Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eating mush....nicer then it sounds

Joseph's cornmeal cofee....if you dont want a scalper from a store why buy cofee?

Carrie Fellows....this lady can cook

My Food gear bag of parched corn, cornmeal, rice...bottle of shrub....Frying pan (made by Jasper mercantile) Kettle (Highhorse trading) porringer spoon/fork, Tin cup (carl giardano), Corn Husk Salt Bottle (Mike Galban) choclate, hard bread and Jerk

CIndy is ready to go.....can we document footy Pj's? Sled was made by Mike Galban

It’s amazing at when I start these things how far they end up from my initial idea. I started writing about cold weather gear part 2 and next thing you know mind is mush…..well on mush actually. I’ve started getting ready for a few days in the woods at my camp over Late Muzzleloader season. Go hang out in the woods and freeze my but off. The way things are looking we’ll have enough snow on the ground for me to finally use my toboggan/traine. This would make it nice because I can pack in a little more gear then I would normally carry. Right now the gear I have set aside is: A buffalo robe, 2 blankets, a medium sized kettle, a frying pan, water Barrel, Rum bottle, Oil cloth tarp, axe and my food.
Food is one thing I always have a little problem figuring out. If you ask Crowder my usual method of packing food is buying a bottle or two of whiskey and a bag of chew and I’m set for the weekend. I guess the problem is I have been spoiled by the women of the Augusta County Militia. They take 18th cent food as serious as I do hunting (and man can those ladies cook) . So as a result I tried to focus on food for this hunt more then I have in the past. A food stuff that I overlooked for a long time was cornmeal.
I’ve made my share of cornmeal ash (or a$$ cakes as they have become known in the acm) And it’s usually just a way to balance out the insane amount of Bacon/pork We eat at events. I tried my hand at Corn mush a few times but it never tasted like well anything you wanted to eat. On the last ACM canoe trip when I turned down everything but Shrub and bacon for breakfast I watched Carrie Fellows prepare a kettle of mush. The process she took was to put a handful of meal into the boiling water a little at a time. This allowed the meal to mix in evenly. This looked a little more scientific then my dump meal in, boil water, hate the tatste method of cooking.
So I tried a bowl and it was great (better then my bacon but tied with the shrub) Carrie also used Maple sugar to flavor the mush. Since the canoe trek I’ve cooked it a few more times on scouts and I’ve found that chocolate/molasses and even boiling the mush in Birch tea tastes pretty good. This is especially the case when you’ve been eating nothing but deer meat for a few days. It is also pretty good cooked and then fried in Bacon grease.
One thing you notice when you read a lot of travel narratives is the way people complain about the lack of bread with a meal. Creswell is constantly commenting on this in his narrative. You also can note a lot of narratives keep track of the amount of flour they are carrying. This is especially clear when they lament the fact it gets spoiled. Well when reading the Samuel Macclay Journal a number of years ago this detail finally made sense to me. Macclay was part of a surveyor party that traveled across Pa in the 1790’s in his journal one of the camp chores he notes is “baked bread in our kettle”. So I decided to try this out.
Simply using a brass trade kettle I mixed up some whole wheat flour and salt into a stiff dough. I then removed the dough from the kettles and rinsed the kettle out and greased the bottom of the kettle with bacon grease. I put the kettle back next to the fire (not on the coals!) I flattened out the dough like a large cookie and placed it back in the kettle. I left enough room around the sides to fit my fingers/knife in to flip the dough. I also punched some holes into the dough with a knife blade.
I let this sit next to the fire for a few hours making sure to turn the kettle now and then to cook the entire loaf. I also flipped the mass a few times so not to let it stick to the bottom of the kettle.
After a few hours the cake was cooked the whole way thru and was a pretty palatable hard bread. This takes awhile so this is probably something you’d want to do if you were tending a rack of Jerky or some other camp chore (fleshing hides, repairing moccasins)
Now an updates of sorts on the hunter info I posted the other day. Joseph Privott decided to try and make the corn meal “coffee” mentioned in the Timothy Pickering letters. Well Joseph fried up some cornmeal and says that it makes a pretty “palatable” coffee. So this something to consider next time you head out into the woods. If your already in the “they did without store items” camp they why carry a store bought good like coffee? Some maple sugar and cornmeal coffee might be a good historic alternative to your usual cup of Joe.
Well I should be weaving/sewing if I want to try and get anything done before Christmas. Also For anyone interested I’m looking to host a Shoot/woodswalk at my hunting camp in Central Pa in late Feb. /Early March (I’m putting up the prizes) and if time permits a workshop on an item gear (leggings/mocs). SO if you’re interested let me know.

