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

Fort Larned Kansas Band Photo

     This Impressive Ensemble came together August 14, 2005 to present historic music at the Fort. Visitors who were lucky enough to hear the group enjoyed 19th-century favorites such as "The Girl I Left Behind," "Molly Malone and the Wearing of the Green," "Garryowen," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Band members include Private Victor Langrehe and Miss Afton Eye, flutes; Sergeant Major Christopher White (band leader) and Mrs. Margaret Linderer, clarinets; Sergeant Marc Webster (principal musician) and Private Joel Frederking, cornets; Private Weston Steimel and Sutler Steven Linderer, trombones; Corporal Daniel Brinkley, euphonium; Private Zachary Corpus, bass; Private Kurtis Koch and Private Derek Koch, drums; Miss Jenny Wilson, Miss Rachel Gaeddert, and Miss Nicolette Unruh, French horns. A good time was had by all of those present.

Fort Larned Kansas Band Photo
Band Photo Courtesy of Larned Tiller and Toiler

Your Reenlistment Benefits Fort Larned, Kansas!
     It's that time again. Time to renew your membership in the Fort Larned Old Guard.

     If you visit the Fort periodically, you witness the work of the Old Guard -- the Rucker army ambulance purchased by Fort Larned Old Guard, the Indian village site secured and preserved through the Old Guard's efforts, our sponsorship of Senator Bob Dole's visit, and other projects with visible results.

     Our group also impacts Fort Larned behind the scenes. As individuals, and as an organization, we provide political support for the Park. Some of our members work as volunteers and reenactors during special events at the Fort. Our interest and enthusiasm for this special site on the Santa Fe Trail influence our family, friends, and others---ultimately increasing visitorship.

     Organizations are only as strong as their members. With that in mind, the Fort Larned Old Guard board of directors thanks you for your past participation and encourages you to renew your membership-and recruit others to join us, too. Beginning in 2006, new membership categories are now available. As Old Guard Chairman Wayne Hagerman points out in his column, basic membership levels remain the same: $15 annually for individuals and $25 for families. The new categories provide those who would like to contribute financially with a means to do so. All are renewable annually, except the "Career Officer" life membership.

     Please become a part of this effort by completing this membership application and participating in all the activities of the Fort Larned Old Guard.

     Renewal forms are included with this issue of OUTPOST. Those whose memberships already extend through the coming year will also find a form inside, for the benefit of anyone wishing to make an additional contribution to Fort Larned Old Guard.

     We hope you---and others---will join us in supporting Fort Larned National Historic Site in 2006 and beyond.

Corporal Mike McGuillicuddy bitten by rabid wolf
Drama Unfolded at Fort Larned during the annual Candlelight Tour, held Saturday, October 8. Here Corporal Mike McGuillicuddy (bitten several days earlier by a rabid wolf) refuses the amputation of his infected hand. History tells us his decision proved fatal. You should have listened to the medical officer, Mike.

Village Site Report
by Leo Oliva, Site Manager
     The Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has accepted enrollment of the cropland (91 acres) at the village site in Ness County, Kansas, into the Conservation Reserve Program to reestablish native grasses and forbs on the property. The approved plants will be seeded this coming winter.

     The application to the National Park Service, through the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office, will be submitted this coming winter, requesting that the village site be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Landmark. The expedition of Gen. W. S. Hancock in 1867, and the capture and burning of the Cheyenne and Sioux village on Pawnee Fork in April of that year, were events of national interest. Listing on the National Register is a prerequisite to seeking Congressional approval of the addition of the village property as a detached site of Fort Larned NHS.

     The village site is closed to the public except for special programs approved by the Old Guard. Plans are made to include public programs at the village site in connection with the Fort Larned Old Guard annual meeting on May 6, 2006.

On Our Watch
Dear 'friends'!
     Since the last issue of OUTPOST many activities and significant accomplishments have occurred at Fort Larned, and along the Santa Fe Trail. Many of you have been involved in these endeavors and I want to thank everyone for finding time in your busy lives to contribute to our collective achievements.

