Historic Structures Report
Part II — Historical Data Section
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Chapter 1

Almost identical in plans, four white, wooden, duplex officers quarters graced the northeast side of the parade ground. Each structure was two and one-half stories high. The ground floor was considered to be the basement; the second floor was looked upon as the main story; while the upper half-story contained bedrooms. Today, HS 1, recently damaged by fire, HS 2, and one-half of HS 4 remain standing. The approved Master Plan calls for HS 1 to be restored on the exterior and one-half of its duplex interior to be restored and furnished so that it may be interpreted as a house museum. HS 2 and the one-half of HS 4 are to be rehabilitated on the exterior so as to become part of the historic scene. HS 3 no longer stands. Its outline and that of the missing one-half of HS 4 are to be marked on the ground with stone.

HS 1, Officers Quarters No. 1

At the end of 1842, Captain Swords prepared a report for the Quartermaster General wherein he outlined his plans for the officers quarters. [1] Existing evidence shows that Swords succeeded in carrying out his plan. Quarters No. 1 (and the others) was a framed, weather-boarded structure, consisting of the above-ground basement, the principal story having broad verandahs on the front and back, and a half-story upstairs lit by dormer windows—in this case, two on the front and two on the back.

Each half of the basement floor had two rooms and a long hall. One of the rooms was designed as a kitchen, the other as quarters for servants or slaves—depending whether a particular officer had originated in the northern or southern states. While the hall was not designated for any special purpose, it was large enough to have served for any of several functions: storeroom, workroom, or additional sleeping quarters. Both the kitchen and the servants' quarters had large stone fireplaces on their interior walls. Each of these was part of a double fireplace with a single chimney, serving the apartments in each half of the duplex.

The basement walls, as well as those on the other floors, were lathed and plastered. They were possibly covered with whitewash or painted white. Records exist of the post quartermaster ordering lime; furthermore, the basement rooms were fairly dark, their windows being shaded by the main floor verandahs. Swords reported that the basement ceiling was eight and one-half feet high.

The quarters sat on a native stone foundation. Recent investigations show that the post quartermaster did not allow for ventilation—a problem that was widespread throughout the Army until well after the Civil War. There is no record of how the occupants reacted to this lack of ventilation but, since the post was active for only eleven years, the simple wooden flooring probably had not time to show signs of rotting. Staircases led from the middle of the halls, near the kitchen doors, to the main floors above. Today the stairs are to be found relocated at the rear of the halls.

Each half of the main floor was also divided into two rooms, each with a fireplace, and a long hall. These, the principal rooms for the family, reflected the considerable skill of the workmen, despite Swords' repeated cries of not having enough craftsmen. The broad verandahs, resting on six brick pillars, were lined with six handturned walnut pillars, all bored through lengthwise to prevent cracking. A broad imposing flight of steps swept up from the front walk at each end of the verandah. Walnut doors and wide windows opened into handsome rooms having 12-foot ceilings. The dark luster of the woodwork contributed a sense of elegance to the quarters.

The upper floor was similar in plan to those below except for the partially gabled ceiling. It also had two fireplaces in each half, making a total of 12 in the structure. On both the front and back two dormer windows provided light.

The construction of this first set of quarters probably got underway in the late summer or fall of 1842. In his first annual report, October 1843, Swords wrote that Quarters No. 1 was completed "with the exception of an upper floor being required in one half." While the porch floors had not yet been laid, he anticipated work would be completed in eight to ten days. He was overly optimistic, for one year later he again reported that the porch floors were incomplete. From then on however the building was regarded as finished. [2]

The precise date of occupancy is unknown. In September 1844, the commanding officer of the post noted that Swords and another captain, Burdett A. Terrett, in charge of the dragoons, were living in the duplex. [3] Inasmuch as commanding officers have prerogative in all matters it is somewhat surprising that Capt. William M. Graham, then the post commander, did not occupy the new quarters himself. Unfortunately there is no additional source material on quarters assignments at Fort Scott, and it is not possible to determine if Quarters No. 1 housed any of the commanding officers. Nevertheless, local tradition today is strongly inclined toward thinking of this as the post commander's quarters, so much so that it is known as Headquarters House.

