Best Preserved Frontier Fort in the West Fort Larned Old Guard Newsletter

Information provided by Sam Young. Thanks, Sam.
     Old Guard life member and Fort Larned National Historic Site volunteer Sam Young, Lansing KS, represented Fort Larned at the 2011 National Cavalry Competition at Fort Reno, OK the last week of September.

     The competition is hosted annually by the U.S. Cavalry Association to assist its efforts to preserve the history and traditions of the U.S. Cavalry. The competition is an opportunity for living historians, reenactors, military mounted units, and mounted police officers to compete and improve their riding skills. Active Army mounted units from Forts Riley, Sill, Hood, Hauchuca, Irwin, and Carson participated. The top rider was a combat wounded (brain injury) soldier from Fort Riley, and the outstanding military unit was from Fort Irwin (the National Training Center).

     Individual riding competition includes saber, pistol, military horsemanship, jumping, and combat horsemanship. Team competition includes platoon drill and a mobility event. Individual dismounted competition includes bugling and equipment and uniform authenticity.

     The authenticity categories include Mexican War; Civil War (Union and Confederate); Plains Indian Campaigns; Southwest Campaigns, Spanish-American War; pre-World War II; and U. S. Constabulary. (Maybe one of the future competitions will have a trooper dressed as a U.S. Special Operations Soldier in 2001 in Afghanistan, horse mounted with the Afghans fighting the Taliban shortly after 911.)

     Young's primary reasons for attending were to represent Fort Larned and to set up a cavalry saddler sergeant working display in an outdoor, field environment. He made emergency repairs to equipment of several competitors. He also participated in the bugling competition. Bugling is one of the volunteer services he provides at Fort Larned special events.

     In the mounted review on the last day there were 79mounted cavalrymen (a few were women) of which more than 60 were active duty U.S. Army Soldiers. Per the U.S. Cavalry Association historian, this was "the largest number of horse mounted active Army Soldiers in a mounted Review since the late 1940s." There was one four-trooper unit representing the 1st Virginia Cavalry commanded by Jeb Stuart. The civilian portraying the part of Jeb Stuart was dressed like the pictures of Stuart, including the beard and long hair.

     One of the most exciting events of the review was when the command "draw sabers" was given and watching and hearing the mounted troopers draw their sabers!

     Most of the awards were earned by active Army Soldiers, and as each award was announced the soldier's name was read along with the Army Fort represented. When the bugling competition award was announced, it was "Sam Young, Fort Larned." Congratulations Sam! Thank you for representing Fort Larned.

     At the memorial service following the completion, Sam played Chapel Call and Taps, the first time in many years an actual bugler played these calls for the memorial service.

     The 2012 National Cavalry Competition will be in September at Fort Riley. Sam intends to represent Fort Larned again and hopes there will be several mounted volunteers from Fort Larned attending.

Ruth Olson Peters Retires From Trail Center
     Ruth Peters, a charter member of Fort Larned Old Guard and former member of the board, has retired as director of the Santa Fe Trail Center at Larned, where she served 33 years, 28 of those as director. The Trail Center is operated by the Fort Larned Historical Society which opened historic Fort Larned for public visitors prior to the addition of the fort to the National Park Service in 1964. The Fort Larned Historical Society moved its collections to a new facility, the Santa Fe Trail Center, a museum dedicated to the history of Pawnee County and the Santa Fe Trail. The Trail Center and Fort Larned National Historic Site have worked together on many projects over the years.

     Ruth has served more than 25 years on the board of the Santa Fe Trail and is current treasurer. Best wishes, Ruth; enjoy retirement.

Flog Chair's Column
by Rex Abrahams.
     I hope you are making plans to attend our annual Old Guard Mess and Muster on Saturday, April 28, 2012. The day promises to be an exciting one with some new locations and great events! In the afternoon, there will be a program and presentation at the Little Red House and Sibley's campsite in Larned. At the fort, several new "camps" will be set up for viewing and interpretation. In the evening our program will be presented by Louis Kraft, speaking about Indian Agent Ned Wynkoop. Kraft will be autographing copies of his new book, Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek. Wynkoop was practically an anomaly in the 1860s. While others sought to destroy the "savage Indian," Wynkoop truly cared for the Indians under his jurisdiction and worked on their behalf. It should be a great day and evening! More details are available in this issue, along with registration information.


The Little Red House in Larned, Kansas, donated to the Fort Larned Old Guard
by David and Alice Clapsaddle. Come tour the house on April 28, 2012
Click on the photo above for more photos of The Little Red House

     Now, a few notes on the Little Red House which is interpreted as the first house in Larned. The Little Red House was originally built as the post sutler's mess hall at Fort Larned. After serving its purpose there, it was floated down the Pawnee River in 1872 and became Larned's first building. It served a variety of functions, including Larned's first post office, restaurant, hotel, dance hall, saloon, church, courthouse, and school--a very active life! Its prominence was well established during Larned's formative years. The current structure is a recreation of this historic building, modeled to represent the original structure, with furnishings of the late nineteenth century. This has been a special project of Dr. David Clapsaddle of Larned, a longtime member of the Old Guard and outstanding volunteer at Fort Larned National Historic Site. Under Dr. Clapsaddle's direction, the Little Red House has served the last several years as the site for special programs for school groups, scouting organizations, and the general public.

     Here is the exciting news! I am pleased to report that the Little Red House has been donated to the Fort Larned Old Guard to hold for Fort Larned National Historic Site and the Larned community, to serve as an interpretive site for special programs for visitors of all ages! Dr. Clapsaddle and his wife Alice have donated this structure, the artifacts in the building, and the property it sits on to the Old Guard. The building will be used as an interpretive museum to help tell the story of the extension of Fort Larned into the city of Larned, Kansas. It is just one more way of uniting the fort and the city of Larned together.

     Special thanks is extended to the Clapsaddles for this generous donation. The members of the Old Guard never cease to amaze me. It is made up of some of the best people anywhere. I am proud of our members and honored to work with such great people.

