife Susan Oberholser,1 was born in that city on March 4, 1846.
  • At the age of just 15 years and three months he enlisted in Company H, 21st New York Volunteer Infantry (known as the “1st Buffalo Regiment”) when he was described as having hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, being 5’ 5” in height, a stated age of 21 years, previously employed as a tailor. He would participate in General Pope’s Campaign of Northern Virginia and the battles of Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg before being mustered out unscathed back in Buffalo on May 18, 1863.
  • Within less than two months he had enlisted in the 33rd Independent Battery New York Light Artillery and saw service with Battery L in Washington, D.C., North Carolina and Virginia. But it was at Wilson’s Landing, Virginia, on August 30, 1864, perhaps having decided that the Union Army was in sight of victory and he had already given over three years of his young life to the cause, that he broke ranks and temporarily disappears from the historical record.2
  • At some unknown time and place he studied law and made his way to Bismarck, Dakota Territory, around the time the Northern Pacific Railroad reached the future state capital, though in the unsubstantiated words of Colonel Clement A. Lounsberry, editor of the influential Bismarck Tribune, not before he had been “accused of murder at North Pacific Junction [Iowa]” and “jumped his bonds for an undisclosed crime in Minnesota.” Whether or not this damning indictment was true, on September 3,  1873, Wasson, a passionate Democrat, was formerly appointed the first County Attorney for the newly-organized Burleigh County3 where he set up in practice as a lawyer in Bismarck. He proved to be a popular figure around town and was widely known as “Buffalo Jack.”
  • On February 14, 1877 the Bismarck Weekly Tribune reported that “Buffalo Jack, John E. Wasson, formerly of Bismarck, is in Yankton laboring for Black Hills legislation. The Herald commends him being worthy of all confidence,” while the Federal Census of 1880 lists him as a ‘Miner’ in Lead City, Dakota Territory. Soon after, he ventured even further west when gold was found in Fergus County, Montana, where in early 1883 he was appointed Justice of the Peace for Maiden Township to fill the unexpected term of C. S. Sanborn who died in office. The following year, on July, 4, Wasson was chosen to read the Declaration of Independence in the absence of David Hilger: the closest attention being given the reader, and every word was distinctly heard.
  • Always controversial Wasson nonetheless worked tirelessly for over 40 years as an attorney in the mining towns of Maiden, Gilt Edge, Kendall and finally Hilger, where he was a justice of the peace and played a prominent part in civic, mining and Democratic Party affairs. In June 1884 he even umpired the first away game of the season between Maiden Baseball Club and Fort Maginnis: the Maidenites winning by a creditable 22-16!
  • Writing on December 27, 1884, in reply to an inquiry made by the Mineral Argus, then published in Maiden, into the character of the town’s newly-appointed justice of the peace, Lounsberry claimed that on an undisclosed date [probably in late 1876] it was his eleventh hour intervention that directly saved the discredited Wasson from being lynched by an angry mob in Bismarck, but, if so, it seems rather odd that the Tribune did not publish anything to support such a newsworthy story. It therefore begs the question “Were there any legitimate grounds for Lounsberry to hold such a personal grudge against the man from Buffalo?”
  • Note:
  • 1. Horace Wasson died c.79 years on November 13, 1902 and Susan Oberholser Wasson died c.81 years on September 7, 1905. Both were interred in the Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York.
  • 2. One Civil War record states he deserted while another says he was mustered out!
  • 3. July 16, 1873.

