Scraps of Local History, Picked Up Here and There

by George J. Remsburg

Louise Barry, a member of the staff of the Kansas State Historical society, had an interesting paper of 16 pages, with maps and illustrations on "The Fort Leavenworth-Fort Gibson Military Road and the Founding of Fort Gibson," in the Kansas Historical Quarterly for May, 1942.

While looking through my souvenirs a few days ago, I came across a letter from a cousin, the late Ernest c. Griffin, then of Nortonville, but later an attorney i Atchison, written from the former place, May 28, 1888--54 years ago--in which he extended invitation to attend the Decoration Day exercises which were to have been held at Nortonville on May 31, of that year. The orator of the occasion was to have been Colonel D. R. Anthony, of Leavenworth, and among other features was to have been a drill by the GAR. Wonder if their is a GAR veteran living who was present on that occasion?

Cleveland Williams, a chief warrant officer at Fort Leavenworth, writes entertainingly and instructively about the "Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth," in the magazine, Our Army, the accepted publication of the United States Army, April, 1942, number.

"Lamps on the Prairie--A History of Nursing in Kansas," is the title of a book of 292 pages recently gotten out by the Works Projects Administration and sponsored by the Kansas State Nurses' Association and the Kansas Department of Education.

It is "the story of the development of nursing in Kansas, prefaced by a bit of state history and enlivened by personal reminiscences of pioneer nurses." It is brought out, among other things, that the first hospitals in the state were established by the military at the several Kansas forts and that the first civilian hospital was opened at Leavenworth in 1864.

The Leavenworth Town Company was organized at Weston 88 years ago on the 13th of the present month.

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A recent issue of chronicles of Oklahoma, official organ of the Oklahoma Historical society, contains a 20-page paper on General Bennett Riley, a distinguished American soldier, written by Carolyn Thomas Foreman, a member of the society' staff.

General Riley was the second commandant of Fort Leavenworth, succeeding General Henry Leavenworth in 1829, and continuing in 1830. He again served as commandant in 1832, '33 and '34. As early as 1818 he had established Contonment Martin, on Isle au Vache, or Cow Island, in the Missouri river, about 12 miles above the present site of Fort Leavenworth. He was and early commandant at Fort Gibson. He established several well known western frontier posts and Fort Riley was named in his honor. He had brilliant records in the Black Hawk and Mexican wars and became military governor of California.

Eighty-one years ago this month, at the beginning of the Civil war, Union men from Leavenworth captured the rebel flag which had been floating over the old of Iatan, in Platte County, Mo. Slipping up the river in skiffs, numbers of the Second Kansas Infantry, succeeded in taking the flag, but not without resistance and blood shed. A short time previous, the steamboat, Sam Gatty, hoisted a Confederate flag at Leavenworth, but was compelled to lower it and raise the Stars and Stripes. In June of the same year, Leavenworth Free State men captured the celebrated cannon known as "Old Kickapoo," from the pro-slavery men of Kickapoo.

Letters covering a period of a quarter of a century written by Charles Francis Clarke and his wife, Mary (McGowan) Clarke and published by the University of New Mexico Press under the title of "To Form a More Perfect Union: the Lives of Charles Francis and Mary Clarke From Their Letters, 1847-1871," form a most interesting story of pioneer and frontier reminiscence. Clarke served in the First U. S. Dragoons from 1849 to 1854, was stationed at Fort Leavenworth at one time, and after his release from the army became clerk to the quartermaster at this post and Fort Riley. Later he operated a toll bridge and ferry across the Kansas river, near the latter post, and still later, served in the Sixth Kansas Cavalry as a lieutenant and captain, finally becoming assistant adjutant general to Gen. James W. Denver, in which capacity he served until his death in 1862.

Under the caption of "Bar-Fly Buzzes," the Kansas Historical Quarterly recently printed the following item taken from the Daily Kansas State Record, Topeka, April 22, 1870: "They sell a little shisky occasionally in Leavenworth. The Conservative says that the liquor licenses in the city clerk's office make a strip nine feet long, one name to a line."

Ninety-nine years ago this month the Oregon emigrants organized at old Westport, now Kansas City with Peter H. Burnett,of Platte County, Mo., as captain. He led the first overland exposition to that far northwest territory then drifted on to California, and became the first governor of that state. Burnett was a pioneer lawyer of Platte County.

Colonel D. R. Anthony located permanently in Leavenworth 85 years ago this month. And that is one of the best things that ever happened to the town.