Historic Structure Report
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At the beginning of the preparation of this base map, Sutler's Row at Fort Union was a virtually unknown entity. The structures of the Row were visible in the background of several photographs, and two photos of "the Post Sutler's Store" were available, of two distinctly different buildings, taken at times nearly twenty years apart. Only one effort to sort out the structural history of these buildings, or to relate them to the confused mass of references to post traders, is on record; this is a plat of the ruins of the Row in the Document Files of Fort Union National Monument, apparently drawn by an unknown member (possibly Nick Bleser) of the Park staff sometime in the early days of the Monument. Because an accurate plan of the buildings was not available, and because the extremely complex sequence of changes to the regulations governing post traders was not understood, this plat was far too simple.

The present base map, with the photographs and the two military maps that show structures on the Row, has given clear enough an idea of the physical changes. Leo Oliva's research, along with the work of Robert Reiter, David Delo and Darlis Miller, when combined with available correspondence in the Fort Union National Monument collections assembled largely through the efforts of Nick Bleser in the 1960s, allowed a surprising level of detail about who built which building, what it was used for, who it was sold to, and when. As a result, somewhat more space has been given to the Sutlers buildings than was originally anticipated to accommodate this information. [5]

Early Sutlers and the First Sutler's Store at Fort Union

From the establishment of Fort Union in 1851 through the difficult years of the Civil War, only one sutler was allowed on post. The permit was usually issued in the name of an individual, but frequently that individual was part of a sutler's company, because the managing of a large sutler operation was complex and could not be handled by one person alone.

Someone had to operate the store from day to day, keep track of daily sales, keep up with stocking and inventorying, and see to the maintenance of the building; one leaky roof could mean financial disaster. Meanwhile, someone trustworthy had to take cash or credit to Saint Louis, Missouri, where they would purchase many thousands of dollars of goods, arrange for their shipment by wagon to the sutler store, and sometimes accompany the goods on the trip to insure that they were treated properly. It was common, in the face of these difficulties, to have at least two partners, one to manage the store and the other to be the travelling purchaser. The company would usually have a hired staff of several employees, and the store had residential rooms for some of this staff and their families.

The appointment as sutler could be an uncertain thing. Army regulations of 1857 required that sutlers be nominated by a "council of administration," composed of the second through the fourth-ranking officers at a post; the Secretary of War made the final decision on whether a given nominee received the appointment. [6] The officers at a post sometimes played their favorites rather than going with the best qualified person; and sometimes a sutler appears to have had his appointment cut short. Sutlers usually received an appointed for three years, "unless sooner revoked by competent authority." [7]

Jared W. Folger was appointed as the first sutler to the new Fort Union on September 27, 1851. The first sutler's store (HS-145) was undoubtedly begun soon after his appointment; a completion date of early 1852 is reasonable. The available drawings and plan show a building in the shape of a backwards "C", the open side on the west. Assuming that the size shown on the one available plan is representative, the building had a main wing about 85 feet long and 21 feet wide running north to south, with two somewhat lower wings extending west, each about 40 feet long and 21 feet wide. Pitched roofs covered all three wings, and there were at least two chimneys, one on the roof ridge in the center of the north wing, and the other on the southeast corner at the end of the roof ridge of the main wing. The building had a store, storeroom, post office, a residence for the sutler and his family, residences for some employees, and rooms for rent. [8]

Folger ended his tenure as sutler on September 26, 1854. In October, Ceran St. Vrain received an appointment ending rather abruptly in August, 1856. This was a month short of two years, rather than the usual three-year appointment. At the end of St. Vrain's appointment, there appears to have been a 4-month gap during which no sutler was at Fort Union. On December 31, 1856, George M. Alexander began his appointment as sutler. Alexander hired Nathan Webb, just arrived in the territory, to be his storekeeper. Webb, later to become a partner with William H. Moore, was recently arrived from Lafayette, Indiana. He had left his wife and fled to the frontier because of "a difficulty with another man's wife." [9] By 1859, Webb had become Alexander's bookkeeper as well as the store clerk.

Alexander may have built a new sutler's store, HS-162, at the southeast corner of First Fort Union. This building was first shown in 1859, and later became a hotel, apparently operated by the post sutler. It was a frame building perhaps thirty by fifty feet, with a porch on the front, facing north, and a pitched roof. A large depression visible within the ruins today, measures about 45 x 20 feet and appears to have been a cellar. The building had an enclosed yard about 100 feet long at the rear on the south, containing one or two outbuildings. The structure was built sometime between August, 1853, when only the sutler store, HS-145, is shown on the map, and the next available drawing made in May, 1859, when HS-162 was already standing.

In 1859 Alexander lost the sutlership to William H. Moore. On March 26, Moore was appointed as sutler, to take effect on January 1, 1860. [10] As the date of his receiving the sutler store from Alexander approached, Moore carried out the preparations necessary to begin business. Among other things, on December 16, 1859, he hired Nathan Webb, Alexander's clerk and bookkeeper, to be clerk at Moore's store. On the first day of 1860, Moore opened his sutler's store at Fort Union.

