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

Upcoming Special Events At Fort Larned
     It's hard to believe 2017 is already winding down. There are still a few big special events coming up at Fort Larned before the end of the year. All events are free; reservations are required for the Candlelight Tour.

     Labor Day Weekend Living History, September 2, 3, & 4, 2017: Volunteers and staff will once again bring the Fort to life to close out the summer. Come out and see all the old favorites: the blacksmith, artillery and rifle firing demonstrations, and flag retreat to close out each day.

     Naturalization Ceremony on September 22, 2017: Fort Larned will once again host the District Court of Kansas and the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for a naturalization ceremony. This year 68 people will be welcomed as new U. S. citizens at the best-preserved frontier fort in America. As with last year's ceremony, the Old Guard will be providing refreshments as well as volunteer help. Let us know if you want to help out. Or just come and watch--it's definitely a memorable event!

     The Fort's two new nature tubs will be introduced during a Monarch Tagging program on Saturday, September 23, 2017, 1:00 p.m. Learn about the pollinators, tag a Monarch, and play games during the ranger-led program. The new nature tubs' contents consist of activities, illustrated books and journals, free stickers, and stamps. There will be a nature touch table with all kinds of items one can find in nature. Available to families throughout the year with an emphasis on what each season showcases at Fort Larned National Historic Site.

     Candlelight Tour on October 14, 2017: Join us for one of the Fort's most popular living-history events. It's chance to see the fort after dark with only candlelight to illuminate the buildings. Attend a tour or volunteer to take part in one of the scenes. Either way it will be a night to remember. Reservations required for the tours, reservations accepted October 2 and after, 620-285-6911.

     Christmas Open House is planned for December 9, 2017, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Please get the date on your calendar now, and watch for more information in the next issue.

Apologies For Late Issue
     This issue is late because your volunteer editor is involved in too many projects. No one complains because the unofficial rule regarding the editor is that the person who complains becomes the new editor. Just know you have a sorry editor.

Three Fort Larned Staff Recognized
Congratulations to the following staff members:

     Robert Sellers, Fort Larned National Historic Site Preservation Specialist, received recognition in an appreciation letter from Ozark National Scenic Riverways in southern Missouri. He spent two weeks assisting with cleanup after a major flood.

     Superintendent Betty Boyko presenting Park Ranger Michael Seymour his 15-year employee certificate.

     Shawn Calkins, Fort Larned Water Operator, received his 25-year certificate.

Flog Chair's Column
by Janet Armstead
Exciting things are ALWAYS happening at Fort Larned.

     Fort Larned National Historic Site was nominated in the latest 10 Best Readers' Choice Travel Award contest! A panel of judges selected Fort Larned National Historic Site as a contender for Best Kansas Attractions. The contest, which is promoted by USA TODAY, gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice. At the time of this writing, Fort Larned is ranked 3rd out of 20. I'm hoping that before the end of the voting we have claimed the 1st place title!

     Fort Larned Chief Ranger George Elmore applied for and received a grant from the Department of the Interior to hire Cara Seats, former seasonal ranger at Fort Larned and a graduate student at Emporia State University, to complete a special project (dual-language story map identifying Santa Fe Trail historic sites within a 60-mile radius of Fort Larned) and purchase computer and other equipment for the project. The grant is administered by Fort Larned Old Guard. I appointed Leo Oliva to serve as Fort Larned Old Guard Grant Administrator.

     May 29, 2017 (Memorial Day) found the Fort full of Wamego area 4th, 5th, & 6th graders - 71 students plus 20 teachers enjoyed visiting the different buildings and volunteers. Most of the students earned their Junior Ranger badge. This group of Santa Fe Trail trip youth appreciated participating in the Ticket to Ride grant. Fort Larned Old Guard board members Christine Day and I ramrod this group.

     On Labor Day weekend the Fort comes alive with living-history volunteers and staff, all dressed in period clothing. Visit the soldiers, civilians, wives, and children and see how they lived on a frontier military post.

     Fort Larned will host a naturalization ceremony again this year. This special day will be September 22, 2017. Several groups will be helping with the ceremony proceedings, including Fort Larned Old Guard, DAR, and the Larned High School Band. The program will begin at 1:00 p.m. If you have not witnessed a naturalization ceremony, consider coming out to see the newest Americans take their oath. It is very moving.

     Candlelight Tour is rapidly approaching. This special tour is always held the second Saturday in October - this year it is October 14, 2017. The Fort will start taking reservations on October 2, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. The tours are free but reservations are required, and each tour is limited to 20 people. The tours start at 7:30 p.m. with tours leaving every 15 minutes after that. Each tour is limited to 20 people and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Come out and enjoy an evening at the Fort.

     There are many other things going on at the Fort. Check out the Fort Larned website to see what is happening when. Also, don't forget that it will soon be time to renew your Fort Larned Old Guard membership.

     I thank the Fort Larned Old Guard board for their support, and the time each of them spends working in support of our beloved Fort. See you at Fort Larned!

Superintendent's Corner
by Betty Boyko

     Outstanding work has been taking place at Fort Larned National Historic Site. If you have been to the park in the past couple of weeks, or have just driven past, you will notice several large pieces of equipment in the parking lot. When the new pedestrian bridge replaced the 1964 failing Roadway Bridge, the landscaping was not completed. The work taking place now improves the quality of the visitor experience by removing the evidence of the Roadway Bridge and the modern road. The entire area is being landscaped to the original 1860's appearance and will be reseeded to native grass. The new parking area, along with both approaches to the pedestrian bridge, is also being landscaped to the 1860's appearance.

