Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Both Ben West and I are from the Keystone state...but I dont think He wore Doc Martens...

Ok ya I’m a slacker (insert slacker jokes here) But something I saw today really pissed me off. Ok so lets go over the do’s and donts of historic research or at least of making stuff. So today I learned I’m a primary source.  Man was I surprised sine I was born in 1976. To my mind this put me at least 200 years past the point when I should be used as a primary source (who knew).  Dave Hassler at “woodland Wampum” posted images to Face book of his copy of a pair of garters from the Benjamin West collection and he posted an image of the item he was copying…and it was a pair of garters I posted here on my blog (complete with my foot).
 Ok SO Benjamin West was a Pennsylvania born artist (born in 1738 ) who is known to have used period native artifacts in his artwork  and while I am in some ways an artist and born in Pennsylvania (best dam state in the union BTW)  and have used West’s collection as a basis for my reproductions the similarities end there.
 Whats the big deal? Well while I did post my copy here to show off my work (hey I think I did a good job) My reproduction is not to be the basis for something someone else make for a customer (remember the game of telephone as a kid) On some pieces I clean up the originals as I’ve found that in many cases the non-symmetrical  basis for a lot of 18th century native art is looked down upon by a modern anglo customer base ( to put it plainly honkeys don’t like mistakes…even if they show up in period objects)
 So let’s go thru what most “artists” of native objects go thru making a piece. First let’s discount the hours and hours spent learning a craft (I’ve been weaving for 14 years at least at this point) So an artist wants to make item “A”. ok so first step is usually to go and look at Item “A” ( so add on gas/time to the equation)  Second step is to look at items similar to item “A” in other collections ( More time/more travel)  Then add in time to nail down Item in the artists skill set. Add in books with objetcs in it artist can’t make time to see (a lot of $ and time) and then add in more time for research on said object(s)  providence (either by the artist or from outside source) and then add in costs for looking for dead on materials and then Bam item ready for sale (after 40+ hours work in most cases)  So now you have an item ready to sell.
 Now some of this stuff translates to other objects to sell but….see where I’m going here? Most artists put in years of research to finish items you want in a few months (or days in some cases) and then on top of this ya want a good deal right? Time in museums, time spent finding objects in museums, money spent on images of items in museums, time spent bothering friends for images of items in museums, empty promises to never share images from friends of said objects, time spent trading these images from friends to other friends for new images (but don’t tell you bastard) etc. etc….
 Add to this more money spent on more books/articles/images did I mention money spent on images? (And payoffs to Eli for his Google fu skills) and travel…now you have an idea of what many of us do to pursue the sickness that is making reproductions. So to balance this out we do talks at historic sites/conferences and then bother each other some more. (Do you think I didn’t see all the images my friends showed at the EWC at Fort Pitt beforehand?  It would have been cheaper to give Conde a few bottles of wine at an event to pick his brain on weaving but I believe in the EWC so fuck it)
 Is this me crying about the rough life of an “artist”? fuck no.  but it is me yelling about the fact that some folks feel like this info is free to the world. I post stuff to this blog on a regular basis, skills, objects etc  Free of charge and I feel it’s moronic for some guy to take an image of an object I made to base a piece of “Cherokee” beadwork off of (what the fuck makes it Cherokee?  Get your facts right slappy) Do your own research, share info but don’t Golem ™  ppl  (Hint objects from the Pacis collection can be found in the Philippines or West Virginia)
 And for the love of god don’t think for a second the small community of artists that make a lot of this stuff don’t talk (We skype and text each other like teenage girls…we don’t have coworkers to gossip with) so the same way ppl spread crap on msg boards we bitch about customers ( think of that when you try and shop for the best prices or shit talk an artist to an artist…we are concerned with your fixation on black stuff as well…get help)
 My point? If you are going to make an object do your homework first (not someone else’s homework) ask questions most are willing to share info but don’t be surprised when the answer leads to more questions…it’s supposed to. For me the only ppl I share all my research with anymore are Native folks (white guilt? Maybe or maybe Russell Means would have wanted it that way… and it wasn’t my art form to start with) Oh and if you’re an anglo (or Portugese) artist that tosses around the label “Native made” or “Native artist”   there are a lot of “The  People” paying attention…

Monday, July 2, 2012

Shooting a boom stick and shopping at S mart: Hot dip tin product review

Burke Shooting in his riflegun...more time shooting less time on msg boards always a good thing

The weather has been awesome. Kewl nights and warm days with a constant breeze nice to hang out in and great for sleep.  It’s been A killer early summer…A few days ago My friend Horn Smith  Mike Burke Stopped over for a few days to chill out and shoot in his rilfle Gun. SO we spent a killer afternoon doing nothing but shooting and talking history. Honestly I wish more events were that focused. Live fire and history….yeah it makes ren fair rat catchers and buck teeth that much weirder.
SO to stay on my camp life focus I figured id talk about camp gear.A big Part of camp life is cooking. Lets face it ya gots ta eat. For most of us in the woods we either carry a kettle of some sort or a skillet (From what I understand Bacon is now the foundation of the food pyramid…Bob Browder told me that once in a bacon induced haze)

      So part of this odd journey for me has been a steady evolution of cooking gear.  When I started reenacting at 13 the first group I fell out with good old Fort Roberdeau had a slightly odd idea of camp cooking…we ate sandwiches a lot. Yeah around noon you went to the camp kitchen and made yourself a cold cut sandwich. Camp cooking gear was a giant enamelware coffee pot for coffee, donuts in the morning, cold cuts at lunch and you needed a wooden bowl, fork/spoon (of any sort) and plate (all from townsend and son btw) for a diner of some oven cooked meat dish.  At 13…I knew something was wrong.
      I started my break away from the norm at this point…Hardtack, store bought jerky and brick tea for me. Make horrible tea in a tin cup over a fire I made myself with a smoke and fire flint and steel kit. I was the MAN! Of course after this I followed all the new info….Personal corn boiler, Learned to make my own Jerk, Learned to make “ash cakes”, Tea was always horrible…. A lot of this info I picked up from Baker’s articles in copies of Muzzleloader magazine my friend/mentor Pete Dobbs had lying around his Log Cabin/shop. He loaned me his copies of Baker’s videos and the volumes of books he had on the shelves in his home. Pete was the first person to help me translate what I was reading in narratives into skills I could use in the woods. He never discouraged my drive into getting better at anything from clothes to skills.

     This along with constant reading and trial and error (also the support of the guys in my Boy Scout troop…troop 103***personal editorial   If you have a son I cant say enough good things about the boy scouts. This is coming from a dyed in the wool godless liberal.  Support your local Scout troop just giving a demo on how to build a fire with flint and steel at a meeting can be the spark a kid needs to show them history in a way school never can)
      So along with early realization that sliced turkey was not the common food of a Pennsylvania ranging company I learned that correct Camp gear is super important to nailing down the right tools of the past. One maker that has come to the forefront of this in the past few years is Shay and Kelly at Hot Dip Tin. I first became aware of their company while I was on a powder measure kick. As I’ve stated before I become fixated with an esoteric subject then jump into it as deep as humanly possible. I’d seen that they started making tin measures so I ordered a few along with a snuff box and Ligonier tin cup (btw its pronounced Lig-on-ear   quit trying to French it up)

     All the items were made with detail in mind. The cup itself blew away a lot of crappy makers I’ve seen. Over time I had to pick up a second cup as I used one as a spittoon and after the first month I was very aware Even I wasn’t gross enough to ever drink out of the cup again(for the record I thought using a period cup made spitting in the living room less gross….my family informed me that it did not…I now plan on buying one of his 19th century spittoons…Yeah I’m retarded)
       Anyhow….The canteens, kettles and other items I have had the chance to handle from HOT DIP TIN  have all been sweet.  I’ve spoken to a number of friends who have purchased items from the company and have had nothing but good things to say (the Fincastle militia folks, Fort Dobbs Garrison, Va regt.) For me the thing that sets them apart is the use of period materials as well as period construction techniques. Come on folks why do you drop 1200 on a gun and $300 on a quilled knife sheath only to put a crappy knife in said sheath, buy a mass produced shirt and use tin items made in….china a few months ago. Shop smart, shop S (as in Shay) Mart!

   So Shay being the good sport he is put up with my weirdness for a few questions about his products:
BT :So what made you do the jump from 19th cent to the 18th?
Shay:  I was offered a job at an 18th century historic site as their tinsmith.  That meant I had to demonstrate for the public making everything with hand tools.   Most manufacturers of tinware today are actually modern sheet metal workers using 20th century equipment. If you use a machine made in 1945 to make a cup It will look modern.  I am willing to go to all the extra effort to make all my items unique. 

