Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933

Alternative names

Hide Profile

American author and wife of General George A. Custer.

From the description of Letter, 1905. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122486737

Elizabeth Bacon married Gen. George Armstrong Custer in 1864. After her husband's death in 1876, she was instrumental in promoting his legacy as a hero and role-model. In addition to her books about her life with her husband, Elizabeth Bacon Custer supported herself by working as a journalist.

From the description of Oberammergau passion-play, 1910. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 49848588

"Custer, Elizabeth Clift Bacon ("Libbie"; April 8, 1842-April 6, 1933) The wife of George Armstrong Custer. She was 5'4" tall with chestnut brown hair and light blue-gray eyes. Libbie grew up in Monroe, MI, the daughter of Judge Daniel S. Bacon, one of the town's leading citizens. Her father was 38 when he married 23-year-old Eleanor Sophia Page of Grand Rapids, MI, in September 1837. The couple had 4 children-2 girls died in infancy and a boy, Eddy, died at the age of 8 of a childhood disease. That left Libbie to be doted upon. However, when Libbie was 12 her mother passed away from a disease Judge Bacon described to his family as one the nature of which 'physicians were unacquainted with.' The judge had promised Libbie's mother on her deathbed that he would properly care for their only child. He sent Libbie off to boarding school as the Young Ladies; Seminary and Collegiate Institute-known as Boyd's Seminary-rented out their house, and took a room at a hotel. Libbie graduated from Boyd's in the spring of 1862, valedictorian of her class. Custer was just an occasional resident of Monroe where he lived off and on with his half sister, Lydia Ann Reed. Due to that fact, and their differing social levels, the refined Miss Bacon and Custer, son of the town smithy in New Rumley, OH, did not meet as children. However, her first impression of him was to last a lifetime. She called it 'that awful day.' It occurred in October 1861 when Capt. Custer was home on leave from the army. He and a friend had visited a local tavern and imbibed to excess. The two drunks staggered through the streets of Monroe past the Bacon residence on their way toward the Reed home, half a mile south. Libbie and her father happened to observe the disgusting revelers. The incident, however, cured Custer of drinking alcohol for the rest of his life. Custer and Libbie formally met at an 1862 Thanksgiving party at Boyd's Seminary. Custer was immediately smitten with her and courted her by showing up wherever she happened to be and calling on her at home. She, on the other hand, was not too sure about him. Her father and stepmother had raised her in the Presbyterian Church, and there was the social disparity. Besides, Libbie was not exactly wanting for suitors. Judge Bacon noticed Custer's growing interest in his daughter, and decided to put an end to the relationship. He did not fancy his only child married to a common military man. The judge made Libbie promise to not see Custer again or write to him after he had returned to duty in the Civil War. Custer pledged his undying love to her, which she rebuffed, but she later wrote in her diary: 'He is noble, brave and generous and he loves, I believe, with an intensity that few know of or as few ever can love. ... He tells me he would sacrifice every earthly hope to gain my love and I tell him if I could I would give it to him. I told him to forget me and he said he never could forget me and I told him I never should forget him and I wished to be his true friend through life but it is no use to offer myself as friend for he will never think of me otherwise than his wife. ... Oh, Love, love, how many are made miserable as well as happy by all the powerful influence.' Meanwhile, back on duty, 23-year-old Gen. George Armstrong Custer was becoming a national celebrity due to his daring exploits. The prestigious Harper's Weekly had published a drawing of a classic Custer cavalry charge. Libbie had obeyed her father's wishes and refused to see or accept mail from Custer. A go-between, however, emerged. Nettie Humphrey, the future wife of Custer's adjutant, Jacob Greene, passed information through letters for the estranged couple. Libbie had by now fallen in love with Custer, and at a masquerade ball at the Humphrey house on September 28, 1863, she promised to marry Custer if her father consented to the union. Custer composed what he considered the most important letter of his life, asking Judge Bacon if he could merely correspond with Libbie. The judge relented-no doubt partially due to Custer's growing fame and regard-and allowed Libbie to write to her future husband. Her first letter began: 'My more than friend-at last-Am I a little glad to write you some of the thoughts I cannot control?' On February 9, 1864, Custer and Elizabeth Clift Bacon were married in the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, MI, in a storybook wedding with a standing-room only congregation of witnesses. Libbie's former schoolmaster, Rev. Boyd, performed the ceremony. Custer, with short hair and wearing a coat that cost $100, chose his adjutant Jacob Greene as his best man. Libbie wore traditional white, and was given away by her father. The couple received such gifts as a silver tea service from the 7th Michigan Cavalry, a silver dinner service from the 1st Vermont Cavalry, and a Bible from Judge Bacon. Custer presented Libbie with a gold watch engraved 'E.B.C.' Libbie faithfully followed her husband to each of his duty stations. She endured the hardships of frontier life without complaint, satisfied to be with the man she loved. Custer in turn was devoted to her, and even faced a court-martial to be at her side at the conclusion of the Hancock Expedition of 1867. Although childless, their marriage was a great love story. Her adventures and passion for Custer can be found in her three excellent memoirs: Boots and Saddles; Or, Life in Dakota with General Custer (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1885); Tenting on the Plains; Or, General Custer in Kansas and Texas (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1887); and Following the Guidon (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1890). When Custer died at the Little Bighorn, Libbie became a widow at age 34. She returned to Monroe, MI, and contemplated her future. She found her calling in the debate surrounding the famous battle and Custer's actions. She worked tirelessly to protect his national image against those who would bring criticism. Her memoirs not only informed the public about her experiences on the frontier but furthered the heroic image of her husband. For the remainder of her life-57 years-she remained unmarried and vigorously defended Custer against any attack. She was instrumental in raising funds to erect memorials in Michigan and at West Point in Custer's honor. She traveled the world, and was much in demand as a public speaker. Libbie Custer died two days short of her ninety-first birthday, and was buried beside her husband at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point."

