Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Friday, August 30, 2013

what I did on my summer vacation....



                                             Some of the Cabin Program crew

                                          The Byerly's and capt Krause chilling next to my trade goods

                                          Display of trade goods at Fort Fred...need a blanket?

Ok so it’s been awhile since I posted anything (and believe me I’ve heard about it)I had a few posts started but a child + a glass of water + a laptop = lost research. So let me recap my summer….I spent a lot of time in the woods, I didn’t do many events and I got Married. After 8 years I finally tied the knot. So THAT took up a lot of my time.
      I did make it to two events that rocked. One was the Bushy Run 250th. Members of the Augusta County Militia portrayed life around "Bushy Run Station"  before the outbreak of the war in western Pa. Duane Schrecangaust (I always spell his name wrong ) Portrayed Andrew Byerly  and did a great job setting up our little home away from home. The other was the Fort Frederick F&I event. I set up With Tom Apple and the "trading party" crew and we explained the role of the Indian Dept. in aiding the southern Natives brought north to fight the French.  yeah we had a lot of stuff to show...

                So I thought I’d take the chance to add some more info from a Northern Perspective to a blog posted by my friend Jason Melius about natives in coats  . One of the standard “I needs” for folks doing Native impressions is a British military coat.  The “trophy coat” has become a sort of standard piece of gear in many camps (I blame Buxton…but then again I blame him for everything. Steelers didn’t go to the superbowl…Buxton did it) Most folks will dig out or quasi cite the James Smith account of the trophies being brought back in to Fort Duquesne as the basis for this (while also ignoring the canteens on the list, weird…) Many folks will then go to shoot/stab said coat because “he didn’t need it anymore”. I’ve even seen folks bead the “bullet hole” to extenuate  it and make it more “native”. Ok let me join in the “Friends don’t let friends wear trophy coats” chorus.

                Ok So I’ve already posted a lot of info on blanket coats/cappa coats/capots. Super common trade items, pop up in a lot of accounts, kinda hard to screw up. Now I’ll post a little info on the common “coat” on natives.

 In the suffering Traders papers coats seemed to have been a common item carried by Traders in Western Pa/Va  before the F&I

Goods sent to twightwee town with Andrew McBryer 1752:

28 coats @20/       28..0..0

Goods sent up River Kentucky under care of David Hendricks (1753)

30 Made coats @20/

Account of their losses of George Croghan and William Trent, June 14,1756 

60 coats @20

                Coats also seem to make to their way into the descriptions captives give of Ohio country natives:

John Mcullough 1756:  We met an old indian whose dress made him appear very terrifying to us ; he had a brown coat on him, no shirt,his breast bare, a breech-clout, a pair of leggings and moccasons—his face and breast painted rudely with vermillion and verdigrease…

                Around the same time Mcullough was running to into scary fellows near Fort Duquesne  A fellow near Bethlehem, PA describes intelligence he received on a Lenape coming back from Fort Niagara:

TIMOTHY HORSEFIELD TO SIR CHARLES HARDY  Bethlehem  July 21,1756 :They (the French) gave Tatteneskund a fine dark brown Coat, very much laced with Gold, which he now < wears. >

                The practice of wearing coats by “French” natives was noted by Peter Kalm earlier in the decade:

The confederates of the French, had already begun to dress like the French: the same kind of jacket and vest, while on journey’s they wore the same red cap or hat.

                And sometimes the mention of a coat on a native is buried in the details like this little tid bit from John Knox:

 Anselm’s was made of wood (crucifix) and hung by a leathern string from a button hole of his coat


                Mentions of coats for Natives in the Sir William Johnson papers give some nice detailed info on the color/cloth of coats worn by natives:

Sir William Johnson  Expense book July 3, 1756

To a Gold Locket to the Chief  Onondaga Sachem 24/. & a Coat

To a Scarlet Coat well Lined to " an Indn : Chief & a Spear .

Feb 1756

1 Scarlet Coat to  Ottrowana Chief

1 black D°: to Abraham Hendks  Brother

 I blue Camblet D° to N i c k u s of Canajoharee ....

 1 Silk Grogram D°: with Gold Buttons to the Chief Onondaga.

2 Ratteen D° with Cord & silver Buttons

                AT Fort Pitt in the 1760’s ready made coats are a common  trade item.  On an inventory for “gifts” to be given out at Fort pitt in 1761 is a note:

                Made up clothing, such as laced coats, laced jackets, and embroidery, which may be purchased at second hand, well cleaned

                So aside from tailors making coats out of the tons of cloth/buttons/mohair etc being shipped to the fort. It seems ready mad clothes were also on hand for the Trade. Listiings such as “boy’s green jackets” or “penniston coats”  pop up through out the ledgers.

