Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

90's icons make me want to drink Laudanum with John Long...

Knife handle same shape as trade knife in NY collection

Gun stuff: new pick, bag of tow and bottle of sweet oil

Hunting shirts...


So I've been tweaking my shooting gear (again) trying to find the perfect shooting rig based off documentation. Crazy idea I know but I'm trying to tweak what I do to the period info and like i've said works. Anyhow I decided one thing I needed to look into was a native pick. I found a nice example from the Conestoga site It's a simple brass pick around 4 inches long( Susquehanna's Indians, Barry Kent page 245..Great book still in print and full of images of dug material)
I also decided to lose the tin oiler I'd carried for a few seasons now and switch it out for a glass vial. I picked up an original vial but the voice of my buddy Duane filled my skull "you'll break it" I picked up a nice repro vial from Ken Beuche of Calumet trade company. The problem I had with the oiler was didn’t hold the oil well. it turned a small leather bag I keep my gun equipment in to a greasy (yet waterproof) mess maybe it works better in a cartridge box. So I opted to keep sweet oil in the bottle and simply use the pick as the "dripper". The set up worked pretty well when I cleaned my gun after a day of shooting.
I went with the bottle as native sites are full of them. A number of years ago Alan Gutchess did an article on them in his publication "Native portrayals". You can see great examples in the books covering the Tunica site, Conestoga site, Fletcher site etc. To give you an idea of what small period bottles looked like Ward Oles shared a link with me that can give you a pretty good idea of what to look for

Bottles are a great way to carry oil, paint or Laudanum (do not try at home/in the woods/event):
“I infused forty drops of the tincture of cantharides and the same quantity of Laudanum into a glass of rum, and when she came to me soliciting very earnestly for the strong water. I gave her the dose which was prepared for her. She drank it without hesitation, and being already much intoxicated, it made her stagger…I then repeated the dose, which she also drank, and then fell on the floor…..I have always found Laudanum extremely useful. In general it may be considered an essential article in the commerce with the Indians.” John Long

Yeah that was pretty messed up, John Long 18th century trader and inventor of roofies.

So as of late I’ve ventured back into the message board world and it’s made me remember one of the reasons I started this blog. To push people to reexamine their kits or some ideas that have been stuck in the hobbie for awhile. So one back and forth that still has me amazed are the smock vs hunting shirt idea some authors cling to. Ok so I thought by this point most folks realized that hunting shirts were good for VA/PA backcountry impressions for the 1760’s. Yes I have still seen some folks ramble on and on about the lack of info etc.

So I’ll break it down a little…Ok so we can all agree that the Hunters for Bayton, Wharton and Morgan were HUNTERS (long/market/station whatever they were hunters) and as such they wore clothes that they would normally wear to go…yeah you guessed it hunting. So here we have a few examples of shirts being purchased by Morgan’s guys:

Plain Shirt 15/p
A checked shirt 12/10
A checked shirt 22/6
An Oznab Shirt 15”
Ticklenburg for a frock, thread and making 1/2/6
To a hunting frock 1/2/6

Ok so you can see that cost varied between types of materials used but that the Hunting shirt was WAY more expensive costing as much as a jacket (a “neat fuzee” costs 3.0.0)
This quote from Trumbull really nails it home:
"You expressed apprehension that the rifle dress of General Morgan may be mistaken hereafter for a waggoners frock, which he, perhaps, wore when on the expedition with General Braddock, there is no more resemblance between the two dresses, then between a cloak and a coat; the waggoners frock was intended, as the present cartman’s to cover and protect their clothes, and is merely a long coarse shirt reaching below the knee; the dress of the Virginia riflemen who came to Cambridge in 1775, was an elegant loose dress reaching to the middle thigh, ornamented with a great many fringes in various parts meeting the pantaloons of the same material and color, fringed and ornamented in corresponding style." John Trumbull, Personal letter, 1780
Also take into account that this garment was known enough by 1768 to be used to ID a runaway servant and by the 1770’s this shirt was the mark of a “Virginian” or “longknife” (funny how a shirt is the mark of a long knife…I wonder…) who were hunting on the wrong side of the ohio. I guess if at this point you want to scream and yell about the lack of hunting shirt info none of this matters. So keep clinging to the ideas from reenacters from the 90’s (the 1990’s…you remember that decade when the Macarena and Nafta was a good idea) Yeah a little negative I Know but the whole doer vs Librarian fight has grown passé at this point. Evolve or GET OUT OF THE WAY. I’m going to the woods and on the way home I’m picking up some books I got thru I.L.L at the library.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Clothes do make the the 18th century anglo/back country/native worlds....Or Rainy days you know are gonna go bad

