Best Preserved Frontier Fort in the West - Fort Larned Old Guard Newsletter
Indian Village Site To Be Considered For
National Register Of Historic Places On February 17, 2007

by Leo E. Oliva, Village Site Manager

     After nearly two years of preparation, the nomination of the Cheyenne and Sioux Village Site on Pawnee Fork for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places will be considered by the Kansas State Historic Sites Review Board on February 17, 2007. Letters in support of the nomination have been provided by Cheyenne, Sioux and Anglo historians.

     The Fort Larned Old Guard acquired this property, with assistance from the Archaeological Conservancy, a few years ago. Listing on the National Register is a key step in the process of preparing the Village Site for transfer to the National Park Service as a detached site of Fort Larned National Historic Site.

     That transfer will require an act of Congress. Congressman Jerry Moran's staff is being kept apprised of developments, and Mitchell Hall from Moran's staff will be visiting the site sometime this year. Hall's planned visit to the site in 2006 was cancelled because of rain.

     The cropland at the Village Site was seeded to grass in February 2006 under the Conservation Reserve Program. Although drought prevented most of the grass from sprouting, recent rain and snow should provide the moisture needed for the plants to take off this year.

     Everyone is reminded that the Village Site is closed to the public except for special events sponsored by the Old Guard. Individuals and tour groups desiring to visit the site may do so by special arrangement and accompaniment by a representative of the Fort Larned Old Guard.

     Last summer a group from Great Britain, led by North Cheyenne Historian Serle Chapman from Wyoming, visited the site as part of a tour of historic locations associated with the Plains Indian wars.

     Dispatch from correspondent Henry M. Stanley, describing the destruction of the Cheyenne and Sioux village ordered by General Winfield S. Hancock in April 1867:

     "The loss of the articles will be severely felt by the Indian tribes---Cheyennes and Sioux. It will require 3,000 buffaloes to be killed to procure enough hides to make the "wigwams." The whole outfit of an entire wigwam costs, on an average, one hundred dollars.

     "Six different stacks were made of the effects taken from the village: everything was promiscuously thrown in, and fire set to them all at the same moment. The dry poles of the wigwams caught fire like tinder, and so many burning hides made the sky black with smoke. Flakes of fire were borne on the breeze to different parts of the prairie, setting the prairie grass on fire. With lighting speed the fire rolled on, and consumed an immense area of grass, while the black smoke slowly sailed skyward.

     "Every green thing, and every dead thing that reared its head above the earth, was consumed, while the buffalo, the antelope, and the wolf fled in dismay from the destructive agent."

Visitation inside and out
by Zach Corpus, Ranger, FLNHS
     Using the logbook provided in the visitor center of Fort Larned, we can learn valuable knowledge about our visitation base. Every year, thousands of people visit Fort Larned to learn more about the history of this extraordinary landmark.

     Whether from word of mouth, advertisements, or simple blind luck, visitors come from around the globe and take in a piece of our nation's history. When they enter the visitor center, visitors are invited to fill out the visitor logbook located next to the front desk. The book asks for the visitor's name, home city and state/country, and suggestions they might have to improve their experience at the fort.

     After examining the logbook pages from January--September 2006, we found much useful information about the people who visit Fort Larned. Unfortunately, Not everyone signs the logbook, so we can't tabulate a perfect statistic about our visitorship. However, these numbers do give up a clue of our average visitor.

     First, the number of visitors from within the United States was 918 during the first nine months of 2006. The top nine states from which visitors traveled were Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. Collectively, these states made up 66% of the visitation. The remaining visitation was scattered inconsistently throughout the remaining 42 states and the District of Columbia. Of this Kansas had the majority, with 41% of the visitation. It was followed by Missouri with 5%; California, Oklahoma, and Colorado each with 4%; Texas and Arizona with 3% and Minnesota with 1%.

     The amazing number we discovered was average distance traveled to visit the fort. Using the stated listed above, we ascertained that when traveling, visitors to the park commuted an average of 1,600 miles to and from Fort Larned, whether stopping here and heading back or continuing on to another destination.

