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Linda Trent
01-12-2008, 12:37 PM
Originally taken from http://www.cwreenactors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6835


Linda, gotta run but will try to get back and give you a more comprehensive answer on the philosophical aspect.Terre, looking forward to it. :p


I think on the other issue, flour/lint versus sugar, the difference might be "bleeding or infection"?Yes, we agree on that. Where we disagree, however, is in that just because something's in a book or two, doesn't mean that it was typical or commonly used. Totally unrelated to their use the flour/lint can be assumed to be a more generally practiced medical procedure then the sugar since the flour/lint can be corroborated in several sources easily, and the sugar has only been found in one.

This thread differs from the previous in that here the question is: what evidence can we use to decide whether anything is almost universal, common, rare, virtually unknown, in any given historic situation?

Linda.

amity
01-12-2008, 04:59 PM
I'm back, Linda and Hank.

First, I don't necessarily worship at the altar of plain, everyday, and common. I live in a very un-plain, un-common, and un-everyday sort of a world myself, and yet as a history enthusiast, antiques collector, book worm, medical transcriptionist, or anything else, I am not at all out of the norm for the early 21st cent. No one in the distant future who wishes to portray early 21st cent life should assume that we all eat fast food, wear tight stretch pants, watch TV, and listen to "top 40" music, etc. The most PEC things in reality are still only endorsed by a minority. There is nothing wrong with portraying such a character, but please, reenactors of the future, don't portray EVERYONE that way! Only a minority, albeit a large minority, should be PEC.

So first principle I will rattle on about in making sense of retro-reality is background knowledge:
The reason I say what I say about the lint and flour versus sugar thing. First of all, because I have 6-1/2 years of medical education, coupled with a combined 22-1/2 years of experience in a couple of medical fields. And it doesn't take nearly that much to read the sources you and Hank have provided and see that one is a treatment for infection, and the other is a treatment for active bleeding. I think lay people tend to think in terms of a "treatment for a sprained ankle" but that is not the right framework of analysis. How long ago did your sprained ankle happen? Do we wish to encourage blood flow right at this moment, or not? The answer will dictate whether we need hot compresses or cold compresses. Frankly, I am not trying to prove that sugar was PEC, because a couple of mentions (especially in the specific source that was cited) make it worthwhile to contemplate when and under what circumstances it might have been used. We are not attempting a statistical analysis of the medical literature of the period, but rather trying to understand a little slice of historical reality, right? Does the context indicate that it is just possible that MOST soldiers who were injured in the field, their comrades having read that book, could have had sugar dumped into their wounds? At any rate, just that one mention (in the context of an 1861 soldier's manual) already makes the practice look like it might be pretty PEC. Further, as a field guide for soldiers, it seems doubtful that the practices endorsed therein were the same things that were done by professionals, which might explain why sugar does not turn up in medical textbooks or wherever else you have been looking.

More manana.

hanktrent
01-12-2008, 06:27 PM
There is nothing wrong with portraying such a character, but please, reenactors of the future, don't portray EVERYONE that way! Only a minority, albeit a large minority, should be PEC.

Who said we should portray everyone as PEC?

But even when we're out of the norm, we're generally aware of what the norm is. I prefer oysters to hamburgers, but I still know that today, more restaurants specialize in hamburgers than oysters. I can recognize the names of popular TV shows even if I don't watch them, and know that football is more popular than curling in the U.S., even though I don't follow either sport.

Thus the question is, how do we research what the norms were in the 1860s, so we too know what's out of the norm and what's not?

And to create an accurate picture of the 1860s, we also need to know the norms so we can make sure to include some of them in our portrayals, else we'll wind up with a distorted view of the past. Would we really consider it an accurate portrayal of typical 2008 midwest America if no one ate at McDonalds, sent emails or watched TV? Even if we could each document, individually, people who didn't do those things in 2008?


And it doesn't take nearly that much to read the sources you and Hank have provided and see that one is a treatment for infection, and the other is a treatment for active bleeding.

Well, of course, that's exactly what they're headed in the source, "To Stop the Bleeding of a Wound," and "To Prevent Wounds from Mortifying." Not sure your point. There were numerous ways to stop bleeding and, separately, to prevent mortification in the period (or so they thought), yet some were more common than others.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

amity
01-13-2008, 02:32 AM
Secondly, the historical record is incomplete. AND it is incomplete with built-in biases, too!

Archeologists are always aware that what they can see evidence of now is just a tiny sliver of what was. Not everything survives. Soft bodied creatures, things in very alkaline conditions, or in very hot and humid conditions do not leave a trace. And it is like that with the type of "archeology" we do, also. Most of what we have to analyze today was written by/ owned by the top 10% socioeconomically (and in fact I believe it was skewed much more than that). This leads to a misperception of what PEC was. For example, just recently on a list server an experienced reenactor reminded a new reenactor that it was not authentic for ladies to smoke. Of course if one reads etiquette books, they do all very emphatically agree that ladies do NOT smoke! Of course a travelers account or two will tell you that quite a few did, backed up by some vernacular art. Then the analysis must begin to figure out who and under what circumstances. This is a good example of why the greatest number of primary sources does not necessarily win the argument. One could research quite awhile and never realize what one was missing in this case, and conclude by the sheer number of primary sources that smoking was a rarity among women.

Another really prominent example of this that is that northern sources often do not pertain to life in the south, etc. The list goes on.

In the lint versus sugar debate, the bias has to do with the medical profession. Let me try to give an example from the present day. The reenactor of the future might read hundreds of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Lancet, etc., and never never be able to draw an accurate picture of medical reality at the level of the average consumer. Why? Because with all the cutting edge stuff in the medical literature, very little of it applies to the overwhelming majority of us. The reality for the consumer is self-treatment with over the counter drugs. Yet I think there will be relatively little of that evident to researchers of the future, depending on the methodology they choose. Beware methodology! It will make things look PEC that aren't so.

KarinTimour
01-13-2008, 03:04 AM
Dear Terre:

I'm not certain where you're going with your current line of argument -- do you see a role for research in civilian reenacting?

Do you feel that there were "norms" of ordinary behavior and dress? If so, how do we determine what those were?

Just trying to understand your viewpoint,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

amity
01-13-2008, 03:30 AM
Karin, right now I am just trying to perform the task assigned to me!

But yes, of course research is vital. It is secondary only to thinking about what one is doing! Using a statistical analysis of mid-19th c. sources to reach conclusions about the behavior of ordinary Americans does not really work as well as we wish it did. In part because there is no such as ordinary Americans? When one looks at microcosm versus macrocosm, the picture is usually very different. We start looking at things from the top down, national to regional, and that distorts our vision. We should be looking at things from the same perspective our perod subjects did, from the bottom up, i.e. from local to national.

As far as norms, no I have never seen an analysis to convince me that a mass culture (implied by the term "norm") existed outside the upper strata of society. The upper class of coastal Carolina and the upper class of Massachusetts seemingly had much more in common than did blacksmiths from Alabama versus blacksmiths from upstate New York. I am not even convinced that such could have understood one another's speech, let alone had values and concepts much in common. And certainly the fabric of their daily lives was VERY different.

So you have put your finger on something that I think is important. In our search for the PEC, we are inadvertently obliterating important distinctions that are really the meat of what we are trying to do. We are blurring everything into a shade of gray. I suspect we should abandon the search for the national norm, and instead go down to our local historical societies and begin there. When we have read through everything relevant within 10 mile and 10 years, then we go to the next county over and read their stuff. Don't look at Godey's or De Bow's until we find it mentioned in a primary source!

What! Then how would we ever be on the same page at reenactments? We wouldn't.

hanktrent
01-13-2008, 04:55 AM
As far as norms, no I have never seen an analysis to convince me that a mass culture (implied by the term "norm") existed outside the upper strata of society.

Yet, somehow, they thought in norms.

A good example is the article in this thread (http://www.cwreenactors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7009) that mentions female doctors in New Jersey were "nearly all of them of the class known as the progressive bloomer kind, spiritualists and infidels." It wasn't normal for women to be doctors, but if they were... The author is referring to a cluster of norms that were recognized as going together. The whole "if then" thing. If a woman was a female doctor then it would be common for her to be like this.

I was walking down the street at a reenactment once, wearing a black frock coat and top hat, with my graying beard, and my wife on my arm in a black silk dress. I passed a young man dressed in a red overshirt and high boots and that whole "Mose" look, who was walking along with some similar friends.

Hmph, I thought. Young America.
Hmph, he probably thought. Old fogey.

Now maybe, if I'd gotten to know "him" (the person he was portraying), I'd find out he was a teetotal divinity student who was scared of violence. Maybe, if he'd gotten to know me, he'd find out I was a brawling sailor who'd stolen the clothes I was wearing. (Not true; don't know about him.)

But I'd bet our initial reactions were accurate for the period. And I'd bet that in the period, a divinity student who chose to dress like Mose the fireman would realize that he was often stereotyped wrong, and would either deal with that, or switch to an image more like his peers.

Georgia crackers? Strong-minded Yankee women? Greenhorns in the city? Slick Yankee traders? All recognizable as types, just like today we can guess that the young man wearing a nose ring and spiked hair will probably not like the same music as the young man wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. We may be wrong, but we start from the norms, because we know they're right often enough it's worth beginning there.


I suspect we should abandon the search for the national norm, and instead go down to our local historical societies and begin there.

There are some things which were national norms, some which were regional, some specific to a small area, some which were norms only within certain types (elderly women, studious men, Shakers, sailors, etc.). So yes, specific research is the best way to discover the various overlapping norms, and what was out of the norm, and how people reacted to it..


What! Then how would we ever be on the same page at reenactments? We wouldn't.

But we would be, because we'd be roughly within the norms for the specific time, place and people in the historic situation being portrayed. Just like they were then. The sum total of the people present defined the situation.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

KarinTimour
01-13-2008, 05:26 AM
Dear Terre:

Well, I'm glad you're here, but I do think we're coming at the whole issue from wildly different perspectives.

You wrote:

But yes, of course research is vital. It is secondary only to thinking about what one is doing!

