From Custer to Random Facts

Where the Cheyenne were held captive

Little Wolf and Dull Knife, the chiefs who led the Northern Cheyenne

The following paragraph was taken from information provided in Custer’s book, which may or may not have been published. If it was, I couldn’t find it in my research for Stoneheart’s Woman.

Mo-nah-se-tah – The young grass that shoots in the spring a daughter of a chief high in rank in Little Rock. She becomes the mother of Custer’s child Yellow Tail. She never liked her  first husband who purchased her for 11 ponies and she shot him in the knee, crippling him for life. She then accompanied two other Indian women and went with Custer while he visited hostile tribes. She remained with the troops, imprisoned but not under guard, until the incident at Fort Hays when she returned to the Cheyenne.

He never mentions in his book that she also bore him a sickly son with golden hair, but it is told by many legends as well as the Cheyenne. Could another Cheyenne woman have born him a son much earlier, when he was 18 and traveling each summer to Ohio from West Point to spend time with his family? The possibility is there, and that son is my hero Stone Heart, who is now 24 years old.

Here are some notes I made during my research, that I thought might be helpful.:

Ponies feed on cottonwood bark. Indians cut the white branches into four foot pieces and throw them to the ponies. They place one forefoot on the limb in the same manner as a dog secures a bone and gnaws the bark from it.

Buffalo grass grows on the uplands, thick rich grass grows on the plains but only around streams. Buffalo grass blades reach a growth of from three to five inchs but instead of being straight it assumes a curled or waving shape. When walked on it is like walking on thick moss.

The buffalo range is about 200 miles wide running north and south extending from the Platte on the north to the valley of the Upper Canadian to the south. They move in single file while grazing, with the matriarch leading. Buffalo trails vary very little, usually from two to four inches in depth and eight to ten inches wide, almost as unvarying as that of a needle north and south.

Streams on the plains run from west to east seeking entrance to the Mississippi. The buffalo migrates and grazes crossing these streams and creating buffalo wallows. Follows the young grass in the spring moving northward, then back southward to the milder climate in the fall. Wallows are caused by rutting bulls and are about eight feet in diameter.

I thought readers would enjoy some of the random notes writers make while researching for a book. I have dozens of files filled with such notes ranging from the characters, which I’ll share sometime, to historical happenings in the locales in which the book takes place. I always put the characters first, so most of them are of that nature.

The best book I found for researching the Northern Cheyenne and their final battle to go home to the land of the Yellowstone was Mari Sandoz’s Cheyenne Autumn.

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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7 Responses to From Custer to Random Facts

  1. This is fascinating stuff, Velda. Reminds me of why western historical is such a popular and well-loved genre.
    I loved the idea of the yellow-haired child. We have photos in my family of Great,Great Grandpa (the Butterfield stage driver) with an Indian woman beside him and an Indian child on his lap. Raises a lot of questions and brings to mind lots of possible stories.

  2. Pam, thanks for commenting. I was fascinated by some of the history we dug up on Custer and his penchant for women who were considered his enemies. Hardly anyone I’ve talked to knew of his children by Cheyenne and Sioux women.

  3. Interesting info. It’s so much fun to do research, isn’t it? Even if you don’t specifically use what you find, it still creates a background of information to set a scene and a mood. Thanks for sharing.
    FYI: I found your blog through LinkedIn’s “Book Marketing / Do you have a blog?” group.

  4. Joy Keeney says:

    Interesting information…always fun to come across fun facts while digging around. Always a treasure to be had when treasure hunting in the past. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Jack LaBloom says:

    Outstanding research and photos, Velda. Thank you for sharing them with us. I found the notes you made to be fascinating information.

    • Thanks, Jack. I enjoy research so much that I have tons of notes in files just waiting for the time I can place a book in the locale or era I’ve researched. My husband likes to help and he runs across some fascinating items. I plan to share more of these tidbits here on my blog occasionally.

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