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The George Armstrong Custer Collection of the
Monroe County Library System

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

WAS CUSTER'S SISTER.

Mrs. David Reed Passed Away on Wednesday, June 27th , in Her Eighty-First Year.

Mrs. David Reed, sister of General George Armstrong Custer, the hero and victim of the massacre of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, died at her home Wednesday morning, June 27th , at about 11:00 o'clock, but two days after the 30th anniversary of the disaster that crushed her spirit and undermined her health.

Confined to the house for a number of years and gradually, steadily failing, her death was nevertheless not looked for. Her condition had been about the same as for the past several months and no undue anxiety was felt for her, in fact she was with keenest pleasure looking forward to the visit of her favorite niece, Mrs. May Custer Elmer, of New York. And only ten minutes before her death she had partaken of broth served by another niece, Mrs. Lulu Custer Vivian, after which her eyes closed peacefully in sleep, from which she never awakened. Her death was due to the general decline coincident with her advanced age, she being nearly 81 years old.

The funeral, a very quiet one, was held from her late home on Monroe street, Saturday morning at 10:00 o'clock and her remains laid to rest in Woodland cemetery. A year or more ago, realizing that she was approaching the end of her life's journey, she confided to her sister in-law, Mrs. Nevin J. Custer, her wishes as to the funeral arrangements, exacting the promise of secrecy in the matter until the time came for their fulfillment. Her wishes were respected and, in accordance with them, her former pastor, Rev. Jacklin, of Detroit, conducted the services. Her selection of pall bearers was also acceded to and the sad duty was performed by three nephews, George Armstrong Custer, James Calhoun Custer and William Bacon Custer, all sons of N. J. Custer, brother of the general; Andrew Vivian, husband of N. J. Custer's daughter; Dr. George F Heath, for many years family physician and personal friend; and L. W. Newcomer, a close friend of the family. Rev. Shaw, of St. Paul's M. E. church, assisted at the services.

She leaves her husband and two daughters, Mrs Emma Calhoun and Miss Maria Reed and a brother, Nevin J. Custer, of this city; and a sister, Mrs. Maugham, of New York City, formerly Mrs. Margaret Custer Calhoun, whose husband perished with the general. She also leaves one grandchild, Miss Emma Calhoun, of this city.

Mrs. Reed was, in reality, the half-sister of the general, her maiden name being Lydia Ann Kirkpatrick. But the affection for him and his brother and sister was so strong that they always regard each other as though she were their own sister. She was born in New Rumley, Harrison county, O., October 9, 1825. At the age of 21 years she was married to Mr. Reed and with him moved to Monroe directly after their marriage. Of the four children born to them, the two daughters already mentioned, survive her, a third died in infancy and the other, George Armstrong Reed, was one of the unfortunates in the Custer massacre, in which, besides the general and her son, the savage Sioux also robbed her of her younger brother Boston and an older brother, Capt. Tom Custer, and also her sister's husband, Lieut. James Calhoun. Her son, known to this day by the pet name of "Autie" Reed and her younger brother known as "Bos", were 19 and twenty years old respectively and were not enlisted men in the regiment. A day's visit by the general in this city had fired them with the desire to go with him to the West and take part in the campaign against the Sioux that it was known would soon begin. The general did not urge them, but as nothing serious was feared, he said: "If your mother is willing, Autie, come along." One lad would not go without the other and so they started gaily for the West.

The human mind cannot picture the soul agony and shock dealt Mrs. Reed when shortly afterward, early in July, 1876, came the crushing news of the annihilation of Custer's regiment by the Indian hordes. Bearing up with remarkable courage, she none the less never recovered fully from the blow. Never very robust, her health required constant attention during the thirty years that have elapsed since then. Always deeply religious, quiet and unostentatious, she became doubly so thereafter. She cared little for the world's pleasure, but found her chief enjoyment in church and charitable work and in domestic duties. Modest and unassuming as she was, her acts of charity were performed without the knowledge of even her intimate friends. There were several charitable movements that she favored and every year, at regular intervals, she sent generous contributions of money, giving it to a friend and making her promise not to reveal her name. This wish was carried out and until her death removed the need of concealment, it is safe to say that scarce half a dozen people knew of her kindnesses to the poor, and many a family in urgent need has been relieved by her gifts, without having any idea as to the identity ol the angel of mercy who was aiding them.

(The Monroe Democrat, Friday, July 6, 1906.)

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