From the description of Papers, [1929] (University of North Dakota). WorldCat record id: 745091565

George Armstrong Custer was a famous cavalry officer during the Civil War and the Indian wars of the 1860s and 1870s. Elizabeth Bacon Custer, his wife, was the author of several works about Army life on the plains. After the death of her husband, she dedicated her life to defending his honor.

From the guide to the George A. and Elizabeth B. Custer papers, 1857-1929, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

American author and wife of General George A. Custer. After the death of her husband, she dedicated her life to defending his honor.

From the description of Papers, 1886-ca. 1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122622752

Elizabeth "Libby" Bacon was born in Monroe, Michigan, on April 8, 1842, the daughter of Judge Daniel Bacon. As a girl she aspired to be a writer. She married George Armstrong Custer On February 9, 1864. After his death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, she became an ardent advocate for his memory, writing many books and essays. Elizabeth Bacon Custer died in New York on April 4, 1933.

From the description of Elizabeth Bacon Custer writing undated. (Montana Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 746069113

Elizabeth Bacon Custer was the wife of Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

From the description of Miscellaneous manuscripts, n.d. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155885525

Elizabeth "Libby" Custer, the widow of the the famous 7th Cavalry leader who died in what is popularly known as "Custer's Last Stand," was the main proponent of the hero status her dead husband attained. From Monroe (Mich.), she married Custer in 1864. She dedicated the remainder of her life after the death of her husband in 1874 to his memory as a hero. (For further information on Elizabeth, see the several books on or about her in the Clarke Historical Library.).

From the description of Correspondence, 1890,1907. (Clarke Historical Library). WorldCat record id: 41536749

