Survivor Frank Finkel's Lasting Stand

Survivor Frank Finkel’s Lasting Stand

By John P. Koster
4/9/2007 • Wild West

In the years between 1876 and the later 1920s, 70 grizzled galoots and geezers told amused journalists and historians that they were the lone survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Their stories fell into one of three predictable patterns: disguised themselves as Indians by wrapping up in blankets; hid inside a scooped-out horse or a scooped-out buffalo; rescued by the chief’s daughter, who found them irresistible.

One man’s story was completely different—because he was telling the truth. But before this article, the last few points of confirmation that clinch Frank Finkel as a survivor of Custer’s Last Stand were hidden in the National Archives, the U.S. Census Bureau and the records of the Columbia County Auditor’s Office in Dayton, Wash. After the discovery of the final pieces of the puzzle, with information from published books, it is clear that Frank Finkel was what he claimed to be—the only known white survivor of the five companies that followed Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer to the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory on June 25, 1876.

Frank Finkel was born in January 1854 in Washington County, Ohio, the third son of Peter and Magdalena Finckle, German immigrants who owned a farm valued at $500 in the 1860 U.S. census, about the average for that time and place. The census taker spelled the name “Finkle” in 1860, continuing the drift from the Germanic “Finckel” to the Americanized “Finkel” that occurred through Frank’s long life. Peter and Magdalena Finkle had six sons and a daughter, and while they spoke German at home, they sent their children to public schools, so that Frank Finkle grew up bilingual and fully literate in English. Peter Finkle died in 1868, and some of the older sons, including Frank, left a farm that was too small for six men and went to look for work.

Down on his luck in Chicago in January 1872, Frank Finkle did what a lot of young men did if they were “too proud to beg and too dumb to steal”—he enlisted. Joining the U.S. Army in 1872 was an admission of economic incompetence if you were a native-born American as Frank Finkle was, and a lot of young men signed up under assumed names, but Frank Finkle went the government one better—he assumed a name that could help him win prestige and promotions. He Germanized his name still further by calling himself “August Finckle” and put down his birthplace as “Berlin, Prussia,” and his occupation as “clerk.” The year before “Finckle” enlisted, Prussia had scored a double-edged victory over Louis-Napoleon and over the new Republic of France. Prussian soldiers were in greater demand than they had been in the days of Baron von Steuben, and Frank cashed in. Keeping his own birth date on January 23, he updated his age from 18 to 27 and was shortly telling gullible troopers of the 5th and later the 7th Cavalry, like his German-born buddy Charles Windolph, that he had been an officer in the Prussian army. Frank’s imposing height (a shade over 6 feet), dark hair, gray eyes and language skills helped him make sergeant in two years.

By 1876 Finkle was the second sergeant of C Company, 7th Cavalry, commanded by Captain Tom Custer, a high-morale unit whose soldiers, like the officers, were Custer partisans in the heavily polarized 7th Cavalry. When the soldiers were issued huge, floppy Andrews hats that made them look like buccaneers, C Company was one of five companies where the men chipped in their own money to buy snappier hats from a Chicago retailer. The incident touched off fireworks when George Custer received a slap on the wrist from the designated post trader, who warned him against shopping off-post. Post traderships were a scandalous monopoly; investors who never saw an Army post hired the actual traders to deal with soldiers and random Indians and expected a 50 percent kickback. The soldiers at the frontier posts paid outrageously inflated prices for everything from whiskey to canned peaches, while supplies meant for the Indians simply disappeared. The one thing that the Indians could depend on was a steady flow of 1866 16-shot Henry repeating rifles, now rendered surplus because of the later-model Winchester 1873 but still worth $75 on the day when the Indians received their cash annuities. Government policy kept the Indians hungry and better armed than the troopers sent to keep an eye on them, whose rifles were single-shot Springfields.

The powder keg of graft blew up when the Sioux refused to sell the Black Hills in 1875 and many of the younger men left the agencies to join “the Sitting Bull Sioux”—Hunkpapas and other so-called hostiles whom Army officers called “self-supporters.” George Custer, who had gotten himself in trouble in Washington testifying about the potentially lethal post trader swindle, had to do some fast talking to win back a role in the campaign to force the Sioux back to their agencies. The 7th Cavalry, including Tom Custer’s C Company and 2nd Sgt. Frank Finkle, set out from Fort Abraham Lincoln in Dakota Territory as one of three swords swung against the hostiles.

George Custer refused three Gatling guns and a 3-inch Rodman cannon for his column, as well as two companies of the 2nd Cavalry, his first Civil War outfit. He had few doubts. C Company appeared less confident. Tom Custer was said to have been nervous before the battle, and his second-in-command, Lieutenant H.M. Harrington, was having recurrent nightmares about being tied to a tree and tortured by Indians. First Sergeant Edwin Bobo had bought a spare .22-caliber pistol by mail order—but forgot to bring it. As they drew near the Little Bighorn, C Company found a white man’s scalp on a stick. Third Sergeant Jeremiah Finley—Irish-born, Civil War veteran, Custer admirer and Finkle buddy—stowed the scalp in his saddlebag, perhaps with the idea of giving it a decent burial. The men were jittery. The sight of the biggest Indian village they”d ever seen on June 25 did nothing to calm them down.

C Company led the charge down to the Little Bighorn—such as it was. Finkle had trouble keeping up, probably because his height and weight imposed a heavy burden on his horse; he was the tallest enlisted man in the 7th Cavalry and one of the heaviest. “I was riding close to Sergeant Finkle,” Sergeant Daniel Kanipe remembered in 1924. “We were both close to Capt. Tom Custer. Finkle hollered at me that he couldn’t make it, his horse was giving out. I answered back, “Come on, Finkle, if you can.” He dropped back a bit….If Sergeant Finkle had not dropped back a few minutes before, he would have got the orders [to bring up the ammunition pack train]—and I would not be telling this story.”

Sergeant Kanipe, the next to last man to see the Custer brothers alive, was sent back with orders to speed the pack mules and their 24,000 rounds of Springfield ammunition forward, leaving his buddy Finkle and his struggling horse to follow the Custer brothers down to the river. At least four C Company troopers dropped out with “horse troubles”—two with blown horses, two probably from cowardice —but Sergeant Finkle was with C Company when the company reached the stream.

What happened then is the source of endless debate. The archaeology of Richard Allan Fox Jr. suggests that George Custer stopped at the river and moved back into three defensive positions. C Company, with Tom Custer and Sergeant Finkle, was one of two companies on what came to be called Calhoun Hill, overlooking the Hunkpapa village. The Indians had been sleeping off an all-night courtship dance the night before, but two green troopers rode into their village and started shooting whatever moved until they were unhorsed and killed. Major Marcus Reno hit the huge encampment on the other side. The unseen warriors exploded out of their tepees—armed with all those repeating rifles the post traders had sold them. The 7th Cavalry was outgunned 10-to-1 by the Indians they came to encircle. Finkle told reporters that the men were ordered to mount, and that as he was firing, an Indian bullet struck the butt of his Springfield carbine and slammed the bare steel barrel into his forehead. He was hit twice more—once in the leg, once in the side—a bullet slashed his horse’s bridle, and another grazed his horse’s flank. Bolting into the oncoming Indians along with those C Company men who hadn”t already been killed or unhorsed, Finkle was carried through the angry Indians charging uphill to protect their families and down Calhoun Hill, beyond the Hunkpapa camp at the foot of the hill and out onto the plains.

“One long sword escaped,” Rain-in-the-Face told W. Kent Thomas in 1894. “His pony ran off with him and went past our lodges [at the foot of Calhoun Hill]….I remembered hearing the squaws tell about it after the fight.” Finkle wasn”t the only one to get past the Indians momentarily—Lieutenant Harrington’s body was never found, though a skeleton found years later and miles from Calhoun Hill might have been his. Corporal John Foley of C Company also broke through the cordon and was chased for miles by three teenage Indians armed only with bows. The three boys were out of arrows when Foley panicked and shot himself in the head with his own Colt .45. As many as eight men from C Company might have gotten through the Indians, only to be ridden down and killed far from the battlefield—the pro-Custer Crow Indians found six skeletons with 7th Cavalry equipment years later, and nobody from the Army even bothered to go out and look. Trooper Nathan Short made it as far as the Rosebud River—more than 20 miles—before he and his horse both collapsed and died.

Back inside the circle of desperation and death, Sergeant Finley had been unhorsed and wounded or killed. First Sergeant Bobo, his horse dead, walked back grimly toward Custer Hill for the Last Stand while other, less courageous troopers panicked and frantically tried to escape or—according to the Indians—shot themselves. Bobo died in the so-called Keogh Sector. Tom Custer died with his brothers George and Boston, nephew Autie Reed, and their brother-in-law, Lieutenant James Calhoun.

Finkle kept riding, dazed and hurting, on his frantic sorrel. Somewhere in the next day and night, he crossed the three branches of Tullock’s Creek, later reporting—correctly, according to the 20th-century topography of Dr. Charles Kuhlman—that the two southern branches were polluted with alkali, but the northernmost branch was fresh and sweet. Days after the disaster, Finkle reached the confluence of the Rosebud and Yellowstone rivers and put his dying horse out of its misery with a single pistol shot to the head. Lieutenant Edward Godfrey of the 7th Cavalry found the horse in August and realized that there had been a survivor. Godfrey reported the dead 7th Cavalry horse in 1892 but—significantly—didn’t mention that it had been a C Company sorrel or light bay until 1921, in an account unpublished until the 1950s. (The other four companies in the color-coded, or “blooded,” 7th Cavalry rode dark bays or gray horses down to the river.)

Back at the battlefield, Sergeant Kanipe found Finley’s body with a dozen arrows in it and found Finley’s horse, Carlo. “I looked over the dead and recognized here and there a buddy and a sergeant that I knew,” he said. “I recognized Sergeants Finkle and Finley. Sergeant Finley lay at his horse’s head, he had 12 arrows through him. They had been lying there for two days in the sun, bloody and the wounded mutilated….The squaws would always, after taking the clothes off the men, shoot them full of arrows or chop them in the faces with tomahawks.” Kanipe never found Finkle’s horse, and while he said he saw Finkle, he provided no plausible explanation of how he identified a butchered corpse after two days of 100-degree weather. Sergeant Charles Windolph, Finkle’s best friend and a survivor of the fighting on Reno Hill, ventured back to the field of slaughter expressly to find Finkle’s body—and said he couldn”t find it.

Wandering the wilderness, Finkle discovered a white man cutting wood outside a shack in the middle of the uncharted territory. The man started at the sight of his uniform and ordered him away at gunpoint. Finkle collapsed, and the man relented and helped him to his feet. Inside the shack, another white man was sprawled on a crude bed, his face gaunt and pallid, clearly dying of tuberculosis. The two men—the healthier one was known only as Bill—took turns doctoring Finkle. They probed the wound in his leg with a pine splinter, then poured hot pitch on it. Finkle passed out. When he came to, he found that the bleeding had finally stopped and that the wound in his side, treated with bear grease, had also closed. For the next few weeks, Bill took care of Finkle, and Finkle helped Bill take care of his dying friend. The man finally died, and Finkle and Bill buried him under a simple marker. Then they split up. The men had told Finkle they were “trappers” but more likely they were gunrunners or whiskey traders; he said later that he never saw any traps at the cabin.

Perhaps leery of his status as a “deserter”—Custer had ordered some deserters shot in 1867, leading to his own court-martial conviction and a year’s suspension—Finkle discovered that his entire company had been wiped out at the Little Bighorn. His own name appeared, fourth from the bottom on the front page of the Bismarck Tribune. Now officially dead, he may have decided that he”d had enough of the Army. He later told his second wife that he tried to claim a discharge but was unable to prove he”d been a soldier without two witnesses—which sounds like a coverup for the fact that his successful escape could also be construed as desertion in the face of the enemy. He knocked around St. Louis for about a year working in the dairy business, then visited California and discovered Dayton, Wash. Finkle used his sparse money and his skills in carpentry and farming to speculate in land, building thriving farms, then selling some of them and buying more vacant land. In 1886—near his birthday—he married Delia Rainwater, the daughter of Jacob Rainwater, one of the most prosperous farmers and civic leaders in Dayton. Finkle signed the marriage certificate book “Finckle” but the marriage license “Finkle.” On his wedding night, Finkle’s teenage bride asked about the old gunshot wound on his left side. He told her he’d been shot in a fight with some Indians. He didn’t say where the fight took place. The slug eventually worked its way to the surface, and Frank had a surgeon take it out.

Through the 1890s, Finkle continued to buy and sell farms—and his signed name gradually shifted from “Finkle” to “Finkel.” The lot numbers and Delia’s name indicate he was the same person. By 1920, Frank and Delia had four children—three lived to grow up, including Ben, who served several terms in the Idaho Legislature—and they were moderately wealthy and respected citizens of Dayton. In April 1920, at a game of horseshoes perhaps lubricated by beer, Frank unexpectedly went public with his status as a Custer survivor. Another farmer made some remarks about poor old Custer being ambushed by Indians.

“You don”t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Frank said bluntly.

“How do you know so much about it,” his crusty neighbor shot back.

“I was there….”

Somebody asked Frank to talk about the Battle of the Little Bighorn at the Dayton Kiwanis meeting, and after his neighbors hired a relief carpenter to finish a porch Frank was working on, he obliged. The article appeared in the April 8 issue of the local newspaper:

Dayton, April 8. — Frank Finkle, a pioneer resident of Columbia county, was the chief speaker at the Thursday luncheon of the Dayton Kiwanis Club this week. He was eyewitness to the Custer Massacre and gave to the club the account of his thrilling escape and the circumstances that prevented the knowledge of his survival from reaching the government at the time. Congressman John W. Summers of Walla Walla was a guest at the luncheon and he will make an effort to get government recognition of Mr. Finkle’s story.

In giving the account of the battle in which General Custer’s command was pocketed by the Indian forces Mr. Finkle said his horse became “kettler” and bolted through the Indian lines carrying him to a territory beyond the fighting. He had two serious bullet wounds and after many days of wandering he found a cabin in the wilderness where he was months recovering from his injuries.

Nobody who knew him doubted he’d been there. The journalist obviously didn”t understand when Finkel used the term “skedaddled” and wrote “kettler,” but the Civil War slang term for a panicked flight brands Finkel as a veteran of the Old Army. But Finkel told one more whopper that compromised his story for future generations. Frank had joined the Army in 1872, a year after the Franco-Prussian War, and lived and worked in Dayton through the later 19th century, when the hard-working, music-loving Germans were the best-loved minority in America. World War I changed all that, and in 1920 the Germans were blamed for everything from “German measles” to the influenza epidemic. Finkel originally said that his name was on the roster, and made no bones about it when the story first broke. He also claimed to have had papers that were lost in a house fire that provided further confirmation. Later, when somebody found “August Finckle” on the casualty list, his second wife appears to have fudged and denied that he”d ever been August Finckle—whose bogus birthplace was recorded as “Berlin, Prussia.” When his second wife attempted to pursue the pension he could have won, she claimed that he”d enlisted under the name “Frank Hall.” Frank Hall, 5-foot-6, brown eyes and 14 years older than Finkel, had deserted the 7th Cavalry in May of 1875, a year before the battle.

On June 25, 1921, the 45th anniversary of the battle was marked with ceremonies, and the newspapers spoke to Frank Finkel again. Finkel told one reporter:

The battle opened with an attack on an Indian village. General Custer led one set of troops while Major [Marcus] Reno headed another.

Custer’s forces rode on to the attack until suddenly there was a thunder of yells as the Indians sprang from behind every bush and poured over the hilltops.

Men and horses went down all around me. A bullet hit my rifle stock and a splinter of steel started blood flowing between my eyes. My horse bolted and carried me, half blinded, through the Indian lines.

Then came a stinging sensation in my shoulder, and I lost consciousness, falling forward on my horse. When I came to, it was dark. Early next morning I reached the mountains.

For five days I rode, eating raw rabbits in fear of attracting the Indians if I build a fire.

On the sixth day I met some trappers and stayed with them until September….

Delia Finkel died in August 1921 after a brief illness. “Her husband, who survived her, was the only soldier who escaped the Custer massacre,” one obituary blandly noted. Frank Finkel’s signature on the probate to Delia’s will, written 49 years after he joined the Army in Chicago, is in the same handscript as his signature on the enlistment form. Ben Finkel, one of Frank and Delia’s two surviving sons, had already moved to Idaho and was involved in state politics, which might have been another good reason to keep “Berlin, Prussia,” out of the public prints. In 1926 Frank Finkel married his second wife, Hermie, an Anglo-Saxon born in Canada who adored him and knew something about his status as a Custer survivor—but nothing about the Old Army or the Indians. Frank himself died at 76, wealthy and in no need of a pension, in August 1930.

Hermie subsequently remarried and became Hermie Billmeyer, the wife of an apparently unsuccessful mom-and-pop grocer in Oshkosh, Wis. With the onset of the Depression, Hermie needed that pension—and perhaps, also, the collateral fame of being the widow of the only Custer survivor. For the next 20 years, until her own death in 1951, she relentlessly contacted every government official and Custer historian in the United States trying to establish a status that Frank and his neighbors in Dayton had taken for granted. Hermie, unfortunately, was locked into the story that Frank had enlisted under the name of Frank Hall—and somewhere picked up the idea that he had enlisted at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1874 and had served as a private and acting corporal. She tended to mess things up. One of the last newspaper stories, written a dozen years after Frank was dead, describes him playing dead the night after the Little Bighorn and then shooting an Indian who came to investigate—something Frank never said when he was alive. Ostensibly honest, Hermie purposefully denied that Finkel and Finckle were the same person—the tallest enlisted man in the 7th Cavalry at just over 6 feet tall, with light eyes, and dark hair, as established by Hermie’s own memories of Frank and by the “Finckle” enlistment form from Chicago. She was obviously more afraid of “Berlin, Prussia,” than he had been, since he appears to have mentioned his name on the 1876 casualty list quite freely before his son Ben got into politics in Idaho. Hermie also appears to have been jealous of the late Delia, obviously the true love of Frank Finkel’s life, because Hermie claimed that Delia never knew anything about Frank’s military service—when in fact Delia as a teenage bride had seen the gunshot wound and had known for at least 18 months before her death that Frank was an acknowledged Little Bighorn survivor, as mentioned in her obituary. Hermie did find out that Sergeant Charles Windolph, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Reno Hill, remembered Finkel, went back to find his body, and couldn’t locate it—an excellent confirmation. (After Frank, Windolph and Hermie were all dead, the last two in 1950 and 1951, critics of the “August Finckle” story circulated reports that Frank Finkel had been offered the chance to meet Windolph and had backed out—but that wasn”t true. Windolph didn”t learn of Finkel’s purported survival until long after the man was dead, and said he would have loved to meet his old friend: “He was a gallant soldier.”)

Hermie probably never knew about the dead sorrel horse Godfrey found in August 1876—color-keyed to C Company. “Here was the one chance I knew of where a man may have escaped the fate of his comrades,” Godfrey wrote in a letter not mailed until 1921, after Finkel went public, and not published by E.A. Brininstool until after Finkel, Hermie and Windolph had all died. “I have met several who claim to have escaped, and have heard of many others, but never one who identified himself by this incident.”

Hermie certainly never knew that only C Company could have been a plausible source of survivors, because the C Company breakup and breakout wasn”t well-documented before Richard Allan Fox’s groundbreaking study of the Little Bighorn in the 1980s. Something of the kind had certainly been suggested by Rain-in-the-Face in the 1894 interview, where he described a lone white survivor escaping past the Hunkpapa camp at the base of Calhoun Hill before the circle closed. “We were better armed than the long swords,” Rain-in-the-Face said. “Their guns wouldn’t shoot but once—the thing [ejector] wouldn’t throw out the empty cartridge shells….It was just like killing sheep. Some of them got on their knees and begged; we spared none.” Instead of expanding from the Rain-in-the-Face account, Hermie tried to peg Finkel to a white horse in a dubious Indian account—and overlooked the factual escape account of Rain-in-the-Face, a genuine and undoubted Little Bighorn warrior, who even claimed he had later seen Finkel in Chicago.

Finkel correctly insisted that his horse had been a roan—a C Company sorrel. He knew the terrain well enough to satisfy the compulsive topographer Charles Kuhlman, who calibrated distances with three different odometers. Finkel used Old Army slang correctly, had gunshot wounds and a military bearing, and was a perfect forensic match for a man known to have fought at the Little Bighorn, who was supposedly buried there but who was never properly identified among the dead. Above all, Finkel described the battle not as romanticized in the 1880s through the 1940s, but as described by the 7th Cavalry survivors like Captain Frederick Benteen and the Indians in the 1870s, and clinched by the cartridge-case and slug analysis of Dr. Fox in the 1980s—a rout where C Company broke up and fled, scattering corpses (and one fugitive) all over the landscape before most resistance in the other four companies collapsed. Hermie Finkel fooled the people who tried to follow Frank’s trail with her name game, but Frank Finkel really was a Custer survivor. The world that justified expansion, shrugged off graft, glorified Custer and defamed the Indians just wasn”t ready for one.

New Jersey journalist John P. Koster, who with Robert Burnette wrote The Road to Wounded Knee (1974), says that InHye Lee contributed significant archival and editorial research to his story. Suggested for further reading: Archaeology, History, and Custer’s Last Battle, by Richard Allen Fox; The Custer Myth, by Col. W.A. Graham; and Custer in ’76, by Kenneth Hammer.

This article was written by John P. Koster and originally published in the June 2007 issue of Wild West Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to Wild West magazine today!

281 Responses to Survivor Frank Finkel’s Lasting Stand

  1. […] Custer’s Last Stand Just when you think that you’ve read all there is about the subject, it turns out that there was one actual, known human survivor from the five Companies of the Seventh Cavalry who rode with Custer to their deaths at the Little Big Horn. HistoryNet ? Survivor Frank Finkel’s Lasting Stand […]

    • chuck says:

      Why don’t they “exume”his body and confirm the ankle damage from the bullet????

  2. Traci says:

    Frank Finkel is my great great grandfather. I was raised in
    Portland, Oregon and knew this story…teachers from my mom’s
    generation and mine told us were were liars in class whenwe’d be
    studying Custard’s Last Stand…that no one survived…we’d say
    that wasn’t true. It feels great to know the REAL story has been

    My Great Grandfather was Emler Finkel, my grandma was Lucy
    Finkel and my mom is Donna Jean Roll-Hartel. My children read
    about this story last fall and were so excited to share with their
    history teachers.

    Thank you to the writing who took the time to research this
    incredible event our family has always known.

    Traci Parsons

    • Dennis says:

      I am a and have been a student of the battle since I was 9 yrs old. I have been to the battlefield numerous times(dragging my family on vacation). If it is possible I would love to talk to you about this, I am in Beaverton, Oregon,

    • kevin naeb says:

      Hi i just watch a tv program on your great grandfather my question is this .he said he was wounded in battle,shot in the side,the bullet was never removed,why dont you have the body exumed to look for the bullet?this would be a definite way to tell the truth.2 wounds im sure you would find the bullet if its true.let me know what you decide to do thanks

      • H. Toburen says:


        I believe the story, as told in Koster’s book, Is that the bullet eventually caused him problems and he had it surgically removed…. So it would not be in his long buried body. The Indians had such a variety of weapons that its type wouldn’t prove anything, except that it had been in his body for quite a while.

        I suggest you read the book. It’s very interesting.

        ps. Your spelling and grammar are atrocious… embarrassing!

      • Joe Kelly says:

        He didnt have the bullet surgically removed. I stated in a large post his bogus story about the bullet, try post 63. I give book, writer and page number.Its another tale of the Frank story.

    • Patrick says:

      What a facinating story. In my opinion, I believe that your Great Granpa is who he said he was. Some of the most convincing things that were brought up during the program last night….is the stories that the Indians told. They had no reason to make stuff up…..versus the US Army not having records…I mean..really…
      One thing they did not really cover was the fact that he carved his initials in a burial rock for the man with TB. Unless I missed something, that was never talked about again, not verified. That would be cool to find that rock…
      Anyways, I am an American, and have alway wondered what would have happened if they left the Indians alone…..all of them…

      I am on your side and am really glad I was able to watch this program.

    • scott dutra says:

      I think there is so much unknown about the last stand that saying someone (especially a teacher) called a student a liar is B.S. I do belive Custer was killed or fatally shot in the water in the charge, and this is why they stopped the charge. he didnt die on calhound hill shooting it out until the arrow took him down like they want people to believe. he took 2 shots he may have not been dead so they took him with him, later shooting himself or being shot by some one.

      • Eric Randolph says:

        Scott I totally agree with your post. I have offten said the same thing that he was one of the first shot he always led all his charges before so I see no reason why he would have stopped then. I think that Tom probally killed him so he wouldn’t be tortured when the Indians found out who he was.

      • William Dowd says:

        I just now read yours and Eric Randolph’s posts about Custer being shot while trying to cross the river. It’s funny you mention this but a couple of days ago I was thinking that very subject should be the next topic of discussion on this board. It’s a very intriguing subject to me. (I don’t mean to sidetrack from the current topic.)

        I have the book “Custers Fall, The Native American Side of The Story” by David Humphreys Miller which mentions this. I’ve always wondered if it might be the answer to a couple of questions I’ve had about the battle.

    • Jim Nixon says:

      Did Frank ever go back into the army? Since it was hard to identify all the dead at the battle, did Frank decide just go (AWOL) from this experience? I never heard of this story of possible survivors until I saw a segment on the History Channel. Why did Frank wait until the 1920’s to share this story? Jim

      • John Koster says:

        I think he knew he was technically a deserter and didn’t want to get shot. Also, he didn’t hate Indians — his first wife was part Cherokee, a lovely woman of good character, and they started a very nice family I’d proud to know. John Koster

  3. Ray Finkel says:

    Frank Finkel was my great uncle , we had always heard of the story also but never confirmed it untill a book was published in 1983 by Douglas W. Ellison ” Sole Survivor an Examining of the Frank Finkel Narritive ” . Mr. Ellison contacted my father the grandson of Joseph , brother of Frank , for information about the story . Tracy if possible I would like to contact you , Ray Finkel , Natrona Hgts , Pa

    • Traci Parsons says:


      I just read your email and I hope this finds you today 3 years later. I would love to talk with you. Please email me with a number where you can reached. It is an amazing family story.

