The Real Story
Details On Anna Brewster Morgan :
Anna Bell Brewster was born December 10, 1844 at Atlantic City, New Jersey, just five months after the death of her father, John Brewster. John and his two brothers were lawyers. John was educated in Philadelphia, but he moved to Atlantic City after his marriage. It was here his children were born: Jonathan, Margaret, Daniel, and Anna. After his death, the family later moved to Philadelphia.
At the age of five, Anna was taken in by Mrs. Rittenhouse and stayed with her until her death six years later. Anna then lived with the Shooster family. They took her with them when they moved to Illinois to homestead. Anna was living in Illinois when she accepted an invitation to come live with her brother, Daniel, near Delphos, Kansas.
Anna lived with Daniel until her marriage to James Simeon Morgan on September 13, 1868. She was 19 years old at the time of the marriage; a beautiful young lady with blonde hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion (contrary to the actress in the movie). She was also a school teacher.
One month later, on October 3, 1868, Anna’s husband was working in a field about a mile north of their modest homestead, when he was attacked and shot by a band of Sioux Indians. He survived, but was crippled by the attack. His frightened horses ran back to the farmhouse. Anna, expecting the worst, strapped a pistol on her side, mounted one of the horses, then set out to find her husband.
Anna was following the horses south, when the Sioux men saw her approaching. They hid in the bushes, then pounced on her as she came up from the Solomon River. After brutally raping her, they tied her to her horse and brought her back to their camp– which was a several-day journey away.
Not long After Anna was taken, her Sioux captors crossed paths with the same Cheyenne tribe that had earlier kidnapped Sarah White, and Anna was traded to the Cheyenne.
After meeting young Sarah at the camp– who had also been repeatedly raped during her capture, and was now unwilling to speak– Anna’s defiant and protective nature took over. She set an example for Sarah, resisting the Cheyenne in every way possible, and made sure that everyone knew she was a force to be reckoned with.
But since the Cheyenne admire bravery, Anna quickly gained a deep and profound respect from the people of the village. So much so, that one of the chiefs (namely “Tokalah” in the film) eventually proposed marriage to her. Anna accepted, partly because it made life much easier, but some also speculate because she had grown to admire him. She later became pregnant with his child.
When Gen. George Custer’s rescue efforts began, some of the tribe’s chiefs were taken hostage, including “Tokalah” (who in real life, remains unnamed). Custer threatened to hang the chiefs, if Anna and Sarah were not returned.
Finally, Anna and Sarah were released, and returned to their families on March 22, 1869. Anna’s husband was still crippled from the initial attack, and was not able to accompany her brother and Custer to the negotiations.
James Morgan and Anna were not happy after they were reunited. Anna gave birth to “Tokalah’s” son, Ira Arthur, on December 7, 1869. She dearly loved him, and remarked that he “reminded her very much of his father”. Ira died around the age of two, just ten days after the birth of her second child (from James). The couple had two sons together, Claud and Glen. When Glen was around two, Anna took her two children and left her husband, moving back to her brother’s house. James asked for and was granted a divorce.
Anna was of course shunned by the community for bearing the child of a Native American man and divorcing her husband. She mostly avoided publicity. Which would probably explain why there are no pictures of her to be easily found online (if at all).
She once remarked to a friend, “I often wish they had never found me.” Nobody can be certain if this was because she was truly happy living with the Cheyenne, or if she had simply grown weary of the persecution she was suffering in the white community.
After her remaining children were grown, Anna (being a strong, Christian woman) did her best to live with the stigma of what she had endured after the kidnapping and her divorce. The stress wore heavily on her, and she was later admitted to a mental hospital, in Topeka, KS. She passed away at the age of 57, on June 11, 1902. She is buried not far from the entrance of the Delphos Cemetery, next to her and “Tokalah’s” son, Ira. James Morgan is buried at Fruita, Colorado.
Those who do believe Anna was in love with her chief, romanticize that the ending in the movie represented the ending that Anna wanted in her heart– but couldn’t pursue, because she had no idea whether anyone from the tribe had survived Custer’s vengeful attack, or where they might be even if they did.
Below is a picture of Anna and little Ira’s headstones:
Just then, a group of Cheyenne men rode up on horseback, letting out their fierce war cries!
