The first challenge that officers and their wives had to deal with was getting to their new homes. There were no railroads or stage lines on the frontier at this time. One had to travel by keelboat, riverboat, or overland in springless army wagons. It was slow, tiring, and extremely uncomfortable. The officers' first priority upon arriving at the new post would be to obtain quarters for their families.
The quality of quarters varied from post to post, depending on the availability of construction materials, the skill of the builders, the age of the post, and of course, the allotted budget. In the early 1830s, an officer's family could expect to set up housekeeping in a one-room cabin with a dirt, or if they were lucky, a wooden floor. Walls were made of rough, unhewn logs, with and without chinking. Roofs were sometimes nothing more than a framework of boards with a sheet of canvas stretched over the top. Small sheet or cast iron stoves were used for cooking and warmth, and toilet facilities were usually in outhouses behind the quarters.
Since transportation costs were high, the officer's family made do with only a few items of furniture. Packing crates were lined with calico to become cupboards for the few pieces of china, glass, and silver. Boards laid on sawhorses became an elegant table when topped by starched linen tablecloth. An oriental carpet might cover the damp floor and chintz curtains offered some privacy. Camp cots became comfortable when piled high with quilts and army blankets, and an easy chair could be made out of a barrel stuffed with moss and covered with calico.
The quarters an officer's famly found when they arrived at a post might be as simple as a log shelter or as comfortable as Officers' Quarters No. 1 at Fort Scott. Whatever their lot they accepted it with equanimity and the officer's wife, if he were married, busied herself making a "home" out of her quarters, using the limited furniture and contents of the trunks and packing boxes that had accompanied her in the transport wagon.
In a letter to a fellow officer of the First Dragoons, Captain Thomas Swords relayed that when he notified his wife, Charlotte, that she would be moving from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Gibson, she "takes it all in good part, only regrets leaving our little garden and other little comforts to which she has become attached there." As it turned out, Charlotte Swords joined her husband at Fort Scott instead. She must have been relieved because even the temporary quarters there were better than the old cabins built in 1824 at Fort Gibson.