This structure continued to serve as officers quarters until, in April 1853, the Army abandoned Fort Scott in favor of a new post, Fort Riley, farther to the west. One further military reference to the structure was made on March 9, 1855, when the Army advertised its sale:

Four buildings for Officers' Quarters (with porches in front and rear 10 feet wide) each 58 feet 6 inches by 37 feet, and containing four rooms in the first story, and four rooms in the attic story. [4]

The bill of sale has disappeared, but it is reported that an A. Hornbeck purchased the quarters for $500. He promptly opened it as the Fort Scott Hotel and for a number of years the building was one of the leading hostelries in the young town. One of its early managers was Charles Dimon who in partnership with others would later own it for a short time. There is no clear record of changes of ownership during this early period, but the "Casey Bros. appear to have been involved in the ownership at an early date. [5]

A second hotel was opened in the infantry barracks directly across the parade ground from Officers Quarters No. 1. As the struggle between pro-slavery and free soil settlers developed in eastern Kansas throughout the late 1850's, it is said that newcomers to Fort Scott who favored slavery tended to stay in the former barracks, named the Western Hotel, while those who were free soilers congregated around the officers quarters hotel. Local citizens found it convenient to call the two inns the Free-State and the Pro-Slavery Hotels. This distinction was possibly drawn a little too finely for, in their day-to-day activities, the citizens of the town as well as newcomers found it essential to mingle freely in their associations.

Little is known of changes made in the interior of the structure after it became a hotel. In an 1858 advertisement the current owner, "Col." W. T. Campbell, announced that he had "spared no pains or expense in its complete refittal and renovation. The apartments are commodious and airy. Separate rooms have been reserved for the traveling public." [6] Charles W. Goodlander, later to become Fort Scott's most prosperous citizen arrived in the community in 1858 and made his first residence in the Fort Scott Hotel. He recalled that the most exciting event of the time was the arrivals of the stage from the north. The stage came directly to the hotel from crossing the Marmaton and by the time it came to a stop, "all the occupants of the hotel were on the sidewalk to receive the new arrivals." [7] This is the earliest reference to a sidewalk in front of the structure. While there is an abundance of suitable stone in the vicinity, it is not known if the Army installed this walk along officers row or whether it came with the permanent settlers. [8]

Besides functioning as an inn, this structure was also Fort Scott's first civilian post office. William Gallagher served as both desk clerk and postmaster and performed both duties in the hotel. However, by 1858, he concluded to move the post office to a new building in the town proper on what became Market Street. [9] Another new citizen who was also to become prominent, Charles Blair, also opened his office in the quarters. By June 1859, and possibly earlier, he and his partner, A. Ellison, had set themselves up as "attorneys at law & general land & premption agents" in the hotel. [10] However they did not remain there for long; by August they had a new office elsewhere in town. [11]

As far as this set of quarters was concerned, Bleeding Kansas came to a climax in 1858. The first of two exciting events occurred on May 30, 1858. Capt. Nathaniel Lyon with two troops of cavalry was stationed at Fort Scott in an effort to maintain peace both there and in the countryside between the pro-slavery and free soil forces. On that day, Deputy U. S. Marshal Samuel Walker rode into town at the head of a posse. He carried writs for the arrest of a pro-slavery leader, George Clarke, who lived in Officers Quarters No. 4 (HS 4). Riding with Walker was James Montgomery, then the notorious leader of border jayhawkers.

Walker divided his posse, and the separate groups searched Clarke's house, the Western Hotel, and the old hospital building. While the search was in progress, Walker learned that his quarry was calmly standing on the steps of the Free State Hotel. [12] Proceeding to the quarters, Walker successfully arrested Clarke, and the tensions of the troubled community did not explode. [13]

In an attempt to bring peace to the area, Gov. James Denver, appointed to his position in May, arrived at Fort Scott on June 15, 1858. He remained in the town overnight and, while there is no evidence as to his abode, possibly stayed at the Fort Scott Hotel. On his arrival he addressed the townspeople from the walk in front of the hotel; the walk, being higher than the parade ground, provided a natural platform. On the whole, Denver's visit was a success, and a temporary peace resulted.

