Changes in the FWMA Board
For years now the Fort Wallace
Memorial Association and its board members have been faithfully serving
the county, ensuring that our museum is the best that it can be.
However, after over 30 years of dedicating his spare time (and then
some) to the museum, board member Ernie Poe decided that it is time for
someone else to take his share of the reins for a while.
Poe has donated more to the museum than
what was required of him. Ernie donated his strength towards
making the Sunderland-Poe Building what it is today, his talent towards
ensuring that the stories that the artifacts in the museum represent
are told, and his time going to rodeos, Grand Openings, and day-to-day
business at the museum. For the depth of his dedication, Poe has
been declared an Honorary Board Member of this association
Although Poe will be back in the saddle soon,
business must go on and Adam Smith of Weskan, KS is ready to do
it. Named a new board member at our July meeting, Smith is
eager to begin work for the Fort Wallace Memorial Association. We
are positive that he will prove to be an excellent addition to the
leadership of this association and look forward to seeing him on our
board for years to come.
No one will
ever be able to say that we dawdled about getting this addition
built! In just a few weeks we had foundations laid, cement
poured, wood frames up, blocks laid for walls and a roof in
progress. Now we’re just waiting for the finishing touches
so we can start moving in Weiser’s collection.
Things are moving so fast, in fact, that the
Board is beginning to make preparations for the dedication and grand
opening ceremonies. Although we cannot pin down a date for the
Grand Opening until a bit closer to the completion of the project, we
have special plans for September 17th. On that day, the Masonic
Lodge of Sharon Springs will hold a special cornerstone dedication
ceremony. Using a time-honored tradition, the Masons will insert a time
capsule into a block of the museum.
Be sure to be on the lookout for more
information in the coming months. As soon as we have Floris
Weiser’s collection in place, we’ll be sure to invite
everyone to see it.
Wallace Museum Breaks Ground on Smith/Weiser Addition
On Sunday, April 23rd, nearly 100 people gathered to
share a magnificent spring day, homemade ice cream and excitement, as
the Fort Wallace Museum broke ground on its much anticipated
addition. This new room, added to the northeast corner of the
present building, will honor the memory of A.E Smith. The room
will feature the Floris and Viola Weiser Indian Wars Artifact
Collection and the Historical Art of Jerry Thomas.
Breaking ground were representatives of several
organizations which have participated in the project, including:
Alan Hurlburt representing the Fraternal Order of the Masons; State
Representative Virginia Beemer; Bruce Buck representing the Wallace
County Commissioners; Joe Smith, donor of the addition; Jayne Humphrey
Pearce representing the Fort Wallace Memorial Association; Floris
Weiser, donor of the artifact collection; Jerry Thomas,
nationally-recognized wildlife and historic artist; and Dean Dinkel,
representing the Wallace County Foundation.
“Today we celebrate the vision of some truly
outstanding people who have worked together to make this addition a
reality,” stated Pearce in her opening remarks.
“These people have put together some sacrificial pieces of their
effort and wealth to make something that will be of national
significance here in Wallace County.”
Jerry Thomas brought along a surprise exhibit of his
two newest original paintings, which were enjoyed by the crowd during
the ice cream social. The two stunning paintings are on loan to
the Fort Wallace Museum for the next month or so. All are urged
to visit the museum to enjoy the visiting artwork.
The initial dirtwork for the foundation of the
addition proceeded the following day. Completion on the project
is anticipated by the end of the summer.
Unveils Another Wonderful Painting
In a small ceremony held on
August 2nd at the Fort Wallace Museum, Jerry Thomas proved once again
that he has a wealth of artistic talent. His most recent
painting, christened "Get 'em Boys", depicts Captain Albert Barnitz
leading the 7th Cavalry in a charge against the Cheyenne. This
actual event occurred on June 26, 1867 as the 7th Cavalry headed over
the hills northwest of Fort Wallace to meet nearly 200 Cheyenne
warriors. Painted with intricate detail, this historical
representation of the 7th Cavalry's first fight now hangs proudly above
the front desk at the museum.
|| Jerry Thomas puts more than
just paint into each of his unique historical creations. Using
photographs of the actual people he is depicting, he meticulously
recreates the entire scene, from the uniforms and clothes to the
landscape and wildlife. Jerry has created several other
masterpieces, each of them displaying a unique and important moment in
(Left to Right): Artist Jerry Thomas and Fort Wallace Memorial
Association Board Members Ernie Poe, Thelma Jennings, Sherrel Harrison,
Jayne Pearce, and Bud Allaman.
Donations for Cenotaph Being
The summer of 1867 saw
more confrontations between the US Army and Indians than almost
any other time in recent history. Both sides won and lost many
battles, with casualties stacking up rapidly. The famed 7th
Calvary that was stationed at Fort Wallace lost so many of their men
that the remaining members erected a cenotaph to salute their fallen
comrades. This monument, made entirely out of native chalk, stands
proudly at attention in the center of the Fort Wallace Cemetery. Nearly
140 years old, this cenotaph is a staunch reminder of just how harsh
frontier life was.
Unfortunately, western Kansas weather has not
been kind to this one of a kind monument. Wind, rain, and sun
have done much damage, rendering parts of the inscriptions illegible.
