Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ramping up

Just about four months before Henkel Square and the Harrisburg conference. I started a forum just for the Henkel Square event and developed a participant only page on my website. I thought it would be easier in the future to keep the Yahoo! list just general Texas civilian stuff and not get Henkel logistics and such buried in the list messages.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Post TMD

Apparently the George Ranch was very pleased with us at TMD. They want us back in the parlor next year. The director of the site was in the audience during the skirmishes and was very taken with Miss Vicki's theatrics :).

Here, also, is a link to the house in Tyler, the Dewberry Plantation, that is similar to the Ryan house and additional photos.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Texian Market Days 2009

The George Ranch Historical Park is a 480-acre living history site on the George Ranch, a 23,000 acre working ranch in Richmond Texas, near Houston. The park consists of four farms depicting different eras in the history of Texas and the George family, 1830s, 1860s, 1890s and 1930s. Texian Market Days is an annual fund raising event held the fourth weekend in October; this year marked the 26th anniversary of this annual event.

Usually the 1860s farm is interpreted for the post Civil War years; however, during Texian Market Days, the interpretation is set back during the war. This is the fifth year I have participated in this event and the fourth year the house has been available to the Civil War re-enactors. The last three years we have had full access to the structure, staying in the house overnight in addition to our interpretation during the event.

The Ryan Prairie Home is not the original house that the Ryans lived in; that house burned in the 1880s and actually stood where the 1930s house is on the ranch. The house that stands here now, however, is typical to the houses of the family’s social status and was built within a couple of years of the original. The house contains two rooms down and two rooms up with the typical center hall; each room has its own fireplace. It also has a veranda up and down. The kitchen and dining room are separated from the house. The kitchen has a working wood stove. Vicki Betts told us over the weekend that the house is a near twin to a house she is familiar with in Tyler.

I arrived at the event site on Friday about 3:30. Vicki Betts had already arrived. We unpacked the cars and got settled in the upstairs bedrooms. Vicki was all prepared for this event with a new ensemble; new Atlanta History Center dress, new bonnet, new shawl, and shoes she had not yet worn.

My room was decorated based on descriptions given in the late 1860s. The bed is a typical rope bed. The photo has some of my modern stuff out and I apologize for that.

We sat on the porch in the rocking chairs a bit talking with some of the other participants and ranch staff, and then decided to head out for dinner. Other civilian participants continued to arrive throughout the evening.

I had a little excitement Friday evening. It was a typical reenactment night, lots of late night discussions fueled by several kinds of beverages. I finally start drifting off to sleep and coyotes start in. I have never heard a large pack of coyotes go into full song before. I have to admit it was kind of creepy and scary. I don’t mind the howling but the yipping is just unnerving to me. But that was not to be my last wildlife experience of the night.

I hard this small thud then a scurrying noise. I turn on the flashlight and there is a baby mouse lying on the floor trying to move away. I hear the same sound again and there is another baby mouse and momma this time running out of the light. I’m wondering where in the world the babies are coming from? They are just appearing out of nowhere on the floor. I turn out the light and figure the mother is going to come take them away. Sure enough a little bit later the babies on the floor are gone.

So I snuggle down into the feather bed and get nice and comfortable. Then I feel this little tickle on my arm and then little feet starting up the arm of my nightgown. I quickly turn on the flashlight and there goes momma scurrying across the pillows down toward the floor. At this point it is time to get out of that bed. But where did she go. I turn back the coverlet on the bed and find under the pillows a whole nest of about 7-8 babies; I had been lying my head on the poor things. At this point I decide to leave the bed to the mice. Figuring the mother will stay with the nest if I’m not there. I take my feather bed, cover the nest back up and head for the floor. Not very comfortable, but mouse free.

Saturday morning when I get up and go back to check the nest and she has moved the babies during the night. A ranch staff member removed the nest for me later that morning.

The morning was beautiful, cool and clear. And the view from the upstairs veranda was amazing. The event opened from the public at 9:00. Me, Vicki Betts, Nancy Tucker and a ranch staff member settled into the parlor and waited for the public to arrive. We had several activities with us to keep busy. In the morning we worked on bags and handkerchiefs for the soldiers’ box. It made for a wonderful ice breaker with the public explaining what the box was, what a housewife was, etc.

The skirmishes for the day was pretty much the same both times. We found Confederate wounded on our porch. Vicki Betts was great, she tended the wounded, we gave them a some crackers and fruit. Then all of a sudden Yankees came up and started taking the wounded away. This is where Vicki found her place, she started yelling at the Yankees to go away, to leave the wounded alone. The Yankees took them away anyway and shot them, which just sent Vicki into a tither! The Yankees started to hang one of the Confederates from our top porch and I went up to try to stop them. We then hear shots and the Yankee up stairs drops dead and we all go running into the house and close the door; other Confederates had come to save us. So the skirmish goes on and the Confederates take the day. Vicki is on the porch waving here hankie and greeting them, telling them to feed the dead Yankees to the alligator down in the creek. It was a great show for the public, they loved it and we had a good time playing.

