Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shooting dogs at Fort Pitt for fun and profit

New mocs made using the Galban DVD...worn with knit stockings from South Union mills and wool slippers
Chausons/wool slippers these things are great year round in mocs and easy to make

Cindy posing in her mom's Ug boots....she wears them when I wear my do you tell a 2 year old she's a farb...tough love

It’s raining…again. I had planned today to work on a new fleshing beam to get ready for Rifle season. I have talked to some local deer processors and am going to try and get a fair amount of hides fleshed and put up to dry for the spring. I really want to get some hides for a display Bale as well as some hides for the tan vat.
SO apart from weaving I’ve been able to finally finish up some winter mocs using Mike Galban’s DVD and the last of a Hide I got from Alec. I cant say enough good things about either product. This was my first attempt at Mocs with Vamps and I made a passable pair for my first try. I now have a good pattern for myself and plan on making another pair soon (as soon as I get another hide lol) and I’ll sew them with leather wang (I used Linen cord for this pair) I’m a little leery of wearing these in snow as I’ve found that it rots pretty quickly in the damp weather we get most of the winter.
I also finished some Chausons to wear as moc liners along with my knit stockings. Wearing them around the yard to break the whole rig in has worked pretty well. It has also provided hours of laughter for my family. These are also the same people who watch survivor every week….so I’m not too worried.
Ok my geekness is going to shine thru today. For fun I like to read Orderly books from the 18th century. I’ve found that they are a great resource on the day to day life at an 18th century fort/camp as well as how much you can try and get away with as an 18th century Soldier. My friend/co conspirator Jason Melius have used these for sources of inspiration in our portrayal as the ner dowell’s in any 18th century Army. SO here are a few excerpts from the Fort Pitt Orderly book during the ohio counry uprising of 1763:
June 4 1763 “ He is also to deliver this evening to a sergeant of each company two quarts of loose powder, which they are to distribute to those men that have cartridges, and see that they strengthen each cartridge by adding one-third of an inch in length to it.” **how much of a kick would this load have in a bess?**
June 5 1763 “As the dogs about the garrison make daily great disturbance…It is therefore the commanding officer’s positive order that all the dogs without exception that are not tied up after 4 o’clock this afternoon shall be killed…It is likewise the commanding officer’s that the wolf and bear be immediately killed or put out of the fort.” ***yes he wrote wolf and bear….***
June 16, 1763 Fort Pitt receives word that the war is over…Gotta wonder if they saw the irony?
June 22, 1763… The dogs still being noisy at night, and hindering people of their rest….Patroles will go round the fort for the future to kill them, and for every dog they kill they will get a half crown reward. ***Ecuyer…the guy who did hand out small pox blankets and now a dog killer….he was also an anti-Semite but that’s in a letter…**
July 3, 1763 “The men to lie upon their arms every night till further orders, without taking off their clothes.” ** Yeah there is a story there you just know it***
One of the things I really try to focus on for my portrayal is the lives of the Redeemed captives that lived and worked in the Ohio country. The romantic notion of these men is of people “with a foot in each world” or “trapped between two cultures”. While this may have been the case for some I don’t think it was as “hawkeye” as many would have it.. For me it really seems that these men more often than not seemed to be a little more comfortable living as men who could walk down both sides of the street so to speak.
A good example of this can be found in the example of Daniel Sullivan ( “a spy at Detroit” Page 230 Frontier Defense on the upper Ohio) Below is some of Sullivan’s deposition of his travles through the ohio country villages actin as a Spy for the Americans. He is dressed in “indian dress” but from what I’ve pointed out in past blog postings this could mean A LOT of things. It is also apparent to folks in the know he’s not “native” .
I also have to wonder after reading this how much of his cover story is well…true. Also It’s important to note that his story doesn’t seem odd to Governor Hamilton or the other ID folks he comes across.
“AT Guyahaga were two traders with stores of Indian goods and a cargo arrived there the 18th of april from Detroit. The 19th I hired myself agreeable to Col. Morgans directions to James Howel to serve as a batteau man to go to Detroit with peltries and to bring away other goods. We were eight days coasting it to Detroit. On my arrival I assisted to unload the boat and then was conducted to Governor Hamilton in my Indian dress who enquired who I was and my business. I informed him that I had been taken prisoner when young by the Delawares, that nine years afterwards in 1772 or 73 I went to live with my relations in Virginia But the present war coming on between Britain and America and having no way but my gun to maintain myself I had removed back to my Delaware relations and determined to live with them until I could do better. That I had hired with a trader at Guyahaga to assist him with his peltries to Detroit in order to enable me to buy some powder and lead to hunt…..The Governor Dismiss’d me to go where I pleased and he would be my friend….”
Sullivan spends the nigt lodged with an ID interpreter and his family but his walk through of the city gets a little tougher the next day.
“In this tour Pluggy’s son discovered me and applied to the Governor to have me confined on Accot of my having in the fall of 1776 killed his brother in law near the Kenhawa. John Montour seconded this information and as a proof referr’d to the wound I received in my left arm at the time….”
Sullivan then is sent on a tour of a few posts in Irons..LOL not a great spy. From notes in “frontier Defense..” Sullivan may have been wounded in this account from “The revolution on the Upper Ohio…” acting as a spy for Fort Randolph. Remember a “spy” is generaly someone who goes out dressed as a native vs. a scout who is looking for indian sign but normaly dressed as a local.
“They saw some indian signs & was immediately fired on by an indian no above 8 yards distance. Just at the very moment the foremost of the spies was jerking his gun off his shoulder in order to shoot & the indian bullet took the box of his gun (just opposite his breast) & lodged there The spy received little damaged only grazed on the arm in two or three places either by part of the bullet or of the box lid—such as buckshot might have done The spies shot at him as as possible both,& he fell but recovered immediately & he & his partners cleared themselves as quick as possible, with the loss of his shot pouch Powder horn & many other little articles the damned savages had the assurance to camp there within a mile of this fort (Fort Randolph) but on their own side of the river. They were so provident as to bring a string for a prisoner but unluckily lost it in the fray”
Sweet he was probably carrying a rifle and the natives lost a prisoner Line. Gotta love the little details and curse them for phrases like “little articles”. This for me also is yet another account of a guy getting shot in his gear and I still have yet to find a guy getting shot in anything that resembles a bullet/loading block (think about it something hanging around your neck about breast high full of ball and NO ONE got shot in one? I have shot horns, rifles, bags , knife handles and even blanket rolls but no bullet boards yet)
Well that’s it for today. Now back to weaving and getting ready for the first day of Rifle season. I need to finish myself any kind of tumpline to drag a deer (I really hate those modern weird drag ropes…junk) and get my modern gear into some kind of order. Every year it’s the same speech from my father….I shouldn’t hunt in Doc Martens ,jeans a knit cap and a punk rock sweatshirt, I’ll get cold (and I never do). For some reason he never says anything about my 18th century stuff….Hopefully my Whale wars/ Animal Liberation front sweat shirt shows up in time. The deer will be looking for guys in Cammo , they’ll never notice me…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Conde shot a man in Reno just to watch him die...

