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Published on Friday, June 23, 2006.
Last modified on 6/23/2006 at 12:41 am

Play at ABT tonight tells Elizabeth Custer story

By Gazette News Services

A special presentation of the one-woman show, "Libbie," is set for tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater.

Also scheduled for today is the first public viewing of selected items from Elizabeth Custer's personal manuscript archives. Tickets are $35.

The events coincide with the 130th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Now on its third nationwide run, this performance features Erin Moots in her critically acclaimed portrayal as Elizabeth Custer. Adding to the historical tone of the evening, Mrs. Custer's personal papers and documents will be on display in the theater lobby, marking the first public showing of these rare items.

The event will help raise money for the new Elizabeth Custer Library & Museum of Frontier Women of the West, which will be built in Garryowen. The site of the first shots fired in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Garryowen is located about three miles from the Little Big Horn National Monument entrance and features the 125th Anniversary Peace Memorial, a monument dedicated to all participants in the fateful battle. Christopher Kortlander built the existing museum 10 years ago, and in that time Garryowen has become a destination for tourists and history buffs.

"Libbie" offers a new take on the battle and its aftermath. In 1926, on the 50th anniversary of the battle, there was a radio re-enactment of "Custer's Last Stand" which in real life, Libbie Custer heard while she stayed in a New York City hotel. Libbie is portrayed listening to this re-enactment and reflecting upon her life with Custer and the alleged conspiracy that she believed caused his death on the plains of Montana. She believed that Custer had many enemies at the Little Bighorn, and "none were Indian." Rather, she believed that his rivals sent Custer on a suicide mission, with too few troops and ammunition.

What makes the production unique is that the museum, which is located at Garryowen, recently took possession of more than 6,000 documents, personal papers and manuscripts belonging to Elizabeth Custer. Many of these artifacts will be on display at the ABT, and Moots will read some of Libbie Custer's own letters during the play -- artifacts that have never before been publicly displayed.

With the purchase of Elizabeth Custer's archive of personal papers, the existing Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen has outgrown its facility, said Kortlander. He is hoping to raise funds to build a larger facility.

For additional information or to make donations to fund the new Elizabeth Custer Library and Museum, call (406) 638-2000, or e-mail inquiries to

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