                For example in 1765 John Gibson (Logan’s Best friend and Mike Burke Lookalike) purchased July 6, 1765 

   John Gibson   6 bards lead 

  1 yellow Finely laced coat to Capt Jacobs “15”

 1 tin Kettle 

This entry is kewl not only because of what old Horsehead purchases but the fact it shows how often some native names are reused.  Another Capt Jacobs was killed at the attack on Kittanning or Gibson bought a coat for a zombie. Either way it’s sweet.

                Now another part of this “coat” equation That Jason nails down in his posting is the LACK of info out there on natives wearing waistcoats. Generally when you see a waistcoat on a trade list it’s given WITH a coat. For some reason the waistcoat by itself has become another go to item for native reenactors. I chalk this up to the general fear in the hobby by folks to wear sleeves (I once saw a guy wearing a sleeveless hunting shirt…it was weird)  This may also harken back to our collective memories of all natives in westerns attacking forts wearing leather vests  or the paper bag vests we all had to make in school at Thanksgiving. My point? Just don’t do it. Buy a coat, make a blanket coat  Dare to be common ppl!!!!

                So shameless plug time I was able to make it out to Fort Pitt a few weeks ago to check out the New Exhibit on “Unconquered”  for a film/history geek like me It was killer. Come on Boris Karloff pictures next to an original quilled knife sheath how can you beat that! If you make it out to Pittsburgh be sure to check out the exhibit It’s worth the trip. Also I’ll be set up in October at the  Fort Roberdeau Market fair and Rifle Frolic. Sinking Valley in October is a great place to be (  website )  I’ve also started volunteering at the Fort again. The site has a new director/staff  and it’s looking to become more reenactor friendly. I may be doing a Moccasin workshop there this Fall so if your interested drop me an email. OR just get to the Fort!!!!


Jason blog An awesome site for research on all things southern

Friday, March 22, 2013

Knit Caps and natives

Idle Apprentice by Hogarth...nice striped knit cap

Image of Coureur du bois...white shirts, red caps  no wonder Cresap dressed his guys like this
  So the pack write up is finished except for getting the images right to post….blah.  So did you ever start reading a trade Ledger to relax after you finished a project and next thing you know its 12 hours later? My Living room looks more like the shack of a madman trying to Link the freemasons to the tracking device in his fillings then I think my family would like. Notebooks and file folders are in piles all around the room and each section only make sense to me. Yeah so that’s what happened when I thought  “I need to write down some stuff on natives in Knit caps from the Fort Pitt stuff” to finish off my current run of hat info.

    It Turned into a giant spread sheet of info of what was sold in what quantities and has ballooned out of control. I’m not going to toss it out on here just yet I’m going to focus on the knit caps but two things of interest for folks I found NO powder horns sold at the provincial store and I found No checked shirts being sold .The powder horn thing should make sense to you if You’ve lived with either me Or Mike Burke within the past 8 years or if you go to the Fort Pitt conf in a few weeks.

     Anyhow Knit caps are something I’ve been writing about for 12 years, ( OTT Vol. 8 No. 6 - November/December, 2001 An Alternative to the Bonnet by Nathan Kobuck ) I was first interested in them when looking into information on provincial rangers In western Pa/MD during the early part of the French and indian war. Groups like Cresap’s red caps seemed to have worn them to look more like their native/French adversaries. For example on April 23, 1756,  Cresap was leading 40 volunteer rangers, "all dressed in Indian apparel and red caps."  SO why would they do this? Well the answer is pretty simple…to look like the Enemy. A few months later it was reported in the Pa Gazette:
ANNAPOLIS, July 29, 1756.
We hear from the Mouth of Conecocheague, that four Indians, dressed in red Caps, and much like Col. Cresap’s Men, came down among the Inhabitants there, and killed and scalped two people, and then made off. A Party of 46 Men were immediately sent out after them; but they have not yet been able to meet with them.

 It’s pretty simple if you look at the facts from the area. Who were Cresap’s men fighting? French Canadians and their Native allies out of Fort Duquesne. What was the common campaign dress of the Canadians/natives? Red tuques and white shirts. This may seem like an overgeneralization but in a nut shell…It’s the facts ma’am.  Before James’s smith is even captured Cresap’s men were dressing like their enemies. Smith’s Black Boy’s don’t seem so original now do they?