     Many of our visitors also travel from abroad. Including travelers from abroad, Fort Larned's visitation was 951 from foreign countries. Of that 31 were foreign nationals visiting the U.S. Five countries had a significant number of visitors to Fort Larned. They were England (35%), Germany (23%), Spain (13%) and Denmark and Mexico (6% each). Other countries with visitors to the park were Canada, Northern Ireland, France, Finland, Italy, Ukraine, Belgium, and Equador.

     We also wondered why people visit Fort Larned. From our visitation, we estimated that 40% are military enthusiasts and visit because Fort Larned is one of the best preserved fortifications in the country. The final 20% are thought to be travelers on the way to another destination who are stopping at the Fort on the way.

     No matter what the reasoning for people visiting Fort Larned, we are glad to welcome them and hope that all leave with a better knowledge of their heritage, our history, and a renewed sense of pride in what our national parks have to offer the nation and the world.

On our watch
     As I type this I am thinking back to hundreds of accomplishments here at Fort Larned National Historic Site in 2006, due to the efforts of employees, partners and our many great volunteers.

     Some of the accomplishments were large---such as completion of the two-year project to rehabilitate the Commissary and Arsenal building and the beginning of the next two year project to completely rehabilitate the North Officers Quarters.

     Other accomplishments just as significant include a 99% Visitor Satisfaction rating for the year, continued efforts of Leo Oliva and the Old Guard in pursuing National Register status for the Indian Village site, and numerous partnership activities with the Santa Fe Trail Center, the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail, and the Western National Parks Association.

     Although it's been a great year for protecting this very special place and relating its history to all who visit, we intend to do much more with the future help of the Old Guard!

     I hope that by mid summer the Old Guard and Fort Larned NHS can renew the partnership agreement that is currently lapsed. I also hope for written plans to move the Old Guard and Fort Larned forward together through initiatives such as a membership drive to "grow" the organization, obtaining outside sponsorship of cooperative youth education programs and other planned activities, continued protection of the Indian Village site, planning for the celebration of the Fort's 150th anniversary, and other endeavors that may be agreed upon with your Board of Directors.

     The year ahead will require robust leadership and participation by those who choose to work together in strengthening the organization and accomplishing its goals. I encourage every member to be involved!

     Finally, a reminder that we have our full schedule of events for the summer of 2007, beginning with Kansas Kids Day and Santa Fe Trail Days in May, and continuing through the holiday events of Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Mark your calendar early and gather family and friends to join the many wonderful volunteers who bring Fort Larned to Life!

     If you are not yet one of the very special people who volunteer at Fort Larned but would like to join them, please contact George Elmore to discuss your interests. If you are already one of our great volunteers, thank you!

     "On our watch," and with generous assistance from many partners and friends, we will continue to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to enjoy.
Kevin McMurry, FLNHS Superintendent

Lost letters from Larned
     Here are two more letters written from Fort Larned in 1865 by Captain Charles W. Felker, Company A, 48th Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, to his wife in Omro, Wisconsin. Scans of the originals as well as transcriptions are available on the Internet at the Wisconsin Digital Library. {} search the site for "Felker" Extra paragraphing has been added for ease in reading.

[18th letter, page1]
Fort Larned Kansas
October 9th 1865

My dear wife

     Your letter of Sept 23rd is just received and it certainly was a most welcome on to me. It had been so long a time since I heard from you that I was extremely anxious to hear from home. I wrote you a few lines nearly a week since which I had an opportunity of sending to Leavenworth by a Lieutenant who was going throug which apprised you of our arrival here.

