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

Quartermaster Building Restoration Is Underway
by George Elmore FLNHS Resource Specialist
     The office, issue room and bedroom of the post quartermaster building are the focus of the most recent restoration efforts at Fort Larned National Historic Site.

     The original interior walls and wooden floor were removed from the structure in the late 1880s when the building was converted into a barn during the Fort's farm period. Then in 1913 a large hayloft was placed on top of the walls.

     In 1979 the National Park Service restored the building's exterior, but the only interior work that could be undertaken at that time was on doors and windows in the exterior walls. By 1983 enough information had been compiled as a result of interior archeological work and research in the National Archives to allow the replacement of the interior floor. Finally, after more research, permission was granted this year for us to replace the missing interior walls.

     The park maintenance crew, headed by carpenter Jim Goatcher, started on the project in June. His crew worked mostly on bad weather days when they could not work outside. By September they had completed the walls and ceiling.

     They will plaster as time allows this winter, so that by March or April we will be able to start adding furnishings. Park volunteer Charlie Vratil has already constructed the large issue counters. Seasonal Park Ranger Ron Drummond has volunteered to build the two beds needed for the bedroom. Chairs and tables and a clock, along with lots of uniform items, will need to be purchased.

     If all goes according to the present plan, most of the furnishings will be installed by late May. This will allow us to open the building formally during Santa Fe Trail Days (Memorial Day weekend 2001).

     In the meantime, research efforts on the structure and how it originally looked will continue. Hopefully soon even the large quartermaster warehouse will be furnished.

     Should you have some time and talent to contribute to the project---such as building boxes, or sewing clothing items for the issue shelves or curtains for the windows---we can still use your help. Just give me a call at the Fort (620-285-6911), let me know you are willing to assist, and I will put you to work helping complete this important project.

Rendezvous 2000
     Some 178 people from eight states enjoyed Rendezvous 2000 in Larned in late September. This year's theme was "Cultural Perspectives of Nature Along the Santa Fe Trail."

     Rendezvous is a biennial event cosponsored by Fort Larned NHS, the Santa Fe Trail Center and the national Santa Fe Trail with principal funding from the Kansas Humanities Council. Participants met at the Santa Fe Trail Center, Camp Aldrich near Great Bend, the Larned Community Center and Fort Larned.

     Dr. Leo Oliva, keynote speaker, welcomed the crowd and presented many Trail travelers' accounts of the natural world that they encountered. Later that day, Karl Grover, manager of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge and a Fort Larned Interpretive Ranger, presented a talk about Cheyenne Bottoms and led a tour through the area.

     Participants also heard programs about weather, animals, Osage Indians, natural landmarks on the Trail, American Indian sky-watching and Hispanic interaction with nature. Nature walks, zoo officials with animals, hayrack rides and singing were also part of the program.

     The event ended at Fort Larned with a roast beef dinner and performance by Joel Walker. One longtime attendee was heard to say that it was the "best Rendezvous ever."
Submitted by Betsy Crawford-Gore, Santa Fe Trail Center.

Plains Indian Village Once Destroyed, Now Preserved
     On April 24, 1999, Chiefs Lawrence Hart and Gordon Yellowman and several others of the Cheyenne tribe performed a traditional blessing ceremony for a portion of the rolling Kansas grasslands while some 200 onlookers stood in respectful silence.

     The land being consecrated was the site of a historic Cheyenne and Sioux village on Pawnee Fork that was destroyed over 100 years ago during the Plains Indian Wars.

     Some 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne villagers lived at the site in April 1867, when General Winfield S. Hancock's expedition arrived at nearby Fort Larned with 1,400 troops.

     Rumors of an Indian uprising prompted Hancock to make a show of military force, and despite protests from the Plains people, Hancock led his troops toward the village.

     Fearing an attack, the people fled. Hancock ordered Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer to surround the settlement, which Custer found to be abandoned except for an old Sioux man, a woman, and a young girl.

     Custer and the 7th Cavalry were sent in pursuit of the fleeing Indians. Days later, he sent word to Hancock that Indians had raided stagecoach stations on the Smoky Hill Trail to the north. Assuming these must be the people who fled the captured camp, Hancock ordered Custer to destroy their village. Nearly everything was piled together and burned, initiating a season of conflict known as Hancock's War. This was one of the first pivotal tragedies in the Plains Indian Wars.