After the show was over we were slammed with public coming through the house. At one point during the day, Nancy and I were the only ones in the parlor and there were tons of public with camera taking our picture; it was an odd feeling, I guess this is how the famous feel when they sit and pose for pictures all the time. It was like a news conference photo session.

The ranch had food delivered to the site for lunch but not enough was ordered apparently so we had cheese and fruit and crackers, which was more than enough in corsets.

In the afternoon we began working on the wallpaper envelopes. The visitors were very interested in them. The glue worked really well. The crowds started to diminish after the afternoon skirmish, which was pretty much the same as the morning.

That evening, as usual, the ranch provided us dinner; it was very good. After dinner Vicki and I went back to the house, loaded up most of our stuff in the cars. We sat up talking the rest of the evening and then to bed without mice! The event is only one day, but we’re allowed access to everything all weekend if we wish. Vicki left very early Sunday. I slept in a bit and then headed home.

I really like this event. It gives us a chance to help out the ranch, talk with the public and play a bit. Plus having an actual structure, a period structure is always a plus. According to the ranch staff they had 17,000 visitors for this event. The weather was a great help; it could not have been better. mid-70s, a light breeze, clear…beautiful. We opened the windows in the house and it was really cool to see the lace curtains fluttering in the breeze. The sunset was gorgeous. As we walked back to the house the sun was just about down and the oxen were silhouetted against the sunset; it was a true Texas postcard.

More pictures here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Glue Works

The envelope glue works great!! Once it dried the sides stuck very well. Remoistened it didn't seem to stick as well as the sides, but still stuck well enough for an envelope. And there is no bad taste, which really surprised me.

Envelope Glued

So the glue is cooled and I tried it out on some paper. First the stuff stinks....really stinks. But once it has dried on the paper we'll see how well it works.

Envelope Glue

Next weekend is TMD. Vicki Betts is coming down and bringing some wallpaper perfect for envelopes. So I made some envelope glue following a recipe provided by Steve Ingram.

To begin you need
18 tablespoons of Vinegar
2 small packages of gelatin
sauce pan

Bring the vinegar to a boil.
Add gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved.
Pour in a small container with a tight seal and allow to cool.
It looks a lot like the gum arabic I used on the pen wiper. When it cools I'll try it out and post the results.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The new Citizen's Companion is out with my article. Looks good. Very pleased.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More images from Lost Tribes. These are wetplates done by Steve Ingram.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lost Tribes photo

Someone managed to get a photo of me and Kimberly.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New fabric

As promised, here is the fabric I picked up at Lost Tribes. I really like it...but what to make with it and when?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lost Tribes Thoughts

I loved this event; it was so fun. The interaction of the participants was great. First person was kept up as much as possible. Modern items were completely out of site. All the participants interacted to push the scenario and kept the event moving. I got great ideas for some Henkel stuff. My biggest disappointment was my own clothing; I just can’t believe things did not fit. We had a picture made of the residents of the Engledew. I'll post when available.

I loved the Arabia. I would like to go back and play tourist. We have been invited back to Boonesfield Village to another event there; the next is in May but I don’t know if I will be able to swing that one. If I should go back up there again I will definitely plan on more travel time, so I will not be so tired during the event.

Day 5 – Trip home

Monday morning was spent very leisurely. After checking out we went next door to the Springfield Tourist office and got more brochures and suggestions for breakfast. We went across the street to a little café attached to a local grocery store. This is apparently the place where all the retirees gather for their morning coffee klatches. We were the youngest there, other than Macy, the toddler everyone knew. It was very amusing to watch everyone greet everyone else and talk about their week, calling the waitresses by name and the waitress knowing exactly what they wanted. It was a great breakfast, and cheap too.

Our first stop on the way home was Wilson’s Creek Battlefield. We spent a good amount of time in the visitors’ center and then did the driving tour. The suggestion is for 1.5 hours…Hah! We spent that and still could have done more as we didn’t walk the trails to the different sites off the road. It’s a great site and, of course, the weather was perfect with a hint of fall on the trees.

We then drove to Carthage to visit the Civil War Museum there but it was closed. Another cute little town. Their courthouse looks a lot like the Ellis County courthouse. So we then headed over to the Carthage Battlefield which is only a little park with a couple of interpretive panels.

After that it was time to head home. We did stop for lunch at a little truck stop. Got Kimberly home about 7:00. I arrived home about 11:00 and it was still 80 degrees.