     We had a long and tedious march from Lawrence here The distance is nearly three hundred miles. It is one hundred miles from Fort Scott to Lawrence so you see we have marched about four hundred miles since the 19th of August at which time we started from Scott. I marched nearly all the way from Lawrence here. Henry bought a pony at Fort Riley one hundred and fifty miles from here and we then took turns riding him

     I am now healthy and strong I think healthier than I was when I left home I have got an appetite like that of an elephant. It served a terrible job to start for the plains from Lawrence and I was quite weak when we started but I gained strength every day. I could not get discharged and of course I would not [page 2] leave the Regiment unless I could do so honorably and I do not think you would want me to. I wanted to go home very much when we were at Lawrence, but I enlisted for a year and I am in duty bound to stay if ordered to do so

     George Prigry and Ed. Thrall are deserters and will probably have a little account to settle with a court martial one of these days. God have mercy on them if I ever get my clutches on them while I am in the service for I sha'nt you know it is not my disposition to sneak out like little white-livered letters and others who went with our Regt. and who have got mustered out by feigning diseases of various kinds.

     Allen lied like a Turk to the Colonel about the sickness of his wife Although there was no need of it for we were all glad to get rid of the little sneaking Cuss. Not the least reliance can be placed on the stories of the sneaks who come home.

     You did perfectly right about the money. and I will send you some more as soon as I get paid again.

     I think you are a much better farmer than I am you have beat me out of sight-raising potatoes. I wish we had a few bushels of them here. I have not tasted a potatoe for a whole month. How did you get them in the cellar.

     How does your wood hold out. What are Sauger and Alf doing. Has Sarry. got well entirely. Do Alf and Hattie stay with you yet. Cady has been quite unwell for some [page 3] time but is getting along now. Henry is well I do not think he has seen a sick day since he left home. He is quite popular in the Regt.

     Our quarters here are not very comfortable The men are fitting up houses along a ravine by digging holes in the bank and covering them with bushes and earth Some have made roomes as large as our sitting room with doors windows to and are are quite snug and tidy The officers quarters are what are called adobe houses (built of unburnt brick) and shingled with bushes which are covered with dirt. Bugs and lice do abound. You had better examine me pretty closely when I get back.

     I am sorry to learn that Mrs Willcol is sick. When is Dave expected home. Give Mrs W. my regards. Also Mrs Cady. How do those grape vines get along that I planted and those dwarf cherries apples and pears. So Shaw and Louisa are married. Well on the whole it is a good match. Shaw has some good qualities but a large number of soft streaks about him which with the soft streaks Louisa has inherited from the Webb. family will undoubtedly invite a happy union. Father Webb undoubtedly feels in rotacies How do Uncle Sawdy's people get along. You have never written a word about them.

     I kissed a real genuine wild buffalo on the march. What huge creatures they are [page 4] larger than a large ox. Four of us mounted dashed into a herd of fifteen or twenty. Off they about with a sort of rolling gallop we following at a dashing pace. Each man singled his buffalo and commenced firing. I gave mine two or three shots and then he turned on me. I wheeled my horse and got out of his way lively I tell you. He only followed a few rods and stopped. He appeared very indignant at the treatment he had received. I shall never forget him as he stood looking at me with his head lowered his tail sticking straight up in the air and his huge shaggy mane bristling with rage. When he stopped I commenced peggin away again and off he started and I after ahim. When I would get close to him he would wheel and charge and of course their it was my turn to run. After awhile however he got so weak he had to lie down and then I went to him and fired at close range. The old fellow tried hard to get up but he had too many bullets in him and finally turned over on his side and gave up the ghost. That was the biggest game I ever killed. I went up and sat down on him. He would weigh probably two thousand pounds.

     We do not hunt much here on account of the Indians who are skulking around ready to kill any unfortunate straggler who gets too far from the post. The country is full of hostile Indians but we do not apprehend any danger of an attack on this post.

     I do not now expect now to get home before May of June next So dear Sis we must wait through the long dreary winter before we see each other again. I knew you would feel bad when you learned I could not come home but I thought it best for both of us that it would be best for me to do my duty well as a soldier and then when I do come home you will not have reason to be ashamed of me.

