Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fort Supply - 3

The freight wagons were the heart of the new West, and the Teamsters that drove the mules and oxen that pulled the freight wagons were responsible for keeping them moving. The Teamster’s Cabin is typical of frontier buildings. Cedar logs were placed vertically in a trench to form the walls. The space between the logs was filled with mud or mortar, and the interior divided into two rooms. While this interior has since been altered, the building is original, and is possibly the residence of Amos Chapman and his Cheyenne wife, Mary Long Neck, and their family. Chapman was a famous scout and interpreter. He lost a leg in the Battle of Buffalo Wallow in 1874, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The six-mule-team Army wagon was developed during the early part of the Civil War, and built by the thousands. They were used to freight supplies to Camp Supply, and then Fort Supply during the Indian Wars period. Each wagon could carry 2,536-pounds of supplies or 1,500 rations. The teamster controlled the mule team with a “jerk line” led to the bit of the near leader, the left front mule.  The teamster rode on a saddle on the near wheeler, the left rear mule, and not on the wagon. An interesting aside is that this set-up is what accounts for Americans riding on the right side of the road. With the teamster sitting on the left, he kept to the right when meeting or overtaking so he had the best visibility of the other team and wagon.

The tombstones in the rear are from the Fort Supply period (1873-1895).  The flat markers in the foreground are mental patients that died while at the hospital.

The original cemetery for Fort Supply was established near the Beaver River in 1869. It was washed away in a flood, and this new cemetery was created in front of the mental hospital in 1871. It was last used by the Army in 1894. In January, 1895, soldiers’ remains were removed to Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, a normal practice after frontier bases were closed. Contractors are required to dig up identifiable graves. Unfortunately, original graves were often marked with wood markers, and a number of those were certainly lost in a prairie fire that swept the cemetery. Of soldiers known to have been placed to rest here from military records, Ft. Leavenworth can only account for having received one-third that number.
The grave of Toch-e-me-ha, Cheyenne wife of Scout Ben Clarke,
died Oct. 8, 1875, at age 22.

When the base was closed in 1895, people that had moved onto the Indian lands in the Land Rush now moved into the fort as squatters and occupied most of the buildings. The first burial among the squatters was 1901, and they continued to use the cemetery until the hospital was opened in 1908. The cemetery was then used for mental patients, and 970 patients were interred here and in an additional section to the west.

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