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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

CUSTER'S WIDOW TO GET PHOTOS HELD 53 YEARS

Although is was 53 years ago that General George A. Custer wrote Mrs. Custer he was sending her a set of photographs which would best describe the lovely country of the Black Hills, in which he was leading his expedition, it was not until today that those pictures were mailed to the widow of the ill-fated general.

The stereopticon views were taken by a civilian photographer named Illingworth, from St. Paul, who accompanied the expedition to the Black Hills in July and August of 1874. The war department furnished the equipment and paid the photographer's expenses, with the understanding it would receive a set of the pictures.

The pictures, approximately 70 views, were not given to the war department, however, and it was not until after Illingworth's death that they were found and procured from the photographer's widow, later coming into the possession of the South Dakota Historical Society.

The Historical society, under the direction of Lawrence K. Fox, state historian, had prints and enlargements made from the plates, and today a set of the pictures, labeled as accurately as possible from historical data, was sent to Mrs. Custer.

General Custer, in a letter to his wife, written from Bear Butte, August 15, 1874, said; "The photographer who accompanied us has obtained a complete set of magnificent stereopticon views of the Black Hills scenery, so I will not attempt to allude to the lovely country until I can view it with you by aid of the photographs". He mentioned sending her one picture, showing him with Colonel William Ludlow, engineering officer, Bloody Knife, and Private Noonan, beside a huge grizzly or black bear which Custer had killed.

Ludlow, in his notes, wrote that the photographer had agreed to make six complete sets, but had failed to fulfill his agreement, furnishing the war department with only one incomplete set.

Mrs. Custer is more than 80 years old. Mr. Fox said, but is quite active. The pictures which she will see, more than a half century after General Custer had planned for her to see them, include numerous views of the Hills, wagon train pictures and other scenes of the expedition.

(Minneapolis, August 1927)

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