     Come to the Old Guard Mess and Muster this April 28, 2012. Help us celebrate this significant day. You will be glad you did.

Superintendent's Column
"On Our Watch" by Kevin McMurry
Dear Friends,
     I just finished the annual report, which is archived to become part of the Fort's continuing history. The following highlights are reminders of great efforts by the Team of Volunteers, Friends, Partners including the Fort Larned Old Guard, and Employees that all worked together during a great year. Achievements listed are grouped loosely based on established goals not in any particular order or priority, and the listing is certainly not inclusive of everything we achieved together! "Thank You" to everyone who helped!

     A year in review at Fort Larned, Southwest Kansas's National Park, always includes great Memorial Day, July 4th. and Labor Day celebrations with hundreds of volunteer "living-history" reenactors bringing the 1860'smilitary post to life. The year 2011 was no different with the summer holiday weekends bringing some of the largest crowds in years to experience the working frontier Fort. The Forts annual Visitor Survey conducted by the University of Idaho again indicated 100% public approval of services and programs!

     Early in the year, restoration of the North Officers' Quarters was finished and opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend! The restored shell of the structure is the result of good Kansas contractors and the spectacular beauty and fully-furnished interior is the result of great work by employees and many volunteer friends! After being closed to the public for more than 30 years. it's great to have this open for tours. Coinciding with the reopening of this structure, contracts to resurface the company streets and walking paths all around the Fort were completed, making tours of the buildings easier and more accessible for all our visitors. This was just the latest of multi-year efforts to improve access to all the Fort's buildings and improve visitor experiences.

     National Park Service Regional Director Michael Reynolds announced in May that Dr. David Clapsaddle of Larned was the recipient of the 2010 National Park Service, Midwest Region Award for Outstanding Individual Volunteer Service. This award. selected from nominations sent in by 59 National Parks across 13 States, recognized his time, talent, innovation, and hard work contributed to Fort Larned through the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) Program. Dr. Clapsaddle, a retired educator and historian, has developed hands-on education programs targeted to Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history. Through his incredible efforts Fort Larned now offers its largest assortment of offsite school programs in its history. He has developed a series of traveling trunks containing artifacts relative to compelling and historically accurate stories which he has written. Each story relates to the Santa Fe Trail or Fort Larned, or both.His personally delivered presentations include a reading of the story, a display of the artifacts, and a question/answer period. Each presentation requires about 45 minutes. The program is available at no cost to elementary schools, public and private. Throughout the year Dr. Clapsaddle volunteered over 600 hours traveling to schools presenting his education programs to more than 4,000 students, teachers, and adults in four states. Interested educators can contact Dr. Clapsaddle directly at (620) 285-3295. Information on the different trunk programs is available from David or at the Fort's website {www.nps.gov/fols} In a related development and with valuable assistance from the Fort Larned Old Guard and Western National Parks Association, the Fort produced a new brochure which is available on request that details the educational opportunities provided by the Fort and all its education partners.

     Another significant education program improvement came from the Fort Larned Old Guard and their board member (and longtime Fort Larned volunteer and friend) Ken Weidner. Through this effort a spectacular Plains Indian exhibit was created by Weidner which will travel across the state and is currently in the Larned Library.

     Also in May, the Fort hosted its first Junior Ranger Day with two special programs teaching knowledge and skills necessary to become a Fort Larned Junior Ranger. The new Junior Rangers received a Junior Ranger badge and a surprise souvenir. Drinks and snacks were provided by volunteers during this fun event for children and their families, which will be held annually.

     In July, a research team from Kansas State University continued their multi-year study of the park's prairie dog colony located four miles southwest of the Fort. Results of this study, and sister studies at five other National Parks in Nebraska and Colorado, will enhance understanding and long-term management of the species across the Plains states.

     After too short a summer with great visitors, seasonal coworkers, volunteers. and other partners, it was time for the annual Candlelight Tour, Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. and Christmas Holiday Open House.

     The Candlelight Tour, "Connecting to the Human Experience," dealt with people who were famous or who became famous after being, at Fort Larned, including J. E. B. Stuart, George Custer, Winfield Scott Hancock, Kit Carson, Edward W. Wynkoop, Surgeon William Forwood, Colonel Almon Rockwell, Henry M. Stanley, William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody, William (Wild Bill) Hickok, Alice Dryer, and Theodore Lyster. Prior to the Candlelight Tour the annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon and Awards Program. sponsored by Western National Parks Association and catered by Tagga's Catering of Larned, recognized the hundreds of volunteers who supported Fort Larned by contributing more than 10,000 hours of volunteer services throughout the year!

     The 2011 Volunteers of the Year Award went to Conwell "Connie" and Sharon Leinbach from Nashville, Tennessee, who came to Fort Larned for the entire month of March after volunteering at Appomatox Courthouse National Historical Park in Virginia, and left to volunteer at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Tragically, in early November, Colonel Conwell Leinbach, M.D. U.S. Army (Retired), died in Nashville of a brain tumor. Those of us fortunate enough to be at Fort Larned with Connie will always remember the great work and wonderful friendship he brought to us. . . .

     In 2011, the City of Larned received a grant from the U.S. National Park Service, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program to develop a hiking, biking, and fitness trail through Larned. The two-phase initiative, when completed, will improve the quality of life for residents and visitors to Larned through development of these grant-funded, multiuse trails. The first phase is connecting safe biking, jogging, and walking trails around the city to the local schools, businesses, and parks. This phase also includes a trail connecting the State Complex and the city for the residents who would like to bike or walk to work at one of the State Facilities. The second phase would seek possible routes to connect the first-phase trails to the Santa Fe Trail Center, Camp Pawnee, and Fort Larned.

     In December and to conclude special programs for the year, the Holiday Open House was held for the first time in both the Officers' Quarters and the Post Hospital. Starting in the early afternoon, this reenactment of holiday activity across the Fort included tastes of foods prepared from historic recipes while the wood stoves kept the atmosphere everywhere cozy and warm. Later in the day, candles and lanterns lighted a path into the full Fort celebration with music, caroling, dancing, general merrymaking, and even a visit from jolly old St. Nick for the children.

     Throughout the year work to reconstruct the historic wagon bridge in its original location proceeded well with the final Environmental Assessment of the project released for public comment on December 23rd. The Environmental Assessment is a very well developed comprehensive documentation of the project and potential issues, as well as alternatives and advantages. Public input on the project can be provided through January 29, 2012, at {http://parkplanning.nps.gov} or contacting the Superintendent 620-285- 6911.

     To close the year, Fort Larned received a very generous family donation from David and Alice Clapsaddle of two Frederick Remington Bronze Statues: "The Buffalo Horse" and "The Horse Thief." Special pedestal bases and lighting systems are being constructed for these to be on permanent display in the Fort's Museum.

     I encourage all members to be active in the Fort Larned Old Guard, or become an active member if you've not yet joined this organization supportive of Fort Larned's many programs. I hope to see all members and many new faces at the Annual "Mess and Muster" at Fort Larned on April 28!

     "On Our Watch," with generous assistance from employees, partners and great volunteer friends, Larned's National Park site continues to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to learn and enjoy.

Fort Larned Old Guard Roll Call: Larry Mix
     Larry Mix, St. John KS, is a life member of Fort Larned Old Guard and serves as official web master of the organization. He writes:

     Well, here we go from just a little bit south the Santa Fe Trail, but you can almost see it from here. I've lived in Kansas all my life on or very near the Santa Fe Trail. I was born in Great Bend, Kansas, in 1939, and lived in Hoisington for a short time before my parents decided to move to Great Bend. They bought a house in the southeast part of town in 1945. Dad always said that the Santa Fe Trail ran across our property. We did find an ox shoe one time. We lived about four blocks north of the Arkansas River. It is possible that the older trail, when the Walnut Creek Crossing was south of present US Hwy 56, could have run across the property.

     I attended St. Rose Grade School and Great Bend High School. During all these years I can say I never had any interest in the Trail. After high school I went to the service. After I got out, one day I decided to go dove hunting. While hunting, I shot myself in the foot. This ended the service part of my life. I went to Dodge City and found a job at a typewriter shop. I had been doing a little of this kind of work during school. After this I got a job at McCoy Scaggs, the Ford dealer in town. While in Dodge I chased a lovely lady, Carolyn, until she caught me.We were married in December of 1960 and have been together ever since.We moved to Great Bend for several years then to a place near Kinsley in Edwards County. While at Kinsley we lived about two miles north of Ardell. The Big Coon Creek Crossing was just a mile east of us. The Trail ran across the southeast corner of the section where we lived.

     The adventure and research of the Santa Fe Trail began in 1965 when we lived in Edwards County. History and books became a passion after I bought our first book about the Santa Fe Trail for my wife. The book was a first edition of Dodge City The Cowboy Capital by Robert M. Wright. I bought the book because this is where Carolyn was born and lived until we married. After getting the book home, between the pages we found a collection of hand drawn maps and hand written notes about the Santa Fe Trail on a microfiche. We plotted these maps to modern maps as good as we could and started searching for and finding the campsites we read about. If we went some where on week ends, we were sure to end up at a Trail site.

     We joined the Wet/Dry Route Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail in 1992; later we were awarded the Faye Anderson Award and life members. We helped with many projects the chapter thought up. They all were hard work but very interesting in nature. One of the largest and rewarding projects was the Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites book that the chapter produced. During this time we did just about everything, setting markers, cleaning weeds, taking photos, helping a young man get his Eagle Scout Badge, and making sure the GPS readings and mileages in the Directory were on target. We have had several people tell us that they put the readings in their GPS unit and follow the Trail any where it went.

     I never had anything to do with computers until I put up a web page for a grandson that was in track and field in high school to brag about the records he was setting. I had tried to put a lot of the research that we gathered on a computer, but that didn't work out too good. The "dinosaur" I bought just wasn't doing the job we had in mind. We went to our local computer guru with the problem. He built me a new computer with all the bells and whistles. We put up some information about the Santa Fe Trail along with the information on our grandson.We soon found out that the Trail pages were more popular than our grandson.

     About 1998 we put up a major site about the Santa Fe Trail. In 1999 we received an Award of Merit from the Santa Fe Trail for our work on the site. The site just kept getting bigger. Many authors allowed us to put their articles on our site. We rewrote our site so that about 85 to 90 percent of the site will look good on a Smart Phone in a rut. Our only goal is to get the information out there so the public can learn about this treasure we have in our back yards. How many people know that US 56 across the state of Kansas is the Santa Fe Trail?

     I got the scare of my life in 2003 when I received an email from Microsoft asking for a time they could call me. The only thing I could think of was a law suit over the way I was using their research maps. I finally broke down and gave them a time. All they wanted to do was praise us on the work we were doing with their maps. Also they wanted to write a couple of articles about how and why we were using the maps and put the articles in their company newsletter. What a relief, no jail time or law suit!

     In May 2003 we got the honor of being the official web site for the Fort Larned Old Guard. On our site we have an archive of most of the issues of Outpost. One of the most popular pages in Outpost is "Old Guard Preserves Cheyenne-Sioux Village Site." We are missing a few newsletters, so if you have one of the missing links please let me borrow it. I'm proud to be a member of the Old Guard; the main reason is that they get things done!

     We have been involved with many projects along the Trail, but the most rewarding thing is the people we meet and the people we don't meet through our site.We can tell someone is there, but who? Last year on our counter there were over 3,500 different schools from all over the nation that came to our site. We have been getting over a million hits a year and growing. We hope we are doing something right that will go down in the history of the Santa Fe Trail as an educational site for everyone, young and old.

