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Custer in Custer County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Prospectors in Search of Gold

The Gordon Party Prompted an Illegal Invasion of the Black Hills

 
 
Prospectors in Search of Gold Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 11, 2018
1. Prospectors in Search of Gold Marker
Inscription.  Spurred by rumors of gold, many prospector groups attempted to enter the Black Hills in the 1870s. Without regard to the Fort Laramie Treaty, they planned to enter the region and exploit the untapped wealth.

A group of 28 people headed west from Sioux City Iowa, and eluded the cavalry across the Dakota Territory. Following the wagon trail of the Custer Expedition, they made a permanent camp in this area in December 1874. Named after its leader, John Gordon, their structure became known as the Gordon Stockade.

Caught, But Not Prosecuted
Due to cold weather and sparse findings, six party members deserted the stockade in March 1875. Captured by the cavalry, they were forced to disclose the stockade's location.

Captain John Mix and the Second Cavalry Company discovered the stockade on April 5, 1875. They escorted the party members back to Fort Laramie. Ironically, many of them were not charged for any crime, and they returned in future months to continue their search for gold.

"Some of the members of the first expedition returned to the hills during the summer of 1875, others in the spring
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of 1876 - while a few never returned."

Annie Tallent, 1878

They Only Came for the Gold
The Gordon Party departed Sioux City, Iowa, on October 6, and arrived to this area on December 23. The group spent the first three weeks building a stockade for protection. They then turned their efforts to gold panning in nearby frozen French Creek.

Party members panned throughout the valley, failing to make their efforts fruitful. Their tireless ambition made the dream seem worthy, but as time progressed, they became disheartened.
 
Erected by Custer State Park, South Dakota.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationIndustry & CommerceNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1874.
 
Location. 43° 46.21′ N, 103° 31.804′ W. Marker is in Custer, South Dakota, in Custer County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 16A east of Lower French Creek Road, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located along the path between the restored Gordon Stockade and the associated parking lot, just south of US Highway 16A on the east side of Custer. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 25073 US Highway 16A, Custer SD 57730, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Legacy of Debate (within shouting distance
Marker detail: The Gordon Stockade image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Minnilusa Pioneer Museum
2. Marker detail: The Gordon Stockade
Using native ponderosa pine, the stockade measured around 40 feet by 40 feet. It contained seven cabins, and each corner offered a shooting bastion for protection.
of this marker); An Expedition of Mixed Outcomes (within shouting distance of this marker); An Agreement Between Cultures (within shouting distance of this marker); Anna Donna Tallent (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Campsite of General Custer's Expedition (approx. 0.4 miles away); Stockade Lake Bridge (approx. 0.8 miles away); Glen Erin School (approx. one mile away); Fire Tower Lookouts (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Custer.
 
More about this marker. Marker is a large composite plaque, mounted horizontally on waist-high posts.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Gordon Stockade
 
Also see . . .
1. The Gordon Stockade. Between the City of Custer and Custer State Park, right next to the “Permanent Camp” of General Custer and the 1874 Black Hills Expedition…..is a wooden palisade known as The Gordon Stockade. For the visitors to this area of the Black Hills, it is a rare opportunity to see an exact replica of one of the most historic sites in the history of this region. The
Inside the Gordon Stockade Today (<i>note the interesting log roof design</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 11, 2018
3. Inside the Gordon Stockade Today (note the interesting log roof design)
builders of the fort consisted of 26 men, one woman and one boy. They drove six wagons and 15 yoke of oxen from Sioux City, Iowa. They left the Iowa town on October 6th, arriving at the location of the Permanent Camp on December 21st, 1874 in spite of the order by Army General Sheridan forbidding any white gold seekers from entering the Black Hills. (Submitted on August 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Annie Tallent - First White Woman in the Black Hills. Her name was Anna Donna Tallent, known to history as “Annie Tallent”. Annie Tallent was a well-educated woman. A school teacher by vocation. Her entrance into the then-forbidden Black Hills tells the story of how people of all backgrounds transcended their differences in order to seek riches in the gold rush following General George Custer’s Black Hills Expedition of 1874. Annie was married to a lawyer named David Tallent. The couple brought their ten year old son Robert to join the rugged adventurers in the “Gordon Party” that invaded the Black Hills in search of gold. Mrs. Tallent, her husband and her son, as well as the 23 other gold seekers were expelled from the Black Hills after building a fortress called the “Gordon Stockade” near what is now Custer City. (Submitted on August 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: Annie Tallent image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Custer State Park
4. Marker detail: Annie Tallent
Annie Tallent is noted as being the first white woman to enter the Black Hills. She was an adventurous 47-year-old woman looking to strike it rich with her lawyer husband, David, and nine-year-old son, Robert.
Marker detail: gold panning image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Minnilusa Pioneer Museum
5. Marker detail: gold panning
Between 1875 and 1877, thousands of gold seekers entered the Black Hills illegally. The region was quickly becoming a major hub for western mining. Most everyone tried their luck in a nearby creek or stream.

Nearly every stream witnessed a gold panner in the late 1870s. A well-trained seeker could work a pan of dirt in about 15 minutes. Yet, their rewards of gold flakes were few and far between.
Prospectors Search Gold Marker (<i>wide view; Gordon Stockade & related marker in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 11, 2018
6. Prospectors Search Gold Marker (wide view; Gordon Stockade & related marker in background)
Gordon Stockade Entrance (<i>near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 11, 2018
7. Gordon Stockade Entrance (near marker)
Gordon Stockade Cabin image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 11, 2018
8. Gordon Stockade Cabin
Rock Chimney in Gordon Stockade Cabin image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 11, 2018
9. Rock Chimney in Gordon Stockade Cabin
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 9, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 470 times since then and 114 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   7, 8, 9. submitted on August 14, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jul. 20, 2024