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Identifier: WH141


The collection includes two ledgers, which document soldiers' purchases through the Fort Laramie sutler's store. The post sutler was a civilian merchant licensed to sell certain goods not supplied by the Army. At Fort Laramie, the sutler sold goods to soldiers on credit and bartered or sold his merchandise to passing immigrants. Sutlers typically charged exorbitant prices. Reacting to sutler excesses, Congress abolished the position in 1866. However, by 1867, in response to frontier soldiers' protests, a system of post traderships was authorized to replace the post sutlers in order to meet the soldiers' needs. In many cases post traders continued to be referred to as sutlers even after 1867. Seth Ward (1820-1903), for example, held the position of post sutler at Fort Laramie from 1857 to 1871.

The collection also includes muster rolls, supply requisitions and clothing issue forms from the post hospital unit. Additional material includes copies of orders, correspondence and reports describing Fort Laramie's establishment as a military post in 1849.
SERIES 1 OVERSIZE - CIVILIAN RECORDS 1858-1859, 1867 OVBOX 1 The ledgers in this series document the types of supplies and foodstuffs that were available to frontier soldiers through the post sutler's store. Transactions are listed in the ledgers by date, and include the purchaser's name and the cost of each item purchased. The 1858-1859 ledger appears to be complete, though it is missing its back cover. Pages are numbered from1 to 512. The 1867 ledger is incomplete, and has neither a front nor a back cover. Page numbering begins at 133 and ends at 496. Both ledgers are extremely fragile and may not be photocopied.

The series also includes a brief description of the ownership and operations of two “hog ranches” located near Fort Laramie.
SERIES 2 OVERSIZE - MILITARY RECORDS 1849-1889, 1960 OVFF 1 The Fort Laramie hospital unit generated the military records in this series. Included are clothing and equipment issue forms, Muster rolls and requisition forms. Muster rolls provide soldier's name, rank, enlistment data, job description and payroll record. The receipt roll of clothing issued includes names, dates, types of clothing issued, costs and signatures.


  • 1849-1889, 1960


The collection is open for research.


Fort Laramie, Wyoming Records are the physical property of the Denver Public Library


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Robert Stuart, a member of John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, provided the first recorded description of the site that would become Fort Laramie, Wyoming in 1812. In 1821, a trapper named Jacques LaRamie was killed near the site, and several regional landmarks eventually received his name. Fur traders William Sublette and Robert Campbell built a log-stockaded fort at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers in 1834 to facilitate their trade with the Indians. Although named Fort William in Sublette's honor, the fort quickly became known as Fort Laramie.

In 1841, Lancaster P. Lupton, a rival trader, built an adobe post named Fort Platte along the North Platte River within a mile of Fort William. In response, the American Fur Company replaced the deteriorating log Fort William with a new adobe fort, christened Fort John. It subsequently became known as the second Fort Laramie.

1841 also saw the arrival of the Bidwell-Bartelson party, the first immigrant wagon train bound for the West Coast. By 1850, Westward migration had grown to some 50,000 people annually. Most of these immigrants stopped to replenish their supplies at Fort Laramie, making it one of the most important points on the trail. The U.S. government purchased Fort Laramie for military use in 1849, and a small contingent of troops was charged with maintaining peace and order along a substantial portion of the trail.

The Horse Creek Treaty was negotiated near Fort Laramie in 1851 during one of the largest gatherings of Native Americans that was ever witnessed on the Northern Plains. It was the first of a number of treaties that led to Fort Laramie's role as a supply point for annuity payments to the tribes. Subsequent treaties were negotiated in 1866 and 1868.

An iron bridge, the first in Wyoming, was built over the North Platte River in 1875 at Fort Laramie. This positioned the Fort as a strategic staging area for the Black Hills gold rush that followed the discovery of Gold there in 1874 and for the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. The post also became a major stop along the Cheyenne-Deadwood stage line. During the1870s, Fort Laramie was considered one of the most important military installations in the West.

Railroad construction and expanded settlement eventually brought about the closing of the post. On March 2, 1890, the last garrison troops departed. Many of the post's buildings were auctioned off to settlers on April 9th and on April 20, 1890, the post was officially abandoned. Fort ruins are preserved by the National Park Service as the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.


1 oversize box

1 oversize folder

Language of Materials



The Denver Public library purchased two ledgers from Fred Rosenstock in 1960 and nine documents fom Paul Harbuagh of Primitive Art and Photography on July 31, 1991. Additional materials are from an unknown source and date.


The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional material on Fort Laramie, Wyoming including:

Report of an Overland Expedition from Fort Laramie, Wyoming Territory to the Harney's Peak Region of the Black Hills

C MSS -M1598 Theophil Rodenbough Letters

C MSS -M1631 William Oliver Collins and Family Papers

C MSS WH73 Mrs. George McGrew Diary

C MSS WH133 O.F. Davenport Letters

C MSS WH92 Seth E. Ward Papers

C MSS WH1067


Number of OVBoxes: 1

Number of OVFolders: 1




Dennis Hagen

November 2007


Ellen Zazzarino
November 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States