      Traci Parsons

  4. John Koster says:

    My name is John Koster and I wrote the article in the June 2007 edition of “Wild West” assisted by my wife and our researchers. The book “Custer Survivor” will be published next spring with, as I understand it, a roster of evidence including the authenicated signatures from 1872 and 1921 evaluated by a psychiatrist, a criminologist, and a genealogist. I was happy to see that Finkel descendants may now assert with Frank actually survived the Little Bighorn and was substantially telling the truth with confidence. Based on the records from the Oshkosh Public Museum nd Columbia County Courthouse he was an honest man who told a factual story which became twisted — and eventually preposterous — through no fault of his own. As his best friend Charles Windolph said: “He was a gallant soldier!”

    • Brian says:

      I just saw the history channel 2 hour story on Frank Finkle.Interesting but as usual not conclusive.The one handwriting analyst did not agree or support Mr.Koster’s claim. i intend to the read the book however.I have read and own many books on the subject including manuscripts by survivors on reno hillPlus the above suugested reading..I also have been to battlefield on more than one trip out west.I just don’t understand why this man never sought out fomer comrades.Also without some dna how can he be verified as August just because the were similiar in build? And eye/hair color? It’s fascination for sure what watched but I will get the book.One more question-was there any verification oth “trappers” camp? Finally why couldn’t the supposition about identifying Finkle be in reverse? maybe windolph didn’t it right. Maybe Finkel’s body was mutilated and further ravaged by the weather.anyway thank you.

      • Charles says:

        This handwriting analyst is incorrect. His conclusions were only based on the fact that 2 letters dropped below the signature line. Frank was in his seventies at the time and the handwriting seemed shaky. But, when you compare the 1870+ signature to the 1920+ signature, the similarities are there (i.e., the way the “F” and other letters are constructed – the look, shape, and size) and the dots over the letter “i”.

      • Tom says:

        As well as the proper slant of the letters, themselves, Charles.

      • John Koster says:

        What a great site — polite, intelligent people willing to hear both sides! Wonderful to be here! The significance of Finkel’s forensic ID is that the height cut-off for the cavalry was 5-foot-10 and August Finckle/Frank Finckle was (or were) six-foot-1 — he was the tallest NCO in the 7th Cavalry. Also, Finckle/Finkel was bilingual in English ahd German and most Germans of the 1870s gave the U.S. Army w ide berth because they came here to avoid conscription. Finckle’s buddy Windolph writes about this in “I Fought With Custer.” What a delight to meet some open and objective minds. My best to all of you.

        John Koster

        PS: Ken and Kelly Finkel from Ohio just sent me a photo of “August Finckle” in a cavalry uniform — it’s a photo of Frank Finkel as a young man.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      John please post the photo on here and on the Little Big Horn Associates website. Now we can compare the photo of Frank in 1880 to the one you say you just received with August Finckle in uniform which must be from 1872 when he joined the army. Only a 8 year difference, they will look the same Im going to call the Little Big Horn Battlefield Museum to ,they will be floored to hear you have found this photo.If its ok Ill give them your contact number.And your number at your paper as they will be happy to know your not a hoax by comparing it to Franks Finkles known pictures to prove its him. Your writing style seems to have changed a little. Oh I found great info for you. You need to do another edition of your book. As you Dont mention that Peter Finkle, Franks father remarried,Magdaline had died before him and he remarried a woman named Ellen 10 years younger then his former wife. You dont mention this. In the book Frank left at15 because his older brothers could take care of Lena and Theresia. Lena was already dead when Frank was 14. Look at the 1870 census which you failed to publish in your book.They are in Watertown, Union Township Washington County Ohio. The whole family is on this census except for both dead is a wonderful thing to have. All the census’s at your fingertips.

  5. Richard Thompson says:

    I have the discharge papers of John Martin who was in company H of the 7th cavery. He was dischaged from the army on May 31st 1879. After the battle of Little Big Horn, he was fighting on 13th of September 1877 against Chief Josiph. I also have the bugle for the 7th cavery and I understand John Martin was the bugler for H company. I have the documents from the United States Government dated on June 1879

    • James Hoffman says:

      So… as a collector of historical artifacts and ephemera, it also makes you an expert and somehow vested in “ownership” of this story? I hope so, because I own a button from the Revolutionary War, and it upsets me when those who don’t own buttons try to talk about the subject as if their meager little opinions matter! Well, it could be a British button, I dunno… maybe Hessian. But really, I love your kind. The world is so much more funny with petty, conceited, self-satisfied asses infesting it!

  6. Victor Pettijohn says:

    Frank Finkel was my grandfather Dyer Burgess Pettijohn’s brother in law. (My granfather married Mary Catherine Rainwater.) I was born in 1942 and remember as a child hearing about the survivor from Custer’s Last Stand being a relative from my father who was born in 1891. The first published record was in “True Magazine” in the 1950’s.

    • steve says:

      Is this the same mary catherine rainwater from missouri? if so we’re related, she was my great grandmother. I have several pictures of her. how was she related to dililah?

  7. stephen harper says:

    frank`s my great great great great uncle i was told this story since i was little and up till now i have not found out it was true i am proud to be a descendant of a great man and a brave war hero.

  8. Loren Soule says:

    I used to have the book, “I Survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn”. When I taught on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, several students used it for book reports, and I didn’t get it back.


    I would like to find the book just to have it. It wasn’t a thick book, perhaps 150 pages. The author’s story was corroborated by later statements of several indians who said that they saw a man riding fast to the Northeast, slumped over in the saddle, like he had been wounded. To make a long story short, He kept his secret because He didn’t want to be charged with desertion. In the 1920’s he went to the doctor complaining of stomach pain. The doctor checked him out and removed a bullet of the kind and size used at the “Battle”.

    I found it to be a facinating story, and immediately believed it to be true because of the way the man told it. Like he was really there, from personal knowledge of the events of the day.

    The man lived out his life, dying in the early thirties.

    If you can help me find a copy I could purchase, please let me know.

    Thank you,
    Loren Soule

  9. Mike Watson says:

    I grew up in Craigmont, Idaho and our family farm was located close to Ben Finkle’s farm. My parents told me of this story when I was a young boy and one time while we were visiting the Finkel’s I asked Ben about it. He told me the story basically as it was told in this writing. I have always been convinced that this was true as Mr. Finkle was a man of his word.

    Mike Watson
    Lewiston, Idaho

  10. John Koster says:

    This is John Koster, author of the article about Frank Finkel in “Wild West” and the forthcoming book “Custer Survivor.” Will any Finkle descendants or family friends who don’t object to being quoted in a magazine story please get in touch with me. My email address is and my telephone number is 201-445-1343. Sergeant Finkel was a gallant soldier and an honest man and people who scoffed as his (true) claims to be a Custer survivor should know this.

    • ohio relative says:

      People who have never known a Finkel will not believe it but there is one thing all my Finkel relatives seem to have in common- integrity.

  11. Greg Stoner says:

    I am a history buff on Custer and the Liittle bighorn. While in the 1st Cav US Army I studed everything I coul find (Retired in 1995. Some researchers agree on the fact that Finckle/Fincle was a trooper in the 7th CAv. Some say enlistmsannt records show there may have been two Fincle troopers at that time? Road construction workers in the 40’s, found a long dead Cav horse bones, saddle, spencer rifle, brass hardware, half under dirt remains near a river some miles away suggesting that a trroper might have survived. Some say that Fincle was not over 5,11 . His story as told in the 30’s tended to be modest and sounded truthfull but also had some holes in it, example how he played dead shot one indian then found a cabin and two men out in the far boondocks, could not remember much more?? He was shot in the back heil/foot and cut on the face and so on. He refushed to meet with a man still alive in the 30’s from the 7Cav who he claimed to know? Still it is a great story . After the battle many dead could not be IDed , some of the mounts came from KY and could out run the shorter legged poney of the red men so it could be true however Fincle did not say anything about his Co Cpt Tom Custer or at what momment he left the action/battle. So one can not pin point the facts close if he was a real survivor. Some say that he may have been a deserter 2 times and the 2nd time used his own name? Thus did not want to give all the true facts, still it is a great story . I served in the 1st Cav in Korea 1960 Garry Owen..

  12. John Koster says:

    Greg, This is John Koster. Thanks for the “great story” comment. A couple of points (1) the 7th Cavalry carried Springfields, not Spencers in 1876 — but a sorrel horse that may have been Finkle’s C Company horse was found at the confluence of the Rosebud and Yellowstone, 80 miles from the Little Bighorn, with the carbine still in the scabbard; (2) the story that Finkle refused to meet another 7th Cavalry veteran is bogus — Charles Windolph didn’t find out that Finkle had survived until after Finkle had died in 1930. (3) there was only one Finkle on the roster ; (4) the story about shooting an Indian after the battle didn’t appear until 1948 and came from Finkle’s second wife, Hermie Speey Finkel Billmeyer — Finkle’s first wide, Delia Rainwater, was part Cherokee and there may have been some projection there. (5) Hermie mentioned that Tom Custer had been Finkle’s company commander and listed all the other sergeants correctly. Neighbors who remember Frank Finkle say that he was a quiet, honest type of man, and the stories that he himself told, as opposed to what Hermie and reporters she talked to afterwards wrote in the newspapers, are all modest and straightfoward. He and a half-dozen others broke out when C Company collapsed but the others were all killed or fatally wounded. (Nathan Short got 25 miles before his horse fell on him and they both died together.) Last but not least, if you can find the article in “Wild West,” check the signatures from August Finkle in 1872 and Frank Finkel in 1921: same handscript. Best wishes.

    • John says:

      I thought the carbine had been hit by a round, and that Frank took splinters to his forehead causing a wound that bled profusely? It couldn’t be the same weapon as found then. I just don’t understand why it took Frank so long to come forth with his story. Unless, of course, he was afraid of being deemed a deserter. Overall I tend to believe his story, but still have doubts about the signature. I wish someone could find the cabin and grave, but that might never happen.

      • ohio relative says:

        The show did not point out that the signatures being compared were written fifty years apart. One was shaky and not as neat. This one was written when Frank was much older and his handwriting had changed with the aging process.
        Something nobody is considering is how traumatic this must have been for Frank. Almost anyone who survives something where many others died typically feels survivor’s guilt, or possibly post traumatic stress. I for one, after witnessing an atrocity such as this, would not be willing to chance having to go back into another battle. Who would sign up for more of that?
        There is also the ethical dielma of what was being done to the Indians that any man of honor would have felt. He didn’t tell his story until he could no longer listen to the tales of granduer being told about Custer.

  13. virginia says:

    Looking for Stimpson, Abner P. (Veternan), Cass County. Enlisted in compan;y L, Second Cavalry as Bugler, Sept 14, 1861 at Niles, for 3 years, age 25. Mustered Oct 2, 1861. Re-enlisted Jan 5, 1864, at Mossy Creek, Tenn. Mustered March 29, 1864. Regimental Bugler April 1, 1864. Mustered out of Macson, Ga Aug 17, 1865.
    I am confused that this website is too much and not know where is I looking for history of map for civil war. Hope this help me if get my e-mail? Thank you

  14. John Koster says:

    Dear Virginia,

    Call the National Archives in Washington DC and ask them to send you some NATF-86 forms for Old Military Records. If you fill one out with all the information you mentioned to the web site, they will send you the man’s personnel file. You can also look for Pension and Land Bounty claims in the same archive.

    Best of luck,
    John Koster

  15. Herb L says:

    As Carl Sagan, the prominent Astro-Physicist once said re: the possibility of UFO’s visiting earth and being extraterritorial in nature.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”

    I think this statement also fits the Finkle Story. Remember, much of what happened at the Little Big Horn remains an enigma and will be forever open for debate as to who did what, when, and how.

    Even many of the ‘known’ Indian Participants stories are in direct conflict with each other, may be self-serving and cannot be completely corroborated by anyone, then or now.

    Am I saying the Finkle story is bogus. Absolutely Not!

    Like you, I was not there so there is no way to prove or disprove the possibility of this nice story being fact or fiction.

    The bottom line for me is this.

    The burden of proof does not rest with I/we the readers, but with the author (Finkle) and the publishers of this account, i.e. those who propagate this story as being factual.

    To date- not enough evidence can be offered to factually sustain or disprove the believability and credibility of this story. In the end this claim would never pass the standard/burden of proof in a court of law as much of it is based purely upon speculation and hearsay.

    Much like UFOs I hope they and the Finkle story can one day be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    It makes for wonderful reading and folklore in the interim though.

  16. John Koster says:

    Carl Sagan was notably into denial about NDEs and claimed against solid evidence that they were memories of birth trauma, though he was not an MD. He also said that chimpanzees were nicer than we are with only a tourist’s knowledge of primates while Jane Goodall, a real expert who lived with chimps for decades, found to her dismay that they sometimes hunted smaller moneys for kicks or killed one another in family feuds. These are the facts. We have photographs to prove them. Sagan’s infatuation with Darwin as an antidote to religious beliefs that made him uncomfortable led to a reaction-formation that made him incapable of dealing with facts.
    The staggering thing about the Frank Finkel case is that nobody ever studied it on a forensic basis — they preferred endless argumentation and debate. The information in “Custer Survivor” will offer documentary proof that would stand up in any criminal or inheritance case. The book also describes how the case got so tangled to begin with — racial prejudice of two different varieties was a big factor but so was the inability of people to think independently and realize that Custer wasn’t Errol Flynn and Indians are human beings — on the average, they have higher IQs than any other race. The Little Bighorn wasn’t Thermopylae either — Benteen and Walter Mason Camp confirmed that anywhere from a dozen to 18 bodies were never found — and when Charles Windolph went back to find Frank Finkel’s body, he couldn’t find it.
    When you see the documentation for yourself, you may be convinced or you may choose not to be — but the facts are always the facts.
    PS: I’d rather not find out that UFOs are real….they might be like too much like the rest of us….
    John Koster

  17. Ken Stasiak says:

    Hi John,
    Wow, I have been studying the Custer fight for most of my adult life, and have only herd murmers about a possible “genuine” battle survivor. I can’t wait to read about Frank Finkle in detail! Please, hook me up! Where can I read the whole story? Ken Stasiak

  18. John Koster says:

    Ken —

    “Custer Survivor” by John Koster will be in print at the end of the year and provides all the documents mentioned in the text. You should be able to buy it at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. Thanks for your interest.
    John Koster

  19. Ken Stasiak says:

    Question: Were Frank Finckle and August Finkcle the same height?

    Where can I see examples of the hand writing?

    I think this is a really big deal! (if true) What do some of the other Battle authorities think about this?

    Come on, Big Deal, Need information,
    PS need information
    K.D. Stasiak

  20. John Koster says:

    August Finckle’s height was measured by the Army as 6 feet 1/2 inch in his 20s in 1872. Frank Finkel’s second wife said he was 6 feet tall in his 60s in the 1920s. (People generally lose an inch or so as they age. His hair color and eye color are also consistent.) The handwriting samples from the Army, from a card Finkel mailed in 1914, from the probate of his first wife’s will in 1921 and from his own will in 1930 all show the same handwriting patterns with allowances for the aging process. Two comparative signatures appeared in the June 2007 edition of “Wild West.” The new book “Custer Survivor” shows all the signatures on the original documents and stacks them up for comparison. Louise Barnett and Jeffrey Wert endorsed the research and I understand that Greg Michno thinks Finkle’s presence at the Little Bighorn is probably if not proven.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Your a liar about Michno. He has never gave judgement on Finkle. Dont say you understand, state the book and author and page where Machino says Finkle was a survivor. I have all of Michnos books, he is a great author tells all the horrors the NA’s did to the white settlers and soldiers. Im reading his book “Forgotten Fights Little Known Raids and Skirmishes on The Frontier 1823-1890” on page 202 right now its about July 19 1864 Browns Springs Wyoming. Mich is not NA Friendly he tells the truth. 10 year old white girls gang raped sick stuff.

  21. NorPlains says:

    No thank you.

    • John Koster says:

      Doug, if that’s you, you did a great job with the battle part of the book and can take pride in it — all you missed was the Finckle-Finkel thing. You looked great on TV too.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Koster praises Doug Ellison but read post 63. Koster wants to know about where the bullet story came from. It came from Ellisons book.

  22. John Koster says:

    If anybody’s interested….the analysts who say “Finckle” and “Finkel” had the same handwriting in “Custer Survivor” were:
    1. Dr. Thomas P. Lowry, MD, PA, psychiatrist, graduate of Stanford, taught medicine for many years, wrote 20 books on medicine, Civil War and frontier medicine and legal cases. Expert in handwriting of the Civil War era.
    2. John Ydo, former police chief of Wyckoff, New Jersey, pre-med graduate, studied criminology at John Jay in NYC and handwriting with the FBI.
    3. Keith Killion, former chief of detectives in Ridgewood, NJ, expert in detection of forgery.
    4. Astrid Baker, high school in Baden, Germany, MLS from Rutgers, expert in German handwriting of previous centuries.
    5. Sandra Luebking, editor of FORUM, a magazine of genealogy and an expert in inheritance cases in the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands and Germany.
    They all say that the signatures from 1872 (Finckle, U.S. Army) and from 1921 (Finkel, Washington State farmer) were by the same person and that he was actually an American and not a Prussian. The book is now in print and you can see specimens for yourselves. Take care….John Koster

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Koster uses Dr Thomas Lowery who is banned for life from the National Archives. Thats a nice guy to have as analyst. He changed original National Archive documents and was arressted and pled guilty.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Historian accused of altering Lincoln document at National Archives

        PHOTOS Previous Next
        This handout image provided by the National Archives shows a close up of altered date and Abraham Lincoln — A. Lincoln — signature from a presidential pardon for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army. The National Archives says a longtime Abraham Lincoln researcher has confessed to tampering with a presidential pardon so he could claim credit for finding a document of historical significance. (AP Photo/National Archives) (AP)

        This handout image provided by the National Archives shows a close up of the altered date: Long-time Lincoln researcher Thomas Lowry admitted to changing the date of Murphy’s pardon, written in Lincoln’s hand, from April 14, 1864 to April 14, 1865.. The National Archives says a longtime Abraham Lincoln researcher has confessed to tampering with a presidential pardon so he could claim credit for finding a document of historical significance. (AP Photo/National Archives) (AP)
        attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain “signatures” by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
        On Monday, Brachfeld, the inspector general, said of Lowry, “We have a written confession in his own hand.” Lowry said he signed the confession because the Archives agents said “it would never be publicized” and that he would not face any consequences. “They promised that if I agreed to make a confession, they would just leave me alone.”

        Lowry said he has not hired an attorney and doesn’t think it would make a difference.

        The pardon will be removed this week from an evidence room at the inspector general’s office and brought to the Archives’ preservation labs, where experts will try to restore the original date. Plante says he’s not optimistic, though, since “Lowry purposely used ink that’s going to last a very long time.”
        “It makes me very angry,” Plante said. “We have a level of trust with researchers, and that trust was broken.”
        Archives officials said Lowry will be banned from all Archives facilities for life

  23. John Koster says:

    PS: This just in. Mike Watson was the foster son of Ben Finkel, Frank Finkel’s oldest son, who served 12 years in the Idaho legislature and was esteemed to his honesty. Ben told Mike Watson — own his foster son — that Frank Finkel had used the name “August Finckle” when he enlisted. .Time to revise all those textbooks?

  24. Ken Stasiak says:

    Hey Guys,
    So here’s what I don’t get; Frank Finkel shows the Kiwanis folks some letters addressed to:
    Frank Finkle
    7th Cavalry
    Fort LIncoln.
    Dakota Territory.,
    However,he is using the name August at that time. I can’t wrap my mind around that. Is it possible that they would still deliver to him letters addressed to Frank Finkle even though everybody knew him as George or August?…………….Ken S

  25. John Koster says:

    Ken (and everybody)

    Frank Finkel’s foster grandson, Mike Watson, recently remembered that Frank’s son Ben told him that many years ago that Frank had used the name “August Finckle” when he enlisted in the Army.
    Brian Finkel, a collateral relative, corrected one thing in the book — Peter Finckel, Frank’s father, came not from Hanover but from the Rhineland and had served two hitches in the Bavarian Army before he emigrated to the Unitied States in the 1840s. (This confirms that there was no “Prussian officer” named “August Finckle,” as I had independently confirmed with what’s left of the Prussian State Archives in Berlin.) Everybody in the extended family knew this story and had no reasons to embellish it. The family geneaology and memories thus support Finkel’s own statements and the forensic and handwriting case — he really was a survivor of the Little Big Horn.
    John Koster

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Jon I recentley remembered that your not liked in Bergen County, but its ok since you dont even read these blogs. I let some of the cat out of the bag on you.Read the last post

  26. Bob Schock says:


    As a child I was told by my grandparents that we were distant relatives of the Custer family (we’re from Michigan). Since then I have been reading everything I could find regarding the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including some of Dr. Fox’s archeological work. I just finished your book and loved it! I found the arguments for the veracity of Frank’s story to be compelling, and the human interest part of the story is as fascinating as the historical part. I pictured that the story would make a great movie, perhaps with a lead-in scene showing handwriting under a magnifying glass, followed by flashbacks. Maybe someone will pick up on this idea.

    Has anyone sketched out a map of Frank Finkel’s probable escape route, with troop and indian positions shown?

    Congratulations for your excellent work, and I will be anxious to see this picked up in the mainstream media, as I am sure it soon will be.

    Robert B. Schock, Ph.D.

  27. Ed says:

    Maybe Frank Finkle was actually August Finkle, who enlisted in the US Army, but there was also an August Finkle who enlisted in Louisville, KY in 1869, also claiming he was born in Prussia, and ALSO over 6 feet tall.

    In any case, I think it is very silly that the Finkle in the article was a survivor of the battle. His wounds would have proven he had not simply run off, and I do not believe he would have been afraid of being labeled a deserter.

    It’s a nice tale for his descendants to tell for some attention, but a lie with dust on it does not become the truth with age.

  28. John Koster says:

    Hello Ed,
    Did the man who enlisted in 1969 have similar handwriting, hair color and eye color? Did he offer an account of the battle that anticipated what Richard Allen Fox and Doug Scott reported in the 1980s – a rout due to superior fire power on the part of the Indians? More to the point, did he even claim to have served in C Company of the 7th Cavalry? It’s good to know these things before we scream fraud,.
    John Koster.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Fox and Scott work is horrible. They speak of no cartidge shells being found on Last Stand Hill. Read Black Elks Book, the NA’s picked up as many cartridge shells as they could find to reload the cases. Then 20 years of tourist between 1880 and 1900 cleaned up many shell casings. The the Army held reenactments in the late 1800’s that left brass. Then it is a fact that a noted Park Supervisor placed/blanketed many 45 70/55 shell cases from nearby Ft Keoughs range so tourist could find them.
      Worse, the battlefield hadn’t been protected at all. In 1881, soldiers and Indians made a reenactement of the battle on the battlefield itself. They fired bullets and recreated the fight. Their bullets, cartridges and steps were spread all over the battlefield.
      Even worse, “relic hunters” had stolen a considerable amount of cartriges and bullets. Their main target was, of course, the legendary hill where Custer had died. Some accounts said that in Deep Ravine, which wasn’t a main point of the battlefield, more than 1’000 bullets had been stolen. This stealings happened daily, from 1876 to 1984. No Little Bighorn superintendant ever tried to stop them. In 1940, the superintendant just wrote in his diary that stealings were happening.

      Nick Howard, who is a specialist of militaria selling, tells the story of one of his friends: “I have personally known collectors who have taken cartridge casings from Last Stand Hill back in the 1960s. I even tried to buy some of the 45/70 cartridge casings that were obtained. Sometime during the 1960s, Burt told me that he and a group of friends made a trip out West and stopped by Custer Battlefield. They seemed to have had no problem scouring the area for shell casings and came away with quite a bit. He made it sound as if it was not a problem back then and fairly easy to do. If they had done it, who knows how many others have too!” (June 2, 2007)

  29. Alex D'Ambrosio says:

    Just finished reading the book by John Koster very interesting and a good read, I must agree with the post by Ken Stasiak concerning the letters addressed to:

    Frank Finkle
    7th Cavalry
    Fort LIncoln.
    Dakota Territory.,

    If he enlisted in the Army under the name George August how did he go about changing his name back to Frank and explain to the Army why he was recieving letters in a different name.

    I was also surprised that no one to date has found any pictures of August /Frank in uniform.

    Also was August Finklle assigned to the 7th during the Black hills expedition of 1874? Lots of pictures available form that expedition that could possibly have Frank in them.

    Again great story!

  30. John Koster says:

    The oldest photo we have of Frank Finkle was probably taken about 10 years after the battle. We know from his son Ben talking to his foster grandson Mike Watson that Frank called himself August Finckle when he enlisted in 1872 and from marriage records of 1886 that he called himself Frank consistently after he moved to Dayton, Washington where — perhaps ironically — local newspapers describe him as honest and reticent. This was not a showman like Bill Cody or a unemployable drunkard like most of the other survivor claimants. He owned a square mile of good farmland and three houses and a relatively new Chevrolet by the time he died and was widely respected in the community. Why would a shy man who was moderately wealthy make up a story like this? And how would he have known that he just happened to have had the same exceptional height, hair color, eye color and signature as the man he claimed to be? Coincidence? I don’t think so.
    I think a lot of people are married to the idea of a “Sioux ambush” where the other guys were “savages” and our guys were “heroes” and that Finkel’s heavilu documented escape threatens that propaganda myth. Consider James Bradey. When he accurately wrote about U.S. Navy and Marine Corps heroes and Japanese soldiers as murderous cannibals, he was the toast of the VFW. When he accurately described how Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft deliberately nurtured Japanese militarism as a counterpoise to Russia and Chinese independence, supported U.S. torture and executions in the Philippines, approved racism agains the hard-working Chinese, stole Hawaii from the Hawaiians and betrayed Korea to Japan despise a U.S. Treaty by a secret agreement, Bradey became a villain — but he was still telling the truth. Some Japanese actually killed Americans to eat them, and some Americans really tortured Filipinos, raped their women, and shot kids as young as 10 by firing squad. History can’t be rewritten to appeal to patriotic prejudice. It has to be based on facts.

