By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Mayor Brad Clinkenbeard marveled at a model of the Fort Gibson Stockade, which will soon be displayed at Town Hall.
“It’s very, very detailed,” Clinkenbeard said as he studied the model at a recent Town Council meeting. The model shows the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry marching out of the stockade.
How detailed is it?
The Civil War soldier being carried on a stretcher has a name — George Washington Tye.
“He would have been the first cousin to our great-grandfather,” said Jesse F. Butler of Tahlequah. Jesse and his brother, Jimmy Butler of Gore, spent 10 months building the model fort with small wooden dowels and popsicle sticks.
The Butler brothers presented the model to the Town Council at its May 28 meeting. Clinkenbeard said the model will be shown in a display case at Town Hall.
“I wanted something the public could see,” Jesse Butler said, adding that he and his brother met with town officials about displaying the model.
He said they started the model while Jimmy was recuperating from a heart condition a few years ago.
“It was 2013 when we started it and it was finished in 10 months,” Jesse Butler said.
Before the first wooden piece was put into place, the brothers researched the stockade and its history.
“My brother got on the Internet to look at pictures of the fort, and we went in person to look at the fort.
The picket fence surrounding the stockade, as well as the logs for the buildings, were made with small wooden dowels, Butler said. They carved “several thousand popsicle” sticks for the shingled roofs, Jimmy Butler said.
No popsicles were eaten for this project.
“The popsicle sticks came in bundles,” he said, adding that they got the bundles at a store.
The brothers bought the solders and animals at Hobby Lobby, Jesse Butler said.
“The soldiers came in a packet, and half were Confederates,” he said. “We painted the whole bunch to look exactly alike.”
The display shows the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry marching out of the fort on its way to the Battle of Prairie Grove, nearly 65 miles away in Arkansas.
Jesse said Tye, the soldier on the stretcher, had come down with “camp fever” because of the unsanitary conditions and swampy area around the fort. “They were shipping him out,” Jesse said.
The fort model is part of a a lifelong interest in the Civil War.
“I did a term paper on Stonewall Jackson in High School,” Jesse said. “I really enjoyed it.”
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee phoenix.com.