It is important to note here that, while most of the Cheyenne tribe’s people were good-natured and stayed home in the camp, living peacefully– There were a few renegade men who spent most of their time away from the camp, riding all over the countryside, making a general nuisance of themselves.
These renegade men surrounded the White home, and peered into the windows, assuring that the women and children inside were alone. Then they barged in, and began thrashing the house, taking whatever items they desired.
During the terrifying ordeal, Mrs. White grouped her children together, and tried to escape, but they were cut off by two of the men, who grabbed hold of young Sarah and pulled her away from her mother. The remaining four men held on to Mrs. White, who was fighting and thrashing with all her might, and trying to hold on to her younger children. But she could do nothing to save her oldest daughter, who was being carried away from the house, by the other two powerful men.
Mrs. White could hear the terrified and agonizing screams of her daughter fading off into the distance, as she was brutally raped by her captors…
The mother attempted to break free with her children a second time, and run to find help. But again, she was detained, and threatened, while the men continued to thrash and clean out her home.
Finally when the men’s backs were turned, Mrs. White and her children managed to escape off into the woods nearby, where they hid until the Cheyenne men left– taking Sarah with them!
Horrified and heartbroken, the mother cautiously led her barefoot children off in the 5 mile search for her husband, checking all around them constantly, for fear of being caught by the Cheyenne men…
They were soon approached by a group of white settler men, who had been out working with Mr. White. The men reported to Mrs. White that they too had been attacked by the same group of men. And while her older sons were safe and unharmed, her husband (who had bravely faced the attacking men) had been shot and killed.
Meanwhile, young Sarah was being carried away by the men, back toward their camp about 5 miles across the Buffalo river. Along the way, they were met by a group of fifteen other (largely peaceful) Cheyenne men, who’d been waiting for them out in the planes.
Here, Sarah was left with a guard– a man on the brow of the hill, and another man at the base, while the renegade men rode out once again.
As she waited there, Sarah cringed with her thoughts of what might have become of her family… She imagined that they had all probably been assaulted the same way she had, and then murdered. And she of course, had no idea of the fate of her father, but hoped that he and her brothers would be safe, having been far away.
Eventually, Sarah’s captors returned to the base, and the entire group picked up once again, this time on a journey that lasted several days, and led them back to the village, where the Cheyenne women and children resided.
When the women saw Sarah, it was quite obvious from her emotional state, what some of the men had done to her. The women were instantly flooded by a motherly instinct, at the sight of such a young girl being torn from the arms of loving parents and subjected to such treatment. They paid very kind attention to her– some gathering around her, caressing her and murmuring, “Poor papoose, poor papoose”.
It had become clear to Sarah at this point that the 6 men who were riding around terrorizing homes were simply a menacing, individual group, primarily separate from the tribe.
In real life, Sara was actually quite timid and submissive, unlike the character in the film. For some time after her abduction, she was rendered unable to speak, because of the trauma. But the kindness of the regular Cheyenne villagers made the ordeal less troublesome.
About 3 weeks from the date of Sarah’s capture, 19-year-old Anna Brewster Morgan was also brought to the same camp. The meeting between the two young ladies was quite emotional. Anna was the first to speak, asking Sarah if she was well, and how she was being treated. But Sarah could not answer. She instinctively knew that Anna had most certainly suffered the same abuse she had, at the hands of the 6 menacing men. And the entire situation was much too overwhelming for her.
Eventually, Sarah did begin to speak again. And with her sweet nature, she soon became quite an adored favorite of many tribe members.
Among the stolen items in the tribe, was a dress that had been taken from the white settlement, and the Cheyenne villagers offered it to Sarah as a gift to wear.
Sarah also found comfort in Anna’s presence, since Anna quickly took on the role of “Tough, protective big sister.”
After Sarah was rescued by Gen. George Custer, she was reunited with her family. She grew into a strong woman, moving on from her ordeal. Although she proudly offered up her story and her photo to journalists. She also wrote many letters to Custer and his men, thanking them for their rescue efforts.
She later became a school teacher, and married a man named Erastus Otis Brooks. Together, they had two sons: Lewis J. and William Elmer.
Sarah built quite a good life for herself after her capture– taking over her homestead, living to a ripe old age, and finally passing away in the early 1930’s. Her surviving relatives today hold tightly to her letters and writings, proudly sharing them with curious inquirers. Mrs. White-Brooks said when she hears people complaining of hardships and hard times, she often thinks their knowledge along these lines is very limited.