    John Koster

    PS: I’m a U.S. veteran with an honorable discharge, a medal, and a limp, and I had six relatives in World War II. They fought in part so Americans could hear and read the truth. The Little Bighorn happened because of a broken treaty and the Indians obtained the rifles they used to wipe of Custer’s men from our own government agents in the War Department and the Indian Department. Look it up.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Read the latest books in 2009 2010, the savages were armed with winchesters, sharps, spencer carbines many had cap and ball revolvers, some muzzle loaded enfields were recovered. Lo got his arms from traders mostly for buffalo hides, the weapons the DOIA gave were Civil War surplus Burnside carbines and Sharps not converted to fixed cartridge. Henry rifles were not all over the place as is stated being used by LO.Henry rifles were only produced from 1862 to 1864. So by 1876 you didnt see henrys in LO’s hands. They call one part of the battle Henry ridge thats cause the Winchester 66 used the same cartridge.

  31. Shari Coker Brown says:

    John, I picked up your book in Dayton WA, on my way to Idaho in late July. Could not put it down. What a Surprise that a survivor lived all of these years in Dayton WA (a town I have passed through 100 times and grew up not far from). This is movie material…are there plans?

    Thanks, Shari

  32. John Koster says:

    Let’s hope so. The second printing just came out and shows a couple of the documents merely mentioned in the first printing. Glad you enjoyed it.
    John Koster

  33. Alex D'Ambrosio says:

    I enjoyed reading Nathaniel Philbricks The Last Stand, I felt it was a fresh insight into the battle. I agree with Phibrick that Custer lost the battle because he divided his forces while facing a numerically superior enemy.

    I did notice that on page 255 Phibrick does comment on George Finckle of C Company. No mention in the book of Finckle as a possible survivor.

    P.S. I am a Retired U.S. veteran with over twenty years of active duty service. I also had a father and two uncles that served in WWII.

  34. John Koster says:

    Nathaniel Philbrick and James Donovan, among others, clearly place Finckle at the Little Bighorn, as do Daniel Kanipe and Peter Thompson — he’s also listed on the monument — but to understand that he was a survivor they would have had to have checked the forensics of height, hair, eyes, and handwriting against the fact that his best friend went back to find his body and couldn’t find it. I don’t think anybody else ever compared his signatures from the U.S. Army enlistment of 1872, the probate of his first wife’s will in 1921, and his own will in 1930. These were in the same handwriting with allowances for age. The whole “myth” of the batle is that there were no survivors because it was a “Sioux ambush.” Detractors from Finckle’s story wanted to believe this myth and tended to rely on whether or not his escape seemed plausible based on versions mostly related through his second wife, who married Finckle when he was 72 and she was 60. Her account is riddled with mistakes and caused the whole story to be doubted.. The story Finckle told himself was simple and unheroic, and once the actual battle is understood, there’s no reason not to take him quite seriously. The new second printing of the book contains some docments that were only alluded to in the first printing, now all but sold out.

    John Koster

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Nathan Philbrick on Finkle on the History channel show said it was bogus. Please man watch the dam show.

  35. H. Toburen says:

    A George Finckle is listed in the partial listing of C Company in Philbrick’s book on page 314, not 255. He isn’t mentioned in the text, I don’t think, nor is he in the index.

    I don’t recall any mention of the breakout either, but I read it rather hurriedly.

    Frank, August, George…. ?

  36. H. Toburen says:

    There is a George Finckle listed in the partial C Company listing, on page 314, but no mention in the text or index. This is a hardback 1st. Edition.

    Same guy? If he rode the horse that Lt. Godfrey later found, why would he have left his rifle and ammunition?

  37. John Koster says:

    The carbine may have been broken when the Indian bullet hit the stick, A Springfield has a brutal kick and firing one with a broken stock would inflict collateral injury.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      John have you ever fired a pre 1876 Springfield, or Civil War Sharps, Spencer or Smith carbine? Kick isnt bad at all if you keep the weapon clean. Same old lie for a Colt 1911/ 1911A1 no kick. Only weapon ever kicked on me was a Desert Eagle and a 41 Mag. You want John I will take you out to Fort Dix Range to shoot original Sharps Model 1863, Burnsides, Spencers and Smiths,plus a old slabslide Colt and a Russian Nagant. I can bring you as a guest.

  38. RJS says:

    John, is your book only available in paperback??

    H. Toburen,
    I would have a hard time believing any account from Godfrey, reportedly many of his accounts were terribly innacurate.

    • H. Toburen says:

      Reportedly? Could you be more specific?

      I think if you’re going to badmouth a medal of honor winner, who retired as a general, you should be prepared to accept a little criticism yourself.

      What, exactly, are your credentials? (both histories and literarywise?

  39. R.Dupuis says:

    In Philbrick’s book at page 314… Company C officers and soldiers are listed. 2nd Lt Harington… Sgts Finley, Hanley and Kanipe… Cpl French… Pvts Bennett, Jordan, Mahoney, Thompson, Watson and Whitaker. All of the aforementoned are also listed in the Index. However, curiosity beckons as to why the names of 1st Sgt Bobo, Sgt Finckle and Pvt McGuire Jr. are listed at page 314… but NOT in the Index… although I do recall Bobo having been mentioned in the text. I look forward to acquiring and reading your book John.

  40. John Koster says:

    RJS…the book is available in paperback from the publisher, History Publications in Palisades, NY, from Barnes & Noble, and on Amazon. Mary Byrd at the Dayton Depot in Dayton, Washington. may still have some autographed copies. Another great source is Upton & Sons in Le Segunda, California.

    R. Dupuis….Finckle is on the roster cited by Walter Mason Camp and on the casualty list from the front page of the Bismarck Tribune from July 6, 1876. His name is spelled “Finkle” but that was the common spelling before about 1900. When he arrived in Dayton he was first “Finckle.” then “Finkle,” ultimately “Finkel.”

    Incidentally, the idea that “Gus” Finckle was a Prussian officer is a little silly. No such officer was listed in what’s left of the Prussian Archives and they have a roster of every officer who served between 1870 and 1873 extant.

  41. Bill says:

    I live very close to where the Rosebud flows into the Yellowstone and regularly pass the marker for Nathan Short on Rosebud Creek Road. There is very little info concerning him and all I’ve been able to find is that his body was discovered some ten years or so after the battle and buried. Then rediscovered many years later when the marker was set up. I believe he did in fact survive the fight and make it back almost to where they had departed the Far West. My question has always been, what about his horse?There is no mention of it. Could the sorrel found near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Rosebud actually be his rather than Finkles? Or was Short in another troop which would have had him riding a different colored mount?

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Short was KIA with Custer. The book for you to read is “Mystery on the Rosebud” by Douglas W Ellison. It is all about the horse and body found on the Yellowstone. Try finding it on The guy found was not Short it was a railroad contractor named Mitchell, the remains were all in Civilian clothing,Mitchell had a 1000 poke and went missing where the body was found. Shorts hat was found in the area so the rumor started it was Nathan Short. The body was found on the route the 7th marched to the LBH, Short lost his hat and the body became Shorts. Sgt Kanipe states that Short who was in his command was present June 25.

      • John Koster says:

        That one is all over the map. The Indians reported they found Short’s stuff in 1876 and the white guy with the money was killed in 1886 — huh? I don’t believe any white man saw Short’s body in 1876, according to Camp — nobody was interested. One fun being an enlisted man, even when you’re dead.

  42. jenkins says:

    John…My hats off to you man, you’ve done a tremendous amount of research. I’m a retired criminal investigator and will have to go with those handwriting exemplars. I watched a show about Finkle tonight on the History channel and I believe he was definitely survived the battle. My only concern is when did he take flight ? How many men still fighting when he escaped ? He may not be a hero , but he definitely escaped.

    • John Koster says:

      I’m not precisely sure when Finckle broke out because his accounts are a little vague, but I would suspect that he and the surviving members of C Company broke up under heavy gunfire during the early phase of the encirclement. Those who had lost their horses, like Sergeant Edwin Bobo, backed up and died with the Custer brothers or with Myles Keogh. Sergeant Finley was found next to his dead horse, Carlo, shot full of arrows. This was not, as Sergeant Kanipe reported, an instance of torture by the “little Indians” The Cheyenne have a strong taboo against inter-tribal homicide and they kids were using the dead troopers for target practice as an education in self-defense. Captain Benteen noted that a lot of C Company men and, more significantly, a lot of C Company horses weren’t found on the battlefield. John Koster

      • Joe Kelly says:

        The Little savages were known to stab wounded men and run away.They would take intestines out and pulll them as far as they could go and take severed heads and beat them around with bats yeah bunch of lil savages.What does inter tribal homicide mean?. Are you now saying that Sgt Jeremiah Finley of Ireland was a Cheyenne? You dont know where 1Sgt Bobo not Sgt Bobo was found, dont ever call a 1Sgt a Sgt and you say you were in the Army. You dont know where 1Sgt Bobo died you say either with the Custer group or Keough. Do your dam research he was found in the Keough cluster, next to Wild and Patton and Capt Keough.

  43. GD Sutton says:

    Just saw this story on the History Channel and was fascinated, then i found this article. There seems to be so much evidence that points to this man, Frank Finkle, being the real deal.

    Amazing how throughout history, (not to sound disrespectful but no thanks to Frank deserting and keeping his story to himself for so long) that the story of this battle has changed and that one man did survive despite what we see in history text or popular media.

    I hope that the hard work folks like John Koster and others are doing will help get the most truthful history into our childrens books and our adult media.

    • John Koster says:

      Thanks. I appreciate the comment very much. That’s what I hope for. These were good soldiers and the fact that they functioned as humans do under great pressure shouldn’t detract from that. John Koster

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Yes and Sgt August was a good NCO and died with his men, and the ridge where he died is called Finley Finckle Ridge. John why is it called that?

  44. DT Gaudio says:

    I too saw the story on the History Channel and find it quite fascinating. To help prove his story, if I recall correctly, the wound that was covered with “bear grease” never had the bullet extracted so if his body was exhumed the bullet should still be in his grave. Just a thought

    • John Koster says:

      It worked its way to the surface many years later and was taken out by a surgeon. But a good thought.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Read post 63. Frank did not have a doctor remove it , good old liar frank says a poultice forced the bullet out. READ POST 63

  45. Frank S. says:

    Hi John,
    I just watched the History Channel Program about Frank Finkle. I believe everything he has to say. When you serve in the military there is always langue that soldiers of that time period use. The fact that he tells what only a soliders story who was there and uses the correct termonolgy for the time period some 40 years later is all the evidence I need. No Hero bull just what can happen in the fog of battle. Being a vet from 1969 thur1972 I still use the the term GI for all soliders, saliors, and marines as well as airmen for example. I look forward to reading your book.

    Frank S.
    25th S&T
    25th Inf. Div

    • John Koster says:

      Many thanks — hope you enjoy it. The fact that Frank knew the term “skedaddle” but the reporter didn’t and wrote it as “kettler” is a small piece of the puzzle, but a neat piece.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Please note. The word skedaddle was used in the movie “Son Of The Morning Star”

  46. D Watts says:

    I enjoyed the History Channel special on Frank Finkle. At some point, I thought someone would have asked to see the battle scars, or determined what happened to the bullet. Also, by the time he revealed his idenity and the “escape”, I cannot see the military hold this crime against him, but rather desirous of information. Thanks for a reply.

  47. Rose Ann Coster Dublinski says:

    Dear Mr. Koster, I watched the history channel last night and as always found the “last stand” extremely interesting. But I was even more interested in you because my maiden name was Coster. The C came from the immigration imspector when he arrived (I think Nova Scotia) and couldn’t understand what my grandfather was saying. This happened sometime after the Civil War. His wife (later) was Mary Mathis. Thank you for your time especially your time researshing Custer. Believe me it wasn’t fun in grade school when the children changed Coster to Custer.

    Sincerely Rose Dublinski

  48. Michael R. Moser says:

    Just saw the PBS special and as a student of the Civil War, Little Big Horn and having grown up in Minnesota near Ft. Ridgely, I watched with great interest. One thought occurred to me and maybe someone knows and maybe not.

    Did either of his wives, or his children, or his doctors, tell of seeing this nasty wound on his leg, the wound in his abdoman? Would not that be at least colloborating proof?

    And I saw some mention of a doctor removing a bullet from Finkel…any word on what was done with that bullet?

    • John Koster says:

      Ted Schillinger from The History Channel though they might have found it but the slug the Wasington Finkels gave him, without comment either way, turned out of have been unfired. I would guess Frank and Delia chucked the slug they took out of him. The Ohio Finkels found a photo of “August Finckle” in a cava;ry uniform circa 1874. It’s Frank. He has an “Imperial” beard like both other senior sergeants in C Company and his hair is still dark. John Koster

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Funny Doug Ellisons book on Frank Finkle saidhe kept the book many years , in a glass jar. I gavethe book and page number in post 63, fake Koster poster nice try.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        The slug came out of frank in 1916 by Frank putting poultices on his wound and he kept it as a prized relic in a jar for many years.

  49. Sally Chase says:

    I grew up in Walla Walla, and we always heard about Mr. Finkle’s story, great to have it finally confirmed.

  50. William Dowd says:

    I saw the History Channel story and it was intriguing. The story said Mr. Finkel was shot in the foot, in the side and had a piece of the gunstock hit him in the forehead causing blood to flow into his eyes. All of this should have left scars on his body, however, the show never mentioned anything at all about scars.
    I wondered if Mr. Finkel ever showed anyone any scars on his body from the battle wounds.

    • John Koster says:

      In the book, his first wife saw the scar and he told her he was in a fight with some Indians — he didn’t say which ones at the time. Friends also remember he walked with a sligh limp. John Koster

      • Joe Kelly says:

        John 90 of the other imposters that said they were Custer lone survivors also had limps and stories. Dont you miss Mike. Im taking up the torch for Mike to expose the frauds,that Mike Nunnally did so well.

  51. Jim Jacobs says:

    I just watched the program on the History channel that highlighted the Frank Finkle story. I wish I had heard this story 35 years ago when I attended Walla Walla College. I went on road trips through Dayton, Washington many times. I would have loved to have researched this story since I majored in History. I would have liked to do my senior thesis on Frank Finkle rather then the assassination of the former governor of Idaho in 1905. I ‘m still scheptical of the story though, I have doubts hw wold have escaped through 2,000 warriors, rough terrain and loss of blood. .,

    • John Koster says:

      Probably more like 800 full-fledged akichuta and another 400 kids eager to make a name for themselves. More than enough, as it turned out.

  52. Ross Moon says:

    Why was there never any mention of wounds being checked between 1921 and 1930?

    • John Koster says:

      I only dealt with reported fact and not conjecture. Good to read the book “Custer Survivor,” and if you’re really into research, the Oshkosh Public Museum will send you a copy of the Finkel File for about $25. The University of North Dakota has the typescript of Dr, Charles Kuhlman’s comments on hios escape and Old Army Press has it in print, with photographs of Dr. Kuhlman. Every reputable story about him — and a bit of craziness by his second wife — is right in the Finkel File. Doug Ellison believes Finkel may have been at the Little Bighorn but not that he was “August Finckle.” I never read his book but he was good on TV.The Columbia County Courthouse and the Dayton Depot also have some interesting stuff — such as, when Frank first arrived in Dayton he spelled his name “Finckle” but later shifted to “Finkle” and finally to “Finkel.” Land and marriage transactions confirm he was the same person and that, in fact, August Finckle and Frank Finkel were the same person.

  53. Michael Eastham says:

    Wow, I was flipping TV channels and came across the History channel with the story about ‘Custer Survior’. First I heard of it and being facinated with American history I’ve been reading everything I can find about this. One thing working in my favor when forming final opions I am retired law enforcement, retired a detective, and have always prided myself (took some learning) that I don’t a final conclusion until I have lots of supporting facts. Hence I am on John Kosters side of supporters for his findings of Finkle. Trouble with many Americans (and especially Americans) they always take the first story they hear or read to be the real story and will refuse to believe anything to the contrary ( maybe afraid of looking foolish and guliable). If one would look at the evidencuary facts that John tracked down, open yours naysayers, it is very plausable that he is right on. Thanks John for for taking the time to bringing us more important facts of American history.

    • John Koster says:

      Michael, you’re very welcome. Two of my personal handwriting experts were police detectives — one studied graphology with the FBI — and they said that over the range of “Finckle-Finkel” signatures, you could see the signatures were written by the same man at different ages. The 1930 signature shown in the book :”Custer Survivor,” written three days before he died, was all over the map — but the same handwriting. The best match with 1872 was 1921. Thanks again. John Koster.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        John tell them about your other handwriting experts Dt Lowry mentione on page 189 -190 in your book. Barred from life from the National Archives. Read the last post on the board your like my comments. You do a bad job as a Koster you dont have his writing style

        VIENNA, Va, January 25, 2011 — It may not have been the shot heard ‘round the world, but it definitely qualifies as a changed date that echoed across the historical land.

        ?And right here in our own backyard.

        This handout image provided by the National Archives was allegedly tampered with allowing the Dr. T Lowry to claim credit for finding a document of historical significance. (Associate Press Photo/National Archives)
        Author and researcher Dr. Thomas P. Lowry, who wrote “Sex in the Civil War – Stories the Soldiers Didn’t Tell,” allegedly signed a written statement in January admitting that he altered the date on a pardon document signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

        The change to the documents original date of 1864 to the same day in 1865, made it appear to be a final compassionate step by President Lincoln on the day of his assassination.

        The document with the fraudulent date was “discovered” in the Archives by Dr. ?Lowry some 13 years ago. The Woodbridge researcher and retired psychiatrist basked in the glory of his peers and historians everywhere as the new discovery was announced.

        Unfortunately, Dr. Lowry apparently decided that this “find” would be the ultimate feather in a researcher’s cap, and amid the hundreds of loose records on pardons granted during the war period, he chose this one.

        I’ve met Trevor Plante, the archive specialist who brought this alteration to light. Mr. Plante, a totally competent, dedicated and just plain nice young man, who delights in showing people the little known items in the collection, had noticed that the number “5” in the date 1865 appeared darker that the rest.

        When Mr. Plante checked the document against a list of writings issued by President Lincoln, he confirmed the alteration. Speaking with Mr. Plante this morning, the emotion in his voice showed.

        ?“You just can’t imagine how upset I and the people who work with me [are],” Mr. Plante says from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. “We had come to know this man, he and his wife were here daily for years doing research. And doing it [changing the date] for personal gain. It’s just very upsetting.”

        As someone who has researched in those hallowed halls, been security checked and given a list of rules, one of the biggest is the prohibition against fountain pens.

        Lowry, it is now alleged, brought a special fountain pen with some fade-proof ink in that day, and carefully changed the historical document altering the date from1864 to 1865 in the pardon, a Presidential edict that saved a young soldier from execution.

        Officials at the National Archives discovered that a date on a document had been altered to make it appear as if it was the last official act by President Lincoln before his assassination. (Photo/National Archives)
        While the alteration appears obvious in the newspaper and online representations, they are high-resolution reproductions. In the much smaller original document, Plante says that “It all looks normal, except around the number five [where you can almost see something under it.]”

        Mr. Plante acknowledges that some good has come from the situation.

        “We now have video camera surveillance in all the research areas,” Mr. Plante says. “Our security has been totally upgraded as a result.”

        Dr. Lowry’s actions will impact the thousands of people research in the Archives on a daily basis. Already your picture identification is checked, cell phones left at the admissions desk, and you are provided with a locker in which to place briefcases, sweater or jacket, and anything else you might have.

        The rooms provide paper to be used in taking notes, and only pencils and ballpoint pens are permitted. All of this designed to help protect and preserve in their original condition, the millions of the country’s documents contained in the Archives holdings.

        Now you will also be under surveillance and tightened security procedures.

        As quoted in the Washington Post today, Mr. Plante has said: “It makes me very angry. We have a level of trust with researchers, and that trust was broken.”

        Apparently Lowry was promised that no charges would be placed against him due to the Statute of Limitations, and that it would not be publicized by the Archives, which is obviously no longer the case.

        The biggest punishment of all will be that Dr. Lowry is now banned from the Archives for life.

        A man lacking in honesty has, by this simple act, besmirched the name of a man known for his honesty.

        Many of us out here share Trevor Plante’s anger and disgust.

  54. Jim McCarty says:

    I have read the book, seen the film and am convinced that it is quiet possible that Finkle did survive the Little Big Horn. The problem with the rifle not showing damage would make sense if he did not in fact receive the blow on the forehead. This would lead to the conclusion that during a frightening and confused battle, he had been wounded, his horse had been hit and he had fled. This is not to take away from his bravery, but in harrowing circumstances, we do things not contemplated. The fact that he also spoke of them not seeing the river or camp before turning back, is also a selling point for the truthfulness of this version. How would he know this without being there.

    • H. Toburen says:

      His account says that his horse bolted, carrying him through the Indian lines and he lost consciousness after being struck in the shoulder by a bullet. I wouldn’t say that constituted fleeing. As he didn’t recover from his wounds until Sept., he says, he decided to skip returning to the army. In light of the ordeal I’m sure the army would no doubt have subjected him too, that seems quite reasonable to me…. the possibility of execution for desertion was no doubt on his mind. Bear in mind that he probably had no idea how the battle came out at that point.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        There was less then 200 executions for desertion during the Civil War that saw tens of thousands of deserters. During the Inidan War period(1866-1890) less then 10 men were executed for desertion on top of other serious crimes they commited.. Men deserted in large numbers during the indian wars as they knew all it led to was a few days in the guard House. Even the decorated veteran Ryan 1sgt of M troop deserted the 7th for a few days. He was reduced in rank then given his rank back shortly. So men didnt have fear of execution by desertion. As I pointed out a large number of men had horses that bolted at LBH they all made it back to their commands,except one man who was KIA.

      • ohio relative says:

        Mr. Kelly, you have no idea if soldiers were afraid of the consequences of desertion. Attempting to present such a thing as fact is silly. If you heard the story of even one deserter being killed for his desertion I imagine there would be some worry.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Lol Ok you have an answer for everything to defend your bogus ancestor. Just to let you know because you dont, the 7th Cavalry had a high desertion rate. In 1876, the 9th Cavalry had six desertions & the 10th Cavalry had 18 deserters compared to 170 deserted in the 3rd Cavalry, 72 in the 7th Cavalry, & 224 in the 5th Cavalry. In 1866 the first year the 7th was formed they had more then 500 men desert. That is 52% of the regiment. A report by the Adjutant General in 1891 calculated that of 255,712, men who had enlisted between 1867 and 1890, 88,475 deserted a rate of about 33 %.Please know what your talking about before you post here. You can find these facts on google at least do some dam research. So yes I have a dam good idea that soldiers were not afraid to desert when half the regiment deserted the first year it was formed.

  55. Jim Eakin says:

    Does anyone know when the History Channel will repeat this program ?



  56. joe kelly says:

    Frank finckle was a bogus sob. Do bad mike nunnaly has passed on he wrote the book on 7th cav losers. Fickle was invited to speak at a lbh reunion he refused as the survivors would had kicked his lying ass out the door. As for old frank saying his company was wiped out.c troop had over 10 survivors. As an Iraq veteran fickle and billy heath discuss me. It’s called stolen valor act.people go to jail for it.its losers who wear medals and tell bogus war stories. Poster why don’t you post on the little big horn association website. Mike may be gone but plenty of others will shoot your fake story full of holes.ok people go to and look up kosters the reviews and your see mike nunnaly rip holes in kosters fiction .oh Nathan short was KIA at custer hill. The short story was debunked in a book mystery of the rosebud by Douglas ellison the 1st.enough of this fake finckle deserter bs. Koster will do any thing for a buck.history channel is good place for him along with swamp people ice road truckers ax men .Koster has found a home

    • John Koster says:

      None of which appears to change the facts that similarities of handwriting, height, eye color, hair color and language ability make August Finckle and Frank Finkel sound like twins — and a picture supplied by the family makes them look like twins. I write for a living — no apologies — but I write what I believe is true. Mike wrote some great movie reviews and knew a lot about fake survivor stories — but Finckle was Finkel. Facts prove it.

      PS: Doug Ellison also believed Finkel was at the Little Bighorn. He just didn’t see the significant of the forensics.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Not one fact proved anything on old man fake Finkle it and I just proved your book wrong by using the 1870 census. Now that is a fact

      • Joe Kelly says:

        ps you forget the 9 year age difference between Frank Finkle of Ohio and August Finckle of Berlin Germany.

    • John Koster says:

      I found a home with the Lakota and the Crow — I found out that they’re actually human, often very intelligent, unrepentant about defending their land. “Intertribal homicide” means Cheyenne are taught never to kill another Cheyenne, and the kids had to be taught that killing soldiers was okay under the circumstances — as in self-defense. With the Lakota, if you kill a guy in a fight, you pay his wife or wives a number of horses to compensate, and that’s that. (Anglo-Saxons and Germans in tribal times had the same custorm.) With the Cheyenne, if you kill another Cheyenne, you go into exile….no horses. People seem instinctivelyt terrified of Indians — I’ve always liked them. When I was a young reporter, they always told me just enough to geta good story, and never enough to get myself arrested. They’re pretty amazing. Wish they’d given John Eagle Shield a little more air time — he had better stories he never got to tell.

      NB: mutilation. Both sides took scalps, as I’m sure you know, and both sides made grisly souvenirs out of body parts. During World War II, some hotdog sent FDR a letter opener made out of a Japanese soldier’s arm bone. FDR told his aides to give it a decent burial. 60 per cent of the Japanese skeletons sent home from the Marianas were missing the skulls — and the Japanese did the same to us. Lots of savages in Japan, and lots of savages in America — and they aren’t all Indians.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        And lots of guys who should be jailed for the Stolen Valor Act. John how about that meeting in the Brick VFW or with the Little Big Horn Associates in NYC about you discovering August Funckles photograph not to be seen till the 3rd edition of your piece of garbage is out.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        John the Crow and the Lakota hate each other to this day. The Lakota stole the land of the Crow. The Black Hills was Crow Land and the Lakota came in and massacred whole villages and took the Crow land. Thats why the Crow scouted for the cavalry.

  57. howard rosen says:

    Interesting article but I don’t see any proof in it that Finkel was really at the battle. Is there more evidence aside from what is written here?

    • H. Toburen says:

      A few minutes research on the web will show you he was in Co. C of the 7th Cavalry. Disorganized as they may be, the army kept records.

