Bissell Buzz 2015/13

September 5, 2015

By the time this article has been published, the Fort will have closed for tours for the 2015 season.  But we are not done yet – there is still the Chili Cookoff that will be held on September 27 and that will be the last chance to visit the Fort grounds in 2015!

Jesse JamesToday I heard over the radio that Jesse James was born on September 5, 1847.   Although being wanted especially in Missouri, together with his brother Frank and some friends they also operated in this area.  We have had visitors to the Fort that tell stories of incidents with Jesse James and his men, that were handed down by their grandfathers and great-grandfathers,.  One was where they demanded horses and promised to leave the horses at Kirwin, which they did.  One can only wonder what “operation” they did with the horses.  Another story is where they demanded a meal from a 12-year old boy and eventually paid him with a gold five dollar coin.  This coin he kept in his pocket all the time and told the story to his grandchildren.  One can also just surmise where this money came from, seeing that they robbed banks, stagecoaches and trains.  A young girl one day asked me when she saw the poster in our General Store, why on earth would they want such a young kid dead or alive.  The fact is that initially they did not have a photo of him as an adult and went on to use the photo of the “young” Jesse James.  He eventually died in 1882 at the hand of one of his own gang, who hoped to collect a reward on James’ head.

Doc Mary and FestusThis week we had an interesting visit from a local resident that is 79 years young and wishes not to be named.  She was a nurse under Doctor Mary Glassen in her later years. She told stories of how one could always hear Doc Mary coming down the passage with “clunk, clunk, clunk” footsteps.  Doc Mary always wore shoes with heels and walked as if on a mission.  She was never without jewellery and was always well dressed.   When Festus (Ken Curtis of Gunsmoke fame) came to town in 1970 as documented in her book “How to sleep on a windy night”, our visitor had the honor of showing him around the hospital to cheer up the patients. She even got to take Festus to her parents who were both in long-term care.    Our visitor also recalled her smallpox vaccination when she was a young girl.  Doctor Mary’s sister Naida, who was a social worker, helped out sometimes and she was doing the vaccinations – probably trained by sister Mary.  When her turn came, Naida said “Your arms are too pretty for this, we’ll do yours on your leg”.  How many girls received this same favor, are unknown.

As mentioned previously, we still have one event left on our 2015 Fort calendar. On September 27 we will be hosting our third annual Chili Cook-off and it will be an evening of fun, food and frolic.  We want to invite all to come and try the various dishes and vote for your favorite.  We will be catering for non-chili eaters too and have something sweet and also some music.  We are also trying to arrange for a fun photo booth.  For those who wish to show off their chili cooking skills, why don’t you enter a team?  Entry forms can be obtained at H&R Block, Phillipsburg.  This is a fundraising event towards some covered shelters for our wagons that have to brave all the elements of heat, rain and wind during the hot Kansas summer.

We would like to thank each and every visitor that made the time this season to come to the Fort.  Thank you too for every paid membership and also donations made. We sincerely hope that you enjoyed the visits as much as we do – preserving the past for the future generations!

Ruby Wiehman – Curator