From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Plans for Observing the Anniversary of the Historic Post Church Have Been Discussed--Six Cannon Are Incorporated Into Interior Walls and Tablets Have Been Placed to the Memory of Many Officers and Enlisted Men.
FT. LEAVENWORTH, KAS. April 9.--The historic old post chapel here will have its sixtieth anniversary this year and when the celebration of that event takes place many fond memories will be brought to mind by hundreds of army folk who have gathered there to worship in those sixty years and now are widely scattered.
Historical data shows that there was no provision made for public worship at Ft. Leavenworth from the time it was established in 1827 until in 1838 when the Twenty-eighth Congress of the United States passed an army revision bill which provided for twenty chaplains to be appointed to serve as religious leaders and educational instructors at "those places most destitute of instruction." Immediately upon the passage of that bill the Rev. Henry Gregory was assigned as chaplain at Ft. Leavenworth and he remained here one year. At that time the services were held in a suite of rooms in one of the old dragoon barracks but increases in attendance soon made it necessary to plan for larger accommodations.
In 1878 the authorities decided to provide a chapel for the residents of the post. The site chosen for the new building had been occupied by the sutler's store and was just a short distance outside of the original wall of the fort. The chapel was built under the supervision of Col. Asa Blunt, who at that time was commandant of the United States military prison. It was constructed entirely by the labor of prison inmates with stone quarried on the military reservation. The cornerstone of their new edifice was laid on the second Sunday after Easter, May 5, 1878, by Bishop Vail of the Protestant Episcopal diocese of Kansas. The building was not dedicated, however, until November 28, 1878.
Upon entering the beautiful old building now one of the things that first attracts the attention of the visitor is the number of tablets upon the walls, placed there in memory of deceased officers and enlisted men. This custom originated with the late Col. W. J. Volkmar, assistant adjutant general of the army, who was then serving on the staff of General Pope, commandant of Ft. Leavenworth. Among the more than fifty tablets, the first was placed there by officers and men of the 7th cavalry, a group of three tablets containing the names of their comrades who were killed in action at the battle of the Little Big Horn. The first name on the tablet is that of Liuet. Col. George A. Custer, better known as Gen. George Custer.
Another tablet is to the memory, of Gen. Henry Leavenworth, founder of the post, while still another and one of the most recent tablets placed on those beloved old walls, is erected to the memory of a Boy Scout. There, among the tablets dedicated to generals and officers of high rank is one to William Locridge Rosenbaum, 13 years old, who was killed in a motor car accident while on the way from Ft. Leavenworth to a Scout encampment, June 5, 1922.
The pews in the chapel are of solid walnut and are the seats which were originally placed in the building when it was erected. The woodwork surrounding the pulpit also is of walnut. Imbedded in the interior walls of the building are six cannon, three on each side, onto which candlesticks have been fastened. The beautiful stained glass windows in the chapel are the original windows. Among the properties of the chapel is a white satin pillow on which the brides and bridegrooms have knelt during the wedding ceremonies performed there and on which they subsequently wrote their names. Hundreds of names have been written on this pillow.
Chaplain Milton Beebe, present chaplain, asserts that in his opinion this is one of the most beautiful of army chapels and that the acoustics in the building are nearly perfect.
While no definite plans have been made, officials here contemplate a sixtieth anniversary celebration which probably will be held on the anniversary of the dedication of the building.