BT:  What’s your research process when coming up with a new product?
Shay: Almost everything I make is based on archaeological excavated artifacts.  Someone will say “Have you seen that cup they found at site X.”  That leads to an internet search to find research reports or a visit to university or museum.  Then there is the layout to determine if it can be made using 18th century techniques.  And finally make several to work out the bugs to make sure it looks exactly like the original.

BT :What’s your favorite 18th cent project so far?
Shay:  The Tin Kitchen/Meat Hastener/Roaster/Dutch Oven. Experts used to think they were 19th century but then we found the 17th century painting by Gabriel Metsu.

BT: Tell me about the binder of death?
SHAY:   That binder is just the abridged version of all the images and text on my laptop.  It is easier for “show and tell” at an event or historic site but on occasion the computer has to come out to verify that I am making the item exactly as it was found.  It makes a difference whether the handle folds in or out, or if the rim has wire in it or is plain.  It helps me pay attention to details.

BT : tin fiddle, you gonna hook a brother up or what?
Shay:  Put your money where your mouth is…

BT: Tin trumpets from SE trade lists….Jason wants to know…ya gonna make them?
Shay:   I have been making the little short versions for the Lewis and Clark re-enactors.  Does Jason wear those Tallio sleeve links from ATED if so he should have a really long Tally Ho trumpet to match.

BT: What sets your stuff apart from other 18th cent goods?
Shay: Hammer marks!  Aside from the fact that I use Hot dipped tin (sheets of iron or steel dipped in molten tin to prevent rust) instead of Electroplate (tin  grown on the base metal in an acid bath using electricity, which was invented in 1890), I make each item by hand. Doing this 8 hours a day 5 days a week I am to the point where I can hammer a cup into shape as fast as the guys with the rotary machines, but theirs all look too uniform. All tin working machines were invented after 1804 and they leave linear marks on the worked surface. 

BT: What goods that you make would you like to see more ppl carrying?
Shay: Snuff boxes aren’t just for snuff.  They show up in New York at the Dann site 1650, the SouthEastern Native site Chota and Fort Ligonier army dump.  They are all the exact same size.  At Chota it was found full of silver earbobs and at Gandichiragon it had a mirror. 

BT : Based on research what is the most common item you make? 
Shay: Straight side cups.   Those tapered mugs or tankards you see at reenactments are way over represented.  Tinsmiths were frugal with a sheet of tin since it all had to be imported from England or Germany. You can only make one tapered mug with same amount of tin it takes to make two tall cups. 

BT : So whats on the drawing board for future projects?
Shay:  Rogers Island artifacts.  After 14 years of inaccessibility all the artifacts will be available to study this summer so that means the Fort Edward Canteen and Mess Kettle can be further researched.

BT: Mullets…hair style of the future for living history? If so should Ward Oles regrow his?
SHAY: Someone needs  to make that call quick.   I have been growing out my buzzed head and I am in the really awkward 1970’s Little House on the Prairie stage.  It is 5 inches in length,  all around, which means now I can pull it into a queue in back but I also have it long enough to curl my sidelocks.  If I wear a hat I look like I have wings. 

BT: No really Tin fiddles? When is it gonna happen…I could be the Dave Mathews of 18th century music…it could be the copper canteen of our generation.   Do you want to go down in history as the first one to start a trend?
Shay:  I will start working on it.

     So in closing if your looking for a High Quality camp kettle, common powder measure,Cup Etc etc….Check out Hot Dip Tin These folks make high quality items at very reasonable costs. I cant say enough good things about their goods. Plus they are the first person who I have not known in person to survive a Q&A….so ya know they are easy to deal with.  Plus…snuff boxes…the smart mans shot pouch….

Friday, June 22, 2012

Instant camp: just add blanket and ground....

 Some images showing simple camp set need for fire irons or squirrel cookers

Knife i just picked up. Same sweet shape as the "stalking turkey" thinks I need a repro of it with a pistol grip handle...Like I need another knife

Wow so this summer is off to a bang. Weirdness abounds in the world and it’s an odd feeling trying to be used as a source of faux controversy. I guess it is a sign I must be doing something right and along with the new rush of hate mail I guess I’m really getting this blog thing down. The best thing about hate mail is the same misspellings in multiple emails…sometimes I wonder if the same weirdo has decided to let me know in various ways his hatred of my take on a weird subculture.

   One random tangent that has gone off in my skull lately has been camp set ups. I’ve been lucky to be fielding with two groups (The augusta county militia and the “Traders”) that really want to nail down “camp life” for a long time now. Whether a public event or our own little scout in the woods it seems that camp life is something that just has become second nature to each group. The lack of fire irons, cast iron Etc is pretty obvious.  It’s almost second nature to the guys I head into the woods with what to do when we stop to make camp.

     Everyone knows to “get to a task”   Starting a fire, gathering firewood, setting up the gun rack, clearing a sleeping area, Etc. A few times we’ve had a large group of newbies in the camp and it’s always very obvious that these guys have spent more time in the cut lawns and firewood piles of battlefields then living “on campaign”. It would have easy as a unit to laugh at the newbs while they sat shivering around a smoldering log  waiting for a kettle to boil but who would that have helped? They’d have spent a miserable night out, hated it and maybe never came out again. SO we jumped in showed them how to get a fire going in the rain, how to build a tripod and in the end everyone had a good time.

    So I’ve decided to focus the next few posts on camp life/craft.  Show folks documented alternatives to squirrel cookers, fire irons etc. And just how easy it is to be comfortable in camp/woods as well as just how easy it is to get out there and just do stuff.

    Setting up a camp is one of the standard tasks in the period that often gets lost to the background in period journals. Many times it’s simply relegated to the short entry “camped at…” much like my favorite period description “in the common fashion”. It leaves A LOT (like everything) out and up to speculation (and when reenactors speculate you’re just a short hop, skip and jump from a Roger’s rangers coat trimmed in bear fur)

    Now when most folks picture a hunters “camp” the Oft quoted Doddridge comes to mind:
“A hunting camp, or what was called a half-faced cabin, was of the following form: the back part of it was sometimes a large log; at the distance of eight or ten feet from this two stakes were set in the ground a few inches apart, and at a distance of eight or ten feet from these two more, to receive the ends of the poles for the sides of the camp. The whole slope of the roof was from the front to the back. The covering was made of slabs, skins or blankets, or, if in the spring of the year, the bark of hickory or ash trees. The front was left entirely open. The fire was built directly before this opening. The cracks of the logs were filled with moss. Dry leaves served as a bed.
A little more pains would have made a hunting camp a defense against the Indians. A cabin ten feet square, bullet proof and furnished with port holes, would have enabled two or three hunters to hold twenty Indians at bay for any length of time. But this precaution was never attended to; hence the hunters were often surprised and killed in their camps.”

    Not gonna lie…this camp sounds pretty awesome. When looking at descriptions of “hunters” this type of station camp would be what you were working out of. Many folks when going on a scout try and set up something like this (usually without the bark roof and oil cloth I its place).  However this type of set up has its limitations especially for those of us in the modern get back home Sunday night world. The important  part of the quote most folks overlook comes a few sentences before this:

 “Two or three horses furnished with pack saddles were loaded with flour, indian meal, blankets and everything else requisite for the use of the hunter”

  Horses! Bingo! This isn’t the camp set up by a guy or two with just the stuff they have on them it’s the camp of a man with access to heavy equipment.  Like I mentioned in a previous post market hunting/Long hunts were not the job of a single man alone in the wilderness, you needed some pretty expensive tools to make a go of it. However there is a simple solution to this…Just going to sleep on the ground. Ok hear me out before you call me a heretic or whatever.

    Daniel Trabue gives us a pretty easy way around the massive camp for the weekend:
“we would go some distance in serch of our horses. So we set out on foot, took some provisions with us. We hunted all day but could not find them. I suppose we went 15 or 20 miles eastward…We took up camp in the woods, was afraid to make fire, wropt our blankets around us, and went to sleep and slept very well.” Trabue  

   Ok so Trabue and the Dutchman keep it pretty simple. No fire, just blankets and ground. Kind of hard to screw up. From reading A LOT of period journals this seems to be without a doubt the most common, everyday way of sleeping in the woods (or on the march)  you’ll find. I know it sounds weird but so are the looks you get from people when you tell them you spent the weekend camping without a tent in the middle of nowhere.

 Like I mentioned hunters worked out of a base camp coming back to drop off hides, resupply etc. More often than not they probably spent a night like Trabue and the Dutchman.

 I can’t emphasize this enough. You, some food, your gear, a blanket and the ground is ALL you really need 99% of the time when going on a scout in the summer.  You start to add to the equation and your just making it way more complicated then you need to. Here is a challenge for you Just put on your normal gear as if you’re going hunting, walk off into the woods and sleep overnight. Do this once and you’ll start to really look at your method of packing for scouts differently.