Pieces of the monument are slowly crumbling and falling to the earth
while entire portions of a bas relief eagle are missing.
Now, thanks to the efforts of the city of Wallace,
plans for building a shelter over the monument have been made and
donations are being collected to defray expenses. No actual work
will be done to the cenotaph itself so that the historical value of the
monument is maintained. However, with the addition of this
shelter, the 7th Calvary cenotaph will be able to stand up in memory of
fallen soldiers for many years to come.
Collection Offered to the Museum
One of the greatest historical collections
of artifacts of the 1860s has been graciously
offered to the Fort Wallace Museum for display. Documenting
the movements of the 5th, 7th, 10th, and 11th Cavalries with meticulous
scholarship, this collection of artifacts from Fort Wallace is one of
the most complete collections of its kind. Amazingly, a single
man single-handedly gathered, documented, and arranged this collection,
and the results are astounding. For years this collection has had no
real home where it could be properly displayed in context. Now the Fort
Wallace Museum has the opportunity to showcase this extraordinary
display. Unfortunately, one major obstacle lies ahead before we
can receive this collection. The Fort Wallace Museum does not
have enough space to display it. Until we can find enough funds
to build an addition onto the main museum, the collection must stay
where it is, away from the public's eye.
Hats off to the
If you haven't stopped by the museum
lately, you probably don't know about our newest exhibit. Thanks
to Ernie Poe, the mayor of nearby Sharon Springs, the Fort Wallace
Museum now has a life-sized sculpture of a buffalo, made entirely out
of barbwire. Although it doesn't have a name, it does have a lot
It all started with a picture in a
magazine that caught Ernie's eye. This picture featured a
roadrunner that had been crafted out of barb wire. Since seeing
that photo, Ernie had created a barbed wire roadrunner of his
own, not to mention two cacti, numerous birds, a few pheasants, several
lizards, a cactus or two, an oxen team, three horses, and a farrier to
His newest creation, the as of yet
unnamed buffalo, took two miles of wire to create and sits on a
limestone pedestal three feet tall. Most of the wire is coiled to
make the buffalo look more authentic and a set of real buffalo horns
completes the sculpture. A barbwire fence with four limestone
posts surrounds the entire sculpture,keeping children and adults alike
from getting their fingers pricked. Ernie has also helped to make
two new signs advertising the Fort Wallace Museum. each a mile from the
museum on either the east or the west side. Atop each sign in a metal
cut-out of a buffalo.
Although he has made what seems to be
his crowning achievement, Ernie is not going to stop making sculptures
out of spare bits of wire now, and as long as we still have space here
at the museum, we're not about to make him.
Stage Station Renovation Needed
It's the oldest building in Western
Kansas...and it's falling down.
The Pond Creek Stagecoach Station was
built in 1865. This 140 year old building is showing signs of the
strain that prairie winds and torrential hail storms have dealt it.
The second story floor is bowing, paint is peeling, doors are
warping, metal plates hold pieces of the back together, and the once
pristine trim is slowly submitting to gravity. Once the Museum allowed
people to look around at the exhibits inside. Due to safety concerns,
the public is no longer allowed to enter this dilapidated building.
The Butterfield Overland Despatch (BOD) was
the only mail route from Atchison, KS to Denver, CO in the mid-1860s.
The Pond Creek Station was a "home" or eating station.
Located approximately 1 1/2 miles west of Wallace, this station
was renown for its excellent food, with the typical fair ranging from
buffalo meat and venison to canned fruit and cakes. Because of
the high incidence of Indian raids, bullet holes from frequent Indian
raids can be found in the wood.
In 1866, the BOD was incorporated into
the Platte River Stage Line, and the Pond Creek was no longer used as a
stage stop. A town formed around the stage stop, and Pond City
later became the first county seat. This renowned Stage Station
was later moved to the town of Wallace where it became the first store
for Frank Madigan. This same stage stop was eventually moved to
the Madigan ranch where it remained for a number of years. The
Madigan family later donated the Pond Creek Stagestation to the Fort
Wallace Museum and this building endured its final move. The Pond
Creek Stagestation now rests on the west side of the main museum.
And now is the time for its resurrection.
The Pond Creek Station is the oldest building
in this part of Kansas, and there is only one other original BOD stage
stop in existence. Please contact us if you are interested in
participating in the preservation of this important artifact!
Books, Books, and More Books!
Wallace native Jerome (better known as Pete) Bussen has
always been somewhat of a local celebrity. His "amateur"
knowledge of fossils, rocks, layers of earth, and all things Indian has
been of great value to the Fort Wallace Museum, and of great interest
to our visitors. Now Pete has his name in a book.
Mike Everhart is somewhat of an expert on the aquatic life
that once lived on (or technically above) what is Kansas today.
Pete and Mike have been in contact for many years,m each helping
the other become more of an expert in a subject they both love.
for years, mike has maintained a website
(www.oceansofkansas.com), and he has now written a book on the same
subject. This book, entitled Oceans of Kansas, was just
recently published. In the forward and in several other places in
the book, our very own Pete Bussen is mentioned, and thanked.
This book is written in an easy to understand manner and is well
worth reading. The Fort Wallace Museum now stocks this book for
sale in our gift shop.
We are also interested in reprinting several great books
that are no longer published. There is a great demand to reprint
these important local history books in paperback: