Column: Investigating grave of Little Big Horn 'survivor'
"It had been nagging at me since Dr. John Lapp, a Carlinville optometrist, called to tell me about the strange grave marker he found in Mayfield Cemetery in Carlinville.

Lapp and some Boy Scouts were putting flags on graves at Mayfield when he saw this particular grave. He wasn’t sure that he believed his own eyes, so he called a few Scouts over. They saw the same thing.

“It’s a woman’s grave,” John said. “And below her name and dates of birth and death, it says ‘Survivor, Custer’s Last Stand.’”

How is that possible? History holds that the sole survivor of the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn was a horse named Comanche. Disney made a movie about it. An Indian scout named Curly is said to have left Custer’s forces before the battle and can’t technically be called a survivor of the battle. Everyone else was killed.

I asked a few other people what they thought. The only plausible explanation was that the woman buried in Carlinville was a member of the Sioux tribe. But she wasn’t.

She was Mary Personeus. She was born in 1845 in France. She died in 1931 in Carlinville. The exact wording on her gravestone is “Survivor, Gen. Custer’s Massacre.”

The Battle of The Little Big Horn was in 1876. She would have been 31."

Get the Story:
Dave Bakke: Scouts find Custer's Last Stand mystery in Carlinville cemetery (The State Journal-Register 4/14)