"Sutler's Store at Fort Dodge, Kansas"
Theodore R. Davis Sketch
Harper's Weekly May 25, 1867
"The "Sutler's Store at Fort Dodge" shows the interior of the lounging-place for all the idlers about the station-it is, in fact, the grand hotel, restaurant, and club house of the post. After the 1st of July next the act of Congress abolishing the post of sutler goes into operation, and those very convenient pests of an army, the sutlers, go out."
Several individuals held the position of post sutler druing the military occupation of Fort Dodge, Kansas. The sutler was the person who operated a general store in connection with a military post. The sutler's status is described:
There were many changes in the regulations regarding this office, but in general the sutler was given a monopoly of all buying and selling in his jurisdiction, for which he paid a fee. He was appointed by the military authorities and was granted the rank of warrant officer in order to give him standing with the men, although he received no pay from the government, nor was he commanded except in regard to his business. Neither could he command anyone except in defense of his person or property. His rank was higher than enlisted men and below the commissioned personnel, but in the social circles he and his wife stood with the officers and their wives. He was subject to a general court-martial for capital offenses and could be dismissed by garrison or regimental court-martial. . . The sutler was to be given a building at the post if there was one to spare, and if not, he was allowed to build one.
The first sutler, Jesse Crane, was appointed to this position when the post was first occupied in 1865. Theodore Weichselbaum became Crane's partner in the enterprise in 1866. Weichselbaum purchased the goods in St. Louis and hauled them from Leavenworth to the posts, while Crane supervised the store and clerks. William Ladd appears to have been Weichselbaum's partner in the Fort Dodge sutler's store in the fall of 1866 when he was reprimanded by the post's commanding officer, Capt. Andrew Sheridan, for charging excessive prices. Crane sold his interest in the business to J. E. Tappan, who had been the 1st lieutenant in Company G, 2nd Colorado, during the Civil War. Weichselbaum sold his interests in "Tappan & Weichselbaum" in May of 1869 to Charles F. Tracy of St. Louis. Robert M. Wright was appointed post trader at Fort Dodge in 1867, a position he held until the fort was closed in 1882. A. J. Anthony operated a general store in Dodge City before moving to Fort Dodge where he engaged in the sutler business until 1874.
An 1867 photograph shows five buildings at Fort Dodge. A label indicates that "R. M. Wright and A. J. Anthony" operated their store in the building to the left of the long stone building which housed a saloon in the right end and a billiard hall in the other end. The other three buildings, including two apparent sod structures, were not identified and were not shown near the trader's store on the military plans. The 1877 US, AGL, plan of the fort showed a large L-shaped building in the northwest portion of the post with the label "Trader Store". The building's north to south oriented west wing was built of adobe, while the east to west oriented east wing was of stone construction. This building was not mentioned in the 1870 surgeons' report or the 1882 inspection report, probably due to the civilian occupation of the structure.
This building is at the entrance of Fort Dodge, Kansas. It is used as a convience store for the fort in modern time. The original Post Trader Store was very near this location. Stop in some day for the noon special. It is good old home cooking at it's best.
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