About Sutler of Fort Scott
Laura is originally from New York and grew up in Northern Virginia. As well as being a incomparable Mother, Grandmother and a full-time Registered Nurse, she is an accomplished artist and potter and uses her expert skills to produce both historic wares as well as contemporary works. She is the backbone of our business and the foundation for our family.
I was born in a town known as Boiling Springs, near Gettysburg, Pa, moving to Tucson, AZ as a child where I went to school and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Army. I served with the H Co., 3d U.S. Infantry, “The Old Guard” at Fort Meyer, VA, attached to Arlington Cemetery. Three years of active duty followed by three years of Reserve. The Old Guard, active since 1784, is among it’s myriad of duties and specialty units, the US Army’s official ceremonial unit and escort to the President. I am a life member of the Old Guard Association. A member of every generation of my family has served in the US military from the Revolutionary War to the present with 29 known descendants serving the Union forces during the Civil War. I was proud to continue that tradition and do so in their honor. Following my military service I was also honored and privileged to carry on an additional family tradition of service, retiring from the Tucson Police Department after 20 yrs service.
Laura and I have been happily married for 40 years. We met while I was in the Army and she has been a true “army” wife ever since. We have two grown daughters both married, ages 36 and 39, and four grand children. Our oldest has a B.A. in History and a Masters in Museum Administration. She has worked for the National Archives in Atlanta and various restoration and archival projects with several military museums, and taught history at the collegiate level. Our youngest daughter has a B.S. in Psychology and Christian Ministries and a Masters in Social Work. She is an accomplished artist as well with historic works in her repertoire.
I began my Re-enacting/Living History endeavors in 1967. I started out at a tender age as a field musician playing either fife, drum, or bugle as needed. As soon as I could shoulder a musket I was in the ranks as most young men aspired to. Over the past 50 years I have served in and/or founded various units including the 8th US Infantry, 5th US Cavalry, 5th CA Vols., and A Co., 1st Bat., US Marines. In the mid 1970s I joined, as a charter member, the newly formed 23rd SNY Separate Company of the Arizona Civil War Institute. Laura joined me in this endeavor having been introduced into the re-enacting world at the advent of our courtship. Laura has been involved in historical and Living History programs since we have been together and has developed recognized expertise in many areas especially period cooking and food preparation and preservation, as well as ladies fashion. Both of our children were “born into” the Living History tradition and were involved throughout childhood. One is still involved and carrying on that tradition with our grandchildren as well.
Through the 23rd SNY organization, beginning initially as a private soldier and sometimes musician, I rose through the ranks for the next 12 years. During the 125th Anniversary of the Civil War events I served primarily as Orderly 1st Sergeant. I was then elected as Captain where I served for several years. Through a series of events Dom Dal Bello of California and I met and we endeavored to form a far western battalion for the purposes of regional advocacy for the larger eastern and western theater events. As a result in 1991 we co-founded the Army of the Pacific, an organization which is considered by many as having pioneered many aspects of the campaigning venue in Living History on a large scale. As soon as our organization mustered enough men to form proper battalions I moved to the position of Lieutenant Colonel. In 2006 I was drafted as a candidate for Commanding General of The First Federal Division. I served in that capacity after election for a period just over two years. In the latter part of 2009 I voluntarily resigned my command to pursue different worthwhile interests. I remain involved with the Living History community on a more local basis and was a founding commander for both the Army of the Frontier and the Independent Veteran Battalion.
I have collected CW era and U.S. Military antiques for over 45 years. I have been a dealer in such goods for over 35 years. A little over 25 years ago I began to restrict my collecting and dealing to the Civil War era and specifically the subject of soldier’s personal items and material culture of the period. From 1991 until 2011 Laura and I published a catalog of Civil War artifacts which attained national recognition “Specializing in Soldier’s Personal Items and Material Culture of the Civil War Era” sent by subscription to personal collectors and museums. We are humbly gratified that many of our loyal customers have indicated they retained these catalogs throughout our publication, and continue to do so, as valued reference material. We have researched the gamut of material culture of the Civil War and immediate pre-Civil War era, developing a rather unique understanding of the vast developments in manufacture, breaking through the dogma that has often dominated the discourse surrounding it. Many of our customers are also Re-enactors and professional Living Historians who collect as well. We have also done and continue to do museum consulting and have retired from limited film consulting. In 1995 we began the production of museum quality reproduction personal items unique to the market and museum quality period packaging and labeling. We have handled thousands of Civil War artifacts over the years and have, we believe, a unique perspective and ability to capture the essence of the period through the combination of our research and artifact handling and our practical application of Living History experience.
In 2006 we purchased and moved into an 1850s homestead complete with stone farmhouse, barn and summer kitchen with significant Civil War history in Fort Scott, Kansas, which we are ever occupied in restoring. Our aim is to restore what is left of the original property to it’s 1850s working condition. Our showroom/store is currently located in this historic setting housed in the rebuilt and expanded wagon shed attached to the end of the stone barn. We welcome your contact for an appointed visit. This is our third historic building restoration project and the most ambitious to date.
Laura and I are, by the Grace of God, Christian believers, raised in the Lutheran tradition. (currently Missouri Synod) We invite all of our Christian brothers and sisters to hold us personally responsible to the standards which we publicly confess. Our trust is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We look forward to serving you with our best efforts with our collection of museum quality reproductions and original artifacts of the Civil War era.
Steve and Laura Dunfee
VIRTUTE NON VERBIS!