• What’s in a name? Author gathers stories behind post namesakes

  • Quentin Schillare spent seven years researching the names behind the streets, buildings and terrain features on Fort Leavenworth for his book, “Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the Names.”

    • email print
  • Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the leader of the Union Army and 18th president of the United States, has a gate, hall, swimming pool, auditorium, hill and stained glass window named after him on Fort Leavenworth. Including his statue and the avenue along which it stands, Grant has the most namesakes out of any other person. Ironically, Grant only visited post once.
    Quentin Schillare spent seven years researching the names behind the streets, buildings and terrain features on Fort Leavenworth. His book, “Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the Names,” was recently published through the Combat Studies Institute Press.
    In the book, Schillare tells the backstories of many well-known and not-so-known Fort Leavenworth namesakes. The idea for the book came about seven years ago after Schillare did a presentation for the Fort Leavenworth Historical Society on Fort Leavenworth and the Philippines. He had visited the Philippines and discovered that many coast defense batteries and harbor defense installations were named for people who were also namesakes on Fort Leavenworth.
    “I did some research, and then I said, you know, everybody knows who Eisenhower is and Marshall, Patton, and Bradley and all the other names that are familiar to all of us, but there are a lot of people, including those buried here (at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery) in section one, that are namesakes on post that no one has ever heard of, like (Pvt.) Fitz Lee, a guy who died of lung disease in Leavenworth after leaving the Army (in 1899). He was a Buffalo Soldier and there are two things named for him on Fort Leavenworth. There’s the Lee House and the theater (Fitz Lee Hall). How an Army private got two things named after him I guess is a larger story.”
    Schillare enlisted in the Army in 1967 as a private and retired in 1997 as a lieutenant colonel. He attended the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies and worked after retirement for the Battle Command Training Program and Northrup Grumman until he retired from civilian service.
    Until 2007, when he started the book, the only major works Schillare had published were the thesis for the master of military art and science degree in history he earned at CGSC and a couple of monographs. He said the response to the book has been positive.
    “It’s funny,” Schillare said. “There have been people who have expected this thing to come out for quite some time. I’ve had requests, ‘How do I get a copy of the book?’”
    Although limited copies were printed, the document can be downloaded from the CSI Press website.
    Schillare researched the namesakes mentioned in his book by using resources from the command historian’s office on post, the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library and word of mouth. Schillare said he kept finding namesakes.
    Page 2 of 4 - “I was over in the (Adjutant General) building by the stables on McClellan, and I’m waiting in line to get my ID card renewed, and I look up and there’s a sign over the door,” Schillare recalled. “‘The Henry Knox Classroom.’ There’s a sign over there. They’re hiding things on me. They have a room. It was sort of like peeling an onion, which is why it took seven years to do that.”
    Combined Arms Center Command Historian Kelvin Crow remembers when Schillare visited him with the idea for the book. Crow had the same idea on his computer under fun things to do.
    “This project was one of those fun things to do, but it had been on there for years with zero progress,” Crow said. “At first I was kind of resentful, but then I realized this is the only way it’s ever going to get done. Let’s do it.”
    Crow said he could see the value in the book.
    “There was no single repository of this information,” Crow said. “You could pull up an old map from when the Signal Corps was located here, and it would say, ‘Hey, this is Grant Hill,’ and you’d go, ‘Really? I didn’t know there was a hill’ because we all drive around in cars, and it’s just invisible to us. They walked or rode horses, so terrain features, little holes in the ground, meant something to them. We’re in danger of losing that (with) people not knowing about things being renamed, and so it needed to be done.”
    Army Regulation 1-33, “The Army Memorial Program,” is the governing rule for naming things on post, and the Garrison has responsibility for this. AR 1-33 has restrictions on naming permanent fixtures, including not renaming things already named, andnot naming things after Medal of Honor recipients, general officers or living persons unless obtaining proper approval, as was the case with the Gen. Colin Powell bust.
    There is a Garrison committee headed by the deputy to the Garrison commander, Jack Walker, with committee members chosen based on policy such as the chaplain, engineer and historian to enforce these regulations. Meeting minutes are sent to the Garrison commander for approval and then to U.S. Army Installation Management Command. Whenever a road is removed or a building torn down, that name gets put on a list for reuse.
