From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Small, George

(born: 1851  -  died: 1876) George Small was born in Fayette County, KY. At 21 years of age he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Lexington, KY on February 12, 1872. He served with the 9th Cavalry, Company L, until his death March 24, 1876. Private George Small and two other Buffalo Soldiers from Fort Union, NM, Private Anthony Harvey from Canada and Private John Hanson from Maryland, were all killed in a shootout (or were murdered) by Gus Heffron and David Crockett at Henry Lambert's Bar in the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, NM.

David Crockett was the nephew or grandson of frontiersman David "Davy" Crockett (1786-1836). After the shootout, David Crockett, the younger, and Agustus "Gus" Heffron left Cimarron and were on the run for a few months. They returned to Cimarron during the summer and were arrested, tried, and set free after the charges were dismissed. The men claimed self-defense, and there was a lack of evidence in the case.

In October 1876, Crockett and Heffron again returned to Cimarron, got drunk and terrorized the town, resulting in a sheriff's posse killing Crockett and capturing Heffron. Heffron later escaped from jail and disappeared from history. George Small and John Hanson were buried at Fort Union. George Small's death is listed as a homicide in the U.S. Registers of Death in the Regular Army, 1860-1889, vol. 6, p. 220 [in Ancestry] 

For more see George Small in On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II, by I. Schubert and F. N. Schubert; A. L. Lee, "Black Landmarks in the Un-Black West," 7/24/2005, an AfriGeneas Western Frontier Forum website; Santa Fe Trail Research Site: Fort Union Historic Resource Study, chapter seven: The Third Fort Union: Construction and Military Operations, part two (1869-1891); and "David Crockett y Gus Hefferson...," The Daily New Mexican, 8/18/1876, p. 4 [article in Spanish].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: On the trail of the buffalo soldier II: new and revised biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917
NKAA Source: The Daily new Mexican (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Small, George,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 21, 2023,

Last modified: 2023-03-08 18:18:48