 In the same area Knit caps were being traded to the English’s native allies:
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 left
Mens beavr: Carolina Hats from 4\6--to 6\--not many left

Their use want simply limited to the MD/PA theatre of the war. Sir William Johnson was also supplying them to Natives in the northern theatre:
July 1756
To an indian at Albany 1 pair shoes, stockings, bckles, cap & handkerchief  1/6

July 19,1756 
 To 1 bear skin cut up for covers for their guns /16/
To 1 pair womens hose & 1 worsted cap /5/
To 2 ells red shalloon for signals for fighters & a cap  /9/

A Few years after the war Caps are stiff a popular trade item being sold at Fort Pitt in the Pennsylvania Provincial Storehouse. On June 26, 1759 a “windott” purchased  “1 worsted cap  for  /2/”. A few days later on june 30,1759  “Delawares” purchased  “1 worsted cap …1/6” as well as “4 Bandanoe Handkerchiefs @ 7/6…1/10”

     Going thru the Store’s waste book I found that from June 21,1759 to June 18, 1760 that 147 caps were sold.92 listed as worsted  and 55 simply as “caps”. The price range on these are all in the same ballpark so if these were cotton “workman’s caps”  or worsted caps I cant tell. Either way it makes quite a statement on the commonality of these items in this region. I found the purchase of caps was greater than the purchase of items like “shott”  or common hats at this particular store.

    I find these same items being purchase later I the 1760’s by Natives From “Mohican John’s town”. I have however not done a detailed count of the caps in the BWM Ledgers (yet, give me time. This is a sickness) They do show up again in the 1770’s on a list of good for the Delaware:
May 10, 1779  Estimate of goods to be sent for the Delawares
50 Pair Yarn Mittens
50 worsted caps

   I haven’t done as much searching in the 1770’s lists yet (I’m pretty focused on the 1760’s) but if the trend continues it should not be hard to turn up more lists of these caps on natives. I sound like a broken record but…ya got a shaved head your gonna want to cover it. I also think folks need to get past the mental Image that the native of the 18th century was living in a vacuum of deer skin and wampum beads.

Thought I’d also toss in a few refrences I found today going thru the Pa Gazette. The first is another runaw ad for a guy in white legging (or dirty white leggings):
September 13, 1775
RAN away from the subscriber, living in York county, near WrightFerry, an Irish servant lad, named JOHN GRAHAM, about 18 or 19 years of age, was born in the county of Armagh, and brought to this country in the year 1773 by one Samuel Wilson; he is about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high, well proportioned, his shoulders rather broad for a person of his age and height, has a full face, with some scattering pockmarks, grey eyes, light brown hair, rather long to wear loose, which he sometimes ties behind; had on, and is supposed to have taken with him, an old hairbine coat, and old blue ditto, the skirts cut very short, old blue jacket, and old beaver hat, slouched and cut something in the maccaroni taste, hemp linen shirt and trowsers, his shoes are good, and rather large for him; he is suspected to have a pair of whitish Indian leggings and mockasons , and may endeavour to pass for a backwoods man, having lived some time with Capt. Hunter, at Fort Augusta. Whoever takes up said servant, and secures him in any goal, so that his master gets him again, shall have THIRTY SHILLINGS reward, paid by JAMES EWING.

And here is a neat little tid bit about some items a Cattawba had stolen from him:
 Charleston July 17, 1736 On Monday last, the Cataboes, mentioned in my last, left this Town, and going up the broad Path, the Head Man of them lying down to sleep on this Side the Quarter-house, he was robb'd of his Gun, Powder and Shot Pouch, an Otter-Skin bag, Shoes, Hat, and all what he had about him, which is supposed to be committed by some Run-away Negroes

    I’ve also added a Link to South Union Mills, They sell some great knit caps (and mittens and some killer stockings) So beat the rush and order your stuff soon. Blah I nee to get back to reading I’m writing up my talk for This Years School of the Long Hunter. Jason Melius and myself will be presenting a talk on War party camps and the gear they carried. This years school is shaping up to be a great time.
South Union Mills

   Rather then Reinvent the wheel Here’s a link  Ike Walter’s write up on Knit caps. He gives some great info on knit caps and images of originals. His wife is also a maker of These caps.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

canadian caps, Pistol grip knives and traps

Original blade alongside Eric's work

My repro of a canadian cap
Stalking Turkey & Townsend Monument  Pistol grip knives