William H. Moore at Fort Union [11]

William Moore had arrived in New Mexico at the end of the Mexican War. In 1848 or 1849, Moore opened a trading post at Tecolote, about 12 miles west of Las Vegas and 48 miles west of Fort Union on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1851 he began selling supplies to the new Fort Union, established in July. Beginning in 1852, Moore entered into partnership with Burton Reese, forming Moore, Reese and Company, dealing principally in corn contracts, but also involved in forage sales and cattle herding for Fort Union. With Moore's appointment as sutler at Fort Union, and Reese's subsequent licensing as sutler at Fort Stanton in March, 1860, the business had become so complex that the company had to expand. The two formed a new company with William Mitchell to operate and supply the two sutler's stores and the Tecolote store; when Reese left for California soon afterwards, the partnership became Moore, Mitchell and Company.

From its opening on January 1, 1860, to February 18, 1861, Webb was the clerk and manager at the Sutler's Store at Fort Union, running the store for Moore, Mitchell and Company. Moore operated the main store at Tecolote, while Mitchell was principally the buyer, making the company purchases in person in St. Louis.

The census of 1860 gives a snapshot of the sutler's community at Fort Union. When the census-taker arrived on August 14, he listed Nathan Webb as the "merchant" at Fort Union. In his household was his clerk E. F. Mecick, and two servants. Also living at the sutler's store was the clerk R. Letetrin and a household of six other persons.

On February 18, 1861, Nathan Webb resigned as Moore's storekeeper at the Fort Union sutler's store and returned to "the States." This may have been some sort of ploy to pressure Moore into changing the relationship between the two men, because three months later, on May 15, Webb returned to New Mexico and entered into a partnership with Moore and Mitchell for the operation of the sutler's store at Fort Union, a partnership that lasted until Moore established Webb in a subsidiary company, Nathan Webb and Company, in February, 1863. This company operated the sutler's store at Fort Bliss, Texas. During the period from 1861 to 1863 when Webb ran the Fort Union store, he received a salary of $1,500 a year and one-eighth share of the annual profits from the store.

As the Civil War showed signs of sweeping into New Mexico, Moore, Mitchell and Webb found that they faced more difficulties than fire, rain, or Indian raids. On March, 1862, before they marched to the Battle of Glorieta, soldiers of Fort Union broke into "the Sutler's cellar and gobbled a lot of whiskey, wine, canned fruit, oysters, etc." It is likely that this was HS-162 by this date—the building called "the Hotel" in 1865 and afterwards. The large depression within its foundations may well be the remains of the cellar the troops broke into.

Moore Builds the Sutler Store at Third Fort

After the threat of invasion of New Mexico by the Confederacy had faded, the Army began the process of making Fort Union more inhabitable and useable than First or Second Fort would allow. Third Fort Union was designed by Captain John C. McFerran, Chief Quartermaster of the District of New Mexico, in mid-1862, and revised somewhat by Captain Henry J. Farnsworth, Quartermaster of the Depot of Fort Union. The Army laid out the plan of the new fort and began construction on a large storehouse and the Quartermaster Corral in September, 1862, although full approval of the new plans did not happen until November, 1862. [12]

About the same time in 1862, Moore built a massive new sutler store, HS-302. [13] The building was probably begun about September, after the Third Fort was laid out, because it is square with the plan of the fort and was placed so that "the front of the store was near the big gate," [14] facing the main west entrance to the fort compound, between the Depot and the Post. [15] Moore later stated that "the buildings were erected with the permission of the commander of said post of Fort Union [probably Captain Peter Plympton, who took command on September 25 from Major Henry Wallen], for the use of William H. Moore and Company as a sutler's store, and cost the said William H. Moore and Company the sum of $4,644.40." [16] Nathan Webb, Moore's storekeeper at Fort Union at this time, probably oversaw the construction of the new building, and transferred the goods from the old store to the new one. [17]

The main store building was a U-shaped structure of adobe, 63 feet across the front, one story high, with a large doorway in the center of its east face, flanked by a window symmetrically on each side, and the pitched roof was shingled. Rooms included the store, storerooms, several offices, a billiard room, several residential rooms, and a safe room.

Walls extending west from the north and south wings enclosed a large yard behind the main building; along these walls were several additional buildings, probably barns, stables, and storerooms. Visible traces give a compound 150 feet long and 63 feet wide. The entire complex was the structure that William Ryus later described as "built like a fort," with walls of adobe brick reaching to a height of nearly 20 feet, enclosing an interior patio or corral. A large gateway, 15 feet wide, opened through the center of the south wall of the compound. [18] "Here," said Ryus, "the wagons drove in to unload and reload." [19]

In early 1863, Nathan Webb left the Fort Union store to become sutler at Fort Bliss, Texas in partnership with Moore. About the same time, Moore moved his residence to his Fort Union store. Ryus described him playing billiards with Kit Carson about 1865, and he and his family were living there as of the census of 1870. [20] In addition to his store, Moore apparently operated a hotel (HS-162) near First Fort. This building, probably constructed as an additional sutler store at First Fort by his predecessor, George Alexander, went up after August, 1853, and before May, 1859, and continued in use as a hotel through 1868. [21]