Tom and I at Niagara this summer...notice the lack of weaving worn by weavers...He made the pouch I'm wearing
Some crazy beaded sashes made by Tom
Sweet sweet sash

The past few days have been a little slow for me as I’ve
quit one of my horrible vices (no not swearing ,drinking, chewing, Sabbath
breaking or uncontrollable fits of sarcasm hells that’s what makes me so
loveable) I quit drinking Coke. As a result my malaise has kept me weaving like
a robot and fighting to stay awake.

This has led to major bouts of ADD and asking me more questions than I can count on
different preconceived notions about the 18th century. I spent a few
days in the woods but I’ll get to that at another time and to be honest my war
on the local squirrel population only has so much interest for people reading
this. I have been focusing on making cordage and starting fires as I know these
are two skills that I should be able to do in my sleep. I’ve found making
cordage is an easy thing to do while tucked inside a blind watching for game.

So rather than focus on my weirdness I’ve got a promised product review/interview of one
of the OG’s of the weaving world… Tom Conde.
I’ve known Tom for about 13 years now. I first met him thru my friend Pete Dobbs and I was pumped to talk to anyone about weaving. AT that point Tom
was was one of the top weavers I knew of (not much has changed) and oddly
enough now that I think about it…Tom looked exactly the same then as he does
now (Tom Conde weaving vampire? Think Twilight but meaner and with more rondyvous
Tom has been a constant source of help/ information/criticism/encouragement for me
through the years and has a wide knowledge of different weaving styles. So here
is a brief interview with Tom....I need to start interviewing quill workers…these
weaving bastards are cutting into my profits…:

Ok Tom we all know the cowboy stories….how the hell did you
start finger weaving?

Nathan I got started not long after I "discovered"
rondezvous/re-inacting. I lived in Colorado then but a few folks were starting
to look into eastern stuff and that was where my interests lay. Didn't take
long to figure out that French were cooler than Roger's Rangers. Some folks out
there knew a little about fingerweaving and told me it was the cool thing for
French so I went to the library and found the Alta Turner book
"Fingerweaving: Indian Braiding" and learned that style. Then Found
Tim Connin's article in "The Book Of Buckskinning" and learned to do
oblique weave. At the time I had never seen any examples of either weave in my
hands. Things grew a lot after that.

How do you decide on a project? What projects do you enjoy
working on?

Deciding on a project is a combination of many things. If it is
a custom order it might be a copy of an original piece or it could be a design
of my own based on originals. All depends on what the customer wants. If it is
a piece I just do for stock or for myself it will depend on what I have been
looking at and talking with others about lately. Something will tickle my
imagination and I will go for it. My Favorite things are bags. They are so cool
and have so many variations in how they are created that figuring them out is a
rush. Regardless of the project though. Bag or sash or strap or garters. When
you work it out and think you have the right size yarn and you know the bead
counts in all the elements of the design and all the dimensions of the piece
you are attempting to recreate and you get done and you have "nailed
it" so to speak, size comes out, color comes out, everything just feels
"right on". It is an amazing feeling no matter what the piece is.
Same with twined work. It just blows me away sometimes.

What types of weaving do you do?

I work mostly with oblique weave nowadays and I like to do the
twined bags of the Great Lakes also. I started with the warp-faced weaves and
need to get back to doing more of them again. It's all amazing.

Any advice to folks on how to start weaving?

I tell students that the first thing to do when you want to
become a weaver is get a bunch of marbles and fill your mouth with them. Then every
day before you start to practice take one marble and throw it out in the yard
as far as you can so you can never find it. When you have lost all your marbles
you will be on the road to being a fingerweaver. Seriously though the best
advice I can give is to spend 5 or 6 dollars on Alta Turner's book and to find
that old Book of Buckskinning Vol. VI somewhere and sit down with some decent
yarn no heavier than sport weight and teach yourself. If you get stuck ask a
weaver. All the ones I know are glad to help.