     We thank all the people who have had anything to do with the success of our site. As always there are too many to thank, and we don't want to miss any; you know who you are. Always remember:
"History isn't history until it is written down!"
See ya in a rut someday!

Fort Larned Roll Call: Shawn Calkins
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     The staff at Fort Larned has the pleasure of working with a friendly, easy going, hard working maintenance technician by the name of Shawn Calkins. A Goodland KS native, Shawn began his National Park Service career in 1999. He joined the maintenance crew at Rocky Mountain National Park and stayed in beautiful Colorado for several years. By 2002 he moved to Nebraska and began working at Scott's Bluff National Monument where the view just can't be beat! Moving into the Midwest Region put Shawn closer to home but not close enough! He stayed a couple of years at Scott's Bluff and in 2004 came to Fort Larned National Historic Site. He enjoys his frequent trips to Goodland to visit his parents and siblings. Living and working in Kansas he is home!

     Shawn acquired mechanical skills when he was an Aerospace Maintenance Technician/Crew Chief for eight years in the Air Force. Although we aren't in the rocket science business here, Fort Larned is benefiting greatly from Shawn's experience. He also has a good sense of humor which can go a long way around here! Shawn describes himself as a "round peg that fits into multiple holes." He enjoys his work at the fort because of the variety of challenges each and every week.

     Shawn, his wife Janae, and children enjoy vacationing in the sun and seeing unusual sites. Shawn has taken multiple trips to national parks in recent years. His most recent trip was to Ventura CA where he visited Channel Islands National Park. These days his extracurricular activities have been dominated by his children's school sports. Be sure to say "hi" to Shawn when you visit Fort Larned.

Quartermaster Report: Sutler's Complex
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
[This is eleventh in a series on the structures at Fort Larned.]

     Post sutlers or traders were an important fixture on frontier army posts. They operated much like the post exchange on a modern military base --providing goods and services to soldiers not available through the army's regular supply system. The army created the position of sutler in 1818 to protect soldiers from peddlers who followed the military and made large profits by charging excessive prices for their goods.

     Sutlers were subject to army supervision through the post council of administration; however, only one sutler appointment per post meant access to an exclusive, guaranteed market. There were a few conditions imposed on the merchant who got this opportunity. Every few months the post council of administration charged them a fee of several cents for each officer and enlisted man on the post. These tolls went into a post fund to provide items for the troops which the military budget did not supply, such as newspaper and magazine subscriptions, books for the post library, song books, music for the band, and special food items on occasions. The council also determined "the quantity and kind of clothing, small equipment, or soldiers' necessaries, groceries, etc." the sutler had to have available for sale. The sutler also stocked commodities for civilians at the post and passing through the area. The council set prices the sutler could charge, taking into account the cost of commodities and transportation. In order to keep soldiers from over spending their meager pay, the sutler was not allowed to extend credit to a soldier for more than half of his monthly salary. He also could not sell alcohol to enlisted men without the permission of their officers.

     The merchandise available at the sutler's store included a variety of processed foods (much of which were canned for preservation, including vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafoods), fresh vegetables and fruits in season, dried fruits, eggs, butter, cheese, crackers, beans, cornmeal, flour, baking soda, sugar, coffee, tea, salt, spices, jelly, candy, chocolate, vinegar, molasses, soap, coffee grinders, coffee pots and cups, pots and pans, basins, pitchers, buckets, churns, stoneware, tinware, cookware, glassware, tableware and utensils, toothbrushes, cloth, canvas, leather, needles, thread, buttons, beads, laces, pins, awls, nails, scissors, combs, mirrors, razors, cologne, watches, clocks, brooms, brushes, wash boards, clothespins, candles, lanterns, lamps, towels, handkerchiefs, underwear, socks, trousers, shirts, skirts, vests, coats, caps, hats, gloves, neckties, shoes, boots, belts, wallets, blankets, pencils, pens, ink, paper, notebooks, playing cards, fish hooks, pocket knives, guns, ammunition, axes, padlocks, matches, tobacco, pipes, cigars, beer, wine, champagne, whiskey, patent medicines, Epsom salt, turpentine, rope, horse liniment, horse gear (saddles, halters, bridles, curry combs, etc.), and fodder for livestock.

     The sutler's store at Fort Larned was located southwest of officers' row, close to where the Santa Fe Trail passed by the fort. The store was actually part of a complex, which eventually included the sutler's house, a mess house (restaurant), saloon, billiard room, and bowling alley, as well as a corral and stables for livestock. All the buildings in the complex, except the actual store, were wood-frame construction. Stone fill was added for extra protection then plastered over. The store, built in 1863 by Post Sutlers Theodore Weichselbaum and Jesse Crane, was made of sandstone with a wood-shingle roof. The building behind the store that served as the pool hall and saloon was constructed later. The mess house was added in 1863 (the building that was moved to the new town of Larned in 1872 and the Little Red House is today interpreted as that structure) and the residence in 1865 (the sutler's residence was occupied by Indian Agent Edward W. Wynkoop during the time the agency was at the post). The two stables and the carriage, chicken, smoke, and ice houses were all built in 1866.

     In addition to selling necessities and luxury items to the soldiers and civilians, the post sutlers' position as the exclusive area merchant presented them with other business opportunities. They could offer the military contracts to gather or provide local supplies such as hay, wood, or beef. Freighting contracts to transport supplies were always available, as well as the opportunity to conduct trade, buying hides and other items from soldiers for resale. In many cases, the sutler, or one of his employees, would also be appointed as the postmaster.

     Fort Larned was served by seven different post sutlers or post traders. In 1867 the name was changed from sutler to trader, but the rules remained about the same for those appointed. Jesse Crane received the first appointment in 1859 when the post was still known as Camp on the Pawnee Fork. He partnered with Theodore Weichselbaum, who also had an interest in sutler stores at several other Kansas forts. In 1866 John E. Tappan paid $5,000 for Crane's interest in the store at Fort Larned, as well as the one at Fort Dodge. It was a great business opportunity at the time because of the large civilian work force the army employed to finish the fort's stone buildings. Profits must have been good since the sutler's store was the only retail establishment where these men could spend their money.

