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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - Etiquette - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! Welcome to Tidbit Thurday!

Although Native Americans were called "savages", they actually had pretty strict rules they lived by and guide their manners.

Etiquette regarding entering someone's home was simple enough - if the door was open, friends could walk right in. If the door was closed, the visitor would call out or shake the door covering. They would wait to be invited inside.

A pretty funny joke was that if someone heard knocking, it was a government agent.

If a visitor found two sticks crossed over a door, that indicated the owners were away (or really didn't want company). Usually the smoke flaps would be crossed over the smoke hole to close it (and not allow smoke to escape).

In some tribes, inside the tipi, men typically sat on the north side and women sat on the south side. When entering, a man moved to the right walking behind anyone who was seated until they reached their spot. The seated person would lean forward. If the guest needed to walk between a seated person and the central fire, they would pardon themselves.

Typically, men would be served first starting with the oldest. The host would wait until all the guests had eaten before partaking of the meal. Guests were encouraged to eat everything they were given or else carry it home.

When the host cleaned his pipe and set it aside, that was the signal for guests to leave. They did not waste time on lengthy goodbyes.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - The Fire Keeper - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! Welcome to Tidbit Thurday!

In some Native American tribes and cultures there is the concept of the Fire Keeper. Not unlike the Olympic Torch Bearer, this person carries a live coal in a special container (like a prepared horn slung over the shoulder) to the next camp to light the fires. In some tribes, the coal came from a sacred fire place and would like the next sacred fire.

Once the Fire Keeper kindled a fire, women would light their own tipi fire from it. The fire was kept alive until it was time to move again.

Every night, the fire was allowed to die down. The coals would be covered in their own ash. In the morning, the cold ashes would be scraped aside to reveal the live coals.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - The Tipi Fire - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Today we're going to take a look at the tipi fire, the very central necessity that provides warmth and, in colder weather, a means to cook food.

A typical tipi fire consists of a ring of stones containing wood and burning material. In more permanent homes (such as a winter home or a summer home that will remain in place for several months), a shallow put would be dug.

The size of the ring varied by the tribe and the size of the tipi. Cheyenne and Arapaho built there ring 12"x25"x3". Comanches, Kiowas, Blackfeet, and Sioux built theirs 18-20" across.

The type of wood used to burn varied by the location and season. Wood that burned longer, threw less sparks and omitted less smoke were preferred. Hardwood (such as Willow, Cottonwood, Service berry, Chokecherry, Mountain maple, River birch) was best. Maple and Ash were good choices. Evergreens gave off too much smoke and sparks. Aspen gives off a lot of sparks but not a lot of smoke and smells sweet. Pine gives little heat. Burning Birch also has a sweet fragrance. Alder was known as "stinkwood".

Wood gathering was a community effort. Stacks of firewood were stored inside the tipi to the left of the doorway.

Sticks were used as pokers. Pipestem were used to fan coals. Narrow saplings were used as tongs.

Little chunks of greasy fat were tossed into fire for additional light.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Video Review - American Heroes Channel - Gunslingers - Deacon Jim Miller

Gunslingers - Deacon Jim Miller - The Pious Killer

Season 2, Episode 6

Release date: August 23, 2015

Description:

"Gunslingers immerses viewers in the true stories behind infamous icons and conflicts of the Wild West. Watch as the real, little-known adventures of the Wild West's iconic characters, and see how their fearless pursuit of freedom and profit still resonate in America today."

Highlights:

Deacon Jim Miller aka "Killer Jim" was cagey, smart, deadly, and had a black soul.

He killed at least 51 men.

Acted like a mobster - scared off witnesses or killed them (or had someone else kill them) or paid them for silence

Yet, he didn't drink or use foul language. He appeared to be a family man and attended church.

July 30, 1884 - Coryell County, Texas - He slipped out of church, rode to his brother-in-law's house (John Coop) and killed him while he slept on his porch. Then he raced back to church to a revival meeting as if nothing had happened.

Jim worked hard on his "good guy" image. At his first murder trial, his lawyer was able to get the case thrown out (due to a technicality like a misspelled name or a wrong date).

When Jim lost his father, he and his mother went to live with his grandparents. They were his first victims at the age of 8. He was never charged or went to trial.