 ****Ok now is a quasi-editorial that has little to do with the historical context of this post. I run into a lot of folks who want to “trek” but have never been on a “trek”. Stop overthinking it folks a scout is wayyyy easier to plan then going to an event.  Most folks live within a few hours of a few state/national forests, DO some online research/emails/phone calls about guidelines (instead of reading page 25 of message board weirdness, or post 2 million by a guy waxing philosophical  about how you’re never going to get it as correctly as he did back in 1987) of that park/forest   pick up some water purification tablets, try and convince a friend to go and just do it. Walking into the woods and sleeping overnight is not rocket science. You don’t need to pass a jury, squirrels don’t bring up politics and the trees won’t mention Facebook. It’s awesome!*****

    Alright I can already hear the self-doubt in some folks and the Bravado of others. In this weirdness people either fall into the “I’ve never camped before” Camp or the “I’m an expert woodsman” camp. Funny how that works…To put ones mind at ease as to the skills of the 18th century woodsman lets see what someone who saw them a lot thought of them.

“The Indians say, that when the white people encamp in the woods they are sure to lose something; that when they are gone, something or another is always found which they have lost, such as a knife, flints, bullets and sometimes even money. They Also observe that the whites are not so attentive as they are to choosing an open dry spot for their encampment; That they will at once set themselves down in any dirty and wet place, provided they are under large trees; that they never look about to see which way the wind blows, so as to be able to lay the wood for their fires in such a position that the smoke may not blow on them; neither do they look up the trees to see whether there are not dead limbs that may fall on them while they are asleep; that any wood will do for them to lay on their fires, whether it be dry or wet, and half rotten, so that they are involved during the whole night in a cloud of smoke; or take such wood as young green oak, walnut, cherry, chestnut, &c., which throws sparks out to a great distance, so that their blankets and clothes get holes burned in them, and sometimes their whole camp takes fire. They also remark that whites hang their kettles and pots over a fire just kindled, and before the great body of smoke has passed away.”  Heckwelder page 191

   So as you see it doesn’t look like everyone walking thru the ohio country swamps in the period walked out of special forces camp. Argh…It’s hot, too hot to be sitting here at a keyboard. SO I’m going to cut this short and revisit the topic in a day or two. But I have posted up a few nice images showing a simple camp set up. While they are images of native camps I don’t feel that a makeshift camp in the backcountry would look too different. SO next post I’m going to put up an interview with the folks at “Hot Dip TIN”  and cover some quick and easy camp tools that can make life easier.

 Oh and for Dave Barno and the rest of the folks getting ready for the Dunmore Stroll here is a version of the Dunmore camp song something that all Viriginia Militia should know. It also has the ACM shooting creedo in it (besides aim small Buck and ball!) “ Strive not to shoot often, But strive to shoot well” :
 Point Pleasant Camp song From Newell’s journal

Bold Virginias all, each cheer up your heart.
We will see the Shawnees before that we depart,
We will never desert, nor will we retreat,.
Until that our Victory be quite complete.

Ye offspring of Britain!  Come stain not your name.
Nor forfeit your right to your forefathers' fame,
If the Shawnees will fight, we never will fly,
We'll fight & we'll conquer or we will die.

Great Dunmore our General valiant & Bold
Excells the great Heroes - the Heroes of old;
When doth command we will always obey,
When he bids us fight, we sill not run away.

Good Lewis our Colonel, courageous and Brave,
We wish to command us - our wish let us have.
In camp he is pleasant, in War he is bold
Appeas like great Caesar - great Caesar of of old.

Our Colonels & Captains commands we'll obey,
If the Shawnees should run we will bid them to stay,
Our Arms, they are Rifles, our men Volunteers
We'll fight & we'll conquer you need have no fears.

Come Gentlemen all, come strive to excel,
Strive not to shoot often, but strive to shoot well.
Each man like a Hero can make the woods ring,
And extend the Dominion of George our Great Kink.

Then to it, let's go with might & with main,
Tho' some that set forward return not again;
Let us quite lay aside all cowardly fear
In hope of returning before the new year.

The land it is good, it is just to our mind,
Each will have his part if his Lordship be kind.
The Ohio once ours, we'll live at our ease,
With a Bottle & glass to drink when we please.

Here's a health to King George & Charlotte his mate
Wishing our Victory may soon be complete
And a kind female friend along by our Side
In riches & splendor till Death to abide.

Health to great Dunmore our general also,
Wishing he may conquer wherever he go.
Health to his Lady - may they long happy be
And a health, my good friends, to you & to me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Robinson Crusoe had a giant Cartouche knife and Friday knew how to read...

 1752 image   Mocs and leggings with a coat and hat

"St. John's" Image   nice camp scene

18th cent. Image of Robinson Crusoe...leather/hide clothes, beard, giant knife thing and axe tucked in a belt....SO many jokes...Ya I'm gonna walk away from that one

 So I got a pretty good response from the last posting. No hate mail (yet) and that’s always encouraging. I figured I’d point people towards some “must have” books this post. My advice for new folks is that you should spend more money on Books then you do quillwork. Of course after a while the books become more expensive then quillwork (I need a $300 book right now…I know need is a strong word but I NEEEEDDDD this book….unless I can get it thru Interlibrary loan)
     Anyhow…Over the years some books I find myself going back to time and time again to double check info or just reread. I find that the more I reread some books info pops up that I totally overlooked the first time. For some reason “scouwa” the James Smith Narrative is one of these books. I first read the book in 1995 in high school and for me it’s been a constant go to book  when the ADD kicks in.
A few other books I really think are  worthwhile investment for folks:
“Observations on the American Backcountry” By Donald Rettig:  This a “bearing is noble and proud” type book for reenactors. Mr. Rettig breaks stuff down such as hunting shirts, breechclouts, drinking etc from period Narratives. It’s a great jumping off point for new folks as well as a quick go to for when you think you remember a quote from that book, by that guy, about that thing.
“Contact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi, 1750-1830” Andrew Clayton:  This book is a collection of essays on the Backcountry by a number of respected authors. Ok I know some authors out there in the “hobbie” blast any modern historians work as some kind of Liberal conspiracy to make the backcountry a socialist utopia (while somehow their books are above critique and agenda free)  This book is a great starting point to lead you to some killer books that will really open up your eyes/mind to looking at the backcountry in a new way.
“Chainbreaker's War: A Seneca Chief Remembers the America Revolution by Blacksnake”  If ya like reading Shane/Draper interviews you’ll love this book. It’s An Interview with Blacksnake a Seneca who fought in the Revolution. Some really kewl little tidbits about backcountry war parties and native life. Now if you Like reading Francis Parkman’s stuff you might not dig it (Am I the only person who can’t stand Parkman’s stuff? )
Any of DALE PAYNE’S BookS:  Ok I don’t get a kickback from Dale for pimping his books. He’s done a great Job of compiling Info and letting it speak for itself. You can get his books from a number of sutlers or contact Prickett’s Fort at (304)363-3030
“Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue by Daniel Trabue”   Awesome narrative (looks like it was written by Alan Krause) some great info on how folks moved into Kentucky as well as 18th century backcountry life.

“Textiles in America 1650-1870: A Dictionary Based on Original Documents, Prints and Paintings, Commercial Records, American Merchants' Papers, Shopk (Winterthur/Barra Book) by Florence M. Montgomery”:  Ok once again some folks will blast the idea of anything but nettles for cloth but….This book will answer A ton of questions that might pop into your skull from reading narratives, ledgers etc. This is a must have for anyone reenacting the 18th century and want to improve their kit in anyway. You don’t need to count threads to enjoy this book.
 SO that’s just a few books I recommend to folks. I’ll be posting some more as the summer goes along. Also don’t don’t, don’t forget about google books. A LOT of period narratives are on their and readable for free. This way you can save yourself a lot of $ to buy more books, its part of the sickness that is this hobbie. I’m running out of shelf space myself…and the piles of books next to my weaving chair are often the flashpoint for family debates.

      To add to the weirdness I got a recent update from Mr. Crowder. He recently received a copy of the “crazy crow” Cartouche Knife. His review of the product was pretty short and sweet…Don’t buy it. In his words “it weighs as much as a trade gun”.  Crowder is a pretty good judge of the minutia that goes into a trade knife so if you’re looking for a good copy of this knife…looks like you’ll be spending more then $30.  If you’re in the market for a Knife I do know “At the Eastern Door” has some killer scalpers made by Eric Schatzel drop him an email for details.

