Blog Article by Emmalee Laidacker, Chapman Center for Rural Studies Intern
Last semester, Dr. Morgan’s Lost Kansas Communities class was tasked with writing an 8-10 page essay on a lost town of their choosing. They were expected to carefully and extensively examine its history, often uncovering new information in the process, and are given the full semester to do so. One such student, however, completed this assignment to an incredible extent. Darren Ivey, submitted his paper, “Lonely Sentinel: Fort Aubrey and the Defense of the Kansas Frontier, 1864-1866”, which thoughtfully illustrates the history of Fort Aubrey along with the men who were stationed there.
Located in Hamilton County and formerly known as Camp Wynkoop, Fort Aubrey was named after explorer and trader Francois Xavier Aubrey. The fort’s life was short-lived, as it was abandoned after a number of troops deserted their post. Unfortunately, very little remains of Fort Aubrey today.
The study itself is over thirty pages in length, while the bibliography comes to nearly fifteen, making Darren’s submission an impressive forty-five pages in length. “There was a lot to say”, said Darren, a former firefighter from Hutchinson, Kansas. “I wanted to exercise my research and writing skills”. Darren stated he has always had an interest in history since grade school, but more specifically “…in the American Civil War, mainly the cavalry of both sides, and the West, especially the frontier army and the Indian Wars; Texas Rangers, U.S. marshals, and other lawmen; and gunfighters.”
Ivey said he “perked right up” when Dr. Morgan mentioned the word “fort” in class and selected Fort Aubrey due to the fact it had not been thoroughly researched yet. Because Fort Aubrey existed for such a short time, he mentioned that one challenge was “just having enough there to really talk about, which apparently I did.”
Surprisingly, Darren went the extra mile in another area; he purchased the right to use the painting on the front page of his essay. Because the image he was set on using was copyrighted, he had to obtain permission as well as pay a fee to the copyright holder. “I emailed Bridgeman [Art Library] and asked for a quote. In a series of emails, the account manager and I eventually figured out which fee would be most appropriate for usage on a class project, and inclusion on the Chapman Center’s archives… The whole process only took about two days to complete, and the final fee was not outrageous.” He had already been familiar with the artist’s work and wanted to use the painting because it was one of few that depicted Fort Aubrey.
Darren Ivey has also authored a book, The Texas Rangers: A Registry and History and is currently in the process of writing another, making him no stranger to researching, writing, or studying the past. He plans on submitting his Fort Aubrey essay to a magazine.