DO you consider your work “art” or as a functional item?

I consider it "functional art"

Any good Rendezvous stories for us?

Rendezvous stories don't tell well. Ya gotta be there ;-)

Any chance you’ll join my Wild west Show? And is it true you
shot a man in Reno “Just to watch him die?”

No more Wild West shows. Age slows me down. ;-) And I didn't really SHOOT that guy. I was cleaning a pistol and it went off accidentally...4 times. Kind of a touchy trigger. :)

Tom's website is and you can see more examples of his artwork there. So now I'm off I need to weave more myself and I'm stuck in a mental loop trying to work through just what tools your average ohio country native would have had. But thats weirdness for another day.....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day!!!! GO VOTE!

Butcher with sleeves and apron....

I know its a highlander but neat shape for a belt bag...hmm what smells?

And we think waiting in line is bad.....guy in foreground with scarf worn Pirate style...note the fit of the jackets...Glad I already have a club

Well I missed Guy Fawkes day posting so here is one to remind you to go Vote. Election day images from the period are pretty killer. Ok now go VOTE!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

pocket knives, waterheads and David Crockett

The cobblers shop...check out the knife next to him...awesome image of a shop/house
John Dade 1755....sportsman image...Gotta make the leather spatterdashes...look how tiny the fuzee is..normal for period guns
Edward Hatley 1752 " A sports man" Thanx to Jim Mullins for this one note the belt pouch in the image. hmmmm hunting ideas from a age before our grandfathers might work?
Bullet box, Bark box both good for holding shot/ball and a french knife and penny knife by Jed wray...honestly this whole kit is awesome for hunting/skinning small/large game in Pa in a period manner.....kinda makes shot pouches make sense after awhile

“Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind.”

the past few weeks have been spent in a mix of weaving/sewing and traipsing
around the woods of central PA.I also spent a couple days hanging out with
friends at the “fine folk art and arms” show in Carlisle. The weather killed the
show but honestly there were a lot of great folks there showing off their wares
and I had a blast. Plus Jed and Code kept me on my toes…and Jed Also got us
lost in historic Carlisle too many times to count. The man is lucky his Paduk
handled knives are awesome or I might have stabbed him…to die by a knife you
forged…irony for a blacksmith.
Blankets coats seem to be all the rage and the
demand for colors other than black and red in weaving are at an all-time high. Together these are both awesome in their own
weird way but I’ve also been able to spend more time in the woods which is why I
do this weirdness.
I have declared total war on the local
squirrel population and a turkey got a reprieve because of a misread in the
game laws on my part. In all honesty if the day had gone as it could of it
would have been a massive middle finger to the idea of you can’t hunt and do it
by the 18th century numbers so to speak. A total “Davey Crocket”
moment but I’ll take what I got and smile because it was still a day a in the
woods. I still shot some game and above all….I wasn’t pulled into some internet
Right off the bat I had stalked up
a ridge to a clearing that is bordered by massive oak trees. I slipped in behind
a few trees covered in grapevines and was able to watch a massive doe for a few
minutes graze her way towards me. Ok so here is the point the modern world
comes in…In Pa If I shoot a doe in early muzzle loader season I cant go after a
regular season buck. Yes I I cant eat horns but I have some criteria that needs
to be met before I shoot a doe right now. 1 it needs to be huge 2 it needs to
be fawn free (I’ll make orphans later in the season) and 3 It needs to be Huge.
Well this was a really big doe and I watched it for about 20 minutes graze and
look away (I was at about 25 yards) I Kept my G on it and followed It move
broad side from me. I had a chewed ball loaded with 60 grains so I knew It’d be
an easy shot. Then when I thought about pulling the trigger a fawn bounded in
next to it.
Ok SO criteria 2 are shot. Say what
you will but I do have younger brothers and the quest for a rack is a true
problem. You haven’t met my youngest brother….We compete, and he’s ugly. SO I
sat in the vines and waited while these two grazed off the ridge. When I felt
they were gone I walked across the ridge and dropped down to another shelf.
Midway I spotted two squirrels chasing each other. I stopped and dropped 8
buckshot ontop of the load and wadded it with some leaves. I waited a few
minutes while they ran back and forth and slip in behind some trees.
In a few minutes I shot one of the
squirrels and speed loaded the second shot ( a handful of powder, a handful of
shot and a leaf wad) but the second squirrel was long gone. I tied the squirrel
off on my game carrier ( a hemp finger woven strap) and dropped down along the
next shelf. I moved to a point that allowed me the best view of both the shelf
I was on and the lower two shelves. As soon as I started to clear the leaf
litter to make a quieter view point I heard something coming towards me in the
leaves to my right. I chirped a few times (sucking against the back of my
teeth) and heard the sound speed up. A
few seconds later another fox squirrel popped up from behind some logs as I pulled up
to shoot the trees to my left shrieked. I looked quickly and on the top of a
dead tree another squirrel was ratting me out. How he moved there without me
seeing I don’t know but I took a few steps forward and shot the squirrel on the
ground as he paused on a log. I then turned and ran towards the tree with his
friend. I palmed down some powder and shot and finished ramming it home as I
came to the base of the tree. The squirrel had jumped to a nearby tree and as
soon as he paused I shot. He fell from the tree a few yards in front of me so I
ran up and stepped on it (is this ever a good idea in mocs?) Picked him up and
ran back towards the first shot. I found him next to the log I shot him
on. I tied both squirrels to my strap,
Put in a new chew and started walking down the ridge.
I spent the next few hours walking
the trails of my camp and seeing deer in the distance. The time seemed to fly
by. When I felt it was time to head home I turned and started heading back up
the ridge. I spotted a squirrel posing on a log about a 100 yards away. First
thought was “take the 100 yard chewed ball shot and show you are an amazing marksman
of Tim Murphy status” then I thought “your
gonna miss him jacka$$ get closer” (I
had a chewed ball load in with 13 buckshot wadded on top of the ball at this
point) So I stalked in as quiet as
possible. Well The squirrels pose wasn’t just for fun as he kept moving ahead
of me and taking the same F..U..pose at every chance.
He then Moved up over the lip of
the ridge to the point I couldn’t see him. SO using the breeze I stalked up the
hill slowly and staying low. This is the point I remind the reader you need to
know your local game laws. Especially if you feel like following them…like you
should. I could hear leaving moving more then they should in the breeze so I
dropped and crawled up a little closer. When I peaked my head up over the crest
I could see turkeys about 10 yards from
me. I dropped my head down and thought…
“is it turkey season? I know it
comes in soon. is it this this past weekend or next. Do I shoot one of these
guys? Is it the 5th or did it come in around Halloween?” (I look
back up at the turkeys) “jesus just shoot!t look at them all” This is when I
start to fall into my brain pattern of the period “kill it kill it”…..then its
followed by “If dad is bow hunting on top of the ridge when I come walking up
with a poached turkey He’ll freak” (yes I’m almost 35 and am still scared more
of my father then the game warden…you should follow game laws but….dad’s are always
scary. I have a lifelong self-crisis between how my grandfather taught me how
to hunt and how my father and the law tell me what I should do.
SO I laid there until the turkeys
passed through. I then crept up the ridge and out of the woods without seeing
anything else. And for the record…It was turkey Season. I got the trapping
season and turkey season mixed up in my head. SO I could have shot a doe, turkey
and squirrels all in the same trip pretty crockettesque in my mind.
Ok so what gear had I switched up
for this trip? Well In my otterskin bag I had dropped my turn screw for a
Jamblet kife made by Jed Wray. The knife was awesome for changing a flint as
well as skinning the squirrels (the guy makes a great knife) I have switched to
carrying my shot in a birch bark box made by Gene Tesdal “HenRI”. My shot snake didn’t seem to match my mindset
of what I should carry. The box fits into my coat pocket or shot pouch and is
an easy/quick way of getting to shot. Oh
and I need to reread the game laws….yeah it’s pointless to know how many
stitches per inch are on the Caldwell clout when you need to know if you can
shoot a turkey or not.
So Part of the blog I've attached a pic of some of my new gear. A jamblet (spelling doesnt matter its a great frenchified knife lol) and a Penny Knife made by Jed Wray. the man does good work and they have held up. One shot box of birch By henri and one based of an example in the Neuman collection by Matt Stein. The example by Matt is awesome for use as a bulet box as well. Matt is a guy who makes a ton of quality items so check out his site :