     A few of the highlights for me have been: the annual meeting of the Old Guard and Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail; all of the holiday weekend special activities and programs at the Fort; the discussion between Congressman Moran and his Pawnee County neighbors on July 11; the Santa Fe Trail Symposium; beginning the major restoration of the Commissary/Arsenal building; the success of U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, and Congressman Moran, in securing funds for restoration of the North Officers Quarters; and the efforts of Leo Oliva and the Old Guard to obtain the original Special Field Order Number 13 for donation to the museum collection at Fort Larned.

     Although the accomplishments are numerous, and there are in fact many more that I've not mentioned, none of which could have happened without a number of people giving their time and working toward the common objective. I am always particularly impressed by the level of cooperation and volunteerism in support of the special activity weekends at the Fort and Indian Village. These events truly bring the history of Fort Larned to life with volunteers in accurately detailed living history situations!

     As in years past, these historical reenactments absolutely could not be presented without the 270 or-so incredible volunteers who commit a combined total of more than 8,000 hours of their time each year. Many have volunteered for decades and contributed in numerous ways. Led by George Elmore and supported by all other staff at the Fort, these unsung heroes, some who are of course members of the Old Guard, combine their talent and love for the past to bring Fort Larned alive in a way it could never be experienced otherwise.

     Space does not allow me to mention the names of all these folks, nor is it even ample enough to express the depth of thanks and admiration from staff and visitors who experience your work. Although it seems more than a hundred of you have told me you get more joy from the experiences that you give, I hope you know the gravity of your contributions and the respect we have for your efforts and friendship.

     We are already looking forward to next year and seeking methods to involve our volunteer friends in even more enjoyable ways. For any of you who are not yet a part of these living history activities, please contact us at the Fort to help you get started. Likewise, for those of you who are part of our volunteer corps but not yet members of the Old Guard, please contact us to learn the value of this organization in assisting Fort Larned programs.

     On our watch together, Fort Larned will always be much more than an interesting group of old buildings!
Kevin D. McMurry, FLNHS Superintendent

150 Years of History
     From its origin as Camp on Pawnee Fork in October 1859, to its name change a few months later to Camp Alert, and its subsequent "promotion" to a fort in May 1860, Fort Larned has been the home of history for nearly 150 years. That milestone will be observed in 2009 and the Old Guard is already making plans for a variety of events.

     Fort Larned Old Guard board member Aaron Fisher has volunteered to head our 150th anniversary celebration committee. He is soliciting ideas and would appreciate hearing from you via regular mail at: Aaron Fisher, 67837 JJ RD, Copeland, Kansas 67837-8211. Contact Aaron and help plan a memorable celebration.

Action Alert on National Parks
     Believe it or not, there is now a serious proposal before Congress to sell national parks.

     House of Representatives Resources Committee Chaiman Richard Pombo (R-CA) has introduced legislation that would require the sale of 15 national parks to energy companies or commercial developers and would turn the remaining national parks into commercial billboards (requiring that NPS sell commercial sponsorship in parks, museums, and visitor centers).

     This really sounds too stupid to be true, but it is genuine---and it has support in and out of Congress. It is part of a larger policy goal to privatize government activities.

     If this legislation is enacted, who knows what might happen to Fort Larned NHS? Is our heritage for sale? Please take time to request that your representative oppose such legislation. For more information, see the website of the National Parks Conservation Association,

Not Only History
by Felix Revello, Chief Ranger, FLNHS
     On November 2, over 100, students and 40 teachers and assistants from over 15 high schools throughout Kansas descended on Fort Larned. Their visit to the Park was not the ordinary history-oriented field trip . . . this was ECO-MEET 2005!

     The stated mission of ECO-MEET is to inspire interest in and appreciation of natural resources of our Kansas environment through interscholastic competition. While the kids toured several historic structures at the Fort, they also competed in events held in the Commanding Officer's Quarters, the Barracks mess hall, and the Hospital.

     The Wildlife and Mammal events challenged students' abilities to identify wildlife (sometimes only from skulls or other animal parts) and tested their knowledge of wildlife ecology. The Interpretive Event was a blend of serious natural science and fun, as costumed students performed skits mimicking wildlife and their various roles and relationships in the ecosystem.

     A final activity, the Scavenger Hunt, sent the students outdoors to gather plant and insect materials from the river woodlands and restored prairie. Park staff reminded the kids that the hunt was allowed only to support their educational experience, as parks are highly protected unique resources and collecting anything is normally prohibited.

