More From The American West From Arthur H. Clark
By Michael Stillman
The Arthur H. Clark Company has issued A Catalog of Fine Books, number 919 for this century-old bookseller. This catalogue includes a memorial to Arthur H. Clark, Jr., son and namesake of the company founder, who died on March 27, 2005, at the age of 92. Mr. Clark had worked for the family business, selling and publishing books, since his graduation from college in 1934. That's a career of over 70 years.
The catalogue begins with a dozen pages of recent books published by Clark. Arthur Clark is one of the premier publishers of Western Americana, and has been for almost a century. However, since our focus is on older books, we'll move on after making one exception. Item 618 is Tom Custer: Ride to Glory, By Carl F. Day, published by Clark. The name, at least the first name, may not be instantly recognizable, but Tom Custer was General George Armstrong Custer's little brother. Some people, perhaps even George, felt Tom was the one who should have been the general. However, Tom would not likely have been among them, for he idolized his brother. When the Civil War broke out, George had already graduated from West Point and was an officer in the military. Tom was just a boy of sixteen, but he lied about his age so he could join his older brother in service to the Union. He would serve under his brother late in the war, and along the way, Tom earned two medals of honor. He was the first Civil War soldier to do so. Tom would serve in South Carolina for awhile after the War, chasing down the KKK, but most of his time was spent serving as a lieutenant in the 7th Cavalry under George. Eventually, this would be his downfall, as Tom, and yet another brother, Boston, would die at the Little Big Horn with George. This was a close-knit family, and George's widow, "Libbie," would write complimentary words about Tom, just as she did about her husband for the next 57 years. This book is priced at $38.50.
Speaking of the Custers, here is an unusual item pertaining to General George: Sitting Bull - Custer, by Reverend Aaron McGaffey Beede, published in 1913 by the Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune. Along with being an Episcopal minister, Beede at various times was an educator, lawyer and judge. He grew up in northern New England, where he graduated as Valedictorian of his class at Bates College in Maine, and later received his Divinity degree from Andover Theological Seminary. Then, after three years as Superintendent of Schools in Alfred, Maine, Beede picked up his family and moved to South Dakota, and from there to North Dakota. He had already learned the Sioux language, and served as a missionary to the tribe. It was this connection that enabled him to gather the material for his book. Eventually, Beede would become disenchanted with the Church's insufficient concern for social issues, which turned him to the legal profession later in his career. His book on the Indians is item 88 in this catalogue. $150.