So I'm back to weaving...I need to gather more hides for my CLA Squirrel hide pouches/mocs maybe I can untan enough to make them worth the $200+ I see so many roadkill bags go for. Sorry to make that negative but man its weird to see so many ugly bags sell for so much. But then again if a horrible fingerwoven bag can go for 1300 then anything is possible. But ya got to wonder when a bag like that sells in about 15 minutes if it really sold. hmmmmm maybe it'll pollute a table near me and you soon like the other garbage some folks seem to collect. Or at least collect for the upper echelon. Thick pipes, weird research,hemp and bleeding cloth..why do they gather in Gettysburg, Pa? Bad spirits run the show I guess...Love of filthy lucre and lack of knowledge in some circles seems to keep water heads in charge..or at least in charge of their own horror show .

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” Milton
Hmmm This idea to me has more to do with "art" then I think some wil have. Maybe soon this will be an idea that people who practise arts from the age of reason will grab ahold free of for the sake of keeping the art alive. maybe not.....

God I went off the rails with this one. Lets keep this happy. SO My next blog I'll do a product interview ...SO I'm gonna talk to OG Tom Conde...I'm gonna find out how rooster cogburn went from killing men to weaving ;)

Matt Steins chairs and other goods

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tripe, Belt pouches an Jumbo

"Any Tripe.." Paul Sandby 1760....Belt pouch/knife sheath

Mr. Charlton? did you run oft?

Mr. Gore....

