Written by JD
January 17, 2018

Howdy hombres, I done lots of fool thins gettin whar I’m at, an now I’m addin ta the list by bloggin on questions folks might have bout Custer City. I’ve no doubts that the fermost, dyin ta know question in yer frontal lobe is ‘How in tarnation did Custer City get its name – or is it jus Custer?’

Well, ya’ve come ta the right hombre ta find out. I call it Custer City so as not ta confuse folks between Custer County or Custer State Park. Lots of locals through history have been the types of few words an simply called it ‘Custer’, jus like they say ‘Rapid’ stead of Rapid City – or, we locals are jus plain lazy. Course that ain’t me, an I sur ain’t short on words, why I can sit here on my bar stool … ah, my library bench, an spout wisdom fer hours.

Local lore, an even knowledgeable books says it’s because General George Armstrong Custer led the 1874 Custer Expedition inta Indian Territory (they called Paha Sapa, now called Black Hills). I’m here ta tell ya that’s the simple version.

So listen up. I ain’t gonna feed ya locoweed – Never. You’ll get nothing but the good oats from JD, whether yer drinkin or eatin.
While here, the Expedition discovered gold, an since those newspaper reporters couldn’t keep their big mouths shut, it started an invasion of men lookin fer wealth durin a time of severe national recession, an ol’ Custer gettin blamed fer the invasion. The Army arrested the invaders/prospectors but they kept sneakin back in by the thousands. Some prospectors went ta callin the camp ‘Stonewall City’ after General Thomas Jonathon ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, others called it ‘Custer City’ after General George Armstrong Custer. A vote twas taken; seems thar were more Union folks in camp an Custer City won by a few votes. Good ol’ George had nothin ta do with it, ceptin jus travelin the area bout a year earlier, campin an lookin round fer a week in this here valley.

Kinda like the namin of Mount Rushmore. A likeable big time New York lawyer gent with the handle of Charles Rushmore was jus travelin the area fer the Harney Peak Consolidated Tin Co., Ltd mine in 1885. While ridin his horse, he asked his guide the name of the mountain he was a lookin at. “Never had any, but it has now – we’ll call the thing Rushmore.” Another version of the tale comes from a local rancher who recollects a couple years later when the gent was back on a huntin trip. Ol’ Charles asked bout the mountain’s name. When bein told it was Slaughterhouse Rock, Rushmore joked it should be named after him. That’s jus what the locals did.

Whichever ‘truth’ ya like, later on Charles E. Rushmore was the largest single private contributor of funds fer the carvin of the mountain that beared his name. Finally in 1930, the US Board of Geographic Names sifted through government paperwork ta officially get round ta recognizin the name everyone was already usin – three years after the Memorial was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge.
My handle is JD, stands fer Jus Draggin. Ain’t gonna find no big mountain nor small shanty town named fer me. Ain’t a grave board barin my name neither so I ain’t complainin. Been round these parts fer a while, been elsewhar as well, movin round, pickin up pieces of gossip an real bits of local histories. Some I’ll write bout sometime in other blogs, some I’ll keep ta myself so I ain’t becomin some derned fool’s target.

Always make sure ta stop in the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce an Visitors Bureau fer all yer questions an free suggestions; 615 Washington Street (an fer Pete’s sake, don’t go relyin on Google an other such ‘media thingy’ maps in the Black Hills, those folks ain’t been out here an can tell ya ta turn right inta a rock wall or ravine.)

Take care of yer ride an he’ll take care of ya. Ifn ya wants ta go lookin fer me, might find me sittin on my favorite library bench enjoyin a cold one, or might not. Adios.


The preceding does not necessarily express the thoughts of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau management or staff.
Resources include key words: Charles E. Rushmore and information about Custer County as found in A. T. Andreas' "Historical Atlas of Dakota", 1884, with additions from web sites of Custer City and Custer BID Board, and articles in the Custer County Chronicle.

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