Ok, we agree here -- though I'd go a little further and say that sometimes the research tells you something that makes no sense to us at all, until you try it the way that "the original cast" did it. Then I sometimes find that their way of doing whatever the action is had a logic of it's own that was revealed in the process.

You wrote:
Using a statistical analysis of mid-19th c. sources to reach conclusions about the behavior of ordinary Americans does not really work as well as we wish it did.

Well, I disagree here -- I think it's one of a number of tools to be used, none of whom works well in isolation. I've got a landlord who believes firmly that if it can't be fixed with a hammer, it's really broken. No one tool, used in isolation will get me where I want to be, but each can give me important information.

You wrote:
In part because there is no such as ordinary Americans? When one looks at microcosm versus macrocosm, the picture is usually very different. We start looking at things from the top down, national to regional, and that distorts our vision. We should be looking at things from the same perspective our perod subjects did, from the bottom up, i.e. from local to national.

Here I guess I differ from you -- I'm not trying to formulate a sort of "one-size-fits-all-impression" that I move from event to event. But I do think that there were some commonalities in the 19th century across most communities:

1. Adult women wore dresses as their outer layer, and most of them wore a corset or some form of figure support.

Now, the number of additional undergarments will differ depending on how wealthy of a woman I'm portraying, but I believe that few women wore pants on a daily basis in the 19th century. I also believe that the "norm" -- the expected, was that women would be wearing a dress.

Fabrics, cut, workmanship, age, level of cleanliness all would vary based on the research of what I knew about that woman's daily activities, finances and most recent history.

2. Most native born people were nominally Protestant in belief.

Which protestant denomination would vary based on the area, the particular family being portrayed, etc. There were people who were Catholic, Jewish, Moslem, etc. but they were in the minority. If I were portraying someone from one of these beliefs, I would be aware that the "norm" was what the majority in my area was -- namely Protestant. In Massachusetts that would more likely be Congregational or Anglican, in Alabama it would more likely be Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist or an evangelical smaller sect. If I were portraying a Congregationalist in Alabama, I'd be aware that I was "not the norm."

Just a few examples.

You wrote:
As far as norms, no I have never seen an analysis to convince me that a mass culture (implied by the term "norm") existed outside the upper strata of society.

I'm not certain that I think that there was a mass culture in the way that we currently are subject to the latest foibles of Brittany Spears, or the newest Starbuck's offering, the latest TV show or the newest Hollywood release.

But when I read about the broadspread reaction to the news that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, I do get the feeling that people reacted to the news in certain similar ways, and that reactions "out of the norm" were remarkable. Now, what was "the norm" was dictated more by your thoughts and beliefs about who Lincoln was, the impact he had on your life, the people who surrounded you and how THEY believed, and what you thought the likely effect would be for your future.

You wrote:
The upper class of coastal Carolina and the upper class of Massachusetts seemingly had much more in common than did blacksmiths from Alabama versus blacksmiths from upstate New York. I am not even convinced that such could have understood one another's speech, let alone had values and concepts much in common. And certainly the fabric of their daily lives was VERY different.

Well, I think we'll have to agree to disagree here. I don't think that whether they could speak and be understood one to another has much bearing on whether they believed the same things or did some of the same actions. I agree that class distinctions are important, and that people from the same socio-economic background are going to hold some of the same values and have some of the same experiences.

But I think that blacksmiths in upstate New York and those in Alabama produced the same items, in about the same time, using the same technology. I think that for male blacksmiths, the course of each day (what time you got up, when you got to the forge, when you left work and went home) was likely pretty similar. Now, the blacksmith in Alabama may have been enslaved, while in our period the one from upstate New York was certainly a free person, whether white or black.

You wrote:
So you have put your finger on something that I think is important. In our search for the PEC, we are inadvertently obliterating important distinctions that are really the meat of what we are trying to do. We are blurring everything into a shade of gray.

I definately don't agree with you here. I think we'd need to define what PEC means. My understanding is that this term grew out of the more history heavy military reenactors trying to get more uniformity, based on the documentation from the respective quartermaster records, supply depot records and surviving garments. Again, they are striving to reproduce men who come to an event dressed in clothing and knowing basic knowledge that can be all slotted together to make a uniform whole.

But I disagree that civilian reenactors are striving for a single PEC paper cut out for women or men, as you imply. I'm certainly not. But I am striving to put some perspective into the sometimes voiced belief of "well, there wasn't a written specification for what civilians would have worn or done, so do whatever you want to do, who knows what they did."

You wrote:
I suspect we should abandon the search for the national norm, and instead go down to our local historical societies and begin there. When we have read through everything relevant within 10 mile and 10 years, then we go to the next county over and read their stuff. Don't look at Godey's or De Bow's until we find it mentioned in a primary source!

Linda mentioned, I think modestly, that she'd read the 1863 year of the Galliopolis paper. I've read her posts for years on this forum, and have often heard her offering gems from extremely local research. I've never heard her or Hank organize a civilian event without giving documentation of the census returns for the county, and often copious research in local diaries, letters, etc.

But I don't think that this means we should abandon or neglect reading books or sources that would have been known and familiar far outside of the local area. Godey's was read and reread by women of certain economic strata and had enormous influence. The very fact that there are bound copies of 1840s issues being sold at reasonable prices on th second hand book market tells me that this was a highly used reference in certain households. My mother subscribed to Good Housekeeeping, Ladies Home Journal and several other women's magazines the whole time I was growing up. But I seriously doubt that there will be hundreds of bound copies of 1980s Good Housekeeping being sold in 2080.

I think that your point about the under utilization of local historical societies and local papers is a good one -- but again this is only one window into the past, and when leveraged with both national primarily sources, as well as reputable secondary sources, it can give us much information.

Certainly I won't try to persuade you to my viewpoints -- yours are just as strongly held. But it was fun using your viewpoint to contrast with mine.

Sincerely,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

Linda Trent
01-13-2008, 05:47 AM
But I disagree that civilian reenactors are striving for a single PEC paper cut out for women or men, as you imply. I'm certainly not. But I am striving to put some perspective into the sometimes voiced belief of "well, there wasn't a written specification for what civilians would have worn or done, so do whatever you want to do, who knows what they did."Ditto, here.


I don't think that this means we should abandon or neglect reading books or sources that would have been known and familiar far outside of the local area.Precisely. Since you brought up the Gallipolis Journal, here's an ad from 1862 that ran pretty much the entire year.


"Bailey & Cherrington's News Depot and Express Office. Cincinnati
dailies, New York weeklies, Harper's, Atlantic, and all the various
Magazines, always on hand..."So, while I agree that DeBows and Godeys and other magazines were not published locally they were available to the local people.


I think that your point about the under utilization of local historical societies...Agreed. But if they're anything like most local historical societies I've run into they think great grandpa did something extraordinary by building a house without any nails. :rolleyes: And long skirts in our closets are great for portraying anything from the Revolutionary War through the first decade of the 20th century.:oops:


Certainly I won't try to persuade you to my viewpoints -- yours are just as strongly held. But it was fun using your viewpoint to contrast with mine.Ditto again.

Linda.

hanktrent
01-13-2008, 06:29 AM
Agreed. But if they're anything like most local historical societies I've run into they think great grandpa did something extraordinary by building a house without any nails. :rolleyes: And long skirts in our closets are great for portraying anything from the Revolutionary War through the first decade of the 20th century.:oops:

Don't forget the wonderful display of Underground Railroad quilts.

But I think it's the resources available, the actual artifacts and documents, rather than necessarily the interpretation of them, that make historical societies valuable.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

amity
01-13-2008, 07:17 AM
But I think it's the resources available, the actual artifacts and documents, rather than necessarily the interpretation of them, that make historical societies valuable.
hanktrent@voyager.net

EXACTLY, Hank Trent. If the ones in your area happen to be a bit off themselves, don't even tell them what you are up to. Just keep them guessing.

Their resources can have a wonderful way of bringing into focus what really was PEC, too. Then we can discuss ... ordinary things.

More later, everyone. Don't mean to neglect all the good and important things that have been said, but my mom is about to call.

Linda Trent
01-13-2008, 07:26 AM
If the ones in your area happen to be a bit off themselves, don't even tell them what you are up to. Just keep them guessing.Obviously, which is what we do.Only I prefer to tell them and let them try to explain it to me while I search. Then when I find it, I can educate them. :-)

My point was simply, don't necessarily consider the workers to be extremely knowledgable about what they have, or about the past in general. Just enjoy the resources. :o

Linda

amity
01-13-2008, 01:42 PM
This day just is not panning out as I had hoped.

Anyway, to comment a bit,

Yet, somehow, they thought in norms.

A good example is the article in this thread that mentions female doctors in New Jersey were "nearly all of them of the class known as the progressive bloomer kind, spiritualists and infidels." It wasn't normal for women to be doctors, but if they were... The author is referring to a cluster of norms that were recognized as going together. The whole "if then" thing. If a woman was a female doctor then it would be common for her to be like this.

I would say that your examples are stereotypes, not an example of a norm. They may be accurate stereotypes, and are certainly very valuable to us as reenactors, but they are not really what I meant. Not on the same order as (and I swear I heard this one) "the average family in the U.S. during the Civil War had 2 servants per family member."

Let me try to give some clearer examples of what I mean. Let's say I am portraying a middle aged woman on a farm in Caldwell County, Texas. She is a mother of three now grown children, and grandmother etc. Okay that is enough to go on. I need to know what she ate, what she wore, how she raised her kids, what her medical experiences were like, what she believed, etc. Starting with what she ate, am I really going to find out by reading popular cookbooks published in Philadelphia in that time period? I am sure your instincts would tell you that, no, food in Texas was probably pretty different (and you'd be right!). How about what she wore? Godey's? Again, this woman's situation is quite a bit different from that of Godey's target audience, so we really have to investigate what influence it had in the lives of women like her, or if it was even available (some places in TX did not even get mail regularly during the war, let alone magazines!). Do we think that she raised her kids in the same way as the authors of some of the popular child rearing books back east? or in London? Can we find her beliefs and practices in a book on Protestantism? Can we find out about her experiences with childbirth by reading a medical treatise published in Boston in the year she had her first child?

