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

Fort Larned Cemetery Discovery
by George Elmore, Park Ranger

     The site of the historic fort cemetery has been restored as part of the 150th celebration. The original cenotaph built in 1867 has been returned near its original location. Trees have been removed from the oxbow to restore the historic view.

Fort Larned, Kansas Cemetery Monument View
Fort Larned, Kansas Cemetery Monument View

     The remains of the 65 soldiers interred here were removed to Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in 1888, but a number of civilian graves remain. After the fort was abandoned, the cemetery was cleared of tombstones and farmed.

     While cleaning up after tree removal, the park maintenance crew was raking up small branches and removing some cement that was exposed in the dam that had been placed across the oxbow by the Frizell family to make an irrigation pond. Among the debris in the dam was a tombstone from the cemetery.

Fort Larned Grave Marker - 1867
The stone has a cross at the top, then is marked:
Peter Collins
died in
Fort Larned
July 12, 1867
[Age?] 29 years

     Peter Collins was a civilian worker at the Fort who died during the Cholera epidemic in that month.

     This now makes two tombstones that have been found. The first was that of Margaret Bothwell and is on display in the museum. Both stones were found in the oxbow but in different locations.

     The remains of the soldiers removed to Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery were honored in a special ceremony there on September 19, as explained in another article in this issue. See also the featured volunteer within because Janice Seymour's persistent efforts made possible this belated recognition of those who died in service at Fort Larned.

150th Commemoration A Great Success
by Supt. Kevin McMurry
     We all need to pat ourselves and all supporters on the back for a job very well done. The series of events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Fort Larned received widespread attention in the media and drew many visitors to the fort during the current year. Special events during Memorial Day weekend, July 4 weekend, Labor Day weekend, and on October 10-11 provided opportunities to tell the story of this national historic site, the first national park in Kansas. Other programs, including the September 19 recognition and dedication of a monument at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery with the names of those soldiers who were removed from the Fort Larned cemetery to Fort Leavenworth after Fort Larned was closed as an active post, brought acknowledgement and honor to those who served in the frontier army.

     Despite extremely difficult weather conditions for nearly a week, the park staff worked seamlessly with our VIPs and partners to prepare for and execute the final weekend of events, October 10-11, including the annual VIP Recognition Luncheon, annual Candlelight Tour, and the concluding programs of the 150th Anniversary Celebration,

     The park was prepared for a larger attendance, but due to the weather conditions about 1,000 people attended the various weekend events. The same amount of work goes into an event if we have 5,000 or 1,000 attend.

     The VIP Recognition event hosted some 125 folks in the quartermaster storehouse which required not only tables/chairs setup but also setup and operation of our large heaters and portable toilets. Also, the stage, lighting and electronics combined for a great program during lunch to show these folks how much we appreciate the 10,000 hours of volunteer time they have contributed in 2009.

Honor guard firing 150-gun salute to commemorate 150 years
of Fort Larned on the Santa Fe Trail

     The Candlelight Tour was a great experience and everyone did an incredible job acting out the scenes. The special tour had trolley transportation, cannon, Indian camp, cavalry camp, Galvanized Yankee camp, and visits to several fort buildings. This special tour took the visitors through 150 years of Fort Larned history, concluding with the site as a tourist destination.

     Despite freezing temperatures and rain all through the evening, there were very few cancellations and we had many on the waiting list who would have taken any available tour spaces. Based on ecstatic comments we got from folks coming off the tours, this one will be talked about for years to come!

     Our 150th Anniversary program on Sunday was spectacular with Senator Brownback's Regional Director, Commander of the 3rd United States Infantry, the Fort Riley Military Band, Dr. Oliva, Dr. Clapsaddle, and Dr. Herrera, as well as Tom Seltmann from the Historical Society, former residents Judy (Frizell) Redding and Phil Perez, and Tagga's Southern Fried Catfish. Presentations covered 150 years of history, including the founding of Camp on Pawnee Fork, the active military post, overview of the frontier army, the ranch period, establishment of the town of Larned, creation of the national historic site, and rededication of the Third Infantry cenotaph at the site of the Fort Larned cemetery.. Altogether, it was a very impressive group of partners and a great event despite the weather and its effect on the crowd. Heaters were needed for the big tent but, despite the cold and freezing drizzle, everything worked out to be Great!

     This was a very respectful celebration of the Fort's 150 years of history on the Santa Fe Trail. We have received many congratulations from speakers and attendees alike. In fact one person who very rarely gives anyone compliments called to say "the folks at the Fort did a great job and had a great event." We were also recognized by the NSFT with an Award of Merit for the year-long celebration of the Fort 's 150th anniversary (while we simultaneously accomplished 100% visitor satisfaction, and completed many other routine tasks, contracts. and special projects as well).

Fort Larned Old Guard Chair's Column
by Chris Day
     The Fort Larned Old Guard is proud to be part of the financial support for Fort Larned's 150th Celebration this year. The special weekend events have been outstanding and the final events in October were especially noteworthy despite the cold weather and rain. I know that Kevin McMurry, Sam Young, and the Fort Larned staff and volunteers put forth unbelievable hours to make these weekend activities historically significant. Hopefully, you were able to attend one or more of these events.

     The Old Guard sponsored the appearance of Joseph Meany, Jr., at the Fort Labor Day weekend, to present his illustrated program, "Private Jeremiah Stokes: a Galvanized Yankee on the Santa Fe Trail." The Old Guard also had Fort Larned photo stamps and special envelopes available for the postal cancellation September 5 and October 11. Some of these are still available and will be collector's items.