Sutler to Trader: the Army Regulation Changes of 1866-1867

Partly in reaction to the excesses carried out by sutlers during the Civil War, on July 28, 1866, Congress passed Statute 14, an act that, among other things, abolished sutlers. The provisions of the statute were to go into effect July 1, 1867. [22] In compliance with Statute 14, on January 26, 1867, the War Department issued General Order 6, announcing the termination of the warrants of all sutlers on July 1, 1867. [23]

However, protests from western forts prompted Senate Joint Resolution #25 on March 30, 1867, authorizing the Commanding General of the Army to permit "a trading establishment to be maintained" after July 1. [24] This was interpreted to mean that the Commanding General could authorize a single trader at each post.

In response to this resolution, on April 20, 1867, Headquarters, Division of the Missouri, issued a circular requiring the Commanding Officer of each established military post in the military division of Missouri west of the 100th meridian, not at or in the vicinity of any town, to nominate, at once, through the regular military channels, a suitable person to maintain and carry on, after July 1, 1867, a trading establishment under the provisions of the Joint Resolution of Congress of March 30. As an interim provision, on May 24, 1867, the Adjutant General issued General Order 58 (authorized May 30), permitting sutlers to trade at posts between the 100th meridian and the eastern border of California until further orders. [25]

Moore Becomes a Trader

In the first week of May, 1867, Lieutenant Colonel W. B. Lane, the commander of Fort Union, received the order of April 20, requiring each post to nominate a person to become post trader when the regulations permitting a post sutler expired. On May 10, 1867, he notified Headquarters of the Army, Washington, D. C., of the possible choices for post trader at Fort Union. Two people had applied for this position before official notification to Fort Union. They were Charles Shoemaker (the son of Captain William Shoemaker, commander of the Fort Union Arsenal) and W. H. Moore. Lane left the final choice to the Headquarters of the Army. Headquarters of the Army chose W. H. Moore to become the new Post Trader when the regulations went into effect on July 1, 1867. [26] On July 1, when the position of Post Sutler was officially abolished, William Moore became the first post trader at Fort Union.

Up to this point, even through the flurry of almost-conflicting orders, business continued as usual for the post sutler, now trader; but the strongest impacts of the new regulations were still to come. On August 22, 1867, Adjutant General Order 68, by order of General Grant, modified General Order 58: it stated that any number of traders could practice at posts, subject only to regulations imposed by the commanding officer. [27]

With the passage of this regulation, Moore lost his monopoly on the trade at Fort Union, and soon had competition for the Fort Union and Santa Fe Trail markets. Sometime this year, probably soon after the regulation change, General Ulysses Grant attempted to get his brother-in-law John C. Dent a post tradership at Fort Union. [28] Grant's effort on Dent's behalf came to nothing, but about the same time Charles Shoemaker reapplied for a post trader position, and apparently had more success. Probably sometime in September, Shoemaker was issued authorization to build a house and conduct trade at Fort Union, [29] but on October 4, his license was revoked by Headquarters, District of New Mexico, in Special Order 97. [30] No reason for this action was given. Since Shoemaker must not have received permission to trade much before mid-September, it is unlikely that he got very far in building a store.

Dent and Shoemaker attempted to compete with Moore, but neither managed an effective assault on his position. The successful invasion of Moore's territory came from a third person: the Santa Fe Trail trader, John E. Barrow.

The Trader John E. Barrow at Fort Union

John Barrow had been operating out of Missouri since about 1860. He had traded in New Mexico beginning about 1861; as he said later, "I had been out there frequently before [1867]; I had traded out there in 1861, and sold out my goods to different parties." His major purchasing was apparently through Robert Campbell and Company of St. Louis, but he also had dealings there with Julius Smith and Company. In perhaps August or September of 1867, Barrow hauled $37,000 worth of goods to New Mexico; "after getting out there with them I found that I had no opportunity to sell them, trade being dull and no business going on." [31] Learning of the new regulations of August 22 allowing multiple traders at Army posts, he decided to give up on speculative trade and make the attempt to get a tradership at Fort Union. At this time, Fort Union was considered "the most valuable post, with the exception probably of Fort Sill and one or two others, in the country. . . . It had a large trade outside of the post." [32]

Leaving his goods in storage in Las Vegas, Barrow returned to St. Louis. He knew it would be difficult: "Mr. Moore, who was then trader out there, had been there for twenty years. He had a great deal of influence with the military, and I knew that there were a great many persons who had tried to get the appointment and who had not succeeded." [33]

"I used some influence," said Barrow, "went and saw Mr. [Robert] Campbell, of Saint Louis, and also Mr. Thomas, who was then quartermaster in Saint Louis, to use their influence in getting the appointment, but found out I could not succeed in that way, and so was induced to apply to Mr. [William D. W.] Bernard, knowing he was a brother-in-law of John C. Dent and an intimate friend of General Grant . . . I was advised by different parties to apply to Bernard as having more influence with General Grant than any other man in Saint Louis." [34]

