Mountaineers and their children…


“The mountaineers in their rude hunting dresses, armed with rifles and roughly mounted, and leading their pack-horses down a hill of the forest, looked like banditti returning with plunder. On the top of some of the packs were perched several half-breed children, perfect little imps, with wild black eyes glaring from among elf locks. These, I was told, were children of the trappers; pledges of love from their squaw spouses in the wilderness.”


From: Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville. “The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U. S. A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West.”

Update on 13th Annual Pre-1840s Pilgrims’ Camp and Swap Meet

13th Annual Pre-1840s Pilgrims’ Camp and Swap Meet – January 24-25, 2015
The folks at the Cowboy Action Shooting Range outside of Columbus have once again graciously volunteered their facility to provide a friendly, safe, informative and fun place for “civilians” and “old hands” to explore their interest in living history. The range is located just Northwest of Columbus, Texas off of US Hwy 71. Plenty of camping space is available.

Saturday afternoon forensic sculptor, Amanda Danning will give a talk on putting a face on the remains of two of La Salle’s settlers. David Martin will give a presentation on indigenous natives of Texas at first European contact and the success of the French and the failures of the Spanish to interact with them. And Charlie Yates will give a talk on the Mexican artillery positions at the 1836 Battle of the Alamo and what they tell us of Santa Anna’s strategy.

There will also be a limited amount of range time for those wishing to shoot. Jerry Tubbs will be in charge of the range and will have rules and procedures for the firing.

The event is open to living historians, reënactors, interested individuals and groups. In conjunction with the “Pilgrim’s” Camp, the “old hands” are encouraged to bring their surplus gear, equipment, clothes and accouterments for an old fash-ioned trading session and swap meet.

There is a $10 general registration fee to help defray expenses and period dress is not required, but it is encouraged. Wood will be provided and if you’d like to help out, bring a chainsaw for a wood cutting party on Friday. For additional information contact Jerry Tubbs at (telephone 713-973-1136) or Charlie Yates at .

Texas Archaeology Month – October 2013

Some recent details from Comrade Michael on some great upcoming Texas history events:

Texas Archaeology Month at the Brazoria County Historical Museum

October 3rd at 6:30pm: Alamo Artillery: Ampudia and a Real Cannon. As part of the Brazoria County Historical Museum’s Archeology Series, Dr. Gregg Dimmick will attempt to convince the audience, through historical data, that the brass cannon currently on loan to the Alamo from San Jacinto Battleground was actually at the Alamo in March of 1836.

October 10th at 6:30 pm: Prehistoric Appetites. Second of four in the museum’s Archeology Series, Jack Johnson will explore the life of prehistoric hunter gathers as it relates to weapons, edible plants, processing and cooking techniques. Artifacts and demonstrations will help bring to life the realities of our prehistoric ancestors.

October 17th at 6:30pm: Hatteras 150: Rediscovering the Naval Battle that Shaped the Civil War in Texas. Three of four in the museum’s Archeology Series, Andrew Hall will present the 1863 battle that sunk USS Hatteras, a Union warship whose mission was to help block the passage of supplies and arms to and from the Confederacy. 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the only Union warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico.

October 24th at 6:30pm: Discovering the Bernardo Plantation. The final program in the museum’s Archeology Series, Charlie Gordy will reveal the latest excavation discoveries made at Bernardo Plantation, former home of Jared E. Groce and site of the Texas Revolution encampment of the Texian Army before the Battle of San Jacinto.

All programs are free and open to the public. The Brazoria County Historical Museum is located at 100 East Cedar Street in Angleton, Texas. For Information call 979-864-1208.

April 19, 1775 – The Battles of Lexington and Concord

The morning of April 19, 1775 saw soldiers of the British Army arriving at the Massachusetts town of Lexington. Their mission was to seize and destroy militia weapons and ammunition, but the local militia, known as Minutemen, stood on Lexington Green, awaiting their arrival. During the stand off, a someone fired a shot, which led the British troops to fire at the colonial militia. The Minutemen dispersed, and the British headed toward nearby Concord.

At the Concord North Bridge, a small group of militia battled a force of British soldiers. At this point, the British commander decided to retreat back toward Lexington, as it became evident that more and more Minutemen were arriving from all of the local villages and farms.