This is a link to Issac Walters Blog “the French in Wisconsin” A lot of great info on cold weather gear, French stuff, etc….10 out of 10 history geeks agree…Ike Rules!

Samuel Macclay’s journal

Long Hunter Leather company…good source for parched corn and other trail food Mr. Browder is a great guy to deal with.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy holidays and Pa Hunters or "We're all misfits!"

Mark Baker, Brandyn Charlton, Me, Mark Hersee and Steve "bless his heart" Ginglebach
Krause, Tim Carmarda, Tom Conde, Me, Ward Oles, Jaimie Penisi and Niels Hobbes

Tom, Jason, The Galbans, Crowder and Big

Me, Ward and Jason....three Bad ideas come to life

So it’s the holidays…..time for reindeer games , rein deer games men…Falala (that’s for you Crowder). I’d like to wish a happy holiday season to all of you. Especially to the Folks I run with …happy holidays/midwinter to the Galbans, Eli, Ward, Burke, crowder , Stout, duane, Jamie ,Krause, The Gore’s , Mark / Ehrin/Steve (bless your hearts) ,Neal ,Ike , Jesse/Suze , Jason/Katy and the rest of the Island of Misfit toys. You guys rock and my family thanx you all for keeping me in check. (who ever heard of a gutchess/Stephenson/Guthrie in a box?)

Funny Part for me is If I ever got all those folks in one place at a time…well the 18th century as you know it would change lol. I’m one lucky Mf’er to have the friends I do and I know it. I feel really Lucky to have the friends I do and I know Natalie and girls Thank heaven everyday for you folks. I guess I’m tough to live with (who knew). SO thanx gang and happy holidays.
So my blog was all set to go when Bam it was messed up by a virus. SO this blog is gonna be a little held back but in the spirit of the season…hunting I figured I’d Post an account Stephenson dug up and Steve Rayner dug up on Pa hunters.

Thanx Scott:
The Pennsylvania Gazette March 10, 1757
Some time ago, in Hunting Time, a Man in Frederick County, (MD.)
having made himself a Jacket of the Skin of a Deer, with the
Hair and Tail on, went out to hunt for Deer, and as he was
creeping thro Bushes in pursuit of Prey, was seen by another
Hunter, who taking him for a Deer, fired at him, and shot
thro'the Skin, but happily did not kill. (It is not
improbable but he might wear the Horns as well as the Tail).

And yes I’m now working on a deer skin jacket for next year….The following from the "Life of Timothy Pickering" Vol. 2, though brief, are some of the most abundant and detailed camp food notes I've ever seen. I was looking for evidence of improvised "coffee" at the time.

Pickering was kidnapped during the political unrest over the Constitution in July 1788 and taken to the far reaches of the Wyoming Valley. He was held hostage for the release of a Colonel Franklin.

From a narrative of the events written in 1818:

"[Unspecified date.] The leader of this band was a hunter, and had his rifle-gun with him. As we proceeded a fawn was started, and as he bounded along the hunter shot him, and in five minutes had his skin off and the carcase slung at his back. At the distance of three or four miles from the river, they halted close by a very small run of water. A fire being quickly kindled, they began to cook some of the venison. The hunter took the first cut. They sharpened small sticks, at both ends, running one into a slice of the fawn and setting the other end into the ground, the top of the stick bearing so near the fire as to broil the flesh. Being hungry, I borrowed one of their knives and followed their example. I observed the hunter tending his steak with great nicety, and sprinkling it with a little sauce. As soon as it was done he, with a very good grace, presented it to me.

Before night they cut down some limbs of trees and formed a slight booth, to shelter us from the dew. One of them taking post as a sentinel, we lay down on the ground; my pillow was a stone. In this station we remained about a week. At first they had some good salt pork and wheaten bread, that lasted two or three days, after which they got Indian meal, which they made into cakes, or fried as pancakes, in the fat of the pork. Of the pork they were very sparing, frying only two or three small slices at a time, and cutting them up in the pan. Such was our breakfast, dinner, and supper. My share did not exceed five mouthfuls of pork at each meal.* They fared better, sopping up with their bread or cakes, all the fat in the pan, of which I felt no inclination to partake." p. 384-85.