     Old Guard members David Clapsaddle and Leo Oliva were speakers at several 150th events. Clapsaddle explained the connections of the military post to the founding and early history of the town of Larned. He offered a special program in Larned at the Little Red House and Sibley Campground on October 10. Oliva told the history of the founding of Fort Larned in 1859 and summarized the history of the military post, 1859-1878.

     The Fort Larned Old Guard's major fund-raiser to support the events of the 150th Anniversary was the sale of tickets for a drawing to win one of fifteen prizes. Because weather prevented some members, who had sold tickets for this drawing, from attending the events of October 11, the drawing will be conducted October 24. All winners will be notified and prizes delivered.

The prizes are:
First Prize: Framed Art Print "Bold and Fearless"
Second Prize: Framed Print "Thus Far and No Further"
Third Prize: Unframed Art Prints "Bold and Fearless" & "Thus Far and No Further"
Fourth Prize: Unframed Art Print "Bold and Fearless"
Fifth Prize: Unframed Print "Thus Far and No Further"
10 Sixth Prizes: Book Fort Larned: Guardian of the Santa Fe Trail

     On your 2010 calendar, make a note that the Fort Larned Old Guard will have the annual meeting on Saturday, April 24, at the Fort. The Fort Larned Old Guard Board will be meeting October 24 and plans will be laid out for the April meeting. Details of the meeting will be in upcoming issues of Outpost.

     Every two years, I take fifth and sixth-grade students on a trip down the Santa Fe Trail. On each trip, we stop at Fort Larned followed by Fort Union in New Mexico. I always ask the students their thoughts on the forts they have visited. They all think that Fort Union is unique because of the ruins but they are impressed with Fort Larned because of the original buildings. What a treasure we have here in Kansas!

New Booklet Celebrates Fort Larned
     The series of articles by Dr. David Clapsaddle, published weekly in the Larned Tiller and Toiler in the column titled "Morning Drill," has been printed in a booklet which is now available. It contains 48 articles, the first 37 of which speak in chronological order to the 19-year tenure of Fort Larned, use of the fort property as a ranch, and the removal of the remains of 65 soldiers to the Fort Leavenworth Cemetery in 1888. The remaining installments are devoted to anecdotal accounts of life at the fort.

     Written in celebration of Fort Larned's 150th anniversary, it is available at Fort Larned or may be ordered from the Last Chance Store for $3.00 postpaid at .

Fort Larned Superintendent's Column
"On Our Watch" by Kevin McMurry
Dear Friends,

     In the last Outpost I wrote of my intention to list for you "all the significant activities accomplished in 2007 and 2008" and those highlights follow, please contact me with any questions or for more details. The following represents efforts of the Fort's team that worked very effectively to accomplish tasks and support volunteers and/or friends. Items listed are grouped loosely based on goals and objectives but are not in any particular order of priority.

     As a reflection of the team spirit that exists and must be continued and further enhanced each day, specific employees are not generally identified as little could be accomplished without support from others. In addition, it would be very difficult to list folks involved in all accomplishment because in most cases, several if not all employees, volunteers, partners, and friends played a significant role in our successful achievements.

     I'll also use this opportunity to extend a welcome to new employees, including Nathan King, Permanent Park Guide (and FOLS Outpost coeditor); Robert Sellers, Student Career Transition Program, Construction and Maintenance Management; Chaz Beckwith, Rachel Gaeddert, and Sarah Petersen, Student Seasonal Park Guides; and Aaron Hopkins, Student Seasonal Maintenance Worker. Watch future editions of Outpost for further information on these great additions to the Fort's work force.

     "On Our Watch" and with the generous assistance from our employees, many partners, and great volunteer friends, we continue to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to enjoy. We thank all those who have worked to make it what it is today.

Fiscal Year 2007 Accomplishments
Hired seven new permanent employees
Logged 294 active Volunteers
Logged 9,997 Volunteer Hours, which is up from 5,285 the previous year

