North American Frontiersmen
"Following in our
an old Chinese proverb - it goes something like ....
only if it is an improvement upon silence"
Clark. M. M. Quaife in his 1913 book, "Chicago and the Old
Northwest, 1673-1835". Quaife has many good references to forts
and players. Kaskaskia, its taking by the Hannibal of Kentucky (which
was a county of Virginia) Clark, and its history are fully covered.
Later (1814) Forsyth is pleading
the case for a Factory at Ft. Clark, so the Pottawatomies can receive
goods "as cheap in this was as they formerly did in the factory at
Chicago". They were bemoaning the high prices at the sutler's
- This is an excellent text in
some ways, and the fact that the map shows many forts and
settlements and pointedly does not show Fort Clark in relationship
to Kaskaskia may or may not shed light. We have found some recipes
used at some of these locations and are shown below.
Lets start with the
measurement for: a "cupped hand full" = ( 1) measuring cup.
This doesn't sound like much, I agree, but remember most dried edibles
do swell when water is added. Rice, barley and peas will double in size
or mount prepared. Most of us (not all) can go with less food from a few
days to several weeks without any problem - doctors will tell you that
the amount we eat regularly is a mind-set in most cases, we can do with
less and would probably do better weight and health wise.
We try to eat two small regular meals daily, gathering or foraging for
edibles in our short trips around camp when scouting game or looking at
the area. When you get in a mind-set of watching for edibles as you make
your scouts, it's surprising what you find, even if not hunting for
squirrel, rabbits or flying foul. Wild edibles are everywhere it's just
the problem of figuring out what your looking at.
Working around water is always a good place for small plants that are
edible, as well as the little crayfish, fish and small animals getting a
drink. I think you are getting the idea or already do this in your
normal outing experiences.
I have a good friend that I wrote an article about a few years ago in
the T&LR journal Jerry LaVelle, he's an expert at foraged edibles in
the Rockies, takes a small frying pan, buffalo grease, period fishing
kit and he's off for the weekend. His wife gets a little rattled about
his limited resources, but he uses what is available at hand, cat-tail
flour for bread (bannock), has different plant leaves for a salad and so
on, she's good for about two weekends like this a year. But it can be
done, so she goes to prove that she's a tough as he is !!!! I wish I had
the mind-set, the ability or guts to believe enough in myself to do this
as much as he has.
Morning meal: corn meal w/ Havana Brown sugar, (Havana Brown is an
old sugar [less costly than white sugar in the colonial days] have
switched to blue corn - better taste) 1/2 cup per person with water, a
few small pieces of fruit and small amount of tea (save the tea leaves),
corn flour, use a 1/2 cup per person of flour to make
"bannock" bread (will produce a loaf per say the size of a
regular hot dog). Surprisingly this will satisfy you, no matter what
your brain says.
Afternoon snack: some parched corn, a little fruit and whatever you
may find in your travels.
Evening meal: with a little testing you will be able to judge the
amount of rice or barley needed to make a small portion, and not waste
anything. We have used mixed small amount of wild rice, barley pearled,
split peas and a little jerky (changing the meal of one or two items) to
make a stew, use a little more water than what your wife would use -
fills you up with the broth. Use your used tea leaves for a mild tea
flavor. Use any left overs and try and eat late in the evening (going to
bed on a full belly).
Don't forget what you have foraged during the day that can be prepared
to supplement your evening or morning meal. Our biggest problem seems to
be mind-set that we are going to starve, hell you'll die from lack of
water long before you'll starve.
The chance of you doing great harm on a weekend or a week from the lack
of food is really not a major problem according to most doctors, unless
you have medical problems, special medication, etc. that may require you
to use with food. But do make sure you keep liquids in your system, plus
a good drink of water is somewhat filling by itself.
This all sounds great, right. Well it's easier to write or tell it -
than when packing for that adventure, you'll find yourself cheating and
adding this and that - just in case. You'll stop and think and remember
that first hunting trip (a day long) and all the extra stuff you took
that Dad told you wasn't needed, (well just in case).
The big thing is do some testing the night the wife had to work late,
make up a meal, simple - small in amount, bottom line is testing. With
your experience you'll have NO problem, it's just that mind-set that we
all fight with. I'm always packing and unpacking different amounts, if
you take just so much - small amount of food, and leave out "the
just in case" factor, then your options are get along with what you
got and start foraging.
These daily rations
are taken from the French and Indian War's period records:Cornmeal
or oats 2 handfuls, Peas or beans 2 handfuls, Parched corn 2
handfuls, Dried meat 3-6 pieces (venison, beef, fish), Dried fruit 1-2
handfuls (apples, peaches, raisins, pumpkin or combination), Small red
potatoes 2-3 each, Small onions 1 each, Maple or muscavado sugar 1-2 Tb
Salt 1/2 Tb, Peppercorns 4-10 each, Coffee 1-2 handfuls, (Alternate)
Chocolate 1/2 - 1 full cake or tea 1-2 Tb.
* * *
Another daily rations
from the Fur Trade period are much similar:
corn meal (per person) mixed with Havana sugar (2 cupped hand fulls),
corn flour (2 cupped hand fulls), wild rice (cupped hand full), barley
pearled (cupped hand full), split peas (cupped hand full), fruit [dried
apples or peaches] (2 cupped hand fulls), dried meat strips broken into
3" pieces (2 cupped hand fulls), parched corn w/ local nuts (3
cupped hand fulls), tea (same measurement per person, lasts for 3-4 days
- cupped hand full) a little on the weak side last day or two.
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your pipe, enjoy the fire...."
2005 - "North American Frontiersmen" with guidance of "Council
of Elders" member Walt Hayward. All Rights Reserved.