Examples of possible Canadian caps....and a canadian cap

Some of Eric's Work

Bound white Leggins and Matchcoat

Matchcoat examples

   Original Beaver trap

   As I’ve shown already one of the thing I obsess about is period headwear. I’ve done a number of outing with folks dressed as natives who complain about “being cold”  as the snow falls on their bald heads (roaches don’t cover a lot of surface area) It’s as if looking like the cover of a magazine has more influence on their kit choice then the period info. (As usual I’ll blame John Buxton for this…He hates all hats unless they have Steelers Logo’s…cant blame the guy. I cant wear my purple leggings this year because of the stupid ravens…)

   One hat I’ve avoided since I started the hobby is the “Canadian Cap”. I couldn’t stand them, in fact I’d say I hated them and all they stood for (no idea what that is…).  Then like the hunting shirt I have started to ease back on my hatred of them over the past few years (Turbans are the gateway drug). I cut one out and it sat in my sewing pile for a while, I’d pick it up look at it and then start sewing something else.

  This is why it’s awesome to have smart friends…Mike Galban pointed out to me a theory he had that Brant might be wearing one in the Gilbert Stuart Painting. Galban then went on to make a repro cap based on this idea…and wham, it worked. Ok so playing devil’s advocate (is there any other kind?)  I thought maybe this was Brant just “branting up” something he’d have access to from his ties to the British military…well then I came across a 1615 image of a native with what appears to be another Decorated “Canadian style” cap (maybe we should call them First Nations caps...) This also made an image that I had seen a number of times “Grand Rivers Mohawk”  make a little more sense (without the Canadian cap context the guy looks like a candidate for Ancient Aliens)

 A sweet quote on Brant wearing a Fur capin the 1790’s can be found in Mrs. Simicoe’s Diary:
“Capt. Brant dined here. He has a countenance expressive of art and cunning. He wore an English coat with a handsome crimson silk blanket lined with black & trimmed with gold fringe & wore a fur cap….”

   So here we have another style hat for native reenactors to wear and one less excuse to stay inside after September. Also now Thanx to Galban I now have yet another cap to throw on the pile (are people getting the idea yet that natives wore hats? DO I need to proceed to workman’s caps next week? I can)
While I was sewing I also finished myself a pair of white leggings based off the White Eye’s inventory (The “Fur Cap” prompted this…see it all ties in)
[Inventory of White Eyes's effects.
Pittsburgh 9 Nov' 1778
Inventory of Sundry Moveables the Property of the Late Col.
White Eyes of the Delewar Nation Deceased now in the Posses-
sion of Thomas Nicholas [Nicholson] of Pittsburgh Viz.
1 Breech Clout fully trim'd
1 Bundle of blue & Red Ferreting.
1 Paint Bag with some paint in it
1 Silver Medal
1 Large be[l]t Wampum 11 Rows
1 Quill Back'd Comb 1 pr. Scissars 3 yards Gartering
1 Printed Linen Jacket, 1 Bundle Sundry Papers
1 F Saddle Bags
1 Green Coat fac'd with Red with an Apatch
1 Old D" D° Cotawy [Cuttaway] 1 Crib & Bridle
1 P Old Buck Skin Leggons. 1 plain Scarlet Jacket new
1 D° Old, 1 P Scarlet Breeches. 1 P of Buck Skin d°
1 Scarlet Silk Jacket Trim'd with Gold Lace
1 small Red Pocket Book \vdth some papers & needles
1 Fur Cap 1 pair plated Buckles 3 p Shoes viz 1 new & 2 Old
1 Old blue Breech Clout 1 P of white Legons bound
1 Knife Case, & belt 1 Match Coat
              1 New Saddle & Saddle Cloth 1 Beaver Hat 1 Rifle, Pouch
1 Broach & Ear Ring 1 pipe Tomahawk 1 P Knee buckles &
1 P Spectacles

  I went with the red binding as he had “red ferreting” in his inventory when he died (I already own too much blue stuff) I also thought it was interesting he had a fur Cap…is it a Canadian cap? Not 100% sure but now it’s at least an educated guess.

 A few pieces of gear I’ve been looking forward to showed up this week .An English tomahawk, Pistol Grip knife and a pair of ice creepers. These were all made by Eric Schatzel  and like all the stuff I’ve seen Eric hammer out are very well made and dead on. The knife is wicked sharp and the blade has the flex in it you find in original blades (just right for skinning) The knife shape is based off an original blade I own that matches to the profile of the knife being held by “Stalking Turkey” in the  portrait. You can see the pistol shape to the handle just under the figures little finger. Another Pistol grip shape on a scalper can be seen in the Roger Townsend Monument in Westminster Abbey

   The statue was based off a live model and nails a number of the small details down that could only be captured by someone who saw the stuff first hand. I wanted a pistol grip knife because I found references to them being shipped to Fort Pitt in the 1760’s.  I also wanted to show folks that what many refer to as “longhunter knives” really aren’t.