During this retreat, the British kept to the road, while the American farmers fired at them from behind trees, walls and any obstacle they could find. When the British force returned to Lexington, they were met by a relief column. The combined British units then headed for Boston. The Minutemen continued to harass them the whole way.

By the end of the day, British casualties numbered 273, while the colonials suffered only 94, 18 of whom fell during the initial clash at Lexington. The American Revolutionary War had begun.

More info from The History Guy

Texas Archeology Lectures at Brazoria County Historical Museum

October is Texas Archeology Month

The Brazoria County Historical Museum is hosting four lectures during the month of October.

The lectures are to be presented at the Brazoria County Historical Museum, located at 100 East Cedar Street, Angleton, TX.

October 7, 6:30 p.m.
“Recent Archeological Discoveries at the San Jacinto Battlefield”
Lecture by Douglas G. Mangum of
Moore Archeological Consulting, Inc.

October 14, 6:30 p.m.
“Bernardo Plantation Excavations”
Lecture by Charlie Gordy of the
Houston Archeological Society

October 21, 6:30 p.m.
“Following the Paper Trail: Researching the Plantations of Brazoria County”
Lecture by James Smith of the
Brazosport Archaeological Society

October 28, 6:30 p.m.
“Weapons of the Texas Revolution: How the Texians Armed Themselves”
Lecture by Flem Rogers of the
Brazoria Historical Militia

All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, call 979/864-1208, or visit the Museum’s website at

Shipwrecked with the Aborigines in Australia

Gourmet Jack is a friend currently traveling over in Australia, visiting family and friends. He sent over this report on spending some time with a local Aboriginal elder, who gave Jack some colorful history on his great great grandfather – James Morrill.

It was a truly amazing day for all of us. Rusty Butler took us right through all the places where ‘James’ or, ‘The Old man’, as he called him had been. [This man, James Morrill, was John’s great great grandfather, who was shipwrecked there and one of the first white people the aboriginals had ever seen.] All the special spots that you had to be with an elder to even know where they are, let alone find your way to them. He showed us all sorts of medicinal plants and bush food. Amazing things like how they knew where fresh water was, even on the edge of a tidal salt pan. Us white folks just drive past so much stuff because we don’t know what’s there and we don’t see them … wild apples, figs, small yams, hearts of palm type of things. Mary has eczema on her arms and Rusty found the weed that grows everywhere beside the roads up here, showed her how to break the stalk, get the white sap out, and rub it on her arms …. said it would start to clear in a week.

Rusty had spears and boomerangs and we got a lesson on how to throw a spear with a woomera and how to throw a boomerang so it comes back or throw it straight to kill something. We all got a boomerang that Rusty had made, special for left handed and right handed.

There were a lot of areas he pointed out up on the range where there are very large galleries of art, but he couldn’t take us there, because they were ceremonial, and sacred areas for men or women, and whitey is not permitted to go there. We did see some amazing art though, the oldest was 5000 years old. We saw the James red ochre personal rock paintings. The St George Cross from the English Merchant Marine flag that would have been on the Peruvian , a pair of scissors (totally unknown to the aboriginals), a painting of his sailors’ splicing spike, that he was said to have with him all the time, and the strangest thing was a windmill with the lattice blades, like you see in Dutch paintings. Apart from the fact that Rusty knows they were done by James, they all obviously were done by a European, not an aboriginal.

The essential history from the aboriginal perspective is that if you go back in their history, to the time before the last big global ice melt in the northern hemisphere, they lived on the then shoreline which is where the Barrier Reef is today. The water rose and drove the people ‘inland’ to where the coastline is today. He says he knows where all sorts of art galleries are under water out on the reef!!

So, jump forward in time to when Jimmy got shipwrecked. When he was found, the tribe who found him and the others immediately though they were ancestor spirits (ancestor spirits are white, or depicted as white in dance) who had come in from the Reef. All aboriginal tribes have what they call ‘skin groups’. Because they live in small groups of about 20, they intermarry a lot, and they knew they could inbreed to some extent, but knew they had to swap women out regularly with another tribe to avoid the genetic defects. These women were known as the transfer group. Transferring women was the single most cause of fighting and killing between them. You would approach another tribe and offer to exchange a group of women. If they were recalcitrant, you would invite them to special fighting areas where you would fight it out. The winner got new women, and the loser got the winners transfer group. Go figger!!

