In 21st century America, those of us who live even in small towns often don't appreciate the convenience of the corner grocery store or the WalMart supercenter. At Fort Scott in the 1840s, the post sutler filled that role for the soldiers and civilians in the area. He provided goods that could not easily be obtained otherwise. He also served as the postmaster, barkeeper and news vendor. He traded not only with the military, but also with civilians and Indian tribes. By bringing these groups together in trade, he became an agent of civilization on the frontier.
Since there will be at least two students presenting this station, one should portray the post sutler; the other could be his wife or one of his customers-a soldier for example.
However, the original store was located off the post, about 300 yards west of the dragoon stables. It is believed that this drawing depicts the original sutler store at Fort Scott: a log cabin with two rooms and 1 1/2 stories high. The store has been torn down but a plaque marks its location.
Did You Know?
Fort Scott never did have a wall around it. It was built upon a bluff which had three steep sides and opened up to prairie in a gradual slope on the south. Many forts were not built with walls at the time; the fort with a stockade is more a product of Hollywood mythology than actual fact.