Season’s Greetings to all members and friends; and if I may, I’d like to just mention a couple of Buckskinners in particular, its hello to Brett Masters, Ian Pilcher, Paul Barber, Robert Timms, Keith Burgess, Red Dog Weston, Don and Jan Robinson, Brad Randall of the Hatchie Run Longrifles in Mississippi, John Arthur Cooper of Tennessee, Roger Fisher of the Nebraska Muzzleloaders, Ted Spring of Choctaw, Oklahoma and Jim (Slow Bear) Douglass of Cache Valley, Preston Idaho; all you folks who have contacted us through our newsletter www connection, we appreciate your friendship. We sincerely hope all readers enjoy sharing our adventures, we wish you and your families’ good health, and safe holidays, good shooting sport and a whole lotta fun in the year ahead.
Okay, let’s just load up and at it! I’ll admit I “borrowed” the next paragraph from a 1986 Muzzle Blasts in an article discussing the origins of the gunfighter; rather post 1840! Removed from the original context it’s probably rather meaningless; I just like the expedient and economic good sense of that bygone era of justice. See if you agree!
“The only outlaw who offered opposition was one Joe Pizanthia, who shot two vigilantes entering his cabin in an attempt to arrest him. A mob which had accompanied the posse wrestled a dismounted cannon barrel up to Pizanthia’s door and blew it in, all the while riddling the shack with small arms fire. They finally dragged the mortally wounded gunman out by his feet, hanged him, shot his suspended body to rags, cut it down and tossed it into the inferno created by firing his cabin.”
No procrastinating with politically correct do-gooders, politicians, solicitors or lawyers and such!
Finally, have you all hinted to your partner, wife, husband, lover, the kids and all, just what black powder accessories you’d really love them to pop into your Christmas stocking?
A poem by Peter Convey
Rondyvoo time has come again,
Time to pack the mule
With flintlock, powder and gear
Then time to get some fuel.
Out over plains away from sea
Into the hills we go
Old Seymour town ahead will be
And Highlands road I know.
We travel the gorges and ridges
Beside running creeks a delight
Down the valleys and ford the bridges
And the gravel road in sight.
To Bernie’s place and all its trimmings
Tall timbers and boulders the main
Now there’s a clearing in the distance
T’is the Painted Pony Plains.
We pull into camp tired and dry
I holler a greeting shout –
“What’s on the spit pilgrim?”
“Grown particular” is answered out.
Camp is set and a billy on
While on the ground I do recline
With eyes closed and mind drifting along
I reflect on trapping times sublime.
South Pass Caveat
Jim Walker following in the trail blazing manner of his mountain man name sake (Joe Walker) was the first to discover a new South Pass route to Bernard’s Cache. We are grateful to Andrew Shaw for cutting a new track; enabling Buckskinner mule drivers to avoid those nasty stretches of boggy wagon ruts where even “only in a Jeep” (or a Transit van) one might wallow and flounder.
A Christmas Pudding
Le Reynard forwards a page for the season, something for all re-enactor foodies – a recipe by Hannah Glasse, 1774
1 Pound of suet chopped fine (500g)*
1 Pound of Currents (500g)
1 Pound of Raisins (500g)
1 Pound of Plain Flour (500g)
1 Pint of Milk (2 Cups)
Crumbs of a Penny Loaf (2 Cups)
½ Nutmeg grated (2 Teaspoons)
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon*
1 Teaspoon of beaten Ginger*
½ Teaspoon of Salt
Place on the stove top your boiler with the water and bring it to the boil. While it is doing this you can start to mix the ingredients.
Beat eggs and ½ the milk together and gradually add the breadcrumbs and flour, then add suet, spices and fruit and the remaining milk. Mix all together until thick, the consistency of really thick porridge is about right.
Place mixture into a pudding cloth*, tie off at the top of the pudding mixture and put it into some boiling water*, cover pot with a lid and simmer for 5 hours. Occasionally check the water level and top up if necessary.
- Packet suet works well and is available from all good supermarkets.
- Cinnamon is optional; I add it because I like it.
- Powdered Ginger is OK to use if fresh is not available.
- I place my cloth inside a Pudding Basin, so any deep bowl would suffice; it not only helps keep the shape but minimizes the risk of the pudding burning on the bottom.
- Calico makes an ideal Pudding cloth; about 1 metre square is ample. When the water has boiled, soak your cloth in it and then sprinkle some flour over the cloth. This forms a kind of seal and also makes getting the cloth off the pudding a bit easier.