Completed special funded projects:
Refurbished the interior of the Visitor Center front desk, carpets and lighting fixtures.
With assistance from partners and friends, completed the Forts Long-Range Interpretative Plan.
Restored the long sought after "Lean-to" to the east end of the Commissary.
Initiated a comprehensive survey of Handicap Access needs with Indiana University.
Completely updated the public water supply piping and control systems.
Installed a ground water heating/air-conditioning system at the Commanding Officers quarters.
Refurbished employee lunchroom, locker room and library.
Brought in Hot-Shot Firefighters to complete special clearing and controlled burn programs.
Developed, had produced, and installed a marching soldiers silhouette on the entrance road.
Submitted numerous "Centennial Challenge" proposals, many in cooperation with other NPS units.
Coordinated staff to provide training for local contractors interested in bidding on Government work.
Responded appropriately to an incorrect media editorial on lacking Congressional support of the fort.
Staff served on Board of Directors and Technical Committee for the Southern Plains I&M Network.
Produced cooperative events with the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter, and Santa Fe Trail Center.
Worked with numerous organizations promoting 8-Wonders of Kansas, as one of the "finalists."
Worked with area schools, arts council and others to produce a White House Christmas Tree Ornament.
Funded travel for the contest winner to attend a White House reception hosted by First lady Laura Bush.
With Mr. and Mrs. Clapsaddle conducted a pair of two-day educational camps at the Fort and Indian Village.
Appropriately guided the fort's and greater NPS's involvement in the Santa Fe Trail endurance race/ride.
Co-hosted Santa Fe Trail Symposium, funded by grants from Kansas Humanities and Historical Society.
Staff supported requests for on-site National Park assistance at the Washington D.C. Office, Fort Laramie, Fort Union, Bent's Old Fort, Sand Creek Massacre, and Scotts Bluff National Monument.
Ranger George Elmore coordinated the Nationwide Black Powder Safety training course in Alabama.
Staff secured all historic furnishings needed for HS-9 when renovations are completed.
The University of Idaho Visitor Survey states Visitor Satisfaction is 100% and Visitor Understanding is 94%.
Hosted the Old Guard Annual Meeting.
Staff began work with local educators to determine State curriculum and explore linkages to the fort's programs.
Rehabilitated the nature trail & advertised it to encourage use as a local fitness walking/jogging resource.
With support from several partner organizations the fort again hosted a special overnight program for a group of sight-impaired youths from the Kansas School for the Blind in Kansas City.
Redesigned and reconstructed the Visitor Center front desk and reception area to be wheelchair accessible.
Redesigned and reconstructed the bookstore, coordinated with State Corrections managers for construction of our Guard Shack and Sutler's Residence.
Completed numerous in-house energy conservation projects, including a parkwide lighting retrofit.
Treatment measures were successful in reducing bindweed and vegetation on historic paths and structures.
Completed six compliance reviews, all of which were approved to allow appropriate and needed work.
Initiated compliance discussion for future reconstruction of the Sutler's Complex structures.
The fort had ZERO employee or visitor accidents!
And, appropriately, accomplished all U.S. Government reporting and operational requirements for the year.

Fiscal Year 2008 Accomplishments:
Volunteer Funding more than tripled from fiscal year 2007.
Volunteer hours contributed were maintained at over 10,000 for the year.
Moved the restoration contract for the North Officers Quarters to the contracting office in Denver.
Initiated design and installation of new interpretive exhibits and signs.
Accomplished accessibility improvements during rehabilitation of porches at the Visitor Center and Barracks.
Assured complete Credit Card accountability at both Nicodemus and the fort.
Hired one new permanent employee.
Scheduled a required Core Operations review for completion in 2009.
Completed National Historic Landmark reviews with the State and private property owners.
Worked with Congressman Moran and cemetery officials at Leavenworth to mark graves of Fort Larned Soldiers.
Guided update of the renewed property leases at Nicodemus.
Facility Manager Chapman served as mentor for a Nationwide Management Training Program.
Ranger Elmore continued to serve as Nationwide Historic Weapons Coordinator for the entire Park Service.
Staff and Acting Superintendent Felix Revello accomplished a complete move of the offices at Nicodemus.
Coordinated with five area schools to host a Regional Cross Country Track Meet at the fort.
Worked with the National Park Trails Office to secure funds for new exhibits at park sites on the Santa Fe Trail.
Worked with Barton Community College to provide Introductory Spanish classes to all interested employees.
Began negotiation of a cost-share agreement with Midwest Energy to upgrade all underground electrical lines.
Successfully maintained 12-formal partnerships and 36 partnerships which have no formal agreements.
Advertised for a Western National Parks Association Manager to be hired in fiscal year 2009.
Co-hosted with NSFT and the Trail Center, the biennial Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous.
Coordinated ongoing partnership planning linked to the Fort's 150th celebration.
Fort Larned led all National Parks in Kansas to sponsor a collaborative exhibit at the Kansas State Fair.
Staff supported requests for on-site National Park assistance at the Washington D.C. Office, Fort Laramie, Fort Union, Bent's Old Fort, Sand Creek Massacre, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Washita Battlefield, Ulysses Grant, San Juan, Central High, and Nicodemus.
Worked with great partners in production of the commemorative 150th anniversary rack card which was paid for by the Old Guard. (Thank You)
Worked with partners and VIPs to develop and host an original dinner theater production with catered meal.
Worked with partners to develop the traveling Cavalry Horse and Buffalo Soldier exhibit.
Worked with our partner to improve the bookstore by redesigning the area and adding new items.
Staff attended the Civics Summit at K-State University in support of National Park co-sponsorship of the event.
Succeeded in achieving KS-DOT partnership for I-70 and local routes signing at both the fort and Nicodemus.
Secured a full Visitor Survey Project through the University of Idaho in 2009.
Rehabilitated the post cemetery site and historic marker for reinstallation during 150th anniversary celebrations.
The July 4th Celebration included the post band playing a patriotic concert at the community hall.
Issued a half-dozen special use permits and successfully managed all of the subject events.
Crack monitors on HS-03 indicate needed future preservation treatment being scheduled in coming years.
Reconstructed the 2nd Blacksmith Forge, its double-bellows, and the visitor viewing platform.
Worked with U.S. Dept of Energy to secure $75,000 for energy conservation improvements at the fort.
Completed in-house work to upgrade the entire alarm system wiring grid for all buildings.
Multi-Park Prairie Dog Research Project through K-State University was partially funded in FY08.
Completed seven compliance reviews all of which were appropriately approved for needed work.
Coordinated with Water Resources staff and KS-State specialists in the forts Geological Survey project.
The park had ZERO employee or visitor accidents!
And, appropriately, accomplished all U.S. Government reporting and operational requirements for the year.

