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    Artifact donated by Fort McCoy founder’s grandson speaks to installation’s origins

    Artifact donated by Fort McCoy founder’s grandson speaks to installation’s origins

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | A wooden crate more than a century old is shown Aug. 26 , 2022, at the Fort McCoy...... read more read more

    In July 2022, Alan McCoy, grandson of Maj. Gen. Robert Bruce McCoy for whom Fort McCoy is named after had visited the installation with his family members, and with him he brought a century-old artifact he’d received in the form of a wood crate that included the words stamped on it: “CAMP EMERY UPTON” and “CAMP ROBINSON.”

    Looking back to 1909, per Fort McCoy’s documented history, “negotiations were concluded, and the Sparta Maneuver Tract became a reality in 1909 on what is known today as ‘South Post.’ The total parcel was divided approximately in half by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Situated north of the tracks was a maneuver camp named Camp Emory-Upton. An artillery camp known as Camp Robinson went up to the south of the tracks. Temporary galvanized buildings were constructed in the summer of 1909, and training began. The railroad provided an unloading sidetrack near the artillery camp and ran a spur into the maneuver camp.

    “On Nov. 19, 1926, the reservation officially was designated as Camp McCoy in honor of Maj. Gen. Robert B. McCoy, who had died in January,” the history further states. “The War Department once again regained control of the camp as it settled down to improving buildings and roads. Summer artillery training was conducted from 1926 to 1933 by units from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.”

    The wood crate artifact brought by Alan McCoy to the Fort McCoy History Center was the first to be brought to the center of its kind, and it’s uniquely one of the few original Camp Robinson/Camp Emery Upton-related artifacts in the center.

    “Somebody brought it to my store and asked if I wanted it,” McCoy said in July. “So I kept it. And when I knew we were coming here, I thought we’d bring it along.”

    The crate dates to July 1910 and has “MORRIS AND COMPANY” stamped on one side. Fort McCoy Archaeologist Ryan Howell with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch and Miranda Alexander with the Colorado State University’s (CSU) Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands that partners with Fort McCoy for archaeology did some research on the crate.

    “We have found several artifacts related to Morris and Co. canned-meat containers at an archaeological site where they had been dumped in latrines or burned in an incinerator from this 1909-1912 period,” Howell said. “Essentially, what we found were ‘spam’ containers, processed meat, that was the first attempt by the Army at pre-packed rations. Prior to 1910, the Army predominately used fresh meat and bread made on site and purchased locally.”

    But that wasn’t what the crate was for. Howell and Alexander concluded it probably was used for carrying lard buckets.

    “That crate likely contained 12 five-packs of one-gallon lard buckets,” Howell said. “I pulled up an (archaeological) site report, and it was one where we found several 1-gallon buckets of lard. As I remember, these were traditional packed in five-packs in a tin box. So that crate likely contained 12 five packs of one-gallon lard buckets.”

    The inside of the crate has rust rings at the bottom that would possibly indicate there were one-gallon buckets contained in it previously.

    “One thing to remember, lard wasn’t just used for cooking in that period, it was kind of an all-purpose field supply,” Howell said. “It was used like butter, and for other uses we mainly use oil-based products for today. It was used to treat and water-proof leather goods like saddles, was used as lantern candles and was also commonly used as a medical lubricant/ointment for things like saddle sores and mosquito stings.”

    Kaleen Holliday, public affairs specialist with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office who was present when McCoy donated the crate, said the crate has been placed next to the Maj. Gen. McCoy exhibit in the History Center for now. That location is also next to other artifacts related to Camp Robinson and Camp Emery Upton as well.

    “Receiving the crate from the McCoy family is an incredible addition to the History Center,” Holliday said. “It’s a great link to the installation’s past when this post was just starting out. We’ve already had people ask about it and want to know more about it.”

    Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

    The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

    Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.



    Date Taken: 09.22.2022
    Date Posted: 09.22.2022 16:18
    Story ID: 429892
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 
    Hometown: FORT MCCOY, WI, US
    Hometown: SPARTA, WI, US

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