Fort Dodge,

In its day, this fort was one of the most important military establishments on the western frontier. It was located on the north bank of the Arkansas river, a short distance southeast of the present Dodge City, Kansas, on the site of the "Caches" which had been a favorite camping ground for freighters and hunters from the time of the opening of the Santa Fe trail.


Some authorities state that a fort was located here in 1835 by Col. Henry T. Dodge, after whom the fort was named. Col. Dodge did erect some sort of a fort in this immediate locality, but the reports of the United States war department say that the Fort Dodge of later days was established by Gen. Grenville M. Dodge in 1864, and that the site was selected by Col. Ford, of the Second Colorado cavalry. The first buildings were of adobe, but in 1867 several new structures were erected at a considerable outlay of money.

The sanitary arrangements at Fort Dodge were of the best character, and the fort usually boasted one of the finest garrisons in the country. At one time Gen. George A. Custer was the commanding officer of the post. When the fort was abandoned in 1882, the government left the property in charge of a custodian, who allowed the inclosure to be used as a cattle corral, and the buildings fell into decay.

The reservation—originally about 30,000 acres—was purchased from the Osage Indians. By an act of Congress, approved Dec. 15, 1880, all that portion of the reservation lying north of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad was ordered to be surveyed, as other public lands, and sold to actual settlers, not more than 160 acres to any one purchaser. The Kansas legislature in 1886 adopted a resolution asking the Kansas delegation in Congress "to secure, at as early a day as possible, the survey and sale as public lands the military reservation in Ford county, Kan., known as Fort Dodge." Three years later, in 1889, the legislature adopted another resolution requesting Congress to donate the remainder of the reservation to the state, to be used as a site for a soldiers' home.

On March 2, 1889, President Cleveland approved an act of Congress authorizing the secretary of the interior to sell and convey to the State of Kansas lots numbered 3, 5, 6 and 7, of section 3, township 27 south, range 24 west, on condition that the state pay for the same within twelve months from the passage of the act at the rate of $1.25 an acre, and establish a soldiers' home thereon within three years. The Kansas Historical Collections (vol. ix, p. 567) says that the entire reservation was opened to settlement except about 127 acres, which was bought by the citizens of Dodge City, under the provisions of the above act, and presented to the state for a soldiers' home.

This history proved by Frank W. Blackmar in his 1912 History of Kansas.

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