Gen. Custer Celebration Day held

NEW RUMLEY – The playing of the national anthem to the raising of the flag by the Jewett VFW Post 3072 opened Saturday’s Custer Celebration Day. The summer observance is held each year, along with the Dec. 5 birthday of Gen. George Custer, who put the small community of New Rumley, where he was born, on the map.

Randy Dutton, VFW commander; Tom Trotter, junior vice commander; and Jim Thompson, quartermaster, did the flag raising service.

Leroy VanHorne, Custer Memorial Association secretary, served as master of ceremonies and said there have been 7,000 books written about Custer and that his library holds 650 of them.

He told the audience who brought lawn chairs or stood to hear the program that during his work as a letter carrier, he stopped at the home of an elderly gentleman on his route and talked about his memories of the Custer family.

The elderly historian pointed out where the Custer home had stood. That information proved to be valuable when the Ohio Historical Society bought the Custer property in 1931 and proceeded to dig in a spot thought to be the foundation of the home.

Remembering the stories of his mail customer years before, VanHorne told them the foundation would not be found where they were digging and pointed out the spot described to him. An historical reminder in an album he owned confirmed the right spot.

Now, the foundation is laid with bricks and a kiosk of Custer’s beginnings and battles is part of the park, along with a monument to Custer.

Custer was the youngest general, a brigadier general, and led more charges than any other, VanHorne noted.

Rick Williams, a living historian, started appearing as Custer in 2003 and now does speaking engagements at Civil War Round Tables, historical interest groups, school programs, re-enactments at many functions and in movies. He is the author to “The Beginner’s Guide to Civil War Reenacting.”

In the afternoon program, he spoke about the exploits of the general in the fourth year of the Civil War.

James Crabtree, in the person of President Abraham Lincoln, said that when he was a candidate for president that a young girl had written to him in 1860 saying if he wanted to be elected he should grow a beard. He eventually got to meet the very young lady and was able to tell her that he took her advice.

Lincoln traveled through many parts of Ohio, including Columbus, Cincinnati, Steubenville, Cadiz Junction, Painesville and Willoughby, and came close to New Rumley but never was in the small community, he noted.

While speaking in character, he said he was once told to give a short speech and did so. That speech, the Gettysburg Address, lasted less than three minutes.

Dave Rose, CMA president, discussed the vacancy of a vice president created by the death of Paul Quinn. He said the position is open to any one holding a membership in the association.

The firing of a Civil War cannon featured three loud volleys and an explanation of the five steps needed to get the job done.

(McCoy can be contacted at