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Johnson, Rossiter, 1840-1931. Letters and autograph from Rossiter Johnson, 1877-1903. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933,. Autograph letter signed from Elizabeth Bacon Custer, New York, to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1888 March 21. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Schreyvogel, Charles, 1861-1912. Charles Schreyvogel papers, circa 1880-1962. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
referencedIn Bates, Charles Francis, b. 1862. Charles F. Bates papers, 1866-1977. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Elizabeth B. Custer : [collection] / [1900] ; manuscript. History Colorado
referencedIn Pforzheimer, Walter L. (Walter Lionel), 1914-2003. Walter L. Pforzheimer correspondence with Marguerite Merington, and related letters, 1933-1942 (bulk 1939-1942). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Autograph File, C, 1554-2002. Houghton Library.
creatorOf George A. and Elizabeth B. Custer papers, 1857-1929 L. Tom Perry Special Collections19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts
referencedIn Charles F. Bates papers, 1866-1977 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Letters : to Mrs. Kingsley / by Elizabeth Bacon Custer, 1886-1889. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Rosser, Thomas Lafayette, 1836-1910. Papers of Thomas Lafayette Rosser, Jr. and the Rosser and Gordon families [manuscript] 1764 (1834-1910) 1969. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Vinnie Ream and R. L. Hoxie Papers, 1853-1937, (bulk 1853-1914) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Elizabeth Bacon Custer writing undated. Montana Historical Society Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Letter: to Mr. Bagby /by Elizabeth Bacon Custer, 1889 Feb 6. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Elizabeth Bacon Custer : [collection] : 1920 ;. History Colorado
referencedIn McCaskey, William S. William S. McCaskey papers, 1876-1972, undated. U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center
referencedIn Howells family papers, 1850-1954 (inclusive). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth B. Papers, no date. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Oberammergau passion-play, 1910. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Frontier women II microfilm set, 1821-1919, [microform]. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Letter : to [Frederick Samuel] Dellenbaugh, 1919 March 26. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Roberts, Matilda, 1844-1934,. Charles A. Roberts family collection, 1925-1934, 1954. North Dakota State University Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. [Letter] 19-- Dec. 10, 684 Amsterdam Av. [to] Mrs. Bodman / Elizabeth B. Custer. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Lungren, Fernand, 1857-1932. Papers of Fernand Lungren, 1897-1928. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Smith, De Cost, 1864-1939. De Cost Smith Collection, 1880-1943. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. AMs, [ca. 1904] : "Manila." Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Marguerite Merington papers, 1890-1949 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935. Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh papers relating to his book George Armstrong Custer, 1916-1933. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Morse, James Herbert, b. 1841. Diaries, 1866-1911. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Rogers Memorial Collection: Papers of James R. Osgood and A. V. S. Anthony, 1853-1912. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University
referencedIn McKay, James T., 1843-1890. Papers, 1854-1930, 1860-1898 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Barrows family papers, 1861-1931. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Pickard-Whittier papers, 1815-1915. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Biography -- Custer, Gen. George A. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
creatorOf Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876. Letters. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Merington, Marguerite. Marguerite Merington papers, 1890-1949. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876. Papers, 1857-1929. American Primers
referencedIn Ghent, William J. (William James), 1866-1942. Papers of William J. Ghent, 1876-1942. Library of Congress
creatorOf Myrick, Herbert, b. 1860,. Collection of Western Americana, 1860-1926. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Coe, William Robertson, 1869-1955,. Coe mss. 32, 37, 44, 81, 85, 122-5, 126, 147, 156, 212, 226, 351, 388, 410, 1816-1918. Kansas State Historical Society
referencedIn Pforzheimer, Walter L. (Walter Lionel), 1914-2003. Walter L. Pforzheimer correspondence with Marguerite Merington, and related letters, 1933-1942 (bulk 1939-1942). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Breihan, Carl W., 1915-. George A. Custer collection, 1864, 2003. Clarke Historical Library
referencedIn Swett, Leonard Herbert. Leonard Herbert Swett papers, 1875-1932, bulk 1875-1885. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876. George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth (Bacon) Custer collection [microform], 1856-1933. Kansas State Historical Society
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. AMs, [ca. 1891] : to her sister. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Letter : to General Wright [Horatio Gouverneur Wright?], 1888 May 20. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Custer, George Armstrong, 1839-1876. George Armstrong Custer papers, 1858-[not before 1887]. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Letter: to Mr. Thomas A. Warburton /by Elizabeth Bacon Custer, 1905 Mar 16. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Miscellaneous manuscripts, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn De Cost Smith Collection, 1880-1943. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Papers, [1929] University of North Dakota, Chester Fritz Library
referencedIn United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Military Service Branch. Selected Military Service Records Relating to George Armstrong Custer. National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
creatorOf Porter, Lucia Chauncey. Correspondence, 1853-1917. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935. Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh papers relating to his book George Armstrong Custer, 1916-1933. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876. George A. Custer papers, 1864-1866. Detroit Public Library, Detroit Main Library