     The new museum exhibit project continues to take a lot of staff time and energy. As a result of the exhibit team's hard work and focus on telling the complete park story, we anticipate the final product to be outstanding. The current schedule provides for the fabrication and installation of the new exhibits to be completed in the spring of 2019.

     The new brochure project is nearing completion and should be available in December. An exciting and central focus of the brochure is an artist rendering of how Fort Larned would have looked on a busy spring day in 1868 (see below).

     As we enter into the fall season plans are underway for several great events. The Labor Day weekend kicks off the season with a three-day living-history event followed by a Naturalization Ceremony. The initial ceremony, held in 2016 with the Old Guard's assistance, was such a beautiful program that Fort Larned has been asked to host it again. If you missed it, be sure to come out to the park on September 22, 2017 for the second Naturalization Ceremony. Once again, we are appreciative of the support that will be provided by the Old Guard. If you would like to volunteer to help direct people or serve refreshments, please contact Fort Larned Park Ranger and event coordinator Celeste Dixon at 620-285-6911.

     Chief Ranger George Elmore is working on developing a theme for the Oct. 14, 2017 Candlelight Tour. As the tour always is, I know it will be both fun and educational. The tours fill up quickly so to show our appreciation to the Fort Larned Old Guard, we will again hold back 25 slots on the 8:00 p.m. tour for members of the Old Guard. To get on the 8:00 p.m. tour, please call the park after Oct. 2 and let us know that you are a member of the Fort Larned Old Guard.

     If the Fort Larned Old Guard slots are not all filled by Oct. 10, 2017, the remaining slots will be made available to the public. Every year, a few of the Fort Larned Old Guard members assist with the tour instead of going on the tour. If you would like to show your support by helping with the event, please contact George Elmore at 620-285-6911.

     Fort Larned National Historic Site simply cannot begin to thank the Fort Larned Old Guard enough for being such a forward thinking progressive friends group. The Board of Directors and members not only support the park, but share our vision and developmental and program goals. With your continued help, Fort Larned's future is and will continue to be bright.

Fort Larned Roll Call: Jim Roessler
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     Jim Roessler is a maintenance worker at Fort Larned this season. He has worked for the National Park Service since 1992 with very few breaks in service over the 25-year period. He's enjoyed working at many wonderful parks, including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Great Basin National Park. The skills he brings to us include general repair work and painting. Jim has scraped and repainted the cupolas this summer and they look great. He also filled the cracks in the school then repainted it.

     A native of Southern California, he grew up in an area of San Fernando, California. Jim clearly recalls the day when the 1971 earthquake hit. He lived 25-miles from the epicenter in the San Gabriel Mountains. The magnitude 6.6 quake caused the collapse of a bridge and a hospital. Jim, then 16 years old, was lying on his bed situated against the wall. The devastating tremors moved him with his bed to the center of the room.

     Jim now considers Dover, Tennessee, his home, where he owns some property. He will soon be retiring from National Park Service work. Eager to start a new chapter in his life, he plans to travel on his motorcycle and will certainly visit other national parks. He enjoys singing in a church choir and often belts out Elvis songs--though not in church!

     When asked what he likes about Fort Larned, Jim doesn't hesitate to say, "When the weather is not brutally hot this is a very nice place."

The 12-Pounder Roadshow At The Fort Hays Sesquicentennial
by Clayton Hanson, Park Ranger

     On June 17, 2017 an intrepid crew from Fort Larned retraced the military route to Hays and joined the Fort Hays 150th Anniversary Celebration (150 years at present location). They demonstrated the use of the Model 1841 Mountain Howitzer to the crowd and punctuated the weekend's festivities with a "boom" or two. They also joined dozens of living-history volunteers who brought to life western Kansas in 1867.

     During the week George Elmore, Karl Grover, Clayton Hanson, Carson Norton, and Mike Seymour packed their haversacks for hot weather and readied the howitzer for a trip north. Sure enough, that Saturday dawned hot and humid and temperatures would climb just shy of triple digits. Even rolling north in modern, air-conditioned vehicles, it was easy to see the physical endurance that soldiers needed for patrols to Fort Hays and Fort Dodge.

     A bronze tube gleaming in the sun remains a sure way to attract attention and that Saturday was no exception. After setting up the piece near the Fort Hays guardhouse, members of the crew talked with groups and individuals drawn to the gun. Kaley Conner from the Hays Daily News stopped by to chat and take photos.

     At the appointed time, dozens pressed against the safety line separating the range and rangers from the audience. Crew members described their roles in the upcoming artillerists' dance to nearly one hundred spectators. Then they took their positions and demonstrated the process of firing in detail. With practice complete, it was time to fire a charge. Smoke and thunder filled the hills south of Hays as Mike pulled the lanyard and the primer ignited the black powder charge.

     While the artillery demonstration was among the loudest, the crew was only one part of a living-history extravaganza. Familiar units like the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry and familiar faces turned the grounds of the old fort into a window into 1860's civilian and military life. Visitors could watch blacksmiths hammer or soldiers drill.

     Oppressive afternoon heat reduced the size of the crowd but not enthusiasm for a second demonstration. Once again, the boom echoed across Smoky Hill Trail and the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road and drew questions. Then it was time to head back to the fort. The wind had changed and was blowing together the clouds into towering parapets far to the south and east. What would soldiers have thought if they had turned to face storm clouds during a march home?

Volunteer Roll Call: Cory, Nancy, & Sera White
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     Introducing the White family---Cory, Nancy, and Sera. All three have been actively volunteering at the Fort's events the past couple of years. Residing in Hanston, they are in the process of moving to Larned, and will have many more opportunities to volunteer.