I'm sure your answers are bound to all be no, or at least not without a LOT of modifications. In fact, more modifications than similarities. So my point is that normative info does not take us where we need to go, since every locale anywhere in America is unique. The similarities are of much less significance than the dissimilarities, and much less interesting, and much less accurate.

KarinTimour
01-13-2008, 04:08 PM
Dear Terre:

Using your example, I'd want to know a lot more about this woman and her background to know where to seek the anwers to these questions.

Let's say I am portraying a middle aged woman on a farm in Caldwell County, Texas. She is a mother of three now grown children, and grandmother etc.

I'd want to know first of all, how she came to be on a farm in Caldwell County and how long she'd been there.

Was she a Tejano whose family has lived there for at least 200 years?
Someone who emigrated from Tennessee following word of the wonders of Texas in the 1830s?
A recent refugee who fled Louisiana or Arkansas one jump ahead of Banks?
A lifelong Philadelphian whose investments went bust and who is living on the sufferance (and economic support) of her adult children?

How much money does she have -- is this a farm which is barely making it, a huge cattle ranch that, in proportion to her neighbors' even larger establishments is a mere "farm."

Those are some of the things I'd need to know to know where to look for the answers to ".... what she ate, what she wore, how she raised her kids, what her medical experiences were like, what she believed, etc.

You wrote:
Starting with what she ate, am I really going to find out by reading popular cookbooks published in Philadelphia in that time period?

Not unless she's got ties to Philadelphia and for some reason would be trying to replicate those menus in Texas. Even then, most of us would start with what foods are in season and would have been available in her area in the time period? She might longingly be reading recipes for ice cream and peach melba, but in reality she was existing on beans and salt pork.

iI am sure your instincts would tell you that, no, food in Texas was probably pretty different (and you'd be right!).

But I'd also want to read the newspaper to see what was advertised for sale, local letters and diaries. What do the store accounts books reveal that people were buying? I was reading a first person account of life in Fredericksburg, VA the summer after the Federal battle, and mention was made of the local ice vendor walking down the street. I wouldn't logically have assumed that ice would have been sold there on the street during the blockade. But it was.

You wrote:
How about what she wore? Godey's? Again, this woman's situation is quite a bit different from that of Godey's target audience,

How do we know that? Is she working class? There were middle class women and wealthy families living in Texas in this time period.

You wrote:

so we really have to investigate what influence it had in the lives of women like her,

Absolutely, I agree entirely.

You wrote:
.....or if it was even available (some places in TX did not even get mail regularly during the war, let alone magazines!).

But women saved issues of Godeys for years and even decades. I've heard that the pictures in Godeys weren't meant to be made as they were pictured -- it was sort of an "idea book" that many women used to discuss with their dressmaker or local seamstress. They would look through back issues for a sleeve they liked on one dress, a trim from another, and so these illustrations were used for years and years.

You wrote:
Do we think that she raised her kids in the same way as the authors of some of the popular child rearing books back east? or in London?

For child rearing, I'd again want to know more about her socio-economic class, her ethinic and religious heritage. If she was educated in a French convent school and was very upper class, she might well be planning to send her daughters to the Convent of the Sacred Heart the instant they turned 10.

But my assumption would be that her child rearing practices would be rooted in the experiences and education she had received herself, her economics and the plans she had for her children. I've just been reading "The Pettigrues in War and Peace" and one of the Pettigrue sisters intentionally got each of her children a vocational education, as she could see by 1862 that no matter how the war turned out, they would likely have to support themselves. Her sisters, on the other hand, almost to a person, raised their daughters to become plantation mistresses, complete with debutant come-outs.

Does she even care if her daughter learn to read? Or does she see excessive "book learning" as being useless in a woman and likely to make her discontented?

You wrote:
Can we find her beliefs and practices in a book on Protestantism?

If we know she's Protestant, and what varieiy of Protestant, looking up the values and beliefs held by her denomination might be a good thing to do. Even more important would be to find out if there is a church within travelling distance, and find out if there was a pastor during the years that we're planning to reenact her life.

You wrote:
Can we find out about her experiences with childbirth by reading a medical treatise published in Boston in the year she had her first child?

No -- but why would we look there first?

You wrote:
I'm sure your answers are bound to all be no, or at least not without a LOT of modifications. In fact, more modifications than similarities. So my point is that normative info does not take us where we need to go, since every locale anywhere in America is unique. The similarities are of much less significance than the dissimilarities, and much less interesting, and much less accurate.

Here is part of the crux of where we disagree. I acknowledge that differences are important and can make crucial distinctions between different people on different issues. But I do think that if one is portraying an Irish Catholic famine survivor who came destitute to this country, whether she is living in downtown New York or downtown Charleston, there are going to be some things in common between the two portrayals.

Granted, there will be a host of important distinctions between the two women, but there will also be a host of commonalities as well.

Sincerely,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

amity
01-14-2008, 12:57 AM
Karin, I think we are in agreement on practically all, including the fact that even to learn more about this hypothetical woman (could she even have been an Irish potato famine survivor, for example) we are going to have to first do some digging in the local archives. That is why I say that all questions need to be answered at the local level first, then regional, then national at the end, not at the beginning.

I often hear people ask, "What kind of shawl would a middle class woman in her 30s have worn in summertime" or "does anyone have a period jelly recipe," but those aren't the categories I see on the ground, so to speak.

ElizabethClark
01-14-2008, 03:17 AM
This is a wonderful discussion--I'm just catching up!

I definitely support the "look local" idea, as it gives a lot of context to the larger "national" or "era-wide" stuff.

(How articulate of me. LOL Stuff. That all-encompassing academic term.)

More later!

Linda Trent
01-14-2008, 05:24 AM
That is why I say that all questions need to be answered at the local level first, then regional, then national at the end, not at the beginning.
I often hear people ask, "What kind of shawl would a middle class woman in her 30s have worn in summertime" or "does anyone have a period jelly recipe," but those aren't the categories I see on the ground, so to speak.I'm not sure exactly what's wrong with asking about a shawl for a middle class woman in her 30s -- I'd say the average middle class white lady in the US most likely had a paisley shawl. Is your contention that Texas ladies did not wear paisley shawls; that they didn't wear shawls at all; or that they wore shawls just not in the "summertime" because of the Texas heat, but they wore them other times of the year? And on the question about jelly, I'd say a common everyday jelly was blackberry. Are you saying that blackberrys weren't common in Texas, that Texas ladies didn't make blackberry jelly? or that they didn't make jelly at all?

The problem is, if you look only at the local level, you don't see the larger picture and it's oftentimes difficult to know what's normal and what isn't. For example, the lady who said that her grandfather built a house without nails thought that was really something, but if one looks at the larger picture one would see that it was typical for frame and log houses to be built without nails, not just in Ohio, but around the nation.

Like the building example, there are some things that pretty much are PEC at any level. I just pulled up a random Texas newspaper from Vicki Betts' site http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/marshall_texas_republican_1862-3.htm (http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/marshall_texas_republican_1862-3.htm) (Feb. 2, 1861p.2 c. 3) and the first thing I saw was a list of medicines. No surprises there, they were pretty much your typical everyday medicines such as laudanum, opium, quinine, morphine, blue mass, calomel... those used by ordinary (Allopathic) doctors. But that doesn't mean that some doctors in Texas didn't experiement with indigenous plants, or try some Mexican medicines. Same with doctors in New Orleans and the French influence, etc.

But these kind of generalities restrict people in deciding who or what they'll portray at events. This is why I believe that people find civilian reenacting boring, because they're just pie shells without the filling. The home computer age has offered change to the reenacting community, because it's given us the opportunity to reach out to others who want to play in the same ball park. We can share research more easily, and share that research with others who are participating.

Local research is really good for museums, or for people who want to know about their home area, but what happens when you want to attend that event out in Missouri, or that event over in Virginia, or Alabama? Around 10 years ago, Hank and I attended an event somewhat local where we were supposed to represent the residents of the local town. A 20th century reporter was there and went around looking for "local" residents to talk to them about the CS army recruiting and the decision to vote for secession. He went from person to person and then finally came to us. We said we were from the community and he was relieved to finally find someone to talk to. He said everyone else was from other places.

The problem comes when an event wants to have a town and everyone wants to be from their own local area. It really distorts reality, particularly if everyone is basing their characters on the unusual aspects of their personal communities. What I like to do is research at all levels, and when I research at a local level I can pretty much tell if something's a national norm, or if it's a local fad.

Researching locally is a great source, make no mistake about it. We use event specific local stuff in researching events. For example, the Frankfort Commonwealth newspaper for the month of the Trial event had been running an ad for several months about law books. It recommended the latest and best law books from the state statutes, to court procedures, etc. It was cool to go to the UK law library and find those very books to help us in our research. The Kentucky Housewife assisted us with meals, and numerous other local Frankfort sources were used as well. But, without more open research how do we know what was PEC for other areas?

Well, I've said enough for a while. Gotta run into town and get groceries.

Linda.

amity
01-14-2008, 12:47 PM
I'm not sure exactly what's wrong with asking about a shawl for a middle class woman in her 30s -- I'd say the average middle class white lady in the US most likely had a paisley shawl. Is your contention that Texas ladies did not wear paisley shawls; that they didn't wear shawls at all; or that they wore shawls just not in the "summertime" because of the Texas heat, but they wore them other times of the year? And on the question about jelly, I'd say a common everyday jelly was blackberry. Are you saying that blackberrys weren't common in Texas, that Texas ladies didn't make blackberry jelly? or that they didn't make jelly at all. I'm saying, let's find out! I am saying that perhaps "appropriate jelly for the mid-19th c. U.S." is not a relevant category. It makes sense if it was marmalade in Florida (were oranges grown yet in florida, I wonder?), peach in peachy parts of Georgia, strawberry in New York, gooseberry in parts of the midwest, etc. Down here it might well have been prickly pear or mesquite bean, and I know mustang grape. Some places probably did something entirely different with their fruit, not jelly at all. Someplaces ate applesauce pie for breakfast. So much for the Philly cookbooks.

