Fort Bissell Buzz

Fort Bissell Buzz

October 16, 2017

2017 has been a year with some different dynamics, but it turned out to be another wonderful year for the Fort.  Our season has finally come to a close with an exceptional function on Sunday.  Our local CVB, whose goal is to promote tourism in Phillips County, hosted Uncork at the Fort - a wine tasting with a difference.  Kirk and Treva Johnston from Shiloh Winery in Wakeeney, brought their wines, which was enthusiastically tasted and paired with the wonderful snacks, flavored popcorn and even our local chocolate fudges.  Daniel Jupina provided some background music strumming his guitar, loud enough to be heard yet soft enough so the guests could still enjoy conversations.


Kirk and Treva Johnston from Shiloh Winery in Wakeeney - the provided the wine for the tasting.


We made the Fort available as venue and due to the space constraints, we could only accommodate about 50 people.  We could not have asked for more perfect weather.  Clear skies, mild temperatures and even the frisky breeze of earlier in the day died down and a total calm made it a perfect evening.  In between the tasting there was a Scavenger Hunt, which made it possible for everyone to see all the displays in the Fall.  A few guests remarked that they actually learned a few facts they never knew before about the Fort and its displays.


Photo gallery from the Uncork at the Fort event.


Wine grown and produced in Kansas?  Most certainly so and we need to thank the German immigrants for that.  In the early to mid-nineteenth century they established extensive plantings of grapes in neighboring Missouri along the Missouri River, developing a thriving grape and wine culture that spread west into Eastern Kansas.  By the 1870's, Missouri and Kansas constituted one of the largest grape growing and winemaking regions in the US, with wineries established in Kansas as far west as Russell and as far east as Paola.


Kansas was also home to Carrie Nation and the early temperance movement.  Kansas was the first state in the union to pass statewide prohibition in 1881.  However, vineyard owners did not give up their grapes easily. As late as 1900, twenty years after prohibition in Kansas, “The Grape in Kansas” published by the state horticultural society documented thousands of acres still existing in Kansas, with detailed statistics regarding cultivars planted, growing techniques and annual yields. It was common knowledge, however, that most of the grapes produced were either used for bootleg winemaking in Kansas or sold across the state line to the thriving wine industry in Missouri.  With the advent of national prohibition in 1920, the grape and wine industry in Kansas and Missouri was destroyed. Even after the repeal of prohibition, strong liquor laws in Kansas prevented the reemergence of the industry until the Kansas Farm Winery Statute was passed in 1985.


This coming week we will be winterizing the Fort and that implies packing away certain items and covering the rest.  This signifies the official closing of the Fort until early May 2018.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to:

The community of Phillips County for their membership dues;

The businesses in especially Phillipsburg for sponsorships;

The Phillips County CVB for their support and sponsorship of marketing items;

The local press;

Our hard-working members of the Phillips County Historical Society board;

And everyone who took the time out to visit our Fort.  All of you have made it possible for us to "Preserve the Past for the Future".

Photos of our events as well as a comprehensive list of our sponsors will be posted on our Facebook page.   So until next year, this is goodbye and hope to see you all at the Fort in 2018!

Ruby Wiehman – Curator


Kathy Beard, Deb Hadley and Connie Cox dressed up in period clothing, ready to give tours and assist with the Scavenger Hunt.