About mid-October, Barrow was introduced to Bernard. Barrow said that Bernard "advised me to give him my own application in writing for that post, which I did, and he wrote a letter . . . to General Grant . . . . I was to give him one-third of the profits yearly for his influence with General Grant in getting me the place at Fort Union." [35]

Barrow had never met Bernard before; he said, "I knew nothing of Mr. Bernard only what I had heard—that he had been intimate with [General Grant], been drunk with him, given him a horse, and all that kind of thing . . . ." Bernard, a clerk with Julius Smith & Co., had lived in St. Louis for a time. He was married to the sister of John C. Dent's wife; Dent already had an interest in the tradership at Fort Union, and was the brother of Julia Dent Grant, married to General Ulysses S. Grant. Bernard was a friend of Julia's, and had known Grant for some time. Barrow had heard that "General Grant had been with Mr. Bernard. He lived with him when [Grant] was a poor man in St. Louis, for a number of years." [36]

After making his application through Bernard, Barrow was confident that he would receive the position at Fort Union. He said, "I left for New Mexico . . . I did not wait [in St. Louis] for the appointment." [37] Barrow was apparently back at Fort Union by December 5, when the authorization was issued, to go into effect January 1, 1868. [38] Barrow probably received this notification at Fort Union sometime in early or mid-December.

In mid-December, Lt. Col. John R. Brooke, commanding officer of Fort Union, gave John Barrow permission to build a store, and, said Barrow, "staked off my ground for the buildings." Barrow's building, HS-305, was built between about December 15, 1867, and February 3, 1868, and cost $7000. He brought the $37,000 worth of goods from storage in Las Vegas to sell in it. Once built and supplied, Barrow felt that his store was a good one: "I had probably the best sutler's store in America, and the best stock of goods at the time." [39]

Barrow was worried about W. H. Moore's competition. "We did not [sell at a big profit] at that time; we had competition. Moore . . . had a large trade, and the only way I could do anything was to sell at a much less profit than he did." [40] Barrow felt, however, that he had the financial base and business acumen to make his gamble as a Fort Union trader pay off. As it happened, he was wrong; but it was not William Moore who brought him down.

The Barrow Store

On February 3, 1868, John Barrow opened his store at Fort Union. [41] Barrow built the new store north of Moore's building, facing the same direction, and with its front aligned with Moore's; the two buildings established the line of what was to become Trader's Row, soon to acquire further additions. Barrow's building had an enclosure extending to the west an estimated 150 feet, the same size as the Moore store. It was an adobe building with a frame false front facing east. It had a substantial stone foundation and was about 70 feet across the front and 94 feet deep to the west. The building was divided into three sections by east-west frame partition walls. These three parallel sections had pitched roofs with the ridgebeams extending west from the simple false fronts. In part of the store, Barrow ran a bar called the "Billiard Saloon." [42]

Eventually part of Barrow's complex was HS-304, just south of Barrow's store. This building was either built by Barrow as additional space, or perhaps built by Charles Shoemaker in September, 1867, and never used by him, but purchased by Barrow. On the 1868 map it is shown as a simple U-shape with no rear enclosure; soon after 1868 the entire structure and its enclosed yard were incorporated into the compound of HS-305. This appears to be the building in which were located John Gilbert's barbershop and residence, sometime before October, 1868. [43] John Gilbert was an African-American, and was probably living on the row and operating his barbershop by mid-1868. Gilbert may have arrived in the Fort Union area as a member of the 57th Colored Infantry, stationed here in 1866. [44] Next to the barbershop was a stand used for a while in 1868 by a photographer, and then after October by John Taaffe, who sold beer by the bottle out of the stand. [45]

Barrow was expecting his first wagon train from the States on February 15, and his second on March 15. On July 3, Barrow sent a new ad to the Santa Fe newspapers, in which he stated that he was "now receiving over 100 tons of assorted merchandise." [46] Barrow said later, "I had bought $50,000 or $60,000 worth of goods from January until October or November . . . ." [47] He replenished his stock "two or three times." However, Barrow was not making a large profit, because he was having to undercut Moore's prices to acquire some of the trade.

Barrow to Bernard

About May, to Barrow's dismay, his supposedly silent partner William D. W. Bernard moved from St. Louis to Fort Union. Here he "proposed to take his share of the profits and stay in the house, which he did for some time," presumably living in the residence in Barrow's store. [48]

In October, 1868, Barrow left on a purchasing trip to St. Louis, leaving the store in the hands of "Mr. Mickels," his clerk. [49] About the end of October, Barrow's appointment was cancelled. "Without any notification whatever I received a dispatch from my clerk, stating that my permit was revoked, and that Mr. Bernard was appointed in my place." [50] About the same time, Bernard telegraphed John C. Dent to meet with Barrow and arrange to buy Barrow's goods for Bernard. [51] Bernard took over the store in his absence: "He was appointed, and being around in the house sometimes, Mr. Mickels, the clerk, did not know what to do . . . He just turned it over to him after he got the appointment." [52] Of course, Bernard was in some sense Barrow's partner, and could argue that he had some claim to the store and its goods.