Another visitor to Fort Scott that same year was highly impressed with the quarters along officers row. In contrast to the humble appearance of most frontier towns, he found the structures impressive, "Every house . . . would cost $3,000 in Illinois." [14]

Toward the end of the year the old quarters again experienced drama and excitement. In the middle of November, local officials arrested Benjamin Rice on a robbery charge. Rice was a known jayhawker and a supporter of Montgomery. Probably because of a lack of more secure quarters, Rice was kept under guard in the Fort Scott Hotel. [15] According to tradition, Rice was held in a tiny cell-like room on the top floor of the quarters. Today there are two small rooms under the front eave on this floor, possibly having served as large closets. One of them has a door, suitably heavy and fitted with a small opening for ventilation, that is said to identify Rice's cell. Architects who have examined this have expressed some doubt if the present structure is very old.

Montgomery, who had promised Governor Denver to keep the peace, waited a month before taking action to secure Rice's release. At daybreak, December 16, at the head of a large party of armed men, he rode on to the old parade ground and surrounded the hotel and the adjacent structures. Awakening the town by firing weapons, Montgomery rounded up the citizens and made them his prisoners temporarily. One citizen who resisted, John Little, was killed, but no other bodily harm occurred. The raiders entered the hotel and successfully rescued Rice. [16]

The worst of the time of troubles was over. An uneasy peace descended on Fort Scott and for the next two years, with the free soilers in the ascendancy, the officers quarters witnessed the comings and goings of local society. On July 4, 1859, a holiday hop was held in its stately rooms. The local reporter said that "the Ball at the Fort Scott Hotel . . . was a splendid affair. There was a large crowd in attendance" [17]

Later that year Gov. Samuel Medary came to town. To honor the distinguished guest, who may have stayed at the hotel also, the citizens held a supper party in the old quarters. All the town's leading citizens turned out, including the Governor's son-in-law, Charles Blair. The then manager of the hotel, B. B. Dillon, arranged the entertainment, and the evening sparkled with numerous champagne toasts. [18]

Charles and George Dimon (Charles had been associated with the hotel earlier) purchased the building from W. T. Campbell in 1860. [19] A few months later they dissolved the fraternal partnership and, on the eve of the Civil War, George Dimon became the proprietor. On May 26, 1861, "having purchased the furniture etc. of said hotel," he reopened it for business. [20]

As far as it may be determined, Officers Quarters No. 1 continued to function as the Fort Scott Hotel throughout the Civil War. Until 1863 it (and for a time the Western Hotel) continued to be the leading inn in the rapidly expanding town. In that year, a large, brick hotel, the Wilder House, was erected and became the place to stay. [21] But until then such notable visitors as Senator-Gen. Jim Lane and Gen. James Blunt very likely stayed at the Fort Scott Hotel when they were in town.

Although Fort Scott did not become a scene of hostilities itself, an event in the fall of 1861 made it seem that way. Confederate Gen. Sterling Price, making his way northward toward the Missouri River, marched past Fort Scott just a few miles to the east. Neither General Lane nor the citizens of the town had much faith in their defenses. In panic, nearly all the civilians fled leaving the town empty except for a few hundred volunteer cavalrymen, who skirmished briefly with Price's flank guard.

The Confederates ignored the town, but the cavalry did not. Taking advantage of the citizens' temporary absence, the volunteers proceeded to loot the houses and to live very high on the hog for the next few days. While details are lacking, the damage seems to have been extensive. In the case of the Fort Scott Hotel, it appears that the vandals wreaked sufficient havoc to force it to close for six months. Not until March 1863 was the newspaper able to report:

Geo. Dimon, Esq., will soon have the Fort Scott Hotel open . . . . The marks of the "stampede" are being gradually obliterated. Mr. Dimon is refitting his house entirely with new furniture. [22]

A few weeks later Dimon proudly announced that not only was the hotel in order again but he had installed a fine marble-bed billiard table in the saloon of the hotel. [23] However Dimon did not enjoy his new table long for he sold the hotel that fall to a Mr. Short from Leavenworth. [24] Short's management was brief; in February 1863 he sold the establishment to R. D. Keyes. The new proprietor, possibly noticing the competition from the Wilder House, announced that the building would be thoroughly renovated. [25]