     In 1868 another post trader, Mr. Becket, began to set up a store at Fort Larned. Tappan's protest over this new trader would initiate a series of letters from various military officials that would eventually result in the determination that he, Tappan, had not been properly appointed as the post sutler. He and his partner, Weichselbaum, would be forced to leave the post in 1869. To further complicate matters, a letter from the Department of Missouri arrived at the post in 1867, naming E. S. W. Draught as post trader. Draught proceeded to build a second set of buildings so, until the matter was resolved, Fort Larned found itself in the unusual position of having two post traders operating at the same time. According to a report by Assistant Surgeon William Forwood in January 1868: "The other store stands about 100 yards south from the post, it was built in 1867 . . . and has a billiard room with one table and a bowling alley 70 feet long attached."

     In April 1868 the post commander, Captain Dangerfield Parker, wrote the Department of Missouri in an attempt to get the matter resolved.He noted that there was no document on file authorizing Tappan as trader and asked that Tappan be ordered to take his goods and leave the post, saying that "There is not business enough at this post for two traders to operate."

     Tappan eventually left, and probably just in time. After 1869 the troop levels at Fort Larned steadily decreased as the army's need for the post declined. Also, the civilian work force shrank once the stone buildings were completed. Weichselbaum sold his interest in all his Kansas sutleries to Charles Tracy of St. Louis, while Draught also left in December 1869.

     The next post trader to set up shop at Fort Larned was Henry Booth. He received his official appointment on December 19, 1870, though he had been trading at the post since June 1869. Relations between Booth and the fort's military officials were never very good. Even before his official appointment, Booth was reprimanded for not keeping his grounds neat. He was also ordered to restrict his alcohol sales to the enlisted men. After it became apparent that the railroad was coming through, Booth lost interest in maintaining his business at the fort and redirected his energies into planning the new town of Larned in 1871. Booth moved the post trader's mess house to Larned in 1872 (the Little Red House in Larned today interprets this building).

     Booth finally resigned early in 1873, and P. T. Curlett of Ellsworth County became the last Fort Larned trader on February 17, 1873. Although post military personnel continued to decrease, Curlett had a steady supply of new customers as settlers began arriving in Pawnee County almost daily. Like Booth, Curlett also had trouble with the military authorities. He too was admonished for the sloppy appearance of his grounds and the unrestricted sale of liquor to the enlisted men.

     In February 1876 Curlett was implicated in a scandal involving bribes to the Secretary of War in exchange for post trader appointments. In the same month some of the buildings in the trader's complex were sold by the sheriff for taxes. The fort's closure in 1878 ended Curlett's career as a post trader. He sold the store and the adobe building behind it to Claude Clerc in October 1879 then moved to Larned and opened a mercantile business.

     The post sutler's or trader's store was more than a place for soldiers to buy items to supplement the bare necessities provided by the army. Although those items made life more comfortable and bearable for those stationed far from the comforts of "civilization," it was the trader's role as a post community center that probably helped the most. The billiard table, saloon, mess house, and store made it a place where the men of the post, officer, enlisted, and civilian, could come to socialize and unwind. The complex was an important part of military life, always provided by civilian merchants under strict military regulation.

Commanding Officers, 1865
Getting Back to Business

by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
[This is ninth in a series on the commanding officers of Fort Larned.]

     As 1865 began, Civil War in the East still kept regular troops off frontier duty. However, it would soon end, presenting the army with another problem. Many of the regular army and volunteer troops sent back to frontier duty were tired of war and ready to go home. The end of Civil War also did not end the constantly changing commanders and commands at Fort Larned. This year would see nine command changes and seven different commanders for the post. Tension with the Plains Indians would also continue to plague the fort. The previous year had ended with the tragedy at Sand Creek, which Colonel Jesse Leavenworth, now retired from the military and acting as an Indian agent stationed at Fort Larned, said had, "destroyed the last vestige of confidence between the red and white men."

     First Lieutenant W. D. Crocker of the Ninth Wisconsin Battery, was in command of Fort Larned in January, but he was soon replaced by Captain Thomas Moses, Jr., Second Colorado Cavalry. Shortly after Captain Moses took command, Indians attacked a wagon train on the Santa Fe Trail 65 miles west of the post. The soldiers and civilians were able to fight their way back to the fort with only one dead and one wounded.

     Theodore Conkey was one of the post commanders during 1865. Conkey was born on a farm near Canton NY on December 11, 1819. His father, Asa Conkey, served in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. Theodore received an education. In 1841 he moved to Fond de Lac in Wisconsin where he taught school for two years and then worked as a civil engineer helping survey the land in northeast Wisconsin. He married Cynthia Foote in 1848. He was one of the founders of the town of Appleton WI, and he built a water-powered sawmill at Grand Chute on the Fox River. Later he built a flour mill. He worked on various river-improvement projects from 1852 to 1861. He served in the state senate in 1851 and 1852 and in the general assembly in 1857.

     When the Civil War began, Conkey sold his flour mill and joined the Third Wisconsin Cavalry as captain. He served in western Missouri and eastern Kansas during most of the war and was sent to Fort Zarah in 1864 and Fort Larned in 1865. He was promoted to rank of lieutenant-colonel before his service ended. He returned to Wisconsin, purchased his old flour mill, and expanded it into one of the finest mills in the state. Theodore and Cynthia had four children. Theodore Conkey retired in 1879 and died March 17, 1880, at age 61.

     By February, there were 342 enlisted men in garrison at Fort Larned, enough for Captain Moses to resume active patrols on the Santa Fe Trail. These men were members of two different cavalry regiments-- the 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and the Second Colorado Cavalry--but they had no horses to ride. They did, however, have four 12-pound mountain howitzers if they needed the extra firepower. It was not a good time for cavalry soldiers to be without horses. The Plains Indians were so angry that army officials in Santa Fe had to issue orders restricting travel between Forts Union and Larned to the first and fifteenth days of the month when military units would be available for escort duty.