Barrow was uncertain as to how Bernard was able to take over the trader position, but thought it likely that "he got it through General Grant, as a matter of course." [53] Barrow had the impression that Bernard exercised a good deal of power. For example, after Bernard moved to Fort Union, "he seemed to take charge of everything at Fort Union. General Grier was commander after General Brooke left there. [Bernard] seemed to have control over him, and in fact talked about having the post-commander appointed, and talked about the old man [General Grant] as if he [Bernard] was almost Secretary of War himself, and could accomplish everything. That was the way in which he conducted himself around the post and all through the Territory." [54] This was in 1868, before General Grant became president. Grier, a colonel at the time, was appointed post commander on July 12, 1868, and continued so until September 11, 1869. [55]

Barrow left St. Louis soon after being notified of the loss of his appointment; he met with Dent and returned to Fort Union with him: "I took Mr. Dent down with me to the fort, and when I got there Bernard had charge of everything." [56] They arrived at Fort Union in the second week of November, and on November 16, Barrow terminated the partnership with Bernard. [57] On December 9, Barrow sold the store and goods to Dent—he thought. Barrow said that he and Dent entered into a written agreement, but "it was not signed, however. It was a memorandum agreement. We had just got through taking stock as the stage came up." Apparently Barrow and Dent left Fort Union for St. Louis on December 9, after a stay in New Mexico of about three weeks. [58]

A month and a half later, on January 26, 1869, Bernard finally announced in the New Mexican that his partnership with Barrow had ended on December 16, but added that he was continuing the business at Fort Union; the phrasing of the announcement implied that Bernard kept the store and goods. In reality, John C. Dent was in the process of buying the store and goods; even though Bernard was an authorized trader, he legally owned neither a store nor stock. Nevertheless, Bernard operated out of the Barrow/Dent store for a considerable time into 1869, and apparently continued to use the name "J. E. Barrow and Company." [59]

Eventually, in the first week of February, Barrow notified the public that as of December 9 he had agreed to sell his store and goods to John Dent. Barrow further said that he authorized Dent "alone in our absence, to collect all notes and accounts due the late firm of J. E. Barrow and Company." [60] However, Dent "never did. Mr. Bernard collected them, and he had nothing to do [with] it." [61]

In January, after returning to St. Louis, Barrow found that Dent had no intention of going through with the purchase of Barrow's store and goods on the terms agreed to at Fort Union. Barrow said, "I consulted with my creditors. They advised me to sell out at his terms and take what he offered me . . . . I had to accept his own terms, which subjected me to a loss on the debts I had out there of $16,000 or $18,000, and a loss on my goods of between $30,000 and $40,000." Barrow added, "I sold on long credit, and compromised with my creditors at fifty cents on the dollar." After two or three weeks of negotiations, about late February Barrow officially transferred his store and goods to Dent. [62] With this, John Dent became the owner of the Barrow Store and all its goods at Fort Union with a minimum of expense. Barrow was ruined by the takeover, losing something like $50,000 and his good credit rating. He had to begin again in Utah. [63]

Bernard, as the appointed trader, apparently continued to operate the store until at least June. The ad for the J. E. Barrow and Company store at Fort Union continued to run in both papers, and must have been paid for by Bernard during this period; it seems typical of Bernard that he continued to foster the deceit that Barrow was still part-owner of the store. In the Weekly New Mexican, the ad last appeared on June 8, 1869. [64] Barrow indicated that Dent remained in St. Louis through at least the end of February, since it took most of that month to work out Dent's forced agreement. Dent probably returned to Fort Union about March; but since Bernard, not Dent, was the authorized trader, Dent could not operate the store without Bernard's cooperation until Dent was appointed trader in September. It is reasonable to assume that Dent and Bernard set up some sort of partnership for the period from March to late September, 1869, sharing the profits while Bernard acted as trader selling Dent's goods out of Dent's store, under Dent's management.

Finally, Dent's machinations paid off; on September 23, 1869, he was appointed as a post trader at Fort Union, the position he had been working towards since 1867. [65] W. D. W. Bernard left, and about a year later was appointed Bank Examiner in St. Louis, a position he held until at least 1876. [66]

The Adolph Greisinger Building

In the meantime, a fourth building was added to the Row. On September 15, 1868, Adolph Greisinger, an enlisted man stationed at Fort Union, wrote to the commanding officer, requesting permission to build a house "in the vicinity of the two trader stores" (that is, HS-302, W. H. Moore's store, and HS-305 and 304, John Barrow's store) when he was discharged on October 1, 1868. Greisinger stated that he wanted specific permission to operate a restaurant and bowling alley in the house he proposed to build; he expected that he would have the building completed by late November, 1868. [67]

Soon after his establishment on the Row, Adolph Greisinger opened a hotel in his building. The Hotel (HS-162) near the old First Fort, apparently operated by William Moore, was closed down sometime in 1869 or early 1870, [68] and Greisinger probably began his hotel operation about the same time; he was operating the hotel by August, 1870. [69]

