Custer’s Last Stand Caimed a Webster Youth  
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Joseph Claprood was just 17, too young to enlist in the Army Cavalry Corps in October 1875, so he used the identity of another person, Andrew Snow, whose family ran a large dairy farm at the far end to School Street in Webster. The area is still known as Snow’s Corner.

Correspondence from recruit Claprood, whose family lived on Webster’s Park Street, acknowledged the use of Mr. Snow’s identity, while facts of the times ultimately fell into place.

Joseph Claprood, or Andrew Snow, was massacred at the Battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, immortalized with those slain in Custer’s Last Stand.

“I have enlisted in the Cavalry Service for 5 years,” Joseph Claprood said in a letter from New York City addressed to his brother-in-law, James Nuttal of Webster.

“We have good times in the barracks, plenty to eat, but no money to get papers or anything. We expect to go to St. Louis soon. I hope my sister is well. Would you be so kind as to send me a dollar or two. Some day I will return the compliment. We have to be on duty in the forenoon, and have the afternoons off. When you write don’t forget that it is Andrew Snow. I didn’t give my right name. Write as soon as possible and direct your letter to Andrew Snow, No 174 Hudson Street, New York City.” Information first compiled around 1915, and updated as Joseph Claprood’s survivors found additional letters detailing events leading to the 1876 massacre, was published in the Webster Times and probably other newspapers, and included a photograph from a glass-plate engraving published around 1941, when Joseph’s niece, Edith Claprood-Budrow, allowed reproduction of the information.

Two longtime friends, Donald Claprood, now of Holden, and Donald Peters, now of Wells, Maine, made independent yet related discoveries about Custer’s last stand many years ago.

Mr. Peters worked for the weekly Webster Times as a writer, photographer, and in advertising sales. The weekly moved its offices at one point, and Mr. Peters was asked to discard undated material. “He found the plate of Joseph Claprood in a worn, tattered, small brown envelope, thought he recognized someone he knew, and gave it to me,” says Donald Claprood.

Mr. Peters drew familial lines, realizing that the engraving was indeed old, with a probable likeness of his lifelong friend.

Mr. Claprood discovered his relationship to Joseph Claprood “as a kid,” when a massacre report was reproduced. “I recall the picture with an oval cameo insert of Joseph Claprood that hung above the doorway of Louis Blanchart’s T&G office (circulation department) on Main Street in Webster,” he says.

Donald Claprood, long associated with Dea-Frazer Insurance Agency in Holden, has copies of the massacre story, and provided information for this column, including the following from Joseph Claprood to relatives in Wester:

“I am in Company L, 7th Cavalry, now in Dakota Territory. We arrived in camp on Friday (no date given) after a journey of two weeks and four days. It is a very cold country up here. It is a little place. We are 97 miles from the railroad, and get the mail once a week. There are no houses around here, but plenty of Indians, about 8,000 of them. They are of the Sioux tribe.”

A letter from Fort Lincoln on April 20, 1876 was the last from Joseph Claprood. “We arrived in Fort Lincoln after traveling five weeks and three days and we had a bad time of it in snow and ice. I expect to go from here any day after Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse or some other. I don’t know who. Your affectionate brother, Joe.

Write soon. Good Bye.”

There was but one more letter. Sent from Webster July 6. 1876, it said, “I write you to see if I can learn anything about Andrew Snow (the identity assumed by Joseph Claprood). I have written two letters to him and have received no answer. I would like to hear from him very much. If you will be kind enough to write me concerning him, you will oblige his brother and sister. James A. Nuttall, Webster, Mass.

A note on the back of the letter says: “Andrew Snow was killed by hostile Sioux Indians in the Battle of the Little Big Horn River, June 25, 1876. Respectfully, Henry Bender. 1st Sergt., Company L, U.S Calvary, U.S. Army.”

Information about Andrew Snow, or actually a young Joseph Claprood, dates his massacre and that of Custer’s entire Calvary Company to 135 years ago this Saturday. It is likely Joseph Claprood was the only soldier from this region killed in the battle.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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