- The water level should only come about half way up the side the pudding.
Be careful when taking out the pudding it will be very hot, so leave it to cool down a little before taking off the cloth. Pull down the top part of the cloth and then turn the pudding upside down on a large plate and take off the rest of the cloth; then serve it up to the table with lashings of custard and cream. For something more impressive, pour a tablespoon of brandy over the pudding and light it for a flambé effect.
You will note the recipe lacks sugar. I have found that the amount of dried fruit used makes up for this absence. The recipe is from “The art of cookery made plain and easy” by Hannah Glasse. Copies of this 1774 book are available from Amazon Books for about $15.00.
I am sure a pudding made to this recipe will delight those prepared to “give it a go”. It should make a fine addition to any Christmas feast. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.
May you all have a safe and extremely Merry Christmas; Lisa and I hope to see you all soon – around the rendezvous campfires in 2013. Le Reynard
Well, first things first, y’all need to gets one of them fancy wall calendars for 2013 and then circle all our rendezvous dates. Those among you who have to answer to a boss, other than the call of the wild, need to then make early application for leave to avoid those sneering comments “Where the hell you been? Don’t you go to Rendezvous no more?” Go on, mark good these dates:-
Feb 15th/16th/17th Seymour Alternate Farming Expo – Our annual static display in conjunction with Bojo Tents – We exhibit our fun-loving hobby interests to the general community. It’s a family fun-loving expo and excellent publicity for us and for all sporting firearms enthusiasts! Contact Bob if you can spare an hour or three helping to erect tents or man our display.
March 9, 10 & 11th 1830’s meets 1930’s. Labour Day holiday weekend camp.
We’ve invited members of the Austin 7 car club to witness our primitive black powder experience, joining us at a campfire luncheon on Sunday 10th March. A truly primitive camp at Bernard’s Cache during which, for just a few hours, we take a giant 100 year leap forward, visited by the Austin 7 club dressed in their best 1930’s style.
No modern camping, no modern mules (4WD’s), only Austin 7’s on the Painted Pony Plains. Camps to be open to visitors’ inspection; Trade blankets on display; rifles, knives and hawks on display; cannon capers etc. rolling pin throwing comp and more. Campfires and powder burning will naturally depend on fire restrictions and weather.
March 29th to Apr 1st Easter – from Friday to Monday at Bernard’s Cache, Caveat.
April 27th / 28th ANZAC weekend (Note the 25th, ANZAC day is the Thursday).
June 8th, 9th, & Mon 10th Queen’s B’day – Winter Quarters – Bernard’s Cache.
June 29 to July 6th 2013 – The 11th Millmerran Open Rendezvous. Celebrating 20 years of black powder Rendezvous at Captain’s Mountain Millmerran, Queensland.
August – Attend Beechworth’s Ned Kelly Festival. Tent display and dress 1880 style.
Spring R’voo – W’end of 3rd Sunday i.e. Sat 14th – Sun 15th Monday 16th September at Bernard’s Cache. (Note September 2013 has 5 Sundays again)
Book review – History of the Fur Trade Rendezvous
John “Grub Box” Sultana continues to review by précis chapter by chapter of Fred R. Gowans’ book Rocky Mountain Rendezvous: The History of the Fur Trade Rendezvous 1825-1840.
Willow Valley Rendezvous 1826
A supply train under the command of William Ashley left St. Louis on March 8, 1826, with 26 men bound for the 1826 Rendezvous.
Jedediah Smith and Robert Campbell with 60 men and 160 mules had left for the mountains in late October or early November of 1825 with $20,000 worth of supplies. They had sent word back to Ashley that they were having troubles and that they were snowed in on the Republican Fork and needed more mules, having lost one-third of the herd. Between 20 and 30 men also deserted because of the horrible conditions.
The exact location of the rendezvous in Willow Valley is impossible to determine since none of the participants of the 1826 festivities left any information pertaining to the location. The north end of Willow Valley must be considered as a possible site as Weber and his men spent the winter of 1824-25 in this location. This location was picked by Weber because it could provide his men with ample supplies of food, water and shelter. It was not uncommon for the mountain men to hold their summer rendezvous and winter quarters at the same location because of its natural setting.