Custer Describes Tokalah?
The following is an excerpt from the book “My Life On The Planes”, written by Gen. George Custer. This incident took place during the meeting that was held between the Cheyenne men and Custer’s officers, over the negotiations to free Anna and Sarah. Here, Custer speaks of two Cheyenne chiefs he conversed with– one being elderly, and the other being in his prime. Because of the fact that Custer’s written accounts match that of Anna’s description of her chief given to journalists, many people believe that Custer is describing “Tokalah” here.
“Near me stood a tall, grey chief who, while entreating his people to be discreet, kept his cocked revolver ready in his hand for use, should the emergency demand it.
Near him, stood another, most powerful and foreboding worrier– who was without firearms, but who was armed with a bow, already strung, and a quiver full of iron-pointed arrows. His coolness during the scene of danger was often the subject of remark afterward, between the officers who’s attention had been drawn to him.
He stood, apparently unaffected by the excitement around him, but not unmindful of the surrounding danger.
Holding his bow in hone hand, with the other, he continued to draw from his quiver, arrow after arrow. Each one he would examine coolly as if he expected to engage in target practice.
First, he would cast his eye along the shaft of the arrow, to see if it was perfectly straight and true. Then he would, with thumb and finger, gently feel the point and edge of the barbed head, returning to the quiver each one whose condition did not satisfy him.
In this manner, he continued until he had selected perhaps half a dozen arrows, and which he retained in his hand, while his quick eye did not permit a single incident about him to escape unnoticed.”
During this meeting, Custer devised a plan to separate all the important chiefs, from the regular men. Custer staged a fake charge, ordering his men not to fire. The regular Cheyenne men quickly moved away, whilst the higher ranking chiefs stood their ground, just as Custer knew they would.
At this point, he took 6 of the chiefs into custody (Including Tokalah). And demanded that the women be returned, or else he would hang one chief each day until his demands were met.
As for what became of the chiefs, and the rest of the Cheyenne after Anna and Sarah were returned… We cannot be sure if the below description is the truth, or if it was simply a prideful tale being spun by Custer and his men, because they did not want to admit that the Cheyenne put up a better fight than they expected…
But when asked what became of the 6 chiefs and the rest of the tribe, Custer claimed that all of them suffered “a rather horrific death”.
Life Within The Tribe
As stated in the introduction, the personalities of Anna and Sarah were switched in the film. Anna was actually very resistant to the tribe’s demands, and Sarah was very submissive and shy.
Sarah was the youngest (only 16 years old) and the first to be kidnapped. But the tribe that the story is built around was actually the Cheyenne, not the Sioux– the Sioux were the people who initially captured Anna, and then later traded her to the Cheyenne.
After Sarah was brought to the tribe, she lived there for nearly a month, before Anna came along. Life was hard by nature, having no in-town luxuries. But the Cheyenne were very kind to young Sarah (especially the women), having felt sorry for her being taken from her parents and raped by her captors. They even gave her a nice dress to wear, which they had in their possession from a white settlement, as a token of their affection to the girl.
Around the middle of October, the Cheyenne crossed paths with a Sioux tribe, and 19-year-old Anna was traded to them. It is rumored that “Tokalah” (one of the Cheyenne chiefs) played a big hand in Anna’s trade, because he was quite enchanted when he first set eyes on her.
When the two young women met, Anna instinctively took on the role of “big sister” and set an example for Sarah, by being tough and resistant, all the time. At first, this angered some members of the tribe. In contrast to their treatment of Sarah, the tribe made Anna dress in Native clothing, as a way of forcing their will on her. But still, Anna continued to maintain her inner strength, and independence.
Being in the same predicament, the two women bonded quite deeply, and at first were allowed to converse together around the campfire. They were both given a tent to live in separately from the rest of the tribe, and were considered to be the soul “property” of a very brave worrier chief– characterized in the film as “Tokalah”.
After an entire winter with the tribe, Anna ad Sarah had given up all hope of being rescued, and began devising an escape plan. As a survival method, many tribes cooked half of the food they harvested and hunted (meat, fruits and vegetables), but they dried the rest of it to survive on in the winter. So Anna and Sarah began gradually stealing a large collection of the dried foods, as they would last a while and be light to carry. Then they patiently waited for a chance to run away.