      If you find that too ephemeral, drop by the battlefield and see his name engraved on the monument. He’s lucky to have two memorials. Most of us have to settle for one.

      ps. That’s a pretty stupid question….

      • Joe Kelly says:

        The name on the monument is the real Sgt Finkle who was killed at Little Big Horn and identified. The ridge where Sgt Finkles body was found, to this day is called Finkle Finley Ridge. Visit the battlefield and you can see the ridge.Just because a name is on a monument, does not mean a poser cant come along and say that was him. Many people have the same name. Thats a pretty stupid statement. Not only was Sgt Finkles body identified so was his horse by a member of his company Sgt Kanipe and by a Captain Godfrey who rose to rank of General.Ive been to the Battlefield 5 times ,Finkle Finley ridge is a pretty spot on that field.

      • ohio relative says:

        Joe Kelly-This man’s good friend said this was not his body.
        Yes, many people have the same name. But do they have the same name, eye color, hair color, speak the same languages and be the same UNUSUAL height? There was only one man in the company over six feet tall. He happened to have the same name.
        Now this man also reported details about the battle that were not confirmed until the 1980’s. Why go against what everyone in that day believed to be fact, and stubbornly stick to it despite that everyone doubts you because of it? It would have made a lot more sense to make up a story that closely stuck to what conventional thought was on these matters. According to your logic, Frank would have had to research all this information, been lucky enough to share a last name with someone who fit his description, visited the site himself, then waited years for the opportune moment at horseshoe game to reveal his hoax. He would have also had to have some great insight -psychic ability even- into how and where the battle began. I know there is not proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, but even in a court of law, circumstantial evidence and common sense have been enough.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        The mans friend did not see his body because the area he searched was not where the body was found.. One more time. Windolph was in H troop. On June 27 the remaining companies of the 7th were given different parts of the field to search for the dead. Windolphs company did not have the area where Frank Finkle was found and identifed by 3 different men one who later became a General. The area of the Battlefield today is known as Finley Finkle Ridge. You know why its called that? Because its where Finkle and Finleys bodys were found. And not everyone in the day beleived the same thing about the battle. Stop stealing a soldiers fame who died with his men
        You are disrespecting a NCO who died and was identified by 3 different men.Sgt Knipe was a friend of Finkles, they were in the same company and shared the Sgts mess. So a friend did Identify him. Case closed. You watch one show and you beleive that garbage. Finkles story belongs on Monster Quest which is on the history channel because they never find any monsters. How many books have you read on Little Big Horn? Did you read the 4 Finkle books?

      • ohio relative says:

        Mr. Kelly,
        I’m not disrespecting anyone. You on the other hand have repeatedly called Frank a liar, without proof. I choose to believe Frank. You choose not to. That’s ok, we don’t need to start name calling and being hateful. If you can provide proof that August Finckle was not Frank then do so.

        You also have no way of knowing exactly where Windolph searched,– did he wander beyond the boundries set for him to search? If my friends were out there I would have. It has also been stated by a number of accounts that personal items were stolen by the Indians, and that mutilation and bloating kept many of these men from being properly identified.

      • ohio relative says:

        To answer your last question- I’ve known of Frank’s account for years as it has been passed down in my family. I have also read multiple books on the subject. I did not watch one show and make up my mind.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Ohio relative Ill try this one more time then Ill stop because you are to dam stupid. Seems you didnt respond to over half the 7th deserting in 1866. Whats wrong now you know that men did desert and were not afraid of executions because they had been ordered stopped since1865. Custer was Court Martialed for executing deserters. I do not beleive you have read one book on the battle . I could prove that by going in a open chat room with you and we can fire quetions at each other on LBH and one minute to respond, do you have Yahoo chat? Windolph was a private ok private. You ever been in the military? You dont seem to because you think an E-1 thats Private to you, on goverment property can wander where every they want. I have 15 years on my LES. Ok now a Private does not go wandering around, doing what he wants. His company was riding in skirmish line in a area close to Custer Hill far from Finley Finkle Ridge..I know where Windolph searched. I know he didnt wander away. I have been to the field 5 times. You ever walk from Finley Finkle Ridge to LSH in the summer its a climb. Officers and NCO’s do not let privates go wandering around. They need to know where their men are at all times. Why the hell do you think it was called Finley Finkle ridge????? Please answer me why its called Finley Finkle Ridge? Your saying they named a part of the battlefield for a deserter. No its named that because men in Sgt Finkles Company stated thats where he was found when Finkles body was identified. So now not only are you calling me a liar, your calling General Godfrey a liar,Private Creighton a liar, Sgt Knipe a liar who one more time was in August Finckles C troop and a fellow Sergeant. Troops camped and kept to themselfs and Kanipe would have known Sgt Finkle as they bunked together trooped together. Kanipe would have been closer to Finkle then Windolph. You do know the 7th was split up for years after the Washita right? That they did duty in the South? You have no clue of military organization. And frankly your getting annoying. You come up with no facts, no records. You saw a sci fi show and your hooked. Telll me this have you read “Billy Heath The Man Who Survived Custer’s Last Stand” by Genovese???? Billy was in L troop and he survived the same way Frank did almost the same exact story. But you know what? Billy story came out before Franks. Good old Billy died in 1891 his story was out long before Franks in 1920. I think Frank ripped off Billys story. Read the book and let me know what you think.

  58. bob chastain says:

    As one comedian said “human beings are the craziest people”. We love to cuss & discuss a subject to death. Did anyone ever note a scar on his forehead? Did he walk with a limp or did anyone see the evidence of bullet wounds? The only way to solve this, if you really want to, is to dig the old man up and check for evidence of being shot. I did enjoy the documentary since I’ve been a student of the plains indian wars for the better part of 40 years and visited the sites of all the major battlefields engagements. My opinion is the Custer fiasco wasn’t nearly as significant as the Rosebud, Fetterman’s wipeout, and some others. Were it not for Libby the Little Bighorn would have faded into obscurity years ago.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Bob I have a great deal of info on Capt Fetterman and Lt Grummong KIA at Fetterman Massacre. Fetterman never stated give me80 men and Ill ride through the Sioux Nation. “Give Me 80 Men: Woman and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight” by Shannon D Smith. Excellant book. You know Grummond was a Colonel of Wisconsin Troops and had an excellant war record. He went back to 2nd lt after the end of the War. He died hard. Fetterman and Brown did not commit suicide. Autopsy done on both bodies. Fetterman had his throat slashed and Brown shot up by arrows. Fetterman was mentioned over one hundred times in Shermans dispatchs during Atlanta to the Sea. Grummond won the day for the Union Army at Battle of Bentonville NC

  59. Matt Sikel says:

    Read the book, very compelling, I for one believe Frank Finkle was a 7th calvary survivor. History is often re-written, Mr Kelly you are an illiterate moron who appears to have taken one too many hits to the head.

  60. Mr. P says:

    I saw the documentary a few nights ago on the History Channel and found it very interesting. I am wondering if Finckle ever took off his shirt to show doubters his scars. I think the program mentioned him being hit in the head with a bullet. Did that leave a permanent scar? Thanks..

  61. joe kelly says:

    Matt Elvis is alive to .ask Koster to post on the little big horn association web site. He won’t as he will be ripped apart by noted authors on watch a stupid show and suddenly your duped .ask Koster why the show. Didn’t state that finckles 2nd wife applied and was turned down 2 times for a pension from Washington dc. Why frank didn’t attend the 50 anniversary of the lbh that he was invited to. At least Im a direct descendant of a soldier KIA at lbh. John Kelly f troop formally of e troop his widow with 3 kids received a pension unlike frank the poser widow , she married sgt Curtis a year after her husbands death. Sgt curtis was the nco who discovered the hostile looting a pack that fell from the mule pack train. I have over 20 years studying lbh been there 5 times walked the terrain.Matt your nothing. Why don’t you post on the lbh forum. At least go to Amazon and read the great historian mike nunnaly comments on the 100 greatest survivors of lbh he ripped holes in old franks story and published a book on Matt will you read his book?

    • H. Toburen says:

      Mr. Kelly… If you’re a typical poster on that board, I won’t go near it. Probably John won’t either. As for meeting a raving lunatic like you in person….. no way!

      You’ve expressed your opinion… now give it a rest and spare us.

      As for Kanipe’s identification. He was interviewed 48 years later. Possibly time or the horror of the day blurred his memory. You are misquoting what he did say, however. He said Finley’s body was shot full of arrows. Not Finkle’s. Page 250 of “The Custer Myth” by W.A. Graham.

      I’m not certain, but I seem to recall that Custer tracked down and executed deserters. And Frank would have witnessed this. He was a hero, whether he died on the battlefield or was carried away by his bolting horse as the Indian witnesses said. If he was unconscious, he would not have been able to regain control of his horse and make his way to the Reno command. I don’t recall any reports of troopers who regained control of their booting horses, in any case. Reno’s trooper was pulled from from his horse and killed. Thompson’s and Watson’s horses gave out, not bolted.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        H Toburen. Ok this is what I mean by people not knowing facts and telling lies. Ok now listen.Frank Finkle didnt witness the execution of the one deserter under Custer’s command(Charles Johson) because it happened in July 7 1867. Frank Finkle didnt enlist till 1872 so please tell me how Frank witnessed it???????? You say Frank would have witnessed this. See you dont know your history. I have over 150 books on LBH. Have been there 5 times and will destroy you on Litttle Big Horn fact. I will answer your other question later. And I challenge you to meet me in a open chat room and anyone else to discuss LBH. Ill be back later going out to have a few drinks with the Challenger crew from Jan 28 1986. They escaped from the Challenger in a pod and have beeen hanging out in SeaSide Heights working as Bartenders, they dont want anyone to know they survived till 2016. You opened a can of worms Toburen.

    • John Koster says:

      How will the facts in my book be changed by posting them on blogs I don’t need or want to belong to? I’ve got The History Channel, Wild West, and History Publications — too old for the unoriginal amateur hour. I’ve also won awards in journalism and sociology and — unlike some bloggers — I don’t have to put out a desperate plea for find somebody who can understand German, because I know German and four other languages well enough to correspond in them. That’s how I found out that nobody named August Finckle ever served as a Prussian officer….the hero I supposedly defamed never existed except as Frank Finkle invented him. Both August Finckles who passed through U.S. Immigration lived into the 20th Century. NO August Finckle ever served as a Prussian officer. Go figure.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        You have statements from Germany and the German Army to back that up.That no August Finckle ever served as a officer. has quite a few German Army records. You need facts.The only ones who beleive you are the ones who watched the show and the Finkle relatives. .

  62. joe kelly says:

    Mr p. In the book ellison wrote on finckle “sole survivor” ellison states that the bullet in his side worked its way out years later but he lost the bullet. Give me a few ill go get the book from my library and give you the page number I have 4 books written about finckle 5 if I count miles book that has a chapter on frank

    • John Koster says:

      Jper, you’ve got some serious issues with anger and paranoia. The Prussian military records are in Berlin and the German military records are in Freiburg — you know the difference between Prussia and Germany, right? Irina Froelich, the senior clerk in Berlin, stated that enough of the Prussian records remained sp show that no officer named Finckel or Finckle served as a Prussian officer betweeen 1868 and 1873. Enough said? Or am I still a threat to your preconceptions of being threatned by facts and savages? Seek herlp, if not for your own sake, for America’s.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Koster seek help for your outright lies and for you stealing a soldiers memory. I take it your not a VFW member, never served in the sandbox did ya? JUst by you saying you have one medal hints of fraud. Jids graduating to day from Basic Training get the National Defense Medal and the GlobalWar on Terrorrism Medal just for finishing Basic. How did you just get one medal. Bad Conduct discharge I suspect. Ok you wont meet at Brick VFW your in the 201 area code many of the guys from my battalion are in the Jersey City VFW Post is that a close enough place for you to meet. I can bring a few box’s of records and books on LBH. I have printed out census records from ancestry .comand I found something that is going to shock you. Im going to hold it secret like your holding the so called Sgt August Finckle photograph. Lets say I have records between the census’s 1870 – 1880 that show Frank Finkles movements. Maybe its time for another book debunking the Frank Finkle myth.We can have someone film this for YOUTUBE so everyone interested can see the meeting and the records on Frank Finkle that I produce. Will you show

  63. Joe Kelly says:

    Ok Bob and Mr P who asked about Franks wounds bullet etc.I have a autographed copy of “Sole Survivor An Examination of the Frank Finkel Narrative” Written 1983 by Douglas W Ellison. This is the same Ellison who was on the show. Page 21 “In 1916 an abcess had formed on Franks abdomen, near the navel. Upon visiting a local Doctor he was told that a foreign body was imbedded beneath the skin. The doctor advised its removal by surgery but Frank, knowing what the object was, refused. Poultices were applied at home and the object was soon expelled. It was a lead bullet which according to Frank had been lodged in his body since June 25 1876. Frank carried this slug in his vest pocket for some time but in the 1921 Bulletin interview he stated he lost it. If so he soon found it again, for Burton Olsen of Fairfield, Montana clearly recalls the day Frank showed him the bullet while on his Montana ranch. Burton was just a boy at the time and knew Frank from 1922 to 1924 while his parents lived at Carter Montana near Franks homestead. In 1924 when Burton was 12 his parents moved to Fairfield and he never saw Frank again. Burton recalled at the time he was shown the bullet it was being kept in a small glass jar or vase on a window sill of Franks Ranch home. While this was obviously a safer place for it ,it apperently was lost again, for todays its whereabouts are unknown” Ok funny how they dont mention the bullet story on the show as that would be to hard to push even Matt might not fall for that one. Now Douglas W Ellison wrote the excellant book “Mystery on the Rosebud” where he debunked the Nathan Short story. Im curious as to why the guys didnt want the old bullet working its way out story to be on the show. Now you want to read an excellant book. Read “No Custer Survivors or the Unveiling of Frank Finkel” 1977 written by William Boyes. The best is wriiten by Mike Nunnally who recently passed on.” I Survived Custer’s Last Stand! Booklet/pamphlet 39 pages-Moonwolf books, self published, 2006″. A listing of a number of “sole survivors” and other bizarre claims.Here are some of Mikes exposed fakes
    Henry Benner- Benner said he escaped the last stand by riding through Indian lines on Custer’s “fast horse” to Major Reno who was “sixty-five miles away.” The Seventh, he said, was ambushed in a “narrow canyon.”

    Charles L. Berg- “Captain” Charles Berg claimed to be the first person to discover the Custer Battlefield, a claim which was made by over two dozen other men and Calamity Jane.

    Joe Blonger- Blonger (Belonger) (1847-1933) Claimed he missed the Battle of the Little Big Horn because there weren’t enough horses to go around. He said he arrived on the battlefield after the massacre and questioned the Indian children about what really happened. The Indian children also told him who killed Custer, a secret he only shared with family members. Blonger was good friends with Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Cochise and Wild Bill Hickock. He also scouted with Buffalo Bill. The Apaches called Blonger “Joe straight tongue.” Died 1933 Seattle, WA.

    Billy Boutwell- According to Boutwell he and his fellow prospectors witnessed Custer and his men being ambushed in a narrow canyon. Boutwell said his fellow prospectors were killed and he made his way to a small settlement where he was nursed back to health.

    William J. Carlyle- Claimed to be the “only living white man that saw the fight” where he witnessed Custer fall with a bullet in his breast. Died in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Alfred Chapman- (?-1941) A Buffalo Bill look-alike Chapman claimed he was a scout for Custer and was captured by Indians and forced to watch the slaughter of Custer and his command. Chapman was more of a showman than the rest and appeared as himself in the 1915 silent motion picture Custer’s Last Scout and made numerous appearances at carnivals and fairs signing autographs and showing off the “bullet that killed Custer.” Died Portland, Oregon 1941.

    S.B. Clark- Claimed to have been captured by Indians and forced to watch the destruction of Custer and his troops.

    Jack Cleybourne- Said he had fought alongside the general at the Battle of the Washita and also the Little Bighorn where he was the only survivor.

    Charles M. Davis- Wounded in both legs Davis escaped the last stand and fought his way through the Indians to Reno.

    William Theodore Dugard- (1864-1937) Dugard claimed to be one of Custer’s ‘Mississippi Scouts.” Unfortunately Dugard was only twelve years old at the time of the battle and Custer had no “Mississippi Scouts.” During his lifetime Dugard was somewhat of a celebrity in his hometown of Tupelo, Miss., and played organ from the back of a wagon during parades. Buried Tupelo, Miss. In 2001 Mississippi erected a military tombstone with the inscription- “Custer Co. -Mississippi Scouts- Battle of the Little Bighorn .”

    Harvey S. Faucett- Learned of the overwhelming number of Indians waiting for Custer and tried to warn him but Faucett’s horse died in the attempt.

    Frank Finkel- (1854-1930) Finkel claimed to have escaped the last stand on a fast horse which carried him unconscious through the Indian lines. He then made his way to a remote cabin where he was nursed back to health from his wounds by two mysterious men. Finkel first made his claim in 1920 during a horseshoe tournament. No documentation exist to support his story although he still has his believers. The Frank Finkel Story: Possible Custer Survivor? by Dr. Charles Kuhlman relates Finkel’s claim. The subject of numerous books and articles. Buried Dayton, Washington.

    Frank Fleck- Claimed he and 40 other men were left at the river due to “lame horses.” Fleck and his group were cut off and fought their own mini last stand with Fleck being the only survivor. When found wounded he was sent back to where the “women and children were.”

    Thomas Frost- Claimed to be part of a relief force sent to rescue Custer.

    Raymond Hatfield Gardner- (1845-1940) “Arizona Bill” Gardner claimed he entered Sitting Bull’s camp disguised as a “Canadian Indian.” He tried to warn Custer but was accused of treason by the general. In the 1930’s Arizona Bill had his own radio show in San Antonio, Texas. Documentation signed by Gen. Nelson Miles and Buffalo Bill exists supporting Bill’s tale although some researchers question the authenticity of the signatures. Died 1940, buried Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio.

    Charles Hayward- In his tale Hayward said he was the last man left alive after Custer and his men were killed and attempted to escape on Comanche but was captured and held prisoner until 1900 when he escaped his Indian captors.

    Billy Heath- (1848-1891) A Pennsylvania miner, Heath told his family he had survived the last stand and was listed on the battlefield monument as “killed in action.” Other than the same name no evidence exists that supports the fable. The subject of a book Billy Heath: The Man Who Survived Custer’s Last Stand. Heath claimed to have been nursed back to health by a family named Ennis or Evans who were living in Sioux country. The story is similar to the Finkel tale but Heath’s fable is strictly “family oral tradition” since he left no written accounts behind. Heath died in 1891 and is buried in the Oddfellows Cemetery, Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.

    Curly Hicks- Sent to Gen. Terry for reinforcements, Hicks escaped the battlefield by using two dead Indians as a shield. Hicks claimed he was the famed scout for Custer known as Curly.

    John C. Lockwood- (1857-1928) Claimed to have survived the last stand. Subject of the 1966 book Custer Fell First: The Adventures of John C. Lockwood. Lockwood attended the 1926 Little Big Horn battle reunion and passed himself off as a veteran of the fight and appears in several photographs taken at the event. He was later dropped from membership in the Veterans of the Indian Wars Association for “unsubstantiated pretensions.” Lockwood had been a member of the Seventh Cavalry enlisting in August 1876, less than two months after the battle, but had no connection to the regiment at the time of the battle.

    John A. Martin- A private in the Fifth Cavalry, Martin claimed he was the last messenger sent by Custer. John D. Martin (Giovanni Martini) of the Seventh Cavalry was the actual last messenger. Records indicate John A. was with the Fifth Cavalry over 250 miles away the day of the battle. John A. Martin is buried Oak Hill Cemetery, Plymouth, Indiana, with tombstone inscription: “Custer’s last messenger.” He wasn’t.

    James Mannion- In one of the more outrageous tales Mannion says Custer attempted to lead his troops through a “gauntlet of 2,000 rifles.” His men failed to follow and Custer rode back and again attempted to lead his men through the 2,000 rifles but is trapped and dies with his men. Mannion said he was with Reno at the time although his name is listed nowhere in connection with the battle.

    Willie McGee- (1857-?) Claimed Custer sent him and a bugler named Wagner for help during the battle. Wagner was killed and only McGee made it through to “General” Reno. Also claimed to be a Medal of Honor winner. Sentenced to eight years in Sing Sing prison in 1905 for killing his best friend in an argument over how to cook beef stew. During his murder trial a number of newspapers ran sympathetic stories on “Custer’s sole survivor’” which probably helped McGee receive only an eight year sentence for murdering his friend.

    John McGrath- was an actual Seventh Cavalry veteran and survived the last stand by riding through Indian lines “disguised as an Indian, on an Indian pony.” Unfortunately McGrath’s enlistment ended in 1872 and he was living in North Carolina at the time of the battle.

    Ben McIntosh- Claimed to be the Custer scout “Curley.” In his tall tale “Curley” Ben claimed he carried Custer’s body from the field to Mrs. Custer at Ft. Custer. Also claimed to be known as “Bloody Knife.” McIntosh claimed Custer died in his arms. “Curley Ben” was later sent to prison for raising cash for a fictious Indian school and pocketing the proceeds.

    Robert Nixon- In 1927 Nixon claimed he was the first person to visit the Custer battlefield after the battle and saw Custer’s “severed head.”

    D.H. Ridgeley- Claimed he witnessed the last stand and watched as Custer’s wounded were “burned at the stake.” One of the first sole survivor claims, his story was printed in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press less than three months after the battle in September of 1876. Ridgeley’s employer soon came forward and said Ridgeley was working for him at the time of the battle.

    Ed Ryan- In 1950 Ryan wrote a book Me and the Black Hills in which he claimed to have served in the Seventh Cavalry under Custer. He was said to have appeared on an early Groucho Marx radio show in which he told his tale. The Chicago Daily News and Billings Gazette featured articles on the famous “sole survivor” in August of 1951. Ryan was later exposed to be 65, not the 95 he claimed. His hometown of Custer, South Dakota, labeled him the biggest liar in South Dakota.

    Jay O. Spencer- Spencer claimed to have been in Custer’s ‘infantry’ during the battle of the Little Big Horn and survived the last stand by hiding in a nearby log. He applied for a pension over a period of several years but no records could be found of his service in the Seventh Cavalry. Spencer’s neighbor suggested he might have suffered from dementia.

    Thomas Stowers- (1848-1933) Stowers was a member of B Company and an actual veteran of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and fought on Reno Hill. But his tombstone in Baxter, Tennessee, is inscribed “Sole Survivor of the Custer Massacre.” Stowers’ family oral tradition says he survived the last stand by hiding under a wagon or inside a large cooking pot.

    Frank Tarbeaux- Tarbeaux claimed to have survived the last stand but was later exposed as a fraud. Tarbeaux changed his story to being a scout with Custer and being with troops nearby when the battle happened. This tale was believed by the public. A book written about Tarbeaux, The Autobiography of Frank Tarbeaux as told to Donald Henderson Clarke, was full of unbelievable adventures.

    Charles L. Von Berg- Claimed to have carried messages for Custer and arrived on the battlefield after the battle was over.

    While the horse Comanche is considered the only real survivor from Custer’s command over thirty cavalry mounts survived the battle. Over fifteen were taken from American Horse’s camp, several were recovered from Sitting Bull’s camp by Northwest Mounted Police in Canada and some were offered for trade by Indians at Fort Custer. Some accounts say one dog also survived the battle.

    • John Koster says:

      The History Channel guys got an old bullet from the Washington Finkels but it proved to be unfired. I did mention the bullet in “Custer Survivor.” Great detail in Ellison’s book — but since he also leaned toward accepting Finkle as having been at the Little Bighorn, why is he good and why am I bad? If you read my book you missed a lot — must have been really exciting, eh?

  64. Brian says:

    Mr. Kelly was talking about:

  65. Alexandra says:

    I also watched and set the DVR so as not to miss anything and rewind to get the entire show and information, I was quite interested. My married family name is “Merkel”, also a family from Germany that moved to ND and SD. It appears it was originally spelled “Merkle” and often misspelled even locally in Cheney, WA. There are many Merkels in history with both spellings and in our town. Why is it so hard to believe that Finckle, Finckel or Finkle/Finkel could also have the same confusion attached? Or that he did use August or Hall to avoid being killed or noticed, he wasn’t looking to be found, obviously for reasons we may never know. As stated on the show many immigrants did change spellings and names to defray disgrace or I.D.. My own grandfather on my side of the family changed his name over and over to avoid something, I have had no fun trying to track my heritage on for a long time with all his confusing name changes, but I found him, his father and mother and my late grandmother whom I never had the pleasure of knowing while growing up due to an accident when my own father was a child. Things happen, research, well documented searches do find truths, dna isn’t always required if signatures are the same, especially being that old of information. Frank was a modest man, someone not looking for fame, just frustrated at the false accusations of the actual events and spoke up one day to set it right with his account of the fight and his part in it. He never claimed fame for it. But, should I come across similar events in my history I would want to know. However, money and fame are not my intentions either. In the law you are innocent until PROVEN guilty, why cannot we not apply this to heritage as well? Believe unless proven wrong. I choose to believe Frank at this point and will continue researching my fathers side of my family no matter what. We all deserve to know where we came from. It is a blessing.

    • John Koster says:

      Excellent. Koster used to be Koester….same name as “Custer” but changed because people pronounced it wrong. Thanks.

  66. Dennis Gleason says:

    History can certainly bring forth some tantalizing mysteries. I remember that famous line from the movie, “The man who shot Liberty Valance, ” Where a newspaper editor says to Jimmy Stuart, “when facts become legend. . . print the legend.” One hundred and thirty-five years have passed since that legendary battle took place. And still, on occasion, after all this time, real, authentic articles of clothing or rifles and ammunition, or fragments of human remains are found in and around the battlefield. Sometimes many miles away. And with each factual discovery, the legend grows. I believe that there was a great opportunity for one or more troopers assigned to Custer to escape. Reno lost a lot of men in the initial thrust, but saved many during the harrowing escape. If August Finckle did somehow survive, perhaps before the battle was really engaged by overwhelming numbers, in the manner that Frank Finkel described in 1921 to a Walla Walla Bulletin reporter, then you only need one key piece of evidence, that would prove he was who he said he was. A photograph of August Finckle. You find a photo in a family album or lost to history in an attic or military archive someplace and you have a good chance to turn a legend into a fact. Exhuming a body to find bullet scars or a slug proves nothing. That does not put Frank Finkel on the battlefield on June 25th, 1876. But, you find a photo of August Finckle taken prior to the Battle of The Little Big Horn and now you have something. One thing about soldiers. They always get photographs of themselves. It’s out there somewhere.