Ranger cap...short jackets...smoking guy has on the kannick's korner jacket...well probably not but it looks like it

Political cartoon...but check out the sheath knife and apron....
I think it's Eli in the front

Shut the box game board....had to make an awl...gotta keep up with Ike

Ok so now I’m jumping into the debate a little more on the idea of what the term “long knife “ meant. I really don’t see why the use of it to describe a type of person is such a big deal. So as not to seam backhanded or confrontational I’d like to keep all my thoughts/comments out in the open. So that they can be criticized by...well anyone. I’m a big believer in keeping the debate civil and am very willing to admit when I’m wrong. I feel one of the big problems with the reenactor msg board world is too many ppl hide behind a screen and throw torches at each other. One of the few people to counter my points out in the open is the author John Curry. And this has been talked about between us in person and on the msg board “the Colonial Frontier” (can be viewed here )
To further show that clothes did make the man (in a cultural sense) in the period all one need to do is look at the simple statement made by Kentucky pioneer John Hedge “ you could tell where a man was from on first seeing him.” This theme is played out time and time again in the backcountry. Daniel trabue noted marked differences between the “tuckahoes” he traveled with and the “cohees” he didn’t quite to like as much. In drapers works you see comments on the difference between the “dutch” and everyone else as well.
To the non settler there is even a marked difference between the “Virginians” and people from “pennsilvania” (his spelling not mine) that matches up to the ideas used by both settlers and natives. This is from a letter of an unnamed british officer to a friend describing his journey on the ill fated Braddock campaign:

May 1755 (Wahl, Braddock Road Chronicles) page 203
“The fellows who drove the wagons, tho they would have made but a shabby figure among our Hampshire carters, yet here they look like angels compared with the long, lank, yellow faced Virginians, who at best are half starved, ragged, dirty set; if by accident they can clear enough by their tobacco to buy a coat, they rather chuse a half worn gaudy rag, than a substantial coarse cloth, r Kersey; They are the very opposites to the Pennsilvanians, who buy cloth coats of cloth so strong as to last as long as the garments of the Israelites in their march through the Desert; a coat serves a man for his life yet looks fresh, but this comes from them never wearing them at home; when they are out of sight the work half naked. They are a very frugal people, and if not so would be as beggarly as their neighbours the Virginians.”

So apart from the constant points that pop up showing the use from the 1680’s as the name used to describe a “Virginian” because of where they came from rather then the use of a “long knife” (the use of which I’m not debating…a lot of cutting tools on the frontier, long, short, mass produced and local made) we see that even anglos in the period based their ideas of where a person was from on how the person dressed. I also realize that by this point in the debate some folks have dug their heels in and will not bend no matter how much info is put out there (i.e. dead horse to beat) but as I come across more info I’ll keep stacking it on the dead horse. While it’s outside the scope many in the hobbie want to go (lets face it your probably more obsessed with looking the part then trying to understand societal views of 18th century subcultures and to be honest I’d rather have a guy along on a scout that can build a fire then a guy who can do nothing but point out 18th century accounts of washing habits…I’d still take both on the scout though ya need something to talk about around the fire when it’s raining). If your looking for a good book to read that deals a little with this idea check out: Contact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi 1750-1830
So while taking a break from weaving the other day I came across a site that will save me a lot of money and take up too much of my time. The Filson Club has it’s quarterly posted online. There are a lot of great articles there and will be sure to eat up your lunch hour.
While going thru some articles I came across the clinkenbeard interview and its funny how stuff pops up at ya when you reread it. I thought this quote on natives using wadding and preplanned ambushes from a fence was pretty kewl:

“We had saw also where they had stuck in leaves into the fence to hide the cracks in the fence, from behind which the Indians hid and shot Donalson. Found part of that indians wadding, or wipings of his gun, that had shot Donnalson”

Gotta tell ya every account I read I’m pushed more into the no patching camp for smoothbores.

