John Samuel Ragsdale


John Samuel Ragsdale

Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky, USA
Death 4 Dec 1942 (aged 91)
Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Burial Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Plot S, 3, 12
Memorial ID 1101401 View Source
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Parents unknown.

Married 1) Lois Durham (dau of Clabe & Edith Durham), December 8, 1877 in Elizabethtown, Hardin Co., KY.

1900 Elizabethtown, Hardin Co., KY census:
John S. (head) Apr 1855 45 b KY, Shoemaker
Lois (wife) Jul 1861 38 b KY, 0 children

Married 2) Vena Bells Owens, June 14, 1926 in Richmond, Wayne Co., IN.

1930 Jefferson, Montgomery Co., OH census (index): John S. (head) 76 b AL
Vena B. (wife) 28 b TN
John A. (son) 4 b OH
Marie Owens (mother-in-law) 56 b TN, Widow

Laborer, Divorced, died of psychosis, senile, due to approx. cerebral arteriosclerosis. Death Certificate # 75483m informant: Florence G. Criswell, V. A. F., Dayton, OH.

"The Press Gazette," Hillsboro, Ohio, June 3, 1941, Survivor of Custer's ‘Last Stand' In Resident Here, "John S. Rugsdale, one of the four survivors of Custer's Massacre, who lives in Hillsboro, is a 91-years-old and spry as most men at 40. Never before has John made a statement or talked about the famous last stand of General Geo. Custer.

"I always kept it to myself, as most people wouldn't believe such thing every happened," John said "but all they would have to do is check on any statements I might have made in Washington and they would soon learn I spoke the truth."

Upon being questioned about the famed battle, John related every detain from the day the 7th Calvary of the U. S. Army left Powder River, Montana, until help arrived and the battle was over.

He related how the land sloped, the names of the three Indian scouts, "Moose, Bloody Knife and Yellow Face," who guided the regiment. How they ran short of ammunition after nearly two days fighting and sharpened their bowie knife on the gunbarrels and met the Indians, who out-numbered them at least 30 to 1, face to face, how the Indians turned and fled in fright when they saw a member of their tribe slashed to ribbons. All of the details were included in John S. Ragsdale's description of the last stand.

John owns a picture of Gen. Custer and his wife. He praised his former commander very highly, and added "Custer wouldn't ask his men to go and do anything that he wouldn't do himself." He told how Mrs. Custer was admired by every man in the regiment, and that they came to call her the "mother of the regiment."

The former Indian fighter stands six feet two inches tall, weights 158 pounds. At the time of the massacre he topped the scales around 180. He has numerous red curls thickly matted on his head, with here and there faint traces of gray showing through. He is very active and spends considerable time walking and enjoying the warm sunshine. Unlike most army men, John doesn't smoke.

Today John is a widower, his wife having died fifteen years ago. He has one son, now working in Dayton, Ohio. He has resided in Hillsboro since last August, making his home here with William Raines, 341 E. Walnut street. Previous to this he lived in Dayton. He was born in Elizabethtown, Ky., December 9, 1849, became a member of the famed Custer regiment at the age of 22 and was 26 years old when the mostly deadly of all Indian battles was fought.

Many thanks to Kurk for stone photo.

Family Members


Gravesite Details 7th Enlistment:, July 23, 1872, Elizabethtown, Kentucky.


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