    • Tom Boyce says:

      Actually, Dennis, I believe that the author of this book has, indeed, located before and after photos of Finkle (Finckle). Since I am considered the authority on the Boyce family, I would think that DNA evidence exists which would confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Finkle (or Finckle) is, indeed, the Mr. Finckle found on the battlefield “stuck full of arrows.”

      Tom Boyce
      Barre, VT

      • H. Toburen says:

        Where on the battlefield would you expect to find August’s dna?

      • Dennis Gleason says:

        Thanks, Tom, for the clarification. I have not read Mr. Koster’s book yet. I recently watched the History channel movie with great interest and although I have lived for over sixty years within thirty miles of Dayton, Washington, I had never heard the tale of Frank Finckle. I am retiring from Washington State service on May 16th and plan on touring the Little Horn memorial battlefield this summer in June.

        However, the interesting point that you make regarding DNA. How would you proceed? Who would you draw DNA from and who do you have to compare it with? Looking forward to your comments.

      • Tom Boyce says:


        My understanding of DNA evidence exists with the possibility of a simple swab to the inside cheek of known descendants of Finckle or Finkle. The swab is rolled on the inside of the mouth and sent to the lab for a DNA mark-up. The results should be available within 2-3 weeks upon submission.

        The Paternal DNA test identifies specific markups of the Y-chromosome found only in males. Thus, females will have to recruit a fellow male, family member to identify those markups in the Y-chromosome easily transfered between a father and a son. Without exception.

        However, the Maternal DNA test both males and females can use to help identify ancestral members from your mother’s side of the family tree. This test generally helps people rule out those with whom they are NOT related. Thus, the first test should be the Paternal DNA test.

        Advanced, Paternal DNA tests cost somewhere in the range of $180 (each person tested), however, once tested you need not have this test done, ever again. The Advanced, Paternal DNA test will identify some 45-50 markups on the Y-chromosome. Frankly, this test will determine a relative going back some 14 generations.

        Does this help?

        Tom Boyce
        Barre, VT

      • Tom Boyce says:

        That’s the beauty of DNA evidence, my friend. You need not have the actual DNA samples of the actual field participant, themselves. Instead, all you need is a sample from a living relative and compare that sample taken from a second, living relative from August Finckle’s family (as in a brother’s family member or one of his uncle’s family members).

        The Paternal DNA test is THAT accurate (going back 14 generations when only 33 of 36 markers match). Certainly, we can always rule out those whom could NOT, possibly be related to August Finckle.

    • John Koster says:

      We found it — the publisher has a copy for the third edition. “August Finckle” in uniform, sent to “Frank Finkel’s Ohio family in 1878. Great insight. Detractors will probably claim I took a time machine, slipped past the morlocks, and posed for it myself — anything to avoid facing facts.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Wow and in all these years since Finkle has stated his story since 1921 no one knew of this photograph no one in the Finkle family who you say you got it from. You said you have the photograph,either post it or shut up your lies are geting old I read what the people that read your paper said about you hell I even posted it. No Ill say you got one of the many un id western calvary soldier CDV’s sold on Ebay and you will say its August but that will be ripped apart by experts in photography. Quit now stealing Sgt August Finkles honor. You can be charge with the Stolen Valor Act as it is coming back they debated on it today.

      • John Koster says:

        CF below — whose valor did I supposed steal? I never claimed to be at the Little Bighorn, August Finckle and Frank Finckle were the same person, and it looks like I didn’t make it past all of the morlocks….I think we all better let Joe get some sleep….This kind of rage over something that happened 135 years ago seems…..well, fill in the blanks…

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Wait a minute if the battle was in 1876 how did August Finckle send the photo of him in uniform that was taken prior to June 1876 to his Ohio Finkle relatives in 1878???????. Sgt August Finckle C Troop belongings at Ft Abraham Lincoln would have been sent to Sgt Finckles relatives in Berlin Prussia if none could be found the soldiers items were raffled off and the money went in the troop fund. So please pray tell how Frank got a picture of him in uniform to send to his family in 1878??? Good God man your a terrible liar. Know your history and what happened to deceased soldiers items.

      • Dennis Gleason says:

        Outstanding, Mr. Koster. Do you believe in miracles? I sure do. As I stated before, “One thing about soldiers. They always get a photograph of themselves. It’s out there somewhere.” Great job. I hope “Ohio relative,” is also tuning in and feeling good on this day.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Well Im a member of Sons Of Union Veterans Of the Civil War Camp 100 in NJ, I have 5 Civil War ancestors and one Indian War ancestor and we have no cdv’s, Tintypes, hard Images , just one of them in the 9th Connecticut.. Poor Soldiers didnt spend money on Cdv’s when they were raising a family and sending all their money home, Koster I dont think you took a time machine I think you purchased a cdv off of Ebay of a Un id Soldier and you wrote on back August Finckle.Remember this phtograph will be looked at by experts, If you didnt get my messages I called the Little Big Horn Battlefield Museum, and talked to Marvin one of the park rangers /Historians I let him know of your great find. I also pasted your post about this photograph on The Little Big Horn Associates Website Message Board. Be prepared to have your photo looked at by the National Pak Services. If your doing this for your 3rd edition, well be prepared.

    • John Koster says:

      Actually, the Ohio Finkel family had one and it will appear in the third editon and, if possible, in an edition of “Wild West.” It’s obviously the same person shown as “Frank Finkle” in Dayton in 1886.

  67. Tom Boyce says:

    Fascinating read, however, the following information is at odds with the initial premise that Kanipe (the last messenger Custer sent to Capt. Benteen to, “Come Quick. Large Indian Village … etc).’


    In Wengert and Davis, [That Fatal Day], pages 8 and 18, as well as in Hammer’s, [Custer in ’76], page 100, were noted that veteran Charles Windolph did, indeed, confirm Kanipe’s initial version of having seen “Finkle’s body sticking full of arrows, just as Kanipe says.” One can view Camp’s collection at Brigham Young University, box 6, folder 6.

    Could you address those comments, please? I thank you, in advance,

    Tom Boyce – Barre, VT
    Whose distant cousin, McKeen Boyce (a veterinarian who traded horses with the Nez Perce in Northwest Idaho, on behalf of the U.S. Army), could probably shed more light on the actual horses used by Custer’s command, that day. Mckeen’s father, William Henry Boyce, served with his father, Michael (Marshall) Boyce, in the 15th Maine Infantry (Company I). William Henry Boyce raised horses, in Kentucky, at the time of Custer’s last actions.

    • H. Toburen says:

      Kanipe’s story is also in “The Custer Myth” by W. A. Graham. He says that Sgt. Finley was shot full of arrows. Not Sgt. Finkle. Page 250.

      A note from the author on the same page refers to the many inaccuracies in Sgt. Kanipe’s story.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        The Custer Myth was published in 1952. Sine then 2 ground breaking books were published. “The Custer Battle Casualties Vol 1 and Vol 2” by Richard G Hardorff.1989 and 1999. Every man who was identified KIA at LBH is in the books along with every account of the finding of their bodies. Finkle is clearly identified with the dead. General Godfrey in a letter in the Brigham Young Univesity collection group 198 states “I saw Finkles body sticking full of arrows” ” Private John C Creighton of K Company(Godfreys company) whose area to search was Finckle Finley ridge stated ( I recognized Finley’s body at the point where marked on map” Flying by a Sioux who lated scouted for the Army stated: The last man killed was one who rode a horse and who fell over near where Sgt Finley was found” Sgt Kanipe made a number of statements over the years as he lived to old age in North Carolina and he married Sgt Bobo’s widow.In letters to Camp in BYY collection” Sergenat Finley and Finkle were both mutilated very badly.They showed to have been wounded. Their horses were lying near them” “Sgt Finley lay at his horse (Carlo) head. Finley had 12 arrrows through him. They had been laying there for 2 days in the sun,the wounded bloody and mutilated.You can always tell which casualties had been wounded because the little indians and the squaws after removing the clothes would shoot them full with arrows and chop them in the face with hatchets. They never mutilated a dead man, just those who had been wounded.” You really have to read the other 3 Finkel books. The best one is by Douglas W Ellison “Sole Survivor an examination of the Frank Finkel Narrative” Old Frank in that one is more heroic then Kosters book. At one point he plays dead (June 27)and as 2 indians come on him to scalp him he shoots one of them and the other one runs off.Page 79 to 80.

      • ohio relative says:

        The person closest to Finkel, his good friend Charles Windolph, said “I tried to find the body of my German friend, Trooper Finkel, the tallest man in the regiment. But I could not identify him”

    • John Koster says:

      In a typescript in the Finkel File, Windolph says — this was in 1944 — that he went back to look for Finkel’s body, couldn’t find it, and was haunted with regret into his last years — he lived to be 99 and died in 1950. This is also what he said in “I Fought With Custer,” which I believe was taken down in dictation in the 1940s. Windolph never found Finkel’s body. Kanipe said Custer was shot once, not twice, and saw 75 dead Indians in two burial teepees when the Lakota only lost 14 warriors, CF Camp and Rain-In-The-Face. (Cheyenne practice earth burial.) Pick your favorite witness.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        I pick Sgt Kanip who served in C Troop with Sgt August Finckle and id his body and who married 1Sgt’s Bobo’s widow. Sgts and Privates didnt pal around together and Windoplh was in H Troop and Finckle in C troop and the 7th was split up for years. Kanipe was a much better friend.

  68. Karl King says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. If the story of “Frank/August Finckel/Finckel/Finkle is true, why didn’t one of his wives, especially Hermie, who was so determined to advance his story, mention the disfigurement or scaring from the wounds in his foot and side and forehead? Would not Frank/August have had a distinctive scar on his forehead–obvious to anyone who saw him? Would he not have a distinctive limp from the foot wound? The bullets would have severed muscle or tendons. With the rudimentary doctoring he received, I am surprised he lived, let alone had zero scarring or a limp from. The wounds. Also, I have done quite a bit of genealogy work for my family; searched through thousands of old documents and was surprised (at first) at how many people shared the same or similar name — but were not related. I believe from the minimal evidence presented that Frank and August are different people with similar names. As a history buff and avid reader of all things Little Big Horn and Custer, I wish it were true. But alas, the evidence is very weak and circumstantial at best. The story telling of an old man who realized the end was probably near, so like many older people, made up the story. All he had to do was take his shirt off for the newsman to show the wound.

    • John Koster says:

      Finkel in fact displayed the wounds and walked with a limp. He alsoappeared to have a mild scart on his foreheard. And why would a rich guy with a son in the Idaho Legislature claim to be a deserter? He could pay for his own drinks. Read my book — if you like Custer, you may like or hate Koster, but you’ll learn a lot about Finkel. “Custer Survivor.” Wish they’d reprint Ellison — sounds like some good stuff in there too.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        I have both of Ellisons books your book, Boyes book(No Custer Survivor or the unveiling of Frank Finkle) And Kulmans works. Been there 5 times and I have spent a great amount of time on Finley Finkle Ridge which is part of the battle named for the 2 Sgt’s found and id dead there.

  69. Kevin says:

    I just watched the special last night on Frank .My question is he was shot twice he must have scars right ?
    A good movie to watch is Son of the morning star .It tells the battle from both sides.Either way I found the story very interseting .

    • Willam Dwodd says:

      I too feel like the question about scars is a legitimate one. Considering a bullet pierced his skin on his side, one hit him in the foot, and a piece of wood hit the forehead hard enough to cause blood to flow into his eyes; combined with the fact he did not receive any formal medical attention from a doctor for these wounds, I would think they’re bound to leave a scar. The cauterizing of the lower leg wound should have left a burn scar.

      I’m not sure if these scars were ever shown to anyone ( there was no mention of it in the show so I’m assuming they weren’t) but Frank Finkel should have shown the scars to the reporter. This would have been one way of supporting his story and would have helped make it more believable.

      I have watched Son of the Morning Star at least three times and you’re right, it’s very interesting.

      • ohio relative says:

        Yes, Frank had scars and he showed them. I don’t know why they didn’t mention this. There is a picture of him where the scar on his head is visible.

      • H. Toburen says:

        Is the picture of Frank Finkle with scars in Koster’s book? I will try again to locate it at the library. I guess I’ll have to buy it. I haven’t yet, because it’s mostly about Frank’s life, not LBH. If it isn’t, Ohio Relative, could you post it?

        Mr. Kelly… It’s wonderful that all this contradictory information is in some box at the BYU library. But they don’t reply to emails.. In a way, that’s handy for you…. But its too far for me to go at the moment. If I go climb Devils Tower again and visit the battlefield, maybe I’ll wander down and visit my Mormon relatives and see for myself. In the meantime, can you explain to me why Kanipe’s account in Graham’s book would differ? Is he known for misquoting?

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Hey Toburen you can find the book cheaper then amazon on My last Custer book cost 220.00 dollars, its on all the cartridge shells recovered before the 1981 dig very limited edition.

    • John Koster says:

      Covered above — good, sensible question.

  70. Chazz says:


    Just saw the piece on the history channel about Mr. Finkel; purported to be Custer’s Last Man.

    Forgive me if this has already been called to your attention; and possibly for being naieve.

    I understand you have a hand drawn map by Finkel; where his story
    was able to point out details of the terrain he traveled in amazing accuracy.

    I wonder if there would be any possibility of finding the engraved stone he placed at the gravesite of the man who died in the shack?

    Wouldn’t that be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that everything
    he says is true?

    Thank you.


    • Tom Boyce says:

      So, we are expected to believe that the gentleman who claims to be serving in the 7th Cavalry was, also, an experienced monument dealer who could simply engrave someone’s name on any stone with the use of ANOTHER stone?

      Do yourself a favor and take a simple stone and try to engrave (carve) a name on another stone that would last 130-plus years of weathering. Now, take a trip to any cemetery across the land and take a hard look at the weathering patterns of those CW soldiers whom were buried with a slate tablet (or rock), or even a marble monument. Marble is MUCH stronger than slate, yet, many of our nation’s monuments have had to be restored or redone because the deep-grooves could not sustain the weathering issue. Once at the cemetery you will not be able to read their names, not to mention the dates of birth or death. That’s reality.

      In fact, ALL of the original, marble tablets on the Little Big Horn battlefield have had to be replaced (some of them twice). That’s why granite (from Barre, VT) is used for the purposes of headstones and foot markers. The granite found, here, in Barre, VT enjoys the densest of stone and the least imperfections of all the granite found anywhere on earth. Yet, not even the finest granite can withstand more than a few hundred years of weathering.

      I hope this little piece of information helps you come to a more informed decision on whether or not Mr. Hall’s story stands the test of time.

      Tom Boyce
      Barre, VT

    • John Koster says:

      They’ve been looking for it for years….the shack may have been burned for firewood but the stone might still be out there. I wonder who those guys were — my guess — whiskey traders, or maybe gunrunners. That’s why the freaked when they aaw a soldier. A very good question, Chazz.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Yeah 2 men in Sioux country. Sioux hated Miners and trappers. Guns were given as gifts and were purchased at posts.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        John who has been looking for this shack since its on Indian land. Ever go to the LBH battlefield. One time we wandered onto Crow Land and were picked up by Indian Police and only our CAC cards saved us a headache. And do not tell people to go looking for a cabin site that never was they are trespassing on Crow Land.

  71. Joe Kelly says:

    Good Post Tom. Chazz LOL a hand drawn map. Thats funny because the other 3 Finkel books written before Kosters Sci Fi bit of garbage do not have the map. Charles Kuhlman actually had his book published and changed the title 3 different times starting in 1968, 1972, and 1977. And yes Chazz let some fool give you a treasure map and lets see what happens to you when you go lolly gagging around on Crow Reservsation land. As you do know that area is now Crow Land and was before the Sioux brutally robbed them of it.Same as the Black Hills. Im sure they will give you a nice warm welcome, as you goin lookinng for the cabin site and the grave of the cabin partner.Men in a shack?? Now you have the greatest Indian campaign going on and miners trappers were the most high value targets that the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne went for but 2 trappers are living in a cabin on the hunting land of the Sioux but they are not left looking like a pin cushion. No they are just out there chopping wood not worrying about noise discipline or security. They must have had some comcertina wire and some 240B’s around that FOP to keep alive during the 76 Campaign. As Tom Boyce stated August Finckle was found shot full of arrows and was id by men in his company. That is Company C. 15 men from Company C survived the Battle(they were attached to the pack train and 4 had horses that fell out and they made it back to Reno) (4 of them were wounded and sent down the river on The Far West) and it was these men that were to id the men in their company. Another 9 C Company men were detached at the Powder River Basin camp and Ft Lincoln. So we have 24 (survivors) men from C Company that Frank would have known. Koster forgot to state in the scifi show of his that 24 C Company men survivied So Finkles account of his command wiped out is another one of his lies. Sgt Richard P Hanley Medal Of Honor Winner was the highest ranking C Company Survivor attached to pack train with Reno’s Command. And the Brave real Sgt Finkle was found on the field of battle and the ridge he was found on was named for him. Now some poser years later wants to steal his name and his courage for beng on that field of battle and dying with the troopers in his company that he was charged to lead. as a deserter. Camp is the Godfather of research on LBH. He interviewed more survivors then any other writer. Latest book out on his notes were “Custer and Company” available by Amazon. Finkle was def id. Charles Windolph was a private in Company H. The part of the field they searched was not the C troop area. A private was not allowed to go riding around the field where he wanted to look for a friend as everyone of the survivors had friends that were killed they would have liked to look for. They stayed with their company and searched the area given to their company. Sgt Kanipe(Company C) to Walter Camp questionnaire.” I recognized none of the other men for sure. The reason I recognized Finkle and Finley and Bobo was on account of them lying close to their horses. I recoznized the horses first, and that caused me to loook for the riders. Bobo was a bald headed man and he was not mutilated. Finckle lay between Jeremiah Finley and Lt Calhoun filled with arrows.Sergeants Finley and Finckle were both mutilated very badly. They showed to have been wounded. Their horses were lying near them”. General Godfrey who had been a troop commander(K) at LBH stated.”I saw Finckle’s body sticking full of arrows ” Godfrey an officer had ridden over to id Lt Calhoun.I will say again . The Stolen Valor Act fits this case. You are taking a NCO who died with his troop and you are turning him into a deserter. What greater insult to have some SOB over 125 years after you die with your men , tarnish your honor by saying you deserted the field. If any NCO would have escaped they would have reported back in to the Army in the Field as the Army was all over the place at that time, for the campaign. A number of men lost control of their horses or fell out due to played out horses and they all made it back to Reno’s position. Peter Thompson being one of them.One mans horse ran into the village and his severed head was found in the village. Roman Rutten rode around the Indian lines twice before getting his horse under control and getting back to Reno. But no Good old Sgt Finckle with a solid career ,just up and decides to quit the Army and start a new life. Well he had years to do that while being stationed at Fort Lincoln. God you watch a piece of fiction, because that is what the history channel now is and all of a sudden Custer experts jump out of the wood work. I will say again Koster will not show his face on the Little Big Horn Association website forums as he knows he will be eaten alive. Mike Nunnally ripped him apart on read the reviews on Koster book and you will see over 70 post just blowing holes in Kosters book. Kosters best day was when dear Mike passed on as now he has a free hand to plug his fiction.His show has already been ripped apart on the forum , most look at it as it is fiction. But I have to say I do love the account old Finckle gave of the bullet forcing its way out of him in 1916 when he put a poultice on it. He stated he didnt want the doctor to know what it was. Now I ask why would you give a dam if a bullet was in you 40 years. Back then plenty of men were carrying lead around in them. But no old frank is afraid of the local doctor. Funny how Koster didnt put that bullet part in the show. I gave you his partner in crimes(Ellison) book and page number to find the bullet story. As I stated before even Matt Sikel who has taken a few to many hits of the crack pipe would have found that hard to beleive. But then again I bet he didnt read the other 4 books on Finckle. It actually come to 7 when you read the 3 by Kulman that were revised. He changed parts of the book when the facts didnt go his way. Oh and Koster nice one you said about the arrow in Custer’s penis,that fact has been known for years, many men had arrows shot into their genitals , their genitals hacked off and placed in their mouth, but Koster you stated Custer did cause he was “HARD” what was that all about.? Koster you ever read “Kick The Dead Lion” by Charle G Duboise ? Your comment fits the title

    • Willam Dowd says:

      You mention that there were numerous survivors of C Company. If any of these men were still living when Frank Finkel’s story came out, were any of them ever shown a photo of Frank and asked if they recognized the man and if they did who it was?
      They also could have been asked if the photo looked like August Finkle.
      I’m assuming men in a company knew their officers and could recognize them.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Frank didnt come out with his tale till the 1920’s. 24men survived C Company. Finkle was a NCO not an Officer and one other NCO lived to a old age from C Company that was Sgt Kanipe who IDENTIFIED Sgt Finkles body. Kanipe lived to 1927. The fake Finkle was invited to 2 reunions of LBH Veterans he didnt go.Read what happen to one poser who lied about being at LBH . “John C. Lockwood- (1857-1928) Claimed to have survived the last stand. Subject of the 1966 book Custer Fell First: The Adventures of John C. Lockwood. Lockwood attended the 1926 Little Big Horn battle reunion and passed himself off as a veteran of the fight and appears in several photographs taken at the event. He was later dropped from membership in the Veterans of the Indian Wars Association for “unsubstantiated pretensions.” Lockwood had been a member of the Seventh Cavalry enlisting in August 1876, less than two months after the battle, but had no connection to the regiment at the time of the battle” Finkle knew that if he showed his face what would happen to him. No I dont know if any survivors were shown a photo, because by 1920 many of the 24 were dead. If they were shown a photo and said it wasnt Finkle Koster would just say it was because of their old age he has answer for everything.Only about 10% of the 7th cavalrymen enlisted at LBH have known photographs.So looking for a old cdv or tintype is a lost cause. Most people didnt id cdv’s when taken. Look on Ebay how many unid Civil War and Indian War cdv’s you can buy. My family dosnt have a photograph ofmy ancestor John Kelly KIA F Company, but we do have his wifes pension papers, she received a pension for herself and 3 children. After she married Sgt Curtis she still received a pension for her 3 kids,till they reached 16. Kelly came from Easton Pa and married when the 7th was in South Carolina duing KKK hunting and reconstruction occupation.We have letters from the 1880’s. Kellys last child lived to her 90’s. She was born 3 months after her fathers death at LBH. The best thing is for someoen to hire a genealogist from Germany to trace the real August Finkle. Just using I found some August and Augustus Finkles from Bremen Prussia coming over 1860 to 1870.I found a Frank Finkle in the 6 Missouri Infantry from Germay during the Civil War 1864 to 1865. enlistment. I found a August Fink enlisted 1864 in Battry L 2 Ill Light Artillery then after the war in Company L 7th Cavalry,but he wasnt at Little Big Horn. The fake Finkle could have picked up on any of these guys to butter up his story. But the fact is the fake Finkle was born in the USA and the real Finkle was born in Berlin Prussia. Maybe a ad run in a German familywebsitewouldfind apictureofallthe record of August Finklefrom Germany. That is what needs to be done to put this case to rest.Koster says there arenot records for that time ,well there are and some of them are on We do know the fake Finkles widow applied for pension twice and was turned down.Why dont you ask on the LBH Message site for C Company photos. I do have a book in my library Ill hunt it up later and post to you every known C Troop enlistedman photo. I know Finley has a photo. He was a tailor and made Custer’s buckskin uniforms.1Sgt Bobo has a picture also.

  72. Al Price says:

    Boy, you’d think someone just won the lottery the way all these “shirttail relatives” come crawling out of the woodwork!

    When I was a boy, growing up in the town of Orange, CA, we had an old timer living next door to us, must have been 90 or more years old in the 1950’s. Charlie used to sit in his garage, smoking “Kent” cigarettes and telling stories of when he knew, and rode with Billy-the-Kid. The stories were great (especially to an 8 year old boy), but it wasn’t until years later that I realized the “bullet” that he showed us, as having been one of Billys’, was a product of WW II.

    Oh well, Charlie sounded like he believed every word he told us — and he probably did. I didn’t know a whole lot about Alzheimers in the 50’s. Rest in peace Charlie, Billy, and Frank.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Al did you read the first 40 post? About 10 different Finkle relatives pop up and are suddenly finding long lost relatives. Seems they didnt know about all the other Finkle relatives.I think this blog should be changed to Finkle desendants blog get together. Koster I read you post your a veteran and have a medal? Well Im a vet with 4 rows of ribbons 8 medals but how does this tie in with LBH. Your in NJ so am I.Im currently TNPQ from Iraq Service waiting for medical retirement and Im in New Jersey just like you. Love to invite you to the Brick VFW Post and have a beer with you. I can bring you some papaerwork froma real soldier at LBH but he was KIA and his widow received a pension, unlike Franks who applied twice for a pension on him and was told to hit the road. Now Koster there is a August Fink who served in Battery L 2nd Illinois Light Artillery in the Civil War discharged in Chicago in 1865 where he later enlisted in the 7th Cavalry Co L but was out beforeLittle Big Horn..His pension # is 1154936 and cert # 887933. I suggest good old Frank tried to swipe this guys story as the name and unit basically same.Yeah and he is German.

      • ohio relative says:

        That’s because Frank had six brothers and sisters. There are many of us out there. They all had children, their children had children etc…

      • ohio relative says:

        I should have said Frank had a sister and five brohters.

      • Tom Boyce says:

        Relatives on the paternal side of Frank Finckle can easily provide a swab from the inside of their cheek(s) to determine authenticity. After all, Frank Finckle, who died on the LBH battlefield had a mother and a father, and certainly had brothers and sisters – and some of those brothers and sisters certainly married and enjoyed children of their own … and so on down the line.

      • ohio relative says:

        Tom- I am confused as to what you would compare Frank’s relatives DNA to. There is no known relative of an August Finckel from Prussia. He does not appear to have actually existed–and if you compare the DNA to the man in the grave labelled August Finckel it would obviously not match, whether the body was actually August or misidentified.
        Can you clarify?