I haven't heard of any oddities in shawls that I can recall right off the bat, but I have read several mentions of bonnets made out of squash (evidently the interior stringy layer of the squash, which when dried and shaped look sort of like an open straw) and one young woman became somewhat reknowned locally for her hair nets made out of horsehair. Not purchased horsehair, of course. Also read of cages made out of wild grapevines. To me finding those sorts of gems makes a far better persona (and certainly more historically accurate) than asking what 19th c. women typically wore and trying to keep it PEC! I have a feeling you will agree. There are some stories back there to tell, allright! If we invest the time we spend looking at national sources into local sources instead, I think we would find out if they wore shawls or not, or what kind of jelly, if any, they made. And many other tidbits that help illustrate life as it was lived.

Ladies, I think this will be a very interesting discussion and I hope to see it continue, but I truly feel I am not holding up my end. At the crack of dawn this morning I began a 1/4 mi. walk with a car battery to get it recharged (that is a long way hoisting a car battery) and it has sort of set the tone for my week. Sorry to be so lazy about replying.


Local research is really good for museums, or for people who want to know about their home area, but what happens when you want to attend that event out in Missouri, or that event over in Virginia, or Alabama? This is so true, and this is the problem and why we generally fall back on what we hope are more generally valid research questions.

Linda Trent
01-14-2008, 04:37 PM
I am saying that perhaps "appropriate jelly for the mid-19th c. U.S." is not a relevant category. It makes sense if it was marmalade in Florida (were oranges grown yet in florida, I wonder?) peach in peachy parts of Georgia, strawberry in New York, gooseberry in parts of the midwest, etc. Down here it might well have been prickly pear or mesquite bean, and I know mustang grape.

This is an example of if you don't look at nationally, as well as locally you miss the greater picture. It is true that Florida is known for its oranges, and Georgia for its peaches, however oranges were shipped by rail, and even as far north as Boston, Mrs. Lee has a recipe for orange jelly. Peaches were grown far beyond just Georgia.

Ellis & Bosson's nursery catalogue of 1839, Boston tells its readers that they can obtain the following from various nurseries just outside of Boston: 200 varieties of pears; 200 of apples, 120 of peaches, 60 of cherries, plums, nectarines, almonds, apricots, quinces, grape vines, currants, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, figs &c. According to a B&O classification sheet for 1863 the B&O shipped grapes, oranges, and lemons first class. So it's no surprise that Mrs. Lee in her Boston cookbook has a recipe for Orange Jelly.

In Google Books we find:

A Journey Through Texas, by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1857, he tells about "Blackberries and mulberries were ripe" which would tend to make me believe that blackberries grow in Texas. Later on he talks about
"The season advances somewhat more rapidly than on the Atlantic. Corn and cotton are planted in February, and ripen at the end of July. Wheat is cut in May. In San Antonio market, peas and potatoes, blackberries and mulberries appear early in April, apricots the end of May, peaches at the end of June, and grapes at the beginning of July."A search of Vicki Betts' newspapers will show that jelly was a category at the Gulf Coast Fair Association at Victoria Nov. 14-16, 1860. Specifically mentioned were quince preserves and plum jelly, nothing surprising there.

A list of things requested by the Harrison County Volunteer Aid Society in the Marshall TX Republican Dec. 7, 1861 includes: "blackberry and raspberry vinegar" and "plum and current jellies." If you'd like to see the rest of the food items go to http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/marshall_texas_republican_1862-3.htm (http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/marshall_texas_republican_1862-3.htm)

An advertisement in the Democrat and Planter newspaper of Columbia, Tx, Aug. 13, 1861, for A.C. Crawford of Galveston, selling: "Chafing Dishes, Urns, Coffee and Tea Pots, JELLY MOULDS, Toilet Ware, Water Coolers, Cash, Deed, Cake and Spice Boxes, Lanterns, Ice Cream Freezers, Waiters, &c." http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/democrat_and_planter.htm (http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/democrat_and_planter.htm)


Some places probably did something entirely different with their fruit, not jelly at all. Someplaces ate applesauce pie for breakfast. So much for the Philly cookbooks.True, they could have dried it, made a pie directly from the fruit, syrup, etc., never-the-less if a person wants to preserve their fruit till the next season one of the best and most common methods was jelly.

An example of the usefulness of studying the national norms is that not knowing anything about Texas we could guess that blackberry jelly could be made by Texans because it was so common and widespread. And from just what we could find online blackberries were available in Texas and jellies were made. I'd be surprise if someone couldn't find that blackberry jelly wasn't made in Texas.

In fact, the jellies that we're seeing are ones that you can find in Philadelphia and Boston cookbooks because that's what's the most common. In both the lists of fair prizes and the requests of the aid society there is very little that's unique to Texas. And that again shows that national norms really do have meaning. And those people in Texas who were winning the prizes were not farbs, but authentic people.

If you see a list of things that are all part of the national norm, all the things the aid society wanted, then that shows that the national influence has reached that area, and if the national influence has reached that area and you can't find a recipe for jelly then you can turn to the Philadelphia or Boston cookbook to get a recipe.


To me finding those sorts of gems makes a far better persona (and certainly more historically accurate) than asking what 19th c. women typically wore and trying to keep it PEC! I have a feeling you will agree. Then you don't know me very well. :rolleyes: You're saying that the ladies in Texas that didn't wear the "bonnets made out of squash" were less accurate than those who did? What I'd want to know is how many people followed the fashion of the squash bonnet, or the grapevine cage... Would an entire village of people in those bonnets and cages be more accurate than the more usual stuff? Somehow I doubt it. I believe that if one wants to do oddball things that one needs to portray the specific individual.

When I do local research I look to see what was normal. For example, a lot of "heirloom" fruits and vegetables that survive today do so because they were unique in their appearance. The "moon and stars watermelon," is one that comes instantly to mind. When I was looking for seeds for our historic garden I looked for what was most common. I looked at all the period catalogues I could find Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, the Shakers. I read books and extracted information about varieties and garden layout and such. Some of those books include: Beecher's Treatise on Domestic Economy, Haskell's Housekeeper's Guide, US and Ohio Agricultural Reports 1854-1863, The American Gardener by Cobbett, Domestic and Rural Affairs by Storke, Mrs. Chadwick's cookbook, and several other cookbooks, as well as The American Fruit Culturist by Thomas, and Fearing Burr's Field and Garden Vegetables of America. All I had to do was narrow down which ones were still available on the market today.

Finally, I narrowed down my search and we made our purchases. What's always neat to see is when doing local research the editor of the paper in 1863 says something to the effect of, "Today Mrs. [x] delivered a fine basket of pink eye potatoes." The very variety that we chose to purchase based upon all the books, catalogues and such that we searched. The Ohio Agricultural Reports also list annual reports of counties, and we found that the same varieties of apples, peaches, pears, etc. showed up as the most common throughout all our research. There really is a lot more in common than one might think.

To me, what I find to be the most historically accurate is what was done by the people in the individual area that I am portraying. If the majority of people were wearing normal stuff then the majority of people should be wearing normal stuff at the event, and an accurate percentage would be doing the abnormal stuff documented to the specific area. Those who are portraying the more normal things from the area are no more accurate or less accurate than those who are portraying the unusual regional things.

Sorry to hear about your car battery.

KarinTimour
01-14-2008, 05:50 PM
Dear Terre:

Let me also say that I'm sorry to hear about your car toubles -- Lord knows, this is the season for car breakdowns and I know only too well how they can just completely overturn your day/week/schedule.

I've been thinking a lot about this discussion over the last few days, and it's taking on a bit of "through the Looking Glass." I get the feeling that you're saying that it's not useful to look at national publications, or state publications, the only thing that is useful is documentation from one's county, and even then you have to read years and years of stuff before thinking that you have a handle on what was done.

I think we can all agree that local infomration is important, and crucial. Indeed, I have to say that of the people that I've reenacted with over the years, Linda and Hank have been in the forefront of digging out local resources -- the memoir of the circuit riding preacher in McDowell, VA comes immeditely to mind. Terre, I don't know if you're familiar with what I'm talking about, but the McDowell event has been going on every 2 years for about 8 or 10 years now. And each time it's put on, we try to deepen the civilian experience. Four years ago, when we were getting ready for the event (keep in mind that it had already been done about three times already, and we had long since explored the census data and the Federal Army's records of what had happened there. Hank and Linda found a privately published memoir of the minister in the town, which revealed that there had been an active guerilla band operating in the area, and some of the information of what they were up to. It added an amazing amount of complexity to the event.

So I think we are all in some level of agreement that knowing the specifics of what happened in a particular town or area is crucial to history heavy events.

But at the same time there are assumptions that can be made, or perhaps it would be better to say theories of what they likely did that can be based on what we know about what other people were doing in that state, or that region or even nationally (and I'll leave it up to you whether you want to define that we had two nations or one at the time we're discussing).

Linda's example of the blackberry jelly is a good example of this. When we're reenacting a history heavy event, we've got people coming from many different regions and states to be at the event. We need to be able to start with basic foundation knowledge, and then research important differences germane to that location, so that we are portraying as representative as possible portrayal of the people who lived there in the 1860s.

And it's also true that if I only research my local area, the chances are good that the information will be of little use in the hobby, as I don't foresee all that many events being held in New York City. I get a kick out of it, and do it all the time -- and while some of the information can be transferred to an impression of someone living in a small town in Virginia, much of it can't.

When I get the chance to reenact, I'm always travelling at least 5-7 hours from my home base to do it. I certainly will spend months before an event reading primary and secondary resources about the area/region/town we will be portraying. But I also need to search for the commonalities that exist regardless of the region. Someone whose husband is in an Army in harms' way is going to spend a lot of time thinking of him and praying that he will return safe and sound. A person with little ready money needs to be thinking about what resources she has, and how to stretch them to cover her needs.