So did I mention I like Blanket coats? This has definitely been the year of the blanket coat. Spring…wet summer…wet , the fall so far…yup you said it..wet. I headed out the other day and well it wasn’t raining and it was sunny,it got so warm I almost took of my coat…then blammo rain. SO I moved down off the ridge I was hunting and got into a group of pine trees that over looked two shelves below me.
As I sat there listening to a blue Jay rat me out I watched 5 deer move across the lower shelf. They were feeding on the acorns that litter the woods this year. I sat there for about 45 minutes watching them feeling the temperature drop quickly and the rain pick up in speed. The deer slowly moved into the bayberry bushes (jagger bushes if you’re from Pennsylvania) I sat there for about 15 more minutes and then climbed back up the ridge and headed home. I didn’t get a shot at anything, I got soaked (to a point) and made a new hole in my left moccasin. But this is why I do this. The time in the library, the research trips all that really does in my opinion help make the time in the field easier.
I thought a lot about this the other night as I sat up at 3am trying to finish a sash and jumping online in intermittent fits of ADD to look at images. I Finish a few inches of weaving then a thought about gartering jumps into my head and off to the images….sickness I know.
….I knew If I needed to take a shot my gun would go off in the rain. Why? well I did the reading found a period way to cover the lock (cows knee) and the gun case (tucked into my sash if I needed it. I knew if I needed to take a shot between 50-100 yards I was fine with an unpatched ball. Why? Practice with a period documented method (chewed ball). I didn’t want to take a shot over 50 yards but I knew from practice I could if needed.
I stayed comfortable in a documented over garment in the rain (it would have really sucked in the standard 3 linen shirt method) I could deal with just about any problem I encountered with a period documented (common) item I had on me. All based on research (i.e. the Library) and practice (i.e. Doing) my point? No I don’t think I’m king sh*t, and this isn’t an ego trip(I need to replace my tumpline with a basswood one, get a better coat, leather breeches and shoot A LOT more and get way better at plant Id etc etc..I'm a farb I admit it). It’s that you can’t settle into either of these camps of thought and expect to improve yourself in this hobby. You need to read and do….but then there is the know-nothing party and they don’t care bout nuffin.

SO back to the Images… For some reason I’ve been on an apron kick. As a result I’ve been looking up a lot of working class images particularly Butchers (they do look a lot like my Friend Mr. Charlton, all of them…its weird. I also found my Buddy Mr. Gore a few times beating up a French guy) As a result I found myself with more questions….Many folks ask about “camp keepers” for longhunting parties one task they would have would be to flesh hides. I wonder how many of these folks had aporns with them and Sharpening steels. These steels appear in a lot of images of folks who need to do a lot of cutting (often attached to the aprons belt). I need to look more in documents to see if these pop up. The questions never stop…
I did find one gem that gave me a total history geek moment. AN image of a Guy selling tripe (mmmm tripe…just kidding even I have my limits) attached to what appears to be a belt is a rig no simple forest gump could have figured it out. He’s wearing a belt pouch with a sheath knife next to it at his side. Ok I can hear ppl now….I don’t portray someone that sells pigs feet I’m in the backcountry of BFK….yadda yadda yadda, mental elephant, etc. Alright that outa your system?
My point these simple common items one…were so common a street vendor in England was sporting them and two….These items were so common a street vendor in England was wearing them. The idea that these mass produced items made over there couldn’t have shown up over here (and we know they did) wouldn’t have been something so far out of the norm they wouldn’t have been worn by a person at say…fort pitt (where we know they sold shot pouches and knives with nice finished sheaths already made for them).
Just something to file away in your old mental image photo bucket site. Shot bags/waist bags on the military and pigs feet vendors (I could totally see a pigs feet vendor at fort Pitt, sellin Jumbo pigs feet inat dahn at da lower town…Msr Primanti at the sign of the Swine’s hoof . if you cant read that you’ve never been to pixburgh. Go STillers! ) Well anyway I need to finish some weaving I’ll be set up this weekend at the Fine Folk Art & Firearms show in Carlisle with Black smith Jed Wray. If your there stop by and say hi.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Jim Dresslar story....

As most history folks know collector Jim Dresslar passed away over the weekend. Jim was an amazing guy with a great sense of humor so in honor of Jim I thought I'd keep this light...

The first time I met Jim Dresslar was kind of by accident. I was at Manskers Station taking part in the Daniel Boone "hunter heroes" filming for the history Channel. Myself and Jon Failor were goofing around (probably quoting Billy Madison lines) and this Gray haired gentleman walked up to Us and started asking about our gear. Thinking This was just a park visitor I went into teacher mode and started explaining my clothing.
He then got specific about my tattoos and wanted to know if they got very infected after I got them done. We talked about tats for a few more minutes and he got more and more into detail about the idea of infection. To me it was getting a little weird for general public questions. I finally asked if he was thinking of getting a tattoo. His reply was yes he had a gorget of an Indian couple about to (well i'll leave the rest out) and he wanted to get it tattooed on his chest.
Now I had seen images of this gorget and knew it was in the Dresslar collection but for some reason in my brain the idea of a collector was a stuffy tweed jacket type of guy and I was still too busy laughing at the gorget description to really do the mental math. HE then made the comment "you guys like old stuff? well I'm parked right over there I have a few items I'd like ya to see."
Jon and I walked with the man to his car and he opened a door and started handing out artifacts left and right. "hold this" he said handing me a pipe tomahawk "I got a nice indian horn in here somewhere...oh thats squire boones hawk" Well around this point we finaly got to introductions (I thought it only fair as I was holding a small fortune in my hands)
Jim Didnt know Jon and I from Adam but he was all about sharing history and the stories that went with his artifacts.We stood there for quite sometime talking history and old stuff. Luckily for both Jon and I this wasnt the last time we spoke with Mr. Dresslar about old stuff. Honestly that's one of my favorite memories of meeting with a collector. I was able a number of times over the years to spend time with Jim and he was always a hoot. He really killed my idea of collectors in tweed jackets. My condolences to Carolyn and the rest of Jim's Family. History lost a great friend...Oh and I'm pretty sure he did get the tattoo :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the other 99% Fort Pitt style...

