Alfred Lorenzo Chapman

Photo added by Michael L. Nunnally

Alfred Lorenzo Chapman

  • Birth 4 Mar 1842 Marysville, Yuba County, California, USA
  • Death 15 Jan 1941 Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
  • Burial Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
  • Memorial ID 26658098

Alfred Lorenzo Chapman (1842-1941) was a Buffalo Bill look alike and like Cody he was also a showman. He claimed he had been Custer's "citizen guide" and watched the destruction of Custer and the Seventh Cavalry from " a mile and a quarter away." He claimed he was captured by Indians sometime before the battle and held prisoner until June 17 when he escaped and rode hard to Ft. Lincoln to warn the general of the huge number of Indians waiting for him. Arriving at the fort Chapman discovered the general had already left for the Little Bighorn so he rode hard to stop the general but arrived to late too help but saw the general killed. Custer, he said, was killed at "20 minutes to 12 o'clock in the day." Chapman attended the unveiling of the Custer statue in Monroe, Michigan in 1910 where he announced to the crowd that he had actually witnessed the last stand. Chapman may have been delusional and like a number of other men believed his own tall tales.

In 1915 Chapman made his way to California where sold his story to Hollywood who recognized a good story when they saw it. Chapman appeared as himself in the silent motion picture "Custer's Last Scout- The narrative in film of the only living witness of the Custer massacre!" Dressed in buckskins Chapman looked the part of a scout and frontiersman and made personal appearances at carnivals, fairs and schools signing his own picture card and showing off the "bullet that killed Custer." Chapman was also popular on the lecture circuit. Little Bighorn Researcher and author E.A. Brininstool investigated Chapman's claim and was not amused, "the man is a fraud! None of the soldiers ever heard of the man! Not even as a mule whacker!" Chapman acted out his Custer scout role for years. Whether or not he was taken seriously or viewed as just another outrageous character is unknown but he did manage to get a lot more out of his scout impersonation that all the others. He was the only "sole survivor" to appear in a movie. "Custer's scout" lived well into his nineties and was eventually awarded a pension not for any service in the 7th Cavalry but for his service in the 17th Kansas Infantry and the 16th Kansas Cavalry. Life in the Kansas units must have proven somewhat boring so Chapman reinvented his past to include Custer and the Seventh. Chapman also claimed to have been the sharpshooting champion of the United States Army for seven years.

Chapman died in 1941 in Portland, OR., reportedly at the age of 99. He was cremated at Lincoln Memorial Park. The exact location of his ashes is unknown.


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  • Created by: Michael L. Nunnally
  • Added: 7 May 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 26658098
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Alfred Lorenzo Chapman (4 Mar 1842–15 Jan 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 26658098, citing Lincoln Memorial Park, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA ; Maintained by Michael L. Nunnally (contributor 46939385) .