By the end of the Civil War, Fort Scott had changed from a struggling frontier village to a sizeable town bursting with civic energy. As the town grew larger and other hotels, such as the Gulf House, were constructed, the old fort structures fell gradually into obscurity. This is especially true of Officers Quarters No. 1. Although it appeared in business directories and newspaper advertisements from time to time, it no longer was the social center of earlier days. Finally, in 1870, an advertisement appeared, "For Sale. — The lease and furniture of the Fort Scott Hotel on reasonable terms. For particulars enquire of Chas. H. Wooledge, 51 Market Street." [26]

At an unknown date, Judge William Margrave, who had been Justice of the Peace since 1854, acquired the structure and made it his residence until his death in 1904. [27] Following Margrave, Ralph Richards, who also acquired other properties in the vicinity of the old fort, purchased the quarters. Still later, the City of Fort Scott acquired ownership and still retains it. In 1938 the Work Projects Administration undertook to remodel the quarters. The extent of this effort is unknown. [28] In recent years the basement hall and rear room in the west half were divided into a number of smaller rooms to provide a small apartment for a custodian. The Professional and Business Women's Club of Fort Scott has maintained the rest of the structure as a museum.

Grounds: A relatively recent concrete sidewalk extends along the front of officers row, including Quarters No. 1. A picket fence separates the sidewalk from a narrow front yard. The rear yard is enclosed with a stone fence. The west and north sides of this wall appear to have been rebuilt, reportedly by the WPA in 1938. The east wall, which separates the rear yards of HS 1 and HS 2 is much older, not having been reconstructed. Although it is not mentioned in the records, it possibly originated in the 1840's.

The Army's plan of the structure, drawn in 1848, shows two small sheds of two rooms each and a double latrine at the rear of the yard. The latrine and the west shed have long since disappeared. But a small stone structure still stands on the site of the east shed (which adjoined a similar shed at the rear of the back yard of HS 2). It is not known if the present rock-walled shed, now used as rest rooms, is the original structure or a more recent one. There are wood doors at either end and, on the north side, two small window-like openings. The roof today is covered with modern tar shingles. The Master Plan calls for the rehabilitation of this structure and for its continued use as a public rest room.


Before dawn, May 7, 1967, a fire of unknown origins raced through portions of HS 1, destroying the roof, the rear wall, and the rear porch. Water also added considerably to the damage. This fire was a near-disaster, but the 125-year-old set of officers quarters still lives. Its walls contain the history of the military frontier, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, and the social and economic expansion of the American people in their westering.

HS 2, Officers Quarters No. 2

This set of quarters was essentially the same in materials and architecture as the others. The most noticeable difference between it and HS 1 was that it had four dormer windows on both front and back, while HS 1 had only two on each side.

HS 2 was the last of the four sets of quarters to be constructed. Although it was planned from the first, Assistant Quartermaster Swords did not report a start in construction of the building until 1845. In October he was able to state that its frame was up and ready for covering. [29]

For the next few years several circumstances combined to slow further construction of the quarters. In the spring of 1846, a kiln caught fire and 6,000 feet of oak flooring burned up. [30] A few months later, the Mexican War began, resulting in reductions of manpower and budgets for western forts. From then until the fall of 1848, Fort Scott's strength fell below 50 enlisted men.

Swords' replacement, 1st Lt. George W. Wallace, managed to keep construction alive by hiring a few civilian mechanics and laborers and scratching up extra-detail men from the tiny war-time command. [31] In the spring of 1848, three years after the building's start, Wallace submitted a plan of the fort showing Quarters No. 2 as "nearly ready for plastering." [32] The records do not show the completion date of the structure. [33]

For much of this period there was no shortage of officers quarters at the post and probably no urgency felt to get the work finished. However, in November 1852, two companies of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen arrived at Fort Scott. The number of officers between then and the abandonment of the post in April 1853 was between seven and eleven. With HS 2 completed, there were quarters for eight officers with families. Even assuming that some of the officers were bachelors, HS 2 was probably much in demand during the last six months of military occupancy.

