Is there a Garlitz connection to General George Armstrong Custer?


While the obituary for Basil T. Garlitz, son of Christian Garlitz II claims a Garlitz / Custer connection, the information is not verified by Custer genealogists. No Garlitz appears anywhere in the George Custer family tree. According to the Cumberland Times obituary, George Custer's grandfather, John Custer, married a sister of Christian Garlitz. The name of this sister is not given in the article. Custer genealogists, however, record this grandmother as a Catherine Valentine. So is there a connection? You decide. The Cumberland Times and Custer genealogists appear to be in disagreement.

Cumberland Times Obituary for Basil T. Garlitz

24 Nov 1891 Basil T Garlitz died at the home of his son Alonzo on S Mechanic Street in the 74th year of life. He had complained of a fluttering of the heart for 2-3 days. Basil Tomlinson Garlitz was born in 1818, 3 miles south of Grantsville MD, a son of Christian Garlitz and Elizabeth Durst and was the youngest of 8 children, all deceased except Jacob and Henry. His father who died in 1846, was quite a hunter and ranked up with Meshack Browning in the forest. In 1860, he was married to Elizabeth Listen. Four of their children, 3 boys and 1 girl now live in Dayton Ohio with their mother. The Garlitz and Custer families were related as the sister of Christian Garlitz married John Custer and who's son Emmanuel Custer was the father of the famous general George Custer. The daughter, Miss Emma and sons Horatio and Herbert of Dayton Ohio have been communicated with for the funeral. The funeral will be by Rev W E Bird of Kingsley ME church and interment in Rose Hill Cemetery. [9 paragraph story ] From Cumberland Times

For a complete family tree see the link below.

George Custer Family Tree

Additional Newspaper Article

The Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, July 8, 1905

I have a number of times recently been called on for information in regard to the Custer family, which has of late years become not only noted, but historic on account of the chief of the family, Gen. George A. Custer, a distinguished young cavalry officer in our civil war. He stepped from WestPoint as a graduate with honors in 1861, into the war in which he was engaged for its entire duration. Many yet vividly remember his tragic death in 1876 at the Little Big Horn by Sitting Bull and his savage warriors. His career, though not lengthy, was brilliant, patriotic and national, worthy of proud recollections and national gratitude, as well as a prominent place in the history of our nation.

A number of inaccuracies have appeared in the general scope of the publications. Perhaps the author of this paper has more personal knowledge of the Custer family at large than anyone else living. A sketch of the Custer family is to be found in Brown's Miscellaneous Writings. This sketch was written in 1887 and the facts mainly gotten from Emanuel Custer, father of General Custer, when on his last visit to his old home country.

The Custer race hails from Old Virginia. Two brothers, John and Emanuel, left their homes in the valley something over 100 years ago. John settled at Cresaptown in this county. He was a blacksmith and hotel keeper by vocations. His wife was a Garlitz, sister of old Christian Garlitz, the noted old time hunter of Allegany county. The old time Garlitz also came from Virginia with its ways and styles of language. John Custer had a family of children, most of whom went to what is now West Virginia. He died somewhat mysteriously in 1830. His son, Emanuel, left home when 19 years of age and went to Harrison county, Ohio, with all his belongings bound up in a bandana handkerchief. He, like his father, was a blacksmith, and followed his trade for many years. Left his county and went to Wood county in the same state, and thence to Monroe, Michigan, where he lived for the rest of his life, and died a number of years ago. He was married twice, both times to Ohio ladies. The General was a son of the second wife.

It is not remembered now how many children Mary Custer had, but at least an ordinary-sized family. Two sons, a son-in-law, and a grandson, all were slaughtered at the great massacre at the Little Big Horn. Among the slain were Capt. George Yates, a promising officer of the U. S. Army. His wife was a sister of Mr. Milnor Roberts, of this city, he being connected with the prominent Humbird family of  Cumberland. Emanuel Custer made but two visits to his old home, after leaving it in 1824. The first eight years later, and the other as already stated. The writer of this enjoyed the pleasure of several calls made by him. He was found to be a man of intelligence, character, and sound principles in every respect, with an amiable, quiet, and gentlemanly nature, to all of which were added traits of a professing Christian, modest in his demeanor, never mentioned the name of his distinguished son except when called for. Of course, he had a just pride in his sacrificed children as well as deep sorrows, but it was a sore subject for him for conversation. The glory attached to their names did not relieve the agony he endured on account of their tragic end.

The great war secretary, Stanton, was a warm friend of Emanuel Custer. They were old Ohio acquaintances. More than once during the great war when a wayward soldier would fall into trouble, Emanuel would help him by appealing to the great secretary, who would say familiarly, "Well, Emanuel, what must I do now?" But he was too improper and too loyal to ask to do anything improper or hurtful to the cause. All the Cresaptown Custers have long since departed from that place. The name is extinct within the limits of Allegany county, but quite numerous in the junior county of Garrett.

In this connection, something can be and ought to be appropriately said about the family of old Emanuel Custer, brother of John, and uncle of Emanuel already mentioned. This family has no historic character in it, but its many descendents are worthy citizens and deserving of respect. 

Emanuel Custer, uncle to the father of General Custer, settled upon an ancient tract of land called Mount Nebo in what is now Garrett county in the beginning of the last century. He died in 1824 after a peaceful and respectable life. He left a widow and 8 sons: Adam, Jacob, Daniel, John, David, Samuel, Peter and Jeremiah, all good old Bible names, and Catherine, an only daughter, all long since dead. Jacob died suddenly in a harvest field from a sun stroke. Samuel, the last survivor, died on the old home farm some years ago, which is still in the occupancy of some of the family. Daniel met with a tragic death about 1832. He and his newwife were riding down a mountain slope in a sleigh at a high rate of speed, when the rig overturned and threw him with such violence against a tree as to crush his brains. Death came instantly. In a short while came a posthumous child, yet living in her seventies. The sorrowing mother lived till a few years ago in her widowhood, which lasted 65 years. Where is there a parallel case? I know of none. The nearest is Mrs. Dr. J. H. Patterson, now of Oakland, California. Her loneliness has lasted since January, 1852, now 85 years of age. All this large brotherhood were married except three, and left many children and descendants,, all or nearly all of Garrett county, and remarkable for quietude, obedience to law, and of good citizenship. The Custer race of that county is not going to fade away as the other branch has done in Allegany.

The wonder of some is where Gen. Geo. A. Custer got his military genius and fighting qualities. When it is known the race was and is such an amiable, quiet and peaceful one. Perhaps from the Ohio mother with a sprinkle of the old Garlitz blood in the grandmother.

J. B. Kreitzburger

Charles Davis writes with the following information and insight:


Being the curious type, I did I little investigation and came up with the following:

1)    Catherine Garlitz    B.2 Feb. 1793    Spouse Adem Keaffer


2)    Catherine Valentine Garlitz B. 10 Oct. 1783, Cresaptown, Maryland

        Ref: LDS-Family Search; Submitter Unknown

3)      Catherine Valentine married John Custer  (George Armstrong's grandfather)

        Ref: Custer Genealogies

4)      Catherine Valentine married to John Custer 11 May 1802

        Ref: LDS-Family Search of Catherine Valentine; Submitted by several people from Arizona and California

5)    Note that both Catherine's are born in Cresaptown, Maryland. Years 1783 and 1793. Valentine is both a last and a   middle name. In this time period and among German people it was not uncommon to give a daughter's middle name as the maiden name of the mother. It was also not uncommon to use the middle name as a first name later on for both men and women.




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