Ca. July 16.
"I lay down with my guard that night, not doubting of my speedy release. As soon as it was light I rose, put the firebrands together (in the woods a fire is generally kept up at night, even in the warmest weather), mixed up some of their miserable coarse Indian-meal for cakes, spread the dough on pieces of hemlock bark (the usual trenchers), and set them to the fire. As soon as it was light enough to see our green tea, I went to gather it. This was the winter green, bearing red berries, which went by the name of partridge berries. Infused in boiling water the winter green makes a tolerable warm beverage.*

By the time my guard were awake, the tea was boiled and the cakes were baked. I told them that, expecting to be released, I had risen and got the breakfast ready, in order to gain time; for if released, I had a particular desire to reach home the next day. I then proposed that we should go to their head-quarters, without delay; where, if released, it would be well; if not, I would come back with them again into the woods. They readily assented, — took up their kettle and frying-pan (our kitchen furniture), — and down we marched." p. 387-88.

Footnote to July 16.
* "They once asked me if I should like a dish of coffee. 'A dish of coffee by all means,' I answered. They went to work. Boiling water in their iron pot, to make it clean, then emptying it, they set it over the fire to heat. They next strewed into it some Indian-meal ; and when this was roasted, they poured in water ; and as soon as it boiled, the coffee was made. It was an agreeable change for our green tea." p. 388.

[Mentions going nineteen days without a shave or change of clothes and being given a razor, clean stockings and a shirt.]

Letter written while hostage:
"July 3d, 1788.
My Dear Beckey...
The following articles I wish to have sent me, as early as may be, viz.: My old camlet cloak, two pairs of my strongest worsted stockings, one shirt, one coarse pocket-handkerchief, one coarse towel, half a pound of soap, half a quire of paper, two quills, my penknife, my leathern gloves, needle, thread, and worsted yarn (the thread to darn my fustian trowsers), one pound of chocolate and one pound of sugar. To these add Dr. Price's sermons, which I was lately reading to you and Betsey. All these may be put into a strong bag, which will make a pack convenient to carry at the back ; and to sling it, send me four yards of the strong yellow binding. I forgot shoes. Send my strongest pair. Send also a smalltoothed comb." p. 392.

From a journal of his captivity, copied by his son Octavius:
[Citing manuscripts, Vol. lviii, No. 45.]

"Thursday, July 10th... T. Kilborn showed me the twig of a tree, whose bark is a very agreeable bitter. He says there are many large trees of it on the flat by his father's, and that they have used it in timber for part of Sill's house-frame, — a soft wood : it is called winter bark. No meat ; but butter to eat with bread; ginseng at our encampment, in the deep shades of hemlock woods." p. 400.

"Friday, July 11th, fair. Moved our camp about four miles from the river, west of Kilborn's, and about a mile over Mehoopenny Creek. Pork to-day, and what the guard call coffee, — -i.e.,- a crust of wheat-bread toasted very brown, not burnt, and then boiled in water, which is then sweetened. 'Tis very tolerable drink." p. 400.

"Saturday, July 12th. Fair, with wind. "Winter-green tea last evening with supper, and this morning with breakfast. P.M., thunder with rain, then fair. Two meals to-day. " p. 400-01.

Sunday, July 13th. Cloudy, with intervening sunshine. P.M., rainy ; no bread or meat, and, of course, eat nothing." p. 401.

[The account of the kidnapping runs from about p. 381 to about p. 405.]

Upham, Charles W.; "The Life of Timothy Pickering." Vol. II. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1873. [Google Book Search.]

Steve Nailed this shit…….There is more info in this little section then in some issues of reenacting magazines or whole months of msg boards.Unless you “f*ckin hate reading” this is the research you can use. It always amazes me the number of people who portray hunters that have never even killed a deer. Hell I know some golems who have yet to prove to anyone that have killed a mouse let alone a deer…but hey I guess you don’t need to really kill a deer with a muzzleblast to show how much info you stole in a magazine named after the same. But hey what do I know I’m trapped on the island of misfit toys with friends that really matter….”Who ever heard of a Golem finding research?”…..

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Gear or "my kid brother looked like a tick about to pop"

View of Jeffries Undershirt/waistcoat

Inside of Underwaistcoat....seams sewn flat to keep from rubbing the skin...and no thats not machine stitching thats Just Crowder

FrontView of my underwaistcoat.