     One owner of a wagon train that regularly traveled the trail between Santa Fe and Missouri said the Indians on the warpath were so numerous in 1865 that even traveling in a wagon train of 1000 with military escort did not stop the warriors from attacking them. Faced with the seriousness of the situation, the army made plans for a strong summer campaign against the Indian, who by March included tribes coming up from Texas.

     By April, there were 597 enlisted men at Fort Larned, the Second U.S. Volunteers (infantry) having joined the 2nd Colorado and 11th Kansas. In May, Captain Theodore Conkey, 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry, arrived at Fort Larned to take command, although the soldiers of his command would not arrive until later. Fort Larned was the designated staging area for the planned summer expedition against the Indians. Colonel Leavenworth wrote to General Grenville M. Dodge asking for restraint in the army's dealings with the Indians. Although Leavenworth was trying hard to work out a peaceful solution for the conflict between the Indians and Whites, many braves were on the warpath along the Santa Fe Trail.

     By June, Captain Thomas Moses, Jr., was back in command at Fort Larned with 223 enlisted men of the 2nd U.S. Volunteers and 2nd Colorado Cavalry under his command. The 2nd U.S. was a unit of "Galvanized Yankees," or Confederate prisoners of war who had accepted pardon and freedom in exchange for joining the Union Army and assignment on the frontier.

     As the summer of 1865 wore on, Indians continued to attack White traders and soldiers. The dangerous situation on the trail created crowded conditions at Fort Larned as wagons sometimes waited for weeks in order to form a large enough, safer, wagon train to continue traveling. While they waited, their animals ate all the pasturage in the fort's vicinity, forcing the army to send the cavalry horses farther away under guard to find enough forage for them.

     In July, command of the post passed to Major H. C. Haas of the 15th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. The arrival of his unit at Fort Larned brought the garrison strength up to 475 men. During this time, Indians in the area increased their attacks around the fort because it had become the staging area for General Dodge's expedition against the Southwestern Indians. By late July, Captain Moses was once again in command of the fort.

     By the summer of 1865, the army began to disband its troops as the Civil War had ended. The Indians took advantage of the decreased troops to increase their attacks on White settlers and traders alike. In August, the garrison at Fort Larned consisted of 294 enlisted men from the 15th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, 2nd U.S. Volunteers, and the 2nd Colorado Cavalry, all commanded by Captain. C. O. Smith, Kansas Cavalry.

     By September of 1865, Fort Larned's garrison was down to 126 enlisted men of the 2nd U.S. Volunteers under post commander Captain Thomas J. Maloney. More troops were on the way, though. The 48th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Colonel Uri B. Pearsall, left Lawrence, Kansas the first week of September en route for Fort Larned. One soldier in the regiment, John Morrill, wrote many letters home describing the trip and the surrounding landscape. When he arrived he wrote that one could "look across for miles and see nothing to break the monotony and then again you will meet with a small creek and here and there a scattering of trees."

     In October the garrison consisted of the 48th Wisconsin, 2nd U.S. Volunteers, and the 17th Illinois Cavalry with Colonel Pearsall in command. Although a major problem for the men at Larned, and other frontier posts, was boredom, Colonel Pearsall kept them busy repairing the adobe buildings and dugouts in preparation for the coming winter. Although the fort's small cavalry force was also kept busy patrolling the trail, Colonel Pearsall could only provide escorts for the government wagon trains due to his small garrison. He did tell the agent of one commercial wagon company that he would provide soldier guards to go with them if they would

     Uri Balcom Pearsall was born in Owego NY on July 17, 1840. His ancestors had served in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. His father, William Sutton Pearsall, built the first dam on the Susquehanna River and built lumber and flour mills at the town of Owego. Uri attended Oxford Academy in Owego until he was 16 years old. At that time he moved to Wisconsin to work for his uncle (Uri Balcom) in the lumber industry. When the Civil War began, Uri Pearsall helped raised a company of the Fourth Wisconsin Infantry. He was elected lieutenant but declined and began service as a private in the company. He was wounded at Dry Tortugas west of the Florida Keys, a fort that remained in possession of the Union throughout the war.

     Pearsall received several promotions and became second lieutenant in 1862 when he served as aide to General William T. Sherman. In 1863 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Forth-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and became colonel the following year. He served as engineer to work on projects on the Red River in Louisiana in the Department of the Gulf in 1864. He was awarded rank of brevet brigadier-general in 1865 and commanded several military posts in Kansas, including Riley, Larned, and Scott. He completed his military service at Fort Leavenworth on December 30, 1865. After the war Pearsall settled in the town of Fort Scott KS where he engaged in various businesses, including lumber, flour, cattle, and later developed the largest nursery business west of the Mississippi River, providing trees to several states. He became Fort Scott's leading citizen, was elected three times as treasurer of Bourbon County, served several terms as mayor of Fort Scott, built a street railway in the town, built and operated the first independent telephone system in Kansas, and served on the boards of banks and railroad companies. In 1898 he was appointed quartermaster of the National Soldiers' Home in Leavenworth, where he remained until he died on February 28, 1907. Uri Pearsall married Josephine Peck in 1866. She had five brothers, all of whom served in the Union Army during the Civil War. She bore seven children, four of whom died in childhood and only two of whom survived their father. Their son, Charles, succeeded his father as quartermaster at the National Soldiers' Home. Uri Pearsall was one of those Civil War veterans who chose to live in Kansas and contributed to the development of the state. give them a seat on the coaches. Besides a shortage of men, Colonel Pearsall did not have enough teams or wagons. And Brevet Major W. H. Forwood, assistant surgeon, reported that the officers and men had to remain especially alert because the Indians were quick to take advantage of any mistake. The signing of the Treaties of the Little Arkansas in October 1865, with portions of several Plains tribes, brought a reduction in Indian activities in the region.