During his younger year, he committed petty thefts, horse or cattle thievery.

Around 1880s, the Clemens Clan (cousins of John Wesley Hardin's family) worked for them. Jim married Sally and settled in Pecos.

1891 - Bud Frazer was elected sheriff. Jim Miller became deputy. Jim attended Methodist Church.

After a slew of robberies, and Miller not making any arrests, Bud stripped him of his badge. Thus began a reign of terror in Pecos.

Jim built a crime empire of sorts - rustling cattle and horses. When Bud went out of town, crime became rampant.

Miller is eventually appointed town marshal (like a one-man police force or chief). After Bud tries to shoot him, Miller retaliates and kills him at a saloon.

After Miller's trial (where he was acquitted), he becomes unpopular in PEcos and moves to a little town near Fort Worth where he works as a gun-for-hire. His prices started at $50 then went up to $2000. He was living the high life. People were scared of him.

Upon his hanging, he kicked the stool out himself. They buried him face down.

You may be able to watch this episode on the American Heroes Channel or it might be out there on YouTube. I didn't find it on Amazon.

Link to the Gunslinger Series on AHC site

Video Review - American Heroes Channel - The Cowboy

The Cowboy

Release date: January 23, 2016

Description:

"THE COWBOY is a dynamic celebration of the most beloved American icon. These two hour-long specials tell the tale of the Old West through the lens of historians, renowned actors, directors, producers, and cinematographers —including Bruce Dern, Seth MacFarlane, Adam Beach, Anson Mount and Ben Mankiewicz—as well as real-life cowboys and modern-day Western figures. Featuring original interviews with those inspired by the legends and lore presented in iconic moments from classic and contemporary Western films, on-set and on-the-range footage all set to a classic Cowboy score, THE COWBOY explores the significance of what it meant to be this virtuous embodiment of the American character—and harkens back to the spirit that this way of life captured."

Highlights:

A Cowboy was a term for someone causing trouble and who led a hard life but Hollywood changed that. They made them more romantic and heroic.

A cowboy's job was tough - they worked in all sorts of weather (good and bad), they had to cross rivers, the dealt with harsh landscapes, unruly cattle and horses, illness

Mid-19th century was the dawn of the media age when news reported westward expansion.

First official western movie was "The Great Train Robbery" of 1903. It was ten minutes long and actually shot in New Jersey.

Movies hired out-of-work cowboys since professional stuntmen didn't exist yet.

Wyatt Earp visited John Ford's sets and talked to John Wayne.

"The Virginian" (1929) was the first grown-up western with sound

"The Big Trail" starred John Wayne but was a box office disaster

John Wayne's movies made cowboys icons/heroes giving up the "wild life"

1950s saw a slew of quirky western television shows (The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, etc)

Cowboys rarely marry the girl in television, capitalizing on the myth that they are loners

By the 1960s, big westerns are on the decline

"The Magnificent Seven" - a movie where even the bad guys can rise to hero-level status

Late 1960s/1970's, westerns became violent

"Butch Cassidy" movie, everyone dies

I didn't find a video on the American Heroes Channel but it might be out there on YouTube. Otherwise, you can purchase it on Amazon:



Link to the Episode on AHC site

Video Review - Travel Channel - Mysteries at the Museum - Outlaw Marshal

Mysteries at the Museum - Season 5 Episode 5: Outlaw Marshal

Release date: January 30, 2014

Description:

"Don Wildman investigates a deadly weapon from the Wild West that played a central role in a duplicitous plot, a device that sustained one man's unbelievable quest for survival on the high seas, and a set of 5 glimmering gemstones linked to a supposed land of riches that hypnotized some of the wealthiest men of their day."

Highlights:

July 1882 - Caldwell, Kansas - town is plagued by violence. City marshal is gunned down. Former Texas deputy marshal, Henry Brown, brings order to the town with his strict moral code (he doesn't drink, smoke or gamble).

Henry Brown seems to lead an ordinary life - he settles down, marries and then a month later he takes a leave of absence.

April 30, 1884 - Medicine Lodge - four men try to rob a bank but the safedoor is locked. They try to escape but a possee quickly forms and traps them in a ravine. Henry Brown is among those four outlaws. When he tries to escape, he's shot dead. The other three are hung for thievery and murder. Apparently the stress of his new life and mounting debts had led Brown to this end.