     Cory recently tried his hand as a blacksmith's apprentice and caught on quickly. He is an avid photographer and has given the Fort some great photos taken at programs for the park's Facebook page. Cory genuinely enjoys visiting with people and always has a smile to offer. He works at Wilson Trailer Sales in Dodge City.

     Nancy, a native of Larned, is a Girl Scout troop leader and knows the importance of community involvement for the scouts and for everyone. It also helps that she loves history. Although she leads a small troop of scouts, the girls have earned the National Park Service-Girl Scout patch for participating in more than one living-history event.

     Nancy remembers coming to the Fort on the 4th of July as a child and winning a three-legged race with her cousin. The Tiller and Toiler published a picture of the girls' victory. She reminisces about her fun childhood visiting the Fort. But some things don't change. Nancy says, "I have spent many days out there with my family my entire life. Cory and I even spent our honeymoon there with all of our family. We love that it is a family friendly environment out in nature and away from town where we can spend time together as a family, and we seem to still always learn something new each time we are there." Nancy works for the Larned United Methodist Church.

     Sera, age 14, is starting her freshman year at Larned High School. She comes to all the events, sometimes as a scout volunteer and other times to help the rangers with just about anything. She assists with crafts, living history (cooking, vegetable gardening, and as a laundress), and is the ideal volunteer for engaging young children in activities. Sera would make a good park ranger at a historic site--like Fort Larned--someday. Whatever path she chooses, her volunteer experience will serve her well. Sera is an avid reader and likes dressing up in period clothing.

Post Surgeon: James M. Laing
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
(This is seventh of the series on the post surgeons at Fort Larned.)

     Acting Assistant Surgeon James M. Laing relieved Assistant Surgeon Alfred A. Woodhull on October 10, 1870. Dr. Laing served as Fort Larned's post surgeon until April 23, 1871. Dr. Laing was a native of England who settled in Rhode Island and served as a surgeon of volunteers during the Civil War. His tenure as Fort Larned post surgeon involved several medical cases demonstrating the non-combat dangers of frontier military duty and the limited medical capabilities of both the time and place in which he practiced.

     The first and probably the most difficult case occurred in the fall of 1870 when Dr. Laing was called upon to treat Sergeant David Gordon for a gunshot wound to the knee. His treatment for the case was detailed in A Report of Surgical Cases Treated in the Army of the United States from 1865 to 1871, published by the Surgeon General's Office in 1871.

     Sgt. Gordon of Co. M, 7th Cavalry, was escorting the paymaster, Major Deaver, from Fort Hays to Fort Larned on November 17. The group was 12 miles from Fort Larned when Sgt. Gordon went to pick up a loaded carbine that had been knocked over when the wagon was jolted by a bump in the road. The sergeant had taken the opportunity to lecture the junior enlisted men with him on the dangers of traveling in a wagon with a loaded gun when the rifle went off, shooting him in the right leg in the upper shinbone area. The bullet passed through the head of the tibia, shattered the patella, and came out through the lower portion of the femur.

     Medical help arrived from Fort Larned around 11:30 p.m. when the detail was still eight miles out. Sgt. Gordon's wound was dressed with lint, soaked in persulphate of iron, and bandaged. When he finally arrived at the fort the following morning, Dr. Laing put him under with chloroform to better examine the wound. He initially did not find any injury to the patella and decided that since the patient was a young, healthy 25-year-old man he would try to save the limb rather than amputating it. He cleaned out the wound with carbolic acid using a syringe, dressed it in several layers of lint soaked in carbolic oil, and propped the leg on pillows to wait for the swelling to go down.

     It seemed like the treatment was off to a good start since the patient did well for several days. On November 21, though, Sgt. Gordon developed a fever and the wound entrance had sanious discharge (a thin, greenish fluid often discharged from wounds). The skin in the area around the wound was sloughing off and the upper thigh was a brownish color. Dr. Laing didn't think an amputation with the patient in this condition was advisable so he removed the dressings and covered the entire wound with a yeast poultice. In a few days the fever subsided but the condition of the wound became worse. Gangrene set in around the wound entrance and pus began to form in large areas of the thigh. Dr. Laing again rinsed the wound with carbolic acid by using a syringe and wrapped it with carbolic oil dressings. Sgt. Gordon's health improved enough with this treatment to allow for an amputation of the infected limb.

     On December 11, Dr. Laing sent a message to the post surgeon at Fort Dodge, Assistant Surgeon W. S. Tremaine, to not only come and assist with the operation but to also bring amputation instruments since there were no suitable ones at Fort Larned. By the afternoon of the 13th the leg began to hemorrhage, but the bleeding was controlled with a tourniquet. After Dr. Tremaine arrived, he and Dr. Laing both agreed that an amputation would be too risky after the blood loss. They decided instead to make an opening toward the back of the thigh to drain the pus from the leg. As they examined the leg to find a location, the bleeding began again, this time coming from the femoral artery.

Amputation Instruments
     At this point both doctors agreed that amputating the limb was the only chance Sgt. Gordon had to survive. He was immediately put under with chloroform and his thigh was amputated above the knee. After controlling the bleeding from the femoral artery and other smaller blood vessels the skin flaps were left open after being washed with a strong solution of carbolic acid and a tourniquet was loosely applied. Sgt. Gordon nearly died on the operating table and was only revived with artificial respiration and ammonia. His system did not recover from the shock of the operation. He never regained consciousness and died 50 hours later on December 16. His treatment kept Dr. Laing busy for the better part of a month as he labored to save the man's life.

