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Wild West - October 2013 - Letters From Readers

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: July 30, 2013 
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'Reasonable people can study the same research and come to different conclusions.' This is not the case as far as Kirschner and I are concerned

Mansfield/Marcus
In the August 2013 Wild West Interview author Ann Kirschner (Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp) defends her conclusion that known prostitute Sadie Mansfield and Josie Marcus were different women by stating, "Reasonable people can study the same research and come to different conclusions." This is not the case as far as Kirschner and I are concerned. She allots three sentences in her book (Pp. 48–49) to dismissing the possibility that Marcus could ever have been a prostitute. I wrote a 12,000-word article ("Face To Face: Sadie Mansfield/Josephine Sarah Marcus," February 2013 Wild West History Association Journal) assembling evidence she was using the alias Sadie Mansfield—evidence Kirschner gives no indication she knew existed. Since we were not studying the same research, our conclusions, though certainly different, cannot be of equal value.

Roger Jay
Baltimore, Md.

Paxson Painting
I purchased the June 2013 issue with Edgar S. Paxson's Custer's Last Stand on the cover. It's a beautiful, eye-catching painting for sure. I will be adding the cover to my wall beside my Old West library. Keep up the good work.

Paul Gordon
St. Thomas, Ontario

Mark Kellogg Photo
The State Historical Society of North Dakota has acknowledged a mistake in the credit for the photograph of Bismarck Tribune reporter Mark Kellogg sent to Wild West for publication in John Koster's "Pioneers and Settlers" article (June 2013). The photo should not have been credited to the historical society itself but to my photo collection. The Kellogg photograph in carte de visite format has an interesting history of its own. Kellogg had his picture taken in about 1863 or 1864 by H.C. Heath, then an active photographer in La Crosse, Wis., where they both lived. During the Civil War years Kellogg was first a telegrapher and then a newspaperman working for M.M. "Brick" Pomeroy's La Crosse Democrat. The Kellogg photo is a half-body image and is signed on the back "Mark Kellogg."

I purchased the photograph in the mid-1980s from a dealer who had bought a collection of books and other artifacts from mutual friend Norvelle Wathen. The dealer also required I buy two other photographs—one of Kellogg's mother-in-law, Hannah Paine Robinson, and one of his sister-in-law, Eliza Jane Robinson (also known as Lillie). Lillie's photo, also back-marked by Heath, has the date of Feb. 18, 1864, on it. It is very likely Kellogg's own photo was taken about the same time. According to a letter that accompanied the three photographs, as of February 1975 they had been owned by a Royal Oak, Mich., woman named Irene Gurman. Other information suggested they had previously been owned by Fred Dustin, renowned in Custer circles as one of the first generation of serious researchers of the Little Bighorn.

I began researching Kellogg's life and career in 1980, and my biography of him, I Go With Custer: The Life and Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg, was published in 1996. In all my years of research, including since 1996, I have frequently seen a head-and-shoulders shot of Kellogg, obviously drawn from another copy of my half-body photograph. I have never located another full CDV as I have.

Finally, in writing his well-done piece, John Koster avoided at least one serious error you often see in articles about Kellogg. Some years ago the Associated Press began claiming Mark Kellogg as its first reporter to be killed in action. That is not accurate. At the time of his death in 1876 at the Little Bighorn, Kellogg was working for editor Clement A. Lounsberry's Bismarck Tribune. Lounsberry properly has received credit for writing the first detailed account of the Little Bighorn battle, in part based on Kellogg's materials. He likely made his reports available to the then fledgling AP. Kellogg himself was not employed by the AP, despite the news service's claim today.

Sandy Barnard
Wake Forest, N.C.

Survivor Fred Gerard
John Koster's "Desperate Flight From the Little Bighorn," (June 2013) made me think of Fred Gerard. Gerard was not a trooper but a white scout and interpreter who also survived the battle. I am told by my Blackfeet relatives that I am related to him. It is my understanding that he and other scouts swam their horses across the river to an island and watched the battle while hiding, then escaped at night, because they covered themselves with Indian blankets and could speak Indian dialects. Please tell me more.

Joan Sullivan
Zephyr, Texas

John Koster responds: Fred Gerard was the interpreter for the Arikara scouts, survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn and in fact was something of a hero. But Gerard and his scouts left the five doomed companies in Lt. Col. George Custer's immediate command long before Custer was encircled. He was caught in the timber after the enemy warriors routed Major Marcus Reno's three companies and the Arikara scouts. Gerard served as a decoy to lure the enemy warriors away from the woods so that those white survivors who had lost their horses were able to escape to Reno Hill.

Send letters to Wild West, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176 or by e-mail.



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