So since it’s been raining like crazy and I’m thinking of just what to do if I take Riley on her first scout and It rains. (Do you want to be stuck in a brush hut with a bored 10 year old?) I made up a back country version of the “shut the box “game. I got the idea/rules from Mary Tully’s book : “A brief Discourse on 18th century games . I made the board up using a scrap of brain tan and hide paint. The dice were a gift from Ward Oles (my friends always give me stuff to gamble and drink…are they trying to say something?) and a lead pencil I made last summer during my lead miner phase. I’m using a birch bark box to store the whole kit in (and act as a dice cup). So hopefully this and a deck of cards will keep the Justin Bieber comments down in the rain.
I put some period images up to put into your brains. Ranger caps, short jackets and a sheathed knife on a butcher enjoy…..
So back to weaving and…well weaving. I’m planning on heading out to the woods in the morning and with the rain my blanket coats are looking way sweeter right now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Silver Heels sounds so much better then "Mohawk Bob"...At the Eastern Door review

Ward Oles Silver for Colonial Williamsburg...I need to place that order for myself

Burl Bowl carved by Ward....check the thickness...not a mini dugout canoe corn tray

Ward at Dixon's gun fair....he should be rockin a mullet
Part of my stash of Ward stuff...bells, thimbles,hair tubes, Pipes...My better half hates to see stuff in the mail from New mexico

So it seems for the time the floods and earth quakes have stopped. But the steelers lost to the ravens and thats worse than all the plagues of Egypt...I love football season...It means, well football to watch, but it also means actual sanctioned hunting seasons are just around the corner. Also I use Sunday football as an excuse to work on stuff for myself (i.e. things I tell myself I'm going to keep and never sell but always do) So this season my goals are a new tumpline, a copy of the Caldwell bead strap and the caldwell Net sash (started it during the ravens game glad its tied to a weaving stand that way i dont have to walk far to pick it up when i throw it.) I'm kinda on a caldwell kick for reasons that will manifest later (no Alec I'm not trying to steal your Caldwell garters)
SO since I feel like keeping it light today (i.e. not keep the long knife ball going for a minute...) I thought I'd post a product review/interview with Ward Oles of "AT the Eastern Door". As well as few Tid bits I've come across in the past few days that don’t quite fit an entire post.
I've known Ward for a long time (dam we're getting old) so in all fairness this isn't an objective review. Lucky for me He doesnt make historical weirdness so this is easy. Personaly what I like about dealing with Ward is the fact he's not making the same standard gear all the time. Trade silver, brass thimbles, pins, pipes, Sleeve buttons (cuff links), War clubs...Lol the list goes on and on. Any of the details that really make a person’s impression stand out in my opinion Ward does a great job of nailing down. Plus he's really good at dealing with the late night text message from a blurry eyed friend who suddenly has decided he needs a dozen thimbles (i think that only works if he's stayed with your very understanding family) So here is the interview:

So when we met you had a pretty killer mullet, any chance you’re going to grow it back?

Yep, you are right! I had a "mullet" and my kit was horrible by current standards, actually, by any standards....and no, the mullet ran away.

Runaway Ad: May, 10th 1996
Harold "Harry" Mullet, formerly employed as a sweat mop, ran away this very day, taking with him a copper gorget, oversized striped shirt of green and yellow linen, a pair of commercially tanned leather leggings bound in red felt, and a 2nd land pattern British musket. When found, he is to be shot on sight and a bounty of 25 cents will be paid for doing so, as I do not care whether he is returned or not.

What got you started in this crazy weird world of history?

Short version?.....I've had a love for history most of my life. As a small child traveling with my family to historic sites from Ticonderoga to Valley Forge, I listened to my Grandmother tell stories of my mother's side of the family and their participation in the Rev War....then at 21, I dove head first into this crazy world of reenacting at F&I Fort Ti the year before I met you at Fort Frederick.

SO can you describe the research process you use when your thinking of making an item?

Well, after pouring through thousands of image files and research docs, there are generally two approaches. One way is discussing the object or objects with fellow researchers and come to a conclusion as to whether or not it's worth the pursuit, whether the materials are available, what skills or techniques will need to be learned or experimented with, and how much time it's going to take to complete the project. The other is to "sleep on it" for a few days/weeks/months, and then all of the necessary "skills" will simply manifest on their own, then I'll jump into the project making all of the mistakes, wrecking perfectly good material, and doing all of the adjustments in process.....and hope it turns out.

You make everything from Correct pins to war clubs. I’m pretty sure you look at more 18th century Garbage then a hobo, What makes you pick certain offbeat items to reproduce?

I try to make things that are consistently common in the 17th and 18th century, yet are lacking in the contemporary living historian's base of material culture. So for example, you mentioned pins....extremely common in every context, yet on a contemporary level, many people are limited to fantasy items sold on the "general" market. I felt this was not fair in the interest of a proper period impression, so I researched pins; commonality, (who was using them), archaeological finds and reports, methods of manufacture from the 15th century to the 19th century, packaging, etc. ....then figured out how to not only produce them, but to do so in a way that makes them reasonably priced and readily available to all.

