Valentine McGillycuddy

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Valentine McGillycuddy
Valentine McGillycuddy.jpg
McGillycuddy on General George Crook's Black Hills expedition
Mayor of Rapid City, South Dakota
In office
Preceded by Chauncey Lynch Wood
Succeeded by George B. Mansfield
Personal details
Born Valentine Trant McGillycuddy
Died 1939 (aged 89–90)
Berkeley, California

Valentine Trant McGillycuddy (1849–1939) was a surgeon and controversial pioneer of the effort to build a sustainable relationship between the United States and the Native American people.


As the surveyor for the Newton-Jenney Party, Dr. McGillycuddy was the first known person to climb Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He then served as Contract Surgeon with General George Crook during the Battle of the Rosebud (June 17, 1876), the Battle of Slim Buttes (September 9 and 10, 1876), and the Horsemeat March (1876).

As Assistant Post Surgeon at Fort Robinson and later as Indian Agent for the Red Cloud Agency, Dr. McGillycuddy was known to the Lakota of the modern-day Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as "Friend of Crazy Horse", and was the doctor who treated Crazy Horse at the time of that Lakota war leader's death.

While Dr. McGillycuddy may have been a friend to Crazy Horse, he was not so much loved by some other Lakotas, including Red Cloud, a major Sioux chief. Red Cloud's accusations of mismanagement led to several investigations of Dr. McGillycuddy's administration. Under pressure to arbitrarily fire a loyal clerk, Dr. McGillycuddy eventually resigned his post. Later, in the days leading up to the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890), Red Cloud conceded that Dr. McGillycuddy had been a "young man with an old man's head on his shoulders."

Dr. McGillycuddy would later serve as mayor of Rapid City, South Dakota, Dean of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, delegate to the South Dakota State Constitutional Convention, and South Dakota's first State Surgeon General. The mansion he built in 1888 is still standing today in Rapid City.


McGillycuddy died at age 90 in Berkeley, California. His ashes are entombed at the top of Harney Peak behind a plaque that reads "Valentine McGillycuddy, Wasicu Wacan (Lakota: translates as Holy White Man)."

In culture[edit]

Books based on Valentine McGillycuddy's life include:

  • McGillycuddy, Julia B. (1941). McGillycuddy, Agent (First ed.). H. Milford, Oxford University Press. ASIN B0007F33PM. 
    • McGillycuddy, Julia B.; James C. Olson (Introduction) (1990). Blood on the Moon: Valentine McGillycuddy and the Sioux (1st ed.). University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0803281707.  - republication of McGillycuddy, Agent
  • O'Brien, Dan (1999). The Contract Surgeon (1st ed.). The Lyons Press. ISBN 9781558219328. 
  • O'Brien, Dan (2004). The Indian Agent: A Novel. The Lyons Press. ISBN 9781592282449. 
  • Schaefer, Jack (1965). Heroes Without Glory: Some Goodmen of the Old West. Amereon Ltd. ISBN 9780891908784. 

Museum and archival collections[edit]


  1. ^ Rousch, Emilie (October 23, 2011). "Preservationists Buy Historic McGillycuddy House". Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota). 
  2. ^ "McGillycuddy House". Historic Rapid City. Rapid City, South Dakota. 


  • Clark, Robert A. Clark (1976). The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse: Three eyewitness views by the Indian Chief He Dog, the Indian-white William Garnett, the white doctor Valentine McGillycuddy. Hidden Springs of Custeriana (1ST ed.). A.H. Clark Co. ISBN 978-0870621123.