Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

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.