"The Ballad Seller" check out the ties on his under waist coat visible under his jacket, Long trousers, shoes with ties, short brimmed hat.....guy has enough brown on to be a longhunter ;)

So December is here…and It feels like it. I’m finishing up my winter Kit just in time for time the late muzzleloader season and am hoping to do a few day/nights at my camp over the Holidays. The only gear I’m really trying to finish up is a winter pair of leggings and a pair of mittens. And if time permits a new wool undershirt /Drawers. SO like my now stalled Native gear thread (deer season what can I say) I’ll start throwing some winter gear info I have on here. This started out as an article For On The Trail but my ADD kicked in and well Sorry Jason.
I can still remember the first cold weather event I went to. I was 14 and the Unit I was a member of at the “Cluggage’s Rangers” decided to do a small scout from our annual 12th night party. My clothing was (this is hard to admit) three cotton shirts, a green wool waistcoat, a blanket wool shirt and overall that wrapped a blanket. I also wore a green bonnet, center seam cheeto’s orange leggings, a few pair of cotton stockings and the world’s worst pair of moccasins.
Pretty Quickly into the scout we were hit by some freezing rain/snow which quickly soaked my moccasins and cotton stockings. Some of the guys had Moccasins made over sneakers so they held up a little better but their Cotton and linen waistcoats and hunting shirts didn’t help much. Overall the scout was over in a few hours and then Back to the lodge to Thaw out and brag to each other about the adventure we had just concluded.
The only Guy in the Scout that didn’t freeze out fast was A gentleman Named Peter Dobbs. Pete Wore a Canadian cap, brown wool coat, brown wool waistcoat, thin wool shirt, Linen shirt, Breeches, two pair wool stocking under leather leggings and a pair of Shoepacks that would turn back the ocean. It seems Odd to me I would remember Pete’s Outfit 20 years later but the way he carried himself in the bitter cold on Brush mountain made an impression on me. That’s when I realized there was more to 18th century cold weather gear then 10 shirts and a blanket!
The Focus of this will be on the use of foul weather gear from an English point of view. Karl Kostner and Isaac Walters have both put out great info for folks of the Canadian persuasion but this will focus on those of us that can’t speak French and proudly so. My intent is to cover documented Pieces of foul weather gear from an English world viewpoint and show that there is a little more to this then the “ blanket wool shirt” idea. Which is one garment I’ve personally never come across an original of or solid reference to.
The Key to being outside in Bad weather today like the 18th century is the idea of Layers. Wearing multiple layers of clothing means all the difference in your level of comfort. The Basic 18th century idea of being dressed means wearing breeches, a shirt, waistcoat, frock/jacket, neck cloth and head covering. Pretty basic and simple, you make these layers out of linen or wool to the season right? Well actually there is a little more to it then this and the mixing of the different types of fabrics really adds to the comfort level.
SO the first thing I’d like to focus on is the “underclothes” garments. These are items like under waistcoats or drawers that are common during the period. ……These garments are constructed like jackets or waistcoats but meant to be worn under clothes. The seams are sewn flat and to the outside of the garment this done to prevent chaffing as some sources point towards men wearing these underneath their shirts. Also these items can use tapes to close them. The reason for this is to keep the garment from messing up the proper Silhouette of an 18th century man. As well as not making you too bulky to work.
A few examples of these garments survive. One well Known piece belonged to Thomas Jefferson. It is made of a red flannel and lined with Stockings (yes I said stockings). The front of the garment is secured shut with tape ties. Ok I can hear folks now “Jefferson was a man of wealth I wouldn’t own a garment like that” These garments turn up in a number of runaway ads as well as an image of a “Ballad Seller” The image is of a man in typical working class clothes and under his jacket one can see the ties of his under waistcoat.
These garments show up here in the colonies on the working class as well:
