Vol. 42, January 2013 3 responses

HMS Pembroke
Earl of Pembroke, later HMS Endeavour, leaving Whitby Harbour in 1768.
By Thomas Luny, dated 1790

Now that the New Year festivities are over, and, as we begin to plan our re-enactments for the year, so we also commemorate an historic period favoured by many living history re-enactors – the French and Indian Wars of the eastern settlements.

This year is the 250th anniversary of the end of the Seven Years War, truly a world war, but also known by various other names depending on the particular theatre and the combatants. Students of American history know the conflict as the French and Indian War 1756-1763. Yet the antagonists were really the French and the British, with various Indian tribes supporting one or the other and sometimes fighting both.

The Treaty of Paris (1763) was supposed to settle land issues of the time between the French and English but did little to appease the native Indians. Much blood would continue to be shed in the Appalachian Mountains and to the immediate west all the way to Ohio and the Mississippi, in a subsequent conflict known as Pontiac’s War.

Some Australians may not know that it was a perceived threat of what was to become the Seven Years War that drew James Cook to the Royal Navy, or the fact that Cook actually served in that war. At the age of 18, Cook was drawn to a life at sea. He apprenticed in colliers and other coastal ships in the U.K., learning his seamanship, eventually being offered a command. In 1755, aged 27, he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy, when Britain was re-arming in preparation for the likely coming war.

Cook’s career advanced rapidly and during the French and Indian War he served as master of HMS Pembroke (pictured). In 1758 Cook took part in the assault capturing the Fort of Louisbourg, after which it was razed by army engineers. In recent years it has been partially reconstructed to create a living history museum. Cook also took part in the siege of Quebec. But it was his surveying and cartography skills, mapping the Saint Lawrence River during the siege, which allowed General Wolfe to make his famous attack on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 – a British victory, albeit short-lived.

Cook spent the latter years of the French and Indian War skilfully mapping the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador aboard the American built schooner HMS Grenville.

After the war, the British Admiralty and the Royal Society engaged Cook for three substantial voyages of British overseas discovery. Cook is credited with being the first to circumnavigate New Zealand and the first to chart the entire east coast of Australia in 1770; thus it can be acknowledged that Cook creates a link between Aussie living history re-enactors and North American combatants in the French and Indian War.

Captain James Cook, aged 50, met an untimely death by spearing at the hands of the natives in Hawaii, in February 1779.

Bob Ellis shooting flintlock pistol at the National Rendezvous, Millmerran.
Club Treasurer, Bob Ellis, shooting in the flintlock pistol event at the 2011 National Rendezvous, Millmerran, Queensland.
Photo by Debra Forbes and shown courtesy of Graeme Forbes web http://www.forbesws.com.au/black-powder-home.html

Mark these Events on your calendar of “must do’s”

Feb 15th/16th/17th Seymour Alternate Farming Expo – Our three day annual “Show and Tell” in conjunction with Bojo Tents – We dress up for the public, exhibit the tools of the trade and our fun-loving hobby interests to the general community. Our chance to show the world that the black powder shooting sports is all about having fun and camping out in the great outdoors. It’s excellent publicity for all shooting sports and sweet nostalgia for all firearms enthusiasts!

What’s needed are Trappers prepared to don the funny clothes and spend a few hours manning our display. Please contact Bob Ellis to join the roster for Friday, Saturday or Sunday, or all three days – if you can. Bob will have limited complimentary entry tickets for the Expo. Free entry tickets for those prepared to dress pre 1840 style. Phone Bob direct on 0412 368 034 or after hrs on 03 5796 2753 – if you can help out.

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.

Alternative cooking (gas barbecues) will be available all weekend in the event of summer fire restrictions. The funny cars will be visiting on the Sunday only, leaving the Saturday and Monday when we hope to achieve some of those working bee chores that always seem to crop up. Farm gate repairs and firewood gathering come immediately to mind.

March 29th to Apr 1st Easter – from Friday to Monday at Bernard’s Cache, Caveat. Hard to beat Easter for great camping. We’ll be ready for some serious black powder burning; well all except for Murray – he’ll most likely have to run some ball in camp.

April 27th / 28th ANZAC weekend (Note the 25th, ANZAC day is the Thursday). Can anyone get that Friday off work and make a four day weekend of it. Why not squeeze in an extra camp this year. Try mixing a Stone’s Mac with Caveat nights and song!