Vice-Chair Aaron Fisher
Fort Larned Old Guard Roll Call:
Vice-Chair Aaron Fisher

     Aaron Fisher has been an enthusiast of Kansas history and culture literally almost his entire life. As a small child he recovered blacksmith tools while playing in the dirt of the family farm, igniting a fascination with both history and the artifacts that formed it. Not being exactly the typical child, while in Jr. High he learned that the local newspaper's old printing equipment was in serious danger of being scrapped. Realizing the important role this 75 to 100-year-old equipment had played in the community, Aaron spent the majority of his savings rescuing and preserving several tons of artifacts. This first large acquisition led to the courage to personally buy and preserve many other large items in danger of being lost. By the time Aaron had graduated from high school he had amassed a large collection of horse-drawn and early tractor-drawn farm equipment along with many other items associated with early Kansas businesses.

     After finishing his school years Aaron started a business building historically accurate replicas of carriages, farm wagons, and sleighs. This has grown to include a restoration service for originals and fabrication of large wagons, stagecoaches, and special vehicles used in the amusement industry. He also operates a parallel business restoring early windmills both of the wood and steel variety. With his advancing business ventures he still has time for preservation and personal acquisition of artifacts with a current emphasis on historic buildings.

     Being raised near the Santa Fe Trail, Aaron has an interest in the early wagon trains and military ties to Kansas. His first visit to Fort Larned was with his grandfather in his early grade-school years, and he was fascinated with the stone structures. Structures, tools, and equipment have really been Aaron's field of interests. Thus Fort Larned has been a great source of enjoyment for him. Aaron looks forward to the future of Fort Larned and its roll in teaching about the military presence in the region.

Honoring The Fort Larned Dead
     On September 19 a special ceremony was conducted at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery to honor the 65 soldiers who were buried in the Fort Larned cemetery and removed in 1888. A special plaque was dedicated at Section B of the National Cemetery, copy of which is below. The same plaque has been placed at the site of the Fort Larned cemetery.

Kevin D. McMurry
Fort Larned Roll Call: Supt. Kevin D. McMurry

     Kevin D. McMurry, a 25-year veteran U. S. National Park Service manager, was named Superintendent at Fort Larned National Historic Site and Nicodemus National Historic Site in March 2005. He relocated from the position of Superintendent at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he also served on the Federal Executive Board representing 14,000 federal employees in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky.

     In addition, McMurry has served as District Manager and "Acting" Superintendent at Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri; "Acting" Superintendent at Buffalo National River in Arkansas; District Manager at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia; "Acting" Superintendent at Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey; Facility Manager for the entire North Atlantic Region, at the Regional Office in Boston Massachusetts; Facility Manager and "Acting" Superintendent at Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey, and Facility Manager at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska.

     He attended NPS Manager Development Training in New York City, and has completed management assignments at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Canyonlands National Park in Utah, and National Park Service headquarters in Washington D.C. He was named "Regional Office Employee of the Year" in Boston in 1988 and has received numerous other special achievement awards throughout his quarter century of service to national parks, visitors, coworkers, and partners.

     Prior to government service McMurry owned and operated a private construction company in southeast Nebraska where his grown children and one granddaughter currently reside. He is formerly a licensed Master Electrician, licensed Journeyman Plumber, Emergency Medical Technician, Red Carded Firefighter, Volunteer Rescue Squad Captain and Fireman, and technical consultant to several nonprofit organizations.

Volunteer Janice Seymour
Volunteer Roll Call: Janice Seymour

     Janice Seymour has volunteered at Fort Larned National Historic Site for about 13 years, and helped with numerous programs, especially living history. However, this year her perseverance and determination have placed her on a pedestal few can achieve. After six years of correspondence, e-mails, and interviews, her goal was finally achieved. What she gave back was the dignity of 65 men. These 65 men were officers and enlisted men who died of various causes and were buried in the cemetery at Fort Larned. In 1888 these soldiers were transferred to the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

     Because the names were mixed up during the transfer, the headstones today are all marked "Unknown U. S. Soldier." At some point, after finding and reading the markers, Janice said "Not Good Enough." So a five-year battle began.

     At first, working with the National Cemetery Association, progress was accomplished, but when taken to a higher level interest and effort faded. Not giving up, she sought help from several Congressmen until finding a champion in Congressman Jerry Moran.

     It was somewhat a shock one morning at Fort Larned when the phone rang and the voice on the other end identified herself as a secretary for Congressman Moran and wanting to know if Fort Larned had a persistent volunteer named Janice Seymour. Yes!

     This story has a happy ending because on Saturday, September 19, 2009, a new marker, listing the names of 62 of 65 Fort Larned soldiers buried at Fort Leavenworth was dedicated on the front row of section B at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery [see list below]. Janice was one of the speakers.

     In her spare time Janice is Office Manager of Pharmacy and IV Therapy at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Lawrence, Kansas. Well done, Janice!

Post Cemetery Monument Returned To Fort
by Chaz Beckwith, Park Guide
     Fort Larned has welcomed back its original cemetery monument, which was constructed in 1867 by soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry. This monument was dedicated to the soldiers who died while serving their country at Fort Larned. After the post became inactive in 1878, the original cenotaph remained. In 1886 it was moved to the Larned Cemetery. After 123 years the monument has finally been returned to near its original site at Fort Larned, in July 2009.

