Churchyard/Orr Family Museum (Genealogy) -- C: A Brief Biography of William Carson (1851-1934), Indian Fighter

A Brief Biography of William Carson, Indian Fighter

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26 July 1994                   176                          C28.2

William Carson was born 11 January 1851 in Franklin, Indiana. His father's name was also William Carson. He enlisted into Company I, 7th Regiment, U.S. Infantry, on 11 March 1873. His residence was then Indianapolis and his occupation was that of a laborer or hostler. At the time of enlistment he was 5' 7 1/4" tall, of fair complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair. He served in the campaign against the Sioux for over 30 days in 1876. He helped bury Gen. George Custer and 285 men on 27 June 1876 at the site of the Little Big Horn River battleground. He served in the field during the Nez Perce war of 1877. In 1876 his Company was based mainly at Fort Shaw, Montana Territory. He was discharged at the completion of his five year term on 11 March 1878 at Fort Shaw.

He then became a cow boy on the Sweat & Story Ranch in Montana for six months. After that he again enlisted on 6 January 1879 and was assigned to Company A, 14th Infantry as a private. He deserted on 7 April 1880. He then went to Helena, Montana, and drove a freight team of fourteen mules from Helena to Ft. Benton for one year. This route lay by the Missouri river and was 100 miles long. He then drove a four horse stage on several routes in Montana for 4 1/2 years. He then spent two years as a cow boy on the Nevada Range in California.

In 1888 he went to St. Louis, and later in 1890 joined the Buffalo Bill Cody Circus, where he rode bronchos and drove stage coaches for two years. Later he joined the Ringling Brothers' Circus, where he drove from 6 to 14 horses and chariot races for three years. He then moved to Indiana and Illinois, where he engaged in farming.

On 2 September 1919 he applied for a pension based on his service in the Indian Wars. At that time he was already living in the Danville, Illinois, Veterans Administration Facility (commonly called the Old Soldiers' Home). He signed the application with an X.

He used to visit his nephew, William Arthur Carson, in Evansville, Indiana and entertain his children with tales of the Indian Wars and Circus life. He never married. He died at Danville, Illinois, on 11 October 1934.


  1. Records in the National Archives
  2. A short biography dictated by him to his nephew's secretary

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