     "If one site can be used to depict the saga of an advancing frontier and the resulting cultural clash between Indian and white peoples during the 19th century, it is the Indian village on Pawnee Fork," says Timothy Zwink of Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

     Located just 32 miles northwest of Fort Larned, the Indian village site was discovered by archeologists nearly 25 years ago. After a Kansas State Historical Society dig confirmed the village's location, it was damaged by looters, who targeted many of the site's metal artifacts.

     In 1998, the site became the focus of preservation efforts by the Fort Larned Old Guard, the organization that supports Fort Larned National Historic Site. The Old Guard and The Archeological Conservancy joined forces and purchased the site in June.

     "The Old Guard is especially honored to be a partner with the Conservancy in the preservation of the village site," says Leo Oliva, historian and chairman of the Old Guard.

     "The Old Guard has been working on this project for years, but it could not have been completed without the assistance and leadership of the Consevancy."

     Tamera Stewart, writing in the Fall 2000 issue of American Archaeology, the official publication of The Archeological Conservancy.

Fort Larned Fall News Update
     Joel Walker as hospital steward captivates Rendezvous audience The final presentation of the September Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous was a first-person program by a hospital steward portrayed by Joel Walker of the Kansas State Historical Society, formerly on staff at Fort Larned NHS. Walker portrayed Charles Miller, who worked under Surgeon George Miller Sternberg during the cholera epidemic of 1867.

     Dr. George Sternberg was post surgeon at Fort Harker during the epidemic and later surgeon general of the United States. In addition to Fort Harker, Steward Miller also worked at Fort Hays.

     It was a professional performance which held the attention of those present from beginning to end. This program deserves a wide audience.

     Walker is shown below in a photograph supplied by Leo Oliva.

National History Day Teacher Workshop Held At Fort Larned
     On Thursday, September 28, 2000, Fort Larned hosted a National History Day workshop.

     The workshop was co-sponsored by Fort Larned and the Kansas State Historical Society for the benefit of Kansas teachers whose students participate in the annual National History Day Competition held each May at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas. This year's theme for the competition is "Frontiers in History: People, Places and Ideas."

     Joel Walker, former Park ranger at Fort Larned and Kansas History Day coordinator at the Kansas State Historical Society for the past several years, approached Fort Larned early in the year with the idea of holding a teacher workshop at the Fort. Fort Larned seemed an ideal location for a workshop given the "The Frontiers in History" theme. Fort Larned partnered with KSHS to obtain a National Park Service Challenge Cost Share Grant which in part funded the workshop.

     Twenty-one educators from across the state enrolled in the day-long workshop. Presenters from Forsyth Library, Fort Hays State University; The Kansas Heritage Center, Dodge City; The Santa Fe Trail Center, Larned; Reno County Museum, Hutchinson; Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum, Abilene; The Center for Historic Research; KSHS, Topeka; and Fort Larned shared topic ideas and resources available at their sites relating to the History Day theme.

     Workshop participants enjoyed a guided tour of the Fort as part of the day's program. Participants and presenters agreed that the workshop was excellent and provided a great deal of information as well as an opportunity for educators and museum, archive and library professionals to meet and exchange information and ideas.
Submitted by Gia Lane, FLNHS ranger.

Volunteer Cleanup At Village Site
     A volunteer cleanup weekend at the Indian village site on Pawnee Fork is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, November 11 and 12, weather permitting, starting at 9 a.m. and continuing until sundown. Workers may come and go any time and work either or both days.

     There is trash to be removed, including a number of old tires in the creek, and, if enough help is available, some of the pasture fence may be taken down (provided the cattle are out by then).

     Volunteers and trucks are needed. A truck, trailer, and Bobcat loader are already scheduled. A wire roller will be helpful if the fence can be removed. Leather gloves are recommended, and rubber boots will be helpful to those "fishing" tires out of the creek.

     There may be conflicts because of the holiday and pheasant season, but what is not done at this time can be done at another cleanup day in the spring. If it rains, snows, or turns very cold, the November cleanup will be canceled and rescheduled in the spring.

     There are no toilets at the site. Volunteers may want to bring a lunch or go to Burdett (Burdett Cafe) or Bazine (Beer Thirty Bar & Grill) to eat. These may be crowded because of pheasant season.

     Volunteers are welcome to camp at the village site overnight. If you can help or bring a truck or other equipment, please contact Leo Oliva.

Gateway Communities Conference
     In early October, I attended the "Great Plains Gateway Communities Workshop" in Emporia. The workshop was presented by the National Parks and Conservation Association and the Sonoran Institute. Held in Emporia, the conference brought together public land managers and community representatives from seven communities in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Iowa.