     Tell little Lilly Papa is way out west fighting Indians and killing buffalo. Papa thinks of Lilly great deal and wonders what kind of a little girl she is. And how often I think of her dear mother too It will be a joyful day indeed when I see the old home once more. Till then be patient dear Sis. The time will soon pass away and we both will look forward with fond hopes and bright anticipations for the coming spring. Please write at least once a week to your own

One of the Fort's most popular events is the annual Candlelight Tour.
Thanks to photographer Laurie Griffith for these views of last fall's tour.
The theme was drawn from Charley Felker's October 24, 1865 letter [below] to his wife.
Scenes focused how Fort residents reacted to the death of a Santa Fe Trail traveler.

[19th letter, page1]
Fort Larned Kansas
October 24th 1865

My Dear Sarah

     The mail came in yesterday (we have mail once a week and it comes in on Monday) and I have just seated myself and lighted my pipe, preparatory to writing you a letter. Now having just got comfortably seated and having taken a few whiffs inrushes Henry and Captain Herbert and Luit. Chappelear of the 17th Ill. Cavalry and insist on playing a game of cards called Peanoggle. I have insisted that I had a letter to write and here I am writing it with the aforesaid nuisances sitting around and talking various kinds of nonsense.

     I dont blame the boys much for talking nonsense; for the opportunities for amusement are decidedly few. Consequently all the small jollies and good things that each one can devise or remember are talked over and laughed at with as much gusto as though they were really witty and worth laughing at. Life in the army is first do your duty obey orders and then eat drink and be merry if you can

     As we are in all probability here for the winter we have [page 2] been fixing up our tents and making ourselves as confortably as we can. You ask me to tell you all the news. Now that is a pretty good joke on me away out here on the plains two hundred miles from a railroad newspaper or telegraph where we get our news out of newspapers two or three weeks old.

     Two men have died at this post since I wrote you last one to day and one last Sabbath morning both strangers. I was officer of the day last Sunday and consequently conducted the funeral poor fellow he was brought in on a train going to New Mexico and died among strangers, without one friend to whim he could commit a parting request. It seemed so lonely to bury him here in this almost barbarous region so far from home or friends. Perhaps he had a wife and children or a mother or brother or sisters who for long weary months will watch for his return. And yet after "lifes fitful fever he sleeps well" as well as though lying beneath the green turf of the churchyard and near his own home. Yet I would not like to be buried thus. I should love to think even in death that some kind hand would [_?_] flowers over my tomb and that the eye of some loved one would often rest upon my burial place.

     It is a terrible thing my dear [page 3] is to be sick away from home and friends. The man who died to-day died of Typhoid fever. Last night his Surgeon told me he could not live and asked me to go and see him as he said he looked and acted as it did when I was sick. But I did not go. He was a Soldier and will be buried by his comrades in the 17th Ill. Cavalry.

     I wonder my dear sis when I shall be home again and can take you and Lill in my arms Time seems to move so slowly when I think of spring and this long months till then. And yet the days pass by as rapidly as ever I suppose. How soon we should grow old if we could make time fly as swiftly as we sometimes wish.

     I am glad you make the acquaintance of Mrs Wheeler. I think she is a most excellent woman I am sorry to hear that Mrs Will[_?_] continues so ill What-is the matter with-her.

     I regret to learn that Mrs Leady is concerned about my correspondence but I should much more regret to be the author of such miserable apologies for letters as this same Mrs. C. receives from her husband. A half sheet of small sized note papers contains most ample room for all he wishes to say in a letter to his wife and where I have been mailing letters to you he often wonders what on [page 4] earth I can find to write about to my wife that I can fill a sheet of letter paper. It is perhaps well that some folks dont know the difference between a letter and a telegraphic dispatch.

     I am glad Johnson paid you the $20 he ought to have paid you $30 more and if he doesnt before I return I will quickly put him in a way to. In case I should not get paid again till spring will you have money Enough to last you till then. Please write me about this

     How does the wood hold out. I want you to have everything to make you comfortable this winter. Have you read any new books lately. Write me what you are reading. Do you play the guitar any. How does that scoundel Saxton prosper Is he still a resident of Omro I am glad to learn Sang. has regained his health. Give him my regards also compliments to Hattie and Alf. How do you and Hati get along. As well as you used?