The Tomahawk is based off archeo. Examples from a number of native sites and are representative of a plain jane round eye trade hawk. I wasn’t sure on getting Ice creepers then I came across an example found at the Fletcher site in Michigan. I’m still looking for more examples from native sites. Hopefully I’ll have more on these later.

Also for the hell of it I’ve posted a few pics of a matchcoat I finished up (started last spring) based matchcoats found in a few period images. I’ve decided to go back and sew on a red stripe at the top of the green panel (after I looked at the images I complied for the posting…dam you Galban). I’ve also posted a few pics of an original Beaver Trap I picked up from Wil “don’t come to my rendyvous” West. I was going to post some more images of beaver traps but that blew up into a whole Thesis in itself. Since this is the new Kinder, Gentler Buffalo Trace (gotta prove we’re adults now, we’re not a punk rock band we’re new wave) I’ll be posting some stuff tomorrow on packs.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Eared cap Pattern and too many Yeungling's at Standing Stone

 Basic Pattern pieces

 inside front of the hood

Front of hood attached to side panel and front gusset

Layout of the back of the cap....3 gussets sewn in

   So here is the Basic "Galban" pattern for the Eared cap. Pretty simple construction, I simply did a running stitch onall the seams and used blanket weight white wool. Next is to finish My canadian cap and new mittens...Like I need more stuff stashed around the house.
      To add something historic to this Here is a quote from "Fithian's Journal" about coming into Standing Stone (present day Huntingdon,Pa)  Funny part is...This is still sounds alot like Central Pa today...
Monday Aug 21 1775

As I drew near I could not help thinking myself on the borders of some large town. There was a drum beating;  several antic-loud singers; every now and then a most vociferous laugh,and candles thinly scattered, shining here and there from the houses. I expected to find one of our American Bedlams. These small towns especially when they are growing fast, and a new thing go before every other plae in most sort of vice; but especially in drinking, and a few of its nearest allied attenadnts. 

I had cautiously put on my riding coat, to disguise the clerical cloth, for I was not certain that I should escape some religious or blackguard embarrassment, for too much liquor makes many “over wicked.” But it makes some “over good,” and sets them in a tune to ask more questions in divinity, especially explanations of parts of scripture that inexperienced I or indeed and docter in divinity in America could have patience, if he had the ability, to resolve…Before I came within a mile of town, I put on my surtout and cocked up my hat in the best manner. “you seem to be a stranger,” said a tall youngster to me as I put my first foot upon the porch. “Is the hostler here?” I Asked “are you from below, stranger”  “Bring in the saddle bag and let the horse cool before you give him a gallon of oats.” “are you a stranger sir?” “Yes sir.”  “A stranger,” I could hear one and another whispering about me on the porch; some thought I was one of the delegates appointed to the treaty with the Indians which is soon to be held at Fort Pitt; some thought I was a land Jobber; some that I was a broken, absconding merchant, some thought I was a tory flying from mob stick vengeance. I supped, however and soon retired.”

Friday, February 8, 2013

All I got for christmass was a lump of coal and a southern shot bag...

 Coal Mine from diderot...find the same thing near Fort Pitt

Dubatz Image...Strap/thong rig for horn..Is this whats going on in the commision bag?

 French Commision image...Plain and simple SE native kit

 My take on the Commision bag

Bag with Horn attached...It works despite the fact I dont want it to....

Dam you guys like eared caps! Who would have guessed that one? So as a result I’m putting up a pattern for folks all I ask is you not make it out of an army blanket for events, use red beads on it or put a roger’s rangers pin on it. I personally find that if I have an original idea to do with a reproduction it’s more than likely wrong. White heart beads are not your friend.  (I’ll post the pattern Saturday night)

                So to keep my posts as random as possible I’m now going to switch gears yet again. I started a write up about fur caps but put that on hold until I finish My Canadian cap, Like I need yet another piece of headgear. Turbans, knit caps, cotton caps, eared caps, tuques…My family think I’m nuts.  So I’ve decided to make another shot pouch!!! 