     Besides me, Larned was represented by Fort Larned Old Guard member Wayne Hagerman, Ruth Olson Peters from the Santa Fe Trail Center and Arlis Atteberry and Ritz Kurtz representing Pawnee County and the City of Larned. Chief Ranger Felix Revello and the Township Board from Nicodemus also attended to represent the Nicodemus community.

     The workshop was designed to help rural communities identify ways to preserve and protect and their rural character and nearby public lands (like Fort Larned) while at the same time providing for economic development.

     Many communities benefit greatly from heritage tourism because they protect and capitalize on their heritage. Others communities, unfortunately, don't. The speakers showed slides with excellent examples of both approaches.

     We have all been to cities that made no effort to guide their development. They have no identity, and can't be easily distinguished from anyplace else. On the other hand, we all like to visit communities that have a unique flavor.

     I left the conference with a great deal of enthusiasm for the potential our area has to be someplace special. Discussions are already being held in the park and the community on how to develop and implement a plan to preserve and capitalize on the history and rural heritage of this area. Hopefully, you will be hearing (and seeing) more about this in the near future.

     In the meantime, if this is a subject that interests you, Fort Larned has a videotape of one of the better presentations from the conference. I would be glad to show it to anyone who is interested. just give me a call at 620-285-6911.
Steve Linderer, FLNHS Superintendent

Custer On The Plains
     The Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association recently sponsored a tour of sites related to General George A. Custer in this region. They called the week-long event "Custer on the Plains." On Thursday, October 19, they visited the Cheyenne-Sioux village site on the Pawnee Fork and Fort Larned.

     The tour consisted of 17 excited people with words of praise for the Old Guard's efforts and success in preserving the village site. The group included Neil Mangum, superintendent at Custer Battlefield, and Jim Court, superintendent there from 1978 to 1986. Tour participants also visited Fort Leavenworth, Fort Hays, Beecher's Island, Washita Battle Site and Fort Dodge.

Bits And Pieces
     A highlight of annual programs presented at Fort Larned NHS is the candlelight tour, always a memorable experience. This year was another outstanding event. It gave attendees an expanded appreciation of the historic structures and the extraordinary staff and volunteers who perform above and beyond the call of duty. "Indian Relations" was the theme of the 2000 tour.

     We realize by the time you read this, the candlelight tour (Saturday, October 14) will be history. It is difficult to adequately promote this popular event using OUTPOST, since the available tour spaces are almost always filled within a few days after registration begins. If you missed out this year, plan now to attend next October.

     It is a pleasure to report that funds to complete the Old Guard's obligations to the Indian Village on Pawnee Fork project continue to accumulate. The Wet/ Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail has issued a challenge to the national SFT and the eleven other chapters to match the Wet/Dry donation of $500 to this project.

     With support like this we anticipate having our share of the funds needed in the partnership with The Archaeological Conservancy by next June 1.

     Special thanks to all who donated to the Old Guard for the drawing for a framed print of the "Bold and Fearless" painting given at the SFT Rendezvous on September 23. A little over $500 was donated. The lucky winner was young Lauren Schumacher from Rolla, Missouri. For those who did not win, please remember that the Old Guard sells these limited-edition prints for $150.

     The program for the joint meeting with the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter on April 28, 2001, is all set. The Wet/Dry seminar on the Santa Fe Trail and the Civil War will feature presentations by Arnold Schofield of Fort Scott NHS, Harry C. Myers of Fort Union National Monument, George Elmore of Fort Larned NHS, and yours truly.

     There will be a series of presentations by the Indian reenactors at the village site during the afternoon, with an evening dinner at Fort Larned followed by a program by Elizabeth Custer, performed by Maria Matkin. Get this date on your calendar now.
Leo E. Oliva, Fort Larned Old Guard chairman

And The Winner Is . . .
     Seven-year-old Lauren Schumacher of Rolla, Missouri, held the winning ticket at the drawing for a "Bold and Fearless" print at the close of the Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous at Fort Larned NHS. The Old Guard sponsored the September 23 giveaway.

     The winner's father, John Schumacher, donated to the Old Guard for a chance on the print and told Lauren to fill out the ticket because he never won anything. She was excited to get the framed print and said she had a place in her room to hang it.

Winner of Bold and Fearless painting
Miss Schumacher is pictured below, beaming alongside the
Old Guard's grinning chairman, Leo Oliva.

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