     It was only after he died and Dr. Laing was able to thoroughly examine the wound that he found out how extensive the injury was. He hadn't detected the shattered patella because neither the femur nor the fragments of the broken patella had been displaced and the ligaments held the patella fragments in. Had Sgt. Gordon suffered this wound today, not only would antiseptics and antibiotics be available to help prevent and control infection, an x-ray would have revealed the true nature of his injuries, which might have helped the doctors provide a better treatment for him.

     At the same time that he was treating Sgt. Gordon, Dr. Laing also treated a fatal case of diarrhea. The patient in this case had drunk quite a lot of the low quality whiskey sold at the sutler's store. It often happened that men drank heavily after being paid and Dr. Laing lamented the fact that since the paymaster only came every two months many men drank themselves insensible after the two-month enforced "dry" spells. He recommended paying the men more often so they wouldn't have to wait as long after spending all their money, or have such a large amount of money to spend on alcohol.

     During December several men reported to the hospital with frostbite due to the subzero temperatures typical of Kansas winters. Dr. Laing put out signs to warn of the hazards of prolonged exposure to the cold for the benefit of mail couriers, soldiers on guard duty, and anyone else who had to be outside for long periods. At this time the accepted treatment for frostbite was to rub the affected area with snow, based on the advice of Baron Larrey, surgeon-in-chief of Napoleon's army during the invasion of Russia. He believed that friction massage with ice or snow and avoiding heat in the thawing process was the proper treatment.

     While James Laing's tenure as Fort Larned's post surgeon definitely had some challenges, he was present for an event that every surgeon since the stone building project began at the post had advocated for, the replacement of the old adobe post hospital and with a better facility in which to treat the injured, wounded, and sick men. On February 17, 1871, the post received an order from Department Headquarters authorizing the conversion of the northwest side of the west barracks building into a new post hospital. Dr. Laing happily joined the soldiers detailed to tear down the adobe hospital. He also helped plant spinach on the ground where the old hospital had stood, saying that for once the place had a "more respectable" appearance.

     Dr. Laing appears to have been a competent and dedicated doctor. For him and doctors of this time the ability to heal and save the lives of the patients under their care was hampered by the medical knowledge of the day. While advances had been made during the century, there were still many drugs, techniques, and medical equipment still awaiting discovery that would save the lives of soldiers that might otherwise have died.

Living In The North Officers' Quarters
Part 5: Visitors From The Past
by Sam Young, Fort Larned National Historic Site Volunteer, and Jim Freeman, Fort Larned Ranch Resident

     When I finished Part 4, published in the Spring 2017 issue of the Fort Larned Outpost, I truly felt the series was completed. It is (probably) as far as 1868/today is concerned. However, a strange thing happened!

     Four or five years ago I was in the kitchen of my quarters on a weekday afternoon preparing a bison stew for supper when I heard visitors in the hallway commenting "someone is cooking and it smells good." I invited them in and began a very unique experience for them and for me. I was living the period 1868/present and here was a man who lived in these same rooms for a year and whose Fort Larned Ranch experience ran from the mid-1940s to sometime in the mid-to late 1950s. One of the things I remember from that visit was when one of the ladies asked if she could get to the cellar from the kitchen as she wanted to see if their names were still on the kitchen floor joists. I opened the cellar door from the kitchen and down she went. Almost immediately she was shouting "they are here!" After the visitors from the past departed I was in a "WOW" state of mind and frequently told about their visit.

But this story does not end there.
     On Friday 26 May 2017, I was at Fort Larned (one of my rare visits there due to the physical challenges I now have). A few months earlier I had acquired a Clairon bugle, the most common bugle used during the Civil War and after, and wanted to play Retreat on it when the flag was lowered on the 27th. It was about time for lunch and I was heading to the parking lot to sit in my comfortable truck and eat lunch. En route I met a young family at the mail coach on the south side of the south officers' quarters. The father was taking the children's picture (they were in the coach) while the mother was talking on her phone with someone who was trying to direct her to a house he wanted her to visit. Then I heard him say it was the house he had lived in and visited several years before and that there was a guy in the kitchen who was cooking on the stove. I immediately told the young lady I was that guy. She said he was her father and she put me on the phone with him. We chatted, I gave his family the same tour, and they saw the names on the floor joists. And thus begins Part 5, Living in the North Officer's Quaters, in his own words. His name is Jim Freeman.

This is looking north.
     The first house is former commanding officer's quarters where Mr. Frizell lived. The next would be where my Uncle Clyde and Aunt Blanche Douglas lived. He was the ranch foreman for many, many years.

     My first memories of the fort were all about Fort Larned Ranch, around the year of 1945. I was four years old. We lived in Larned. My cousin, Leroy (Peewee) Douglas, lived on the ranch, where his dad, Uncle Clyde Douglas, was the foreman. I never saw a man with such large hands. Going out to the ranch was such a huge adventure to me. It seemed a long drive then. We turned off the highway on a dirt road, drove thru some trees, and down across the Pawnee stream on a narrow bridge. The Pawnee was a very scary murky deep creek to us boys. Our folks told of many scary stories about that creek, about very large catfish as big as a man, and all the wild life that hung out down there, such as raccoons, snakes, possums, and panthers. At night time the older men sat around on the porch telling all these scary stories. Those are some of my favorite memories.

     After crossing the bridge, which was down close to the water, we would drive up to see the huge scary barns, and then Aunt Blanche's house, which was in the far side of the first house we came to. (Note: this is the south side of the old north officers' quarters.) Aunt Blanche was Uncle Clyde's wife. He was boss of the ranch, but she was boss of the house. I was safe with Aunt Blanche. There was a long porch, with lots of names scratched into the sandstone block walls. If you see today the names Freeman, Douglas, Toleland, and Green, those are my folks.

