Two Home Towns Welcome "Custer Survivor"

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Washington State and Wisconsin towns welcome recognition of man proven to be the lone surviving soldier of General Custer's immediate command at the battle of the Little Big Horn. New book gives details.

Custer Survivor is both well written and a fascinating account of one man's experiences

Dayton, Washington, where Custer survivor Frank Finkel lived for almost 50 years after the Little Big Horn, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where his second wife maintained a struggle to have his claim recognized for two decades after his death, have both welcomed the publication of “Custer Survivor” by John Koster, the true story of how Sergeant Finkel escaped, survived, and built a new life after Custer’s Last Stand.

“Custer Survivor is both well written and a fascinating account of one man’s experiences….Mr. Koster makes a compelling case on behalf of Finkel, and I now believe that Finkel did escape,” says Brad Larson, Director of the Oshkosh Public Museum, which houses the file left behind by Hermie Finkel Billmeyer at her death in 1951. “Historians are storytellers, and in my view, the author knows how to weave the facts together in a highly readable, compelling manner”

Described as “highly recommended” and “must reading” by Library Journal and as “solid research” and “a quick, entertaining read” by “Wild West,” Custer Survivor is based on documents from the files of the Oshkosh Public Museum, the National Archives, the Little Bighorn Battlefield Museum, the Prussian State Archives in Berlin, and the Columbia County Courthouse in Dayton, Washington, where Koster found signatures confirming that the Washington State farmer who claimed he was a Custer survivor was, in fact, the second sergeant of C Company, Seventh Cavalry, who was reported killed in action – but whose best friend couldn’t find his body.

“Frank Finkel is my great great grandfather,” Tracy Parsons writes from Oregon. “…teachers from my mom’s generation and mine told us we were liars in class when we’d be studying Custer’s Last Stand…that no one survived…we’d say that wasn’t true. It feels great to know the real story has been confirmed…Thank you to the writer who took the time to research this incredible event our family has always known.”

The Dayton Depot, Columbia County’s leading historical museum, provided some of the first-time-published photographs for Custer Survivor and will be stocking the book in bulk. Other photos came from Finkel’s extended family, who applauded the book.

John Koster, author of Custer Survivor, has won awards in history, sociology and journalism, including the SDX Award for Distinguished Public Service for his first book, The Road To Wounded Knee, and has written about encounters between the American Indians and the U.S. Cavalry in “American Heritage,” “Wild West,” and the British publication “War Monthly.”

"Custer Survivor" 9781933909035, Chronology Books imprint of History Publishing Company LLC, Softcover, $16.95 ,will be in bookstores January 2, 2010.

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