James Beckwourth leaves the following description of the rendezvous:-
“The absent parties began to arrive, one after the other. Shortly after, General Ashley and Mr Sublet came in, accompanied with three hundred pack mules, well laden with goods and all things necessary for the mountaineer and the Indian trade. It may well be supposed that the arrival of such a vast amount of luxuries from the East did not pass off without a general celebration. Mirth, song, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolics, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indian could invent, were freely indulged in. The unpacking of the medicine water contributed not a little to the heightening of our festivities.”
According to Robert Campbell the rendezvous lasted only a couple of weeks, however Daniel Potts states that the men celebrated the 4th of July by firing their guns and making toasts. It would appear that the rendezvous was much longer than the two weeks since Ashley was still on the Bear River as late as July 18, 1826. If Ashley were right in assuming that he arrived on May 15th and if he were still on the Bear River as of July 18th, he was in the area of the rendezvous for almost eight weeks.
On July 18th, 1826, on the Bear River, after leaving the rendezvous, Ashley sold out his interest in the fur company to Jedediah Smith, David Jackson and William Sublette. Ashley was probably enroute back to St. Louis when the transaction took place. The terms of the agreement gave the new owners Ashley’s merchandise, which was to be paid for with beaver at the 1827 rendezvous. Ashley was either to pay $3.00 per pound for beaver at the 1827 rendezvous or take the furs to St. Louis for the owners and get the best price available there. However, Ashley would charge $1.12 per pound for transportation charges.
With the agreement in hand and the firm of Smith, Jackson and Sublette owing him $7,821, Ashley returned to St. Louis by route of South Pass and the Platte River, arriving at St. Louis in late September. The value and amount of furs brought to St. Louis by Ashley is recorded at 125 packs worth $60,000. This would indicate that each pack was valued at $480.00. This is very close to the 1825 value per pack. There is one reference to the 1826 catch weighing 12,000 pounds.
The fall was spent by the mountain men trapping in both the north and central Rockies. As the streams began to freeze over the mountain men started for their annual winter gathering. Winter Quarters was again in Willow Valley. In March the mountain men left Willow Valley and returned to the business of trapping, hoping to have an excellent catch to take to the rendezvous at Bear Lake that summer.
Next issue, Sweet Lake Rendezvous 1827. Keep your powder dry, Grub box John.
British Bell Tent, 11’6” dia, 18” walls, 8’6” O.A. height, 12 oz unproofed canvas, brand new – Bargain priced at only $500. Contact Bob Ellis 0412 368 034.
Missing ingredient to Hanna Glasse’s fine recipe – 21st century Big Sister recommends the addition of at least two generous tablespoons brandy or rum. For medicinal purposes only, of course.
A couple of Reminders
Our welcome to camp at Bernard’s Cache occurs through a long enduring friendship between Jim Walker and the Shaw family. Members are not to make ad hoc visits to the farm as our access is granted via Committee arrangements for scheduled rendezvous events or planned working bees only. Please respect these courtesies. Farm gates may be locked at other times.
Firewood: whilst there is more than ample firewood available on the farm, it is not there for the taking. We are welcome to cut fallen timber during working bees for all our campfires and cooking whilst at rendezvous. Please contact your local wood merchant if you require wood for home fires.
Licences: This might be a good time to check your firearms licence for renewal date. And while about it, as we are re-enacting an historic era, members should have the endorsement of “Performing Arts and Re-enactments” listed under “Reasons” on your Category A&B Longarm Licence. It’s one more reason to be able to own firearms.
If your licence does not mention this “reason” please contact the Secretary for an official Club letter addressed to Registry requesting this added endorsement. Licensing may charge a small fee for doing this at other than renewal time.
Hardening a Frizzen
Have you ever been to a club shoot weekend, targets are out, a razor sharp flint firm in the cock jaws and you’re rearing to shoot your very best, then suddenly find your frizzen simply will not spark? You curse fluently but to no avail! Well it happened to me recently, but I remembered reading somewhere that many trappers solved this problem readily with good old do-it-yourself knowhow, so I decided to give it a go.
Firstly I built up the fire and while it was getting good and hot I removed the frizzen from the lock. I then wrapped the frizzen in about 6 layers of thin leather and placed the package in a tin. I used an old baked bean tin that just happened to be on hand and hammered the opening flat to form an air tight seal.
With a good base of red-yellow hot coals the tin was placed on top of the coals. The fire must be kept well fuelled and very hot while the tin remains in the fire for 1½ hours. After the hour and a half had passed I removed the tin from the fire and plunged it into a bucket of cold water until the tin was stone cold. I then removed the frizzen from the can, cleaned it with steel wool, oiled it and fitted it back onto the lock.