    Many places on post were named before this regulation was enforced, which is why Grant has so many namesakes.
    “When you are arguably the most famous general in the U.S. Civil War, a two-term president, people will find a way to name things for you, even though you’ve never been here,” Schillare said. “There’s a statue, there’s roads, there’s buildings, there’s conference rooms, there is all sorts of things.”
    Page 3 of 4 - There is nothing on Fort Leavenworth that is a namesake for an officer who resigned commission in the U.S. Army to join the Confederacy in 1861.
    “One of the things we forget is the victors who were running the Army after the war, they still didn’t have a very good feeling,” Schillare said. “The guys who were running Fort Leavenworth and the Army in the last half of the 19th century, they still hated the guys they fought a war against. There was no chance you were going to have anything on Fort Leavenworth named after anybody who fought against the cause of the Union.”
    One of Schillare’s favorite parts of the book was finding sources of information he didn’t know existed and confirming facts.
    One name that stuck out was Air Force Capt. Patrick Harrold, who is the namesake of Harrold Youth Center and the only namesake of an Air Force officer on post. Harrold was an Army brat who graduated from Leavenworth High School and Kansas State University. He was serving in Thailand when he was shot down over Laos in 1969. His wife was notified he was missing the day before she gave birth to their son. His remains were recovered by accident in 1993 while Army officials were on a mission to look for another aircraft crash. Harrold and his wife’s graves are in Abilene, Kan., her hometown. Schillare and his wife drove to Abilene and found their graves. The double tombstone features the birth and death dates, marriage dates and their son’s name.
    “That’s the kind of thing that in one place I got all the information,” Schillare said. “Over in the CAC History Office, they have vertical files they have been keeping for a long time, just manila folders with stuff in them. They had some information on him but until I found this, I didn’t have any hard dates.”
    Some namesakes were based on deduction, Schillare said.
    One of those being Sgt. Maj. Truman Organ, who Schillare believes is the namesake of Organ Avenue.
    “I was trying to figure out who was Organ,” Schillare said. “Nobody knew.”
    While at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery looking for another namesake, Schillare happened upon Organ’s grave.
    “I saw this grave and was like, that’s the man,” Schillare said.
    According to Schillare’s book, Organ joined the 1st Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth as a teenager and remained with the regiment for the next decade. He also served in the Philippines and Cuba and then returned to Fort Leavenworth. He retired in 1907 and worked as an engineer.
    Page 4 of 4 - Schillare speculates that Organ named the street after himself while working as an engineer on post after retirement. Organ Avenue was the first thing on Fort Leavenworth memorializing a noncommissioned officer.
    In his research, Schillare found conflicting facts on several namesakes. One of them was the spelling of “Blochberger.” Lt Col. Irene Blochberger is the namesake of Blochberger Avenue and Blochberger Terrace, two buildings on Kearney Avenue once used as nursing quarters and now used as the Mission and Installation Contracting Office. Through the years people have spelled her name with a “K” — including her Leavenworth High School yearbook from 1930 and the current sign at Blochberger Terrace. Her plot at Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Kan., spells her name with an “H.”
    “We figured when she was buried, her family knew how to spell her name,” Schillare said. “The editors at the yearbook may not know how to spell her name, the engineers may not know how to spell her name, but the cemetery would.”
    Blochberger graduated from LHS and went to St. John’s School of Nursing. She served as a nurse from 1934 to 1937 on Fort Leavenworth where she joined the Army Nurse Corps and served on Fort Leavenworth until 1940. She is the first and only military woman memorialized on post.
    Remembering legacies proves value in the book, Crow said.
    “People forget,” Crow said. “A generation goes by and people have forgotten what someone did. ... Then you start peeling that back and looking at it and go this guy is really cool. He did some cool stuff.”
    Schillare said the book was an enjoyable experience.
    “It’s been kind of fun,” Schillare said. “It’s been fun to work with. As they say, somebody knows, so somewhere all this information exists.”
    To download the PDF version, visit the CSI Press website at http://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/documents/cace/CSI/CSIPubs/FtL_PeopleBehindNames.pdf.
  • Comment or view comments