     The boys in my company are all well. The climate here is healthy and the water is good.

     By the way have you heard any thing of Mrs. Murphy since she left. I heard Murphy was lost on a steamer.

     And now I must bring my letter to a close and bid you good night my dear wife. Write as often as you can for your letters are always eagerly looked for by me. Kiss Lill for me and that we may soon meet and once more exchange a warm kiss is the dearest wish of
Your own Charley

Beer, one dollar per gallon
by Karl Grover, Seasonal Ranger, FLNHS      Now that I have your attention, how would you like to travel back in time to an era where life was not as hectic, and some items offered for sale were less than they are now? You have that opportunity closer than you may think---at Fort Larned NHS.

     The store run by the post trader, or sutler, was the only civilian establishment permitted on a military reservation. The sutler had a contract with the army to operate in return for a specified annual payment. Prices charged at the store were determined by a board of officers who permitted a certain markup over cost of the items sold.

     A sampling of the prices for items sold at Fort Larned's sutler in 1863 includes; beer, $1/gallon; corn meal, 4 cents/pound; butter, 25 cents/pound; apples, $3.50/bushel; eggs, 30 cents/dozen; cheese, 22 cents/pound; blue jean trousers, $4.75/pair; lead pencils (no erasers), 10 cents each.

     While you can't purchase such bargains at the Fort today, you can spend an enjoyable time experiencing the past with living-history historians. Soldiers, blacksmith, and officers' wives are present during most special events and summer weekends to help you forget the present and live at a slower pace.

     Please make a point to visit us during the coming year.

     Oh, by the way---that "bargain" beer at a $1 per gallon wasn't cheap in 1863. It cost a soldier two day's pay.

     Fort Larned is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. throughout the year. Hours are extended to 6:00 p.m. during Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends. Admission is free for children under 16 years of age and $3 per person for those 16 years and older.

Ranger Grover conducts star watch programs at Fort Larned, Kansas
Ranger Grover conducts "star watch" programs at the Fort

From the Chairman
     The year has brought several new members to our ranks. We welcome them to the Fort Larned Old Guard and also thank our current members who have faithfully supported us in the past. We can't be successful without your contributions, time and goodwill.

     Currently committees and board members are exploring several new ideas designed to benefit Fort Larned and the visiting public. Several concepts and programs are being considered to increase interest and participation of young people. There are several members that have a strong interest in this area that I am sure will produce positive results.

     Other groups are studying the feasibility of an audio tour of the fort. This would give each visitor a personal guide by providing his/her a description of each building by means of an audio device. We fell this would greatly enhance a visitor's experience at Fort Larned NHS.

     As always, we continue to promote Fort Larned by seeking support from our elected representatives, tourist groups, and the elected representatives, tourist groups and the general public as a friends group. These are just a few of the projects that our members are working. Together, we can accomplish much, and the Fort Larned Old Guard certainly has a proud history of accomplishments that have benefited FLNHS.

     Finally we are asking you to renew your membership to the Old Guard. We sincerely appreciate your past support and hope to continue to earn it in the future.
Wayne Hagerman, Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman

One of the maintenance projects completed at the Fort last summer was the
stabilization of the walls of the old commissary,
the oldest surviving building at Fort Larned.

A crowd gathered at the post in December to celebrate
Christmas in the style of the 1860s
Photos by Felix Revello

     Old Guard membership is open to anyone interested in the frontier military history of the United States, the Indian Wars in the trans-Mississippi West, the role of the military in the development of Kansas and the West, Indian-white relations on the Plains, and-of course-Fort Larned National Historic Site.

     Memberships: Individual, $15--$24 per year. Family, $25--$49 per year. Not-for-profit organization, $30--above per year. Business partner, $40--above per year. Life membership, $300--above. (Other supportive levels of annual membership are available, as well.)
Fort Larned Old Guard PO Box 354, Larned, Kansas 67550-0354

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