Then, for the moment of truth, and with the lock refitted to the rifle I eased the cock into full-cock position, touched off the trigger and was rewarded with more sparks than a recent Guy Fawkes Night. Beautiful big fat sparks rolling in the pan! So, if you should lose your spark, try this DIY remedy, ’cause it really works. Peter Convey
The Trapper’s toast……“To the fur trade in all its branches.”
Australia’s first White Hunter
In 1786 an Irish gamekeeper and poacher, John McEntire, was sentenced in Durham England to 7 years transportation. Some two and a bit years later he was one of over 700 first fleet convicts to land in Sydney Cove. Not long after arriving, Governor Phillip realised he had a problem in feeding the population of the fledgling colony of about 1,000 people with the meagre stores at his disposal.
Phillip needed people to hunt and fish to supplement the rations, consequently he appointed a West Country fisherman/smuggler, one William Bryant, in charge of fishing in the harbour, while John McEntire was appointed official hunter and issued a 2nd model Brown Bess. On the 3rd. March 1788 it was recorded that McEntire shot the first emu in the colony “at a considerable distance”. Noted author, Chris Hall suggests that considerable distance for a Bess might be anywhere between 40 and 100 yards.
Despite the best efforts of Bryant and McEntire, together with those appointed to assist them, there remained a shortage of rations and the majority of the fish and game went to the colony hospital. Later two other convicts were appointed to assist McEntire, they were John Randall and Patrick Burn and many a meal of wallaby or kangaroo was provided by their hunting skills.
This hunting and fishing by the colonists began to impact on the food supply of the local natives, mainly those of the Eora tribe. McEntire, Randall and Burn operated as a separate unit, though occasionally acting as guides for other temporary appointed groups. Native hostility increased in late 1790 and aggressive natives made hunting difficult and dangerous.
The Eora disliked McEntire especially, on account of his skill as a hunter in slaughtering animals, which had been dedicated by their ancestors for the Eora use alone. At one time the Eora set a camp dingo onto McEntire who immediately shot it. This was taboo among the Eora as only initiated males were allowed to kill a dingo and McEntire was not an initiate. (He was not missing a front tooth) The Eora prepared to punish him; a “carradhy” (medicine man) named Pemulwuy applied himself to the task.
On the ninth of December 1790 McEntire, Randall, Burn and the sergeant in charge of the convict hunters entered the hostile territory of the Botany Bay area on a hunting expedition. They settled down in a hide of boughs and went to sleep. Early in the afternoon five natives including Pemulwuy creeping towards them awakened them. The sergeant was alarmed but McEntire said don’t worry I know them. He then approached the Eora without his musket and was speared in the side by Pemulwuy.
Randall and Burn gave chase whilst the sergeant broke the spear shaft and helped McEntire. Randall and Burn returned unsuccessful after a chase of several hours. The party carried McEntire back to Sydney, where the surgeon removed the spearhead.
McEntire appeared to recover from his ordeal and was actually walking around the hospital when he suddenly died on the 20th. January 1791.
The surgeons performed an autopsy and found pieces of stone and shell from the spearhead inside the lobe of the left lung. Right up to his death McEntire adamantly denied harassing the natives and stated that he had only fired on them once and that was in defence of his life.
Thus was the passing of Australia’s first white hunter. Governor Phillip was extremely upset with the murder of his main provider and insisted on disciplining the Eora, sending expeditions to exact revenge, but that’s another story. Ian Convey
1. “Australians Vol. 1. Origins to Eureka” by Thomas Kenneally.
2. Australian Shooters Journal Sept. 1969 “Brown Bess Sharpshooters” by Chris Hall.
The Cooktown Cannon
E.W., a “Traps” subscriber from Perth, Western Australia shares with us a keen interest in all things muzzleloading and forwards this photo taken on his travels in far north Queensland. The cannon is located in pleasant park grounds near the mouth of the Endeavour River. The inscription on the wall behind reads:-
On April 10th 1885 the Cooktown Council carried the following motion “A wire be sent to the Premier in Brisbane requesting him to supply arms, ammunition and a competent Officer to take charge of same, as the town is entirely unprotected against the threat of a Russian invasion.” This gun (cast in 1803 in Carron, Scotland), three cannonballs, two rifles and one Officer were sent.
Can you believe it? – Just three cannonballs! Three! Three piddling cannonballs against a threatened Russian invasion- harrumph. Shades of our current Australian Labor Party Government defence budget, eh?
A very Merry Christmas to All.