Monument Dedicated
Third Infantry Officers and Supt. McMurry rededicating the
1867 Third Infantry Conotaph at site of historic Fort Larned cemetery

     On Sunday, October 11, this Post Cemetery Monument was rededicated, with soldiers of today's 3rd U.S. Infantry unveiling the memorial. A plaque including the known names of soldiers buried at the post cemetery is included at the site.

     Even though most of the original inscriptions on the cenotaph have been destroyed and worn away by time, some of the following text can still be made out:

     J. B. McIntyre Col. USA Died at Fort Larned Kansas May 9 1867. Was one of the officers, of Extra Duty. Maintained the Honor of His Country G [Gallantly] During the Days of the Recent Rebellion.

     The Fort Larned Post Cemetery was located on the east side of the Fort, across the oxbow. Both soldiers and civilians were buried there. There were 65 soldiers, around 40 civilians, and one Indian (a Cheyenne named Little Hart) buried in the post cemetery. The names of 62 of the soldiers have been identified, the others remain unknown.



Shops Building
Quartermaster Report: Shops Building
by Rachel Gaeddert, Park Guide

     [This is second in a series on the structures at Fort Larned. Plans are to feature one building in each issue.]

     In 1867 four compartments comprised the shops building. The walls were made of rubble stone masonry with gables at the ends and a shed roof over the entry doors. At that time there was a bakery, saddler's shop, carpentry and wheelwright shop, and blacksmith shop. Each shop had wood floors except for the blacksmith shop with its earth floor.

Blacksmith Shop
Blacksmith Shop

     The blacksmith shop was responsible for shoeing public animals, repairing wagons, manufacturing iron work for buildings, mending bunks, and doing general repairs for wagons passing along the Santa Fe Trail.

Carpentry-Wheelwright Shop
Carpentry-Wheelwright Shop

     The carpentry and wheelwright shop housed all lumber repair work at the post, built and repaired wagon wheels and wagon boxes, and other work with wood. The saddler's shop built and repaired leather equipment, including saddles, bridles, and harness. The quartermaster expected the workers in those three shops to be able to do anything asked of them the day they arrived for the job at Fort Larned.

Bakery Oven
Fort Larned Bakery

     The oven, now fully restored, bakes 340 loaves of bread at once. One baker, an enlisted man, kept the oven hot at all times and slept in the building.

     The doors to the rooms in the shops building open away from the parade ground (the only building on the post quadrangle which did not face the central parade ground) according to formality rules. The workers, who would take off their frock coat while working in the hot buildings, were not permitted to expose their white cotton shirt, or "under-garment" to eyes watching the parade ground.

     The Fort became inactive in 1878. The army still lived on the Fort, though, because there were intentions of turning the fort into a Cavalry school. However, plans changed and the property was sold in an auction and was used for farming/ranching. The shops building was reduced to two compartments, a livestock room and blacksmith shop, and a concrete floor was added. Restoration of the building began when the National Park Service purchased the Fort Larned property, and the concrete floor was removed.

     Archaeologists were able to find where the original shed roof sat next to the shops building by locating the drip line in the ground. They knew for sure that the blacksmith shop was the farthest south part of the building because of artifact types and other debris in an excavation. The outline of the bakery oven was found at the north end of the building. They also knew the original floor was wood because of finding joist pockets, sill plate, and base nailers. Findings like these allowed archaeologists to draw a plan of how the building originally looked, and it has now been restored to these characteristics. During living-history days, visitors may see the shops and bakery in operation.

Why Volunteer? What It Means To Be One
by Ron Drummond

     [Drummond, Salina, Kansas, has been a volunteer at Fort Larned for some 30 years. He did the restoration work on the Rucker Ambulance that Fort Larned Old Guard helped purchase for the Fort and has repaired and created many other historic items. He volunteers from 300 to 400 hours each year at Fort Larned. For his work, Fort Larned Old Guard named Ron a Colonel in the Old Guard and presented him a sword. He is a model volunteer. Thanks, Ron, for sharing your thoughts and inspiring all of us.]

     I suppose my first reason for being a volunteer at Fort Larned goes back to when I was in the third grade. My teacher was really into Indian culture, and we had a small tipi set up in the classroom. I've wanted to know more about the Indians and our pioneers ever since.

     When I was in the fifth grade I sat close to a window that looked out West over the Chase County prairie. I would daydream many times (and not get my lessons done) about people who had traveled or lived there. One of the class projects was to write a story, so I picked up on the old days.

     I knew a lady, Mrs. Josephine Jackson, who lived very close to my grandparents, at Clements, Kansas. I visited her every time I had a chance, listening to the many stories of the AT&SF Railroad being built by her place where Mr. Jackson was employed as a telegrapher. She was about 83 years old at the time and remembered when the Indians were camped along the Cottonwood River close to her house.

     This is where I based my fifth-grade story. That story has long been lost, but I remember getting a good grade. The teacher would not believe that I had not copied it from some book. Later, in the 1950s I would pick up Mrs. Jackson in my car, and we would drive into the field and find a few artifacts. She encouraged me in my interests and inspired me to learn more. I was in the military when Mrs. Jackson died in 1957, at the age of 91. I am now 74 but remember her as if it were yesterday.