                I decided to make a copy of the pouch from the image found on a French Commision for a SE Native. This is one of a handful of images of Cherokees from the 18th cent and when looking at a good copy of the image some really nice details come to light.  I’d put off making the bag because well….I have to make other stuff.   I’ve been making a lot of stuff lately for a number of Cherokee folks and the lack of extant artifacts is always a problem.  I’ve already done a write up on a possible version of the “otter shot pouch” mentioned  in Adair and other sources so I’ve made a number of those  but the “commission” pouch was something well I guess I needed to make to show ppl what it “could” be. (make sense?)

To make the bag I took the image and blew it up to roughly life size to come up with a rough estimate for dimensions.  I then cut out a simple D shaped pouch sewed it up with Linen thread and knocked out a plain red oblique woven strap. I went with the oblique weave as it pops up in a few quasi dateable SE pieces.  For the strap another easy fix could be red wool tape but since I’m a weaver and all the red tape in my house goes on blanket coats this was an easy fix for me.

                The bag is roughly 8 inches wide by around 7 deep. I attached the strap to the bag with thongs punched thru each side. Now comes the speculation part I’m not 100% on. I used the thongs that attached the strap to attach the horn to the bag…and it works nicely. I didn’t want it to…but it does.  Wallace Gusslar has surmised over the years that this was an example of an attached bag/horn set and is the basis for the later bag/horn combo’s.

                Personally…I don’t know.  It’s a big jump from this image to the commonalty of this process you see in the 19th cent. Could this be a SE thing?  If you examine the DUbatz images you can see an odd ball rig being worn for a powder horn. Is this bag rig a variation on this style?  I have a horn strap like the one pictured in Dubatz and I’ve found a slit pouches rides awesome in this set up….but are slit pouches common in the SE?  ARe the mentions of “otter shot pouches” all shoulder rigs like vonreck  or  are they skinned out otters that can be used like a slit pouch…….SOOOOO MANY QUESTIONS!!!!

                Ok my point from this….This is my take on the pouch in the image. To me this is an educated guess at what might be going on in the image. No more no less.  I’ve seen a lot of fads tossed out there about SE stuff over the years ( twined bags are common in the SE…the guy who spread this one also made and sold twined bags, He also used Ben hunt books as the basis for all his twining,  Quilled SE turkey foot bags…despite geographic range of porcupines and the origin of the Moc the design was taken from)   Pretty simple design, pretty simple materials….I’m also gonna be extra crazy and NOT decorate it (is your mind blown?)  No paint, no cones, no beads…nothing.

                So with pretty basic materials you can knock out a SE shot pouch for little cost. Honestly for around $140 you could buy a hide and some wool tape  (Ike waters has a nice how to on making mocs similar to the Aberdeen moc) and have a nice pair of SE mocs, garters and bag (wool tape is nice gartering…looks like the guy in the image may be wearing some huh) Take the extra $  you didn’t spend on weirdness and buy a book.

                To keep the randomness going Here is some kewl info on Coal mines around Fort Ptt in the 18th cent.  Yes they used coal to heat stuff around the fort. If you’re from western Pa this shouldn’t surprise you since your house is probably built over an abandon coal mine.  A neat detail to my geek eye the diagram in Michael’s  Journal (not posted here but you can find the whole journal in google books ) is dead on for the Diderot plate diagram.

Robert Kirk

“Our business being finished we decamped, and began our march for Fort Pit, where we arrived in the middle of November 1764, and remained there all winter, and the better part of next summer. During our stay here, we were employed in bringing coals into the garrison, over the ice, in bags made of cowhide. The pit from which they are extracted is on the other side the river Maninghally, where it is supposed there is a very large mine there."


David McClure  Aug 21 1772…The village is about ¼ mile distant & consists of about 40 dwelling houses made of hewn logs & stands on the bank of the Moningehala; opposite on the south side** of the river is a hill of several miles in length, running parallel & extending to the bank, which appears to be a body of stone coal. It took fire accidentally a year past, & has formed a small by the caving of the earth. The coal is used by the inhabitants.

** Note from BT : It’s spelled South Side but you say it ”Sahside”   say it right Ya Jagoff!!!



“a Journal of the whiskey Insurrection”

William Michael 1794

Nov 17th  “I then Proceeded until I came to a stone cole mine through a strange woodland, the phenomena of which I had several times heard of. I went into the mouth thereof and called into it, if they would admit me; which eched and rolled for a minute nearly seemingly as an huge hollow vessel and was answered from within; which I could not comprehend, but thought they forbid me entering. I waited a moment, much disappointed; at length there came one of them out of the cave, and I then asked him to take me with him, which he seemed willingly to comply. He then Hallooed to some within to bring him a candle to light a stranger in, in French, and soon came one with the candle and black as the devil, enough to frighten one. He then ordered me to follow him in broken English, through a long entry, seemingly strongly smelling of sulphur, and yellow fat liquid running along the walls and under foot which they have laid with planks to make it more easy to wheel the cole out. They Then led me along gangways that intersected or run across the first. I was soon lost within it and suppose I could have with difficulty found the way out again. To give a more plain description of the cave will be by illustrating it as below. They were all French men that worked in it; They appeared as so many beings from the bottomless pit; they looked consumpted and emaciated”