Study of workmen by Joseph Vernet....scenes you would have seen all over the place at Fort Pitt

Bales by moonlight
trunks, crates, barrels and human misery

Blah, this is like the 3rd start for this entry. I need to just start typing when I feel like it and not pause look at some msg boards and anger myself. My Chi was all focused and then blammo the negativity crept back in. Ok so first off a msg to my hate mailers...if you dont like what I write on my blog dont read it.
what I find funny is the fact people have been taking time out of there day to send me long angry emails not realising it's part of a conspiracy by me and the liberal media to take time away from their construction of roadkill pouches and embroidered haversacks. George Soros is behind this whole blog...Nathan Kobuck doesnt exist.
Ok back to normality...First off to show my true geekness this entry has had me stumped:
John Jennings
1 french matchcoat ..15..
1 ditto Damaged ..5..
3/8 blue cloth 6/..4 yards Bedlace 2/...8................1/8

Richard Winston
3 damaged french matchcoats ..12..
3/8 blue cloth 6/ 4 yards bedlace 2/...8.......1/

What are these guys making! is this an awesome blue cuffed bedlace edged blanket coat? Is this the weirdest set up for sleeping ever? Was richard winston alot heavier then John? If canoe A leaves fort pitt at 2pm and native B leaves Mohican John's town at many questions.
One question I get alot is what is a french matchcoat and my answer is I have no idea. They dont specify in the papers i have read what it is but I suspect it has to do with the size. French measurements in the period were slightly different then english measurments. so I suspect this was the selling point. I'm still looking.

Another entry I thought was kewl just for the mental image of what a trading post might look like inside comes from November of 1767 "for the use of the people employed in the service":
18 1/2 yards Chk for Bed curtains..4/............. 3..14
20 yards coarse linen for sheets...2/6......... 2/10
3 yds Callicoe for a counterpine (counterpiece?)..5/......... ../15.
1 1/2 yd ditto for a curtain for the store window..... 7/6
6 yds damaged strouds for working table cloths..7/6

And finally I thought I'd post a few images showing items in shipping containers. Some things (and types of people) you'd see around Fort Pitt in the 1760's. you know the other 99% of folks other then longhunters.

Well I'm getting back to weaving and this weekend I'm off to Fort Pitt to take part in a demo of a hunting camp. flesh hides, run ball, clean my gun (or get Duane to german clean my gun) and finally check out the rifleman exhibit. Then possibly off to the Schoenbrun trade fair for the day...i really need to weave faster.

More Joseph Vernet Images

some killer images showing working class folks/dock scenes/and ship life

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.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Matchcoat weirdness or the time I lost 24 friends in the woods...

My name is Mike Galban and I'm kickin it Brant Style

Yes I was at my event too...

when tracking a war party look for red/black butt marks on logs...

Capt. Bull's War party....they know they look good

Jo sporting the waist wrapped matchcoat....also a good image of the way the ladies of the ACM carry gear....Aprons just arent for looking pretty

Well this summer has gone flying past. The past 2 months have been..hectic to say the least. Between getting stuff ready for the CLA show and getting ready for my event time has flown by. I have been able to get enough woods time to keep me from driving my family crazy however. I understand now why my grandmother used to “send my Pap to the camp.”
I’ve been able to keep busy as well reading and re-reading a lot of sources. It’s funny how when you spend enough time in your gear or around other folks who do certain things in narratives all of a sudden details you’d not understood just pop out at you. I found this happen to me at my “Phillip’s Massacre”.
This years event was small but the quality of folks who turned out was very high IMHO. Members of the Augusta County Militia took on the guys (and gal) from Capt. Bull’s war party. The scenario was pretty simple a group of the ACM ladies were acting as refugees and tried to avoid capture while the Ranging company and war party scouted the area for them. The event showed just how hard it is for two small parties to find each other in a large area.
The event for myself and Eric Schatzel turned into a trek/tracking exercise as we tried to find the war party for him to join up with. Did I mention it was raining? Yeah it was raining…A lot. Watching the war party move out and threw the woods when Eric and I found them (8 hours ,1 fire and meal of nasty jerk broth later) Is when a period description clicked.
Joseph Privet was traveling light as always (the boy can live off nothing) and was able to adjust his matchcoat quickly into a number of different styles of wear. When running/scouting I noticed he was wearing it around his waist. This style of wear matched up to a quote from an interview done by Jeptha simms:
(near fort Hunter)
He went into the barn and brought out his arms full of tobacco (most of the farmers then raised a patch of the plant), which he laid down and began twisting into suitable hanks ; and as often as made, thrust into his blanket above the belt which encircled his waist.

To my minds eye Joseph nailed this. I have often worn a matchcoat “chubby Mohawk style” when sitting on a deer stand but always found it was not easy to move quickly in.
The CLA show was a blast.(Esp. when Chris Anderson tracked me down to tell me the West Memphis three had been freed! Thanx again Chris) I hung out with the usual cast of Characters and as usual we stayed up too late talked too much and had more fun then we should have. It was also a great chance to look at some original items up close and personal. I’ll post some pics of the weekend as soon as I can figure out who in the group was taking all the pictures. Thanx to all the folks who stopped by for the kind words about the blog I’m really amazed at how many folks are reading this thing. Well now things are winding down for the season (or are they?) I can get back to posting more historic weirdness….and weaving with the tiny tiny yarn and finishing up my sky blue cappo and stroud cloth blanket's crazy red

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random documents for you to check out

List of goods....check out the color of ribbons goes along with the matchcoat/legging blogs

Manifest/bill of lading.....Batteaus and Canoes had these made out before they left Fort Pitt.

