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 William Averill “Medicine Bill” Comstock

William Averill “Medicine Bill” Comstock

Comstock, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, USA
Death 18 Aug 1868 (aged 26)
Kansas, USA
Burial Non-Cemetery Burial
Memorial ID 46708898 · View Source
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"What became of Comstock's body? Early rumors said the Army had recovered the corpse and reburied it in the post cemetery. Certainly the family believed this. Wrote John Adams Comstock: -General [sic] Bankhead sent out a detachment to bring the body of Comstock into the post, and he was buried there. The grave was the third one south of the northeast corner of the post cemetery.- Only it isn't. Jayne Humphrey Pearce, president of the Fort Wallace Memorial Association, says there is no record of Comstock having been buried in the post cemetery."

"Pearce, who lives in Wallace, maintains an archive of letters and manuscripts written by residents and Kansas historians who have sought Comstock's final resting place. The documents are puzzling for a reader not intimately familiar with the terrain; some are incomplete, many composed by men who have since joined the scout in the world beyond, but they tell an interesting tale. In one document, written after 1950, longtime area resident Frank Madigan describes a conversation he had with Charles Carmack, a former Fort Wallace ambulance driver, in which Carmack says he buried Comstock's body on the north bank of the Smoky Hill River, about 300 yards north of Hell Creek. Carmack, who must have been a very old man at the time, died before he could take Madigan to the spot, but Madigan noted several graves in the area, -one in particular that has been covered with rocks, as was described to me by Carmack."

Quoted from the Memoirs of Gen. George Armstrong Custer

August 27th 1868: According to a report filed by Captain Henry C. Bankhead, commander Fort Wallace, in western Kansas, several citizens have been killed by Indians in the last few days near Sheridan (near modern Winona) and Lake Station, Colorado. Soldiers escorting a stagecoach near Cheyenne Wells were able to fight off an Indian attack. 250 Indians' presence made Captain Edmond Butler, Fifth Infantry, and his wagon train, return to Big Springs. Acting Governor Hall, of Colorado, again telegraphs the President that Arapahos are killing settlers all over southern Colorado. In a separate report, Lieutenant F.H. Beecher [later of Beecher Island fame], Third Infantry, reports two experienced scouts are shot in the back by Indians who have pretended to be friends. One survives [Abner Sharp Grover] by using the other's [Comstock] dead body as a shield.

There were other interpretations of the killing of Bill Comstock. Colonel Wheeler states that "Some people had an idea that Grover killed Comstock to obtain his position." Apparently that was the opinion of several of the officers at Fort Wallace. Samuel Willet Comstock, in a letter dated October 18, 1928, says "He was shot by his pal in the fall of 1868, the deed attributed to the Indians." There are some points in Grover's account that do not seem possible. If Grover was shot through the back and left lung, how does it seem plausible that, just a few days after the shooting, he "joined Colonel Forsyth at Fort Wallace and went with him as scout on an expedition to Sheridan," as recorded in the Kansas Historical Collections, Volume 15, page 541. Men do not recover in a few days from a shot through the back and the lung.

The Daily Constitution
Atlanta, Georgia
August 21, 1868
Page 2, Column 7

Associated Press Dispatches

Indian Troubles in Kansas

HAYS CITY, KANSAS, August 19 - The body of Bill Comstock, a famous scout, has just been brought in. He was murdered yesterday by the Indians.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Thursday, August 20, 1868
Page 1, Column 5

From St. Louis
Further Concerning the Indians - The Murder - Bill Comstock - The Scout

St. Louis, August 20 - A dispatch from Hays City, Kansas, dated yesterday, says the body of Bill Comstock, the famous scout, has just been brought in. He was murdered yesterday, by the Indians near here. His wounded companion was rescued, badly wounded.

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  • Created by: Old History Buff
  • Added: 15 Jan 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 46708898
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Averill “Medicine Bill” Comstock (17 Jan 1842–18 Aug 1868), Find A Grave Memorial no. 46708898, ; Maintained by Old History Buff (contributor 46810464) Non-Cemetery Burial.