     Going into the house was a wide large hallway with a bathroom at the end. (Note: Where in 1868 and the present the back porch is located. The bathrooms were added during the ranch period and removed by the National Park Service when the building was restored to its 1868 appearance.) I still remember the echo kind of sound as you walked that hall with the high ceiling. To the left was like a formal parlor with things we were not allowed to touch. Then you passed through the living room and dining room (Note: In 1868 and today these rooms were/are a bedroom and the kitchen). Then (you went through what is the door from the kitchen to the porch) into the big kitchen (in the "U" shaped area behind the original stone building) where we spent most of our time visiting and eating.

     There was a door (in the dining room) that opened to some stairs that went down into a dirt cellar. It was very scary to me. On the right side of the hallway were the bedrooms (Note: Junior officer rooms in 1868) with large beds with thick fluffy feather beds, with heavy homemade quilts. My life was threatened if I peed in them.

     The people who lived in the first part of the building, I guess the north end, were a German family that worked on the ranch. At the other end of the houses (Note: the south set of what was and now is the south officers' quarters) is the house where the Mexicans lived. The same Mexican families lived there forever. They were very friendly, and knew my grandpa's folks. They were very hard workers on the ranch. Out behind their place was a large old looking ice house, where they stored ice blocks cut from the Pawnee, in sawdust. I remember in Larned how the ice man came around to put a block of ice in the bottom of our icebox. I still refer to our frig as an icebox sometimes without thinking about it.

     The middle home on the housing strip (Note: which was and again is the commanding officer's quarters) was where Ed Frizell and his family lived. He was the owner of the ranch. Later his son lived there with his wife. I remember Ed mostly when I was in the sixth grade in Larned; I shined his boots as that was my job at the Laned golf course clubhouse.

     Us boys hardly ever played back of the houses, because the scary Pawnee creek was back there, and it looked so deep, with steep banks. But my uncles and aunts used to go swimming back there. They built a diving board to jump off.

     The fort barracks on north side of parade ground were connected and converted into this huge barn, the largest barn in Kansas.

     When my dad's family lived on the ranch as boys, they were always causing some stress for the grownups with all their pet snakes and stuff in their little junk chuck wagon hut, back there in the weeds. The grownups were scared to go in there to get tools the boys borrowed.

     My dad and uncles tell about winters that were so cold the milk froze while milking. They tell about a blizzard the snow went up over the out buildings and fences. People were stranded and in serious trouble.

     Peewee and I loved to explore the old huge barns. The north barn was three stories tall, with hay to play in, and catching small critters. My favorite was a baby raccoon, which I raised. I named him BOBO. There were some old wagons and buggies stored up there. The bottom main floor of the barn was full of animal stalls, with mysterious wall hangings and relics and markings.

     Our young minds went wild with the tales of it being an old fort. The barn opposite from the houses, across the square, was the machine repair shop (Note: This is the area where the Shops building and old Commissary building are located. During the Ranch period they were connected together and served as the machine repair shop). Ranch hands were always working in there on farm equipment. We boys didn't go in there much.

     There were two tall silos (Note: one at each end of the machine repair shop but set in line with the tall barn on the north side of the parade field and the buildings on the south side.)

     East of the maintenance repair shop was a large pond, which was part of the Pawnee. We use to have ice skating parties back there. The older people would shovel a maze of paths in the 3 feet of snow to play "fox and the hound" skating game. Us little boys were generally scared of this area, because of the tales of a tunnel build by the soldiers to sneak out to get water. There was a round abandoned building near the south silo that we never bothered; again because of tales of it used to punish soldiers.

     The south barn we never played in. There were wild stories told about that barn. We would peek in thru the cracks and see a deep room that had cracked mud in the bottom. The older cousins told us it was cracked blood from soldiers that died fighting the Indians. We could see the gun port holes that were still in the walls, so we believed them. Anyhow, we stayed away from that barn.

     This is a picture of my two cousins taken up by the houses looking at the square and north barn. (Note the tall silo at the east end of the barn.)

     When I was in the eighth grade in Garfield, we lived several miles southwest of the fort. The fields were all open for riding our horses across the fields to the fort. There was a large alfalfa pellet mill south of the fort, and a one room school house. When I was in the fourth grade we lived with my Uncle Clyde and Aunt Blanche on the ranch for one season, and I had the privilege attending that one room school. The same teacher taught my dad and uncles and aunts when they were kids. My dad tells how he and some of the boys would jump out the school window and go chasing jack rabbits. They didn't get much schooling, as they were used to drive the horse teams following the harvest and building railroad grades.

     (Following the harvest) Grandpa John Freeman standing by his team and two sons. On the left is Harv. On the right is Orval or "Boots" as they called him. They were just boys. I really don't know the story of this picture. it looks like a water tank in their wagon. Maybe they supplied the water for that steam engine. The steam engine must be powering some other equipment, probably a thrashing machine, because you can see the long belt it is turning on a big flywheel.

     The center of the houses and barns was a large square of grass, with a high fence and with large shade trees around it. There was a small cannon and a stack of cannon balls in one corner; also a tall flag pole. I fantasized how the soldiers would march around in this square. My uncle Clyde had a brother, Charlie, who could throw a baseball across this square.

     My brothers, my dad and brothers, and my grandpa, all spent different times working on that busy active ranch. Uncle Clyde Douglas, who was married to my dad's sister (Blanche), was always the foreman for all those Fort Larned Ranch days.

     The ranch holds a great part of my boyhood days. I am now 76 years old, living in Meadow, Utah, on our 4-acre farm. I was so sad when I heard they tore down the big barn, but It is very interesting to go to the fort and see the rest of the story of its earlier history.