referencedIn Carnegie autograph collection, 1867-1945 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Begole family. Begole-Miles family photograph albums. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn James K. Hosmer papers., 1846-1943. Minnesota Historical Society.
referencedIn Farnham Lyon Collection, ca. 1885-1926 University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth B. Letters, 1921 ; 1930. State Historical Society of North Dakota State Archives
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Papers, 1886-ca. 1929. American Primers
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Letter, 1905. American Primers
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Correspondence, 1890,1907. Clarke Historical Library
creatorOf Hosmer, James Kendall, 1834-1927. James K. Hosmer papers, 1846-1943. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Fairchild, George H. George H. Fairchild papers, 1874-1893. State Historical Society of North Dakota State Archives
creatorOf Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919,. Carnegie autograph collection, 1867-1945. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Lockwood, John C., 1857-1928. Papers of John C. Lockwood, 1860-1926 (bulk 1920-1925). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn William J. Ghent Papers, 1876-1942, (bulk 1902-1942) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Wheeler, Olin Dunbar, 1852-1925. Olin Dunbar Wheeler papers, 1892-1924. Newberry Library
referencedIn George Armstrong Custer Collection McCracken Research Library , Buffalo Bill Historical Center
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Elizabeth Bacon Custer papers [microform], 1852-1860. Kansas State Historical Society
referencedIn Kidd, James Harvey, 1840-1913. James H. Kidd papers, 1861-1910. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Swett, Leonard, 1825-1889. Swett family correspondence, 1864-1897. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Frontier women II microfilm set, 1821-1919 [microform]. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Ream, Vinnie, 1847-1914. Vinnie Ream and Richard Leveridge Hoxie papers, 1853-1937 (bulk 1853-1914). Library of Congress
creatorOf Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. Elizabeth Bacon Custer papers, 1852-1860. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876. Letter to "Charlie", 1873 October 6. University of Virginia. Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Aylesworth, Barton O. (Barton Orville), 1860-1933 person
associatedWith Bagby, Mr. person
associatedWith Barrett, Lawrence, 1838-1891 person
correspondedWith Barrows family. family
associatedWith Bates, Charles Francis, b. 1862. person
associatedWith Begole family. family
associatedWith Benteen, Frederick William, 1834-1898 person
associatedWith Bodman, Clara P., person
associatedWith Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919, person
associatedWith Chandler, Zachariah, 1813-1879 person
associatedWith Coe, William Robertson, 1869-1955, person
associatedWith Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876. person
correspondedWith Daly, Augustin, 1838-1899 person
associatedWith De Cost, Smith 1864-1939. person
associatedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935. person
associatedWith Fairchild, George H. person
associatedWith Fenton, Reuben Eaton, 1809-1885 person
associatedWith Flunger, Anna person
associatedWith Ghent, William J. (William James), 1866-1942. person
associatedWith Hosmer, James Kendall, 1834-1927. person
correspondedWith Hoxie, R. L. (Richard Leveridge), 1844-1930 person
associatedWith Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875 person
associatedWith Johnson, Rossiter, 1840-1931. person
associatedWith Kidd, James Harvey, 1840-1913. person
associatedWith Kingsley, Mrs. person
associatedWith Lang, Anton, 1875-1938 person
associatedWith Lockwood, John C., 1857-1928. person
associatedWith Lungren, Fernand, 1857-1932. person
correspondedWith Lyon, Farnham person
correspondedWith McCaskey, William S. person
associatedWith McKay, James T., 1843-1890. person
associatedWith Merington, Marguerite. person
associatedWith Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925 person
associatedWith Morse, James Herbert, b. 1841. person
associatedWith Myrick, Herbert, b. 1860, person
associatedWith Nelson, David. person
associatedWith Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection (Chester Fritz Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Ostrander, Alson Bowles, 1849-1934 person
associatedWith Pforzheimer, Walter L. (Walter Lionel), 1914-2003. person
associatedWith Porter, Lucia Chauncey. person
associatedWith Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. person
correspondedWith Ream, Vinnie, 1847-1914. person
correspondedWith Rogers, Henry Munroe, 1839-1937 person
associatedWith Rosser, Thomas Lafayette, 1836-1910. person
associatedWith Schreyvogel, Charles, 1861-1912. person
associatedWith Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891 person
associatedWith Smith, De Cost, 1864-1939. person
associatedWith Smith, Joseph P. person
associatedWith Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869 person
associatedWith Stimson, Dorothy. person
associatedWith Stockton, Fred Everett, 1877-1938. person
associatedWith Swett, Leonard, 1825-1889. person
associatedWith Swett, Leonard Herbert. person
associatedWith United States. Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Cavalry corporateBody
associatedWith United States Military Academy corporateBody
associatedWith United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Military Service Branch. corporateBody
associatedWith Warburton, Thomas A. person
correspondedWith Wheeler, Olin Dunbar, 1852-1925. person
correspondedWith Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892 person
associatedWith Wright, Horatio Gouverneur, 1820-1899. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
West (U.S.)
United States
Philippines
United States
United States
United States
Monroe (Mich.)
United States
United States
Oberammergau (Germany)
Scotland
Subject
Indians of North America--Wars--1866-1895--Sources
Politics, Government, and Law
Little Bighorn, Battle of the, Mont., 1876
Soldiers--History--Sources
Army spouses
Military
Diaries
Cheyenne Indians--Wars--History--Sources
Ohio State House
Little Bighorn, Battle of the, Mont., 1876--Sources
Dakota Indians--Wars--History--Sources
Soldiers
Biography
Generals' spouses--Biography--Sources
Passion plays
Soldiers--Family relationships--Sources
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1842-04-08

Death 1933-04-04

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w62z13vx

Ark ID: w62z13vx

SNAC ID: 22027726