Day 4 – “Liberation”

Sunday morning came and still the Federals were in our village. We went to the inn for breakfast and then to church. More ladies than men as usual. There were Federals standing guard at the door as we entered. The sermon was good; however, throughout the service Federals were outside looking in the windows. At one point one walked by with a torch! At the end of the service the preacher spoke of Jefferson Davis’ call for a day of fasting; that sealed it for him. As I left the church and greeted the pastor I thanked him for his courage but warned him that it would probably cost him his life. After we were all out, the Federals came and took the preacher away to the mill. We loitered around waiting to see what would happen and they brought the preacher out of the mill, he is yelling and they take him around the back and as we watch we see a Federal raise his gun, hear a shot and kill the preacher.

We returned to the Engeldew shocked by the murder of the preacher. On the way back a Federal standing guard on the edges of town started calling us “crazy” and yelling and then we heard a shot and he dropped dead! We quickly ran back to the house and locked the doors. We soon heard shots from the woods. And then partisans appeared with prisoners it seemed. They ran through the village calling for all the men and then came to the Engledew. They ordered us outside and who should I see but Mr. Graf!! He did nothing to assist us. They searched the house and sent us back in to stay. We then saw the other ladies coming from the store and they were also ordered to remain in the house.

That didn’t last long as they too failed to post a guard and we went back to the store to find out what was happening. There we learn that the partisans burned the mill with the men inside who had signed the loyalty oath. And so the event ended.

We were not able to get photos during the event but did get some after of the site. You can see them here.

After saying our goodbyes we left Boonesfield Village and decided to go on as long as we felt like it and then stop for the night. Again a very pleasant drive through Missouri wine country backroads. We came to the Missouri river and the little town of Washington. Here we stopped and had lunch. We also went down to the river and took some pictures. It’s a cute little town, great architecture.

We drove as far as Springfield, found a hotel, ordered in pizza and took long hot showers. As much as I love living history, there is nothing better than a climate controlled bedroom and hot shower and soap after an event.

Day 3 – Occupation

Saturday morning was beautiful again. We dressed and went to the inn for breakfast. After, we went to the store to see what she had. While we were there Federal soldiers arrived in town and took over. They went from building to building rounding everyone up. They took the women and children to the church where they kept us for some time. Mrs. Sidall began to ring the church bell and we were then forced back outside. Mrs. Scott and I refused to go saying we had been through this before and refused to cooperate with them again. However, we were eventually convinced to leave and all the women were escorted back to their homes and told to remain there. They took all the men and kept them in the mill. We later found out that some bushwackers and renegades had come into the town this morning and robbed the dressmakers taking some apples and other food stuff. These federals were supposedly there to protect us from the “ruffians”.

Toward noon time we women took it upon ourselves, since we were not guarded, to venture out to continue with our business. We again went to the store. After we had been there for some time a Federal soldier came in and harassed us saying we were told to remain in our homes. Unfortunately, he only had 2 men with him and we were several women who refused to obey. He left and came back stating that we were free to continue with our business and he apologized for the inconvenience.

I bought some beautiful blue and white check homespun cotton. A very nice weave and light enough for Texas wear; I'll scan and post later. At the store, Mrs. Brenton had bonnets, knitted goods, candies, sausage, brooms, pencils, all sorts of goods. I sat and visited with her for some time. It seemed she had a mouse problem in the building and indeed as we sat talking I saw one running around the wood pile. During the night Mrs. Brenton said she could hear a mouse or mice sniffling near her ear and them investigating her night cap. She was quite unnerved and will spend the night at the Engledew.

Throughout the day the Federals would come to the different houses and search for “enemy presence”. It was not so frightening as it was bothersome. At one point they came when Mrs. Engledew was away. We refused to allow them to search the house and I tried to keep them from the store house as they always come out a few pounds heavier then when they went in. They searched under the house, stabbed the ground with their bayonets, but found nothing. We also heard gun fire throughout the day coming from the woods. The village men were eventually allowed to leave after signing an oath of allegiance.

After dinner was a gathering with music and a minstrel show. We did not stay long as we were still tired from our trip. We again retired early. However, later in the night we heard a gun battle in the woods. This time it sounded much closer.

Day 2 – The Steamboat Arabia Museum and Boonesfield Village

Friday was a great day. The weather was beautiful and clear, exactly what you would expect in an early Fall day. Are big plan for today was to visit the Arabia museum in Kansas City, so we got up early, went to breakfast and stopped by a Missouri visitor’s center and picked up tons of brochures. This center just happened to sit on a hill above the KC Chief's stadium which was kinda cool.