Interestingly, Brown had ridden with Billy the Kid in New Mexico. He was guilty of 2 charges of murder and horse thieving.

You can watch this episode on the Travel Channel Website:   Link to the episode

Video Review - History Channel - Modern Marvels - Saws

America: Facts or Fiction - Season 13 Episode 21: Locomotives

Release date: July 30, 2007

Description:

"Modern Marvels celebrates the ingenuity, invention and imagination found in the world around us. From commonplace items like ink and coffee to architectural masterpieces and engineering disasters, the hit series goes beyond the basics to provide insight and history into things we wonder about and that impact our lives. This series tells fascinating stories of the doers, the dreamers and sometime-schemers that create everyday items, technological breakthroughs and manmade wonders. The hit series goes deep to explore the leading edge of human inspiration and ambition."

Highlights:

Hand saw has teeth pointing forward (to cut on the push stroke) with gullets (spaces between the teeth) which fill up with swarf (debris).

Kerf = cutting groove

Set = the alternative outward bend to the teeth

Start off sawing with a nick or groove made by pulling saw teeth backwards.

Prehistoric flint stone saws have been found.

4900 BC - Egyptians had metal or copper saws to cut soft woods; later they were made of bronze

700 BC - Teeth were set in direction of cut

1730's - Amputation saw (no cleaning which led to a lot of infection especially when the doctor just went from one patient to the next). They basically sawed back and forth on the bone.

1930s - Crosscut saws were invented

Timber cutting is one of the most lethal jobs in America - 110 deaths per 100,000 workers.

You may be able to find this video on the History Channel or on YouTube. I couldn't find it on Amazon.

Official Modern Marvels Site

Direct Link to Saws Episode

Picture Credit: https://woodandshop.com/woodworking-hand-tool-buying-guide-handsaws/

Video Review - History Channel - Modern Marvels - Locomotives

America: Facts or Fiction - Season 15 Episode 11: Locomotives

Release date: April 7, 2008

Description:

"Modern Marvels celebrates the ingenuity, invention and imagination found in the world around us. From commonplace items like ink and coffee to architectural masterpieces and engineering disasters, the hit series goes beyond the basics to provide insight and history into things we wonder about and that impact our lives. This series tells fascinating stories of the doers, the dreamers and sometime-schemers that create everyday items, technological breakthroughs and manmade wonders. The hit series goes deep to explore the leading edge of human inspiration and ambition."

Highlights:

A fireman shovels coat into the fire box only when steam is needed. The engine uses about one and a half tons of coal an hour. The fireman is on duty 12 hours a day.

The boiler consists of a firebox surrounded by water. The steam goes up into a dome then through a throttle to power the engine. The pistons turns rods which propel the wheels.

Temperatures get up to 2500 degrees F.

When two locomotives crash head-on into each other, the one with more momentum will move up on the other one.

1896, two unmanned trains crashed into each other in Texas part of a publicity stunt. Unfortunately, the explosion caused pieces of metal to go flying to the crows and killed 3 spectators and injured a whole lot more.

You may be able to find this video on the History Channel or on YouTube. I couldn't find it on Amazon.

Official Modern Marvels Site

Video Review - American Heroes Channel - America: Facts or Fiction - Fool's Gold



America: Facts or Fiction - Season 2 Episode 1: Fool's Gold

Release date: October 7, 2014

Description:

"The real facts behind America's biggest economic boom and biggest bust will shock you. On this episode of America: Facts vs. Fiction, discover a treasure of nuggets about the California gold rush and the Stock Market Crash of 1929."

Highlights:

The first gold rush in North America was in 1799 in North Carolina.

The second gold rush in North America was in 1828 in Georgia

The third gold rush in North America was in 1849 in California (the Gold Rush we all know about and learned in school)

Over 50,000 people hit the trail in 1849 to go find gold and "strike it rich" (although most did not). The first arrivals could find gold in pans in the rivers but within months the gold was harder to find.

One in five died of diseases, accidents or violence within the first six months.

One in four miners (25%) came from outside the U.S.

Arsonists would burn hotels, etc to get the gold left behind in mattresses

The frenzy of the gold rush ends around 1860.