     (Note: Jim's story will continue in Part 6 as he shares some interesting stories, one of which parallels and include a unique experience I had while living at Fort Larned.)

The Enlisted Men of Company C, Third Infantry
Part VIII - Allen Bridge
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger

     (Fort Larned's main interpretive year is 1868, which is the year the stone buildings were completed. Company C, 3rd U. S. Infantry, was stationed at Fort Larned during that year and part of the research for the restoration of the barracks and hospital building was finding out information for most of these enlisted men. That information was compiled in the Historic Furnishing Study: Enlisted Men's Barracks and Post Hospital, HS-2. Here is the eighth installment in a series on the enlisted men whose information is included in that report. There are no photos available for these enlisted soldiers.)

     Private Allen Bridge is the next on our list of soldiers in Company C. There is no record of when Pvt. Bridge arrived at Fort Larned, but by January of 1868 he's listed on detached service at Fort Zarah doing picket duty. He returned to Fort Larned on January 15, where he was listed on company duty for the rest of the month. He was on company duty for all of February and until March 18th. At that time he reported to sick call with diarrhea. He was sick in the barracks for two days, then returned to company duty for the rest of the month. In April Pvt. Bridge was on company duty until the 21st, when he deserted. The records report that he was never captured.

     Desertion was a common problem in the post-Civil War frontier army. The desertion rate was often as high as 30% and, as in the case of Pvt. Bridge, many of the men were never caught. That was mainly because the army did not have the ability to mount a coordinated search effort. And, as one officer complained, the civilians in the area of military posts were more disposed to help deserters rather than turn them in. Also, in the large open spaces of the western frontier, any deserter with a good head start could easily evade capture from patrols sent out to find and bring him back.

     There were many reasons why men deserted from the frontier army. Poor quarters and food, low pay and long work days, combined with harsh military discipline often drove men to leave before their enlistment was up. Sometimes the boredom of frontier garrison duty prompted men to desert who had signed up looking for adventure. The lure of higher wages in an area of the country with a worker shortage was often difficult for some men to resist. Whatever the reason for leaving, those that were caught often faced court-martial, a dishonorable discharge, and sometimes prison time.

Maintenance Matters
by William Chapman, Facility Manager

     The heat of summer is upon us and it has been nonstop work. Our daily operational maintenance has kept the facilities clean, water safe, and air conditioning cool. They also continue to keep the grass mowed, trail cleared, and recycling and refuse contained. I cannot say it enough--the maintenance staff does a great job.

     Work continues on the preservation of the porches of the Commanding Officer's quarters. Since the Mess and Muster event, the columns have been repaired and new deck surface have been installed and treated with wood preservative. Material and labor has reproduced new stairs from the boardwalk to the porch and hand rail. Replacement balusters (spindles) have been installed.

     New Commissary HS-4 School room interior walls were repaired, cracks filled, plaster patched, and painted. A small area of floor was sanded and treated with a preservative. The west elevation masonry joints were tuck pointed. A few stones were replaced at this time as well.

     Historic Preservation Training Center, a service and training unit with the National Park Service, along with park staff, have preserved the Barracks/Hospital HS-2 structure and the cellar doors on Barracks/Visitor Center HS-1. This work included repairs to doors and window jambs, window sashes, porch columns, and painting of exterior wood architecture features.

     Historic Preservation Training Center arrived on site July 12, 2017. Park staff and a Red Hat (Volunteer) commenced to work with them in disassembling cellar doors and replacing deteriorated material with wood patches (Dutchman repairs) or complete replacement of the wood member. This includes replacing window seals, repairing windows, and door jambs.

     Twent-two wood columns had Dutchman repairs to the box column elements. We also returned the base trim to the correct historic profile that is on the other structures. Historic Preservation Training Center will complete the work to window sashes with repairs or replacement. Their shop facility will have replacement sashes completed in mid to late September.

     The Phase 1 of revegetation work associated with the 2013 bridge project began on July 27. Wildland Construction of California treated areas with herbicides in preparation for dirt work. This project will remove the built up prism of the old accessible parking area, the Hackberry trees planted to screen vehicles parked in this area, and it will contour the ground to blend into the surrounding. They will obliterate the old service road behind officers' row and connection to the old parking area. They will fill and contour on each side of the new earthen paved ramp from the new bridge into the Fort to soften the steep appearance of the ramp. Work will include new grass seeding, planting of forbs, trees, and shrubs. There will also be filling on the parking lot side of the bridge along the side walk to the bridge to lessen the steep inclines in this area.

     Phase 2 work is adding fill and contouring the steep grade of the parking lot, loosening the soils in the planting islands, planting forbs, grasses, and trees in these areas. Other elements of phase 2 includes planting trees around the parking lot and in the picnic area of the park and plant grass in the restored prairie adjacent to the parking lot.

Rough Riding On The Plains (continued)
by Robert Morris Peck

     (Robert Morris Peck's memoirs, published in the National Tribine in 1901, telling about life at Camp on Pawnee Fork, renamed Camp Alert, continue with his account of life at the post during the winter of 1859-1860. At this point Peck has just returned from courier duty, carrying a message overnight from Camp Alert to Peacock's Ranche at Walnut Creek. He had a close call with Indians and was tired and hungry when he returned to Camp Alert where he was welcomed by his friends. He wrote:)

     While I was eating and giving an account of my trip to the crowd that had followed me into the kitchen, Dave came in, pulling from under his blouse a black bottle and handed it to me.

     "Dave, is this some of the 10-gallon keg I borrowed from the Mail Agent before I went off?"

     "You bet yer boots! An' powerful good truck it is. Regular old-fashioned peach brandy."