June 8th, 9th, & Mon 10th Queen’s B’day – Winter Quarters – Bernard’s Cache. Black powder burning, sulphur clearing the nostrils, friendly competition, trade blankets, warm sunny days, cool frosty nights, a new moon and a million stars, a blazing fire at our half-face shelter, a tall jar of moonshine and even taller stories and everyone having fun. We have the facilities – Where will you be?

August – Attend Beechworth’s Ned Kelly Festival. Tent display and dress 1880 style. Camp in the Police Paddock; stand about all weekend, drink coffee, observe local bird life, enjoy numerous festivities, chat up pretty tourists, stoke the fire and drink coffee.

Spring R’voo – W’end of 3rd Sunday i.e. Sat 14th – Sun 15th Monday 16th September at Bernard’s Cache. (Note Sept 2013 has 5 Sundays again). Warning! Warning! The year’s events are just about at an end and it’s your own durn fault if you haven’t been at most of our doings. Whatever you’ve been up to – don’t miss our Spring Rondyvoo, Painted Pony Plains, Highlands/Caveat. Well, don’t ya wanna have fun no more?

Christmas Pudding

I wonder if any of you had a bash at making the Hannah Glasse 1774 recipe for a Christmas pudding that Le Reynard shared with us in Vol 41. Quite a few of you, I hope, but I really must apologise for not including the recipe in an earlier edition of the “Traps”. Apparently, Christmas puddings should always be made in the first week in November, that is, according to Cordon Bleu cookery traditions.

A couple of members did enquire about the “missing ingredient” that I mentioned under a separate “Lost & Found” heading. The grog was not part of Hannah’s original recipe, being rather a hint from an experienced cook and pudding maker extraordinaire, to increase the merrymaking and joyful taste of Christmas. That wonderful cook being my dear sister, Irene, who readily accepted the challenge to once again boil a puddin’ in the time honoured calico cloth.

Whilst I promise not to convert “Around the Traps” into a culinary glossy, I believe a couple of photos supporting Le Reynard’s submitted recipe to be most appropriate; and may induce others to “have a go” next November; or perhaps even for Winter Quarters, a winter solstice if you like. In the first photo “our” pudding is seen hanging by its calico stalk in Irene’s pantry.

Christmas pudding (1774 style) hangs in Irene's pantry
The pudding in Irene’s pantry

But of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating! After a final re-heating on Christmas Day, our pud looked and smelt so absolutely scrumptious it was deemed necessary to guard that traditional fare with a nice original pistol by Tatham & Egg of London, circa 1800 – 1810. Nah, just kidding; the pistol was added to the photo session merely as a prop; and of course there was more than sufficient pudding and brandy custard to share; and all that very plump pud came from just a half-size mix of Hannah Glasse’s listed ingredients.

I feel quite certain that the adage “the Proof of the Pudding” really referred to the amount and quality of fine rum added to the mix; for a generous drop was commonly, albeit often secretly, added to all the best recipes by our grand-folks. Our Grandma used to hide a bottle of rum in her bedroom wardrobe, for it simply would not do for any such bottle to be sighted when gossiping self righteous neighbours visited. How do I know about that secret cache you may well ask? Shush now, and come closer while I whisper – “Irene told me!”

Celebration dessert as evidence.
The proof of the pudding!

History of the Fur Trade Rendezvous – Sweet Lake Rendezvous 1827

The continuing précis/review of Fred R. Gowans’ book by Grub Box John Sultana

During the fall of 1826, Ashley worked on arrangements with the firm of Bernard Pratte and company to help supply the 1827 rendezvous. By December of 1826, when the arrangements were finalized, Pratte and company had become the western department of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. On March 8, 1827, Ashley advertised in a St. Louis newspaper for fifty men to go to the mountains. Their wages were to be $110 for one year’s service. Consequently, 46 men and supplies, valued at $22,447, left St. Louis on April 12, 1827.

The company also had in its possession a cannon mounted on wheels. This four pounder was the first wheeled vehicle to cross South Pass. The purpose of taking the cannon was probably both for protection of the supply train and for use at the rendezvous. The cannon was taken back with the returning supply train, since there would have been no reason to leave it in the mountains. There is some evidence to indicate that it also made the round trip to the 1828 rendezvous.

While in St. Louis, William Sublette obtained from the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, William Clark, a two year license to trade with the Indians. Sublette also took his young brother, Pinckney Sublette to the mountains with him. Unfortunately, the young lad was killed during his first winter in the mountains. The trappers and Indians gathered at the rendezvous were attacked by the Blackfeet. Daniel Potts records…

A few days previous to my arrival at this place, a party of about 20 Blackfeet approached the camp and killed a Snake and his squaw; the alarm was immediately given and the Snakes, Utaws and Whites sallied forth for battle. The enemy fled to the mountains to a small concavity thickly grown with small timber surrounded by open ground. In this engagement the squaws where busily engaged dragging off the dead.

The six whites immediately advanced to within pistol shot and you may be assured that almost every shot counted. The Snake losses was three killed and three wounded, one of the whites was wounded and two narrowly made their escape, the unscathed Utaws gained accolades for their bravery. The enemy losses are not known, however six bodies were found dead, while a great number where carried off on horses….

Jedediah Smith arrived at the rendezvous on July 3rd from his trip to California, and he was saluted by the firing of the cannon.

The agreement of 1826 guaranteed that to the firm of Smith, Jackson and Sublette, Ashley would provide supplies at the following prices, gunpowder $1.50 per pound, lead $1.00 per pound, shot $1.25 per pound, blankets $9.00 each, beaver traps $9.00 each and quarter rum reduced $13.50 per gallon. Daniel Potts states…There is poor prospect of making much here, owing to the evil disposition of the Indians and the exorbitant prices of the goods.

Bruffee and Scott acting for Ashley purchased the following skins, 7,400 pounds of beaver @ $3.00 per pound, 95 pounds of castor @ $3.00 per pound and 102 otter skins @ $2.00 each. A total of $22,690 was accredited to the Smith, Jackson and Sublette Company for the furs. With supplies costing $22,447 it would appear that the profit was slim. But as mentioned the profit was made in the sale of supplies.

As the supply train descended on the Platte, Hiram Scot, who had taken ill enroute to the rendezvous, became so bad that he was left behind with two companions who were to escort him to civilization. Bruffee promised to wait downstream at the bluffs on the Platte River. Scott and his two companions finally arrived at the meeting spot in deplorable condition. Bruffee was not there, he had moved on. In desperation, Scott’s two escorts abandoned him and left him there by the bluffs to die. Today the location where he was deserted bears his name, Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska.

Bruffee arrived at Lexington, Missouri, on October 1, 1827. Ashley met him there, having supplies valued at $20,000 ready to send back to the mountains. Upon his arrival at St. Louis, Ashley sold the furs obtained from Bruffee to Pratt and Company for $33,270, getting $4.37 per pound, a nice profit of $10,580. The Missouri Observer dated October 17, 1827, placed the value of the furs at $60,000. It would also appear that Pratt and Company made a sizeable profit.

Another event was taking place in the late summer of 1827 which was to have an impact on the rendezvous. Joshua Pilcher, Lucien Fontenelle, W.H. Vanderburgh, Charles Bent and Andrew Drips organized a fur company and left Council Bluffs late in the summer of 1827. They lost their horses to raiding Crow Indians east of South Pass. Out of necessity they cached their supplies near South Pass and wintered on Green River.

The winter of 1827-1828 was very severe. Peter Ogden was snowed in near Snake River, south of present day Blackfoot, Idaho. His records tell that the mountain men were starving to death on Bear River, as they had no supplies. This record agrees with the earlier statement that the supplies sent out by Ashley in October did not find their way to the mountain men until spring. The mountain men were jubilant when spring arrived in 1828 and eagerly anticipated the rendezvous to be held again at Sweet Lake.

In the next issue Sweet Lake 1828, till then – keep your powder dry, Grub box John.

The Australian built full size replica of Cook’s Endeavour at sea.
The Australian built full size replica of Cook’s Endeavour at sea.

3 Responses feed

  1. Brad Randall says:

    Folks, I need you to change my email address to the one above. Also, I have to tell you that your newsletter is one of the best I have ever seen. Thanks for including me.
    Take care,
    Brad Randall, Etowah River Rifle Works, Mississippi, USA

  2. Jim douglass says:

    In your next issue you will be looking at the rendezvous held at Sweet Lake (Bear Lake) I live within 40 miles of the lake and would love to send some photos of the lake as it is now – a real tourist trap if you know what I mean. But from the mountain overlook there is a really nice view and from that distance you can squint your eyes and block out the modern improvements? I have some photos on hand but a nice winter view the way it is now could be of interest. Jim D

  3. Terrance "RED DOG" Weston says:

    Hi Guys, love your article on the Endeavour, I was on her when she came to Fremantle twelve months ago, went out for a sail and all things great, wore my uniform of the 1800 Royal Marines, which we wore when we witnessed her launch on 1993 and fired off lots of musket smoke and stuff. PS:How do I send a photo…?.