We arrived at the museum about 15 minutes before the first tour, just as they were opening up. We wandered through the gift shop; a little disappointing as there was a bunch of touristy stuff and kitchy dodas that had nothing to do with the boat, Missouri or KC even. They did have some of the perfume; I didn’t like the smell and decided not to buy any. The other perfume they have not been producing but may again soon. Kimberly did find a ring that was a reproduction of one they found on the boat. It’s very nice.

We begin the tour. First I have to say our tour guide really needed some training on presentation. It was almost painful to listen to her. She delivered her memorized speech like a theatrical speech complete with dramatic gestures. It was just painful. Oh, and did you know that no one knew how to swim back then but small boys who lived near large bodies of water? We’ll get to the bathing only four times a year later.

After the movie, which just basically said the same thing the tour guide said, one of the gentlemen involved in the project came and spoke. That was a treat! I enjoyed that very much.

The exhibits…what can I say…amazing! So much stuff, in such great condition. Pictures can be found here. Kimberly has some as well; as she makes them available I’ll link to them.

After the museum we had lunch at an Italian deli at the City Market right there next to the museum. Great food, waaaay tooo much food. The sandwiches were huge! But I can’t get over the beautiful weather; I think I was euphoric just from the weather :). So on to Defiance.

Along the way we pasted Lexington, which is another Missouri Civil War site so we had to take a side trip to visit. They have a museum as well as an historic house, which we did not have time to tour. The movie at the museum gave us additional information and background for what was going on in the area. It was a nice visit, but we need to go back to the house to tour, it looked beautiful in the film.

The road to the village was so nice, a little hilly, two lane drive. Some of the leaves just starting to change. The village seems to sit in the winery country of Missouri. I don’t think we drove a mile without seeing a winery or a sign for one.

We got to the village about 5:30. We were able to drive right in and up to the Engledew house and unload our stuff. There were several participants already there and in period clothes; I felt a little out of place with my car in the village and not dressed out. Our room was upstairs and we shared it with Joanne Barber and Belinda Canaday. We were also lucky enough to have real beds.

Our room was large; we could have easily housed one or two more in the room. There was no fire place in this room. Kimberly has pictures of the house and the rooms I’ll link to as they are available. The house has another room upstairs, two rooms down and then a basement, which has modern bathrooms. We were able to keep some modern things down there as it was off limits pretty much to everyone other than those in the house.

I removed the car and went back to dress. Disaster!! My dresses are not fitting! I don’t know what happened. We took in the corset to less than an inch spring and the bodices still gapped. We got it together well enough for that evening.

The only ones in the house were me, Kimberly and one of the other residents’ children.
All of a sudden there is banging downstairs, the children screaming and some man yelling for his family and his house. We go to the landing, me in my wrapper, to see what was happening. He says he has just returned and he had the house next door and it was now gone. He wanted to know where his family was. We told him we didn’t know, we had only been there a short time and there was no house there when we arrived. He must go ask the gentlemen of the village. They finally left. I sent Kimberly off to eat at the inn as I got dressed the best I could, then I went off to eat.

The inn is housed in the summer kitchen of an unused structure across the green from the Engledew. The food was prepared by Capt. Smith (Terry Sorchy). Mrs. Smith (Nancy Sorchy) and the Andersons (Hank and Linda Trent) assisted in serving. The inn is a wonderful space and has an arbor just outside the door. This first night we were able eat inside as it was not too crowded. But the space was not made for dining and the Smiths needed all the room they had to cook. This evening we had fish soup, turkey with oyster sauce and kraut. It was all very good. After dinner I went back and put on my wrapper; it had been a long two days and I was ready to make it an early night. We sat outside a bit and listened to the owls and enjoyed the cool evening and then off to bed.

Day 1 – Road Trip begins

Left Austin about 7:15 and headed toward Plano to pick up Kimberly. All my stuff in the trunk and just had enough room for Kimberly’s in the back seat. BTW, she has the greatest dog; such a sweetie. We head on down the road and before long realize it’s time for lunch so we stopped at a Dairy Queen; nothing odd for Texas but this one was ran by a little old lady with a sequined hat; she was very friendly and seemed to know everybody. This was the first of our interesting character experiences during this trip.

As we crossed the Red River we gave out an enthusiastic yahoo and headed into Oklahoma. Along the way, Kimberly read from a book on the Civil War in Missouri day by day. I had no idea of the violence and the back and forth that was going on in Missouri. We drove through Atoka and passed the Confederate Memorial Museum, rest stop and cemetery, then promptly did a U-turn and made a stop.

This is a small museum with a wide ranging collection of stuff; some very odd. But they did have some original home spun trousers that were very cool. We wandered out around the grounds where they have three old buildings, which were locked, and a cemetery. The Butterfield Trial also goes through the property. The cemetery includes several Confederates who died of measles while camped in the area. Pictures of the site are here.