     "Try it," said Crowly, coming in. "It'll put hair on you as long as a goat."

     As I looked around at the boys and smiled, I must have exhibited a very open countenance, for one of the Irishmen declared that my face "looked like a two bit watermelon with a five-cent slice cut out." Turning the bottle up I remarked, "You know it ain't often I indulge, boys, but this is one of the times," and taking a small drink handed it back to Dave.

     "Me too," explained Dave, as he stuck the neck of the bottle in his mouth and showed how expert he was at holding his breath. The bottle was empty before it got halfway round, and Harrison was sent off to replenish it, while I finished telling the men about my trip.

     As soon as Dave came back with the full bottle, Crowly grabbed it and taking sight at me exclaimed, "Old Pard, I'm lookin' at you!"

     "Drink hearty, Bill," I replied; "that beats 'commissary' mighty bad."

     The boys informed me that when the station keeper missed the keg of brandy I had carried off, he inquired for me, but on being told that I had been sent off to Walnut Creek with dispatches, he said that settled it--it couldn't possible have been me who took the keg, and, moreover, he knew I wouldn't do such a thing, as the boys had assured him that I was not a drinking man; but he mourned exceedingly that "some rascal had got away with a keg of the best peach brandy that was ever brought on to the plains."

     My chums had moved the keg up nearer to the quarters and hid it securely out in the timber.

     I suggested to the boys that as our commanding officer was a good fellow, a gentleman, a scholar, and a good judge of liquor, and wasn't getting anything better than "commissary," that I would like to present him a bottle of this good peach brandy, and pretend that I had brought it up from Walnut Creek. All hands concurring, I took a bottle full and went to his quarters. When he came to the door in response to my knock I saluted and handed it to him saying,

     "Lieutenant, I got hold of some good peach brandy on this trip, and thinking you would like it came to see if you would accept a bottle?"

     "Why certainly," said Bell. "I never go back on anything of that kind," turning the bottle up and taking a pull. "Why, that is good--something extra--have you got much of it?"

     "No sir, only a couple more bottles that I brought up for the boys. I thought a little of it would do them good."

     "Yes," as he took another taste, "that's good for the body, and may do the soul some good. Thank you. Go back to the quarters and caution the men not to take very large doses of it. I'm afraid it's too rich for their blood. But, then," he added, "they can't get very drunk on two bottles."

     I thought so too, but after supper the boys brought in a camp-kettle half full, and by tattoo many of them were feeling quite lively. I prevailed on Crowly and Harrison to let up on the liquor, and not use it so freely, for fear it would give us away; and, besides, it would soon be all gone, at the rate we were using it. So the next day we three (who were the only ones who knew its hiding place) gathered up all of the old empty bottles we could find, went off secretly to our treasure, drew out what was left--probably three or four gallons--put it into the bottles, and each one taking a third of them, hid them away in various places, to draw on at our pleasure. The other men who were not let into the secret soon began to hunt for our bottles, and occasionally would find one, as we had them hidden in a great many different places, but some of mine I kept for a long time. (And one of my bottles is still buried there at Fort Larned, Kan., if it has not been found, as I was sent away on the Kiowa expedition, expecting to come back there, but did not get to do so.)

     On the return of Corp'l Richmond's party from Cow Creek they reported that the wolf-hunter was still at Peacock's Ranch, but nothing had yet been heard from his partner. Poor fellow! His bones, and some pieces of his clothing by which they were identified, were found a few weeks later, on the other side of the river, not far from where he was last seen by the wolf-hunter.

     He had evidently been killed by the Kiowas, and his body left where he fell to be devoured by the wolves.

     Corp'l Richmond and party had brought another mail from Cow Creek, and a new escort was detailed to take it on to the Santa Fe Crossing of the Arkansas.

     I was one of the detail for this trip, as were also my chums, Bill Crowly and Dave Harrison. We met with no incident worthy of note going up the river, and saw no signs of Indians. At the Crossing we met an east-bound mail party, escorted by a squad of Mounted Rifles from Fort Union, N. M.

     We exchanged mail outfits with them, and each escort started back on their respective return trips; we to Camp Alert, they to Fort Union.

     On the first evening coming back we had camped on the bank of the Arkansas, near the ruins of old Fort Atkinson. Some of the men had killed a buffalo and brought in some of the meat, and we were busy cooking and eating supper, when a stranger--a rough-looking man, dressed in buckskins, frontier style, and well armed--rode into our camp on a mule.

     He seemed to feel perfectly at home, saying, "How're ye, boys?" as he dismounted. "Glad to see ye, an' if you've no objections I'll camp with ye tonight."

     As we bid him welcome he took out his bowie-knife, walked up to a buffalo liver that was lying on a wagon tongue, whacked off a chunk about the size of a man's foot, sat down on the ground, and began eating it raw, the blood actually running out of the corners of his mouth.

     I pointed to a frying pan near the fire, and suggested that he had better cook his liver.

     "No," he grunted, with his mouth full, "not for me. This is the only way liver fitten' to eat, to my notion. Try it this way once, 'n you'll never want it cooked a'ter that. Spiles liver to cook it."

     I begged to be excused, and he continued his feast, talking away all the time.

     "I wuz so hungry I fergot to interdouce myself. I'm Jim P. Beckwith (Beckwourth), Esquire--used to be Chief of the Crow Tribe of Injuns, or Upsarokas, as they call themselves. You may ov hurd ov me. Come from Bent's Fort--on my way to the States. Struck yer trail at the Santa Fe Crossin'."

     All the time he was filling himself with bread, coffee, raw liver, and everything else that was within reach or passed to him.