     What I am leading up to is the importance of being a volunteer at Fort Larned, giving others the experience of those days gone by. I first visited the fort in 1979, during a summer vacation, picked up some of the VIP literature, and I was on my way. I am in my thirty-plus years of volunteering at the fort and served three years as an intermittent ranger. It has been a learning experience for sure. I have met people from Russia, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and who knows where. I have had the experience of making replica furnishings for the fort, manufacturing replica equipment, such as a handcart, ambulance, limbers, wooden coffins, etc. This requires much study and research to make them as nearly as possible to the original. I hope visitors enjoy and appreciate these items when they tour Fort Larned.

     I enjoy working with the other volunteers and staff to make the Fort come alive as close to the days of its operation as possible. The staff has always been helpful in doing so much. Although I am now limited for some health reasons, such as the marching and being out in the sun for long periods of time, I enjoy doing the cooking over the old kitchen range (Grandma would like to see this) on our special occasions, and doing the replica work. I still feel like I am a part of Fort Larned in many ways. Watching the many improvements come about has been a joy, including the blockhouse, barracks, commissary, bakery, etc., and soon the officers' quarters in HS-9.

     I hope I am doing for others what Mrs. Jackson did for me. Has it been 150 years, or was it just yesterday?

Tour Group Visits Village Site & Fort
     Serle Chapman, Cheyenne historian and tour guide for Go Native America, brought a group on tour of Indian wars sites to the village site and Fort Larned, August 9-10. Leo Oliva helped guide them for these two days, and George Elmore led them on the tour of the Fort even though it was his day off.

     They later visited other sites in Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Most of them came from Britain, with at least one from Australia. Most were well-informed about the Indian wars. They truly appreciated the opportunity to visit these places. When Oliva left them at the Castle Rock overlook the evening of August 10, where Chapman shared a wonderful story about Roman Nose, the group took a collection and donated $360 to Fort Larned Old Guard's village site fund. This is the second time Chapman has brought a tour to the village site and Fort Larned.

Charley's Trunk
Traveling Trunks

     The Fort Larned National Historic Site is pleased to announce the production of two traveling trunks designed for fourth-grade students. Based on two separate booklets written by volunteer David Clapsaddle, both trunks relate to a twelve-year-old boy. One booklet titled Charley's Trunk tells the story of Charles Parker, the son of an army officer, who travels to Fort Larned from Fort Riley by way of Forts Harker and Zarah in 1867, shortly subsequent to the destruction of the Cheyenne/Sioux village by order of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock. Along the way, young Charles accumulates a number of keepsakes which he stores away in his new trunk, a replica in miniature of his father's trunk given to him as a present on his 12th birthday.

I Heard A Coyote Howl- Parfleche
Indian Suitcase

     The other booklet, titled I Heard A Coyote Howl, involves a Cheyenne boy named Box Elder living in the above mentioned Indian village at the time of its destruction. The trunk used in this unit is not a trunk in the usual sense of the word. Rather it is a parfleche made of rawhide which Plains Indians used for storage, sometimes called an Indian suitcase. The booklet tells the story of the Hancock Expedition and the burning of the village through the eyes of a Cheyenne youth, a different perspective than that usually held.

     Both the trunk and the parfleche contain clothing and other artifacts germane to the stories. Students will be encouraged to handle such contents as concrete object lessons. Field trips to Fort Larned and the Indian village site thirty miles west of Fort Larned are an optional attraction. There are no charges for any of these services. All costs will be defrayed by the Fort Larned National Historic Site and its partners.

     At this writing, the trunks have been scheduled for the months of September through December 2009. Teachers interested in learning more about the trunks or scheduling them for their classrooms may call David Clapsaddle, 620-285-3295.

Custer Wasn't Here
by David K. Clapsaddle
     [Clapsaddle, Larned, Kansas, is an active member of Fort Larned Old Guard and writes about the history of Fort Larned, the Santa Fe Trail, and other regional topics. Special thanks to him for preparing this article for Outpost.]

     In April 1867 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer arrived with six companies of the 7th U.S. Cavalry and other detachments of the Hancock Expedition at Fort Larned. General. Winfield Scott Hancock's command had marched onto the Kansas plains to make a show of force to the Southern Plains Tribes only to be stymied by the Cheyennes and Sioux who thwarted the expedition's stated mission by stealing away from their village west of Fort Larned before the troops arrived there. Hancock's force of 1400 men was camped that night less than a mile from the village. The presence of so many soldiers near the camp of women and children, some of whom had been at the Sand Creek Massacre in November 1864 and all of whom feared another such attack, was the reason the Indians fled, leaving most of their homes and property behind.

     Custer and four squadrons of the 7th were dispatched in pursuit of the fleeing Indians. Through the balance of the spring and well into the summer, Custer and his men traced the Cheyennes and Sioux across far western Kansas into Colorado and Nebraska before arriving at Fort Wallace. There, Custer without authorization assembled army vehicles, animals, and personnel, both officers and enlisted men, to make a forced march to Fort Hays. From there, Custer made his way to Fort Ellsworth and by train to Fort Riley. Resultantly, he was arrested and court-martialed on a number of charges. Convicted, he was placed out of commission for a one-year period. [1]

     Regardless, Custer became a hero of sorts with his role in the 1868-1869 Winter Campaign into Indian Territory and the Texas panhandle in which Black Kettle's Cheyenne village was decimated on the Washita River in present southwest Oklahoma. Nor was his luster diminished in 1876 when he met his death at the celebrated Battle of the Little Bighorn. Rather, he remained fixed in the imagination of the American public as an icon of American manhood. Consequently, folks in Kansas have associated his name, inaccurately, with a number of locations in the sunflower state.