                So that’s my random weirdness for the week.  Did the Cherokees scouting for the English fill their D shaped pouches with coal?  Not a clue….But I do know it’s snowing out right now so Rather then drive to Niagara I’ll be spending the morning hunting. Who knows I may even take out the new Shot pouch…or the blue plush one…or the otter one….or the one I rigged up based on Doddridge and Alders descriptions or….I’ll just stick stuff in my pockets.  I need help.  Before I forget  Mike Galban has started a really sweet blog  called "Edge of the woods"   He's been posting some really great stuff. For example I learned he's a middle aged man...didnt see that one coming. His fire arrow craze is no older then 16 at the most....

Friday, January 25, 2013

Adventure time, beaver trapping and a Balanced Budget

 Cap in CMC 

                                                        Cap In NB  

                                  Back view of my hood

                                   Front view...Yes it looks a little goofy but it works
        So happy new year!!  This is the part is I gripe about being a slacker but you know the drill so lets move on. I’ve been really busy over the past few months hunting, reading and trying to learn skills and ever tweeking my gear.  First off the winter gear I’ve been amassing over the past 3 years has spent more than a few days in the woods and I’m glad to report that the guys who wore it knew what they were talking about (who would have guessed it). chausons, blanket coats, underjackets and the like WORK!!!!  
        I have however found I am lacking a pair of good ice creepers . A fact I found out while chasing a squirrel  at dusk during  a full moon. Let’s just say when he stopped and posed in the moonlight for the perfect shot…my feet kept going forward.  My back found a great piece of limestone to break my fall.  As I lay there writhing in pain and cursing the moon the phrase “look into ice creepers” passed through my skull.  So like many Kobuck hunters have done before me  I stood up shot a stump in anger and limped my way back home (the stump got away too)

                One item I am always messing with is new head ware.  Fur Turbans, Scarves, hats, knit caps I’ve got them all.  It’s one Item I revisit every few posts and the reason is simple. There were a lot of options in the period.  I’m still surprised at how many Native reenactors I know that do nothing in the winter or fall.  To me it seems many folks are more focused on stuff to tie to their scalplock (turkey roach bushes as far as the eye can see!) then they are at well…thinking.
              We all know that you lose heat thru your head (your mom probably spent years telling you this) You spend time in the woods in the winter and your going to get cold. You have a shaved head…your head is going to get…come one…You got it it’s going to get cold. So I’m going to spend some more time on yet another piece of headgear. The Eared Cap.

                Many folks are familiar with the wool “peaked” or “Micmac” hoods worn by natives during the 18th-19th cent. I’ve talked a little about these in the past and this will cover them a little as well. One variation of these caps is the “eared cap”. This is a cap made from 2 or  more pieces of wool That are sewn together and the top of the cap from the front gives the appearance of two upright “ears” (Think Fin from Adventure time…don’t know who that is ask the nearest 12 year old)

                Many people are familiar with these in the context of the western Trappers of the 1820-30’s period especially from the images done by Alfred Miller (Shawn Webster put out a nice article on these in “on the trail a few years ago) they do however show up in the east as well. The earliest example I am away of the depiction of an eared cap is from a possible Late 17th century Maskette found in western New York. The figure clearly shows a head with what looks to be an eared  cap (sorry but I’m not going to post images of a maskette or mask out of respect for  my Haudenosaunee friends the item is in the collection of the Rochester Museum)

                An 18th century example of an elaborately decorated eared cap can be seen in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum. The cap is part of a suit that was owned by a chief (great chance to see an original clout, matchcoat and leggings as well) The suit is dated from the 1760’s to 80’s

           The cap also appears on a doll collected during the 18th century and is currently in the collection of the Musee de neuchatel. This tiny cap is killer it’s made from greenish wool and has both ribbon work and beading on it. (ok before I go on I’m sure you are noticing the lack of images of some items well I’m providing the site they are located at  If so if you’re really interested in getting the images  contact the site. When I have them I’ll post the collection #  After the past few months I got tired of repeatedly seeing images resurface all over the web and being posted as the research of others. I’ll lead the horse to the bucket but you need to find the water)
        In the Ohio country there is some anecdotal evidence of them being worn as well. In his narrative Isreal Donnelson mentions: “I made signs to him that one had taken my hat…took down and opened his budget and took out a sort of blanket cap, and put it on my head”