The Army's advertisement offering the house for sale in 1855 described it as being identical to HS 1 However, the reported sale price was only $300, as contrasted to $500 for the other. This was the lowest price received for any of the officers quarters; but why it was lower is unknown.

Hiero Wilson, the former post sutler, was the purchaser of the house. In the 1850's and at least the early '60's, he retained only one-half the building for his family, while Samuel Williams lived in the other half. Wilson, who was a slave owner, apparently was considered to be sympathetic to the South's cause during the period of Bleeding Kansas. When James Montgomery raided the town on December 16, 1858, to free Benjamin Rice, Montgomery's men surrounded Wilson's house as well as its neighbor, the Fort Scott Hotel. The paper reported that "Col. Wilson, one of our leading merchants, with his wife and servant man were the first that were taken. They were marched into 'the prisoner's wing'—a circle formed . . . by about 20 of these ruffians." [34] Other than the scare, the Wilson family suffered no harm.

Wilson, like other early settlers, found it possible to make whatever philosophical adjustments necessary to accommodate the growing Union sentiment at Fort Scott on the eve of the Civil War. Throughout the war, his family maintained its residence in Officers Quarters No. 2. When Price's army caused the townspeople to flee in panic in the fall of 1861, Mrs. Wilson was one of only four women to remain. Her presence undoubtedly saved her half of the quarters from the looters. [35]

Williams' half of the building was occupied by officers of the Union forces. He may have voluntarily given over his residence, or the officers may have acquired it at the time of the looting incident. At the same time Price was marching past, a Union officer, Joseph H. Trego, wrote his wife:

Col. [James] Montgomery, Adjt [Casimio B.] Zulasky, Chaplain [H.H.] Moore, Capts Jewel & [Henry C.] Seaman, Lieuts Trego & [Orin C.] Morse, (I forgot to mention Capt Flint) with four soldiers as servants and a contraband wench for cook are occupying the house where Mr. Williams was living. The parlor and one bed room are richly furnished, fine paintings & engravings on the walls, spring bottom sofa, divan, chairs, etc. A good piano which Zoulasky is now amusing himself with. Preserves and jellies, magazines and book[s] and everything we want are here, so you see we are living high at present. [36]

How long these temporary occupants continued to live high was not recorded. Not until a decade later does Quarters No. 2 again enter the historical record. In 1873, Hiero Wilson put an advertisement in the local newspaper offering what appears to have been only one-half of HS 2 for sale:

My residence on the Plaza, a well arranged house, conveniently located for business men. The house contains six rooms, ten closets, three halls, porches front and rear, a good cistern and out-houses, with gardens attached—near two acres, handsomely improved—a geneeal [sic] variety of fruit trees, shrubbery, evergreens, etc, in fact one of the finest gardens in Southern Kansas. [37]

The outcome of Wilson's offer is not known; local tradition is that he lived in this house until his death in 1892. [38] Not long after Wilson died, his long-time friend and associate, Charles Goodlander, acquired the property. In 1901, Goodlander deeded one-half of the structure to the Goodlander home for children. The Home then bought the other half and maintained the institution until 1955. During this period, the interior of the building underwent extensive remodeling but continued to retain its basic structural layout.

In 1955, the Fort Scott Business and Professional Women's Club leased the building and today occupies the ground floor as a clubroom. The two upper floors are unoccupied.

Today, the principal changes to the exterior of the quarters include an iron fire escape leading from the top floor on the east end, an elegant iron balcony on the main floor at the east end, and on the back of the building a long, one-story, brick ell. Stone walls enclose the west and north sides of the backyard, but there's no visible evidence of a wall on the east side. All that is left of the sheds and latrines shown on the 1848 plan is the small stone structure discussed under HS 1.

Interior modifications include the presence of wall-board throughout the building, leaving evidence of plaster only in the vicinity of fireplaces. Two bathrooms were installed on the top floor. All the stairs are today located at the rear of the halls. No investigations have been made to determine if, like HS 1, they were originally in the middle of the halls. The double fireplaces and massive chimney in the front of the house have been removed, the spaces now marked with simple mantels or closets.

