Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

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.