     On November 25, 1865, the officers of the 48th Wisconsin published their first copy of The Plains, a newspaper detailing life at Fort Larned. This issue was also the last, since the 48th received orders to return to Wisconsin in early December. The one issue that was printed, however, was full of interesting and relevant local news and information. It was three pages long, with a fourth blank page, so subscribers could send a copy home to loved ones with written comments. According to the publishers, the paper had one purpose: "We are running a paper for our amusement--for the fun of the thing-- That's all --and why not, pray tell?"

     Colonel Pearsall, anxious to leave for home "out of this godforsaken hole!" turned over command of the fort to Major Hiram Dryer, 13th U.S. Infantry on December 6, 1865. Major Dryer had arrived at Fort Larned on December 4th with companies A, C, and F of the 13th U.S. Infantry, totaling 114 men. By the end of the year, the total strength of the garrison at Fort Larned was 127 men from the 13th U.S. Infantry and 2nd U.S. Cavalry. Deep snow prevented the cavalry from making their patrols, as well as Major Dryer escorting William Bent to meet with a band of Indians in the area of Mulberry Creek.

     The year ended with Major Dryer in charge at Fort Larned, but with the army's activities limited due to severe winter weather. Friction had increased not only between the white traders and settlers and the Indians, but also between those same whites and the army there to help them. Civil War in the East was over, more and more people were moving west to trade and live, and the army had the thankless job of protecting them and dealing with the Indians.

Fort Larned Heritage Documents
November 13, 1864 Skirmish with Indians at Ash Creek, near Fort Larned, Kans.

     [The following report by Captain Theodore Conkey, who was one of the commanding officers at Fort Larned in 1865, was made when he was commanding Fort Zarah. This document is found in The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, Part I, pp. 919-920.]

Report of Capt. Theodore Conkey, Third Wisconsin Cavalry.
HDQRS., Fort Zarah, Kans., November 15, 1864.

     SIR: I have the honor to communicate for your information that on the night of the 13th instant, just after dark, an attack was made by a party of Indians, supposed to be about thirty in number, upon a train of five wagons loaded with corn for Fort Larned while in camp at Ash Creek, twelve miles this side of that post. One man belonging to the train is believed to be mortally wounded; the others, four in number,made their escape with the loss of their stock. This information was communicated to me by Capt. Jacobs, in command of the post at Fort Larned, on the afternoon of the 14th, and I immediately dispatched a scouting party up Walnut Creek in the direction it was said the Indians had taken. This scout proceeded thirty miles or more up the creek, but saw no signs of Indians. The opinion prevails among men experienced in Indian character and habits that this party was composed principally of Pawnees, from the fact that their plundering excursions are always made on foot, and as they were all dismounted and neglected to scalp the wounded man, who lay directly in their path, it would seem to confirm the opinion entertained that they were Pawnees and their object plunder.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Theo. Conkey,
Capt., Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Cmdg. Post.
Lieut. J. E. Tappan,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
[Indorsement.]
HDQRS. District of Upper Arkansas, Fort Riley, Kans., November 26, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded to department headquarters for the information of the general commanding.
The supposition of Capt. Conkey in regard to Indians being Pawnees may not be correct, as since then Capt. Booth and Lieut. Helliwell were attacked in same vicinity by mounted Indians, as per report previously forwarded.
B. S. Henning,
Maj. Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Cmdg. District.

Fort Larned Response to Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864.
     [The following letter by Captain Henry Booth, the man who later moved the sutler's mess house from Fort Larned to the new town of Larned in 1872, shows the response of the garrison to the news of what became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This document is found in The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, Part IV, p. 862.]

Fort Larned, Kans., December 14, 1864.
Lieut. J. E. Tappan, Acting Assistant Adjutant-

General:
     Sir: The Santa Fe coach has just arrived from Fort Lyon and brings in news of a fight with the Indians thirty miles from that fort, in which 10 soldiers were killed and 38 wounded, and from 250 to 280 Indians killed. These Indians were those that have been camped around Fort Lyon for some time past. Colonel Chivington is reported as being in command of the force on our side, assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony. Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony sends word that it will not be safe to send the stage through with less than fifty men, and as this garrison cannot afford so large an escort the stage will be obliged to wait. Lieutenant Crocker has detained it under General Field Orders, No. 2. I report to you for instructions. I know of no other way at present than to let part of the force at Fort Zarah come up here and help this post do the escorting between this fort and Fort Lyon. From what I can learn, I think it hazardous to start out a less number than fifty, and that number cannot be spared from here without disobeying General Orders, No. 2. The Indians will, no doubt, be exasperated by the late action at Fort Lyon, and we have every reason to suppose will harass the travel on the road more than ever. If any way can be found by which a sufficient escort can be procured I shall proceed to Fort Lyon with as little delay as possible.
All of which is respectfully submitted,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Henry Booth, Captain and Chief of Cavalry.

Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous
September 20-22, 2012

by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger
Mark Your Calendar!
     The biennial Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, a joint conference sponsored by Fort Larned National Historic Site, Santa Fe Trail Center, and Santa Fe Trail, is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, September 20-22 in Larned, Kansas. The theme is: "Santa Fe Road Characters--Rendezvous on the Road." Participants will see and hear several fascinating first-person portrayals plus lectures about other Trail characters. You won't want to miss any of it, so mark your calendars!

     Our next newsletter will reveal some of those Santa Fe Trail characters we get to meet at this year's Rendezvous. This is guaranteed to be quite informative and entertaining!

Fort Larned Old Guard Annual
Mess and Muster, April 28, 2012

     The Fort Larned Old Guard annual Mess and Muster is scheduled for Saturday, April 28. The Old Guard Board will meet at the fort during the morning, and Fort Larned Old Guard members are welcome to attend. There will be several special camps set up at the fort during the afternoon, including Plains Indian camp, buffalo hunters' camp, army sutler's camp, and pioneer photographer camp.

