A FLINTLOCK PISTOL PROJECT

 

I’m working on completing a flintlock pistol project that has been lagging for years now. It is not a copy of anything specific, but is just a nice .45 caliber “pocket-sized” pistol. There is still some final shaping to do, then the final staining and finishing. The pistol was designed and built by friend Eugene Shadley, I re-shaped the barrel, did some lock work and hopefully will have it finished within a week.

HANDS ACROSS TIME:

THE WASHINGTON/LAFAYETTE PISTOLS:
About a year and a half ago, I was given the privilege of examining, photographing and writing about a pair of pistols given to George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War. I am pleased to say that the article is in this month’s issue of American Rifleman. This has been the most interesting writing project I have ever worked on. These pistols are indeed a national treasure, selling for close to two million dollars at an auction. They now reside in the Fort Ligonier museum, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The pistols stand out as a shining example of old world craftsmanship, but the meatier part of the story is about Lafayette and Washington. He (Lafayette) is one of the main reasons we were successful in the Revolutionary War. He became a national hero and years later visited the United States and went on a national tour. Sadly he is all but forgotten in these times. “Hands across time” is a concept I think of when examining an artifact. The artifact becomes a kind of touchstone to a past time period for me. I felt that connection keenly while examining those pistols. How quickly Americans for get their past heroes. See More

 

HALF-FACE SHELTER PROJECT:

I am starting a new project this summer: a half-face shelter. They were usually the first dwelling erected when setting up a semi-permanent camp when traveling west.  I am using white cedar logs for mine, locally harvested.  There are a total of 30, some for the walls, some for the roof.  Friend Gene Shadley came over to help.  I will let these logs season for a while before I put up the shelter, about 8 by 10 feet in diameter.

logs for the three walls of the shelter

More to come images to come soon, having some web site issues–thanks for you patience!

A LAST HURRAH BEFORE SPRING:

Spent a great morning in the woods with some close friends testing our snowshoes and bindings. The snow was a foot and a half deep in some places, down about eight inches from a week ago. Spring is coming soon and we wanted to take advantage of some warmer weather (in the twenties.)  We found a great place for a future winter camp, kindled a fire using flint and steel, and had something warm to drink, saw a coyote and many many deer tracks.  We may snowshoe into the same place and camp overnight in the next week or so—maybe.  There is nothing like going out on snowshoes in the winter when the weather cooperates.  Our ancestors used snowshoes extensively in the early days of our frontier where the winters were cold and the snow deep.

 

 

On the History Channel’s recent documentary on the life of Daniel Boone from the series’ first installment called The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen…

 

As someone who has studied and written about the life of Daniel Boone and America’s Westward Expansion for the last thirty years or so—and has traveled to most of the places Daniel Boone lived—and also traveled the Boone Trace in 2016, I would have to say that this documentary is the worst, most historically incorrect I have ever seen! There are so many things wrong with it, I cannot even begin.  First of all, Daniel Boone had long hair and no beard; in fact most men did not grow beards in the 18th century—his hat was also incorrect.  Further, the guns were wrong; some of the guns depicted utilized an ignition system that had not even been invented yet.  Why weren’t American Longrifles used? People traveling into Kentucky in the early years did not use carts or wagons, the either walked or used horses, especially packhorses—the Boone Trace was not a finished road.  The rescue of Jemima Boone—wrong, the capture of Boone and his escape—wrong, the siege of Boonesborough—wrong—that is to say many inaccuracies. I was also embarrassed the way Native American’s were depicted—especially the Shawnee Chief Black Fish. There was no mention of other important people on the frontier either like Simon Kenton and George Roger’s Clark: I could go on. I commend the History Channel for finally doing something that pertains to history (instead of Swamp People, Ice Road Truckers and other non-related history stuff) but whoever wrote the script for this so called documentary should be fired–even if Leonardo DiCaprio helped produce it.  One can only hope the series will get better, but right now I sincerely doubt it.

Speaking to a group of 6th graders

IN A WORLD WITHOUT ELECTRICITY:

Yesterday I spoke to two large groups of 6th graders here in my home town of Grand Rapids, Mn.  The subject: The Great Lakes Fur Trade 1700-1800.  I start by asking the class to imagine a world without electrical power.  What would life be without electricity?  Yet, that was the world of the early American frontier where practical survival was a full-time job.  I love talking with people about the frontier.  Kids (and adults) love things that they can actually see and touch, so I always bring as many visual aids as is practical.  I also like to interact with the students.  Yesterday went very well; we covered many important points germane to the Great Lakes fur trade era.  I also brought along period snow shoes,  a 10 foot toboggan, a birch bark canoe model, various furs, wool blankets, all sorts of clothing and tools, including a fur trade era flintlock era Indian trade gun.  One highlight was demonstrating fire making with a bow drill.  The bow drill was lent to me by my good friend Larry Spisak.  I don’t know how many kids were in the classes, but I bet it tops two hundred.  All of us have learning styles and for kids being able to have their book learning augmented with material objects and also to be able to actually use them helps bring the subject matter that they are studying into clearer focus.  I commend the teacher who invited me to do this (Angela S.) for caring enough about here students to invite me it there, it was really a privilege.  The pictures do a better job of telling the story.

Note:

I just received this very nice review from the teacher who invited me to speak to the whole 6th grade class. A lot of work goes into preparation for something like this. Many of my historical interpreter friends know this. It is nice to know that our efforts are appreciated. “The RJEMS 6th grade students and teachers enjoyed the Fur Trade/1800’s presentation. Mr. Sage had command of the group, brought the kids into the time period, and was a true teacher. It was a great culminating activity for some students, and a good anticipatory activity for others. We appreciated the all the materials brought in and wish we had time to explore more! Thanks for a blast!”

More winter testing

The temperature out side today reached the lower thirties and then a wet snow started to come down.  It was a good time to test out gear, including this old hat of mine made out of fox.  I like it because it has a brim to keep snow, rain and sunshine out of my face.  A hat like this would not have been worn in the summer, but in the winter, possibly.  I think wool was utilized more.  but today, I only needed one shirt on underneath my French Canadian Capote.  Note that there is a cover over the flintlock to keep snow our of the flash pan area.  I was very comfortable with this set up–though I was not wearing period pants

even . 

Winter

 

 

Well, the weather has finally turned back into winter. The winds today brought the temperatures down to around -5 to -10—very cold to walk around in to hunt for grouse with my flintlock smoothbore. No luck today, even the birds were hanging tight. The coat I am wearing is made out of a wool Hudson’s Bay blanket that belonged to my grandfather and was made into the coat by my wife in the eighties. I have worn this on many excursions into the North woods over the years and on many hunts and it still serves me well. The blanket was purchased almost 60 years ago! Wool blankets and materials were often turned into coats and other articles of clothing on the American frontier.

Also, with the wind whipping around one has to make sure that very little skin is exposed to the air.  Note that my Canadian Cap is tied down to my head with a scarf, which helps protect the ears and that my neck is protected by a wool scarf.  Only my face is exposed and part of it is even protected by a beard

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