The tribe that found them knew they were not their ancestors, because they had wrong facial features. James was white with red hair and a long red beard … not one of them at all. So, they sent out message sticks (about 6″ long and 1/2″ thick with dots, swirls and lines on them) to tribes all over Northern Australia and as far south as Ne South Wales, letting tribes know that some spirits had come ashore from the submerged lands, and that they should send some emissaries to check them out and see if they belong to their tribe. Amazing stuff. No one claimed them so the local tribe, the Bindal adopted them. The captain and his wife didn’t survive long, and the other survivor a cabin boy took a fancy to a girl in a tribe from down near Bowen and headed out with them. He also didn’t survive long.

James was a smart person and learn’t the ways quickly, in exchange, he was able to use his seaman skills and show them how to make rope, string and fishing nets. Valuable skills to hunter, gatherers, To stay and be accepted into the tribe, he had to learn all the foods, medicines, hunting and cooking knowledge. Once he had done this, he was permitted to marry, which he did, and had several wives and some number of kids … number not specified.

So we went to places he camped, favorite fishing spots, lagoons where they would go and catch wild ducks and gather eggs. A place and story noe of us had heard, was one of the places they would snare ducks, also a favorite place for crocodiles.james was showing one of his sons how to et a duck out of a snare and the son was attacked by a crocodile. James in turn attacked the croc with his splicing spike. He killed the croc, but not before he got badly bitten on his left leg. The son died of the injuries and James injuries were healed with bush medicine, herbal wraps and stuff. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

When the white people came, there was the famous exchange of ‘Don’t shoot me I am a British object’ This got his life spared, but the cattle people were afraid of the aboriginals and thought of them as animals and started to hunt and kill them if they were anywhere near Europeans or cattle. The guy Townsville is named after – Robert Towns (Towns Ville}, was a ruthless bastard apparently. James had many meetings with him and his people arguing that the aboriginals were a proud people with thousands of years of history, meant no harm, and simply wanted to live in peaceful harmony on the land they knew. Nothing would be accepted by Towns, and even at the end when the Bindal asked to be left alone on the tidal flats and mangroves, no one would agree. They were seen as savages and best hunted down. The massacres started in earnest apparently, and the tribes took to pretty rough and difficult to get to land to avoid being killed.

Rusty, other tribal elders and descendants are constantly protesting any memorial, street naming, development etc, planned to be named after Robert Towns, As far as they are concerned he is a murderer and a criminal not to be honored.

When we got back to Mary’s place, we all sat under Mary’s mango tree and Rusty told us dreamtime stories. The kids were fascinated. Things like Why curlews call out at night, Why owls only fly about at night etc.

Gourmet Jack is originally from Australia and is a self-described foodie and self-taught chef. You can read more about Gourmet Jack and his food adventures at

There is even a great recipe for ANZAC biscuits, which is sort of like and upgraded hard tack. =)

– Many Rifles

Director Needed – Mountain Man Camp at Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch

I got the below via email and wanted to pass the word on, if anyone is interested.

My name is David O’Neill, Camp Director for Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch. We are a 9,000 acre camp located in the Davis Mountains of Texas and we operate a nine week camp for Boy Scouts. We are the largest and most popular Scout camp in Texas, in both size and participation. We will have over 4,000 participants this summer, and many of them come to our camp to participate in our high adventure programs. The most popular of all of those High Adventure programs is our Mountain Man camp.

The Mountain Man camp is located 3 miles down the trail from our main base camp, and is designed to immerse the participants in the life and times of the Mountain Men and the fur trapping era. We have 30 participants a week at this program, living in period style tents and doing activities such as black powder rifle, learning about edible plants, tanning hides, taking hikes to see real Indian paintings and much more! I have attached a brochure for the program to give you an idea of what we do.

The reason I am contacting you is that we are looking for a new director for the program. The gentleman that ran the program for seven years is no longer able to come to camp and I have to find a suitable replacement that has the passion and the knowledge of this period in American History! We pay a weekly salary and provide the equipment and supplies needed to run the program. There are two other hands that work on this staff, for a total of three people. It is a great program and we need a good leader to make it a continued success.

