Bissell Buzz 2016/4

With the blistering heat we have been experiencing during the past few days, I once again have gained even more respect for the pioneers that came to settle here.  They did not have the luxury of our air-conditioned homes, offices or transport.  It makes me wonder how did they really cope in such hot weather?  They worked their land in the scorching sun.  Their homes were small and many activities were moved outside.  Excluding Heritage Hall with its modern heat and cooling system, the coolest place at Fort Bissell is the sod house.  With no air-conditioning at all, it is so welcoming to walk in there on a hot day.  The two feet wide walls were wonderful insulation. However, in a true sod house the stove would be adding extra heat to the inside of the house, which is not the case with our exhibit.  Our wooden buildings that have trees next to them, also are much cooler than the buildings that are fully exposed to summer sun. Kansas weather can truly be challenging – it was then and it still is today, yet way easier to handle with our modern amenities.

This week we were blessed with the gift of a full size buffalo hide.  The Beckmann’s, previous owners of the locker at Kensington, donated this to us before embarking on the next chapter of their lives.  A huge thank you once again to them for this wonderful gift.  We will be displaying this in the Fred Albright log cabin, as he was “our” buffalo hunter.  Fred Albright supplied to Buffalo Bill Cody, who in turn had a contract to supply the Union Pacific Railroad with meat.  Fred was well known as buffalo hunter, Indian fighter, homesteader and a family man and a friend to all who knew him.

Fred C. Albright was born June 4, 1849 at Watertown Wisconsin.  At the age of 23 he Fred Albrightdecided to take Horace Greely’s advice and “Go West young man”.  Early in September 1872 Fred and his father Urban Albright started on their westward trip with a team and covered wagon.  Many times they were tempted to stop and locate, but they were lured on by the tales of buffalo herds roaming the Prairie. They finally settled on the banks of the Cactus Creek 3½ miles northwest of Logan. Here he lived until his death at the age of 104.  He suffered all the hardships of the early Kansas pioneers – going through Indian scares, droughts, blizzards, Prairie fires and grass hopper years.  Slowly he forged ahead by sheer hard work and good judgment.  He built up his farming and livestock interests and became one of the leading farmers of Phillips County.  He took an active interest in all civic affairs and played an important part in the settlement, growth and development of this county.  Fred saw the “Buffalo Country” pass into history as well as the Indians, as the Great Plains moved forward.  He was a true pioneer of the West.

We were planning to have started the Fun Friday activities already, but decided against it whilst we are experiencing the extreme heat.  Hopefully we should have something planned for after Independence Day if the weather is more favorable.

Our hours are Tuesday to Friday 9am – 4pm and Saturday 9am – 2pm.  Closed Sundays, Mondays.  Regular updates and photos are posted on our Facebook page.

We can be contacted on (785) 543-6212 or on email at

Remember entrance is FREE. See ya at the Fort – hopefully soon!!

Ruby Wiehman – Curator