I know you disagree with me about the idea that there were commonly held values that people of very different geographic regions held. But when I look at things like mourning customs, the definiton of a good death, the importance of a woman being above suspicion with regard to sexual involvement with men she's not married to, the importance of community, the belief that there is an active and involved God (however defined) and that He is an active force in the world, I see these larger themes repeated in communities that may have very different beliefs regarding the abolition of slavery or the role of the Federal Governement in every day life.

I have to admit that I haven't (yet) reenacted in Texas, and so I can't speak to whether any of these values were or are held there. My assumption is that they were, but I could be completely wrong.

A crucial issue is also what was mentioned in letters or diaries BECAUSE it was remarkable -- it was an unusual or clever or out of the norm response to a common problem. But as Linda points out, we need to have a context into which to fit that infomation -- some of the clues to the context are that it is even remarked upon at all. I've been re-reading George Templeton Strong's diary (treasurer of the United States Sanitary Commission, attorney and upper class New Yorker). In July, 1862 he stayed home from church one Sunday to work on a fundraising appeal letter. He specifically states in his entry a) that he sent his son with Grandma to church; b) that it's so hot, his hands are sweating onto the paper and he's had to put blotting paper down to keep the sweat from drenching his document and c) he's writing in his shirtsleeves. Just from this statement alone we can deduce that the norm is a) he goes to church (he's on the vestry); b) he doesn't usually have to keep blotting paper on the document he's writing to keep it dry; and c) when he's home at his house, in private, he's usually doing it with a suit coat (probably a frock coat) on.

As Linda has stated above, if we put that information together with information from other sources, it can tell us much about what people of a similar economic status and background considered "normal."

Linda wrote:
To me, what I find to be the most historically accurate is what was done by the people in the individual area that I am portraying. If the majority of people were wearing normal stuff then the majority of people should be wearing normal stuff at the event, and an accurate percentage would be doing the abnormal stuff documented to the specific area. Those who are portraying the more normal things from the area are no more accurate or less accurate than those who are portraying the unusual regional things.

I feel that important information is to be gained through reading local and regional sources. But national, or state-wide resources can also tell us important information. Historians who have worked on this field their whole careers can offer important insights as well, often through secondary resources. All are tools that can help me better understand the people of a specific region that I am trying to portray.

Sincerely,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

Linda Trent
01-14-2008, 06:16 PM
A search of Vicki Betts' newspapers will show that jelly was a category at the Gulf Coast Fair Association at Victoria Nov. 14-16, 1860. Specifically mentioned were quince preserves and plum jelly, nothing surprising there.Oops, I forgot the link http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/indianola%20courier.htm (http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/indianola%20courier.htm)

" Quince Preserves, certificate to Mrs. Sanford.
" Plum Jelly, " " "
" 3 Tumblers of Jelly, premium to Mrs. J. Weisiger.
" 1 Jelly Cake, premium to Mrs. Weisiger.
" 1 Jar Preserved Peaches, premium to Mrs. J. R. Cocke.
" 1 Jar Orange Preserves, premium to Mrs. L. Arnold.
" 1 Jar Wild Plum Preserves, certificate to Miss Sarah Tippett.
" 1 Jar Quince Preserves, certificate to Miss Sarah Tippett.

Instead of blackberry jelly, I should have said currant jelly. Currant jelly seems to have been more common than blackberry, though I'd say there's nothing wrong with blackberry. :D

Linda.

amity
01-15-2008, 01:20 AM
This is an example of if you don't look at nationally, as well as locally you miss the greater picture. It is true that Florida is known for its oranges, and Georgia for its peaches, however oranges were shipped by rail, and even as far north as Boston, Mrs. Lee has a recipe for orange jelly. Peaches were grown far beyond just Georgia.

Ellis & Bosson's nursery catalogue of 1839, Boston tells its readers that they can obtain the following from various nurseries just outside of Boston: 200 varieties of pears; 200 of apples, 120 of peaches, 60 of cherries, plums, nectarines, almonds, apricots, quinces, grape vines, currants, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, figs &c. According to a B&O classification sheet for 1863 the B&O shipped grapes, oranges, and lemons first class. So it's no surprise that Mrs. Lee in her Boston cookbook has a recipe for Orange Jelly.


Yes, yes, I know! This is a perfect example of what I mean. But did people actually do this? Now I am sure you know:
1) Comparatively few people live in urban areas where stores were stocked like that!
2) What's available in Boston might not be (and probably wasn't) available in other places.

So before we bring marmalade to an event in Tennessee, saying "Yes, well, oranges were widely available in the mid-19th c." let's check! Like blackberries in Texas, in probably depends on a lot of factors. Being an enormous place with few navigable rivers and poor road system, just really awful infrastructure, plus the fact that Texas is partly humid acidic soiled piney forest, part desert, and part alkaline clay, and many other types of environment as well, I would predict that blackberries were only available to SOME women in Texas, probably a minority?. And I think the area around Indianola was fairly acidic, which possibly explains the lack of blackberries? Although my area is fairly alkaline and I haven't heard of them in this area, either, YET! Indianola also did have access toshipping explaining the oranges that probably were not often available very many places in Texas? (It does freeze here). And we don't really know if the ones who had access to them made jelly out of them either, do we? So it seems like a good case for greater emphasis on regionalism. IOW, let's find out!

"Linda wrote:
To me, what I find to be the most historically accurate is what was done by the people in the individual area that I am portraying. If the majority of people were wearing normal stuff then the majority of people should be wearing normal stuff at the event, and an accurate percentage would be doing the abnormal stuff documented to the specific area. Those who are portraying the more normal things from the area are no more accurate or less accurate than those who are portraying the unusual regional things."

This is what I am doubtful about. It seems here most women went barefoot at public events, at least in certain areas of Texas, so that would be the norm. Hoop skirted (wth grapevies?) and barefoot.


I don't have time to finish reading right now,b ut will come back to it.

hanktrent
01-15-2008, 03:06 AM
Car trouble, yuck. My sympathies.


To me finding those sorts of gems makes a far better persona (and certainly more historically accurate) than asking what 19th c. women typically wore and trying to keep it PEC!

I think that gets to the heart of why people encourage reenactors to be PEC for the time and place being portrayed--which often, not always, happens to be PEC for a wider area as well.

My goal for reenacting is to try to get the same experience as if I was actually at the historic situation. In my opinion, anything that accomplishes that is better and more accurate.

In theory, one could go back in time with a clipboard and take a survey of what headcoverings women were wearing during the actual event being reenacted. Unless 100% were wearing squash bonnets, then in my opinion, a squash bonnet would be neither necessarily better, and certainly not more historically accurate. If the number was less than 100%, I sure wouldn't have the guts to walk up to real Texas women in the 1860s and tell them they were less accurate because they weren't wearing squash bonnets. :)

We can only estimate, through research, what percentage of women would be wearing squash bonnets on the street of Smallville Texas on the afternoon of February 30, 1863, which we're trying to depict, but let's say our estimate is, I dunno, 30%, with the rest a mix of slat bonnets, fashion bonnets, hats, rebosos, other styles of home-made bonnets, etc. That's just totally hypothetical for the sake of example--any number less than 100% would do.

If so, based on my reenacting goal, someone whose persona wore a squash bonnet would be equally accurate, but no more so, than any of the other choices.

If the event guidelines said squash bonnets were better and more accurate, and everyone tried to be the best and most accurate based on that, the event would actually be less accurate. Because the recreated village would have 100% squash bonnets when the real village only had 30%.

So to deal with that problem, events encourage PEC portrayals for the historic situation, rather than unique gems. Or only encourage gems if they're sure a minority of reenactors will bother to portray them regardless.

As in real life, there will be people who have the inclination, unique physical ability, stubborness, whatever, to do the unusual impressions even if they're discouraged, and therefore there will usually be about the right mix. Or at least I believe that's the goal of encouraging PEC impressions for the situation, even if they also happen to be PEC for a wider area.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Linda Trent
01-15-2008, 04:52 AM
Being an enormous place with few navigable rivers and poor road system, just really awful infrastructure, plus the fact that Texas is partly humid acidic soiled piney forest, part desert, and part alkaline clay, and many other types of environment as well, I would predict that blackberries were only available to SOME women in Texas, probably a minority? And I think the area around Indianola was fairly acidic, which possibly explains the lack of blackberries? Although my area is fairly alkaline and I haven't heard of them in this area, either, YET!

You're wanting to research Caldwell County, right? Would you agree that it's within about 60 miles (give or take) from San Antonio and and about 30 miles from Austin? So what you're really looking for is evidence of blackberries in that region. Perhaps I should have quoted all of Olmstead's paragraph. :D


In crossing to the Brazos at San Felipe, we rode through a district occupied by German farmers of some means, and apparently in thriving condition, for many of them were engaged in enlarging and decorating their houses. All cultivated cotton, and some had very extensive fields of excellent promise. We saw no negroes among them. The night before (April 28th) we had noticed a slight hoar frost in the bottom, where we camped; but, though some delicate weeds were wilted, the cotton-leaves showed no signs of injury. The cotton plant had now a general resemblance to the young growth of the ruta-baga, before the rough leaves are fully developed. Corn was from two to four feet high wherever early planted. Blackberries and mulberries were ripe, and string-beans, peas, and new potatoes were upon the table before we left San Antonio."

To me, he's looking at ripe blackberries growing in a field near San Antonio. We're not just talking taking them to market, or what was available in cities, but what was growing in fields in the San Antonio area.

Apparently blackberries do grow in Caldwell County today, as well, for there is apparently a 'pick your own' farm in Dale, Caldwell County, TX. "McKemie Homegrown -- blackberries, tomatoes."

So the question is, if blackberries can be proven in the period to only about 60 miles from Caldwell County, and they're grown there today, why dismiss them? Is it merely because you haven't found them at your own local historical society? Relying solely upon local resources does have it's drawbacks. The most common things, as I said in my previous post, usually are not what's recorded or saved. It's the unique, unusual, oddball, whatever you want to call it, that gets written down and/or saved.