     One such location is Council Grove, where the so called Custer Elm is situated on Neosho Street. The remains of this giant tree have been preserved under a finely-constructed canopy. Nearby, a sign reads:

Custer Elm 1867
General George A. Custer and an element
of the 7th Cavalry camped beneath this tree
in 1867. The south portion of this park is
part of a 120 acre farm bought by General
Custer and Amos Kimble in 1869.

     True, the property was purchased from Malcolm Conn on August 4, 1869, and on the following day, Custer purchased three lots in the city of Council Grove. [2] But his presence in Council Grove in 1867 as indicated by the previously cited sign is doubtful. In early 1867, Custer was second in command of the 7th Cavalry at Fort Riley and departed the post on March 27 with the Hancock Expedition. During the subsequent months of the year, he was in the field, going AWOL and returning to Fort Riley in July. Following his arrest, court-martial, and suspension from command, he moved to Fort Leavenworth where he occupied the quarters, which formerly had housed Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, through the balance of 1867. [3] With the arrival of spring, Custer moved to Monroe, Michigan, the hometown of his wife, Elizabeth. Thus, it is unlikely that he ever visited Council Grove in 1867.

     A second such location is the Kansas Soldiers' Home at Fort Dodge, where the commanding officer's quarters, now the residence of the facility's superintendent, is identified as the "Custer House."

     In September 1868 General Sheridan telegraphed Custer to rejoin his regiment in preparation for a winter campaign against the Southern Plains Tribes. Immediately, Custer traveled by train from Michigan to Hays, Kansas, thence by horseback to Fort Dodge. There, he paused briefly before proceeding on to his regiment's encampment on Bluff Creek, thirty miles southeast of Fort Dodge. [4] It is doubtful that he ever set foot in the commanding officer's quarters.

     A third such location is the Cottonwood Grove Cemetery near the Little Arkansas River crossing of the Santa Fe T rail in Rice County, not far from Windom, Kansas. There, a sign is titled:

Stone Corral
Pioneer Stopping
Place Along the Santa Fe Trail
The sign is replete with misinformation, including the following:
1866 Large stockade of Cottonwood logs -
Camp Grierson built by U.S. Army 7th Cavalry
under George Custer and 78 black soldiers
stationed to protect wagon trains.

     The wording has reference to the short-lived Camp Grierson garrisoned by Captain William Byrne and Co. C of the 10th U.S. Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) stationed at the Little Arkansas from June through November 1867. Custer was never in command of black troops, the log stockade did not exist, and he never was at that location. [5]

     A fourth such location is at Fort Riley. There, a house, number 24 Sheridan Ave., for a period of time was advertised and interpreted as the Custer House. [6] Custer was quartered at Fort Riley in 1866 but not in the house as advertised. More recent research has documented that Custer lived in a similar, but different, dwelling that no longer exists..

     A fifth and perhaps the most outstanding Custer claim appeared in the March 23, 1904, Topeka Daily Capital:

"Home of General Custer Being Torn Down
     "The house which was erected in Topeka in 1868 by General George A. Custer and occupied by him and his family for a number of years has been torn down to make room for a modern residence. The old Custer homestead stood on a hill between Eleventh and Twelfth Street, about a mile south of the Kansas River. The famous Indian fighter had a balcony built on the west side of his home and Colonel George Veale and other old residents who remember him say that they spent several hours every day on his balcony closely scanning the surrounding prairie.

     "When General Custer and his family moved into the house he planted two cottonwood trees in the front yard. These were voted a nuisance by the neighbors several years ago and destroyed. The old house has been little better than a mass of ruins for a number of years owing to the vandalism of relic hunters. General Custer occupied one of the front rooms upstairs and many of the Indian campaigns were planned there. The walls of this room were covered with notes and figures made by Custer while planning his campaign. Some of the older residents of the city pretended to believe that Custer had secreted quantities of gold and silver in the walls of his home and this story was in a great measure responsible for the destruction of the house."

     The credibility of the article or lack thereof speaks for itself; but according to data from the Shawnee County Register of Deeds, a George A. Custer did purchase a lot near present Tenth and Quincy in Topeka on October 29, 1870. The date is at odds with the Daily Capital report of the house being built in 1868. The error is in keeping with the story of the property reportedly purchased by Custer and Amos Kimble at Council Grove in 1867. Morris County records show that the property was purchased in 1869. [7]

     The question looms. Was the George A. Custer who purchased properties in Council Grove and Topeka the same George A. Custer of 7th U.S. Cavalry fame? Perhaps a bigger question is, if so, what was the rationale for the purchase of the properties in light of the chronology established for Custer's life from the 1860s forward?

     Like George Washington and Kilroy, George A. Custer seems to have assumed an omnipresence. Perhaps, he is only outdone in this regard by Charley Bent and Jesse James.

  1. W. J. D. Kennedy, On The Plains With Custer (Boulder: Johnson Books, 1997), 53-141.
  2. Deeds Book C, 429, 432, Morris County Historical Society, Council Grove, Kansas.
  3. Lawrence A. Frost, The Custer Album (Seattle: Superior Publishing Company, 1964), 81.
  4. George A. Custer, My Life On The Plains (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 216-218.
  5. Louise Barry, "The Ranch At Little Arkansas Crossing," Kansas Historical Quarterly, 55 (Autumn 1972): 293.
  6. Frost, Custer Album, 86.
  7. Rod Beemer, "Legends of the Custer House, Topeka, Kansas," Little Big Horn Associates Newsletter, 18 (Feb. 18, 2009): 8.