HS 3 and HS 4, Officers Quarters No. 3 and No. 4

The structural history of these two quarters during the military period cannot be separated in that the evidence does not disclose which of the two was first constructed. The problem is somewhat mitigated in that the structures were identical. Their plans show them to be the same as HS 1 except that they both (like HS 2) had four dormer windows on the fronts and backs of the upper floors, whereas HS 1 had only two.

In his first annual report, October 1843, Quartermaster Swords said that he had finished the foundation walls for both structures. [39]

One year later the word went up that one of the two buildings, suitable "for a Captain and two lieutenants or two Captains," had been covered in and was nearly ready for plastering. It would be ready for occupancy by Christmas. [40] Although Swords was fighting the usual problems of low water and breakdowns of the sawmill, he was able to report at the end of 1844 that the materials were finally ready for the completion of the third block of quarters. [41]

Construction progressed throughout 1845, and in October Swords could say that one of the two was completed except for the floors on the porches, while the other was ready for plastering. He predicted that the latter would be completed in two months. Again, construction reports fell off from then on because of the Mexican War. Nevertheless, it is probable that both HS 3 and HS 4 were ready for occupancy by the spring of 1846. In any case, the 1848 plan shows them completed. [42]

HS 3, Officers Quarters No. 3.

When the Army sold this structure in 1855, it brought in the highest price of any of the four blocks, $505. A Mr. E. Greenwood was the purchaser. When Goodlander arrived at Fort Scott in 1858, the structure was occupied as residences by Alex. McDonald and Epaphroditus Ransom, the latter dying the next year. [43]

Gov. Samuel Medary visited Fort Scott in 1859. He was so struck with the town that he arranged to purchase HS 3 the next year. [44] The governor never lived in the house himself, but his son-in-law Charles Blair, already a citizen of Fort Scott, did move into the building. An attorney who had quickly won the esteem of his fellow townsmen, Blair entered the Volunteers early in the Civil War. From April 1863 to November 1864, he served as commanding officer of the military establishment at Fort Scott. It is probable that he lived in his own home, Quarters No. 3, during that period. Blair House, as the residence was called, undoubtedly reflected the colonel's high standing in the community.

Sometime between 1864 and 1869, Blair left Fort Scott. By December 1869, G. W. Webb had opened a boarding house in the west half of the residence. He advertised "excellent board at a reasonable price," saying that his establishment contained "a number of large, well ventilated rooms, making the very best sleeping apartments." Quarters No. 3 was torn down about 1900. Today another frame house stands on the site, covering whatever traces of the original structure that might still exist.

HS 4, Officers Quarters No. 4.

The Army sold this structure in 1855 to J. Mitchell for the sum of $450. When Goodlander first saw it in 1858, it was occupied by George Clarke and Willis Ransom. [46]

George Clarke, a leader of the pro-slavery forces in the area during the late 1850's, was the cause for a moment of excitement in the structure's history. It was he whom Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Walker came to arrest in May 1858. A part of Walker's posse surrounded the quarters and prepared to enter forcibly. At the critical moment, Walker discovered that Clarke was standing on the steps of the Fort Scott Hotel. The armed men left Clarke's house and arrested him where he waited. [47]

It was possibly this same Clarke who, a few years later, royally entertained Union officers in his residence when he held a masquerade ball during the Civil War. [48] If so, then he, like Hiero Wilson, had not found it impossible to support the Union cause when the bullets began to fly.

Little is known about the structure in the post-Civil War years. Dr. and Mrs. Short operated a boarding house along officers row in the 1870's. Since the Fort Scott Hotel was still in being in HS 1, Wilson was still living in HS 2, and Webb had his boarding house in HS 3, Dr. Short's boarding house possibly was housed in HS 4. [49] About 1900, the building was remodeled and divided into apartments. Then, in 1945, fire destroyed its eastern half. The surviving portion was remodeled further, including its dormer windows, additions to the rear, concrete steps and iron balustrades in front. Because it has been occupied as an apartment house, the condition of the interior is unknown. Upkeep of the exterior has been noticeably poor.

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Last Updated: 30-Nov-2009