Greisinger was one of a group of entrepreneurs who operated businesses at the fort, not as a post trader, but as a subcontractor or employee of one or another authorized trader. The barber John Gilbert, the beer-stand operator John Taaffe, the unnamed photographer, and several later persons all apparently fall into this category. Appointed post traders subcontracting their position to someone else who actually carried out the duties was a continuous problem for the Army through the late 1860s, culminating in a circular of 1872 requiring that the trader would carry on the business himself, and habitually reside at the post where he was appointed. He was not permitted to transfer, sublet, sell or assign his business. However, this did not forbid persons operating businesses as employees of the post trader, and such multiple businesses under a single trader/manager continued at Fort Union through the rest of its active life. [70]

Even more informal trade could operate along the Row. For example, in June, 1870, Greisinger complained about a "Mexican Market House" next to his house and restaurant. [71] No structure has been identified for this activity, but since so little space was available on the north side of HS-303, it is likely that the Market was in the space between Moore's store and the Greisinger building.

Dent Gets the Monopoly

From 1867 until 1870, the new regulations allowed multiple post traders; in 1870, this was modified to the provision that post traders authorized by the Secretary of War were to be allowed on post. On July 15, 1870, a House Resolution authorized the Secretary of War to permit one or more trading establishments on all posts. [72] With this bill, giving more power to political influence than to skill and talent, Dent was able to begin the last step: to gain the monopoly on the post tradership at Fort Union. Dent exercised all the influence he had, and on October 6, 1870, was ruled the only authorized trader. [73]

On October 25, the notification of Dent's appointment was received at Fort Union. William Moore applied for and received permission to continue business up to January 1, 1871; his request for a further extension to March 1, 1871 was denied. [74] Moore closed his store on January 1, 1871, and the building was apparently unused after that date. Ultimately, the loss of the post sutlership broke W. H. Moore's company; by 1873 it was in severe debt from which it never recovered. [75]

Dent did not simply step into Moore's shoes as the only recognized trader, however. With the closure of his business, Moore did not sell his building to Dent; instead, he continued as owner until January, 1872, when he sold the structure to his bookkeeper, Henry V. Harris. [76] Dent encountered some opposition from the local military establishment, as well. On April 4, 1871, for example, Dent wrote to the commanding officer of Fort Union, Major David Clendenin, saying that he was "ready and have been for some time, to do the duties of Post Trader at this post . . ." It appears that Major Clendenin was dragging his feet on issuing the commander's authorization required before Dent could conduct business. [77]

Trader's Row During the Dent Years

The census of 1870, made at Fort Union between August 16 and September 5, gives a brief look at the Trader's Row community in that year. [78] The census taker started at the north end of Trader's Row and worked south. John C. Dent's store was at the north end, HS-305, with John Dent listed as a retail merchant with no family, Edgar James and Frank Jager clerking for him and Richard Dunn serving as freight agent; all four lived in the Dent compound. Next south was the residence of John Gilbert, the African-American barber, whose barber shop and residence were apparently in HS-304. Next was Adolph Greisinger's hotel, HS-303, also containing his restaurant and beer saloon. In Greisinger's household were two cooks, two domestic servants, an ostler, and a laundress; in the hotel were 11 households comprising 43 persons. Finally, William Moore's store, HS-302, with eight residents, including Moore, his family (one son of whom was a store clerk), and his bookkeeper, Henry V. Harris.

No residents were listed south of Moore's store. However, HS-300 had already been built here by 1870. The census implies that the building was not a residence. No owner or use is suggested by the presently-available information. It was a low, nondescript structure, perhaps no more than a shed. The ground traces suggest that it was about 45 x 30 feet with two small extensions. [79]

The 1870 census listed Thomas Lahey as a soldier at Third Fort. He was apparently discharged soon afterwards, and on November 1, 1872, he and Edward McDonald leased the Greisinger house. They intended to continue the restaurant and saloon, and applied to the commanding officer for permission to operate the hotel; they would purchase the building if they receive approval to do this. They presumably bought the building soon after receiving this permission.

By 1875, John Dent had sold part of HS-305 to Edward Shoemaker. The 1870 census listed Edward Shoemaker as a postmaster, apparently at the Arsenal; in 1875 Shoemaker's Post Office was located in the middle frame-fronted structure of the Barrow Building, with a residence attached. Dent's store continued in the northernmost frame-fronted structure of the building. [80]

The last building added to Trader's Row was built in 1876. Sometime this year, Samuel B. Watrous built a butcher shop with quarters for employees; this very likely was HS-301. [81] This structure was not on the ca. May, 1868, map, but is visible in the ca. 1885 photographs. The field investigations and examination of the photographs allow a general description of the building. It had a front section, apparently of adobe, 53 x 20 feet, covered with a pitched roof, and two wings extending westward. A walled yard was west of the building, apparently extending about 100 feet west, and at least one outbuilding is visible on the ground in the yard. The butcher who operated the shop was apparently Frank Jager, who had been a clerk for John Dent in 1870.

In 1876 the power of choosing a post trader was returned to the council of administration at individual posts. [82] Also in 1876, Fort Union had inquired of John C. Dent as to whether the building known as the "Hotel and Billiard Room" was owned by him or was under his control as part of his trading establishment. This was apparently the Hotel (HS-304), still owned and operated by Lahey with the permission of Dent, the authorized trader. [83]

By 1877, the Barrow building was referred to as the "old Post Sutler's store, Beer saloon, Post Office, etc." [84] Dent operated his store out of HS-306 until 1878, when Crayton Conger took over as trader, and probably bought the store.

In 1877, civilians authorized to live on post were John C. Dent and his family, Harry Mumford (listed as assistant PM [postmaster?] in the 1880 census), James Duncan, Henry V. Harris and family (either living in Dent's buildings and working for him, or living in Moore's old building and working for the Romeros), C. Waldenstein, John McKie, J. F. Jager (presumably the same as Frank G. Jager, the clerk/butcher, probably working and living in the Watrous butcher shop), Samuel Edge, Francisco Cordoba, and Thomas Lahey, probably still operating the hotel and saloon out of the Greisinger building. [85]

The Barrow Building After John C. Dent: The Conger Era

On April 9, 1878, Crayton H. Conger was appointed as post trader. On April 12, John Dent ended his appointment as trader, and probably sold HS-303 to 305 to Conger. Crayton's brother Arthur Conger was apparently Dent's storekeeper in the last year or so, and undoubtedly was involved in Crayton's selection as the new trader. In fact, Arthur appears to have run the store from April 12 until Crayton arrived a month or two later. Crayton brought his family out to Fort Union from Iowa. Reminiscences by his granddaughter, Mary Lou Skinner, about her grandmother's memories of the trader store state that Crayton took over the store being run by his brother, and describe some of the life at the store. [86] However, after only two years as trader, on May 22, 1880, Crayton Conger died of heart disease while in Oneida, Kansas. [87]

The census of 1880, on June 8, listed the family of Arthur W. Conger, Crayton's brother, living in the Trader Store compound, HS-303, 304, and 305, with Arthur listed as Merchant. At this time he was the acting trader. One of the residents in Arthur's household was L. A. Conger, a widowed female, 39, who was Louisa Agnes Conger, Crayton's widow and Mary Lou Skinner's grandmother. Also living and working in the compound were four additional households made up of two cooks, two housekeepers, a laborer, and their families; the total of the Congers and the others in the compound was 17 people. Further south in the Row was the butcher Frank Jager and his wife, Safronia, followed by three households of a cook and two laborers and their families, for a total of seven people, all probably living and working in HS-301. Jager had apparently become the Beef Contractor by this time. [88] It appears that W. H. Moore's old store, HS-302, was empty at the time of this census.

Not long afterwards, on July 17, 1880, Arthur W. Conger was officially appointed trader. Conger and several of his employees handed the tradership back and forth for the next ten years. Frank Jager, the butcher and one of Conger's partners, and his salesclerks Werner Fabian and Edward Woodbury, all became traders, alternating their appointments with reappointments of Conger. Conger's first appointment as trader ended on September 28, 1881, when he probably left Fort Union to escort the Crayton Conger family back to Iowa. Conger's partner Frank Jager took over the tradership in his absence.

While Conger was gone, on October 18, 1881, soon after President Rutherford Hayes ordered the cessation of liquor sales on Army posts, Jager was ordered by the post commander to close the saloon connected with his store until he had proper permission to operate it. Other exchanges about the saloon through November resulted in permission for Jager to operate the saloon only as a beer and wine bar. [89] A few months later, on January 18, 1882, Samuel Watrous sold the butcher shop, HS-301, to Jager, consolidating all the businesses in the row in the hands of the trader. [90]

A few days later, on January 21, Frank Jager resigned his position as trader. Arthur Conger applied to be reinstated in the position. A Board of Survey recommended that Conger receive the appointment. [91] On February 8, 1882, Frank Jager's resignation was accepted, and Arthur W. Conger began another term as trader. About the same time, complaints about the saloon in the Row resulted in its being closed. [92] It is likely that the saloon causing these problems is the old "Barrow Billiard Saloon."

A. W. Conger ended his term as trader on January 17, 1884. The same day, Werner Fabian, one of Conger's clerks, became the trader. [93] Edward P. Woodbury, a salesman for Arthur Conger, continued to work in that capacity for Fabian, and Conger probably operated as the manager and owner of the store. [94]

On February 27, 1885, Werner Fabian ended his term as trader, and Arthur Conger became the trader again, but only for seven months; on October 14, Arthur resigned, and the salesman Edward P. Woodbury, became the trader.

Trader's Row in 1885 [95]

By the mid 1880s the buildings of the Row were in poor condition, but HS-305 seems to have been kept up a little better than most. In 1885 A. W. Conger was again appointed trader for eight months. Edward P. Woodbury, Conger's salesman, took the position in late 1885, and continued until 1890.