While they were biding their time, they minded the tasks and chores given to them (although Anna did not take the orders very easily).
One particular afternoon, a Cheyenne woman demanded that Anna help drive the ponies. When Anna refused, the Cheyenne woman struck her in the face, quite hard (portrayed in the film as “Minipi”). Anna then charged at the woman, who attempted to run away. But Anna ran her down and gave her a sound thrashing, while the other members of the tribe gathered around her, yelling out cheers of approval! The Cheyenne deeply admire bravery, so Anna’s courage and strength at that moment had earned her a lot of respect in their eyes.
Eventually, after more time had gone by, Anna and Sarah saw their big chance to escape, one night during a big pow-wow. They agreed to meet each other by a designated tree, after the tribe had gone to sleep.
When the time came, they gathered all the food they had collected, then met up and quickly stole away (on foot, not horses) into the dark of night– racing toward the government trail, like two frightened deer! They had only gone a few miles however, when they heard a low, muffled, rumbling sound– like distant thunder– that seemed to come from the trail just ahead of them. They listened, wondered, and then it suddenly dawned on the excited fugitives that a herd of buffalo were coming down the trail!
Knowing they would be trampled to death if they did not change their course, they sought refuge in a slough of tall grass. The herd took hours to pass, and their escape was delayed.
After the buffalo finally passed, the two women thought best to locate the trail before daylight. That way, they could resume their journey after nightfall the following evening. But as they started out again the next evening, and were passing down the trail, a gun shot was fired! The bullet went whizzing over their heads! Looking around, they discovered some Cheyenne men (Tokalah being one of them) in pursuit of them. At that moment, they knew there was no alternative, but to be marched back to their captive life.
On the return trip, they stopped to rest and the one of their captors fell asleep, with his revolver loose by his side. They were tempted to use it in their defense, but they thought he might be only pretending to sleep–testing them– and would kill them. Or that the other men were lurking near by.
As soon as they were returned, they were given double work loads to do, stripped of their privileges, and were no longer allowed to be near each other, or communicate. They were also watched constantly.
Eventually, after more time went by, things cooled down a bit in the tribe. The chief who managed the two women (Tokalah) had begun to lavish affections on Anna, and eventually proposed marriage to her. In most native American tribes, women are free to choose weather or not they marry a man. And Anna admitted to journalists that she accepted the marriage proposal of her own free will.
But the relationship was clearly not formed simply for politics, or for Anna’s protection, as Anna and the chief were clearly physically intimate. This was made apparent when Anna became pregnant with the chief’s child!
When journalists asked Anna about her Cheyenne husband, she stated,
“He would come in front of the warpath, bringing many things he thought would please me.”
Being the chief’s wife also meant a better life for Anna; she was now treated with great respect, and the Cheyenne women had to serve HER. Now she only had one responsibility, as a special request from her husband– all he asked of her, was that she tend to his horse whenever he came home.
Anna also said,
“I had begun to think MUCH of him for his kindness toward me…”
Of course, Anna would never out-and-out say that she “loved” the chief (mostly out of consideration for Mr. Morgan, her legal husband). But many people believed that her feelings for the chief were pretty obvious…
Eventually, Gen. George Custer and his soldiers, along with Anna’s brother, tracked the tribe down and located the camp, with the help of two captive Cheyenne women (which many believe is a bit hypocritical). Right away, they began negotiations to free Anna and Sarah. During a meeting with the Cheyenne men, Custer took 6 chiefs hostage (“Tokalah” being one of them), and threatened to hang them one by one, if the women were not returned.
The next day, Anna received word that there were two white men in the camp, who wished to see her. But, feeling distraught over the capture of her chief, she confined herself inside her tent and refused to come out and speak to them. Moments later, her brother Arthur stepped into the tent…
In the end, both women were delivered to Custer’s camp, on a single pony. Upon seeing his wife for the first time, Anna’s legal husband stated that he couldn’t even recognize her, because of the Native clothing and her “changed personality”.
A few months after the women were reunited with their families, Anna gave birth to the chief’s son, and named him Ira. The child became very ill at about the age of 3, and passed away. But according to the physician who treated the boy, Anna dearly loved Ira, and often remarked at how much he resembled his father.
Contrary to the film, Anna knew that Custer planned to exact revenge on the Cheyenne, but she never knew for sure what became of her chief, except for the claims made by Custer