The main street Maiden is shown on New Year' Day in this picture ca. 1887. (Courtesy of Montana Memory Project)

  • There is little doubt however that Wasson, whose somewhat unorthodox practises attracted the less than flattering alternative sobriquet of “Fat Jack,” had his detractors in Fergus County. In late May 1889 he narrowly escaped death or serious injury while asleep in his cabin in Maiden, which was blown up by a quantity of giant powder attached to the end of a fifteen foot fuse! The perpetrator of this cowardly act was never brought to justice.
  • But his troubles didn’t end there. On May 16, 1892, again in Maiden, a masked-gang of ten or more burst into the restaurant where he was dining, put a rope around his neck, drew pistols, shoved a gun down his throat and held him overnight against his will. In the event only two of the culprits, James Connely and Sten Hansen, were charged “with kidnapping and depriving J. E. Wasson of his liberty.” At the two-day trial that ensued the accused, both otherwise law-abiding citizens, ascribed their actions to “suffering long years of Wasson’s mischief-making and chicanery,” an opinion which was shared by no less than twenty-five witnesses. Perhaps not surprisingly, a sympathetic jury found the pair “not guilty,” a verdict that the Fergus Argus, June 23, 1892, opined “satisfied the majority of the people of the county.”
  • The Fergus Democrat, October 16, 1906, reported that “Wasson left [Gilt Edge] yesterday to visit his old home in New York,” when, in fact he was on his way to Ogden, Utah, where on October 17, 1906, the 60 year-old attorney married Mrs. Nellie W. Folk1 the 44 year-old daughter of Colonel Thomas J. Webster,2 an Englishman who during the Civil War had served as a private in the 15th Illinois Infantry. It is most likely that the happy couple first met in the Black Hills around 1880 when the bride’s father was proprietor of the Lead City Enterprise.
  • A report of the wedding, which first appeared in a Laramie, Wyoming, newspaper was published in the Kendall Miner, on December 7, 1906, and denied absolutely by Wasson who enjoyed the reputation of being a practical joker. The bride eventually made an appearance eleven months later though only stayed for a few years before returning to an active social life in the warmer climes of Ocean Beach, California.
  • On June 22, 1916 the Fergus County Democrat was delighted to announce that Judge Wasson, having spent six weeks in the hospital at Great Falls where he underwent a major operation from which he made a full recovery, was now able to enjoy better health than he had for several years.
  • After almost six decades Wasson, affectionately described as “… the well known Kendall booster and wheel horse of democracy,” was finally granted an Army pension of $50 a month on March 14, 1923 for his service in the 21st New York, which was increased to $65 a little over three years later.
  • John E. Wasson died in Lewistown, at the age 81, on May 30, 1927. The short obituary published in the Helena Independent informed its readers that Judge Wasson had no relatives in Montana and his funeral was arranged by the Lewistown Elks. His mortal remains were interred in the City Cemetery.
  • No widow’s pension was ever applied for and the ultimate fate of the elusive Mrs. Nellie Wasson, who spent much of her time in California with the children from her first marriage, continues to be a complete mystery to this writer.3
  • Note:
  • 1. Nellie Webster, b. Illinois, December 1861, married Henry H. Folk, an accountant of German descent, in 1880 and had three children: Isabella, b. May 1881; Stella, b. July 1886 and Johnson Barnes, b. Lumberton, Mississippi, August 31, 1894.
  • 2. Thomas J. Webster died May 15, 1882 and was interred in West Lead Cemetery, Lawrence County, South Dakota, a burial ground he shares with Private Peter Thompson, Company C, 7th U.S. Cavalry, from Markinch, Fife, Scotland, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery for voluntarily bringing water to the wounded on the second day of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25-26, 1876.
  • 3. On June 5, 1917, Johnson Folk, a teacher of music and assistant lifeguard, was living at 1118 Sixth Street, Santa Monica, California, when he registered for the World War 1 Draft. Described as short in stature, of slender build, with gray-blue eyes, light-brown hair and not being bald, he claimed that his mother was solely dependant on him. Does this mean at this date she was divorced, or at least separated, from John Wasson? Johnson Folk died at Port Angeles. Clallam County, Washington, aged 85, in 1980.

William Findlay Rogers, Colonel 21st New York Volunteer Regiment, 1861-1863 (above). John Wasson's headstone in Lewistown City Cemetery, a little worse for wear, perhaps even having been vandalised, but still quite legible (right).