   This brings up a question I’ve been asked a few times this past month. How do I choose stuff to review? Well Normally it’s just stuff I need for my kit and pick up from a vendor after doing research into the item myself. Doing a little pre buy research I then know what to ask the vendor/craftsperson as far as their product goes. 99% of people making a quality item can then fill in the blanks for you on the product.
        A few items I’ve reviewed were given to me by the maker to do some “field tests” on (The South Union Mills stockings and Jed Wray likes how I try and destroy his stuff) But honestly if I didn’t like the item I would simply send it back to the maker or pay for it and put it in the bin of stuff I don’t use. I really don’t want to give anyone a BAD review so I simply choose to not review items I don’t like. I will however reserve the right to complain about blanket pins, squirrel cookers, woven garters with leather tabs, coverlet haversacks and Items from BIG vendors (like the crazy crow cartouche knife) as these vendors cover such a large cross section of hobbies me saying a knife isn’t quality really won’t hurt them at all.
     To add some eye candy I’ve posted two details of images I came across in a late night Coca cola fueled web search (ya I’m back on the soda…got its hooks into me again) One is a detail from a 1752 German image from an early Narrative showing a European man in a coat, hat and leggings and mocs.  The narrative can be found here (Thanx Joeseph):
   The second image is a detail from a painting entitled “a view of St. Johns…” and was done in the 1780’s. Nice detail of some natives hanging around a fire as well as some guys sleeping under a canoe. The whole image is pretty sweet Canadians, guys in canoes. It can be seen here:,-upon-the-Rive?sort=IMAGE_DATE%2Csubject_groups&qvq=w4s%3A%2Fwhat%2FArtifacts&fb_source=message

   Well summer vacation has begun so let’s see if having Jr. Gingi wrangler home helps me get more stuff finished.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grandpa Simpson knew the value of a shilling...

 Belt rig made of bark tan leather. Closure button is a sleeve button made by Ward Oles
Axe and hoe made by Rick Guthrie

 Random Sporting image for can dress like this and kill 100 deer

High life below stairs....nice image of lower class folks....i think if you drank enough high life you would have the same look

 The Camp is green again, I mean really green. Like the forest moon of Endor green. The Ferns cover the ground hiding all the ore holes and the forest canopy is once again a great shield from..rain (what gives? It’s like god hates dry clothes).  Also for the record hunting shirts do not shed rain with the fringe. This was truly the brainchild of a person who never ventured into even a slight drizzle. Yes after a point the fringe does wick away water but this also the point everything on you is wicking away water.
      So With all the message board weirdness over the past few months I’ve started and restarted writing up a few blogs about my take on all the weirdness. Some were thoughtful critiques of some opposing schools of thought others were rants about the revolt against academic history by people who cling to rugged individualist ideals of a backcountry that didn’t exist. A few were straight up rants full of disdain and esoteric references like 4 people would get. Those were my favorites…But I sided on reason and figured I’d just break down some numbers for folks.

      Ok so you’re a hunter (long hunter/market hunter take your pick)  Ok, So why? Well why do people usually do anything, simple answer money. No matter how ya shake it the reason any of these guys did this was to make money. It wasn’t to spread the gospel, it wasn’t to spread the ideals of Liberty ,it was to make a living.  So looking at this as a business some basic principles of economics come into play. You need a market, a product, supplies and a way to move said product to market.

       So lets jump to the product: Half dressed Deer hides. The majority of these hides were destined for use in the construction of leather breeches or gloves (as well as in a a number of other consumer goods produced in the colonies and Europe) This was the occupation of hunters in the summer months. Summer killed deer produce a superior leather to that of winter killed hides.

      The reason for this is the fact that in the summer the follicles that hold the deer hair are smaller. The winter coat of white tail deer is made up of larger hair (larger follicles) to help create the dead air space that help keep the deer warm. Large follicles equals bigger holes in the hide equals bad leather..Simple?

      The winter months for the hunter was spent (even in the south) trapping beaver or other fur bearing animals for their pelts. Bear hunting for fat (grease) was also an important part of the trade. These activities plus things like cutting wood, helping clear land, etc made up the majority of the hunters year.
    Ok so now lets move on to a quote that breaks down the product pretty nicely. It’s from the Interview of Nathan Boone:
“The summer and fall hunt must have yielded entirely deer skins and these only half dressed. Graining means (if the Hair doesn’t get rubbed off) the scraping off of the hair and the grain, like a cussier leather; Then when dry the leather is rubbed across a staking board until it becomes somewhat soft; then it is said to be half-dressed and fit for compact packing. A heavily packed horse could carry about a hundred half-dressed deer skins of two pounds each.”
       Ok so here is a pretty specific definition of just what a half dressed hide is (process,weight) As well as a nice tidbit on just how much a horse could carry. To top if it off it’s from a guy whose dad was the king of the “Long hunters” so its pretty safe to say he might understand the family trade a little (of course he does say his dad was a good surveyor….and we all know how that turned out)
Now Mark Baker went into this area in his book “Sons of a Trackless Forest”(Mr. Baker in the off chance your reading this..two words for you 2Nd Printing the hobbie needs it!!!) but I’m going to go a little more into the subject. According to Morgan in 1768 the going rate for a half dressed deerskin was 1 shilling 6 pence per pound (quick reminder  12 pennies in a shilling 20 shillings in a pound)

***This description would also be usefull to folks wanting to make "bundles" of deerskins for trade scenerios. The Half dressed hide when stored in a dry place can last a long time***
    That means that the skins carried by 1 horse equaled around 10 pounds (not too shabby) now what about your overhead? I can here people now what do you mean overhead? Well Deer just don’t shoot themselves, except in Far side comics (Gary Larson reference..oh ya whose with me? No one?) Apart from the gun you’re going to need lead ball, powder, linen for patching and flints.
So lets look at the prices for gun related items at Fort Pitt in the 1760’s:
Rifle gun 7/10/0     A neat Fuzee  3/0/0
Lead 1 shilling 3 pence per pound
Powder 7 shillings 6  per pound
Patching linen  1/10 per yard
Powder horn/bag   7/6
Knife 1/3
Flints 2 pence

   Alright so without getting into the “average Rifle caliber” debate I’m going to go back to Baker’s research here. He uses Doddridge’s recollection of men carrying guns that shot “ more than 45 bullets to the pound”  so we’re lookin at a gun over .48 caliber.  SO personaly shooting a .62 caliber gun (roughly 20 balls to the pound) I’m going to need 5 lbs of lead (keeping in mind this is if I hit every deer with one shot and don’t get bored in camp and “shoot at a mark” with my fellow hunters while drinking shrub and have a chew/smoke…both of which I have to pay for)

     The powder for these shots also has to be considered the powder to lead ratio of two pounds lead to 1 pound of powder. This is also an x factor in the equation as what size charge did they use? This determines the amount of charges you get out of your horn. I know for example out of my 1 pound horn I get roughly 120 shots (I shoot 60 grains and have not had a problem knocking a deer down between 30-50 yards) The caveat here for me is I shoot “indian loads”  from descriptions it seems natives in the period  loaded half the powder of their white counterparts:
   William Clinkenbeard’s Interview “you could always tell an Indian gun. Never were so heavily loaded, nor sounded so loud, cracked flatter.”
      SO if you keep with the period ratio you’d need 2 ½ pounds of powder to shoot 100 deer.So we’ll say 3 lbs to keep the math even (and I haven’t found an entry for a half pound of powder) so all together your paying 1/5/ for the ammo to shoot 100 deer. Not so cheap

   Ok since man cannot live by lead alone You also have to take into consideration that clothes/gear break down, rip, rot and just fade away.  SO here is a rundown of what a basic “Doddridge”  inspired kit would cost you:

Shirt  (check shirt 12 shillings 10) Oznabrig shirt 15 shillings
Jacket  1/2/6
Handkerchief  5 shillings
Hunting shirt 1/2/6
Trousers    3 shilling 9 pence  /Leggings  9 shillings      /Breechclout 9 shillings
Shoes 10 shillings     /Moccasins    (1 dressed and smoked deerskin 8 shillings  2 awls 1 shilling)
Blanket a 3pt matchcoat 20 shillings
Kettle /6 shillings

    SO the basic kit of a shirt, jacket, hunting shirt, handkerchief, trousers, shoes, Blanket and a kettle is going to run you 4/12/7  SO add in a rifle, ammo, knife, horn and pouch and your looking at  overall expenses over 13 pounds!!! (not including the cost of flour, the horse, and the other items you’d need to conduct a longhunt)  So for the pack load of deer your already in the hole(is the free credit band in your head right now?).
      Granted the cost of the rifle and a lot of the durble goods (***ecomnomics term!***) isn’t going to be in the expense that goes into every packhorse load of deer skins. However there is A LOT of items I haven’t factored in here. But certain costs are going to be fixed (like lead/powder)
 The idea of the Lone rugged hunter walking thru the woods  shunning cloth for his deerskin clothing, that didn’t need anything from well…wrong.  One of the more famous “longhunter” quotes from one of the famous “Longhunts” is the carving by Bledsoe “2300 skins lost, ruination by God”   Stop and think about that for a second.  That’s possibly 160 pounds of lead ball (if they never missed) and 80 pounds of powder (and a hell of a lot of nettle woven cloth for patching…) Think about that next time you hear someone explain to the public they are a long hunter and carry everything they need for a long hunt on them. No wonder the poor guy needs a coverlet haversack so bad he has an extra 240 pounds of gear on him. Then again I have seen guys with an extra 240 pounds of gear on them but its normally in the form of squirrel cookers and giant iron “Celtic” blanket pins.