If you would be willing to share this information with your membership, in order for us to help recruit a new director, it would be most appreciated. If anyone has any questions about the program or the position, I will be glad to answer them. You have my email address and my phone number is listed below. Thank you very much for your help, I appreciate it!

David O’Neill
Field Director
BTSR Camp Director
Buffalo Trail Council
(432) 570-7601

If interested, contact David directly at the above address/number.

– Many Rifles

Upcoming Living History Events at Washington on the Brazos SHS

September 19th, 2009 –
Life at the Crossing– Rivers have always served as a lifeline for inland settlements and the relationship between the Brazos river and the town of Washington was no different. The town’s very existence could be attributed to the crossing on the Brazos and the rise of Washington was definitely due to the river traffic that began in earnest in 1842. Oddly enough the downfall of Washington can also be linked to the river because of the towns’ dependence on the traffic there and their resulting reluctance to try out the railroad.

This special program focuses on the importance of river traffic to the town of Washington. Living historians will set up a small interpretive camp at the overlook and will visit with the public about what took place at this crossing and others just like it. This program is on-going throughout the day.

October 16th-17th, 2009 –
Storytellin’ at the Tavern– Once again the old Anson Jones kitchen will serve as the local tavern and the perfect setting for storytellin’. This time rather than merrymaking we will offer an hour long program of tale telling and yarn spinning in the finest tradition of the old time Texians. Visitors will settle in to a period setting after a brief introduction and the tale telling will begin. This is a special after hours program in keeping with the holiday season and will be offered two times per evening at 6PM and 7:30, on Friday and Saturday or per registration. Due to the nature of this type of program all attendees will be required to pre-register.

November 14th, 2009 –
Texas History Symposium– This one day history symposium will focus on the Texian War of Independence and the early republic period. Lead presenter for the symposium will be Dr. Richard Winders, curator of the Alamo and military historian and he will be joined by other noted Texas historians. Speakers will present sessions on military and social culture of the revolutionary and republic eras. This one day symposium will be held at Washington on the Brazos SHS.

December 12th, 2009 –
Christmas up in Washington– Experience the magic of the holiday season with a candlelight visit to Independence Hall, the Birthplace of Texas. Enjoy caroling in the Visitor Center while shopping for those special gifts. Afterwards, stroll down a candlelit trail to Independence Hall, and enjoy stories of Washington’s past and learn how the residents of Washington would have celebrated the holiday season. Discover the holiday traditions at Washington on the Brazos….they just might become your traditions as well. Designed to coincide with Barrington Farm’s event, this special program will be an ongoing experience from 6PM to 8PM.

January 16th, 2010 –
Passing through Washington– In 1836 David Crockett and four friends spent the night in Washington headed to Bexar to join the Texian forces gathered there. While in Washington the traveler’s likely visited with recruits gathering in the area as a part of the ever growing Texas Army. Visitor’s will get a chance to meet Crockett and some of his traveling companions as well as locals gathered to see the famous Bear Hunter and Politician and if the Col. is of mind(and he always is!), visitor’s will be treated to some of his tall tales and hunting stories. This special program is on-going throughout the day.

February 27th-28th, 2010 –
Texas Independence Day– March 2nd, 1836 is one of, if not the most important dates in Texas history. The importance of that date is most relevant here at Washington on the Brazos SHS. Washington was the town where Texians declared independence from Mexico and as such is know as the Birthplace of Texas. Come out and spend the weekend visiting with us here at the park. Admission to the park is free and there will be folks demonstrating period crafts, food vendors from all over Texas, period music by local musicians and historic figures on hand to visit with you about the early days of Texas.

February 27th, 2010 –
Who were the Washington Guards?– While most Texans have heard of the garrison of the Alamo and Goliad and of Sam Houston’s army at San Jacinto, most don’t know that there was a militia unit raised right here in Washington during the revolution! In March of 1836, amidst the chaos of the revolution local citizens from Washington were formed into a volunteer unit to serve as part of Sam Houston’s command. The Washington Guards did their duty acting as rear guard for the Runaway Scrape as well as participating in the battle of San Jacinto. Visitors will learn who these men were, what they were fighting for and what became of them after the revolution was over. This special one hour program will take place at Independence Hall and will be scheduled twice daily at 11AM and 3PM.

