1842: Elizabeth Bacon Born, Future Wife of General George Armstrong Custer

April 8, 2023 all-day

Photograph of Custer and wife

Elizabeth Bacon Custer, a significant chronicler of the West and the wife of George Armstrong Custer, was born in Monroe, Michigan on April 8, 1842.

Elizabeth Custer is best known today for her decades-long effort to celebrate her husband’s life and exonerate him for the massacre of the Seventh Cavalry at Little Bighorn in 1876. She was more than her husband’s apologist, however, and today her writings provide a rare female perspective on military life in the West of the mid-19th century.

Talented, intelligent, and beautiful, Elizabeth Custer graduated as valedictorian from the Young Ladies’ Seminary and Collegiate Institute in Monroe, Michigan. Not long after, she met Captain George Custer. After Custer’s bravery in several Civil War battles made him a national hero, Elizabeth’s father accepted Custer as a fit suitor for his daughter’s hand, and the couple married in 1864.

After the war, George Custer remained in the military, taking his young wife along on his many assignments around the nation. Long interested in writing, Elizabeth found that her life as an army wife provided her with excellent material.

For the rest of the story, see This Day In History : the Old West, History Channel.

For further reading, see :

Elizabeth Bacon Custer and the making of a myth / Shirley A. Leckie. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, c1993. Also available in electronic format.

Tenting on the plains, or, General Custer in Kansas and Texas / by Elizabeth Bacon Custer ; with an introduction by Jane R Stewart ; foreword by Shirley A. Leckie. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1994. First published in 1895 by Harper & brothers. Also available in electronic format.

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