     Dang that’s a lot of numbers. Ok so whats this all mean? Well the simple numbers involved in “long hunting” and making money off it proves that this just wasn’t a fly by night operation.  The lead and powder to shoot 2300 deer was more than likely purchased thru store credit somewhere.  Not to mention all the gear needed to skin, process and haul the hides.   This is where I could go off on a tangent about 19th century ideas mixing with people’s Grandparents memories from depression era Appalachia and turning into a Grandpa Simpson like weird version of the past (“ I tied an onion to my pocket as was the style at the time”) But I’m not going to.

     And for the record if you spot any errors in my math drop me an email and I’ll correct it asap. Adding up 18th century foreign currency can make ya go cross eyed. To add a little more eye candy to this post I’ve put up a pic of a belt rig for a small game axe I sewed up. The rig is based off the Shelby Rig as well as a few other examples. It can be worn over the shoulder or as a belt. The axe was made by Iron Guru Rick “the godfather” Guthrie. I’ve used this axe to butcher a number of Deer over the past few years and honestly if you need something much bigger (blade is around 2 ¼  overall length is around 4 inches) I’d carry an axe.
 The smaller item is a Ginseng hoe based off an original Rick made. I purchased this a few years ago and was going to have a buddy handle it and just got it back a few months ago (lol still handleless) So I’m hoping to stash it in my pack later this season. Ginseng in Pennsylvania has its own season    So like Boone I’ll be on the lookout for the plants while I hunt.
 Now its back to sewing and weaving. I also have a giant cupcake to make for Cindy since she’s 3 today. Man do I feel old.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spotted scarves and Blue Plush OR How to Stroll in style...

Blue plush shot bag...I tie my lock cover and knife on the back of the strap

       Shot bag and Belt rig I made for my small game axe forged by Rick Guthrie. B&T spotted scarves underneath
    Jesus do I have a lot of catching up to do, SO in typical me fashion I have to admit I’ve been busy. The real world and my quasi job have been kicking my butt as of late. So Sorry to the folks who have been waiting for a new post (sorry Russ) but hopefully the stuff that have been kicking around in my skull will be worth the wait. Just what have I been up to? Let’s see canoe trip, Longhunter school, woodstime, reading and weaving like there is no tomorrow. Oh and don’t forget reading. SO this week I’m going to focus on getting all the stuff I wrote about into a coherent somewhat normal write ups. So since I missed a bateau ride this weekend I spent some time in the woods at the camp.
      While kicking around the woods I took some time to shoot at a mark. In doing so I was breaking in a new jacket I got from Jason Melius . It’s a short brown unlined jacket and is pretty sweet if I do say so. So while shooting the lock of the gun became caught on a handkerchief I had in my right pocket.quickly I realized I was bringing a reference to life.
     In his 1847 History of Kentucky Lewis Collin mentions a story (lack of footnotes dam you 19th cent) of Kentucky woodsman Micheal Cassidy:
But Cassidy to his consternation, found that his pocket handkerchief was tied round the lock of his gun, so as to prevent its being cocked, and he feared to untie it, lest the indian perceiving it, should fire”

    Cassidy is mentioned in the oft quoted Interview of William Clinkenbeard. He was in Clinkenbeard’s mess company on the Clark Campaign (a fact that point towards even frontiersmen such as Clinkenbeard serving in a military structure…Take that “I’m not in your dam militia” camp) It also flies in the face on the idea that the people in Kentucky wore only nettles and buffalo wool clothes. Unless of course this is a nettle/wool handkerchief….how much would that hurt to wipe your snuff boogies with. It also points out that Cassidy no stranger to the Dangers of the backcountry was probably sporting a jacket rather then a hunting shirt. If your wearing a belted hunting shirt over a jacket it’s tough to get to the pockets. AT the least (say he didn’t have the shirt belted) it shows him wearing a waistcoat and using the pockets (crazy right!). Now we could toss this reference out because it’s from a 19th century source that doesn’t mention the specific interview, but if we did that some of us wouldn’t be able to publish anything...ever.
        The handkerchief is one of those pieces of gear that is really ignored by most folks. Most simply sport a woodsy color checked cotton deal around there neck (or even dye this too with walnuts…come one guys). But from period artwork mixed with period references we can see these was quite a variety of these out there
. The styles shipped to Pittsburgh seemed to run the gambit from plain to fancy:
Invoice of goods on the Batteau Forbes headed to Kaskaskia 1768:
20 bordered Handkerchiefs no. 8 6 shillings
26 do. Do. 6 shillings
17 linen handkerchiefs 3 shillings
32 linen handkerchiefs different patterns 5
15 blue and white cotton Handkerchiefs 5 shillings

Hunters also seem to purchase Handkerchiefs with regular frequency:
June 4 1768 Alexander Ferguson 1 knife 5 “ 1 frock 12”10 1 comb 2” 1 Handkf 5”

July 22 1768 Simon Girty To 1 breech clout 9/ 1 Handkf 15/

And from the runaway ad Mafia:
September 14, 1769. BEDFORD, August 29, 1769. RUN away from the subscriber, on the 14th instant, an indentured servant man named WILLIAM RIDDLE. He is an Aberdeen's man, and talks the brogue peculiar to that part of Scotland, is about 18 years old, slender made, 5 feet 6 inches high, tan complexion, pitted with the smallpox, yellow haired, and a little freckled, had on when he went away an under Virginia cloth jacket with copperas coloured stripes, oznabrug shirt and long trousers, and a pair of Virginia made shoes with buckles. He stole when he went away a gun about 4 feet long in the barrel, and a little silvered in the stock at the muzzel, also a new printed linen handkerchief of two shillings sterling price, with red ground and white spots. It is imagined he will make for Carolina. Whoever conveys the said servant to me, at Bedford courthouse, shall have FORTY SHILLINGS reward, if taken in Virginia, and if in Carolina FOUR POUNDS. WILLIAM AUSTIN.

October 18, 1770. RUN away from the subscriber living in Augusta, near Stanton, a convict servant man named JOHN CEATON, an Englishman, about 5 feet 5 inches high; had on when he went away, a white hunting shirt with striped wristbands, a light coloured lappelled jacket lines with white blanketing, two coarse shirts, and a pair of trowsers, a pair of black worsted stockings, a spotted silk handkerchief, old shoes and brass buckles, a red-coloured wig and has crooked toes. Whoever takes up and secures said servant so that I may have him again, shall have FORTY SHILLINGS reward, besides what the law allows, and reasonable charges paid if brought home. ADAM REABURN.

  These scarves could have been worn around the neck, on the head or as pictured in a lot of period images in the pocket. The neckcloth and pocket scarf pop up in a lot of images of period working class people. Right now a great source for some killer handkerchiefs is Burnley And Trowbridge. The spotted scarves they carry are very close to an example in the Herkimer house and ones worn by sailors in the Benjamin West 1771 image “Penn’s Treaty with the Indians.”

