| FORT UNION |
Historic Resource Study
Fort Union has been an integral part of this writer's life for several years, almost as long as a soldier's enlistment in the frontier army, and this term of service has resulted in many debts which remain to be settled. The research and writing of this historic resources study benefited from the assistance of many people and institutions, all of whom are hereby recognized with grateful appreciation and thanks.
First and foremost, Bonita M. Oliva, a professional historian and my partner in this endeavor as in all others, has assisted with every phase of the research, read thousands of pages of documents (mostly on microfilm), photocopied additional thousands of pages of records, taken extensive notes, read to me during the time I recovered from eye surgery, proofread every word that I wrote, and has been the most severe critic of the writing. Without her constant encouragement and devoted support, the project would never have been completed. She has saved me from many errors. Although she wrote none of the text, her numerous contributions are evident on every page. For all this her only rewards have been a grouchy husband, the delight of searching for the fascinating stories connected with Fort Union, travel to various repositories, and my wholehearted gratitude. She deserves much more.
Fort Union National Monument Superintendent Harry C. Myers and his staff rendered assistance far beyond the call of governmental bureaucratic duty. Superintendent Myers is truly a gem in the National Park Service, and I shall always appreciate his willingness to help in every possible way, his positive support of this project, and his friendship. The late T. J. Sperry, chief ranger and historian at Fort Union National Monument, helped locate documents, gathered most of the photographs which appear in this study, and made innumerable helpful suggestions. He had an exceptional understanding of the life of the frontier soldier and readily shared that perception. Sperry's untimely death prevented his seeing the final product and how much he affected its contents. This volume is dedicated to T. J. Sperry in recognition of his outstanding work as a living-history interpreter at Fort Union National Monument and his efforts to make this a credible historic study.
The late James W. Arrott compiled a magnificent collection of documents relating to Fort Union, which facilitated the research for this project. The collection is housed in the Thomas E. Donnelly Library at New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas. Special thanks are extended to Library Director Raul Herrera, who granted permission to copy the entire Arrott Collection to be used in the preparation of this work and to be deposited at the Fort Union National Monument Archives.
The helpful personnel at several institutions expedited our research missions, and the staffs at the following are hereby thanked: National Archives and Records Center, Washington, D.C.; New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe; Palace of the Governors Library, Santa Fe; New Mexico State Library, Santa Fe; Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Western History Collection, Denver Public Library, Denver; Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka; Santa Fe Trail Center, Larned, Kansas; Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis; University of Texas Library, Austin; and Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.
A number of individuals have provided inspiration, information, suggestions, and encouragement. Special thanks are extended to the following: Darlis Miller, Cheryl Foote, Edward M. Coffman, Melody Webb, Robert M. Utley, William Y. Chalfant, Marc Simmons, Michael Olsen, Dave Webb, George Elmore, and Timothy A. Zwink. Gwladys Bowen, daughter of the first child born at Fort Union, granted permission to utilize the letters written by her grandparents, Isaac and Katie Bowen, and provided their photograph.
Neil Mangum, Southwest Regional Historian, National Park Service, was the immediate supervisor of this project. He kindly permitted the work to proceed without interference and granted contract extensions as more and more material was accumulated about Fort Union. Parkinson's Law, formulated by the late British economist C. Northcote Parkinson (who, incidentally, died while this volume was being written), declared that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. The present study has violated that profound law and expanded far beyond the time allotted. Neil Mangum's patience and encouragement are notably appreciated. National Park Service Chief Historian Ed Bearrs has read and approved the manuscript and offered cogent suggestions.
As the final draft of this manuscript was in preparation, a new and outstanding collection of letters written from Fort Union during the early 1870s by William Edward (Eddie) Matthews, Company L, Eighth Cavalry, was brought to light. Typescript copies of those letters were graciously donated to Fort Union National Monument Archives by a descendant, Sharon Wood, who granted permission to use the material in this study. This required yet another extension of the contract and benefited this endeavor. Matthews spent most of his five-year enlistment at Fort Union and wrote about virtually everything. His observations have greatly enriched this study.
Finally, I am indebted to everyone who has written about Fort Union, from participants in events there to modern historians. Regardless of the quality of the research and writing, and some have been good and others simply awful, I have learned from those who preceded me. Despite the assistance provided by all those noted above, and diligent efforts to tell only the truth, the responsibility for any errors of fact or inaccuracies of interpretation that may remain in this study rests only with me. Everyone who corrects those mistakes and contributes further to the understanding of the history of Fort Union in future writings also deserves my thanks. I stand ready to reenlist in the search if needed.
Leo E. Oliva
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.