The original 1868 structure built by John Barrow was the frame-fronted building photographed in ca. 1880. The ca. 1880 photograph shows the Post Trader in the northernmost frame-fronted section of HS-305, and the post office in the center. The southern frame-fronted building may have been the residence for the post office. A walkway extended along the fronts of these three buildings, and continued south. An adobe wall about 7 feet high extended south from the frame-fronted buildings along the walk, and probably continued all the way to HS-304, part of the Dent group. At least two buildings surrounded the yard behind the frame-fronted structures; others may have been located between HS-304 and 305, but it is difficult to tell buildings from mounds of collapsed adobe wall in this area; archeological work will be necessary to work out the actual plan. One of the back buildings, an L-shaped adobe structure, still has a portion of its walls standing. The other was a low, long pitched roof building north of the L-shaped building, probably along the rear wall of the yard or against the back of the three-sectioned main building.

By 1885 HS-304 and its enclosed yard were incorporated into the compound of the Dent Store, HS-305, to the north. The building as shown in the ca. 1885 photograph and on the ground was an L-shaped structure with a fireplace located in the angle between the two wings. Pitched roofs covered both wings. A substantial stone foundation extended to the west from the south wall of the building, probably to support an adobe wall around a yard behind the building. A boardwalk extending south from the Dent store continued across the front of this structure.

In 1885, Greisinger's old hotel, HS-303, had been considerably enlarged; the structural remains of this building are more complex and massive than any of the others in the Row. Substantial stone foundations probably supported adobe walls, and a massive cellar, 13 x 18 feet, was under the floor at the rear of the building. The photographs show a central building, apparently about 40 feet square with a pitched roof, and a smaller section on its south side with a separate pitched roof, both with the ridgebeams extending westward. A wing ran north from the central building; its pitched roof had its ridgebeam north to south. Some part of this wing probably stood on the foundations extending northward towards HS-304; or, these foundations might have been built to support a hallway connecting HS-303 to HS-304 on the north. A small flower bed or garden was against the south wall of the building near the west end; it was 6 x 30 feet, and outlined by stone slabs set on edge. Several outbuildings, some with substantial foundations, outlined a yard on the west side of the building. Lahey operated the enterprise for a time after 1872, and is last mentioned in October, 1877; the building was apparently sold to John C. Dent or his successor Crayton Conger about 1878. [96] By 1880 it was in use as part of Arthur Conger's trader enterprise, although still serving as a hotel.

Moore's old store, HS-302, apparently continued in disuse. Harris transferred the ownership of the building to Vicente Romero in May, 1876. [97] By 1882, the building was apparently owned by Raphael Romero, probably an heir of Vicente: on Feb. 3, 1882, the Army sent a letter to Raphael Romero asking him to show proof that he owned the building in Sutler's Row, and to show cause why he should not either tear it down or have military authority take it over as abandoned property. It was still standing in the ca. 1885 photographs, but probably did not long outlast the closing of Fort Union.

A seventh building was begun on the row, but never finished; this was HS-306. This structure was begun as part of Trader's Row, but appears not to have been finished. Its plan suggests that it was to be a carriage house or some similar usage, with a large room entered through a wide doorway facing east, and a smaller office space on the south side. The location implies that it was started after 1868-1970, because at an earlier date it would have been placed in one of the large gaps on the main part of the Row. It is on the same alignment as the other Row buildings, and may have been begun about the same time that the Barrow compound was being enlarged, tying HS-304 into the group and extending the yard westward. This was probably about 1878-80.

The End of the Barrow Store

In August, 1886, A. W. Conger was in trouble about the bar in his store again, [98] probably the old "Billiard Saloon" in HS-305. Conger is spoken of as the "post trader," even though E. P. Woodbury was the official trader; the inspection report of March, 1887, for example, stated that E. D. Woodbury was post trader. [99]

Finally, in December, 1889, the Barrow Building was destroyed by fire. Colonel Aubrey Lipincott, who lived at Fort Union as a boy, remembered the event: "One night the store, run by a man named Woodbury, caught fire and burned . . . every man in the command with their fire axes and fire buckets . . . had to pass right by our house running to the fire. And this fella, Cary [a trumpeter in one of the troops] came running down the street . . . running and blowing fire call. And it was the most vivid thing I have ever heard because of the exquisite tone this man got out of the [trumpet] . . . The building was totally destroyed, of course." [100]

The fire in December, 1889, left clear evidence; the entire area of the main building of HS-305 is a mass of burned wood, burned broken glass and ceramics, and fallen adobe walls. It is likely that burned floor joists, wall and ceiling sections, hardware, counters, doors and windows, and the charred remains of most of the stock, are all still in place within the ruins, buried under the fallen rubble of the building. Archeology would be able to work out a great deal about this post trader's operation, including the layout of the interior spaces and the use of many of the areas.

Woodbury reopened in perhaps HS-303 or 304, and continued in business through 1890 until the discontinuation of Post Traders at military posts.

The outline of ownership and use given here is all that is presently available; however, some of the lease and purchase agreements were undoubtedly recorded in the Mora County Court-house, and many others are mentioned to have been filed in St. Louis public and private records. It is likely that considerably more can be learned about the Post Sutler/Trader operation at Fort Union through these documents.

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Last Updated: 13-Feb-2006