  • On July 15, 1927 Alvin Martin, Secretary of the Lewistown Elks, successfully applied to the War Department for the provision of a headstone for their recently-departed member and, accordingly, on April 13, 1928, a suitably inscribed, standard military-style monument was shipped to Mr Martin, which was placed on the old soldier’s grave.
  • Today, nearly ninety years later, John Wasson’s headstone is looking very much the worse for wear and it is hoped that an application for a replacement would be favourably considered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), although it is far from certain.


  • This is an expanded and updated version of an article that was first published under the title ‘John E. Wasson: Civil War Soldier, Miner and Attorney’ in the Lewistown News-Argus Christmas Supplement (pp. 30-31), Saturday, December 16, 2017.  At the time of writing no image of John E. Wasson has been found by this writer.

Hauptmann Wilhelm Schramm pilot of Airship SL11.

World War One recruitment poster - 1916.

  • In command of SL11 was Hauptmann Wilhelm Schramm, an experienced airship captain who knew the area he was to bomb better than most of his colleagues. He had been born at Old Charlton, Kent, and lived in England until the age of 15 when on the death of his father, the London representative of the Siemens electrical firm, he returned to Germany and joined the army. He was given his first command in December 1915.”*
  • But is this frequently quoted statement entirely correct? Notes based on research from primary sources and compiled by Peter Russell.


  • 1846    [Father] Otto Carl Schramm born 17 October 1846 in Magdeburg, Sachsen (Saxony), Germany. Parents: Frederich Wilhelm and Mother: Wilhelmine Charlotte Schramm. Baptised at the Lutheran Church 8 November 1846. Saxony, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1890.
  • 1860    [Mother] Joseva Caroline Marie Amalie Elise Emma Hofmeister, born 18 September 1860 in Emden, Hanover, Germany. Parents: Heinrich Ludwig and Marie Louise Hofmeister. Baptised at the Lutheran Church 28 October 1860. Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1518-1921.
  • 1868    Otto Schramm first arrives in England.
  • 1871    Otto Schramm, age 24, an unmarried Telegraph Engineer, living at 22 Offerton Road, Clapham, Surrey (London since 1889), in the home of Thomas Norton Grimes, 43, a Town Traveller, from Colchester, Essex. Census of England & Wales.
  • 1872     Otto Schramm, “Who has held the position of an Assistant Telegraph Engineer with Messrs. Siemens Brothers for many years” was proposed by existing member L. Loeffler, for admission to the Society of Telegraph Engineers.1 His application, submitted on 28 February 1872, which was approved by William Siemens himself and three others. He was advanced to full membership on 2 June 1877. UK, Electrical Engineer Membership Forms, 1871-1901. Note (1): The Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians (1880), and the Institution of Electrical Engineers (1887).

22 Offerton Road, Clapham, London SW4, formerly in the county of Surrey, (Author's photograph)

127 Victoria Way, Charlton, London SE7 - formerly 9 Victoria Road, Old Charlton, Kent. (Author's photograph)

  • 1882    [Parents] Otto Schramm and Joseva Hofmeister are married in Germany around this time.
  • 1883    [Sister] Harriett M. C. A. Schramm born. Birth registered September Qtr, 1883, Woolwich, Kent.
  • 1884    Living at 9 Victoria Road, Charlton. Parish of Charlton, Poor Rate Book, 26 March 1884-29 September 1884. Greenwich Heritage Centre, Woolwich.
  •  1885     Wilhelm Emil Eugen Ludwig Schramm born 11 December 1885 at 9 Victoria Road, Charlton, Kent.2 Birth registered March Qtr, 1886, Woolwich, Kent.  Note (2): Charlton was incorporated into the London County Council in March 1889 and has been part of the Greater London Authority since 2000.  No. 9 Victoria Road was re-designated 127 Victoria Way, Charlton before 1935.
  • 1887    [Brother] Otto Schramm born at 9 Victoria Road. Birth registered September Qtr 1887, Woolwich, Kent.
  • 1887    Otto Schramm, 9 Victoria Road, Old Charlton, Kent, a member. Institution of Electrical Engineers.
  • 1887    Otto Schramm, 9 Victoria Road, Old Charlton. Kelly’s Directory of Kent, 1887.
  • 1888    [Sister] Marie Julie M. Schramm born at 9 Victoria Road. registered December Qtr 1887, Woolwich, Kent Note (2): Charlton was incorporated into the London County Council in March 1889 and has been part of the Greater London Authority since 2000. No. 9 Victoria Road was re-designated 127 Victoria Way, Charlton before 1935.

