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RG3130.AM:  William Presley Zahn, 1849-1936

Diary:  1870-1924

Cannonball, Morton County, North Dakota:  Soldier, Pioneer

Size:  One item


Born at Lafayette, Indiana, on October 25, 1849, William Zahn came up the Missouri River in 1870 as a member of Co. G, 17th U.S. Infantry, and was later a member of Custer’s famous Regiment, (1873-1876) but was discharged before the massacre at the Little Big Horn.  He was the first settler on the Cannonball River in Morton County, North Dakota, 1879 and was married to Josephine (Princess Kezewin) the daughter of a Yanktonai Sioux Chief Flying Cloud.  He was an Indian trader and interpreter.  One son, Francis Benjamin was a senior judge in North Dakota, born in 1891 at Cannonball and was a member of the Sioux Indian Tribal Council, an interpreter for Sitting Bull’s nephews, and the leading chief in several western films.  William Presley Zahn died Fort Yates, North Dakota, on September 8, 1936.


This collection consists of one ledger, 1870-1924, with scattered entries, 1870-1904, of William P. Zahn, and other entries of later years of various family members, Henry Zahn, Francis B. Zahn, and the William B. Zahn family.

The collection relates primarily to William P. Zahn’s diary with entries relating to such news as the Custer massacre, the death of Sitting Bull, and the Wounded Knee Massacre.  There are also entries for daily happenings in the Cannonball area, and deaths in the vicinity.

Note:  The original journal is restricted for preservation.  A photocopy is available for reference use.


Journal of William P. Zahn, 1870-1907, 1924


Subject headings:

Cannonball (North Dakota) — History

Custer, George Armstrong, 1838-1876

North Dakota — History

Sitting Bull, Dakota Chief, 1837?-1890

United States. Army. Infantry. 17th Regiment, 1870-1876

Wounded Knee, Battle of


RFS/HEK/js            09-04-1965

DDS/PMC/pmc      07-22-1972

Revised TMM        04-05-2016