Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 4, 2005 10:36:47 GMT -5
I bought the Heath book..I needed it for research...it is one of the worst written books I've ever read...in describing Heath's army years, Genovese uses ''might have'' and ''could have'' far to much and the entire book has something like 10 to 15 pages actually on Heath..but from what we know of his story he apparently only told only his family his tall tale [ Uncle Billy wouldn't lie would he?} The man was nowhere near the LBH. But God Bless author Genovese. he's sold a ton of those things. Everybody loves a National Enquirer story.
Frank Finkel is another major fraud...he could never really supply anyone with a name that was listed on any rosters ....said he served under the name of Hall. There was a private Hall who fought on the valley and hilltop fight, but this Hall lived out his days under his real name. Finkel's widow was really confused when she was turned down for an army pension and told her late husband was listed nowhere on any list or roster. There really is no proof or evidence anywhere that he was anywhere near the LBH. I believe he was asked to be the guest of honor at one of the battlefield's anniversary's in Hardin in 1933, I believe, but course there was no way he was going to make an appearance with actual veterans there, so he ''sicked out.''
I've find a number of ''sole survivor'' stories...they should have held a ''sole survivor'' convention at one point. Anyway, everyone knows the only human survivor was Jack Crabb.
Post by John Mackkintosh on Jun 4, 2005 14:37:33 GMT -5
Great to have you on here. As you can tell, there are some fine people on here generating some very interesting discussions. I, too, have seen the Nathan Short marker and I agree, whether truth or not, the debate over Short only serves to add to the allure of the Last Stand. About five years back, an article appeared in the RESEARCH REVIEW in support of Short being killed on the Rosebud, just as many claimed. I will see if I can dig it out later. That article, combined with the Doug Ellison booklet, are great sources of discussion since they take opposite views.
Mike points out the glaring weaknesses of the Heath book. So much is filler and the supposition that he survived is based on the author, not Heath, since not one word of Heath's has survived in written form concernign the the battle. As for Finkel, amazing that he claimed to have joined the 5th Cavalry prior to being transferred to the 7th Cav. Officers would move across regimental lines for promotions but for someone of Finkle's rank that was unheard of. Bill Bose's booklet NO CUSTER SURVIVORS does a great job digging into Finkel. He finds an individual named Frank Hall who is the best candidate for actually being Finkel and concludes his work with the last entry in his enlistment record: "Deserted May 11, '75."
On well, back out for some yard work. As Tim knows, those of us here in the South have about drowned from rain this past week and we finally have a day with some sun!
Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 5, 2005 7:48:40 GMT -5
I enjoyed your article on ''sole survivor'' John McGrath....AN UNUSUAL ''SURVIVOR'' STORY .... in the May 2004 Newsletter. Apparently old John couldn't resist the urge to lay one on the family. It really amazes me the number of men who told whoppers about fighting at the LBH. I mean the number has to be in the high 100's...I find more everyday. The two most successful though seem to be Finkel and Heath...the public bought and still buys some of these stories...I mean, if these guys were legitimate, why is there such a question on their identites....If Hughes, O'Hara, Butler or any number of real soldiers had survived there would be absolutely no question to their identities...but Finkel gave a name that was listed nowhere and people believed him...and some still do!
I think the Heath story started out as a tall tale to his family only but as grown to epic proportions in the myth area....now Heath, Finkel and a number of these guys probably had a number of ''missing years''. That is, years where the family was not really sure where they were, but a guy like John A. Martin....the fellow that said he was actually the last messager...was in the army...the 5th Cav....and we know exactly where he was on June 25, 1876..over 250 miles away....and people still believe his story! This all ties back in with the Nathan Short thing...that is....people will believe anything, and facts be damned. People would rather read The National Enquirer than The National Review any day. I guess that is why so many people chase ''Bigfoot''...by the way I lived in Washington state for four years and people would die laughing at the out of state people who came up there ''in search of.''
I make a reference to your story in the sole survivor booklet I'm putting out...I credit you of course...I think it is a fascinating subject and wish I had the time to search more on it.
Post by John Mackintosh on Jun 5, 2005 11:46:12 GMT -5
I am pleased you enjoyed the McGrath story I dug up for the newsletter and glad that it will be of use in your upcoming book. Yes, I think he really stretched the limit on sole survivor stories since his days in the 7th had come and gone, he married a North Carolina woman, and was living a new life in June of 1876. I could just see him making that stuff up in old age and spouting it out tongue and check and then people believed it!
When is your book coming out? THat sounds like just what I have wanted to read. I imagine you have a copy of the 2001 TRUE WEST 125 Custer's Last Stand anniversary issue that contains Brian Dippie's humorous narrative of a "Sole Survivor" convention where all these old geezers get together in 1926 and tell how they lived through the last stand. He strings together a number of these stories into a really funny article.
Let us know when the book is out and how we can buy it. Is it true that the present-day family of Heath doesn't necessarily buy into Genovese's book?
Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 5, 2005 12:26:42 GMT -5
Yea...the Dippie article was great....I think someone from the History Channel should do a show on sole survivors....as you know from Brian's article some of those stories are hilarious. I understand that some of the Heath family do not support Genovese 's findings and claim he invented some parts of the tale...I think that is very serious charge against an historian, but I would like to have more facts on that......by the way my name is listed in that issue under contributing artists although I had nothing featured in it. Use to do art for True West along with several others, but Bell prefers his work only now days....and that's ok, it's his baby after all. I still enjoy some of the articles.
Is the McGrath tale the only one you've ever run across? LBH Associate Ron Pickard and I have spent researching graves of ''sole survivors'' here in the midsouth area and find two. I photos of these in my booklet...one of the guys tombstone says he was a ''Mississippi Scout'' with Custer!...you can't make this stuff up!...but of course they did.
Anyway enjoyed your article..if you know of any other obscure ones let me know.
Post by John MackintoshE on Jun 5, 2005 15:26:29 GMT -5
Enjoyed reading about Custer's Mississippi Scout that you'll uncovered. What exactly does it say on that tombstone in the Newsletter photo? Sort of like the quality of corporate bonds, I guess survivor stories can be rated from those at the top end like Finkel all the way down to the "junk bonds" represented by those people for whom it would have been absolutely impossible for them to have been there. So the "scout" was only 12 years old at the time of the battle? Yikes!
Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 5, 2005 18:58:11 GMT -5
I haven't got the newsletter yet, but I'm sure you're referring to the picture I took of Ron Pickard when we went in search of Dugard's grave in Tupelo, Miss. The inscription reads;
William Theo Dugard....Custer's Co....Miss Scouts...Indian Wars...May 17, 1864..Nov 25, 1937..Battle of Little Big Horn...June 25, 1876
I really love the Mississippi Scouts part though!.... I can hear Adj. Cooke calling out, ''Mississippi Scouts..front and center!" ...three scouts approach..[all looking like Ben Johnson with a piece of straw hanging from the corners of their mouths] as they respond....''Yo!'' Corn fed and ready for action!
Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 5, 2005 21:25:24 GMT -5
I found out about the Dugard story through the Memphis newspaper..The Commercial Appeal...you can read the entire newspaper story which was reprinted in the Dec. 2001 LBHA newsletter. Anyway the story ran in the Sept. 14, 2001 edition of our paper and went on to say his granddaughter was proud of what her grandfather did and apparently got permission for a veteran's tombstone. They made a big to do out of the whole thing...the Mississippi National Guard played taps! I really wish I had driven down there and asked some questions...I mean the guy was born in 1864 for crying' out loud...which means Dugard was 12 years old in 1876, but nobody questioned it! math is not a strong point in Mississippi!
Ron Pickard and I drove down to see it in Tupelo a couple of months ago....I needed a photo for my book...anyway this is classic stuff! We found another Custer Scout tombstone in Grand Junction, TN.....I really think the true sole survivor claimants is 300 to 400. I mean there are alot we will never know about and they are prolific.
Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 6, 2005 13:45:38 GMT -5
Thanks alot Walt.....I stayed up half the night wondering where Harrington's body was found...um, let's see Sharpshooter Ridge, Medicine Tail Coulee, Last stand Hill..I guess you know it will drive me crazy until your book comes out! Thanks alot!
Post by Mike Nunnally on Jun 7, 2005 8:54:23 GMT -5
On the subject of ''sole survivors'', does anyone know what is written on Frank Finkel's tombstone? He died in Dayton, Washington and I suppose he is buried there...have any of our Washington State members ever seen it? I know there is no mention on Heath's tombstone on his so called 7 cav. years, but there have to be a number of yet undiscovered sole survivors out there with some kind of Little Big Horn reference on their tombstones. Dugard's tombstone, of course says Mississippi Scout with Custer and also Little Big Horn inscribed on it...and remember John A. Martin has ''Custer's Last Messenger'' inscribed on his...we found one named Patrick Ward whose tombstone says..''he served with Custer and the 7th Cavalry'', but there are no dates listing his birth or death on it. and of course the really strangest one of all....Thomas J. Stowers, who actually fought at the Little Big Horn, whose tombstone reads....''sole survivor of the Custer Massacre''...so Stowers really got carried away with his part in the battle! Would have loved to have heard these guys spin their yarns to people, who, I'm sure, never questioned them at all....but I'm also sure they never thought they're little lies would follow them into eternity and end up on their tombstones either.
One thing I have noticed about sole surivors stories. At least a couple.......I think there might be a misunderstanding on our part and my reason being is this: Even today, when I talk about the LBH to people and mention that any of the 7th Cavalry lived through it, the first response is usually, "I didn't think there were any survivors!"
Well, with that said, another thing I have seen in print is contemporary local newspaper account of a veteran that if I remember listed him as "sole survivor." I think this comes from the newspaper writer more than from the veteran. Fist because in earlier years most people were branded by the headlines of the "Custer Massacre" in the headlines.
Another thought is some of these veterans lived well into the 20th century and at the time of their death it may have very well been thought that the particular veteran being written about was the "last living" known of at the time?
I think it is interesting that we who are really into this history have the great advantage of knowing a lot more than most any one of the veterans in many cases about what happened and when. We have the advantage of studing the wonderful testimonies of both Soldier and Indian. Aint' it great! Always an interesting subject.
Y'all have a good day!
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."