Siemens Brothers factory at Charlton, 1874.

Siemens factory, Charlottenburg, near Berlin, 1900.

  • 1889    The Schramm family vacate 9 Victoria Road, Charlton which is evidenced by the General Rate Book for the period September 1889 – March 1890 being unpaid. It is not unreasonable to assume that they returned to Germany during this period.  Greenwich Heritage Centre, Woolwich.
  • 1890    Otto Schramm,3 9 Victoria Road, Old Charlton, Kent. UK, Electrical Engineer Lists, 1871- 1930.  Note (3): Louis Emil Schramm (aka Christopher Lewis), born Nuremburg, Bavaria,  in 1863, was not related to Otto’s branch of the family.
  • 1890    [Sister] Frieda Caroline Auguste Schramm born 19 October 1890 in Hannover (Hanover), Germany. Baptised at the Lutheran Church 7 May 1891. (Note: Mother’s first name recorded as ‘Johanne’ not ‘Joseva’.) Elbe-Weser Triangle, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1574-1945.
  • 1891    No member of the Schramm family is recorded as living in England & Wales at the time of the decennial census which further adds at least circumstantial evidence that they had resided permanently in Germany prior to this date.
  • 1900    Otto Carl Schramm dies at 1 Deister-strasse, Hameln, Hannover (Hanover), Germany on 9 July 1900. Probate London 16 November to Robert Strange, merchant. Effects £6,838 6s, equivalent to over £750,000 in today’s money. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966.
  • 1914-5    Wilhelm Schramm joins Germany Army. 
  • 1916    On the evening of Saturday the 2nd of September 1916 Germany launched the largest air raid of the Great War using a total of 16 airships. 14 aluminium-framed Zeppelins operated by the German Navy and 2 plywood-framed Schütte-Lanz craft operated by the German Army headed out across the North Sea to cross the English coast over East Anglia from where they then headed for targets in the North, the Eastern counties and London.
  • By mid 1916 England’s defences against these air raids had been considerably strengthened since the first big raid a year earlier. Searchlights and anti-aircraft batteries now ringed London; the Royal Flying Corps was flying regular patrols above 10,000 feet and their aircraft were equipped with a recently developed ammunition for their Lewis guns – a mixture of three types of rounds designed specifically to puncture an airship’s gas bags and then to ignite the released hydrogen gas.
  • The first of the airships heading for London that night, a German Army Schütte-Lanz airship, the SL-11, commanded by Wilhelm Schramm, arrived over St Albans at ten minutes past one in the morning of Sunday the 3rd of September. Schramm dropped bombs on the northern suburbs of London and while heading further south his airship was picked up by the searchlights at Finsbury Park and Victoria Park. Turning back to the north over Tottenham and Enfield, the SL-11 was spotted by Second Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson in his B.E.2c biplane. Leefe Robinson pursued and engaged the SL-11 and eventually with his third drum of ammunition succeeded in setting it on fire. The descent of the blazing SL-11 from a height of two miles to a field at Cuffley was not only seen by many Londoners, but also by the Navy Zeppelins then making their approach. Later that day thousands of sightseers flocked to Cuffley hoping to see the wreckage of SL-11 which was quickly removed by the authorities. On Monday, the newspapers carried extensive reports which focused largely on the shooting down of the SL-11 – a victory to be contrasted against the grim news from the battlefields of the Somme. “A Great Air Raid. One Zeppelin (sic) Destroyed. Wonderful Spectacle in London. Slight Casualties” was the heading to the leading article in The Times. That evening an inquest into the deaths of the 16 crew of SL-11 was held at the Plough Inn, Cuffley, a short distance from the crash site. The coroner announced that the War Office had decided to give them a military funeral at the nearest cemetery and this took place two days later with military honours in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Potters Bar.

Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c - Lt. William Leefe Robinson in the cockpit.

Wilhelm Schramm's coffin being carried by officers of the Royal Flying Corps.

  • 1916     Wilhelm Schramm and all 15 other members of the crew of SL114 were buried on 6 September 1916 with military honours in nearby Potters Bar Cemetery.
  • Note 4:    Name – SL11
  • Operator – German Army
  • Builder – Luftschiffbau Schutte-Lanz
  • Launched – 1 April 1916
  • Homeport- Spich (North Rhine-Westphalia)
  • Type – Airship
  • Tonnage – 21 tonnes
  • Displacement- 38,780 m2 of hydrogen
  • Length – 174 metres
  • Beam – 20.1 metres
  • Installed Power – 4 Maybach 960 hp/716 KW total
  • Speed – 57.38 mph
  • Complement – 16
  • 1916    Wilhelm Schramm and all 15 other members of the crew of SL11 buried on 5 September 1916 with military honours in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Potters Bar.
  • 1916    Death registered at Charlottenburgh,5 near Berlin, on 9 October 1916.  Wilhelm Emil Eugen Ludwig Schramm killed over Cuffley, Hertfordshire, 3 September. Berlin, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1920. Note (5): Siemens had a large factory at Charlottenburg and it could well be that Wilhelm Schramm worked there before joining the Army.
  • 1935    [Brother] Otto Schramm, an unmarried Physician, sailed from Bremen, Germany, to New York, USA, on 29 September 1935 aboard the SS Europa. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.
  • 1962    The bodies of all sixteen members of the crew of SL:11 were reinterred at Cannock Chase German Cemetery, Staffordshire.


  • Note (*): This writer has found no hard evidence to support the claims that (a) Wilhelm ‘returned’ to Germany – after all he had been born in Charlton, Kent; (b) That he was age 15 at the time of his father’s death – [i] He almost certainly left England at the age of four and [ii] In any event he was only 14 when his father died; (c) His father was simply one of countless thousands of German nationals working in the United Kingdom during the second half of the 19th Century, i.e.  not the “London representative of the Siemens electrical firm.”  In December 1880 a limited liability company named Siemens Brothers and Company Limited was formed in England, quite separate from its Germany roots. 

German Cemetery, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

  • Saturday, 27 January 2018 (updated)
  • With Custer’s Cavalry by Katherine Gibson Fougera: From the memoirs of the late Katherine Gibson, widow of Captain Francis M. Gibson of the Seventh Cavalry, U.S.A. (Retired).
  • Illustrated with photographs.
  • I suspect few would argue Katherine Gibson Fougera was not only a consummate writer but that the story she so eloquently told has not captured the imagination of countless numbers whose interest lie in the taming of the American West.
  • With Custer’s Cavalry, first published in 1940, claims to be taken “From the memoirs of the late Katherine Gibson, widow of Captain Francis M. Gibson of the Seventh Cavalry, U.S.A. (Retired).” However, since these memoirs are no longer extant, it is impossible to tell how much of what we get is what she herself wrote and how much they were edited and/or embellished by her daughter. The subject matter of this fascinating little tale was, and indeed still is, of great interest to an unsuspecting public thirsting for the intimate knowledge of an Army wife on the frontier who spent time in the company of no less an iconic figure than ‘General’ George Armstrong Custer himself.
  • All will be revealed in an analysis of the book by this writer, which is scheduled to be published in the next issue of the Custer Association of Great Britain’s annual journal, The Crow’s Nest, and later posted on this website. It promises to make for some very interesting and illuminating reading.

& The Small Print

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Men With Custer