In this undated early 20th century image of the Commissary seen from the northwest, the fort wall is visible on the left side of the building. On the right side is evidence that the Commissary was built on the foundations of a bastion.
When the second Fort Smith was begun in 1838, it was originally designed for five bastions. It soon became apparent that there was not a need for such a strong defensive fort. The bastion on the northwest corner was soon converted into a storehouse, the Commissary.
Food supplies were stored here and later transported to troops stationed further west. Transcontinental railroad survey parties, '49ers heading for California's goldfields, and soldiers fighting in the U.S.-Mexican War drew rations from this building. it was later modifed for use as a barracks and hospital, then converted into a residence for court officials and Judge Parker's chambers. During much of the 20th century it housed a city museum.
The Commissary is the oldest building still standing in Fort Smith. Today the building has been restored to reflect its use during the military period as a supply warehouse.
To view additional postcards of the Commissary, click on the small icons on the right hand side.
Did You Know?
The soldiers who came to Fort Smith in 1817 were still using some 18th century technology and drill. The cannon was discharged using a lindstock and slowmatch to ignite the primer, which originally was loose powder or a turkey quill filled with powder.