We say this word
when it speaks of Indians, Commanche with
emphasis on the “e” but Whitmore was called Commanch
(without the “e” sound!)
Charles William Whitmore was born to Jacob and Susan (Susannah) Whitmor[e] as shown in the 1860 U.S. census (1 year). Born in St. Louis, MO,
in 1859 or this small town near St Louis called
Prairie, Schuyler, MO. His father was from Switzerland and his mother from Germany.
At that time the Whitmor[e]s
had three children: Jacob,Jr. (8) and Louisa
(4) and Charles ((1).
Commanche told the community of Ten Sleep that as a
young boy he and his sister had been stolen by hostile Indians along the Santa Fe Trail and he was later sold to the Spaniards
where he worked the silver mines. He felt that his life with the
Indians had made him an appropriate man to scout out the Little Big Horn
situation. It was a wild tale, but the 1870 census shows the Whitmores[now
spelled Wittmers] still in Prairie, Schuyler, MO,
but Louisa and Charles are not named. Jacob, Jr. at that time was 18.
Also, Whitmore told around the town of Ten Sleep
that there had been a military parade ground in the vicinity of what is now
called Sitting Bull Park
on the Big Horn NF. It seemed an attempt to justify his having served as
a scout with the 7th U.S. Cavalry. Just prior to 1970, an Army
canteen and a leather pouch that soldiers of that era carried bullets in, was
found in Sitting Bull Park as evidence that there might truly have been a
parade ground there. Thus, another of Commanche’s
wild tales seems to have been verified.
There is a photo of Commanche in the book Vanguards
of the Valley, by Faye V Bell. It was loaned to Faye by Margaret Sutherland
Cogdill in 1985 for inclusion in the book. It
shows him on a camping outing perhaps at roundup time or on a hunting
trip. He was a small man and probably didn’t weigh over 115 pounds even
Charles William Whitmore passed away in 1934 at the age of 75.