George A. Custer became a larger than life cavalry officer at an early age. He won acclaim for his exploits during the Civil War, in particular at Gettysburg. He became best known for leading 5 Troops of the 7th Cavalry into battle in June of 1876 near the Little Big Horn River. During that battle, the 36 year old Custer and all of his men were killed. Custer immediately became immortalized on the pages of America's history.
The fact that this event happened just days before official celebrations were to begin for the 100th birthday of the Declaration of Independence only helped create an aura about this man from New Rumley, Ohio.
In 1813, Jacob Custer established New Rumley, a small community sitting atop a ridge top in eastern Ohio along a coach road between Steubenville and New Philadelphia. Custer was born here in in 1839 to Jacob Custer's nephew, Emmanuel and his wife Maria.
The original house was torn down in the late 1800s and replaced with another house. When the site was designated as a state memorial in 1932, the replacement house was moved down the road. Archaeological excavations uncovered the footprint of the original Custer homestead and this footprint became part of the Custer Memorial.
The statue was erected by the Ohio State Archeological and Historical society in 1931. On the pedestal it states: General George Armstrong Custer, born in New Rumley Harrison County Ohio December 5 1839 ** Killed in battle with the indians on the Little Big Horn * Montana June 25 1876.
Custer's Many Nicknames
Throughout his life he carried many nicknames. The first was one he gave himself during his childhood in New Rumley. Trying to pronounce Armstrong, young George could only manage to pronounce it as "Autie." His first girlfriend called him "bachelor boy." At West Point, the other cadets called him "Fanny" because of his curly hair. Just prior to the battle of Gettysburg, Custer was assigned the command of the Michigan Cavalry and given the rank of Brigadier General. He was 23 years old at the time and given the nickname "Boy General." The enlisted men under his command gave him the nickname "Iron Butt" because they thought he drove them to hard. More famously was the nickname given to him by the Indians: "Yellow Hair" because of his long blond hair.
A family tragedy
George Custer was one 7 children that Emmanuel and Maria Kirkpatrick Custer would have. Two of his brothers, Thomas and Boston served and died at his brother's side at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, as did his sister's husband, Lieutenant James Calhoun. Thomas is one of fewer than two dozen individuals to receive the Congressional Medal of honor twice.