Updated: May 8
The frontier offered all sorts of freedoms and many went west to live in ways they couldn't further east. Here's an amazing and heartbreaking story:
When George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry was posted at Fort Lincoln (North Dakota), one of his corporals, John Noonan, married a woman who had been Custer's long-time laundress. She also baked delicious pies and was the fort's resident midwife. She had a nurturing manner with the pregnant wives of the soldiers and always asked: "Are you comf?"
Noonan and his wife had been married happily for many years until one day he came back from a scouting expedition to find his wife had died. On her deathbed, Mrs. Noonan had begged that her body be buried directly and not bathed and prepared for burial. But Mrs. Custer and the ladies did not heed her request. Mrs. Custer left to pick wild flowers for her dead friend. She returned only to discover that Mrs. Noonan had, in fact, been a man. Bereft of the loss of his wife, Corporal Noonan killed himself several days later. Elizabeth Custer was not judgmental. "Poor old dear," she said of Mrs. Noonan. "I hope she is finally 'comf.'"
"Frontier Gayeity" was originally posted May 14, 2019 on Facebook and NotesfromtheFrontier.com 126,036 reached / 2,118 likes
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