What products do you have on the slate?
Right now I am focused on filling orders, but on the side I am working on 2 new thimbles (c.1660 and c.1750), "Tallio" sleeve buttons, "Paste" intaglio rings, and "Liberty" Sleeve buttons, working with a Turner on an 18th century boxwood tape measure and treen canteens (rumlet), and there's always room for more ideas on the bench. Many of these are back burner projects that fill in the "down time" when I get burnt out from one particular medium or another.

Your silver and pipes have the right look and feel of period items. How important is handling original pieces in your research?
It's extremely important to view and handle original artifacts first hand whether in a private collection or by way of appointment with curatiorial staff in a museum setting. It is an all too common error made when "reproducing" an item to make it too big. This happens when looking at an image of an artifact with no size reference, no visual aid for referencing scale, no understanding of the objects actual physical properties, or a bit of all three. Early on, I certainly made some chunky, over-sized, and relatively goofy stuff......and I learned very quickly to focus on the fine details and the importance of quality documentation.

Is it true you keep Eli Motsay in a small cage in your workshop?

....Hahaha, I had to let him out. But, I did put the cage to good use, I took the door off and made a condo for the shop gnomes that make everything while I sleep. Jobu is their absentee foreman and despite this, keep them working steadily and efficiently.
(*Eli is an awesome quillworker check out the Makers Blog for some examples of his work)

SO what do you feel makes a quality NA interpretation?

As with ANY impression....DOCUMENTATION and understanding the material culture is key!!! When one starts down that path, any preconceived notions or Hollywood pop culture ideas need to be put in the circular file. With regard to a Native impression, you are interpreting an 18th century culture and modern people who have managed to survive all manner of conflict and hardship, to which deserves the utmost respect. An ACCURATE interpretation, quality of image, ability to interact with the public and the ability to present information are all things to consider and are extremely important when "representing" ANY group/people/culture. Too many people try to take the Native route because they think they can do it "on the cheap", however it is in fact one of the most costly to achieve if you are looking to do it right....and I'm not just talking cash.

Seriously You gonna grow the mullet back?

That would be a negative......

If your looking to contact Ward right now your best bet would be to Check out his Facebook site (at the eastern Door) or drop him an email
So here are a few tidbits I've read or reread over the past few nights I thought folks would dig.
The First is From the Journal of Thomas Ashe when he was traveling thru the carolinas in the 1680's. Yes its a bit early for what most of us do but any detail about SE natives is a god send:
Thomas Ashe 1682 "the indians in carolina parch the ripe corn,then pound it to a powder, putting it in a LEATHERN BAG: when they use it, they take a little quantity of the powder in the palms of their hands, mixing it with Water, and sup it off: with this they will travel several days."
So there you go Joseph an account of cornmeal in a leather bag...

The next tidbits came from the Moravin Journals. The first is..well just killer. I’ve been compiling a list of native names to try and show folks that names like “Crystal rainbow woman” are…well lame. So far the favorite names are “the earl of Hell” (aka Jason m. lol) “cheesecake”, “robin Hood”, Buffalo James Smith and a lot of folks name “Jammie” (as in Chickisaw Jammie, Mohawk Jammie) and now one more name of a guy you don’t want to meet in the Dark:

June 20 Loskiel states that Tocanonite, an Iroquois sachem, was called the "Black Prince" because his chest was literally black with a network of devices and designs,tatooed into the skin with gunpowder"

And a note from the journal for all you French “praying Indians”:

"afterward he explained to us that the War archives which we had found on the trees, had been painted by french indians, (their paintings can be recognized by the crosses which they paint on them), when they made war upon the cherokees and brought back prisoners from them"

So gang I should be getting back to Marathon weaving…I’m getting fast with this tiny Yarn. Now to try and keep my ADD from side tracking me into matchcoats…or google books or shooting my gun or……wanna ride bikes?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

long knife described your clothes not your knife...Did I just blow your mind?