     One theoretical way to sport a scarf (as in not a solid documented method) is in holding up your breech clout. Quite a few of these hunters purchase a clout the same time they purchase a scarf (or 2 scarves). Morgan notes that the French in Kaskaskia sport a scarf on their head, wrist and waist , so maybe this is the hunters adopting an idea picked up from the French. I have used a scarf as a clout belt for a few years now and have found it to be a pretty nice way of holding everything in place. Deerskin belts stretch or break, gartering cuts into you but handkerchiefs do a pretty good job (and don’t rot away from sweat/dirt)

     Also for folks that really want to go the extra yard…want to be super minimalist. Carry a pack that you can document just about anywhwere and anyone can afford…Wrap up your stuff in a handkerchief! Beats the hell out of a coverlet haversack (Why people? Why do you keep making/selling/buying these things? Think of the children….If you carry a coverlet haversack the terrorists win and You hate America) I’ve carried the basics wrapped in a handkerchief on quite a few scouts and it’s pretty simple and easy. If you get tired of carrying it in your hand a buffalo tug/belt works for a strap or simply put it on your gun/walking stick. Yes you can fit all the gear/food you would need for a weekend scout in a handkerchief and your pockets. What does that say about how much you need to carry?
   Another piece of gear made by Jason I broke in was my new Blue Plush shot bag. This type of bag is mentioned in a few runway ads as well as store records sometimes even purchased by…(shocking music) LONG HUNTERS! Me thinks the Harmons may have even purchased one…hmmmm does that mean long hunters didn’t always wear deerskin and nettles? is a mention of a plush pouch in the Virginia runaway ads:

August 16, 1776. Supplement. RUN away from the subscriber living on the levels of Green brier, two convict servant men. One named WILLIAM ROW, 18 or 19 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches high, of a fair complexion, has dark hair, is an artful fellow, and may forge a pass, as he writes a tolerable good hand; had on, when he went away, shirt, drawers, and leggins, of coarse country linen, and took with him a coat and waistcoat of cotton and linen almost white, also a smooth bore gun of the best sort, double breached, which had part of the stock broke off before, a shot bag and powder horn, very much carved, the strap of the powder horn made of striped girting, and the shot bag of blue plush. The other named ISAAC SINGER, 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high, about 25 years old, thin visaged, small made, of a dark complexion, and has very thin whitish hair; had on, when he went away, old leather breeches, a coarse shirt, brown leggins, and old shoes. They are both Englishmen, and took with them a fur hat, besides other things too tedious to mention. Whoever apprehends the said servants, and secures them so as they may be had again, shall have 40s. reward for each, if taken in the county; if out thereof 4 l. for each, paid by ARCHER MATTHEWS.

   The bag Jason made me is SWEET. It’s dimensions are on the small side (by average modern shot bag dimensions) It’s roughly 6 ¾ wide by 6 deep and had a linen divider in the center. It does look…Odd but it worked out great. I carried 25 roundball and loose shot on one side as well as a oil bottle, extra flints, piece of chalk and feather in it. The feather is for loading the gun based on Audubon’s loading description as well as for stopping up the touch hole to use the lock as a firekit.(please no hatemail on this one. I am an adult, I keep the gun pointed at a backstop while I do this if this makes you uncomfortable…don’t do it). I also took the idea Baker mention in a Muzzleloader. The feather is placed in the touchhole when in camp as a safety device and a sign the gun is loaded. The chalk well I’ll post the quote:
“Belden had soon reloaded, and with a piece of chalk carried for the purpose, he whitened the barrel of his rifle, took a more deliberate aim at the glaring target and fired again” trappers of NY (267)
SO I haven’t tried out the night shooting with chalk yet but it’s on my short list of stuff to try this summer. So if your looking for a quality handkerchief (or hunting shirt linen) check out burnley and trowbridge’s site   Also at the Eastern Woodland Indian Conf. Ward Oles of “At the Eastern Door” had some nice small glass bottles perfect to carry gun oil/paint in SO if your looking for a bottle drop him a line. 
Ok so I broke my mental block and can try and get back to posting these things with greater frequency. Also in the Vein of promotion I want to recommend an article for folks to check out. It’s in the current issue of the William And Mary Quarterly “Fashioning Moccasins: Detroit, the Manufacturing Frontier, and the Empire of Consumption, 1701–1835” Catherine Cangany (a new Buffalo trace reader) This was a great article that shed some light on just how important the “moccasin” was as a trade item. It also shed some new light on the idea of the “shoepack” (looks Like Msr. Tharp is going to get some long hunter customers) info on getting a copy here:
  Ok now back to work. Weaving for Williamsburg, orders and a soaking buffalo hide are all screaming my name, Not to mention the laughing 3 year old running out of the room with a matchcoat full of pins….

Friday, February 24, 2012

John Buxton hates hats....unless they have a Steelers logo

My daughter Riley and I at Niagara...Sporting my plain boring hat...that was awesome to have in the treeless fort

The weather has settled into a steady rain/shine mix as of late. I spent a few hours yesterday shooting my blue gun and walking thru the woods looking for antler sheds (found nothing).
The chewed ball method is still holding up. Shooting at 50 yards off hand I’m
doing really well at keeping a pattern in the center of the target (diner plate
sized target with a 6 by 6 square in the center)…30 yards I’m destroying it. I’m
shooting .58 chewed ball unwadded/unpatched with 70 grains of 3 f. I got a
little cocky and started practicing running and loading from a slit pouch. Not
doing too bad but that’s a whole other post in itself. I still like my otter
pouch better…
So far I’ve covered head scarves, scalplocks and stuff for your scalplocks. Man who would have thought sharing info would stir up such a hornets nest (complete with skin color charts….really?).My intention for this post was to cover more headgear for the Native side of
the hobbie but putting this together I was dumbstruck by the amount of info out there on natives wearing hats, caps,hoods and diadems.
As result I’ve decided to focus on the standard hat. At some point in the near future I plan on revisiting the other parts of head gear (or do the right thing and just write it up as an article….I can hear Henri cursing my name in the distance, I don’t speak French but it sounds bad)
You know the regular, normal, made en masse by professionals, boring hat. I covered this
topic a little in a previous posting when I got bored and decided to try my
hand at a “peachey” of a hat. I never did get to sport the hat I loaned it John
Buxton to use (but its still not in a painting hint hint Mr. B next time you
think of painting a roach how about a hat on the guy…I’m getting a phone call
for that one)
Hats can get caught up in a lot of symbolism in the period. As a result a lot of the
focus on natives wearing hats has been on their presentation to headmen (along
with the fancy coat/waist coat) What this misses however is the plain simple
fact in the 18th century hats were EVERYWHERE. In American culture a
hat was part of a mans standard clothing (working class to the president) until
Kennedy (I have theories why he didn’t wear one…)
SO it’s no coincidence that natives in a hat filled world would pick on their use (usefullness) pretty quickly. also despite popular culture telling us differently native peoples are not morons and had by the time we showed up realized the fact keeping snow/sun/rain off their head and out of their eyes was helpful intraveling in the elements….without help from aliens.
Here are a number of refrences to the use of hats by natives in the 18th
century. This is only scratching the surface of refrences:
“A great number of the natives, i.e. the confederates of the
French had already begun to dress like the French: the same kind of jacket and
vest, while on journeys they wore the they wore the same red cap or hat” Peter
Kalm 1750
“The goods for Indian trade are….hats trimmed in fine and
imitation, with variegated plumes in red, yellow, blue and green” Pouchot 1750’s
“One of our Indians was in the woods a small distance from
Bethlehem, with his gun, hopeing to meet with a deer, on his return home he met
with two men, who (as he informs) he saluted by takeing off his hat; he had not
gone far before he heard a gun fired, and the bullet whistled near by him,
which terrified him very much, and running thro’ the thick bushes his gun lock
catched fast, and went off, he dropt it, his hat, blanket,&c., and came
home much frighted” Page 67 Pa Archives
“In one of our walks meeting an Indian dressed in a
remarkable plain manner with a broad flat hat, like a Qr (quaker), we askt him
if he was a Qr, & he smiling, answered yes, Yes, I a quaker now-but when I
go away I-Indian again” Pa arcives 276
Statement of William Peters and Jacob Duche 1757
“Thursday the white mingo went with us to the place he said
he was fired at and shewed us the place where he stood and that the man who
fired at him that I saw the steps of the
white mingo and as I undertood capn. Wood saw the prints of the to men that we
found the matchcoat and hat he dropped and returnd them to him” Lewis
Morris Pittsburgh 16, 1775
“In the year 1762 I witnessed a remarkable instance in the
disposition of Indians to indulge their wives… set off on horseback for that
place, one hundred miles distant, and returned with as much corn as filled the
crown of his hat, for which he gave his horse in exchange, and came home on foot,
bringing his saddle back with him.” Heckwleder

Fort Pitt March 4th 1765
George Croghan
Merch sold him for the use of the crown at Carlisle Feb 15th
10 fine broad laced coats @ 165
10 laced hats@ 37/6
10 gay embroidered vests 67 ..10..