You may be able to find this video on the American Heroes Channel (https://www.ahctv.com/) or on YouTube. Otherwise, you can purchase it on Amazon:

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - Foods - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome back to our weekly Historical Tidbit Blog Column!

Reginald and Gladys Laubin's book is a wealth of information as they actually lived in the tipis they built and recreated the lifestyle including following the cooking methods and recipes used traditionally by nomadic Native Americans. Not all Indian tribes ate the same foods depending on where they lived, the tools they had available, etc. Once they moved onto reservations, some adopted a farming way of life while others were provided government rations, thereby changing a lot of the foods and meals with which they were familiar.

Here are some of the more common foods/meals:

Ash Cake - corn meal cake and dried berries wrapped in sweet leaves and baked in hot ashes
Bean Bread - (Cherokees/Eastern Indians) corn meal and beans wrapped in a large grape leaf then boiled
Camas - the bulbs could be eaten raw or were roasted in a pit oven, dried, and mashed into dough. The roots were edible (the ones with blue flowers only). The camas with yellow or cream-colored flowers were poisonous.
Corn Dodgers - dough rolled into cylinders and deep fried in fat
Fry Bread - plain flour dough fried to a golden color
Journey Cake - commonly mistaken for "Johnny Cake"; a corn meal cake
Marrow Guts - intestines heavily coated with fat and broiled over coals
Pumpkins
Roasting Ears - ears of corn (green) left in husks and roasted across hot coals
Scipio beans - pinkish beans; cooked
Squash - several varieties including Acorn Squash

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - Cooking - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome back to our weekly Historical Tidbit Blog Column!

I took a few weeks off to research some more juicy tidbits and info for you and for my current WIPs (works in progress). Hope you enjoy!

Every family cooked for themselves and sometimes for their related immediate family members who may not live in the same tipi. A warrior was responsible for feeding his family by hunting the meat (buffalo, deer, rabbits, etc).

Several different methods were used, depending on the meal and/or the food being served. Families had limited amounts of dishes as they moved place to place depending on the season. So, oftentimes, they came up with creative ways to cook food with little to no pots.

One method was cooking in the ground (a "pit oven"). A hole would be dug into the ground and lined with sweet leaves. Chicken or ham, potatoes, corn, carrots or onions would be set in the hole and covered with leaves. Hot coals from the fire were placed on top of these leaves. A canvas or skin was laid over the hole. Embers might be shoveled on top of that. Finally, a layer or dirt to "enclose" the heat. All of this was left alone for several hours to cook. One can imagine this might be a gritty meal. Interestingly, a lot of other cultures use this same method today (google cooking pig in a pit).

Another method of cooking used is broiling. A stand containing a rack of ribs or other meal was set next to a hot fire or speared onto sticks and set directly over coals.

Many families owned an iron kettle (via trade with settlers) or at least a buffalo paunch (stomach) that was tied to a frame and used like a large bowl. It was filled with water, vegetables and meat. Stones were heated in a fire then dropped into the water to cause it to boil. Food could then simmer and cook.

One of the key methods of preparing food involved drying (or jerking) meat. This was important for wandering tribes as they needed to be able to eat while they hunted and travelled. Meat was stretched out and dried in the hot afternoon sun. At night, it would be piled up on clean canvas and covered so it wouldn't absorb moisture (which could lead to mold). It could be eaten hard or softened with a little water. Old jerky could be used in soups.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Western Word of the Week - Boot-Black Cowpuncher - #WesternWordoftheWeek #WesternWednesdays

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...or, as I affectionately call it, Western Wednesdays!

Boot-Black Cowpuncher - a humorous term for a man who came from the East to get into the cattle business. "Boot-Black" referred to the shiny, polished boots that weren't yet broken-in from the hard work of cattle ranching.

Source:
Cowboy Lingo by Ramon F. Adams; ISBN#0-618-08349-9

Western Word of the Week - Big Scissor-Bill - #WesternWordoftheWeek #WesternWednesdays

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...or, as I affectionately call it, Western Wednesdays!

Big Scissor-Bill - described someone who didn't do their work very well

Scissorbill is also a term for an incompetent person.

Source:
Cowboy Lingo by Ramon F. Adams; ISBN#0-618-08349-9