     Of course, most of us had heard of Jim Beckwith, the renowned frontiersman and quondam Chief of the Crows, or Up-sar-o-kas, but none of our party had ever seen him before. I was at first puzzled to make out his race; he did not seem to be a white man, nor yet an Indian; his hair being somewhat kinky, and lips thick, gave a suspicion of African blood. To solve the question I asked him if there was Indian blood in his veins.

     "The Crows," he answered, "claim me fur an' Injun. They say I wuz stole from them when I wuz a baby, fotched up among the whites, and in that way got my curly hair, bein' suckled by a curly-haired white woman. I let 'em think so, but I know better. No, sir; my daddy was a white man and my mammy wuz a mulatto woman. I was born in ol' Virginny, an' my folks moved to St. Louis, Mo., when I was a little feller. But I tuck to the plains an' mountains very young, an' have lived so long among the Injuns that I'm more like an Injun than anything else."

     I found at the start, though, that he was unlike an Indian in one important respect--he was an inveterate talker. I have since been told that he was a runaway slave.

     After gorging himself he unsaddled his mule, which he called "Screw-Driver," put a hobble on his front foot, gave him a kick, and started him off on the prairie to fill himself on the dry buffalo grass. We offered him a feed of corn for his beast, but he replied:

     "No, buffalo grass is rich enough for Screw-Driver--all he's bin uster. He wouldn't know what to do with corn."

     Jim accepted an invitation to bring his blankets into the tent and try to make himself comfortable, and concluded to travel with us down to Pawnee Fork.

     When we reached the post another escort relieved us, taking the mail on to Cow Creek. Beckwith, however, found our quarters and rations pretty comfortable at Camp Alert, and readily accepted an invitation to remain a few days, and rest himself and his mule, Screw-Driver, before resuming his journey into the settlements.

     As a class I have usually found these old frontiersmen to be great exaggerators and fond of spinning miraculous yarns to credulous "tender feet," whenever an occasion was presented; but as an out-and-out liar I would give Jim P. Beckwith the cake.

     He could tell the most outrageous and impossible lies with an air of utmost assurance of any man I ever met; and never seemed to think that anyone could doubt his veracity.

     I must confess that I was grievously disappointed in this man Beckwith. I had heard and read many things concerning his daring adventures and wonderful exploits on the frontier, especially an article published in Harper's Magazine not long before my enlistment, which gave me quite an exalted idea of him as a hero. ("The Story of James P. Beckwourth" appeared in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, XIII (September 1856): 455-472.)

     I had pictured Jim Beckwith and Kit Carson in my mind as two of the greatest of heroes, and now the ideal picture of one my great warriors was rudely shattered.

New Memberships
Fort Larned Old Guard welcomes the following new member:
     John Freeman, PO Box 130, Meadow UT 84644

     Sept. 2-4, 2017: Labor Day Weekend Special Events at the Fort
     Sept. 22, 2017: Naturalization Ceremony
     Sept. 23, 2017: Monarch Tagging and Introduction of new Nature Tubs.
     Oct. 14, 2017: Candlelight Tour, first tour at 7:30 p.m., reservations required (reservations may be made by calling the Fort on October 2 and after, 620-285-6911)
     Dec. 9, 2017: Christmas Open House, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Fort Hays Celebrating 150 Years
     New Fort Hays was established in 1867, and the Society of Friends of Historic Fort Hays has planned a series of programs during the year (please see insert with the schedule).

Speaker Tour on!
     Fort Hays 150 Years Guarding the Plains 1867-2017

Use Smile.Amazon To Benefit Fort Larned Old Guard
     The request for readers to use Smile.Amazon to benefit the Old Guard in the last issue mistakenly gave the incorrect sign-in for the website. The correct sign-in is Smile.Amazon. Fort Larned Old Guard has received donations from several orders, all greatly appreciated. If you order from Amazon, please consider using Smile.Amazon and choose Fort Larned Old Guard, Inc. for your donations. Thank you.

     Notice: If you would prefer to receive OUTPOST as a pdf file via email to save paper and postage, please send a note to the editor at {}. You will see color photos in color and may print out the newsletter if you want a hard copy. Thank you.

Membership Reminder
     Annual memberships in the Fort Larned Old Guard expire on December 31. If you have not renewed for 2018, please send dues to membership chair Linda Peters, 1035 S Bridge St, Lakin KS 67860. Additional donations are always welcome to assist with projects of the Old Guard. Thank you so much for all your support!!!

Deadline For Next Issue: November 1, 2017

Fort Larned Old Guard Contact Information
     The officers, members of the board of directors, dues information and email's are listed on this page of Information. Please feel free to contact any of us.

Schedule of Annual Events
     True to life stories of the Indian Wars along the Santa Fe Trail, brought to life by some of the greatest volunteers in the West. . . ! Visit the most complete Indian fort surviving from the days when Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody rode through this part of the West on their missions. Original restored buildings to that time period, a visitor center, Park Rangers will guide you through this adventure of the Old West.

     Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday & Monday) largest living history event in western Kansas - experience a working frontier fort.

     Labor Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday, & Monday) Re-enactors bring Fort Larned back to life for the holiday weekend.

     Candlelight Tour (2nd Saturday of October) Entertaining evening tours with vignettes from the fort's history.

     Christmas Open House (2nd Saturday of December) Old-fashioned Yuletide celebration with hot apple cider, cookies and Christmas carols.

     Fort Larned National Historic Site is a unit of the U.S. National Park Service located six miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156. Open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p. m. daily, the park's Visitor Center/Museum and all furnished buildings are admission free. Information on Fort Larned may be found at {}, by calling 620-285-6911, or by sending email to {}.

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