March 20th, 2010 –
Original Texas Women– An early visitor to Texas once remarked, “Whether she be handsome or homely, accomplished or otherwise, all women made their mark on Texas. ” This program will share stories of the lives of early women settlers, who had connections with the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. They may have been spouses, children, or grandchildren of these early Texas patriots. Drop by Independence Hall and celebrate with us the lives of these original Texas Women. Designed to coincide with Barrington Farm’s event, True Texas Women, this special one hour program will take place at Independence Hall and will be scheduled twice daily at 11AM and 3PM.

April 17th, 2010 –
Republic of Texas District Court Day– Washington hosted the district court during the later 1830’s and into the early 1840’s. Notable judge, ranger and Texian icon, R.M. Williamson presided over district court here in Washington during the republic era. It was also here in Washington that Commodore Moore came for his court martial after returning from his adventures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now almost one hundred and seventy years later the district court will be returning to Washington. Court will convene in Convention Hall and will hear several cases, some based on historic cases while others will be created for the event. Participants in the case from the attorneys to the plaintiffs will be dressed in period clothing and will be conducting the trial based on mid 19th century law in the Republic. Visitors will be encouraged to sit in on the trials and if interested, serve as jurors.

May 15th, 2010 –
Rowdy Loafers and Upstanding Citizens– Texas is full of colorful characters from rough and ready frontiersmen to upstanding citizens. This special program focuses on the clothing and accessories of some of these male character types as well as their manners(or lack thereof), and habits. Visitors will not only get a chance to see what these characters looked like but will also be able to examine some of the typical garments and accessories worn and used by these men. This special one hour program will take place at Independence Hall and will be scheduled twice daily at 11AM and 3PM.

For more information call Washington on the Brazos SHS Monday through Friday from 9AM-4PM at 936 878-2214 ext. 224.

Republic of Texas History Symposium 2009

November 14th, 2009 – Washington on the Brazos SHS

The Republic of Texas, A Social and Military History

Saturday, November 14th, Washington on the Brazos SHS and Star of the Republic Museum will host a one day symposium of Republic of Texas authors and scholars. Dr. Bruce Winders, noted military author of Mr. Polk’s Army and curator of the Alamo will serve as the lead presenter and will be joined by Dr. Stephen Hardin, author of Texian Iliad a Military History of the Texas Revolution, and professor at McMurray University as well as by Dr. Paula Mitchell Marks author of Turn Your Eyes Toward Texas : Pioneers Sam and Mary Maverick and professor at St. Edward’s College. Joining the symposium will be David Vickers, winner of the prestigious 2001 DRT Texas History Teacher of the Year award, Andrew Gray, researcher of McKinney and Williams and Scott McMahon, researcher of material culture of the Republic of Texas.

Each of the presenters will cover a different topic related to the social and military history of the republic. Registration for the symposium is $20 and includes a catered lunch. There will be a book signing during the midday break and the park giftshop will make available titles from the published presenters.

-Dr. Richard B. Winders Law and Order in the Republic of Texas – a look at the legal system of the Republic

-Dr. Paula M. Marks Women’s Roles, Women’s Challenges in the Republic – a look at the roles and challenges of women in the Republic

-Dr. Stephen L. Hardin Valor, Wisdom & Experience : Early Texas Ranger Captains and the Nature of Frontier Military Leadership – a look at early ranger captains and their roles in the Republic

-David Vickers Thicker Than Fiddlers in Hell – Popular Music in the Republic of Texas

-Andrew Gray Pretending to Be Patriotic (Without it being Offensive): Cotton, Speculation, and the Quest of McKinney, Williams & Co to Get out of Debt – the struggle of McKinney and Williams to recoup their losses after the revolution

-Scott McMahon Clothing the Texas Army – The dress and appearance of the Texas Army circa 1836-1839

For more information call Washington on the Brazos SHS Monday through Friday from 9AM-4PM at 936 878-2214 ext. 224. Registration should be made out to the Washington on the Brazos SP Assoc. and can be mailed to ROT History Symposium PO Box 305, Washington, TX 77880.