And we don't really know if the ones who had access to them made jelly out of them either, do we? it seems like a good case for greater emphasis on regionalism.Again, I won't continue to beat the dead horse, but we need to study local, state and national as a combined effort. Apparently regionalism hasn't come up with the blackberries yet, but a wider view has, at least up to 60 or so miles from where you live. We've also found jelly moulds at Texas stores, jellies being awarded prizes at Texas fairs, a Texas aid society requesting jellies, and actually quite a few other sources of jelly in Texas.

Again, my point is, living here in Ohio over a thousand miles away I've been able to pretty accurately conclude that blackberries and jelly were probably in Texas based upon the national norm. Not only that, but that they were and continue to be grown within a few miles of Caldwell County. You are correct that I have yet to prove that blackberries were made into jelly, however why should I dismiss it as a typical period food after looking at all the evidence from a national level?

Linda.

amity
01-15-2008, 12:46 PM
Linda, I live just about exactly 60 miles from downtown SA and 30 miles from the state capitol at Austin. I now work in south Austin, but before that I worked for the local school district. I used to get to SA maybe three or four times a year, and to Austin maybe twice a month. I sure wouldn't drive there even in a modern car for blackberries! ;)

Longbranch 1
01-15-2008, 03:04 PM
Thanks to All,

Wonderful discourse!

Insightful and informative and without rancor.

I sure hope others on the military side take the time to read this thread.

* By the way, my personal thinking is that both schools are equally correct. You cannot have a"local" interpretation without a"norm/national" overview. Or vice-versa.

An old farmer,safely home from Mexico, enlisted in the 35th NC.

Kevin Ellis,
26th NC

Linda Trent
01-15-2008, 03:43 PM
You know, I told myself I wasn't going to post anymore on this thread, but one more thought came to me this afternoon. Terre wrote in post 13:
"How about what she wore? Godey's? Again, this woman's situation is quite a bit different from that of Godey's target audience, so we really have to investigate what influence it had in the lives of women like her, or if it was even available (some places in TX did not even get mail regularly during the war, let alone magazines!)." And then she added in another post:
"but I have read several mentions of bonnets made out of squash (evidently the interior stringy layer of the squash, which when dried and shaped look sort of like an open straw) and one young woman became somewhat reknowned locally for her hair nets made out of horsehair. Not purchased horsehair, of course. Also read of cages made out of wild grapevines. "My question is simply, why? Why did these ladies go through the trouble of making fashion bonnets out of squash , and cages out of grapevines *if* they weren't influenced by someone or something? Did the idea of a hoop skirt just come to them? Or were they influenced by what they saw other ladies wearing and social pressures both inside and outside the state of Texas? It seems to me that they were trying to use whatever they had in order to fit in and wear clothes more typical of what other ladies were wearing (fashion bonnets and hoop skirts). So, can we say with any certainty that they weren't influenced by magazines with fashion plates, perhaps even Godey's! whether they ever touched the magazine or not?

Anyway, I've said about all I can say on the topic, but I did just want to get this one last thought out. I'd love to have other people share their thoughts too! I do think that it's been an interesting thread.

> I sure hope others on the military side take the time to read this thread.

Kevin, I do too. It was my fault for keeping it in the medical forum. I'm just afraid that some folks don't come over here for whatever reason. I was really hoping that we could get a bunch of other people to post on this.

Linda.

ElizabethClark
01-16-2008, 04:22 AM
Perhaps we ought to ask for a move to the Citizen's section? I often skip reading topics that show up in the medical section, as no one in our family does a medical impression (or military one, for that matter.)

On topic:

I agree wholeheartedly that this is a great discussion on the process of research! My thoughts will ditto others already well-presented, so I'll just try to be concise.

Local research is lovely because of its direct relevence to a local impression, but there will necessarily be gaps in the local record, either through lack of original recording, loss of records between then and now, or some other hedging up of the way. We can sometimes fill those gaps by expanding to regional sources, but even then, sometimes the specifics are lacking.

Continuing research on a local, regional, and national basis is vital... where one has gaps, another fills the breach. If I can't find specific information on an impression of someone, in, say, Biloxi MS 1859, I may be able to find information for another area in the region with a similar mix of characteristics, and lacking that information, I may be able to find information from, say, a Gulf-Coast Florida town with similar characteristics enough to give me some broad generalizations to work within while I continue to look for more details.

Larger context is VITAL. No area of the US existed in a vaccuum... even if a person were transplanted to a very remote area, they bring with them all their life and knowledge previous to the transplant, so their decisions and actions will be informed by that background, which we can investigate through exploring where they came from, or areas similar to where they came from. (Hence Linda's thoughts on why women in Texas would be struggling to adapt locally-available materials into semi-fashionable items--they're remote, but they're somewhat informed on the "desireable national norms" and trying to emulate them with what's on hand.)

Local research without regional and national perspective may lead us to think a particular area is really unique, when in reality, it has a lot in common with other, similar areas and situations all around the country.

Huge Brief Dittos with Hank's comments on getting a mix of impression details, and balancing them out to be more accurate.

Baby's hungry. Again. More later. :)

Linda Trent
01-16-2008, 04:29 AM
Perhaps we ought to ask for a move to the Citizen's section? I second that motion, but don't know how to do it myself, so... :p

Linda

amity
01-16-2008, 01:31 PM
Linda, let's simply see what they really wore. They may have worn squash bonnets decorated with cattails out of the creek. If so, why get OUR design ideas out of Godey's is all I am saying. Cattails are easier to find than real silk flowers, anyway! If we have wide reports that the average woman went barefoot on the average day, let's do it (no, Hank, not everybody has to, or probably should do this).

Since this thread is in the medical forum for unknown reasons, let me ask why begin by researching "medicine in the U.S." when there is info on the practical medicine that was available to people in northwestern Alabama, etc., available? I just picked clothes to start becaue it is something the "norms" of which are pretty well known.

If the amounts of info we are storing in our heads was proportional to the amounts in different categories that our target people had, we might have quite a different take on life during that time. (Did that make any sense at all?)

ElizabethClark
01-16-2008, 04:58 PM
In some cases, though, we won't be able to know what The Originals wore in every setting. In those circumstances, we may have to reach to a more broad generalization--something that would be reasonable based on what was being worn in other, similar circumstances by other, similar people. Sometimes we may use that generalized information for a short while, as we continue to look at resources that turn up answers; sometimes we may need to use that generalized information for a longer while because the area-specific answers aren't showing up immediately.

One reason I can see for starting with a "global" research question such as "medicine in the US in 18XX" is to give a broad context to anything more specific. Interpretively, it's helpful to know whether or not the area-specific information matches or contrasts with what's going on in other areas, historically. The mid-century is an era of great upheaval and travel, after all--people come into and out of areas with shocking frequency, and while they are currently in Northwest Alabama, for instance, they may be more or less used to availabilities of certain medicinal items, and having to get used to what's available in that particular area, and at what price, etc.

I agree, we sometimes run the risk of over-analyzing or over-asking on various topics, just trying to get an understanding of a past time. People who will study our modern era will do the same thing--it's the curse of studying history. There's always a tangent to follow, and often we end up knowing a lot of detailed minutia (think I spelled that one wrong) that a person of the era might not really think about, or care to think about, or even know (if it was outside of the scope of their own life and livelihood.)

On the other hand, every bit of miscellaneous information just adds to my own understanding of a time I'll never actually experience. I *like* the weird little details, be they national, regional, or town, or household-specific.

On the national level, people might be academically aware of the troubles settlers sometimes had with native peoples. At a regional level, there might be more interest in the papers, more attention from local politicians and leaders. At my hometown level in the 1860s, there was very concrete interest, as it was growing unsafe to travel from settlement to settlement without 10-20 men with guns. And at a household level, there was one family in my home valley who built their house with 18" thick native stone, had gun-ports in the parlour, and a well dug under the house to prevent it being tampered with.

Information at every level of that scenario is interesting, but if I didn't have the broadest context of "national norms", I could easily over-extrapolate the gun-ports in the parlour, and get a distorted view of the situation pretty quickly. In order to be an effective living history interpreter (or even to interact realistically with other living history enthusiasts), I need the full context. But Mrs. Holmstrom just needed her indoor well and parlour gun-ports.

hanktrent
01-17-2008, 03:37 AM
One reason I can see for starting with a "global" research question such as "medicine in the US in 18XX" is to give a broad context to anything more specific.

One example is the mindset of catharsis. The idea of getting rid of bad stuff in your body was widespread, I'd say through most of western civilization and for decades before and after our period. Yeah, that's where Freud was coming from too, metaphorical catharsis to match the physical kind that "everyone knew" was so important in medicine.

So you see different philosophies applied to the same central idea: keep the bowels open but only with botanics not calomel; keep the bowels open with our local spring's water; keep the bowels open but gently not drastically. And the same mindset applied to other things too: sweating, bleeding, puking, blistering, to get those bodily fluids out. Even after doctors were rejecting the humoral theory of medicine, they (and people in general) clung to the basic mindset for decades, that stuff stopped up in you was bad.

So knowing that, is going to help understand why a local plant might be considered valuable medicinally even if all it does is give you diarrhea or make you throw up, or why people might be looking for a plant that had those effects, or, if they didn't include that concept in their medical philosophy, it could be a clue that they were being heavily influenced by some other non-European/American culture when it came to medicine.



And at a household level, there was one family in my home valley who built their house with 18" thick native stone, had gun-ports in the parlour, and a well dug under the house to prevent it being tampered with.

Information at every level of that scenario is interesting, but if I didn't have the broadest context of "national norms", I could easily over-extrapolate the gun-ports in the parlour, and get a distorted view of the situation pretty quickly


Coming at it from just the opposite direction... Reminds me of an 1830ish church building in a collection of old buildings and artifacts here in southern Ohio. They had a reconstructed gun rack inside and claimed that it was because everyone carried guns to church in those days, because they were afraid of Indians. Even though some people in the U.S. were still dealing with Indians at that time, the fact that hostile Indians had all left southern Ohio a few decades earlier didn't seem to matter. :)

By the way, I think this thread was meant to be started in the civilian forum and wound up here by mistake, and Linda has written the provost to see if it can be transferred.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

amity
01-17-2008, 12:58 PM
One example is the mindset of catharsis. The idea of getting rid of bad stuff in your body was widespread, I'd say through most of western civilization and for decades before and after our period. Yeah, that's where Freud was coming from too, metaphorical catharsis to match the physical kind that "everyone knew" was so important in medicine. Hank, didn't some "uneducated" folks still think in terms of humours, or am I mixing my periods? Seems I read something like that in a primary source.

hanktrent
01-17-2008, 01:25 PM
Hank, didn't some "uneducated" folks still think in terms of humours, or am I mixing my periods? Seems I read something like that in a primary source.