     Everyone is invited to tour the Little Red House in Larned at 1 p.m., followed by presentations nearby at the Sibley Survey camp site: David Clapsaddle telling the story of the Little Red House (which has been donated to the Old Guard by the Clapsaddles) and Steve Schmidt telling the story of surveying the Santa Fe Trail.

     The rest of the afternoon will be spent touring the fort and visiting the special camps. The evening retreat will be followed by dinner, music program, brief Fort Larned Old Guard business meeting, and featured presentation by Louis Kraft on "The Essence of Ned Wynkoop." Kraft will also be autograhing copies of his new book, Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek.

     Please see insert in this issue with program details and registration information. Reservations must be received by April 18. We will see you at the fort.

Mel Cottom, 1924-2011
     Melvin Cottom, longtime member of Fort Larned Old Guard and former board member, died at Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan KS on November 19, 2011. Mel and his wife Mary supported Fort Larned National Historic Site and the Old Guard for many years.

     Mel grew up in Coffeyville KS and graduated from Coffeyville High School. He earned BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Kansas and served on the electrical engineering faculty at KU from 1945-1950. He was Electrical Design Engineer at Black and Veatch, 1950-1955.He served as assistant professor of electrical engineering at Kansas State University, 1955-1990.

     Mel held memberships in many professional organizations. He loved music and history, and supported both throughout his adult life. He was a 67-year member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity. He was active in the Kansas Corral of the Westerners, Kansas State Historical Society, Santa Fe Trail, and the Old Guard.

     Sincere condolences are extended to his wife, Mary, other relatives, and many friends.Mel Cottom was a true gentleman and friend.

Home For The Holidays - A Frontier Christmas
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     The 2011 Christmas celebration at Fort Larned National Historic Site was a little different than past years, and it was well received by our visitors! The staff and volunteers gave the public a "window" into Christmas celebrations at the fort in 1868. Although the temperature was cold and the wind presented a challenge, approximately 360 guests enjoyed daytime vignettes celebrating Christmas "fort style." Tours were led by guides dressed in 1860s' clothing. Christmas scenes were on officers' row, in the barracks, and at the post hospital. The carpenter's and blacksmith's shops were busy with demonstrations or, as Pete the blacksmith would say, open for "business as usual."


Girl Scout Troop #78 Sang Christmas Carols at Fort Larned

     Decorations both simple and ornamental ranged from a cotton-wrapped tree in the hospital to an authentic-style German feather tree in the north junior officer's quarters. All of the youngsters were invited to place a decoration or two on the cotton-wrapped tree. Simple ornaments included cornhusk dolls, candy canes, cardboard angels, and miniature flags.

     In the barracks the enlisted men gathered around the stove for some homemade stew and enjoyed a mincemeat pie while sharing stories of Christmases in the military and missing their loved ones.

     After smelling that delicious aroma of stew it's a good thing visitors did not leave the fort hungry! The refreshment tables in the Visitor Center boasted an array of cakes and pies--all recipes from the 1860s. During the fort's time, sweet treats for Christmas had to be planned for well in advance. Sugar and flour were well stocked in the commissary but some additional ingredients were ordered and transported from the East. Volunteer Tracy Williams was our photographer and she captured many good "action" photos!

     The evening reception was held in the post hospital. The crowd enjoyed Christmas carols led by Girl Scout Troop #78 and a visit from Santa Claus! Everyone enjoyed the special holiday desserts, drinks, and timeless traditions.

David Clapsaddle Recuperating David
     Clapsaddle has been suffering health problems and is recuperating at the hospital in Larned. Please send cards to him at his home address, 215 Mann, Larned KS 67550, and Alice will see that he gets them. We all wish David a speedy recovery.

New Memberships
     Fort Larned Old Guard welcomes the following new members and members upgrading to life membership:
Life Members
     The following annual members have become Career Officers under the new life-member installment plan (first of three annual payments of $100):
Janet Armstead, 1806 2nd St, Wamego KS 66547
Bill & Susan Bunyan, PO Box 1656, Dodge City KS 67801
Glen Haller, 4610 Bella Dr, Colorado Springs CO 80918
Donald Schall, 2754 Woodacre Ct, Lincoln CA 95648
Doug & Pat Springer, 714 Q Rd, Pawnee Rock KS 67567

Annual Members
Richard S. Merrell, 6033 Annapurna Dr, Evergreen CO 80439
Karen M. Schadel, 2448 380th Ave, Alexander KS 67513
Bill & Cathy Weber, 1132 SW 30 Rd, Pawnee Rock KS 67567

Calendar
April 28, 2012: Annual Fort Larned Old Guard Mess and Muster.
Sept. 21-22, 2012: Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous

Schedule of Events
     True to life stories of the Indian Wars along the Santa Fe Trail, brought to life by some of the greatest volunteers in the West. . . . Visit the most complete fort surviving from the days when Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody rode through this part of the West on their missions. Original restored buildings to that time peroid, a visitor center, Park Rangers will guide you through this adventure of the Old West.

     Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday & Monday) largest living history event in western Kansas - experience a working frontier fort.

     Labor Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday, & Monday) Reneactors bring the fort back to life for the holiday weekend.

     Candlelight Tour (2nd Saturday of October) Entertaining evening tours with vignettes from the fort's history.

     Christmas Open House (2nd Saturday of December) Old-fashioned Yuletide celebration with hot apple cider, cookies and Christmas carols.

Membership Reminder
     Annual memberships expire on December 31. If you have not renewed for 2012, please send dues to membership chair Linda Peters, 1035 S Bridge St, Lakin KS 67860. Thank you for your support.

Deadline For Next Issue: May 1, 2012

     The officers, members of the board of directors, dues information and email's are listed on this page of information. Please feel free to contact any of us.




Santa Fe Trail Research Site

Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.
© "Forever"