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 Camp Wares - Research

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Buck Conner
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Male Number of posts : 2655
Age : 78
Location : Lehi Utah
Registration date : 2015-10-20

PostSubject: Camp Wares - Research   May 5th 2017, 2:12 pm

SUBJECT: Camp Wares - Research

How many have ever researched what was used, carried or supplied during the mountain man hey day. Being in the period edibles business, cultivated or foraged there was a lot of research done. We were the first to provide this source for 20 years, have seen others come and go with incorrect items then hammered on the Internet blogs when found out and drop out of the food business. 

I would find an odd item then send the information along with that product to Mark Baker, he would an article for Muzzleloader once tested.  One of those items was millet flour (talk about an item hard to find) and I had orders for 42 1 pound bags after that issue hit the mail. Had to buy 100 lb. bag for a good price, we push that puppy for a while.

Wes Houser was another we supplied and see those items in one of his period horse trek adventures with us given credit for those items in the credits.

I had Museum of the Fur Trade, state historical societies involved, museums that dealt in early North American times, anyone I could think of. A lot of work but enjoyed every minute. You may remember Clark & Sons Mercantile, INC. - sold it to a guy from Dallas who turned it into a Walmart website and lost the total idea of the "period edibles business, cultivated or foraged". He folded after a few years, sad deal for everyone.

I'll start this with a few area of research for you guys.

Camp Wares

Shown below is information on a military "mess kit" once owned and used by General George Washington.  A set-up like this was not uncommon to European Officers, but unusual to the American Forces. A small 44 page booklet titled "General Washington's Military Equipment" [Mount Vernon, 1963], p.20 says: "His [GW's] military equipage grew gradually as the war dragged on. In April 1776 Benjamin Harbeson of Philadelphia provided a "mess kit" consisting of the following:
                   1 Nest of Camp Kettles
                   3 large Tin Canisters
                   1 doz. Oval tin dishes
                   2 doz. & 9 Tin plates
He [GW] added more plates and canisters the following month. Perhaps part of this order is in the chest of camp utensils preserved at the Smithsonian Institution (Fig.11)"

Mess kit. Chest of wood covered with leather, lined with green wool. Interior divided into fourteen compartments and containing a tray with nine compartments. Equipped with the following:
   4 tin pots with detachable wooden handles
   6 tin plates, 3 tin platters
   2 knives and 4 forks with black handles
   1 gridiron with collapsible legs
   2 tinder boxes
   8 glass bottles with cork stoppers
   2 glass bottles for pepper
   2 salt with pewter tops

On page 104 of the coffee table book "The National Museum of American History, A Smithsonian Museum" there is a photograph of a field mess chest attributed to George Washington, possibly the same kitchen mess referred to. It contains tin plates, platters, utensils, and a tankard. There is a similar "mess kit" at the Valley Forge Historical Society at the National Park in Pennsylvania, planned for display in early 2000. The "mess kit" in question is tin of a high quality that has turned dark with age, not pewtered [tin-lead alloy] as has been suggested by others.