Oh yeah, definitely. Didn't mean to imply they didn't. The humoral theory had really only been rejected by educated doctors for a decade or so, so it definitely hung on much longer all kinds of places.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

amity
01-21-2008, 02:46 AM
I finally can get back to this a bit.

I am not ragging on the use of national sources altogether. First there is an interpretation that they can be perfectly fine for, a major source, even. That would be specifically an impression of someone to whom such sources were central during their own lives. Some women really did dress by Godey's and Peterson's! It is obvious from reading diaries and letters that concerns about fashion were paramount in some women's minds. If there is reaon to believe that a particular woman dressed herself out of Godey's and never missed poring over an issue, then by all means that would be an important source in depicting her life.

I am just saying that there is no reason to use Godey's in EVERY female persona, or even in most. It just did not loom all that large in most women's minds, evidently. Not as large as it does in most reenactors' minds, at least! The "average woman" for whatever locale probably dressed rather similar to other people of her station in life in her particular area. I am suggesting the first question to ask of anyone we are thinking of portraying is "where are they from" or at least "where are they living during the war," and then drawing a bead on how women in that area dressed will be more valuable than asking how women in the CW dressed. The same must be said of the food eaten, the music played and listened to, the religious observances, and every other aspect of daily life, really. It is hard to think of a specific field of research where this principle doesn't apply, except perhaps among those who travelled habitually, or in some other way really did constitute a separate "class" on a national scale and should be analyzed as such. For example, actresses, vaudeville performers, missionaries, career military. Other than that, people seem to be "typed" very neatly by their contemporaries based on where they are from, and moreover "who they are," so it seems we should do the same. I think it would greatly affect our perspective.

ElizabethClark
01-21-2008, 06:12 AM
*But*--those regional and local "codes" of behavior, dress, conduct, acceptable music, etc, do tend to fall either right into, or on the edges of, larger societal norms, both national and "civilized world-wide". Certain local areas may have a bit more influence from other areas (French influence in New Orleans, for example, or Spanish influence in California), but then we need to look not at *local* stuff to inform us of broader context, but world-wide sources... and even then, there are some basic standard things (about clothing, for instance) that are quite normal all the world over in the mid-century for one who is American, European, or UK-descended.

Subscription numbers for various women's magazines (not just Godey's, but Petersons, Arthurs, etc) give me the impression that they're not like Vogue. Really, they're more like Family Circle or Woman's Day... general magazines for the everyday women, with some pretty fashions that may or may not be copied, but with some great household advice, some good fiction, some travel articles, some science articles, some music to fiddle with on the home piano, some hints on daily living, some inspirational articles, etc... these are *not* "fashion" magazines. Fashion makes up a very small part of the content, actually, but the magazines of mid-century do, overall, play one very important role: they serve as a unifying ideal to a very young nation not quite sure of itself, and going through a stormy adolescense.

You wrote, "It just did not loom all that large in most women's minds, evidently." My immediate thought is, "Who says?" We can't know what every woman thought, and we know for a fact they didn't write down every detail and thought in journals and letters (how many private diaries bother to say much about the daily travails of pregnancy? But we know those women experienced them!) We can't know that *most* women looked to the magazines in the published world for information, but subscription numbers would tend to lend credence to the idea that at least a good number of them did take the magazines, and for more than a few issues, indicating they found *some* value in the subscription.

And, regardless of whether or not a woman had a subscription, or access to a ladies magazine, she was still "informed" by the society around her, so she'd still be exposed to the clothing ideas and dressing standards of those in the larger society, both local, regional, and national, and to some extent, world-wide.

Even with the "out of class" impressions, like actors and musicians, etc, there is a "norm"--what other people in society *expect* those sorts of professions to produce in personality, character, clothing styles, etc. When performers don't meet those expectations in one way or another, it might be notable, but there are generalities that a person of the era will expect to find upon meeting an entertainer for the first time, and those generalities can be learned about through multiple sources, not just local sources (heck, some generalities are even popularized in the fiction in ladies magazines!)

I guess what I'm flailing at is this: there is no one ideal source for everything. When crafting an impression, it pays to look at the local, the regional, the national, and the international, to determine what things will be helpful in that particular impression, either through the use and knowledge of the things, or from the deliberate ignorance of the things that one's character would not yet have been exposed to.

hanktrent
01-21-2008, 07:53 AM
And, regardless of whether or not a woman had a subscription, or access to a ladies magazine, she was still "informed" by the society around her, so she'd still be exposed to the clothing ideas and dressing standards of those in the larger society, both local, regional, and national, and to some extent, world-wide.

Speaking not of clothing, but of behavior, there's a chapter in Charles MacKay's famous Extraordinary Popular Delusions about popular phrases:



London is peculiarly fertile in this sort of phrases, which spring
up suddenly, no one knows exactly in what spot, and pervade the whole
population in a few hours, no one knows how


The author describes a series of catch-phrases or songs that became popular, then faded, to be replaced by another. See the chapter POPULAR FOLLIES IN GREAT CITIES here: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext96/ppdel10.txt

While it's surprising enough that a silly phrase can spread through a single city when there was no communication except in writing or face-to-face, the same thing happened over larger chunks of America. One of the phrases MacKay mentions specifically, "What a shocking bad hat," even hopped the Atlantic and was about as common here.

It amazes me not only how, but why, people do this. There's some kind of powerful urge that makes them want to copy not just practical things--which would be logical--but totally unnecessary things, and spread them through a culture.

You see it both on a micro level (in-jokes among a small group) and macro level ("come out of that hat," or "Mister here's your mule"). It might be explainable today when we can all potentially share the same experience in real time by turning on a popular TV show or the news. But lack of technology doesn't seem to have hindered the spread and popularity much.

However it works, whatever the reason, I think the motivations that cause it can't be discounted when trying to understand human behavior, especially concerning all the non-practical things where sheer efficiency and productivity isn't foremost: fashion, language, entertainment, beliefs, etc.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

amity
01-21-2008, 10:43 AM
Subscription numbers for various women's magazines (not just Godey's, but Petersons, Arthurs, etc) give me the impression that they're not like Vogue. Really, they're more like Family Circle or Woman's Day... general magazines for the everyday women, with some pretty fashions that may or may not be copied, but with some great household advice, some good fiction, some travel articles, some science articles, some music to fiddle with on the home piano, some hints on daily living, some inspirational articles, etc... these are *not* "fashion" magazines. Elizabeth, I think you are making my point for me here! Does anyone have an idea how we could find out what percentage of families in the U.S. in, say 1860, owned a piano? I have no idea, but am thinking it was pretty small.

amity
01-21-2008, 10:46 AM
While it's surprising enough that a silly phrase can spread through a single city when there was no communication except in writing or face-to-face, the same thing happened over larger chunks of America. One of the phrases MacKay mentions specifically, "What a shocking bad hat," even hopped the Atlantic and was about as common here.

It amazes me not only how, but why, people do this. There's some kind of powerful urge that makes them want to copy not just practical things--which would be logical--but totally unnecessary things, and spread them through a culture.hanktrent@voyager.net Does this take into account that when a stranger comes to town in an average town it is commented on? Just one stranger's presence seems newsworthy. That is one of the things that makes me think we can't speak of "mid-19th c. culture." There seem to be many "cultures," in contact with one another to be sure, but functionally quite separate.

One way to get at this might be to look at the influence of the popular press. That is a milestone in the amalgamation of "American mass culture." (Yes, I know it existed since the 1600s.) An overall analysis of the rise of popular culture looking at one segment, such as the press, would be really interesting.

Linda Trent
01-21-2008, 11:24 AM
Hi Terre,

Terre, I'm not going to keep debating the Godey's thing. Karin and Liz pretty much answered your question in their posts by saying that Godey's was a magazine about ideas, not something for the people to make exact copies of. Cattails in bonnets instead of wax flowers? sure! Why not?

I do admit that I’m a bit confused though. In post #15, if I read you correctly, you basically said that people shouldn’t ask for such generic things as a “period jelly” recipe because that may vary from region to region. And I held out that jelly was a very typical method of preserving fruit through till the next season (and I also allowed for some various other methods being used), and that one common jelly was blackberry.

What I'm not sure about is when I mentioned that blackberries were grown in San Antonio and that there is, in the 21st century, a pick-it-yourself place, you wrote, is "I sure wouldn't drive there, even in a modern car for blackberries!" If you meant San Antonio you missed my point entirely -- the odds are very high that blackberries were being grown in Caldwell County, and in nearly every other section of Texas as well.

A couple days ago I decided to do the unthinkable, I turned to DeBow (:evil:), in an 1867 issue he quotes a portion of the “First report of progress of the Geological and Agricultural Survey of Texas” by B. F. Shumard the state geologist, which was presented to the Texas Legislature on Dec. 3rd, 1859, in which he states, “Texas has one native blackberry (Rubus triviclis), common in nearly every section. It bears very good fruit, is cultivated by some, and ought to be by others, because its fruit improves in flavor, and it also bears more abundantly when cultivated; it trails, and needs support, and when thus treated, well repays the trouble.” http://tinyurl.com/25whm5 (http://tinyurl.com/25whm5) Granted since it trails, and has the name trivialis, it is the “southern dewberry,” but they’re hardly distinguishable from blackberries except blackberries grow on bushes, and this geologist referred to them as blackberries. So, why do a national search at the same time you’re doing local? Well, besides all the earlier answers it can lead us to other search words. Now you have rubus trivialis and dewberries, as well as blackberries! And, some local sources may not mention it, no matter how common or rare it might be.