 This could be a peaked cap as the description doesn’t really nail down what this “blanket cap” looked like. Then I came across this reference and BINGO.
          “ A very Nice Indian cap and a gun stick were found where they camped. The cap was made of two pieces of white colored cloth with two red tassels hanging down, one on each side of the head, at the corners that stuck up” June 1790’s in Kentucky James Wade

 To my mind this is clearly describing an “eared cap” And what I find really killer about it is that’s it’s in Kentucky!   A cap similar to this description is located in the CMC ( artifact  III-x-270 ). This cap is attributed to the Micmac   but clearly has the same characteristics as the other caps shown/described. (multiple views on their website to get an idea of how to make a pattern)

                The pattern I based my cap from what drawn up by Mike Galban and was based upon the NB cap as well as  images of northern hunters (check Ike's blog for more ideas).  If I was doing this cap again I would opt to simply use the two piece construction described in the narrative. I was a little doubtful of how useful this thing would be in the woods but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked wearing the cap.  The hat did shade my eyes enough to see in bright sunlight in the snow as well as when I was scanning treetops for the one that got away. I didn’t notice the height of the ears (I thought it would feel like wearing a top hat).
    So with the cap appearing in different forms  from the maritimes to the great lakes to Kentucky this opens up this style over a broader area (east coast thru the great lakes and the plains….Ike will cover the rest) and  for those folks looking for regional “styles” there are a few examples out there (or be kewl and go with simple)

So in keeping up with the Fur trade feel to this post  in honor of the Red Leg Mess’s recent scout and Beaver trapping foray (BTW RLM it’s awesome to see a well dressed and read group of folks getting out there and doing stuff like it was done…and not bursting into flames) I thought I’d post some trapping info for those of us from the Anglo side of things:

 “ I was aquainted with several men who were called longhunters…The longhunters usually set out the first of October, each man carried two horses, TRAPS, a large supply of powder and lead and a small hand vise and bellows, files and screw plate for the purpose of fixing guns..”  John Redd

“we had 4 beaver traps or steel traps, about 8 inches across in the jaws, when extended…our bait was from the belly of the animal itself.” James Wade

“About two feet above the trap, a stick, about 3-4 inches in length was stuck in the bank. In the upper end of this, the trapper excavated a small hole with his knife, into which he dropped a small quanity of the essence, or perfume, used to attract the beaver to the spot. The stick was attached by a string of horse hair to the trap. And with it was pulled into the water by the beaver. The reason for this was, that it might not remain after the trap was sprung, and attract other beavers to the spot…..The trap was connected by a chain of iron six feet in length to a stout line made of the bark of the leatherwood, twisted into a neat cord ,of fifteen or twenty feet…the end of the line was secured to a stake drove into the bed of the creek underwater”  From Biographical sketch of Issac Williams (reprinted in Payne “narrative of pioneer life and border warfare”)

“beaver skins were stretched within hoops, generaly of grapevine, and dried”

“ A chain is attached to the trap, which if not long enough is lengthened by a cord, together making twelve or fifteen feet, and the other end fastened to a stake on shore.” Nathan Boone

 And finaly to help you think about sunny days and warm weather  an account of a native commando raft to cross  rivers in July:

“The Indians would often have a dried deer skin with small holes plentifully inserted along the edge by which to fasten it on a hoop to use as a canoe. In these little boats they would put a gun and budget and swim behind, pushing it over the stream. When Dry, they would use it as a blanket at night. This was quite customary.” Nathan Boone
        I am so on trying one of these out this summer…or maybe in april at the school of the longhunter…but  probably july. I’ve been digging up more and more on the use of small rafts for keeping your stuff dry. But that’s a whole other post . Also to quote Mike Galban and Ward Oles when working on this “ don’t quote me on this but Eli is dumb”


Here is some more info On hoods put together By Ike Walters….great minds think alike and sometimes we do too.
 Also being a super genius of Wiley Coyote esque status Ike has also started a new Msg board that is more focused on the research/DOING side of the hobbie:
 Well I should be off to Bed I'm heading to the Bushy Run Antique gun show in the morning with a few friends. If this snow doesnt let up I may be heading to the woods instead to scare animals in my white devil hood. Ok I'm back to writing please stop all the death threats geesh...