The few items described below is to give you a small taste of what was being sent from the East to the new frontier, by our citizens and citizens from other lands.  Edibles were big business as were all the other needed supplies.
This information is from many issues of the Museum of the Fur Trade micro-film at St. Louis museums and several other Fur Trade sources, and are found many references from 1803, 1822, 1825,1826, 1832, 1834, 1835, 1837 and 1839 as to a number of the items available.
The first listings are just a small sampling of "Supply Invoices" from 1822, 1825, 1835.
The second items you will find are a sampling of remarks of from few historic persons of that era, and their thoughts about some edibles.
The third is a sampling of some information on field seeds, vegetables, herbs and apples, together with a little history on the more popular ones.
Looking over this information, and considering the amount of trade that was going on out of St.Louis, it is a pretty slim inventory for a variety of edibles when you consider what was actually available during those years.
1822:   From a Trade List of John McKnight / Partner of General Thomas James:
·         5 lbs Glauber Salts 1 dz peppermint
·         1 Box wafers 12 lbs sugar
·         1 (?) Hyson tea 1 (?) Bohea tea
·         1 (?) China Black tea
·      Entered Oct 21st & 29th 1822
Purchased of the American Fur Co. St. Louis / Samuel Abbott Agent
1825:   Inventory of Goods available at the 1825 Rendezvous on Henry's Fork of the Green River, from Wm. Ashley's diary:
·         2 bags coffee 1 hams goods
·         2 Tobacco 2 packs sugar
·         2.5 kegs tea
·         Tobacco 150lbs.
·         3 Bags coffee 200 lbs.
·         130 lbs Bale & Bag Sugar
1835:   Invoice of merchandise shipped on the Steam Boat Diana, C.A. Halstead Master, bound for the Upper Missouri River and Consigned to Messr Laidlaw and Lamont for the account and risk of the Upper Missouri Outfit, 1835.
U.M.O. Pierre
·         4 boxes Y.H. tea 5 loaves ( ? ) sugar
·         2 boxes shaving soap 4 boxes com soap
·         1 barrel rice 4 bales oakum
·         2 barrels water crackers 2 barrels each navy pilot bread
·         1/2 barrels molasses Keg 50 15 gls 1 hlf barrel mackreal
·         ? bottle pepper sauce 2 boxes raisins
·         2 boxes cod fish 1 Lexington mustard
·         2 lb refined borax 1/2 dz. lime juice
·         2 oz nut megs 2 oz cloves
·         1/2 dz. ground ginger 1 gal blue grass seed (for a Factor)
·         7 kegs 6 twist to pound tobacco
·         2 kegs 2 twist to pound tobacco
·         1 keg 1 twist to pound tobacco 5 kegs 8 twist to pound tobacco
·         7 boxes brown Havana sugar 5 sacks Grod Al Salt 1 box cavandish tobacco 10 barrel pork
·         6 bags coffee 1 barrel bacon hams
·         40 barrels flour

TIN BOTANIST CASE: (copy of those carried by the Corps of Discovery).
(1) food sack.
(1) HBC brass tin lined kettle
(1) copper tin lined boiler.
(1) tin lined copper canteen.
(1) Wedge Tent.
(1) bag w/poles, stakes. camp axe, shovel.
(1) ground cloth.
(1) 2-1/2 gal. wood water barrel
MISC: foraged edibles are usually found during the spring, summer and early fall, other wise additional supplies may be taken in to the encampments.

This is provided to see if there's an interest, I have more information with dates of plants brought to the new world to what the Native Americans were using. 

Tom Jefferson never got much credit for what he did for the colonies in the way of edibles. He was a great gardener and traded with other countries for items we grow here today. 


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Buck Conner
Site Moderator &
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Male Number of posts : 2655
Age : 78
Location : Lehi Utah
Registration date : 2015-10-20

PostSubject: Re: Camp Wares - Research   May 5th 2017, 2:21 pm

This was a hot subject for years. We would try and provide this information (kept updating new items found). Then took the next step and started on items needed while in camp and could be made if required item were available. Here's an example of one such item.

‘1710’ Soap
We had worked with several soap clubs and a publisher on home industry products with several recipes, and found this family recipe that a friend dated from 1701. This soap is still being produced today. This is a soap that was manufactured in homes and them taken to a wholesaler that would distribute to his dealers, etc. Our concern is how do you document a hand-me-down recipe from one family member to another, patterns of tools, styles of hand made household goods and soap, along with recipes of edibles are very hard to show written documents other than old original recipes or plans written on paper that can be carbon dated. And how does anyone know if the recipe or plan was written at the date of the paper or years later ? You will see many collectors state approx. period - this may cover a large span of time, they can tell you where or what part of the country it came from, the material, but seems most times the approx. period comes into play !

This "castile" soap is a correct soap for 1710 to the early 1900's. We have just contracted with a soap manufacturer to reproduce these hand cut bars, made from a Quaker recipe that was dated "Feb. 1701" being produced near Lancaster, PA. Probably one of the first manufactured home products available in the settlements, trading posts and supply houses. Records show this was a large operation producing as much as several 100 tons of castile soap yearly for trade. We were selling a castile soap, heavy with a perfume odor (which I felt was not correct), mentioned it to an Amish friend in Paoli PA, a week later I received a family recipe, that's the one mentioned. After several months we found a manufacturer willing to produce this original castile soap with the right look and packaged much like the originals.

Buck Conner


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