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About Fort Bissell Museum

Fort Bissell is a museum in Phillips County, Kansas, sponsored by the Phillips County Historical Society. The Fort was never a military fort but was built for the safety of the settlers. The families of Phillips County have donated artifacts to the museum for many years. There is a Civil War Uniform on display along with a Bible a union soldier carried through the War; a music box that came to Phillips County from West Virginia in a covered wagon; the Kingery Gun Collection which holds many unique firearms and too many other artifacts to mention. The museum is a non-profit organization and is free for anyone to come visit. We hope to see you soon at the Fort!


Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Tuesday – Friday 9 AM – 4 PM
Saturday 9 AM – 2 PM
Phone:785.543.6212


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We have this photo of a rural mail carrier from Kirwin, in depot. We wrote about this in a previous Bissell Buzz and mentioned that he is unidentified. Till now. He finally has a name! He is Charles Nelson Gray and the grandfather of Marjory (Peggy) and William Jones from Kirwin. Find-a-grave gives this information about him: Charles Nelson Gray was born April 3, 1873, near Mount Carroll, Carroll County, Illinois, to William H. H. Gray and Mary Ann Gray, and died June 3, 1938, in Huntington, West Virginia, at the age of 65 years, 2 months.

In November of 1873 he was brought by his parents to Kansas where his father homesteaded 2.5 miles west of Kirwin, and it was here that Charles grew to manhood. What education he received was in the old stone schoolhouse which still stands four miles west of town. Charley, as he was known, followed farming for several years after which he moved to Kirwin to give his children better advantages of schooling. In 1908 he became a rural mail carrier and served the community southwest of town for many years. He was later transferred to Otis, Kansas, and later to Wichita where he was retired as a mail carrier on account of physical disability.

He is buried in the Kirwin cemetery.
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Phase One of the grading of our parking area to better our rainwater drainage when we have those wonderful thunder showers. Layer of shale put down and graded towards the road for better run-off - needed to level out the "hump", which caused us to lose some of our green buffalo grass. Tomorrow the final layer to cover the shale. Thank you Shane from B&B Redimix for working on this today in the blazing heat! ... See MoreSee Less

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From this week's Bissell Buzz:
The first telephone in the county was installed in Kirwin in September 1881– from the office of May & Blake to the bank. Complete systems were installed in Kirwin and Phillipsburg during 1887, but on February 18, 1889, an agent of the Bell Company put them both out of business, claiming they were an infringement of Bell patents. It then took till 1903 for Kirwin to have permanent telephones. In Kirwin's Centennial (1969) the following ad from Southwestern Bell Telephone Company appeared - look at that switchboard - still the old plug-in type, but look how far they came!!
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We are SO grateful to NexTech for sponsoring new telephones for the Fort. We have been battling for the past few years using a phone that was holding enough battery charge for only one phone call... and it can't be a lengthy call either. We now have new handsets with an extended reach, so we can walk around on the premises and take or make calls from anywhere! Thank you SO MUCH NexTech!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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Having fun looking through old photos and came across this one - any guess who this is? ... See MoreSee Less

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Busy doing research on the early days of Kirwin. Came across this, referring to the early settlers and confrontations with hostile Indians:
"The preparation to meet any outbreak in a prompt manner deterred the Indians from the commission of outrages. The early settlers were FEARLESS MEN and would not have brooked insults from the sons of the forest" - what a description!
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1 week ago

Fort Bissell Museum

Thinking of them at the museum in Holdrege - not too far from us. The floods are devastating everywhere, but especially when it hits a museum, which strives to preserve the past. I really hope the damage is not extensive.HELP!! ... See MoreSee Less

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1 week ago

Fort Bissell Museum

Limestone posts were every where and limestone blocks were used to build houses - how did they do it?Inside the Russell County courthouse is an exhibit showing how post rock was cut and worked. Drill a line of holes into the exposed shelf of stone, then insert wedges and feathers--as here shown. Then hammer away, keeping the same pressure on each wedge in the line by listening to the tone of the hammer blows. ... See MoreSee Less

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Last year Mr Richard Townley from Glade and his daughter visited us and donned the Civil War "Kepi" that his great grandfather George Washington Hays wore. He also recognized his parents' names on both of the Glade quilts that hang in the Depot. We spent an enjoyable time with them during this visit. Sadly he passed away on Sunday. We offer our sincere condolences to the family. ... See MoreSee Less

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