      • Tom Boyce says:

        ohio relative,

        Are you, now, claiming that August Finckle (Finkle) did not have any parents, or are you claiming that he had a problem remembering their names?

        Just curious …

        Tom Boyce
        Barre, VT

      • ohio relative says:

        There seems to be confusion. I’m saying that nobody knows the name of August Finckel’s parents. I just wondered how to obtain dna from August Finckel’s family when no trace of such a man from Prussia can be found? If someone would step forward and claim to be a relative of August Finckel, it could put this to rest- because that would prove that August Finckel was a different man than Frank. However, nobody has, and attempts to trace this man back to Prussia have been unsuccessful. I am in no way trying to be snide or argumentative, just trying to understand what dna’s would be compared and how it would prove or disprove this.

      • Tom Boyce says:

        Isn’t it true that the names of parents, or even the name(s) of a nearest relative(s), are noted on an enlistment’s paperwork?

        Once, again, just curious …

        Tom Boyce
        Barre, VT

      • Tom Boyce says:

        ohio relative, I will restate the question, once again (remember, it was you who first brought up the fact that the Finckle family never had a problem with integrity).

        Did Mr. Finckle (Finkle) ever state the names of his parents on his enlistment papers? Additionally, did he ever state the names of his nearest kin on his enlistment papers? If not, then how would the military ever know who to contact in case of death?

        If he DID provide the recruiter(s) with the names of his parents, do these names match the parent’s names on his marriage certificate(s)? In all cases, without exception, the marriage certificates list the names of the parents of the bride and the groom.

        I thank you, in advance.

        Tom Boyce
        Barre, VT

      • H. Toburen says:

        Mr. Bryce.. There is a copy of Finkle’s enlistent papers in John’s book. And.Mr. Kelly says he has one. I don’t think there is much info that would be of any use. Except the signature… look for yourself.

        I am quite certain that everyone in the 7th Cavalry knew of Custer’s executing deserters…. whether they witnessed it or not. I’m equally sure he wasn’t very comforted by there having been ‘only’ 200 deserters executed. The power of scuttlebutt.

        Mr. Kelly. You deliberately misquoted me. I decline to meet you anywhere. On or off line.

        I venture to say that Mr. Koster has not posted lately for the same reasons. I read his book and admired his scholarly research greatly. And think he’s probably right. But my ego is not on the line here. And I will also not be any longer.

        Ohio relative… it sure would be nice to see that picture posted.

      • Tom Boyce says:

        H. Toburen,

        I apologize, in advance, if i mistyped my surname, earlier, however, my surname is truly Boyce and I am truly, Tom Boyce, from Barre, VT. It’s not the first time I have mistyped my name. (heavy chuckle) I was a Sysop on several Compuserve forums, throughout the past 20 years, and I have enjoyed meeting with many, noted historians, authors, true veterans and publishers throughout the years. I can, also, be found easily on Facebook should you wish to befriend me. I am the individual with the family portrait.

        I do not despise anyone writing on this forum, nor do I dislike anyone. In fact, I find the topic interesting and brain teasing. However, I do want you to know that I have learned many lessons throughout my lifetime, and one of the more important lessons is the validity, or lack thereof, of information posted as factual. When, in fact, the information has failed to meet even the slightest hint of truth.

        As a business person who once employed close to 2,000 individuals, I have also learned that there are MANY people whom will do ANYTHING to be recognized, publicly (i.e. many politicians are a prime example, but in the corporate world we know, also, those whose business acumen is far less than exemplary. We just know).

        Thus, please do not come down so hard on Mr. Kelly as the evil whatever in this debate. He has backed up each of his arguments with solid facts, and these facts just seem to get in the way of those ‘stories’ others WISH were facts, but whom will finally come to realize, one day, that the information is just not truthful. Now, while Mr. Kelly could improve on the delivery of his facts in this debate, I am certain that if each of you doubters REALLY wanted to know the truth then you would do just as Mr. Kelly has requested … just check out the facts for yourself (Mr. Kelly even provides source material to save you the endless hours he has studied this subject, throughout his life).

        As I mentioned, above, I do not despise nor dislike anyone in this debate. However, I am rather enamored by the person who passes him/herself off as one of August Finckle’s relatives (or Mr. Finkle’s relative or Mr. Hall’s relative, whatever). What strikes me as odd was the comment made by this individual that the family doesn’t lack “integrity.” Which is why I continue to bring the debate back into focus on Mr. Finkle’s original claim … that he first enlisted as a Mr. Hall (verified by both his first and second wives), and then, years later, he changed his story to say that he first enlisted as Mr. Finkle (as per Mr. Koster).

        Additionally, we are supposed to believe that ONE Native American claimed that he personally saw a soldier ride away from the battle and get away, yet THOUSANDS OF NATIVE AMERICANS claimed that no one escaped. These Native Americans did say that there were survivors (wounded), but they also said that they exhibited no mercy.

        The truth is that these soldiers under Custer were brutalized, if they were still living, and some were taken back to the ‘large village’ and beheaded. These heads were, then, roasted over fires making their identities impossible.

        If some of you continue to believe the story that Mr. Finkle’s horse ‘escaped to the north,’ without any indians following, whatsoever, then how did Mr. Finkle’s horse also escape the entire command of General Terry’s soldiers coming south along the Little Big Horn to the very spot Custer engaged?

        Lastly, take a deep breath and reengage the debate. I, too, find it hard to believe that a fellow soldier cannot take the minor brow-beating of another proven soldier, especially in light of the fact that this author claims to be military. If another person ever claimed that he was on the field of battle, when there exists facts that he could NOT have been on the field and lived to tell about it, and another person arrives at a preconceived opinion and includes ‘facts’ to fit his story’s narrative, well, that’s not history, at all.

        That’s blasphemy.

      • John Koster says:

        Jioe — I seldom pass up a beer but Brick is a bit of a haul and I seldom stop with just one beer and then the forces odf law and order,,,,well, I leave it to your imagination. Glad you’re okay and getting a discharge after what I’m sure was good service in Iraq. I think that some of your immense hostility to Finkle could be related to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which happens to even the best of soldiers, because your memory and reasoning powers are otherwise quite impressive. You know the battle quite well but you construe things in a somewhat abberant manner. I say this because it’s really quite a reach to imagine a quasi-literate farmer rummaging around through Civil War records in search of identities to steal…The guy was already rich and really didn’t need the notoriety. What was his motive.

        PS: Indians indeed chopped up people when they were dead but they spared Catholic priests, Quakers, any whites they knew by sight….the stress of combat against treacherous enemies may make us see enemies where none exist. I remember a friend of mine, a cop and a Viet Nam veteran, was in an alley when a cook from a Chinese restaurant popped out a back door and the cop almost shot the poor man. He thought just for a split second that he was VC. Another guy had the same problem when a Hispanic mailman poked his head up through the rhododendrons wearing a rain cape and a pith helmet….Watch this stuff. You did your duty — remember it proudly but don’t shoot anybody stateside.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      H. Toburen says:
      5/9/2011 at 8:31 pm
      Mr. Kelly… If you’re a typical poster on that board, I won’t go near it. Probably John won’t either. As for meeting a raving lunatic like you in person….. no way!
      You’ve expressed your opinion… now give it a rest and spare us.
      As for Kanipe’s identification. He was interviewed 48 years later. Possibly time or the horror of the day blurred his memory. You are misquoting what he did say, however. He said Finley’s body was shot full of arrows. Not Finkle’s. Page 250 of “The Custer Myth” by W.A. Graham.
      I’m not certain, but I seem to recall that Custer tracked down and executed deserters. And Frank would have witnessed this. He was a hero, whether he died on the battlefield or was carried away by his bolting horse as the Indian witnesses said. If he was unconscious, he would not have been able to regain control of his horse and make his way to the Reno command. I don’t recall any reports of troopers who regained control of their booting horses, in any case. Reno’s trooper was pulled from from his horse and killed. Thompson’s and Watson’s horses gave out, not bolted.

      Hey Toubren. I didnt misquoted you. Above is your own words where you said Frank would have witnessed the excecution of the ONE deserter by Custer’s orders. I told gave evidence that Finckle didnt enlist till 1872 and the deserter was shot in 1867. So how did Frank see it??? You make your snide comments and now you run off like a dog with his tail between his legs.
      Now Toubren in this post that I paste you admit you dont have the book and have not read it
      .69.1.2H. Toburen says:
      5/9/2011 at 8:56 pm
      Is the picture of Frank Finkle with scars in Koster’s book? I will try again to locate it at the library. I guess I’ll have to buy it. I haven’t yet, because it’s mostly about Frank’s life, not LBH. If it isn’t, Ohio Relative, could you post it?

      72.1.9H. Toburen says:
      5/10/2011 at 11:13 pm
      Mr. Bryce.. There is a copy of Finkle’s enlistent papers in John’s book. And.Mr. Kelly says he has one. I don’t think there is much info that would be of any use. Except the signature… look for yourself.
      I am quite certain that everyone in the 7th Cavalry knew of Custer’s executing deserters…. whether they witnessed it or not. I’m equally sure he wasn’t very comforted by there having been ‘only’ 200 deserters executed. The power of scuttlebutt.
      Mr. Kelly. You deliberately misquoted me. I decline to meet you anywhere. On or off line.
      I venture to say that Mr. Koster has not posted lately for the same reasons. I read his book and admired his scholarly research greatly. And think he’s probably right. But my ego is not on the line here. And I will also not be any longer.
      Ohio relative… it sure would be nice to see that picture posted.



  73. RSA says:

    I watched the story on the History Channel and found it interesting. With all of the reporters gathering facts I find it to be an incomplete story because there was nothing said about Finkel showing scars. Medical science was crude at best. If his ankle was shattered by a bullet, another in his side, and a laceration on his forehead. These would be extremely easy to verify. It is not like the History Channel to leave out such glaring evidence. Any reporter worth his weight would verify these facts. That simple check that was not even mentioned makes me more skeptical. A story is a story until proof is given. I still think a young man who went through that would have wanted to seek out others who may have survived just to talk and give himself peace and he would not have been tried for treason after that time span.

    • John Koster says:

      That’s a worthwhile conjecture but it’s still a conjecture. The evidence all points to the fact that Finckle and Finkel were the same person, and he was probably happier letting people think he was dead. He was, at least technically, a deserter, and since his first wife was part Cherokee he probably didn’t hate Indians enough to gloat over killing them. Some of Custer’s other men — Willam Taylor, and to some extent Charles Windolph — agreed with that sentiment. John Koster.

  74. Willam Dowd says:

    Sorry if this has already been mentioned (I may have just missed it). In the show, Mr. Finkel said in reply to his second wife “No, I was on a roan.”
    Frank was a member of C Company but from what I could find, C Company was mounted on sorrels, or light sorrels. Anyone else notice this? Did Frank confuse a roan with a sorrel?

    • Tom Boyce says:

      William, if memory serves me correctly, Company E of the 7th Cavalry under Custer rode grey horses. Most of Company E was killed when they entered the Deep Ravine in an effort to escape an unbelievable number of bullets and arrows. Unfortunately, it was like entering a barrel with no possible escape (though many tried).

      After the battle the survivors of Reno’s and Benteen’s commands initially buried the deceased. When they got to the Deep Ravine area the stench was so overwhelming that many of the soldiers retched and lost their earlier meals. Thus, they covered the bodies with dirt (as best they could) from the Deep Ravine’s edges.

      Why didn’t archeologists locate the bodies during the archeological digs of the 1980-1990s? Because they purposely only searched down to a certain depth (usually no more than 6-8 inches beneath the surface). The original walls of the Deep Ravine have caved-in, quite a bit, and well … it’s quite obvious that 6-8 inches in depth was enough to uncover the hidden remains of the soldiers.

      Does this help answer your questions?

  75. Joe Kelly says:

    Will, Roans and Sorrels are both reddish color, lot of them are half breed. People use to confuse them easily . And no I am not sticking up for Franks tale. If you want to find out about the 7th Horses go to the LBH Associates message boards. Look in the archives of the site many questions were answered on the horses. Recently they dig a dig at the Horse cemetery at LBH. The mass grave of the enlisted men was originally surrounded by all the horse bones picked up on the battlefield between 1877 and 1880’s. People visiting the field were seeing horse bones and were confusing them with human bones and complaining so the Army cleaned the field of all the Horse bones they could find.
    You have to register but you will find the best experts on all aspects of the Battle ,some noted authors. Dont be afraid to ask questions they are a great group of people. Frank isnt paid any attention, your see a few post ,most just laugh and let it go. Koster will not post. Mike Nunnally use to post a lot before his passing. You want to see the best online chat discussion on Frank Finkle you go to the Amazon website and look for the review of Kosters book. Also there is a book out about Billy Heath of L Troop was put out a few years ago.”Billy Heath the man who survived Custers Last Stand” by Vincent J Genovese 2003. He was in L troop and his story folllows Finkles. Same thing he rode through the lines and a family traveling in the Black Hills picked him up and saved him. Brave family to be traveling by themself in one wagon through the Sioux heartland. Like Frank he just went home and never reported back into the army and like Frank years after the battle he started spinning tales. Ive read it I read all the survivor tale books you have to if you want to debate.Whats funny is Koster said Heaths tale was BS. Sorry thing, in the end who gets hurt is the brave soldier who died at LBH and some poser passing themself off as the deceased hero.People fall for the lie and now a bravemans character is desstroyed. Ive have researched for past 20 years all the items of the soldiers that were recovered after LBH and where they are today, plan to publish it some day. The Horse issue got under me and Im doing a study on how many 7th horses were recovered from the Sioux and Cheyenne after LBH. I have about 30 at this point. Idiots think Commanche was the only survivor from the 5 troops. A number of wounded horses were shot on the 27th. One horse Dapple Dave from E troop the Gray horse troop followed the Far west back to Ft Lincoln and he was kept there but if you read history only Commanche was recovered. About 15 horses were recovered from the Slimm Buttes Battlefield (Sept 1876) when American Horse was defeated. Many 7th cav items were recovered also. This was a few months after LBH. Dull Knife Battle(Oct 1876) turned up another 5 horses and 10 more at the Lame Deer battle in May 1877. Also a Gray was recovered in Canada( post May 1877) when Sitting Bull crossed over and stayed there for 2 years. It was purchased by a RCMP officer along with Lt Cookes revolver and other items. The RCMP wrote the US informed them and they told him to keep it. All 7th horses were branded.

    • John Koster says:

      Thanks for pointing out that roans and sorrels are essentially the same — Curley said that Kanipe was mounted on a “roan sorrel.” Good work, Joe. You’re coming around after all. You’ve actyually got a lot of useful knowledge — you just have to deal with the anger..John Koster.

  76. mike yaede says:

    An earlier post stated that Frank Finkle was wounded and the bullet was never removed? Why don’t they look for the bullet?? Wouldn’t that answer all the questions?

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Mike Yaede , read a few post up # 63 to be exact and I discuss the bullet in great detail. I give you the book and the page.It was REMOVED. After 40 years and some poutices the bullet worked its way out and Frank lost it, uh yeah ok. He was afraid to go to a doctor and have a 40 year old bullet pulled out. The only one he showed it to was a 12 year old. Forget the fact he could have gotten it hunting or any stray bullet coming his way.But to be honest he never had a bullet in him. Just part of the tale.The bullet wouldnt prove nothing. I have around 100 bullets from the Civil War. Most dug. The indians were using Winchesters, sharps, spencers, cap and ball revolvers. A bullet cant prove anything as Frank removed it himself. The guy had a answer for everything.

      • John Koster says:

        Oncde read a Civil War medical report (41st New York) when a soldier pulled a bullet out of his chest with his fingers. Once knew a cop who did that in Teaneck, NJ. — the bullet passed through a leather jacket and heavy sweater. Same thing happened to a biker in NYC. But Finkel’s buller was removed by a surgeon — newspapers in the Finkel File said so. I don’t know where this “poultice” stuff ame from….

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Koster you idiot. Your friend Douglas W Ellison who wrote his Frank Finkle book before you, wrote about the poultice I posted it word for word in post 63 read it you fool.. The book is called. “Sole Survivor An examination of the Frank Finkle Narrative written in 1983 page 21. So now you know where it came from your friends book who you talked so highly about

  77. Dennis says:

    I have read a book about the Custer disaster and it is good to see more truth come out. Rest in peace Mr. Fincle.

  78. ohio relative says:

    There have been many posts about Frank’s scars. I know he did have the scars to match, and the one on his forehead is visible in a picture. He did show these scars, but as as someone pointed out this supports his story, but does not prove it. Finding a picture of August Finckel seems the only way to put this to rest.
    The fact that no background info on August can be found, points to the idea it was an alias. Where is the family of August Finckel if he was a real man, and not an alias for Frank?

    • John Koster says:

      Correct — Ben Finkle, who was a member of the Idaho Legislature for 12 years, told Mike Watson from Idaho about Frank Finkle at the Little Bighorn. When Mile saw the name “August Finckle” on the monument, he asked Ben about it and Bed said “He told us that was the name he used when he joined the Army.” I might add that both Ben and Frank Finkel had a solid reputation for honesty, and this is reflected in the fact that Frank made what would today be a million-dollar estate with three houses and a square mile of good farm land, and Ben just kept gettig re-elected by small town supporters. That says a lot. Crooks and liars don’t thrive in small towns where everybody knows them.

  79. Joe Kelly says:

    No Koster replies since April 22 2011. Just like on Amazon when the heat is raised on his story he takes off. Anyway Koster your still invited to the Brick VFW I will buy the rounds.Your only a hour away. Also you can attend one of the meetings of the Little Big Horn Associates members. They have a small group that meets in NYC.

    • Tom Boyce says:

      Joe, did you ever meet Brian Pohanka? While he was well-known in historical circles. He edited the Time-Life series on the Civil War, and he was an ad-hoc historian for the movie, [Glory]. His co-authored book, [Where Custer Fell], with James S. Brust and Sandy Barnard, essentially duplicates the before-and-after images of Little Big Horn. Much like William Frassinito’s (Frassinito is a fascinating historian in his own right) books on Sharpsburg (Antietam) and Gettysburgh.

      I had the opportunity to spend several days, each year, while touring several battlefields with Brian Pohanka, before his untimely death in 2005. He loved the research on LBH, and with a number of other veterans and noted authors and historians they would walk LBH, together, studying anything and everything.

      It was the efforts of those three, noted historians whom noticed a missing marker from the Finley-Finckle Ridge. Probably damaged and removed when the new road was placed between Finley’s and Finckle’s markers. The NPS quickly replaced the obvious mistake, and I tip my hat in honor to those three, noted historians for noticing that mistake.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Tom do I know you from LBH Associates? Yes I met Brian Pohanka. I used to be one of the hard core Civil War Reenactors right after the first Gulf War. I did work with Brian on Civil War Journal. Brian use to pick the reenactors for their weight and height. This was before Brian got the Custer bug really bad. He talked to me about my ancestor a lot. At the time we were doing stuff with 7th Tenn and some of the Southern Guard boys. Brian got me and Ed Morrison a gig to pose for Don Troianis Civil war prints and we made some easy cash. Brian was doing the 5th New York (Duryea’s Zouaves) at the time, officer impression. When we use to do the Wax museum gig at Gettysburg ,Brian was big on pointing out to the crowds that the fat guys with long hair and revolvers were not what a Civil War soldier looked like and that our lil group in Richmond Depots , original enfields and 150 pounds was more like the real thing.I know Brian was the man on getting the stone for 1sgt Butler, and he had Capt Keoughs stone moved to the correct spot at LBH. I never did a tour with him out there. I did get to go see Spotted Wolfs grave due to friendship with the Cheyenne. I discussed with Brian about Spotted Wolf and his brother being the ones who walked off with Custers 2 RIC’s.I went back on active duty in 2003 before Brian died and didnt even find out he was dead till 2006. I have the book Brian did on LBH he has some great pictures of Finkle Finley ridge and he dug up so pics of Kanipe and 1Sgt Bobo’s widow who married Kanipe.Brian actually knew what stones were for Finkle Finley and though they were unmarked. Mrs Kanipe has her hand on the one stone said to be BoBo’s.

      • Tom Boyce says:

        I am the very same individual, Joe. Nice to meet you. (extending right hand)

        So, you were a member of Brian’s 5th NY, huh? Awesome. (honored salute) Brian’s supportive “witnesses” during his marriage to Cricket were those from the 5th NY – the photos came out splendid.

        Brian was always determined to educate those familiar with America’s Civil War that Brigadier General, Gouverneur K. Warren’s relief from command, during the Five Forks battle, was nothing more than a taint on his once, solid reputation. He used the Court of Inquiry, convened in 1879, as the thesis behind his conclusion. I have to say that the Court of Inquiry’s finding(s) convinced me that Brian’s conclusions were, indeed, correct.

        Yes, Brian’s knowledge on Little Big Horn was terrific. I like the fact that he always included and credited other noteworthy historians in his findings. I did see the image of 1SGT’s Bobo’s widow (who was then married to Kanipe) with her hand on his headstone (or marker). I am thinking that he was able to locate this image from David Woodbury’s government contract with Archives. David, as you know, has the contract with Compuserve’s Civil War Forum, and he is a well-known historian in his own right.

        Tom Boyce
        Barre, VT

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Tom glad now we know who we are. Im the one who is about to do all the work on Sgt Major Kennedy the ex Confederate who enlisted in the 7th and died at Washita as top enlisted man, small book. Ok I have taken out from my library Pohanka’s Brust and Sandys book. “Where Custer Fell Photographs Of the Little Bighorn Then and Now” 2005. Its a bit expensive so I dont think very many on here will buy it.Some of these people dont realize we pay over one hundred dollars for some of our Custer books. Hey why buy a book when you can watch the Sci fi I mean the History Channel. Anyway Tom Chapter 10 is titled Finley-Finckle Ridge. Ill be dam a whole chapter on Finley Finckle Ridge.Pages 90 to 95. Now the book tells how the great Walter Camp went over the field with Kanipe in 1909. Now I beleive one person in here said that Kanipe didnt tell his story till the 1920’s. Ok now listen haters. Sgt Kanipe a NCO of C Company who was at Little Big Horn in 1876 and a messenger and one of the many C Company survivors who by the way Frank Finkle the fake said were all wiped out. Well in 1909 Kanipe took Camp over the Battlefield. Kanipe pointed out to Camp the spot where Finley Finckle and Bobo had perished all who were dear freinds of his. Kanipe being a better friend of the real Frank Finckle then private Windolph.Page 91 “Finley and Finckle laid near their slain horses, Finley at the southern end of the ridge and Finckle between that point and Calhoun Hill, BOTH were mutilated and stuck full of arrows” Also trooper Gallenne and Dolan wrote to Camp,”Finley whose head was crushed in and by whom was laying some twenty of his own cartridge shells” Now this chapter goes into great detail on Finley Finckle Ridge .I suggest some of you fake Finckle Finkle descendants pool your money and buy this book. Now in the book photo 10.1A and B shows the stones where Kanipe identified the bodies of Jerimiah Finley and August Finckle. Tom on page 108 is the photograph of Mr and Mrs Kanipe(former 1Sgt Bobo’s wife) They both on touching the stone that marked the spot where her husband died. Tom on Five Forks I did a relic hunt for a week , the spot where Pickett who had left his troops for a picknik and Fitz Lee had the shad bake.Recovered my first and only Atlanta Arsenal CSA plate.Place is all park land now.See you on the real historic website not the scifi site. PS We Did the Maryland Tourist Commercial for Antietam and we got to charge over Burnsides Bridge a good 50 times before they got a good shot

      • Tom Boyce says:


        I can, also, be found on Facebook. I am the Tom Boyce from Barre, VT with the family portrait. Send a friend request because I would be one individual who will purchase your book on Sgt Major Kennedy. Incidentally, I have relatives whom fought against each other during the American Revolution, the War of 1812, AND the Civil War! I, even, had a couple of Boyce relatives who fought alongside each other in the 15th ME Infantry (both were officers – one was a father the other his son).

        These stories, well after the fact, about survivors of Custer’s last stand at the Little Big Horn can become heated, despite all these years. If you were debating this on a Compuserve forum I would help you with your delivery on these excellent facts, my friend. How? Well, I would show you how to attack the lack of validity of the person’s information this way …

        Instead of telling someone they are a liar, simply attack the post, itself. For instance, “You are a liar,” is personal (and a violation on many blogs). Instead, write it this way … “The information you have posted is far less than truthful, because on page …”

        You possess some WONDERFUL knowledge on this subject, and I, for one, would hate to see you kicked from this debate due to personal attacks. Instead, simply attack the validity of the information. That way you stay well within the rules.

        Good luck, my friend, (honored salute)

        Tom Boyce
        Barre, VT

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Tom ill add you this week. I have many pics of of my collection posted. I have some Sharps,Spencers, burnsides a few enfields a colt navy captured from a reb. Im pretty much done in here.None of them have books or traveled the battle they just have watched a history channel show and its all true to the. Im waiting for Billy Heaths version of escape to be a 4 hour history channel show. They can copy most of Franks movie as its the same story. Then watch we will have about 20 Heath family members posting. I have posted about what Kosters own neighbors think of him for that small paper wh writes for. Koster is riding this Finckle thing for all its worth. You know the history channel is all bs, 4 shows now they did on LBH all contradict the other ones. The British movie on can find on Cust West site is the best LBH movie/documentary ever done. It may be up on youtube.Tom thats something you had War of 1812 relatives, I have 13th foot who burned down Plattsburg NY, his pension file is big. I just picked up a 9th Maine document. Tom I bet you a post Civil War cdv of a western soldier id as Frank Finkle Sgt 7th Cav comes up on Ebay soon. You know kinda like the fake US buckles with Minie balls in them.

  80. Dave Toll says:

    For all the intricacy of the Finckle story it seems to at least be plausibly true. Why then the glaring absence on any corroboration about the battle scars? They would be far more compelling than any handwriting comparison. Given the account of how those wounds were inflicted and subsequently treated they would most definitely have left clear and distinctive, lifelong scars.

    The man Frank Finckle lived many years after laying claim to his survivor role. Through all of those years photography was readily available. In fact we see many photos of the man during these years. But no photographic evidence of those scars. The age old adage, “I was there and I have the scars to prove it”, is vacant here unless someone can produce some new and clear evidence.

    • Tom Boyce says:

      Dave Toll,

      Doctors keep impeccable records for fear of a lawsuit. If *I* was the author insisting on the fact that these scars somehow led to the removal of a bullet, then *I* would check two sources … the doctor and an official, police report. Because if that bullet came out after 1900, then the authorities would probably have been notified in an effort rule out any foul play.

      Now, someone bent on rewriting history could go a long way with this fact, because the author could simply brush it off as the primary reason why Mr. Hall or Mr. Finkle or Mr. Finckle (whoever he claimed to be, at the moment) did not see a doctor. He didn’t want his ‘crime’ reported, and he eliminated the ‘evidence’ by throwing the ‘evidence’ away.

      Only O.J. Simpson was able to get away with that alibi.

      • John Koster says:

        Most physicians tended to chuck their records if they kept them at all in the days before malpractice became a national malady. The year 1900 wasn’t the year 2011. I’m idly curious to know just where some of this stuff about poultices taking out bullets came from…I’ve encountered older stories about a couple of people from Dayton whom Finkel told about the Little Bighorn, and his survivor status went unchallenged at the Dayton Kiwanis and is mentioned in his first wife’s obituary. One newspaper story in the Finkel File, shown with his photograph circa 1921, has him pointing out his name on the roster as proof that he was there. Finkle is on the roster. Hall isn’t, He walked withj a limp, he had a scar on his forehead, and he described a battle that was totally different than that of the Custer Myth. Members of both the Ohio and Washington family say that he enlisted as August Finckle. He didn’t win the battle all by himself, but he was there.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Koster once again here you go
        “Sole Survivor An Examination of the Frank Finkel Narrative” Written 1983 by Douglas W Ellison. This is the same Ellison who was on the show. Page 21 “In 1916 an abcess had formed on Franks abdomen, near the navel. Upon visiting a local Doctor he was told that a foreign body was imbedded beneath the skin. The doctor advised its removal by surgery but Frank, knowing what the object was, refused. Poultices were applied at home and the object was soon expelled. It was a lead bullet which according to Frank had been lodged in his body since June 25 1876. Frank carried this slug in his vest pocket for some time but in the 1921 Bulletin interview he stated he lost it. If so he soon found it again, for Burton Olsen of Fairfield, Montana clearly recalls the day Frank showed him the bullet while on his Montana ranch. Burton was just a boy at the time and knew Frank from 1922 to 1924 while his parents lived at Carter Montana near Franks homestead. In 1924 when Burton was 12 his parents moved to Fairfield and he never saw Frank again. Burton recalled at the time he was shown the bullet it was being kept in a small glass jar or vase on a window sill of Franks Ranch home. While this was obviously a safer place for it ,it apperently was lost again, for todays its whereabouts are unknown” OK JOHN CAN YOU READ, OR DO YOU NOT EVEN HAVE ELLISON’S BOOK. God you are simple minded.

    • John Koster says:

      Finkel actual had several scars and walked with a limp. Joe provided us with an account of how one bullet was removed and Finkel kept is as a souvenir. Why would he do that if it wasn’t somehow significant?

      • Joe Kelly says:

        Koster you jack wagon. Finkle most likely caught some lead stealing some chickens. He was a known liar. I never said he had the bullet removed so quit lying about me unless you want to challenge pistols at 20 paces. I have said that he had a poultice put on and the bullet popped out like jiffy pop pop corn.He never had it surgically removed.

  81. William Dowd says:

    I am curious if any of the C Company survivors that were acquaintances of August Finkle ever said where August was from. I would think this would be a popular topic soldiers would talk about when they were getting acquainted in their spare time.

    Has an August FInkle ever shown up in a Census record for 1870?

  82. Mark Colrud says:


    I am a amateur forensic history buff who greatly enjoyed your research and countless hours of work you put in regarding Frank (August) Fink(c)le. Since I’m retired and live only 20 miles from Oshkosh, I plan to do my own research on the museums “Finkel File”.

    My gut reactions are that Frank Finkel’s story is true and has withstood much scrutiny. I concur that the handwriting samples are genuine in concluding that they are indeed from the same person. I understand Frank being reticent and not commentating about his past till the 1920’s. I myself found that when I entered my mid 60’s that I became brutally honest about things in my life as probably did Frank! The story of Mr. Fin(c)kel does require a strong forensic look from all angles as it does alter history as we know it.

    My kindest regards and keep up the great work!

  83. William Dowd says:

    Tom Boyce, you mentioned earlier if parents or relatives names were on a recruit’s enlistment papers. To go one step further, did enlistment papers in the 1870’s show where a recruit is from or where he enlisted?
    It brings up the question; Did August Finkle show to have enlisted in the same town as Frank Finkel did when Frank said he enlisted as Frank Hall?

    Civil War records show where a soldier had enlisted. I don’t know what enlistment records for 1876 contained.

    • Tom Boyce says:

      You just stole my thunder, Mr. Dowd. Excellent question(s), sir!

      Your question(s) were some of those to my planned, follow-up questions and statements to ‘ohio relative,’ once that person answered my previous question (I have since asked twice, now, with no replies, each time).

      You see, when someone claims that the Finkle family has always exhibited high levels of integrity, well, then, let’s apply those very same, high standards to Mr. Finkle’s actual story, shall we? What’s the problem?

      01). We have already proven the dead horse found was not his horse. Thus, the author could not have been more wrong with his statement that this horse was Finkle’s horse. Oops.

      02). We have already proven that three of August Finckle’s friends in Company C identified August Finckle’s body on the battlefield, with his command, no less. That’s a BIG, “Oops,” in my opinion.

      03). We would have to disband all belief that a white person could be seen in that warring region, build a cabin out in the open (how long would it take two men, one of whom was suffering with TB, to build a cabin, anyway), and yet live for months UNDETECTED by these Native Americans! Wouldn’t these Native Americans report the sightings of smoke the moment that game was cooked for consumption? Yet, the author disregards all common sense when making these statements. There are many places in today’s inner cities where a white person would not last a couple of months, camping out on the streets. Yet, we are expected to suspend all belief that it COULD happen in the neighborhoods of yesterday’s, WARRING Native Americans? The key word, here, is warring. That’s a big, “Oops.”

      04). Native Americans, whom were experts in tracking a lone person on foot (let alone on a horse which was digging up the earth with each and every step, because the horse was all worked-out), experts in using the terrain to their advantage to get close enough to kill their game with bow and arrow, and expert enough to creep along while hidden before surprising their unsuspecting foes? So, let’s be real about this, shall we?

      05). Use logic and common sense and ask yourself these questions … how could one man survive certain death from two bullets when there were no doctors, available? And we haven’t even begun to mention the festering wound on his forehead! No antibiotics, no treatment, and no food for several days AFTER the LBH battle. THAT story, alone, should be a red-flag for those whom claim to be open-minded. Hell, soldiers refused to relieve themselves in private for fear of being killed or scalped in that part of the region. Why? Because to travel alone or in pairs meant certain death from these Native Americans (as the foolish Fetterman expedition found out, later, when he traveled in that area with LESS THAN 100 troops! It was certain annihilation! Another, big “Oops.”

      06). We find that not even the FULL commands of General Crook (in the south), the FULL commands of General Gibbons (in the west), and the FULL commands of General Terry (in the north) were able to travel in that part of the country without becoming engaged by hostiles. Thus, a lone, wounded man riding on a lone, wounded, spent horse wasn’t noticed by THOUSANDS of Native Americans? C’mon, people. Use your brains. The Native Americans would have easily followed that lone horse (as they ALWAYS DID) and terminated the life of that soldier, *if* he happened to ‘get away.’ Remember, they were experts in tracking. Oops.

      Again, a very good call, Mr. Dowd. (honored salute)

      Tom Boyce
      Barre, VT

      • William Dowd says:

        Sorry about that. You do bring up some good additional points.
        Your point about two white men living undetected in Sioux Territory is well taken.
        There is something to consider about this idea.(someone correct me if I’m wrong on any of this). The Sioux wouldn’t stay in one area 365 days a year. At least in spring, summer and early fall they would have to move around so the horses could have grass to eat and water. Plus the people needed meat to eat. I thought the buffalo herds also would wander looking for grass and water. So the Sioux were on the move at least some of the time in their territory, searching for buffalo and grass and water.

        This would apply to the two white men also. They needed food and water too, so they would have settle in an area where this was available, otherwise they would starve. Considering this, it’s hard to see the white men living somewhere the Sioux never went to or wouldn’t know about, thus escaping detection. I’m assuming the white men didn’t have an inexhaustable supply of food with them.
        As you mentioned, you would think their smoke would be spotted at some point.

      • William Dowd says:

        One further point I left out of my earlier post regarding two white men living undetected by the Sioux. Unless they were farmers and ate strictly what they grew, they would have to kill wild game for meat and they would be at risk of a Sioux possibly hearing their gunshots. Plus, unless this wild game stayed right around their cabin all the time, they would have to travel away from the cabin to search for game. This also puts them at risk of possibly being seen at some point.
        These two white men must have been riverboat gamblers.

    • John Koster says:

      Recruiting forms from the 1870s didn’t show next-of-kin other than wives. Data included age, birthplace, height, hair color, and eye color — not much else. You can see an actual copy in “Custer Survivor.”

  84. Joe Kelly says:

    I have August Finckles enlistment paper in front of me. Ive been waiting a few days to post it. He enlisted 27 January 1872 in Chicago Illinois. Stated born in Berlin Prussia. Enlisted for 5 years. Age is 27.Occupation was listed as clerk.He was recruited by an officer of the 8th Cavalry Capt G F M Young. His info Gray eyes, dark hair, 6 foot and 1/2 inch tall. His witness appears to be a R R Brookes. Now the Frank Finkle who claimed he was a survivor was born January 29 1854 in Union Township Ohio. So we have a 9 years age difference here. Now whats funny people who are backing Kosters fairy tale many of them who say they are Finkle desencent and dam there are a lot of them. Well in over 83 post I havent seen his record posted. Its in Kosters book on page 71 and 72. I think these people all have just watched the show and none of them have even read the book . Nor I bet have they read Ellisons 2 books, “Sole Survivor An Examination of the Frank Finkle Narative” “Mystery of the Rosebud” This book I highly recommend Ellison pretty much rips apart the Nathan Short Myth , shows that the guy said to be Nathan Short of C Troop was actually a railroad contractor named Mitchell who had a 1000 dollars on him and disappeared in that area. The body said to be Short was dressed all in civilian clothing.Nor have they read William Boyes excellant book “No Custer Survivors or the unveiling of the Frank Finkel” 1977. Excellant book. Charles Kulmans books “The Frank Finkel Story”1968, “Massacre Survivor! The story of Frank Finkel-A trooper with Custer at the Little Big Horn” 1972 Kulmans Manuscript from 1949 ” Did a man in private life known as Frank Finkle escape from the Custer Battle?” Oh by the way Kulman use to say he would consult with Custer’s ghost at Little Big Horn. The Short Story started because a hat with Shorts company number was found in the area, near the body that was discovered . The 7th had marched down the area where the hat was found. Simple reason Short lost his hat on the trip down the river. Many soldiers kept a spare kepie or hat so no big thing. Kanipe states for a fact Short was with his company the day of June 25th. The dead horse was not from Custers regiment as it had a full bag of grain on it. By June 25 all the grain was used up.Horses were grazing off the land. Cavalry Horse yes,7th survivor NO. Deserter YES. Im still waiting for the Finkle relative to answer my question. Why is a main area of the battle known as Finley Finkle Ridge?

    • ohio relative says:

      I assume because this is where they believe these men fell.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        You assume??? Try that ,the ridge was called Finley Finkle Ridge because thats where Finkle,and Finleys body were found and ID by 3 different people. You really dont know much about this battle do you?

  85. Jim McCarty says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but Frank Finkle never claimed to be August.
    And we seem to be thinking in absolutes. This is a man who deserted, whether intentional or not. If he was telling the story, he may have wanted to paint a rosier picture of his actions than the solid truth would allow. Many a brave man has proven strong one day and weak the next. I feel that being surrounded by Indians that were feared as “savages” thru the stories told, this man might have “recieved” the wound to the head to keep his head held up. Many of the men with Custer were fairly green and thus response to commands may not have been a given. Frank could have been a private for all we know, and got a field promotion at the time he told the tale. Unfortunately, we will never know the truth of this matter, and we will always have questions as to the decisions that Custer made.

    • John Koster says:

      I’d say this is an objective and worthwhile post with responsible conjectures. However, Frank told relatives both in Ohio and in Washington State that he had enlisted as August Finckle and he told the newspapers in Washington in 1921 his name was on the roster, “Finkle” is on the roster. “Hall” isn’t. As Joe just told everybody — thanks, Joe — read “Custer Survivor.” Read Ellison, Kuhlman, and even Boyes who was caught up on “Gus” Finkle being a Prussian — then decide/

  86. ohio relative says:

    There is no definitive proof, as of right now, that Frank’s account was true, however, there is also no definitive proof that his account is untrue. It is my opinion that Frank is telling the truth. Others share Joe Kelly’s opinion. But it is just that —our opinions. I believe Frank for these reasons:
    –Frank told accurate details of the battle that conflicted with accepted accounts at that time, and was proven correct after his death.
    –Frank did not alter his story to fit with accepted theories, which would have made his story more believable at that time.
    –Frank told accurate and very detailed description of the terrain in that specific area.
    –Only one man in C company fit the unusual physical description of Frank, and they happened to share the same last name and bilingual status.
    –Frank himself did not try to gain anything from this, and only came out with the story after he got sick of listening to the lies and propaganda.
    –There has been no relative of August Finckel to step forward saying that he was indeed a different person than Frank.
    –An August Finckel cannot be traced back to Berlin Prussia.
    –In order for Frank to have made this story up, he would have had to have gotten extremely lucky with the details of his ordeal, the name/ language match, and unusual physical description. I cannot imagine how he would have done this.

    I do however disagree that the handwriting analysis could ever be truly definitive either way. My signature has changed greatly over the last twenty years, let alone fifty.
    I also believe there are some mistakes as to some of the photos and the identity of the people in them. My Finkel family album has them labeled differently.
    I believe the only real way to solve the mystery would be to find a photo of “August Finckel” to prove or disprove they are the same man, or until someone can show they are a relative of August’s and that he is indeed another person. There are many unanswered questions. I hope one day we’ll know for sure.

    P.S. Joe Kelly- I welcome others opinions as someone may make a point I’ve not thought of, but your comments have been very mean spirited. It is possible to disagree and state your position without being hateful and making erroneous assumptions about the other posters here. I’ve said my peace so—
    Peace out

    • Dennis Gleason says:

      Bravo, I’m proud of you, “Ohio Relative.” You articulated your case point by point with honest thought and without malice or verbal reprisal. My earlier post (#66), suggested the same possible solution as you. A photo comparison. Finding a rare photo of a tall, uniformed Seventh Cavalry trooper or troopers; say from the 1870’s would be remarkable. Even more remarkable would be a notation on the front or back of the photo, indicating name, rank, date taken, or even location. That would be the luckiest break in the long history of Custer’s lone survivor controversy. I realize the odds are remarkably slim, but then they were pretty slim before “Billy the Kid’s, latest photo surfaced, purportedly passed down through generations and now residing in a safe in Nevada. It does happen. And forensic photo comparison techniques could solve the mystery. Keep the faith.

      • Joe Kelly says:

        LOL I love it Billy The Kid. You mean the Billy The Kid that was not killed but lived to be an old man. Now we all know that Brushy Bill Roberts of Hico Texas was Billy The Kid because he said he was when he was an old man. They even opend the Billy The Kid Museum there to celibrate the real Billy The Kid. And lets not forget John Miller of Prescott Arizona he said he was Billy the Kid in the 1930’s and his FAMILY all agreed with him. They dug him up and his DNA is waiting to be tested. Sounds familiar huh. Its like you have Frank and Billy Heath arguing on a porch,Im the real Custer survivor ,no I am.
        Now lets talk about the large group of Men who claim to be Jesse James.
        Keep it up Ohio Relative your amusing the hell out of me,and some of our deployed guys.. Someone suggested we take a unid Cavalry Soldier Post Civil War CDV or Tintype that can be purchased on Ebay and we write Sgt Frank Finkle on it to make your head spin a little. Dennis would go for it because its a Cavalry Soldier,lets say it has a Bismark or Chicago or Ft Lincoln backmark, and dam it has Frank Finkle on it. We have solved the mystery. Dennis the odds are not slim I bet one shows up soon. Ohio Relative dont give up the fight.

    • Dennis Gleason says:

      Also, there is an intriguing photo I found if you go to the above site. The caption above the photo reads:

      On June 22, 1876, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer confidently led his 7th Cavalry, several officers’ wives and assorted hangers-on out of Fort Abraham Lincoln near present-day Bismarck, North Dakota. With him was the regimental band, a sixteen-piece brass band mounted on matching white horses and led by Chief Musician Felix Vinatieri. They played “Boots and Saddles”, and then Custer’s favorite, the cheerful tune of “Garry Owen”, which would forever after be associated with the ill-fated 7th Cavalry and its demise.

      • Tom Boyce says:

        Dennis Gleason,

        The photo inscription is false, my friend, because General Terry was already camped near the new, supply depot located at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Powder rivers, on June 17, 1876.

        The entire sequence of events unfolds the following way – 17 May 1876, with General Terry’s columns moving out of Fort Abraham to meet with Generals Crook’s and Gibbon’s commands. General Crook’s command was coming north from Wyoming to the Little Big Horn area; General Gibbons’ Montana command was coming in from the west; and General Terry’s Dakota command (which included Custer) was coming in from the east. This three-pronged attack was split further when Terry had Custer’s command (over 600 men and scouts) travel down the confluence of the Yellowstone and the Rosebud.

        The Terry and Custer columns led several scouting parties, and they, indeed, came across many Native Americans. Most were quickly leaving the area to the area known as the Little Big Horn Valley. It was thought, at the time, that the number of Native Americans numbers less than 1,000 men, women and children. Ouch.

        Does this help?

    • John Koster says:

      I think maybe I’ll drop out too — Ohio Relative said it all, except that sometone who is presumably a different Ohio Relative just sent me a photo of “August Finckle” in a plausibly eclectic cavalry uniform looking very Prussian — and very much like the next youngest photo I have of Frank Finkel, from 1886. Sadly enough, the photograph was not dated but the “Imperial” beard Finckle is sporting was cultivated by First Sergeant Edwin Bobo and Third Sergeant Jeremiah Finley, who had Finckle bracketed on either side — maybe it was a cult classic for C Company NCOs. The style generally dates photos to the end of the 1860s and the beginning of the 1870s — Napoleon III wasn’t exactly popular in the U.S. before the French pulled out of Mexico in 1867, and by 1871 Napoleon III was passe and the U.S. switched fashion plates from France to Prussia and then Germany — you can see George Custer and Myles Keogh (and Sergeant Finley) with Prussian-style helmets in collections. The Imperial beard was not generally seen much after the Centennial. Suggestive but inprecise dating method. Anybody who can ID the huge ornamental stove in the photo gets a round of applause. I’m hoping for Bismarch, Dakota Territitory, for obvious reasons, but if it was taken in Chicago or Cincinnati, it’s still Finkel and he’s still in uniform..

      • Tom Boyce says:

        John Koster,

        To me, you are clearly assembling several known facts and then projecting those known facts into one conclusion. Which, oftentimes, proves to be later incorrect. When carefully reviewed your conclusion(s) do(es) not add up. Here’s what I mean.

        Fact #1). President Lincoln was assassinated.
        Fact #2). Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the President.
        Conclusion – Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Lincoln.

        Yes, some in the general public understands and fully accepts that Fact #1, above, is the truth. Some in the general public understands and fully accepts that Fact #2 is, also, the truth. However, MANY people clearly see the inconsistencies of any conclusions when Fact #1 and Fact #2 are combined to create a narrative. Unfortunately, that’s what you have done with many of the conclusions printed in your book.

        Thus, in your continued efforts to defend your claim(s) that Frank Finkle was telling the truth, you readily fall-back in a defensive position by rattling off Facts #1 and #2 – WITHOUT ADDRESSING the questions posed by historians about your conclusion(s).

        In the scientific world it becomes well-known that when one theory is proven wrong then that entire theory is thrown out, completely. Why? Because using the same data to arrive at a DIFFERENT conclusion, as I provided in the example above, is blasphemy. Either the result is false or the result is true. There can be no in-between conclusions which will stand the test of time.

        Thus far, the conclusion regarding the dead, 7th Cavalry horse has been proven false. Thus far, the conclusion regarding the lone, Native American who ‘witnessed’ a lone, C-Company, 7th Cavalry soldier escaping from the battlefield is false. Thus far, the conclusion regarding a lone, white man escaping thousands of well-trained trackers, hunters, and defenders of their land against all pale-faces is, also, false (not even Fetteman’s unit of some 80 soldiers on rested mounts could escape warring Natives, and it was well-known that the real Finckle’s mount was already spent – BEFORE the battle even began)! Your claim that three people whom identified August Finckle’s body on the Little Big Horn battlefield must have been wrong is, also, false.

        John, when are you going to give up on this preposterous theory that Frank Finkle was, actually, August Finckle?

  87. William Dowd says:

    You mention having a copy of August Finckle’s enlistment papers. Can you help clarify: it mentions Finckle was recruited by an officer in the 8th Cav. Does this mean August went into the 8th Cav. first and later into the 7th or did he go straight into the 7th Cav. after enlistment?
    Or would he have simply been enlisting in the US Cavalry in general and was later assigned to the 7th?

    • Joe Kelly says:

      William no. It means August Finckle from Berlin Prussia walked into a recruting station and a officer from the 8th Cavalry was attached to that station. The recruitor had nothing to do with where the enlisted man was posted to. At that LBH over 10, 7th Cavalry Officers were posted to other details and not with the regiment , 2 of then being on recruiting detail.It took a officer to swear in a civilian to be a soldier. He went straight to the 7th. And he ws 9 years older then the Fake Finkle from Ohio.

      • William Dowd says:

        Joe, thanks for clarifying. I had thought that’s probably how recruiting was done.
        Let’s assume it really was Frank Finkel enlisting in 1872 as August; since he needed to be 21 to enlist, why didn’t he simply put down as being born on Jan. 29, 1850? This would make him 21 and old enough to enlist.
        Why the choice to make himself be 27 if he’s only trying to enlist in the Cavalry? Why not appear to be 21 or 22? For an 18 yr. old, this would make more sense. Why the jump to 27 yrs. old?

        Just my opinion but the 9 yr. age difference is a red flag and, to me, helps point to August and Frank being two different people. If you’re trying to enlist, it would more believable if an 18 yr. old tried to appear as 21 or 22, but to choose to be 27 is a bit too much to swallow.

      • ohio relative says:

        I agree the age difference is a lot. Remember that he may have been using a Prussian alias to get promoted faster. Making his age older would have also aided in this. Also remember Frank was already over six foot tall by this time. I remember a classmate of mine from 8th grade who could buy beer because he was so tall. I think size could have helped him pull this off.

      • John Koster says:

        Substantially right again except for Finckle-Finkle. The general knowledge of military procedure is right on target. Good work, Joe.

  88. William Dowd says:

    I just very recently read more closely the front page writeup on Frank Finkel that John Koster wrote. (Sorry if I’m bringing up old news, and someone correct me if I’m in error somewhere.)
    In the writeup, Mr Koster is saying Frank Finkel was really August Finckle, enlisting under that name.

    Here’s the discrepancy for me: we have a writeup saying Frank enlisted under the name of “August Finckle” but Frank says he enlisted under the name of “Frank Hall”. Therein lies a problem.
    If we assume the writeup is true, then why didn’t Frank Finkel admit in his story he used the name “August Finckle”? Why did he say he enlisted under the name of “Frank Hall”? Since his story came out fully 40 years after the battle, why not just say “I used the name August Finckle if that is the actual name he used?

    Did the show ever mention if Frank went to Chicago after leaving home and worked as a clerk, as August’s enlistment papers show? I thought the show said Frank was a farmboy and when he left home he did farmwork and ranchwork because that’s what he had done at home. He wouldn’t have done this in a big city.

    • John Koster says:

      Check the book “Custer Survivor” — The History Channel show was a combination of my book and Ellison’s, which offered some very good research but also put a heavy reliance on the Banfill interview — which contained so many mistakes that Joe and I could have both shredded Banfill — though not Ellison — with glee. Wrong number of companies at LBH, Red Cloud at the battle (he wasn’t) Black Kettle at the battle (he was dead)….Had I seen that interview befor the recruiting form, I’d agree with Joe. I think Banfill made large parts of it up after hearing of the Finkel interview at the Dayton Kiwanis — the Dayton Kiwanis interview is not only quoted verbatim, but reproduced photostatically in “Custer Survivor.”
      You can see what name Finkle used when he enlisted. “Frank Hall” was a real person but he was five-foot-seven and deserted a year before the Little Bighorn.

  89. Gerald Swick says:

    Spirited debate is welcomed on HistoryNet, but refrain from personal attacks and insults. Disagree without making it personal. Thank you.—Senior editor,

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Thanks Mr Swick, I only made an insult whenl I was told I was hit to hard in the head since I was a Iraq veteran , and that Im a raving lunatic, so I fired back. For the most part I have given Books and page number so others may check on my source for themselfs.

  90. Joe Kelly says:

    Ok, as promised I went down and got the book that was asked of me about C Company known photographs. The book is called. “G.A Custer His Life and Times” by Glenn J Swanson.You can get it for around one hundred and fifty dollars.This is the BEST book ever if you want to see original items from the battle and Pictures of soldiers from every Company that is known. The book is amazing and well written. For C Company, They have Capt Custer KIA, Lt Harrington KIA (who actually commanded C Company, as Tom Custer was acting ADC for Custer’s 5 Company Battalion) 1Sgt Edwin Bobo KIA(who by the way was from Ohio dont you think the fake Frank Finkle being from Ohio would mention his 1Sgt well he never did) Pvt John McGuire who survived as he was with the pack train, wounded in right arm was from PA, Sgt Jeremiah Finley KIA from County Tipperary Ireland a great friend of Sgt Kanipe and the real Sgt Finckle, he made all of Custer’s buckskin outfits was a great tailor,He died on Finley- Finckle Ridge with the real Sgt Finckle not the fake Frank Finkle. Sgt Richard P Hanley from Boston, he survived also as he was with the pack train and being a NCO who attended reunions he would have known that Frank from Ohio was a fake if he ever attended a reunion, Sgt Kanipe nuff said about him and Private John Mahoney from Cork Ireland who also survied as he was with pack train and lived to an old age and atended many reunions. This book also has photos of known weapons that were used at LBH proved by ballistic test from shell casing and bullets that were recovered in the 1983 dig.

  91. Jim McCarty says:

    Once again, I think the fact is that this is all moot. The story that Frank Finkle told had to be disguised in some ways, if it was real at all. I feel that it would have been understandable if, after the wound in the side alone, with the obvious situation and the amount of green troups that were there, that bolting would be on a soldiers mind. I don’t think he would have told the true name that he was enlisted under as a precaution. Now, who was he? I don’t know. Was he there? I don’t know. Is it possible? Slightly. Some of his story rings true, but that will never be enough to prove or disprove anything. Gunshot wounds were more common place at that time, so they prove nothing. The point is that the anger that is being posted is not helpful to anyone. Each of you has very good points, but none can absolutely prove the truth of this. Believe or not, the only thing that I find interesting is a view of the battle that I had not taken before. I find that interesting, even if it did not happen.

  92. Joe Kelly says:

    OK guys Im letting the cat out of the bag about John Koster. As I said Im from New Jersey Im a decorated Vet 3 tours in the sandbox 3 operations in the NYC VA on 23rd st Combat Related. Im rated 100% since my last C&P hearing. Koster as you all should know is from NJ and writes articles for a small local paper called the Villadom Times Weekly it is a Bergen County NJ local paper. Koster has been known to write articles that are not true and anger people. If you look at one of the early post in this blog he gave you his number. Well call the number. Now I have invited Koster to speak at a VFW post in Brick NJ, no reply. Well now I paste some comments about Koster that angry readers posted after reading the paper one day. I have many more to post about the author of “Custer Survivor The End of a Myth the Beginning of a Legend”


    Tuesday, August 14, 2007 From The Village Times: The Outlaw Journalist has a bone to pick with bloggers. Well, here is a blog entry that picks a bone with our “journalist”.
    The first is as a journalist one would expect some fact checking and thought provoking questions to emanate from his article.
    Yet the man is upset that a thin skinned superintendent ran away from potentially his second battle with parents over a math program of which said superintendent is a published and ardent supporter. But those facts seem to be missing from the Outlaw Journalist.
    The math program is not user friendly, the correct term is dumb dumb math. And user friendly to women and minorities as being a reason to install a math program across elementary schools and middle schools, is just plain wrong. Soft math or user-friendly math or dumb dumb math will keep ALL kids from reaching their potential. You can’t try to reach for what you are not being taught nor shown.
    And further making the case for why many flee the newspapers for the Internet blogs and more is again, the journalistic depth of the papers. Those the Outlaw Journalist has referenced on the High School Math Team as shining stars are indeed examples of shining stars. What the Outlaw Journalist failed to mention, is that they are also NOT THE PRODUCTS of the user-friendly math. And because they do not resemble “Barbie and Ken”, is his implication one of stereotyping – it is not Caucasians, that are capable of success with the math prior to the new “user friendly”? How shameful to allude to such a thought.
    The US math program is general needs help. And its more than more studying, how about more teaching and less facilitating and reflecting?
    Blogs allow for anonymity. That is both a good thing and a bad thing, as with most things in life. Even with a print paper, the good is the assumption print paper is held to higher journalistic standards, the bad is that is not always the case. A case in point in our great republic of the people, by the people and for the people.

    Blog on.

    Posted by pjblogger62 at 7:14 PM 20 comments:
    Anonymous said…
    Is it true that a RHS teacher was arrested recently? I moved away about a year ago and heard this peripherally through a friend. do you know anything, blogger extrordinaire?
    10:48 PM
    Anonymous said…
    I read that piece today and couldn’t believe it.
    What was Koster trying to say, that the Asians are in charge of the math teams because the Caucasian kids are not studying but partying and their parents are mad because their kids aren’t on the math teams? Then he alludes to immigration and napalm and I lost his logic. Was he trying to say the math moms who are fighting against a new middle school program and elementary school program are resentful of the Asians in the High School? Didn’t he realize that the current high school students escaped TERC and CMP?

    He failed to ask the math team if they solely relied on their RW education or if they used Kumon or private tutors. He failed to visit the VORMATH webpage or he would have been more informed.

    Koster is a dope and shouldn’t be published in any newspaper.
    11:20 PM
    Anonymous said…
    I have always believed Koster is a nut. This is just one more nutty episode in his bizarre “journalistic” career.
    12:30 AM
    Anonymous said…
    John is a weird duck but entertaining nonetheless.
    8:18 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Neither The Ridgewood News nor the Villadom Times have high journalistic standards.
    8:20 AM
    Anonymous said…
    I didn’t find his article entertaining, I found it insulting to the parents of this town.
    Can someone post the editor’s email address?
    8:51 AM
    Anonymous said…
    As I recall John Koster lives in Glen Rock and home schooled his children so I guess he knows all about the math program here in Ridgewood.
    BTW, what’s with Glen Rock and its two unethical journalist residents Susan Sherrill and John Koster?
    9:11 AM
    Anonymous said…
    i didnt read the article but was this guy trying to say the math moms are racist? oldest trick in the book ,if you want to silence people call them racists…Again Its about the math fool stick to the topic
    9:19 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Direct all complaints about John Koster to either Ester Vierheilig, publisher (also Midland Park’s mayor) or to the editor Jennifer Crusco at 201-652-0744.
    9:36 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Koster missed the mark entirely with his piece of psuedo journalistic commentary.
    HOw come he DIDN’T know that Brooks was a strict constructivist? How come he DIDN’T know that the math fight in Ridgewood began BEFORE the BOE hired Brooks? How come he doesn’t know that reform math is dumbed down math for girls and people of so-called “color”? How come he doesn’t know anything about a subject on which he opines for perhaps 2500 words?
    Give me a break!
    11:03 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Because 10:03 AM Koster is a GR resident like Susan Sherrill who runs OUR RIDGEWOOD newspaper. They should stick to what they know best–Glen Rock.
    11:12 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Koster is an ass. Always has been.
    11:44 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Yes, we’re a Republic. But for Koster, I’m sure he feels that that’s a good thing AND a bad thing because it allows for freedom and, well, some people can’t be trusted to be free…
    11:46 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Koster is not an elitist, he just plays one in the newspaper. How can anyone, save an ideologue, believe that dumb, dumb math is safe for girls and minorities?
    There’s another word, too, for those people who think like that: bigots.
    11:48 AM
    Anonymous said…
    2:12 PM

    Ok I can post more on Koster as I live by the Sci Fi guy. John posted on this site that he was a veteran and has ONE MEDAL and wallks with a limp. As I said I have 4 rows of ribbons thats 12 ribbons and I have 8 Medals, see some ribbons dont come with Medals on my Dress Uniform. Now Im still thinking how someone who says he served in the military only has one MEDAL!!! Ok even cruit cherrys in all 4 branchs today as soon as they enlist get the National Defense Medal and The Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, along with ribbon. How do you do a tour in the Military and get only one MEDAL??? Like Finkle I think Koster has made up a fake military career. As I said Koster is invited to Post 8867 VFW in Brick NJ 373 Adamston Road. Im a life member there and there are only 3 of us in the Post who are Iraq Vets, most are WW2, Korean and Vietnam,Vets so Im easy to find. Im the only Irish one of the 3. I will buy John all the rounds he wants. If Brick dont suit him I can arrange for him to Meet the Little Big Horn Associates that meet in NYC so he can talk about Mr Finkle of Ohio. They love interesting talks and its all friendly. Now Game is on, I can post more about John Koster. Oh and so you know I was responsible for having the GAR (Grand Army Of The Republic) plaque removed from William Heaths Grave in Pottsville Pennsylvania. Heath is the guy before Frank Finkle but same story that escaped from Custer’s Battalion and just went home, started a new life his story came out in the 1890’s. Well some SOB took a Civil War Soldiers GAR plaque off their grave and put it on Heaths grave. I made the right call and it was removed and the writer of Heaths book Genovese even had a picture of the fakes grave with the plaque on it. So its off and placed on a real Civil War Soldiers grave. GAR members had to have served between 1861 and 1866 (yes a year after the war). Anyway I have called Kosters real number I can not post that.But your welcome to call the number he posted. Call the paper see if they will give you his number. He has kinda moved on a bit. Email him at the email he posted ha ha ha

    • ohio relative says:

      Personally, my belief in Frank’s account has nothing to do with Mr. Koster or his book.

    • John Koster says:

      The Ridgewood Blog is a cyberbullying network for desperate housewives who hate me because my daughter (and my daughter’s husband) both went to Princeton and theirs didn’t. There’s lots of bad stuff about me and everubody else on it — all opinionation.Enough harping by malicious females who represent the worst of an othersiwe nice community where people routinely tell me how much they enjoyed the book and the documentary — let’s man up and get back to the Little Bighorn.

  93. Lonesome Charlie says:

    Does anyone know if “The Walter Camp Notes” book from BYU press has all of the info that Mr. Kelly has referred to?

    If anyone wants to increase their Custer collection, you might take note that is having a HUGE Custer sale. Hundreds of books on sale for $.99 or a bit more. I have no idea why.

    I note that dna tests don’t need to be run on Frank Finkle. He kept in touch with his family all his life. Now if the FBI could lift ‘contact dna’ from August’s enlistment papers, that would be interesting. Does the army have the original or just microfilm? Just a thought. There is absolutely no way that the park service would allow an exhumation of the bones in the mass grave. And no way to determine if any them belonged to the August Finckle who either was or wasn’t shot full of arrows on that oddly named hill. I think it unlikely that Frank’s son would allow his body to be exhumed either. They believe…..

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Lonesome Charlie, nice name do you meean the scout for Custer KIA with Reno’s Battalion. If so I salute you for using his name. The Camp notes can be found in this book. “Custer and Company Walter Camps Notes On The Custer Fight” edited by Bruce R Liddic and Paul Harbaugh University Of Nebraska Press and Bison Books 1995. After Camps death his wife split up his collection and notes. Some went to Indiana University, some went to BYU, some went to the Denver Public Library, some are in a private collection. The Custer battlefield also received a small part of his collection. Well this book is worth reading Camp interviewed more survivors red and white then Graham and was a master historian. Any note I posted on BYU is in their collection. Many authors have received permission to look at the collection held at BYU when the information came from BYU I so noted in my post. The book “Custer In 76” by Dr Hammer used the BYU collection. This Camp book Ive posted has the Camp collection given to the Denver Public Library Western History Department. So buy Hammers book if you want the BYU collection and Custer and Company for the Camp collection in the Denver Library.

  94. Brian says:

    Mr.McCarty-The whole “green” troopers thing is highly overdone. There were not as many new recruits on the expidition or in the regiment as has been constantly hammered into the historical picture.

  95. Willam Dowd says:

    Can someone explain just where Finley Finckle Ridge is on the battlefield? I know it’s probably difficult to do in just words. I actually had never heard of “Finley Finckle Ridge” until reading this message board. None of the maps in the books I have show a Finley Finkle Ridge.
    I have the book named “Archaeological Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn” by Douglas Scott and Richard Fox and it has an aerial photo on Page 22 that shows (with names superimposed) the location of Last Stand Hill, Calhoun Hill, the South Skirmish Line, Deep Ravine and Greasy Grass Ridge.

    Is it in the area between Deep Ravine and Greasy Grass Ridge?

    • Tom Boyce says:

      William Dowd,

      Greasy Grass Ridge is a ridge which parallels the Little Big Horn river, and is located about 1,400-1,500 yards *west* from Calhoun Ridge. Not quite a half mile distance. To its immediate west the Greasy Grass Ridge harbors a small valley fully capable of harboring some 1,000 natives. These Native Americans stealthily gathered behind this ridge, and they would pop up and fire their repeating rifles at the Company C soldiers stationed on Finley-Finkle Ridge.

      The Finley-Finckle Ridge is located to the about 200 yards *south-southwest* of Calhoun Ridge, and about 300-350 yards *east* of the Greasy Grass Ridge. Well within range of the repeating rifles used by the Native Americans.

      Now, think of a protractor where the flat line known as the 180 degree line being the location of Calhoun Hill. About midway another ridge breaks off 160 degrees from the Calhoun Hill area. At the southern end of Finley-Finckle Ridge you will find Company C’s markers (specifically, Finley and Finckle) close to the Deep Ravine (which heads directly west to the Little Big Horn River). Now, coming back to the Protractor’s midpoint, for a moment, if you will, located at the end of the 90 degree angle, some 1,400 or so yards directly west from Calhoun Hill (or ridge) you will find Greasy Grass Ridge.

      Does this help?

      • Tom Boyce says:

        Please forgive my above figure about the distance between Calhoun Hill and the Greasy Grass Ridge. The CORRECT figure should read that the Greasy Grass Ridge is located about 700-750 yards directly west of Calhoun Hill.

        But, you get the picture.

    • Tom Boyce says:

      Oh, one more note. Calhoun Hill is located about 1 mile directly southeast of Last Stand Hill (Custer Hill). The elevation of Calhoun Hill is almost equal that as found on Last Stand Hill (Custer Hill), and some military experts feel that if all of Custer’s command (including Benteens and Reno’s commands) had defended on Calhoun Hill, then they likely would have survived.

      I don’t subscribe to that theory, however. Why? Because there wasn’t any access to available water supplies from Calhoun Hill. After a few days of battle the soldiers (and the animals) would have likely perished from sunstroke or dehydration. The Benteen/Reno defensive position was the best on that field, that day.

  96. Brian Berry says:

    I have been to the battlefield have studied this since a child and have always been intrigued. My great-great grandfather was in the civil war and was at Gettysburg. He was an Irishman in the 14th NY/Brooklyn later absorbed into the regiment that fought at the railroad. I am lucky enough to have his photo. He later died in 1889. everyone in my family since then has served in the army. WWI and my father in WWII and my brother in Vietnam. My father as a Lt. my gf as a sgt and my brother as a staff sgt. about a year ago i was watching a show cspan books about another survivor. I actually was dumbfounded by the inaccuracies and timeline. if time forgives me I will remember the author.When I went to LBH in 1995 the 1st time in may the grass was short-3 weeks later the grass was high however in the dry months of 1876 and if you look in photos it was dirt and a grass clumps. there was no where to hide. also Custer didn’t execute “200 men” If Finkle (sic) survived and showed his wounds he would not have been held up for desertion but more likely for questioning about what occurred. sounds like a bunch of hooey to me.Show me your blistered leg where the pitch was poured. That country was swarming with “hostiles” well after the battle. I wonder how 2 no named fellas could hang out in a shack even if they were just not trapping but selling whiskey. I’m with you Mr.Kelly.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      Thank you Brian, now be prepared to be attacked, you made the Finkle clan mad.

  97. Joe Kelly says:

    Go back to the first post of this blog. After a long time Koster??? shows back up and states he has a photograph of Sgt August Finckle in uniform taken un 1874, he received the copy from a direct Finkle descendant. Now the Finkles in 70 years have never spoke of a Finkle in uniform called the Little Big Horn Battlefield Museum to let them know that he has it. Im asking him to post it but no answer.

    • Joe Kelly says:


  98. John Koster says:

    Speaking of bullets, Joe, you just shot yourself in the foot, metaphorically speaking, Why all this fuss about a bullet if Finkel had no reason to keep it as a souvenir? Why a souvenir? From the Little Bighorn, where his forensic twin “August Finckle,” who never passed through immigration or served as a Prussian officer, was reported dead. You claim I’m making this up, the whole Finkel family is making this up, and presumably Ellison is making it up — or is he? Come on, Joe you know it’s real, You’re just jealous because somebody else got there first. Hysterical defense of imaginary dead people while you defame living people who’ve never done you a bit of harm isn’t exactlly sane, is it. I’ve seen that a lot, and so has ever other published author. Part of being a celebrity, I guess. I remember a guy who vowed to “blast this book to Hell.” Guess what. He died himself.

    • Joe Kelly says:

      I just realized what you wrote ” I remember a guy who vowed to “blast this book to Hell.” Guess what. He died himself.” You are taking shots at Mike Nunnally. You Dirty SOB you crossed lines. You say Im a messed up Iraq vet with PTSD fine but you talk smack on Mike . Its on.

  99. Brian Berry says:

    regarding priests of the Catholic faith not spared a horrible death, tell that to Fr.s Marquette and jolliete. New france in the 1600’s.

  100. Brian Berry says:

    The Chucking records thing is bogus. I worked in a pharmacy in the early 1990’s in a building that was built in the the 1860’s and it was interesting to find scripts written from that era and also tincture bottles and all manner of history from the Victorian era and on up. As a matter of fact the families had remanied in the town and had followed the path of their fathers.

  101. Brian Berry says:

    No where to run-no where to hide- don’t sit down- stand up. so you can see them creeping along.Keough’s position was overwhelmed behind Custer. all they could do was fight. Finkle was a phony.

  102. Brian Berry says:

    Grow up. I was raised in the NYC area and moved to NCPA north central pa and lived in a small town where everybody who knew everybody bs’d. come on.

  103. Joe Kelly says:

    Koster your the idiot. You asked in 4 post where did the poultice thing come from. Then I tell you it came from Doug Ellisons book “Sole Survivor An Examination of the Frank Finkle Narrative by Douglas W Ellison ” 1983 page 21 you change subjects. I dont shoot foots I qualified expert. Now your saying August Finckle never passed through immergration.Well Koster I found a number of August Finckles and Finkles on passenger list between 1870 and 1874. Now Koster I go one more. You say Frank quit the farm when he was 15 and his dad Peter was dead. Im using your book paperback 2010 edition. You state in the book on page 58 Frank left the farm when his Dad Peter died at age 67. You say his older brothers would take care of Lena his Mom (Magdaline) and his younger and only sister Theresia. Ok Koster you fraud. Look at the 1870 census taken in Union Township, Washington County Ohio. Franks Mom Magdaline had died before his Dad Peter and Peter remarried Ellen who was 10 years younger then Magdaline. Then Peter died and Ellen was the head of the family in 1870. Census as follows, Henry 19, Peter 17, Frank 14, Charley 13, Adam 11, Joseph 9, and the only girl in the family Thersa 7. So Koster the 1870 census proves your page 58 wrong. I have more. See Koster the thing you forgot about is city and county directories and tax records.Once you have your 3rd edition book with your fake August Finckle photo given to the family in 1878 I will release Frank Finkles doings between 1870 and the 1880 census where he showed up in Columbia Washington working in a sawmill. And by the way he stated his mothers place of birth was Pennsylvania,but from 1900 to his death he stated both parents born in Germany. I know where Frank Finkle was during the Battle of the Little Big Horn and he was not with the 7th US Cavalry.

  104. Joe Kelly says:

    PS Koster Im not jealous some one got this story first, as Kulhman did years before I was born, he published 2 different stories on Frank.Then again Kulhman said he talked to Custer’s ghost. Im doing this for my ancestor who was KIA at Little Big Horn and I have his Pension papers a large file as his widow married Sgt Curtis F troop who was with the packtrain. Since she remarried they had to do a whole new pension for Kellys kids she lost her cut. Our 1st Custer book which is now mine since my Dad passed in December was the 1st Edition of “Boots and Saddles” Libbie sent a copy to the widows who had been at Ft Lincoln when Custer died, so less then 50. Its 1st edition as it has the frontpiece engraving. August Finckles family were in Germany but you choose to steal his name and valor and death . For this I hate you. But as I said I will meet in a VFW Post even in your Town, now I know your not eligible for the VFW but I can sign in a guest ,all I ask is that we film this meeting for YOUTUBE. Your Town I will bring 2 box’s of material for the meeting which will include census, passenger list manifest, County Directories. I do ask you to bring a copy of the Sgt August Finckle’s photo but if you cant , you cant. I understand you got it from a Finkle family descendant in Ohio. God why did they wait so long to publish it after material on Frank has been out 50 years. You say they received it in 1878. Well when Sgt August Finckle was KIA at LBH, his property and back pay was boxees up to send home to relatives in Germany. So where did Frank get this picture to send in 1878, his horse was dead he was half dead in a cabin with 2 old guys in a cabin that the Sioux or Northern Cheyenne did not bother but he had a picture of himself on him. Ok Return my calls at your paper. Be a Man. I mean I know you have ONE MEDAL as you stated. Man up soldier up.

  105. Joe Kelly says:

    Blog on.

    Posted by pjblogger62 at 7:14 PM 20 comments:
    Anonymous said…
    Is it true that a RHS teacher was arrested recently? I moved away about a year ago and heard this peripherally through a friend. do you know anything, blogger extrordinaire?
    10:48 PM
    Anonymous said…
    I read that piece today and couldn’t believe it.
    What was Koster trying to say, that the Asians are in charge of the math teams because the Caucasian kids are not studying but partying and their parents are mad because their kids aren’t on the math teams? Then he alludes to immigration and napalm and I lost his logic. Was he trying to say the math moms who are fighting against a new middle school program and elementary school program are resentful of the Asians in the High School? Didn’t he realize that the current high school students escaped TERC and CMP?

    He failed to ask the math team if they solely relied on their RW education or if they used Kumon or private tutors. He failed to visit the VORMATH webpage or he would have been more informed.

    Koster is a dope and shouldn’t be published in any newspaper.
    11:20 PM
    Anonymous said…
    I have always believed Koster is a nut. This is just one more nutty episode in his bizarre “journalistic” career.
    12:30 AM
    Anonymous said…
    John is a weird duck but entertaining nonetheless.
    8:18 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Neither The Ridgewood News nor the Villadom Times have high journalistic standards.
    8:20 AM
    Anonymous said…
    I didn’t find his article entertaining, I found it insulting to the parents of this town.
    Can someone post the editor’s email address?
    8:51 AM
    Anonymous said…
    As I recall John Koster lives in Glen Rock and home schooled his children so I guess he knows all about the math program here in Ridgewood.
    BTW, what’s with Glen Rock and its two unethical journalist residents Susan Sherrill and John Koster?
    9:11 AM
    Anonymous said…
    i didnt read the article but was this guy trying to say the math moms are racist? oldest trick in the book ,if you want to silence people call them racists…Again Its about the math fool stick to the topic
    9:19 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Direct all complaints about John Koster to either Ester Vierheilig, publisher (also Midland Park’s mayor) or to the editor Jennifer Crusco at 201-652-0744.
    9:36 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Koster missed the mark entirely with his piece of psuedo journalistic commentary.
    HOw come he DIDN’T know that Brooks was a strict constructivist? How come he DIDN’T know that the math fight in Ridgewood began BEFORE the BOE hired Brooks? How come he doesn’t know that reform math is dumbed down math for girls and people of so-called “color”? How come he doesn’t know anything about a subject on which he opines for perhaps 2500 words?
    Give me a break!
    11:03 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Because 10:03 AM Koster is a GR resident like Susan Sherrill who runs OUR RIDGEWOOD newspaper. They should stick to what they know best–Glen Rock.
    11:12 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Koster is an ass. Always has been.
    11:44 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Yes, we’re a Republic. But for Koster, I’m sure he feels that that’s a good thing AND a bad thing because it allows for freedom and, well, some people can’t be trusted to be free…
    11:46 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Koster is not an elitist, he just plays one in the newspaper. How can anyone, save an ideologue, believe that dumb, dumb math is safe for girls and minorities?
    There’s another word, too, for those people who think like that: bigots.
    11:48 AM
    Anonymous said…
    2:12 PM

  106. Joe Kelly says:

    I do not know much about John Koster. But I can tell you that he wrote The Atheist Syndrome, a book which apparently espouses the view that Atheists are mentally ill. (Frank Zindler, to whom the book was express-mailed at the latest possible moment – one night before the interview – expounds further in his introductory comments.) I had assumed, therefore, that program host Al Kresta would set up a debate on the intriguing question of “Are Atheists Mentally Ill?” Perhaps the host knew that Zindler would blow Koster away if that were the question to be debated. So, alas, the official topic and title have come down from Al Kresta’s mountain, “Does God Exist?” As it turned out, Zindler won the debate on the “God” topic anyway!

    Both guests, Frank R. Zindler and John P. Koster, were interviewed by telephone, Zindler from his home in Columbus, Ohio, and Koster from New Jersey. At times it was difficult for the two guests to hear each other, usually, but not always, because more than one individual was speaking at the same time. The please-repeat-what-you-just-said type dialogues (on Frank Zindler’s part, usually a simple “I’m sorry?”) have been left intact in this transcript. The ever-annoying “uhs,” and “ums” are deleted. Where it was necessary to preserve the sense of statements in which certain words were emphasized by the speaker, I have italicized those words. The spelling of proper names, such as WMUZ personnel given credit on the air, are my best guesses. Consistent with the American Atheist magazine style manual, I have decapitalized the word “god” whenever spoken by a person who appears not to hold theistic beliefs (except at the beginning of sentences), but have capitalized it when spoken by those who appear at least to respect theistic arguments. In the debate transcript, all footnotes were inserted by Frank Zindler unless otherwise noted in brackets. Also, please note that only one WMUZ listener (of course a Christian who knew not even the basics of science) was permitted to call in during the debate itself. Many Dial-an-Atheist fans, hoping to achieve airdom, expressed disappointment with that fact. A few more callers, none of them Atheists, of course, were aired after the debate.

    All in all, this was a worthwhile broadcast. I hope this transcript of it will prove enlightening to readers.

  107. Joe Kelly says:

    So John in post 98 you say the last guy who said he “blast this book to Hell” died himself. Your post against Mike in Amazon was noted. But saying he died? In this blog after Mikes death. So Im to be scared very scared of you. You are threatening me from Glen Rock NJ. So Mike Died cause he chose to debate you.. Im scared very scared FOBBIT. I get your point. Danger Close. Im not to debate you or Il wind up like Michael Nunnally. Ill end all my contact at you at this point.

  108. John Koster says:

    Read your own remarks farther up this endless column. Sounds to me like you quoted a story at some length about having a bullet removed as taken from Ellison’s book. I think dueling is illegal and besides, I’m much too busy lugging all that money to the bank. Check one box above — I said you provided an account — I didn’t paraphrase the account. Readers may now read what we said and see who was correct.

  109. Gerald Swick says:

    This post is now closed to additional comments.—

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