Cargo Markings.....anyone know a good maker of crates?

Well to keep the ball rolling from week to week I decided I’d just toss a few random scans of the BW&M papers up here today. One is a document that gives you an idea of how cargo was marked. I know some folks have used faux trade bales as seats in camp or use pieces of canvas as shelters from “bales”..well here are some ideas to mark them up.
Another document is shipping manifest for Bateaus bound for De chartes from Fort Pitt. This shows in a way how items were distributed on Bateaus (and canoes) and just how items were accounted for. The documents are great for giving you insight into just what an undertaking it was to get these basic items from Fort Pitt west (not to mention how the items got to Fort Pitt from all over the world).
I also posted a partial trade list to show some ideas for colors of Ribbons being shipped to De chartes/Fort Pitt. It’s also got some great info as well on common items in the trade. SO have at it folks…I need to get back to weaving and getting gear fixed for my tactical next weekend. I got a big box of tiny yarn in the mail today so it looks like I’ll be living on Chew and ice tea for a few weeks.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Henri can write, Who Knew! Journal of the Early Americas

This is why we keep guns out of the hands of table monkeys...friends dont let Neal shoot.

SHoot the loon in the neck.....killer paint scheme, hair stuff and the typical white shirt

Gene's class tried to fight the scalplock only policy...but lost

Wow multiple posts in a week this is Crazy! Actually I blame the fact I ran out of powder, lead and beads all at the same time. This with the fact my family is now sprawled around the house Jonestown style in front of the air conditioners has cut back on my weaving. So I thought this was a perfect time to do a post about a new magazine some of you may have heard of “The Journal of the Early Americas”.
An old friend Gene contacted me some time ago and let me know about the magazine and asked if I’d be interested in submitting some articles. Of course I said yes (this is my standard answer when asked for an article) Then in typical me fashion I went thru my files reworked a few things I’ve written up , found a new subject to look into and then watched Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (I’ve got the ADD bad…Sorry Gene and Jason) want to ride bikes?
So….I decided after seeing Gene at Fort Niagara and going thru some issues of the magazine myself to get a better idea of what its all about to drop him an email with some questions on the journal to help spread the word.

Buffalo Trace Interview with Ph.D. Candidate, Publishing Juggernaut, and
N’er do Well of the Pays d’em Haut:
Eugene R.H. Tesdahl or Henri François Letannier

Buffalo Trace: You are one of the few people from academia that embraces the ideas of living history. How do you think this is an asset? IS it ever a hindrance?
Gene/Henri – Indeed, serving as a bridge between historical re-enactors and academics is one of my main life goals. I even wrote an article about this in Issue I of Journal of the Early Americas entitle “What an Amateur: Or, Why I love Re-enacting.” Re-enactors often feel academics are stuffy know-it-alls living high above society in their ivory towers, but never actually living enough to consider how some in colonial America would light a fire or catch a fish. Similarly, many academics feel living history participants are ignorant, self-appointed experts, with hokey clothing, who perhaps have never before cracked a book in their lives. Of course, both of these stereotypes are wrong. And yet, we all know enough in either camp to understand why such perceptions still exist. The truth is that re-enactors, academics, museum professionals, and historic site staff are all on the same team. We all love history and aim to share the most accurate and complete presentation of these stories to the public in insightful and hopefully, entertaining ways.

BT: Does Fred Anderson beat you with Crucible of War if you disagree with him? No really, you can share with us this is a safe place.
G/H – Choosing to study with Dr. Fred Anderson at the University of Colorado at Boulder was one of the best decisions I have made. Dr. Anderson is not only a brilliant historian, but an engaging and compassionate teacher, and a well-balanced and approachable person. In my experience, to get all these traits in one professor is truly remarkable. Dr. Anderson is proud yet humble of his works: A People’s Army, Crucible of War, Dominion of War, George Washington, and The War that Made America (This was the companion to the PBS mini-series about the Seven Years’ War). I read and re-read People’s Army and Crucible before I even applied to study with Dr. Anderson. I am able to speak my mind with my advisor. He genuinely listens to me and dedicates more time to me, than I think he should with such a rigorous teaching them more clearly, but with the same intent I had in mind. This all started when I traveled to the department to meet Drs. Fred Anderson and Virginia Anderson. She has also been inspirational in my time here at CU. One of her works should be on everyone’s shelves Creatures of Empire: How Domesticated Animals Transformed Early America. It is an artfully written mind blower. I encourage anyone interested in a graduate program to base that decision on the advisor – not the program or the name of the university alone. A graduate program is like an intimate relationship. When you meet the person, ask yourself if you will enjoy the next two to six years with this person? If you cannot answer yes, then grad school may not be for you. In my case, the past five years invested in Dr. Fred Anderson and the history department at the University of Colorado – Boulder is a decision well made. I do, however, look forward to graduation in May 2012.

