Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some thoughts on Garters...or If ya call them Leg ties Wallace will punch you in the face.

Garters based off pair in Ben West Collection......Research By Dr. Stephenson points to the fact some of West's props came to him from Bayton, Wharton and Morgan is linen, Middle worsted and bottom is dogbane and buffalo wool......and whats the deal with ppl weaving this stuff out of silk or cotton?

Wow it finally snowed here in Central Pa. and I got to use my new sled. Of course it was me and my daughter sledding down the sidewalk in front of the house to the confusion of the Bar goers across the street but I got to use it. I’ve been in full bore weaving production here getting ready for the upcoming show in Lewisburg. I’ve also been working on some bigger projects to show off my weaving (i.e. stuff I’ll keep for once)
One project I’ve started is based of a Purchase by Alexander Mckee in the BW&M papers. I’m calling it the ultimate breechclout:

Alexander Mckee july 21, 1765
½ yard scarlet cloth /11/3
8 yds green ribbon 8/…4 yds pur 4/ /12/
1 bunch beads /5/
1 skane silk /1/6
14 brooches /14/

Now these could have just been odds and ends he was purchasing but I decided to turn it into a breechclout as I find ppl often purchase the ribbon/beads etc when they purchase breechclouts/leggings. I also thought about sewing up a “hood” using this list but I went with something I would use. I’ll post some images when it’s finished.
One document I’ve been working on is a basic cost of what my “dream” kit would cost based on the Fort Pitt records. This way I’d have a basic idea of just what all the stuff I’m carrying cost vs. how many deer I’d need to kill to purchase it (my shrub/small beer tab alone would kill all the deer in the county)
So to wet your appetite for that posting here is the cost of a common native kit:

July 26 1765
Delivered to an Indian that gave up a white prisoner
1 english matchcoat /15/
1 pr of leggings /7/6
1 breechclout /7/6
1 plain shirt /12/
1 box paint 2/ 1 qt rum 2/6 /4/6

The price of a tin canteen and tin pint cup
Robert field
1 tin canteen 3/3 1 tin pint 1/6

SO one question I’ve received a few times over the past few weeks is about the proper Garters for a long hunter. Well my general short answer is “I don’t know but I’m pretty sure they don’t look like those leather tab woven cloth things”. And while this answer is a little….lets say flippant. I gotta say I have yet to have anyone show me solid research to prove me wrong. The BWM papers are full of accounts of purchases of cloth, ribbon, lace and gartering of ALL kinds. The problem is in a lot cases is the mundane items like garters don’t always have a good description of the type of gartering.
A good source to see period examples of gartering is in Florence Montgumery’s book “Textiles in America”

Ok I can hear folks now….not everyone went to a store…blah blah blah…In Kentucky We…blah blah blah. I get it ,so just keep doing what your doing no skin off my ass…But let me continue. The images in Montgumery’s book clearly show different type of gartering that were around in the 18th century and can give you an idea of what could have been purchased at a store such as the BWM store at Fort Pitt and Kaskaskia. I know Susan Wallace of Silver Shuttle has reproduced some of this gartering but I don’t own an example to comment on.

Now for specific garters purchased by Fort Pitt Long hunters I can point out some references that may help. Simon Girty bought a pair of "garters from an Indian" in April of 1767 for 5 shillings (for as native focused as ppl want to make Girty this is the only native thing i found him buying) SO my first thought was “dam those are expensive garters”. especially After I found William Baker purchasing a pair of garters in May of 1767 for 2 shilling. But the more I dug the more I found the prices in listed garters were all over the place. I found it also matched up to the prices listed for “gartering” being purchased with items such as leggings.

June 20 1765
John Hart
1 black hunting saddle 1/14
1 curb Bridle /5/9
5 gallons rum @10 2/10/
1 horse whip /5/
1 horse bell /5/ ..1 Pr Garters /9 (9 shilling garters)

June 21 1765
Patrick Green
1 pr Garters /1/ 1 silk Handk /9/6 (1 shilling garters….whats the difference!!!!)

SO from what I can find Garters being purchased by the hunters are either Native made or more then likely made from the many different types of “gartering” being brought into the store. Now for a little info on the Native type of garters. Yes I know this blog is as clear as mud but honestly so are the records.
If you’re looking for a pair of “native” garters what I would recommend is doing some reading on the Native weaving from the region your portraying. For example a hunter dealing with Cherokees/creeks more than likely would not be sporting a pair of quilled garters as Southeastern garters tend to be finger woven or bead twined .Also for someone portraying a pre rev war hunter should look for something done in the oblique weave as the majority of Pre rev war items are done in this type of weave. (check out the post on SE native stuff for some good examples of native garters)
Another option is an item that is way underrepresented in my opinion is the simple Tape loomed garters. Tape was a common item that would be woven at home during the period and a solid option for folks who don’t feel that they would have gotten to the “store”. In the spring I finished myself a pair of “Kentucky” tape garters. I used natural cordage as a weft and buffalo yarn as a warp and made a civilized looking tape (just because its country made doesn’t mean it needs to be ugly)
SO there ya go some garter info mixed in with a whole bunch of my blah blah blah. And don’t forget cloth strips or deerskin lace makes the cheapest garters you can find….. time to go hunting

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