Library & Museum
Frontier Women of the West
Carde de visite of
Elizabeth (Libbie) Custer circa 1865
Chris Kortlander, Founding Director envisions
the Town of
Garryowen, The Custer Battlefield Museum and the new The Elizabeth Custer Library
& Museum of Frontier Women of the West to become a destination
recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for its historical
significance. The vision of Chris Kortlander is to preserve an important piece
of American history for future generations by developing a new complex at the
current location of The Custer Battlefield Museum, where important
historical artifacts and documents will be housed for public review and
scholarly research. To complement the thousands of artifacts and documents
already owned and displayed by the
, Mr. Kortlander’s focus and intent is to acquire additional collections
and/or involve others who can enhance or contribute to this piece of American
current buildings located at the town of
would be removed to clear the way for the new museum complex.
The structure would be approximately 56,000 square feet.
the Battle of the Little Big Horn Began” is where the first shots of the most
famous Indian Wars Battle took place. The
maintains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one of the first soldiers to perish
in the Little Big Horn Battle. During
the 50th Anniversary in 1926, White Bull, battle participant (Sitting
Bull’s nephew) shook hands with General E.S. Godfrey over the above ground
crypt. The soldier’s remains were
discovered only a month earlier along the Marcus Reno’s line of Retreat.
The Town of
was founded in 1895 by the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The town of
was named after the old Irish tune "Garryowen" which was one of Lt.
Col. George Armstrong Custer's favorite marching songs and is now the official
song of the 7th7
Cavalry. A historical site, Garryowen is the only town inside the
perimeter of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, and is located adjacent to I-90 at
exit 514 just south of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and
. The site is just one hour's drive from
. From Garryowen, visitors can view all of the famous locations associated with
of the Little Bighorn. It was actually the site where the
of the Little Bighorn began. The town is now privately owned and operated by
Christopher Kortlander, who purchased the town in 1994. It is the site of the
, and the museum’s bed and breakfast. The
town is also host to the Garryowen Trading Post, a Federal Post Office, a Subway
and Conoco Gas Station.
houses 1000 plus historical artifacts and documents pertaining to the Battle of
Little Bighorn, including personal items related to Custer, Lewis and Clark,
Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and the Seventh Cavalry. The largest collection of
photographs by D. F. Barry is also on exhibit at the museum, along with the only
known photographs of Crazy Horse.
In addition, Mr.
Kortlander has recently acquired the Elizabeth Custer manuscript collection,
consisting of 6,000 to 6,500 original holographic written pages including
unpublished manuscripts and communications from Mrs. Custer and also incoming
correspondence to General Custer. This collection also includes General’s
Custer’s personal set of stereoviews taken by W.H. Illingworth’s who was the
official photographer of the 1874 Black Hills Expedition.
In the early
1990’s, when President George Bush Sr. vacated the name, “Custer
Battlefield”, Mr. Kortlander incorporated the name, purchased the Town of
, and built the
. Since then, the museum has acquired artifacts such as Sitting Bull’s death
mask, a complete period Crow parade saddle, Custer items, Little Wolf’s
battle-worn war bonnet, and much more. In 2003, True West magazine named
as the best Western museum in
. In addition, Mr. Kortlander has received the 2004 Governor’s Tourism Person
of the Year Award.
As stated earlier,
Mr. Kortlander has recently acquired the Elizabeth Custer Collection, which was
virtually unknown. This collection has never been transcribed or researched by
anyone. The collection is comprised of 6000 to 6500 original historic pages,
manuscripts, which includes 10-15 unpublished galleys (including a 200-page
unpublished interview with Buffalo Bill), an original
exam papers, incoming correspondence to General Custer during the civil war,
and correspondence to and from Libby after the death of General Custer, etc.
This is by far the largest collection of Custer related period documents in
acquisition of these invaluable papers, along with the innumerable other
historical artifacts and ephemera, Mr. Kortlander has the vision and the goal to
build a new accredited institutional depository that would highlight the
Elizabeth Custer Manuscript Collection. This new museum, The Elizabeth Custer
Library & Museum of Frontier Women of the West, is described in greater
Elizabeth B. Custer
Library & Museum
"Frontier Women of the West"
Town Hall, P.O. Box 200
Garryowen, MT 59031
Please note that any
communications received by the Elizabeth B. Custer Library & Museum via
electronic mail may become part of the permanent record of the library.