A list of goods going to the “Shawnee town” From Fort Pitt

The Shawnee towne
Aug 14 1766 3 doz 10 large silk handk
13 groce bed lace
6 groce red twilled gartering*
6 bolts broad tape
1 dozen gold laced hats
132 (?) lead
2 black leather saddles
4 horse bells

4 doz black silk handkerchiefs
3 doz black silk cravats
80 pieces of taffata ribbons, yellow,blue,green red &
30 regimental coats. good
30 do hats half silver laced good
50 worsted caps
2 lb cruels or other worsteds*
"Frontier Advance on the
Upper Ohio 1778-1779" Pages 413-415

List of Indian goods at Fort Cumberland sept 17, 1755
6 laced hats
14 mens worsted caps

December 1756, Lists of Indian Goods at Rock Creek
strip'd & scarlet worsted Caps from 5\--to 12--per dozn.
Silk Han kers: from 28\--to 33\
Silk Caps--@ 40\ --
Mens worsted Hose from 24\ to 45\--per dozn.
grey, green & red yarn Do.--from 10\6--to 15\--not many
Mens beavr: Carolina Hats from 4\6--to 6\--not many left

I hope
this helps folks out there who are looking for something “native” to cover
their head with to really rethink just what’s “native”. No need for a lot of
ornaments, put out a lot of $ or time for a piece that you’ll find out in a few
weeks/months just wasn’t right (thinking about all the turkey bush headdresses
out there…are they really practical?)
If you feel the need to decorate it please keep it simple.
Some silk ribbon/gartering a feather or two or maybe nothing. BTW Mike Galban already called dibs on the
finger woven hat band.
Also for
anyone still interested in the EWIC
please contact the Fort Pitt Museum for info directly. The poster I had
posted turns out to be incorrect. I had thought it was put out by the site but
it seems that it was made by someone not affiliated with Fort Pitt. You can
find the info here:
Well back to weaving. Hmm I need to get back to anglo stuff
on here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scalplocks and Jamie Pennisi: The man, The Myth,,,The Model

quillworker Eli Motsay, Myself and Super Model Jamie Pennisi...if he doesnt look familiar then you didnt buy a copy of Muzzleloader in the 90's....We Like "ze Blach metal"
Some ideas for "hair stuff" and scalplock size/length

I’ve given up on winter. I don’t care anymore. So now I’m
going to focus on killing turkeys…they still exist right? Time to start sewing
linen. After looking at my gear recently I realized that I’m looking more like
a homeless person then a trader. Breeches are shot, shirt is falling apart. So
now its time to start those projects like it or not. Blah…at least I’m ready
for next winter.
SO to keep things going on the Head gear thing I’ll cover a little bit about
scalplocks and stuff to tie in them. Maybe here I can keep Portuguese quillworkers
from sidetracking the issue (funny how the folks who never shaved their heads
always have the most to say about why you shouldn’t try harder..just sayin)
The most common form of hair style for 18th century natives in the northeast
is the Scalplock (or top knot ,hari Krishna cut whatever you want to call it)
This is simply a small tuft of hair left on the crown of the head. One of the
Best descriptions of this comes from James Smith’s oft quoted narrative:
“All the hair clean out of my head except a small spot about three or 4 inches square on my crown; this they cut off with a pair of small scissors”
Smith’s dimensions seem to be pretty consistent across the board.
Robert Rogers as well as a few others mentions the comparison of the diameter
of the scalplock to the English crown (coin not the kings crown) The Crown used
during the majority of the period has a diameter of 38mm or roughly 1 ½ inches. A good view of a crown can be seen
images and descriptions we can see that the hair isn’t really that long. Rough
estimate is between 1 to 6 inches long. A detailed description can be found in
Pouchot’s Memoir:
“They do not wear
their hair longer then a priests calotte*, cut an inch long( roughly 1.9
inches a French inch in the period being longer then a modern American inch), covered with grease and powdered with vermillion in the middle. They leave two locks of hair, which they fasten by 2 silver clasps of a fingers length, or in a que made with a border of porcupine
quills. They arrange therein also, some feathers of birds forming a kind of
*Calotte-Skull cap worn by priests
This description for me is pretty kewl as it mentions a little about natives
painting their hair. SO now that we’ve established the general size of the
scalplock lets look at some of the items to wear in it.
“some pluck out and
destroy all, except a lock hanging from the crown of the head, which they
interweave with wampum and feathers of various colors” Peter wlliamson
1750’s Pennsylvania
”excepting three
locks,which they dressed up in their own mode. Two of these they wraped round
with a narrow beaded garter made by themselves for that purpose, and the other
they plaited at full length, and then stuck it full of silver brooches.”
James Smith
“And tied a bunch of
red feathers to one of these locks they had left on the crown of my head, which
stood up fix or six inches” James Smith
“Then he shaved my head leaving only a small tuft of hair upon the crown and to small locks,which he plaited with silver brooches interwoven, making them hang over my face.” John Rutherford 1760’s Detroit
“Pluck from their heads all of the hair except from a spot on top of it, About the size of a
crown piece,…On this are fastened plumes of feathers of various colours with
silver or Ivory quills. The manner of cutting and ornamenting this part of the
head distinguishes different nations from each other” J Carver
“The head is all shaved only the crown which is left for the scalp. The hair in this has a
swan’s plume or some other trinket of silver tied in it.” Rev. David Jones 1770’s Ohio country
“They Wear an oblong piece of white tin in the hair which lies on the neck. One of those I saw had taken a flower of the rose mallow, out of a garden where it was in full blossom
at this time, and put it in the hair on top of his head” Peter Kalm
“Their Hair cut except on the crown which is tied up in a bunch and hung down in a plait, mixed with silver rings” Joseph. Hadfield 1785
Now southern Hair styles are a whole other monster. Bowl cuts with scalplocks,
weird V shaped hair cuts..It’s worth a write up all on its own. So I’ll just focus on some southern
scalplocks and a specific quote that I found really interesting.
“The hair of the head is shaved, Tho’ many of the old people have it
plucked out by the roots, except a patch on the hinder part of the head, about
twice the bigneess of a crown-piece, which is ornamented with beads, feathers,
wampum,stained deers hair, and such like baubles.” Timberlake on the
“The Party appeared the next day painted red and black, Their heads covered all over with Swan down, and a tuft of long white feathers fixt to the crown of their heads” Adair

Ok now the context of the “down feathers” quote is for a social gathering but the same
idea does pop up in northern accounts.
For a long time I debated how to do this look then after stepping away
from the search I saw a better version of the Cherokee “commission” image and
the paint in his hair popped out. Add this to the down feathers and wammo it
made sense. Pouchot also describes painting the hairs and once again add the
northern down quotes and you have well….Can you say Yanomamo?
Ok stay with me…The native people of the Amazon still practice wearing greased/painted hair sprinkled with down feathers. I don’t like using modern images But it does giveyou an idea of how to “put on the down”.
Ok so feathers ,tubes ,brooches all seem to be common items shown in the period. I’ve
added a few images in a collage to show various items being sported in the
hair. Also I’ve done an image of some modern reproductions that are an
alternative to a roach. It’s not that roaches weren’t common but I feel that if
Jamie Pennisi hadn’t owned one back in the early 90’s we wouldn’t see so many
at events (i.e. Modern artists pint them a lot so you all wear them a lot)
other things you might try and rethink/think about:
Turkey Bush roaches- Ok a few feathers is one thing but a
giant flock of turkey feathers on your head is another.
Hackle roaches- Ok the Death of wolfe native is kewl looking
but there is no original feather roach with a modern roach base. Try tying some
feathers to a brooch or a tube. You get the same look using all period
Try dying your feathers- Period references mention dyed
feathers why not try and natural dye some swan/small turkey/fake eagle
Brooches-plenty of accounts of them plaited into hair
Hair garters- come on dare to be common
Context- Are you at a Johnson hall? Treaty of Easton? Or are
you hanging out at Pluggy’s town or hunting? Chances are you’re going to sport
different stuff in your hair for different occasions. Sometimes less is more.
It’s pretty hard to lay down for a nap when you have a turkey pompadour.
Wear Nothing- Go crazy be that guy with just a scalplock.
Might not look like the guy on the cover of muzzleloader but you’ll look like
the guy in a bunch of period images.
Well I’ve rambled on enough on the subject.. I should be weaving or sewing anyhow. Have you signed up for the EWIC yet? If you make it and ask nicely you can probably
get Jamie Pennisi to do his greatest poses from the covers of Muzzleloader for
you. He loves it when you ask him to do that.
On a crass commercialism note AT the Eastern Door now has a source for small Glass
bottles like I’ve mentioned here a few times. I’m not sure of the prices but
they are the perfect size for paint (hair) oil. Drop him an email for details.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

