A chance to delve into a local link to Custer’s Last Stand is on offer at a special event at Darlington Libraries’ Centre for Local Studies later this month.

Author and historic re-enactor Patrick Townsend will be hosting a free, drop-in show and tell display and book signing at the centre on Friday 27 September, 10am-3pm.

Custer’s Last Stand – a Darlington man’s quest for adventure offers visitors a chance to see original artefacts from the US Cavalry from the 1870s, try on equipment and see other items used by Patrick to tell the story of Timothy Donnelly in his debut novel ‘To Ride with the 7th’.

Timothy Donnelly was born in Darlington in 1857 and emigrated with his family to Spencer, Massachusetts, USA, in 1869 in search of a new life.

He left his adopted town of Spencer in 1875 at the age of 18 and, after lying about his age, he enlisted into the 7th Cavalry. Like many young men throughout history, he was in search of adventure and a different life but tragically he never returned home.

Patrick, a former pupil of Carmel College, Darlington, has a life-long fascination with the American West, fuelled by his grandparents. He co-founded the Lonestar Old West Re-enactment Group Ltd in 1997 and its 180-plus members provide educational and interactive events at venues across the UK.

He spent six years rigorously researching the era for the book, working with scholars and historians from the UK, ISA and Ireland to ensure accuracy and to unearth as many documents as possible.

He said: “It was my intention to tell the life story of this one young man as honestly and realistically as possible. Non-factual details were added to enhance character profiles, close historical gaps and build a fuller picture of life in the 19th century Victorian era.

“I hope people find it interesting and look forward to meeting visitors and chatting about Private Donnelly, the book and the 7th Cavalry at the event.”

Mandy Fay, Senior Library Officer at Darlington Libraries, explained:

“Little is known about the young soldiers who fought alongside General Custer, among them Private Donnelly, and we’re thrilled to have Patrick here to share what he has learned with us.

“It’s also a great opportunity to see some of the original artefacts from that fascinating era.”

Custer’s Last Stand – a Darlington man’s quest for adventure will be held at the Centre for Local Studies, Crown Street Library on Friday 27 September. The event is free and visitors can drop-in any time between 10am and 3pm.

For more information about Darlington Libraries log onto the website at www2.darlington.gov.uk or call 01325 349630 you can also follow us on Facebook @DarlingtonLibraries or on Twitter @DarlLibs

Photo: Patrick Townsend