march 12, 1772. SIXTY POUNDS REWARD. RUN away from the Subscriber, on Little Pipe Creek, in Frederick County, Maryland, the five following SERVANT MEN, namely, EDWARD RYLOT, about twenty seven Years of Age, five Feet six or seven Inches high, with a pale yellow Countenance, straight brown Hair, black Eyes, very bad sore Shins, and had one of his Ankles put out of Place; JOHN POLLARD, a well set Fellow, about twenty five Years of Age, five Feet six or seven Inches high, with a middling clear Skin, down Look, gray Eyes, straight brown Hair, and a large Scar on his Breast, occasioned by a Scald; JOHN BISSEY, about twenty years of Age, five Feet six or seven Inches high, has a bold saucy Look, gray Eyes, straight black Hair, and is much pitted with the Smallpox; WILLIAM NORRIS, about five Feet four or five Inches high, a well set fellow with a fresh Countenance, Pot Belly, flat Nose, and straight brown Hair; HENRY WITMORE, about five Feet four or five Inches high, a slim Fellow, with brown Skin, fresh Colour, black Eyes, and curled black Hair. All the above Servants had on under Jackets of white Linsey, Breeches of white Kersey, white Yarn Stockings, coarse Country made Shirts, Country made Shoes, the Bottoms of which are well-nailed, and old Felt Hats; three of them had on old blue Fearnought Jackets, and two had on white Kersey Jackets; they carried with them a new Felt Hat, a Country Cloth great Coat, a new gray Bearskin close-bodied Coat, an old white Cotton Ditto, and an old Linen Jacket….
July 26, 1776. DESERTED from the Hero galley, CHARLES FREEMAN, an Englishman, about 25 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, pretty full faced, with short brown hair; had on when he deserted a brown sailor's jacket, with an under jacket of scarlet stuff that had been turned, a check shirt, and a pair of osnabrug trousers. Also JAMES MARTIN, an Irishman, about 25 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, dark complexioned, and a little marked with the small-pox; had on when he deserted a brown sailor's jacket, a white linen shirt, osnabrug trousers, and a new hat. Whoever apprehends the said deserters, and secures them so that they may be returned to the said galley, shall receive 20 s. for each, and reasonable charges, from
GEORGE MUTER, capt. of the Hero.
February 17, 1774. RUN away from the subscriber, living in Cumberland county, on Thursday the 9th of December last, an Irish servant man named NICHOLAS M'CARTNEY, about 27 years of age, about 5 feet 8 or 10 inches high, pretty much pitted with the smallpox, of a fair complexion, with short black hair, and is by trade a shoemaker; has on a short brown coloured duffil coat, lined with plaid, a Virginia cloth under waistcoat, cross barred with red worsted, and an old pair of leather breeches. I will give a reward of FIVE POUNDS to any person that will secure the said M'Cartney so that I get him again.
There are two more examples of Undershirts/waistcoats that I am familiar with. One was worn By Dr. Samuel Jeffries as part of his “ballooning” clothing. The Other is a garment that was worn by Lord Horatio Nelson. These items are made from a Thin woolen cloth and seem to have been meant to be worn close to the body (i.e. under a shirt). These are tight fitting garments. With seams sewn to the outside to keep them from rubbing against the wearer.
The Underwaistcoat I wear is made from green flannel and was made by (yeah you guessed it) Travis Crowder. Travis simply took a waistcoat Pattern and tweeked it. It’s cut short at the waistline and has tape ties to close it. I’ve found wearing it under a wool waistcoat with a hunting shirt on top I’m comfortable when it’s pretty chilly out (early fall and late spring) but Under a wool linen wool waistcoat, and wool frock coat on top of that I’m good into the lower teens (with a wool cap on, mittens, breeches and thick stockings). I’ve even worn one under a jacket under a hunting shirt while wearing a….Matchcoat! (the shock..the horror!)
While the references I have seen to these items has been woolen cloths I don’t feel its outside of the realm of possibility to make one out of a linsey Woolsey. These items are part of working class clothes in Europe and the colonies and I don’t see why this idea wouldn’t have traveled west. And honestly it takes a lot less cloth to make and less room in your pack then 3 extra shirts. Try one out....

Also in the love of Shameless capitalism I thought some folks might dig this. My Friend Mike Burke (Happy Birthday BTW) started a site to sell some of his Modern Horn work. It’s crazy to see his horn carving on a punk rock item like a “black sheep” (I’m Outa step with the world!!!!) But the stuff looks great and really shows off his talent. The site is:

This site has some good images of Nelson’s undershirt:

This site has some images of the Jefferson Under waistcoat:

Articles on Underclothes:
Apparel for Ballooning with speculations on more commonplace garb ,Kidwell, Claudia

Under Waistcoats and Drawers, Baumgarten, Linda