being wrong,The EWIC and Steve Jones's Head Scarf

I am a firm believer of admitting when I’m wrong. Many times in this weirdness I have chased a rabbit down a hole only to find out that it was a skunk (and I was lookin at the bizzness end) The “Cherokee” bag has proved to be just one such skunk (and I’m really kicking myself for this one). I had my doubts about the bag but was looking for northern examples of that type of painted bag. Well a blog reader set me straight.
The Cherokee bag for all intents and purposes looks to be an Apache bag. Allen Chronister sent me a image of an apache bag after my blog posting and bingo that bag looks Cherokee. I looked for a few more hours and fond a number of examples of that bag all attributed to the apache. SO folks put the tempera paint away and get back to sewing otter skins.
This is a perfect example for me of looking for info, adapting to new info and not bein scared to admit the fact the info you found is dated/worng. If you don’t do that in this hobbie….well then you end up wearing orange buckskins, a blanket bonnet with a rr pin and bitchin about the fact you cant get into the kewl new events. Evolve or die people….
So since I’ve been locked into looking at all things native as of late I’ve decided to throw some info out there to maybe rock the canoe so to speak. I think it’s again time we all look in our trade mirrors and take a good long look….at what’s on our heads. One of my big pet peeves for a LOOOOONG time has been the overuse of modern paintings to justify hair weirdness. Roaches, turkey feather bushes, feather roaches made like modern powwow roaches all with turtle shell spreaders and squirrel skulls.
You know you did it. The pictures are on facebook. You spent more money on prints then books and ran down sutlers row buying all kinds of weirdness….
SO building off of a few articles Alan Gutchess did years ago in his booklet “native portrayals” I’m going to try and point out some documented native headgear that might look a little better than the skunk skin roach.(Btw we all need to whine really loud so that gutchess reprints “portrayals” it was full of great info) And speaking of the Dark Overlord….*****Commercial ALERT!!!!******
If you haven’t already heard The Fort Pitt Museum/Heinz History center is hosting the Eastern Woodland Indian Conference again this year. For anyone interested in native material culture (or just a really great conference on history) I implore you…GO TO THIS CONFERENCE!!!! The Conference is April 28-29 in Pittsburgh ,Pa (home of Fort Pitt, the Stillers and Primanti’s) for more information go to :
So together with all of the other head ware that is out there for native folks maybe the easiest to document and get your hands on is the old standby the headscarf. As I’ve pointed out before there are a ton of different ways to wear a headscarf: pirate style, Like the gentleman in the Italian image, turban style, tupac style, headband style or you can try Steve Jones style circa 1975 (if you don’t know who Steve Jones is then you’re probably not a sex pistols fan hence the joke is lost on you but 4 of you laughed like crazy).
Below I have compiled some quotes showing the use of scarves across the period/regions during the last half of the 18th century

"He wore a brown broadcloth coat, a scarlet damaskin lapel waistcoat,breeches over which his shirt hung, a black cordovan neckerchief decked with silver bugles, shoes and stockings and a hat. His ears hung with pendants of brass and other wires plaited together the handle of a basket." Description of Andrew Montour

“one of them soon struck a tomahawk into his head, and jerked off a piece of scalp about the biggness of a dollar, they took also his indian breeches and a hankerchef he had on his head...." Adair The South east

“Their head is dressed in the best mode, with a black silk handkerchief about it” Rev David Jones 1770’s ohio country

“A large and beautiful silk handkerchief was tied around his head” Johnathan Alder 1780’s ohio country

“one of the Indians had a handkerchief tied about his head…the other had a cocked hat” William Biggs Illinois country 1788

“He took about a yard of black silk…and tied it round my head” Thomas Ridout 1788 captured by Shawnees on the Ohio

“he wore the indian costume, but WITHOUT any ornament and his silk handkerchief while it supplied the place of a hat…” Simon Girty’s dress O.M. Spencer 1790’s ohio

One really kewl thing about headscarves is that a number of them survive and were depicted in some artwork of the period. For someone who cant shave their head this is a pretty good alternative to going bareheaded. It’s also a good way to keep your dome from cooking if you do shave your head.
Now lets put the headscarf into perspective. I’ve attached some prices of common goods at Fort Pitt during the 1760’s. This should give you a better understanding of just how much this common head wrap covered with brooches would have cost compared to goods you’d need to buy to live.
Costs of Goods at Fort Pitt sept 18, 1761
Large Silk Handks 1 buck 1 doe
2 fathem ribbon 1 buck
Silver brooches 1 raccoon (doesn’t list number of brooches)
Ear Bobs 1 doe

1765 Fort Pitt prices
1 brooch 1/6
Linen Handkerchief ‘3/
Cutteau knife 2/
Plain shirt 12/
1 blue stroud 1/2/6
Breechclout 7/6
Jews harp 2/
1lb Tobacco 2/
Looking glass 7/6
2 yds ribbon 2/

Here is an average transaction…something that would have been a common occurrence at Fort Pitt
List of goods bought by “delawares” in one trip
9 bars lead 6 @5….2..6
9 pints gunpowder @4/ ..8.._
1 french matchcoat….12,_
1 pr Half thick Stockings…..5,_
2 cutteau knives @10..1.8…..1/9/2
Peltry Delvired to Delawares received in Barter for the above goods
6 bear skins
13 deer skins

SO this makes one realize just how much the Caldwell headscarf was worth even at the time it was put together. LOL It’s pretty expensive to put together today as well can you say mortgage payment?…some of my friends are sick. I Priced out the Swiss headscarf based on modern prices…your looking at $1700….It is tax refund season lol. Anyhow the resource I recommend if you’re looking to bedazzle your scarf to check out the silverwork from Ward Oles Also keep in mind I havent even really touched on their use by the french or english
Well nows its back to weaving and fighting with the “gingi monster”. I’ve been cranking out a lot of stuff as of late to get ready for the upcoming trade shows. I’ll be set up at Pricket’s Fort at the end of the month and should have some Stroud leggings, clouts and a stroud blanket coat or two in tow. Stay tuned for part two of the head gear I’ve been compiling stuff that covers scalplock size length and common stuff to tie into it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

hitting yourself in the face with a feels awesome when you stop

Cherokee (?) bag in the NC archives....not sure how I feel about it
SE shot pouches...Treaty Guy's strap is red garters/fingerweaving.. who knows but a pretty simple UNDECORATED pouch easy to make and document

1760's italian image showing boy wearing a headscarf....not a pirate...maybe a wicker pirate
Happy New year!!! Oops I kinda missed that…and 12th night…man am I horrible at weekly blog posts. Well my hunting season was..pointless. I shot a nice 8 point the first day around 7:30am (long hunting season huh) It came in with a doe and a 10 point, but right off the bat I watched it lay down for a few minutes at about 80 yards. It worked its way closer to me and layed down again. I knew something was wrong with it so first time it got broad side from me I shot it right behind the shoulder (around 40 yards)
When I gutted it I noticed a really strong smell coming from the deer but I couldn’t find any wounds apart from where I shot the deer. Well when I started butchering the deer with my father we started seeing green specks and the stink stayed with the meat and then in the back we found gangrene. So I didn’t get a hide or the meat I just got the antlers…blah. There I was no doe Lisc., No hide and no deer meat. Kinda makes you want to go home and kick the dog. Then the Steelers lost….dont worry I didn’t kick the dog.
I’ve been spending a lot of time fighting the Horde of Squirrels this winter and realizing that my time spent sewing the super dead on winter gear was kind of pointless. All I really needed was moc liners and a blanket coat. I have become pretty good at shooting in the rain and have my kit geared towards foul weather shooting. The simple rig of gun case/cows knee and gear worn under the coat has been working out pretty well.
One thing I felt like posting was the second image I’ve found on a man wearing a scarf on his head. I’ve seen a lot of folks using the “absolute” rule on wearing scarves “pirate style” or under a hat. While I’m not a big fan of the practice I do hate the absolute rule when its simply just the parroting of ideas even more. Let’s face it the thing that turns folks off about improving is the absolute idea.
That being said if you’re at a 1770’s event in the middle of the Cumberland gap maybe the slops and the pirate scarf though both documented during the 18th century really aren’t in the right place together(just sayin). My point of this is for someone looking to document another simple head covering under a hat or in the field. Also to document that the “pirate style” isn’t the only way to wear a scarf (come on be different…do something they did now what griz showed ya…peer pressure)
I’ve also been pretty OCB about all things south eastern. As a result I’ve been putting stuff into neat little files. One thing I’ve been working on is a compilation of SE shot bags (thanks frontier folk yeah forced my hand) Jason Melius and I have been in an all out text msg war for months swapping info (and mean jokes that hurt others) So I’ve tossed up a compilation of images of SE shot pouches . As well as some original native shot bag gear.
All the bags are pretty standard but….one is from the NC archives.
It’s labeled Cherokee and is painted along the lines of some northern pieces so I have to get down and do some digging before I really make up my mind about it. Now that you’ve seen this all I ask is if folks want to try and make it 1 they don’t use tempra paint 2) learn how to hide paint 3) did I say don’t use tempra paint? And 4) just because it’s a leather bag/sheath and you paint it doesn’t make it South eastern….it could still be reenactor crap with some paint on it.
I know

that souns a little mean but I've seen alot of weirdness done in the name of the South. All kinds of twined weirdness comes to mind. Well I broke thru my mental block now Jim apple and all the other FB folks will stop yellin at me and I can hide again with my weaving and zombie movies....