BT: SO what is the main focus of your magazine?
G/H – Journal of the Early Americas is something I feel the re-enactment community has needed for over ten years. Interestingly, I never intended, nor imagined that I would be part of such a change. The idea to actually launch such a magazine only took form last summer. This is a family affair. It is the brainchild of my father-in-law Casey Criswell who has dabbled in muzzleloading and re-enacting since 1974. My sister-in-law Summer is the designer with a degree in graphic design. My wife Jasmine is the Public Relations department. I am the historical consultant who does the historical editing and fact-checking. Our friend David designed and maintains our wedsite and my mother-in-law Peggy puts up with our shenanigans. We launched in February 2011. We were even featured on National Public Radio – a link is still available on our website with a file of that interview. Our mission is to be the premier publication for the history enthusiast and re-enactor portraying 1521-1848. We chose these dates to give concreteness to our scope: the founding of Mexico City to the end of the Mexican American War.

BT: What sets your magazine apart from the other re-enactor magazines out there?
G/H – We carefully chose our title to welcome both Mexican and Canadian re-enactors into the conversation. We also welcome those who portray non—English-speaking groups: Native Peoples, Spanish, Swedes, French, Dutch, Germans, and others. We aim to cover a blend of topics, not simply muzzleloading firearms. We include: trekking, cooking, music, politics, religion, and crafts of the period documented with primary sources written in a style approachable and useful to all. We see everything we publish as a conversation, not as a monologue or tirade for the author or us, the staff. It is a conversation including author, staff, and readers. It does not end when an article is finished or an issue goes to press. It continues in conversations, debates, and research that our readers do later. We value subscriber feedback. This is why we are here and the only way we can grow into the future.

BT: Do you swear at other grad students in French?
G/H – No. . . I do sometimes think about bizarre colonial approaches to classroom management though.

BT: The first time we hung out (in 2001 at Faire at New Boston) you taught me how to make basswood cordage what other skills do you feel folks from the French realm of the hobby should be focusing on?
G/H – Even then, I was impressed and happy to meet a young college student (Nathan Kobuck) who was even more talented and passionate about living history than I was. I still consider him a credit the hobby. The main thing that any re-enactor should do is see their persona development as a conversation too. It is an on-going one that grows over the years through research, reproducing items, and knowledge gained from learning by doing experimental archaeology. The moment you say “I am done” is the day you shut off your learning valve. This also inhibits your ability to teach others. Keep your mind open. Always consider art, primary and secondary writings about your period of portrayal, the role of language, the use of period body painting (tattoos), piercings, hair-styles, dress. Aim to be average – not the exception. Even if you bought that cool 1755 pocket watch from Antiques Road Show does not mean that the average coureur de bois would have had one. A re-enactor new to the hobby recently deeply impressed me. Though she was new, she knew she had a modern tattoo on her foot that would not fit her persona. Rather than simply flaunt this, or to wear shoes or mocs. She chose to go barefoot, but cunningly bandaged her foot with linen rag as if she was lame. This was a great fix to the anachronism and gave her a common talking point with which to engage the public about the poor medical knowledge of colonial life.

BT: You have a killer first-person persona as “Henri.” Do you have any tips to help others build on their first-person portrayal?
G/H – A friend told me that he is impressed when either old-timers or those new to the hobby improve their kit by one thing each time they go out. I aspire to this goal in either historical knowledge, devices to educate and entertain the public, or historical accoutrements. I consider this question often and will give a presentation on it, entitled The Art of First-Person Interpretation: Building or Repairing your Persona at the Grand Rendezvous at Grand Portage National Monument in northern Minnesota on August 14. I love first-person historical interpretation. I think it adds a productive element that we do not get when we simply don historical attire. It should not be entered lightly and should be done responsibly. No re-enactor should be forced into first-person. It is not for everyone. I began Henri fifteen years ago with little more than Pepe le Pieu accent and my engage (voyageur) gear. You have to start somewhere. Years later, with years of study of French, working in France, work on an Ojibwe reservation, two and a half history degrees, work experience at museums and historical sites, and nearly 1000 birch bark canoe miles under my belt I feel I have a more believable portrayal because much of this I have lived. As we go, we must build a persona into something useful for the public and FUN for us. Why do it if it isn’t fun? One final thought of first-person or re-enacting in general is that even if we get to a high level of accuracy in dress, speech, etc. We will always be twenty-first-century minds and bodies in historic gear and settings. This does not mean we should give up, but that we should always walk humbly with a thirst to learn and teach more.

BT: Does it make you sad that your “little” brother Ike has started wearing orange buckskins and calling himself griz?
G/H – Ha! That would be news to me, but like many of us he has that Multiple Re-enactor Personality Disorder (MRPD). I am blessed to have met Isaac Walters in the summer of 1999 when we were both in college in the Midwest. I was working at the Villa Louis Wisconsin State Historic Site in Prairie du Chien, WI. It was an instant friendship and has endured over the years. Isaac is a talented and knowledgeable teacher, researcher, writer, and re-enactor. He is a loving daddy to Noelle and Lili, a caring husband to the wonderful Hillary, and a generous friend. He is so dedicated to their sustainable life in Blair, WI, these days that seeing him is like sighting the Yeti. Yet, you may read of his exploits on his blog I will get to see him soon at our old stomping grounds, Grand Portage.

G/H – Thanks for including me in this conversation.

Votre serviteur obeisant,

X Henri

So that this isn’t totally devoid of historical content Here is a link to the google books version of “John Long's voyages and travels in the years 1768-1788”

This narrative is full of a lot of great info and focuses a lot on the life of a great lakes trader. Little details like shooting loons in the neck at 150 yards, how to stuff a head with moss, why laudanum is useful for traders. It sounds like a weekend with Ike and Henri…..