Special Postal Cancellations At The Fort
     As part of the 150th commemoration, two special postal cancellations were conducted at Fort Larned by the Larned postmaster. The Old Guard provided two different special 44-cent stamps with photos of Fort Larned and an envelope featuring two photos of the Fort. On September 5 the cancellation was a reproduction of that used by the quartermaster department during the time Fort Larned was an active post. On October 11 the cancellation was a reproduction of that used at the Pawnee Fork mail station. These collectors' items are available for $2 each postpaid; contact Leo Oliva, 888-321-7341.

Rough Riding On The Plains (continued)
by Robert Morris Peck
     [Robert Morris Peck, a private in Company K, First U.S. Cavalry, in 1859, was present at the founding of Camp on Pawnee Fork that became Fort Larned. Peck published his memoirs in 1901. The portion of his memoirs detailing the background and establishment of the military camp are continued here and will continue in future issues. This portion of his memoirs picks up his story of events at Peacock 's Ranch in September 1867, when Peacock requested military help to deal with Kiowas at his trading ranche on Walnut Creek.]

     As soon as the news was received by the Major he immediately detailed Cos. K and G to saddle up as quickly as possible and proceed to Walnut Creek.

     In less than an hour we were in the saddle and on the road, leaving a few men to strike our tents, pack the wagons and follow us in the morning. We moved along the road alternately at a walk and then trot, so as to make as good time as possible without fatiguing our horses, but making as little noise as possible.

     "Wild Bill" rode a little way in advance of the head of the column to keep a sharp lookout for stampeding herds of buffalo, as the prairie was full of them here.

     We reached the Big Bend (the point where the road first strikes the river going west) about daylight, and here halted and dismounted for a few minutes.

     As we are now only five miles from the ranch, our commander, Capt. Walker, of Co. G, ordered that the men be prepared for action. Accordingly the officers of each company passed along the column, admonishing the men to tighten up saddlegirths, examine their arms and see that everything is in working order. This done, we mount and move on towards the ranch at a brisk trot.

     In a little while the adobe walls of the trading post begin to come into view, but yet so far that we can just distinguish them. As we approach nearer several Indians rush out, and, mounting hurriedly, go flying across the level prairie towards their camp. We are not allowed to give chase to these, but gallop up and surround the ranch, to catch the rest, if any there are still in the inclosure. But as none show themselves, we are dismounted and left holding our horses, while most of the officers enter the corral, on the inside of which are all the adobe shanties constituting the ranch buildings.

     Here they found only one Indian, a sub-chief of the Kiowas, named Pawnee, who had an unsavory reputation as one of the worst men in the tribe. He was somewhat under the influence of liquor, and seemed surprised when he found that his comrades had all run away and left him, and that he was surrounded by soldiers, but offered no resistance, and surrendered on demand.

     Peacock informed the officers that no one had been hurt yet, but that the Indians had carried off a considerable amount of his goods, and they only seemed to be waiting for us soldiers to get well out of the way before they began killing and scalping.

     During these inquiries the Indian prisoner was being guarded by the officers in the ranch, but was not watched very closely. His pony was standing just outside the gate of the corral, tied by a lariat, but without either saddle or bridle.

     Seeing no immediate need of our presence, the soldiers were moved off a little distance to where we could be grazing our horses a little while holding them by the bridles, while the officers were holding a consultation in the house to determine what next to do.

     Being both tired and sleepy we all dropped down on the grass, and most of the men were soon asleep. I was just dozing off myself, when I heard quite a commotion at the ranch, and on looking up I saw the Indian prisoner, mounted on his pony, going flying across the prairie in the direction of the Kiowa camp.

     The officers were rushing out of the corral gate shouting "Catch that Indian! Head him off! Head him off!"

     Their horses having been sent out on the grass where we were, they had none at hand to mount and follow him.

     Seeing the situation, and being one of the few who were not yet asleep, I quickly mounted and with a few others started flying over the ground in pursuit of the Kiowa. I had a very fast horse and soon gained on him very perceptibly. Several others were close after me, the nearest one just in my rear being Second Lieut. Geo. D. Bayard [Baird], of Co. G. I had now come, almost alongside of the Indian, with revolver in hand, when I turned and asked the Lieutenant. "Shall I kill him, sir?"

     "No"" said Bayard; "let me speak to him. Perhaps he will halt and surrender."

     I reined in and let the Lieutenant pass me. As he ranged alongside of the Kiowa, who had no arms except a butcher knife, he sung out to him: "Halt!" At the same time pointing his revolver at the Indian.

     Pawnee only turned his head towards Bayard and making a face at him, answered decisively: "Bah!"

     Bayard again called on him to halt, this time emphasizing his demand by firing a shot in front of him.

     Peacock afterwards explained to us that this Indian carried a certain charm, or "medicine," around his neck that was warranted to protect him from a white man's bullet. This may account for his seeming contempt for Bayard's threat, for he only leaned towards the officer and repeated his "Bah! bah!" making a hideous face at him, and brandishing his butcher knife, which he held in his right hand.

     This was more than Bayard could stand, so reining in his horse, as the Kiowa forged ahead he raised his pistol, and hissed between his teeth: "Take it, then, you ---- ---- ----!" and fired, shooting the redskin through the heart. (continued next issue)

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