I had a sore that wasn't healing and last week went to the doctor for a biopsy, already knowing what was wrong (found it on the internet). And I can honestly report that I'm quite PEC in the world of skin cancers, the results came back a few days ago positive for Basal Cell Carcinoma (the most common form of skin cancer nationally). And yep, my doctor confirmed that it's the most common form he sees locally as well. :roll: There are definately some things that are PEC both now and then. I just wish I didn't have to be the proof in the jelly. :grin:

Linda

hanktrent
01-21-2008, 11:33 AM
Does this take into account that when a stranger comes to town in an average town it is commented on? Just one stranger's presence seems newsworthy. That is one of the things that makes me think we can't speak of "mid-19th c. culture." There seem to be many "cultures," in contact with one another to be sure, but functionally quite separate.

Well, of course there are overlapping cultures. A New York City resident could recognize a greenhorn from the country as a stranger by subtle clues, as much as the resident of a very small town could recognize a stranger by process of elimination ("I know all 78 people in town, and he's not one of them.")

But in general, even with a stranger from another part of the country, there will be a lot more similarities than differences--except the similarities are ignored as obvious or irrelevant by those more interested in the differences.

I mean, unless the stranger's not wearing pants, it's trivial that he is wearing them. But in lots of cultures he'd be wearing another garment; he's wearing pants because of a shared American culture. And probably (though not necessarily) high-rise pants with a button fly and a strap in the back, rather than, say, fall-front knee breeches or low-rise pants with back pockets and rivets on the stress points.

I'd guess that one could pick a common style of pants and shirt that would turn out to be well within the range of typical for everything from a Maine farmer to a California gold miner to a Louisiana plantation overseer, even though there might also be additional regional varieties that would give each region its slightly different look, overall. Thus it makes sense to talk about a typical style of pants, that had changed from a few generations before and is going to be different a few generations later.

I'm not saying all people in the 1860s were alike, but I'm saying that they were affected, just like all people, with a desire to share a common culture, both locally and in larger groups.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

amity
01-21-2008, 12:57 PM
Yeow, Linda! So sorry about your basal cell carcinoma!. That would have been one good thing not to be PEC about!

Ironic you should mention about the dewberries, because that is one of the things that made me wonder in the first place. I don't think we have them around here (we used to have plenty of them when I lived north of San Antonio about 30 miles). They are not growing in the fencerows. They do grow in sandy and dry conditions, but maybe just in soil that is more alkaline than what we have here (still pretty alkaline). Not sure what I am missing, they may indeed be around here somewhere. But we can grow strawberries here in a certain season, which we couldn't grow in the hill country. Another thing we just don't seem to have is "cedar" (really it is a species of juniper). Something changes over the escarpment and the flora is quite different down here from what it is even 30 miles away in Austin. Plus even if they do grow here, that doesn't show that jelly was made out of them. So before I was to represent dewberry or blackberry jelly as a thing done locally I would want to at least see some or read a primary source mentioning it.

And I wouldn't make assumptions about "civilization" either. Some of the things you read about back then were NOT civilized at all! Really medieval. Yes, holdovers from medieval days right here in Texas.

Linda Trent
01-21-2008, 04:04 PM
Ironic you should mention about the dewberries, I don't think we have them around hereThis is the 3rd time I've mentioned it without recognition, but I did find them in the 21st century at a pick-it-yourself farm in Dale, Caldwell County, Texas. http://austinfarm.org/homegrown/

But an even bigger question is, what do you think makes Caldwell County, since that's your home base, so different from the rest of the state and country that you're not willing to acknowledge anything a county or two over?

Here's what I'm willing to bet. I see over and over again, in Debows, that Texas was well known for her cotton, wheat, and corn. Three typical crops of the south in the era. I'd bet that Caldwell County was pretty typical in this. What have you found? or Would you agree or disagree?

Have you looked into the number of slaves in Caldwell County yet?

Linda

amity
01-22-2008, 01:37 PM
When we have read through everything relevant within 10 mile and 10 years, then we go to the next county over and read their stuff. Don't look at Godey's or De Bow's until we find it mentioned in a primary source!


Would you agree or disagree? Both!


Have you looked into the number of slaves in Caldwell County yet?Yes.


This is the 3rd time I've mentioned it without recognition, but I did find them in the 21st century at a pick-it-yourself farm in Dale, Caldwell County, Texas. http://austinfarm.org/homegrown/ Linda, I doubt seroiuslyy these are wild. If you find any mentions in 1860s please do let me know, esp. if jelly.

Linda Trent
01-22-2008, 03:39 PM
Linda, I doubt seroiuslyy these are wild. If you find any mentions in 1860s please do let me know, esp. if jelly.Well, while not a period source, but a source about wild dewberries in Caldwell County, according to http://austinfarm.org/homegrown/news.03.html (http://austinfarm.org/homegrown/news.03.html) March 23, 2003
"Wild dewberries are blooming profusely. Brazos blackberries are just starting to bloom; other domestic blackberries will bloom later. Prospects for a very large blackberry crop remain very good. I intend to be open for pick-your-own most mornings beginning sometime mid to late May."Now, I have proved blackberries growing in San Antonio in the period, a state geologist saying that blackberries/dewberries grow in nearly every county in the state. And I've proven that they grow wild in Caldwell County in the modern world (which means that the climate and soil must be good for them). To me, that's evidence enough, to you, I'm sure it isn't. Doesn't matter, I'm done.

What I found most fascinating about the thread was that you seemed to think that there is no national norm, and that your little area in Texas somehow existed in a vacuum. That they didn't make jelly, that they didn't keep up with fashion... The fact of the matter is that Caldwell County was plain, everyday, common, especially for a southern community, in fact even for as far north as Gallia County, Ohio. But, just having a working knowledge of what's average nationally I was pretty much able to come up with something reasonable for your area in Texas, first based on national sources and working down to the local level.

I'm not sure what you meant when you answered "Both" on my post
Here's what I'm willing to bet. I see over and over again, in Debows, that Texas was well known for her cotton, wheat, and corn. Three typical crops of the south in the era. I'd bet that Caldwell County was pretty typical in this. What have you found? or Would you agree or disagree?But I'll go ahead and answer it. According to The New American Cyclopedia. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1858 "The staple productions [for Caldwell County] are wheat, Indian corn, and cotton" 8), a post war book The Resources, Soil, and Climate of Texas* by A. W. Spaight, Galveston: A.H. Belo & Company, Printers, 1882, confirms that cotton, corn, wheat, oats, barley, sweet potatoes, sorghum millet. What I find interesting is tobacco isn't mentioned. The only difference between you guys and us was we didn't have your cotton and you apparently didn't have our tobacco, otherwise we're pretty much the same.

I decided to go to the actual census records for Caldwell County to get a look at the community and see what was so unusual about it and its people. There were only three choices so I took Lockhart (the county seat), I did all nine pages and what I saw was pretty much Anytown, USA. It was a melting pot of people born outside of the state. A large majority of the population was from Tennessee, then Virginia, Kentucky, Germany, (the total from VA, KY, and Germany fell two short of the total from Tennessee), Missouri, and South Carolina. Texas was tied with three other states including Indiana for 7th largest group!. Now, I’m just counting those who had influence (16 year olds and up).


As far as occupations? I don’t see anything that would suggest that Caldwell County was an island unto itself. Merchants, students, farmers, clerks, laborers, stockraisers, schoolteachers, lawyers, editors, ministers, soldiers, apprentices, grocery keeper, physicians (one each from KY, VA and TN), gun smith, silver smith, black smith, baker, druggist, inn keeper, stage driver, butcher, barber, law student, farrier, sheriff, constable, law student, county clerk, shoe-maker, mechanic. I’m just not seeing your area as being in the vacuum that you seem to imply it was in.


why begin by researching "medicine in the U.S." when there is info on the practical medicine that was available to people in northwestern Alabama, etc., available?Why? Because in Lockhart, TX there were three physicians. One each from Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, the one from Kentucky was O.O. Searcy, Searcy is a well established family in the Lexington area; if he's part of that family perhaps he even went to Transylvania? :eek:

And as far as real estate and personal wealth I see everything from nothing declared to around 40/50,000 dollars total. One merchant from Tennessee had $15,000 real and $5,000 personal. Another merchant from France was valued at $20,000. Still another from KY at $14,000 -- while I can't prove it, I can pretty much guarantee that they had magazines that they could custom order for customers showing fancy things whether it was hardware, carriages, fashions, or whatever. There were enough other people in town with money, and I'm sure that there were outside of town as well.


Does this take into account that when a stranger comes to town in an average town it is commented on? Just one stranger's presence seems newsworthy. Well, it's kind of hard to notice a new person in town when a county goes through such a population explosion as Caldwell did between 1850 and 1860. The following quote is from: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/CC/hcc1.html (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/CC/hcc1.html) Handbook of Texas Online.


According to the 1850 census [Caldwell County] had 1,055 free residents and 274 slaves; by 1860 the number of free residents had more than doubled to 2,871, and the number of slaves had increased more than 5½ times to 1,610. So suddenly northern cookbooks like the Virginia Housewife, the Kentucky Housewife, etc. with their receipts for jelly and such have just become more meaningful. Maybe blackberry jelly wasn't so far off after all? :rolleyes:

Well, again, that's it from me on this thread with blackberries, jelly and Caldwell County TX. But I do admit that this thread's given me something to think about instead of my nose. :(

Thanks,

Linda.

amity
01-23-2008, 08:17 PM
What I found most fascinating about the thread was that you seemed to think that there is no national norm, and that your little area in Texas somehow existed in a vacuum. That they didn't make jelly, that they didn't keep up with fashion... .Never said any of those things (check back). It does not accord with what I am finding, that is all. Brazos blackberries are a fairly recent Texas A&M hybrid, I think. We used to grow them in the hill country, where they did well. I think they are bred to be tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions and I believe they would do well here too. Texas A&M even bred a variety of ASPARAGUS for Texas! Incredible. No one in 1860 would ever have thought asparagus would grow well here, hot, dry, and alkaline, but it can now!