“I Never Wanted for Anything Necessary”: George A. Custer’s Birthplace

Situated in the foothills of eastern Ohio is the small town of New Rumley. This otherwise non-descript village, its houses sitting on either side of State Route 646, is the birthplace of George Armstrong Custer.

The base of the Custer monument in New Rumley.

The base of the Custer monument in New Rumley.

The house in which Custer was born is no longer standing. Built in 1817, it was a two story log structure. A kitchen was attached to the rear of the house dwelling. The house was built by James Ward, Custer’s maternal grandfather and had originally operated as a tavern. His mother, Maria moved into this house with her first husband, Israel Kirkpatrick sometime around 1830.  Five years later, Kirkpatrick passed away and Maria married Emmanuel Custer, another local widower. Custer was born in the back room on the first floor of the house on December 5, 1839.

The original house site with exhibits.

The original house site with exhibits.

The Custer's backyard.

The Custer’s backyard.

As a adult, Custer recalled with fondness his memories as a boy and wrote to his father: “There is not a day that I not think with deep gratitude of the many sacrifices, of the devotion you and mother have constantly bestowed upon me. You could not have more for me than you have. A fortune would be nothing to me with what I am indebted to you for. I never wanted for anything necessary and if you did not give me a fortune in money; you did what was infinitely better. You and mother instilled into my mind correct principles of industry, honesty, self reliance; I was taught the distinction between right and wrong; I was taught the value of temperate habits; and I now look back to my childhood and the days spent under the home roof as a period of the purest happiness; and I feel thankful for such noble parents”.

In the spring of 1849, Emmanuel sold the house and the family moved to North Township, only three miles from New Rumley. The house remained standing until 1894. Today, the outline of the house is marked and visitors can view exhibits “inside” the home. A statue of Custer, dedicated on June 22, 1932, stands nearby.

Monument near the house site.

Monument near the house site.

For further reading:

Digging Into Custer’s Last Stand by Sandy Barnard

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