Linen shirt with real vermillion on shoulders...Bright stuff...dont do this at home

copy of Andrew Foster Buffalo horn by Alec Fourman

Spokesmodel Riley in a brown blanket coat/Capo...she looks like a Jawa from Star Wars doesnt she...gotta love the mismatched socks

Riley in the Sky Blue Capo (Sam Brady style)

SO much for more blogs in august (sorry Russ). Things here have been more hectic then normal. Sewing blanket coats, weaving like a mad man and now sewing up 17th century French stuff. Tapboard caps, baggy pants and a gilet…weirdness. The toughest part of making an early kit for me is growing the beard. Crazy weirdness….But that’s a post for a later date.
I’ve posted some pics of my latest projects. I got bored and decided to put real vermillion (yeah the stuff you shouldn’t wear) on the shoulders and chest of a white trade shirt. The spot on the chest is meant to be a mark for the Virginia riflemen to aim at (story later). This stuff is BRIGHT. Keep that in mind when your looking for paint to wear at events. I’ve also posted some pics of my sky blue capot and a brown blanket coat I made (if anyone is looking for a blanket coat drop me a line I have 4 now…I have a problem).
Ok so I’m taking a stand, I’m taking a side. The whole “long knife” thing just needs to stop. You can be a “long knife” and carry a pocket knife the name is more of an “idea” then simply a description of a piece of gear you carry. Let me explain…
Fist off lets nail down an origin of the term for Virginians. The following from the notes of the Conference of Albany 1721
“Assarigoe, The name of the governors of Virginia, which signifys a simiter or cutlass,which was given to Lord Howard,Anno 1684, from the Dutch word Hower, A Cutlas.” (Hanna,Wilderness trail page 318)
So we can see LONG before the usual suspects walked thru the canelands sporting hunting shirts and file knives the term “long knife” was being used to describe a Virginian. This name carried over to the Governors of Virginia (like the tern “onas” used for Pa governors) For example in Post’s Journal the natives he’s translating for use the phrase “Brother Assaraquoa” (Long or Big knife) for the governor of Virginia in November of 1755 (still a little before the mad rush into Kentucky)
By the 1770’s the term is applied to the men who are hunting in Indian territory. The term becomes a catchall phrase for the men in hunting shirts. Cresswell is warned in 1774 from wearing a huntng shirt as Natives see it as a mark of a Virginian (aka long knives) you can further see that how a person dresses has more of an influence on the native term for them then anything else:

“These were the name given to the whites,…
1.Mechanschican or Chanschican (long knives) This they no longer applied to the Virginians exclusively, but also to those of the people of the middle states,whom they considered as hostiley inclined towards them, particularly those who wore swords ,DIRKS, or Knives at their sides.”

2 Yengees This is the name they now exclusively applied to the people of New England,who,indeed appeared to have adopted it and were, as they still are, generally through the country called Yankees,which evidently the same name with a trifling alteration. They say they know the Yengees, and can distinguish them BY THEIR DRESS AND PERSONAL APPEARANCE, and that they were considered as less cruel than the Virginians or Long knives. The proper English they call Saggenash.

3. Quakels They do not now apply this name exclusively to the members of the society of friends, but to all the white people whom they love or respect, and whom they believe to have good intentions towards them. (**Quakel is “Quaker” many natives could not pronounce the letter R this is why you’ll see the term “lum” for rum in period accounts or see Mary/Molly used for the name of the same woman)

Not only the Delawares, but all the nations round them, make use of these names, and with the same relative application. I have myself,in 1782,while at Detroit, witnessed the Chippeways. Who on meeting an American prisoner, who was walking about called out Messamochkemaan (long knife),Though he had no knife,sword,or dirk at his side.” Heckwelder “a History…”
Ok so you can wear a giant file knife and be a “long knife” or keep a clasp knife in your pocket and be a “long knife”. The term has nothing to do with how good a big knife is for fighting or how common scalpers were. The term started a long time before the first guy in a caped hunting shirt had a local smith bang out the biggest, ugliest antler handled knife made from a file. In the 18th century it really was the Clothes that made the man or at least what the people he came across in the backcountry would think of him at first glance.

And just to end on a happy note I just thought this was kewl. Probably because I have an otterskin shot pouch….but hey its my blog.
May 9, 1765
THREE POUNDS Reward. RUN away from the Subscriber, an Irish Servant Man, named William Williams, by Trade a Baker, about 5 Feet 6 Inches high, with short black Hair, and has a Stoppage in his speech when he speaks fast; had on, when he went away, a blue Broadcloth Coat and Jacket, old Leather Breeches, Ozenbrigs Shirt, and took with him a smooth bored Gun, with a Otter Skin Shot Pouch . Whoever secures said Servant, so that his Master may have him again, shall be intituled to the above Reward if out of the Province, and Forty Shillings if in it, with reasonable Charges, paid by JAMES FORSYTH, living in Conegocheague, near Chambersburgh.