     As always, park staff put a "history slant" on the event. During my morning welcome to the participants, I linked the history of Fort Larned, the Santa Fe Trail, and the later settlement period to the extraordinary changes in the Great Plains environment after the advent of European Americans. I related how trees in the river woodlands on the Pawnee Fork at Fort Larned had been cut and burned for heating and cooking, but have grown back in later years to appear much as they did when troops first arrived.

     This was also an opportunity to introduce participants to prairie restoration at the Fort. I encouraged the students to think about the past, present, and future of the plains, as we recognize that less than two percent of original prairie survives for us to enjoy today.

2005 ECO Meeting at Fort Larned Kansas
ECO-MEET 2005 participants in the Barracks mess hall identify animals using skeletal and other clues.

Showcasing the Fort's history
by Tony Cyphers, Ranger, FLNHS
     For the Fort Larned Old Guard annual meeting on May 7, the staff at Fort Larned prepared a display case to showcase the original set of orders signed by General Hancock (Order Number 13) ordering the destruction of the Cheyenne and Sioux village on Pawnee Fork in April 1867. The case was repaired, painted, and a lock was installed for security.

     A few days after the Old Guard event, the contents of the display case were replaced with an original military dress jacket that belonged to Colonel Charles W. Larned (a cousin of the Fort's namesake Colonel Benjamin F. Larned). That jacket, cuffs, hat, and other items had never been on display to the public before.

     We continued to use the display case throughout the summer with different artifacts rotating into the Visitor Center museum. With the stabilization work being done on the Commissary/Arsenal building, a display was created to help interpret the work in progress. The display showed the past and present history of the Commissary/Arsenal building and artifacts discovered this summer as the work progressed.

     Have you ever wondered how the National Park Service determines how to reconstruct and furnish its historical buildings? An informative exhibit was made showing several artifacts that were still present when the Fort was acquired in 1966 by the National Park Service. These artifacts helped guide Park staff in restoration of the buildings to their 1868 appearance.

Display Case for and Interpretive Display
Next summer Fort Larned NHS will again rotate artifacts into the display case that have never before been displayed to the public. Also, more interpretive displays will be designed to help tell the story of the Fort, past and present.

Notes From The Chairman
Greetings from Fort Larned
     The fall season and its wonderful colors have made the Fort exceptionally beautiful this year.

     This is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership to Fort Larned Old Guard. You will notice that we have added several categories to our membership renewal form. Please keep in mind that we have not raised the basic membership cost. That cost is still $15 for individuals and $25 for families.

     The reason for the additional categories comes as the result of suggestions of our members and a strong endorsement from the board. It is felt that this approach gives our members more options and more closely identifies with life at early-day Fort Larned. We hope that you approve and appreciate this new approach.

     Fort Larned will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009. There is a lot of excitement and interest in this upcoming event. Fort Larned Old Guard board member Aaron Fisher has agreed to chair the 150th Celebration Committee that will be in charge of putting the celebration together. If you have ideas about what you would like to see happen or have time to help, please contact Aaron. He would appreciate it.

     Remember the Fort Larned Christmas Open House, Saturday, December 10, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The mood will be festive and visitors will have a great time. Each year, attendance at this event continues to grow. We hope to see you there celebrating the holiday season and enjoying Fort Larned the diamond on the Santa Fe Trail.
Wayne Hagerman, Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman

     Action Alerts for Fort Larned National Historic Site Many decisions and changes are being made regarding the National Park system. Some of these affect the Fort directly and could be quite detrimental to its operation.

     Commercial and business interests are being given more access to national properties. Some in Washington would like to sell national parks and, at one time, Fort Larned was on that list. Now is the time for individuals to make their voices heard in Washington.

     The Fort Larned Old Guard board feels there is a need for Old Guard members to have a centralized way to learn about any threats to the Fort or the NPS and how to help.

     If you would like to be informed of needs as they develop and who to contact, please send your email address to Leo Oliva: oliva@ruraltelnet. He will compile an e-mail list to alert all who sign up whenever action is needed.

     People who speak in unison will have more impact than a few scattered protests. Please say you are willing to help protect our historic and natural resources.

Cristy Teamster With Broken Wagon
This Crusty Teamster ran head-on into government bureaucracy, 1860s style, when he needed wagons repaired during the Candlelight Tour.

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