Editor - Staff Writer


The North American Frontiersmen


Smoke Signals

Jan./Feb. '10




The same corn written about in early journals, and found on trade lists from the French Fur Trade in the North to the Spanish settlements in the South, across the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific in the West. If you do mid 1700's and later in this area, now you can have the correct corn for your persona. A Native American product that was found on most of the trade routes throughout the Louisiana Purchase and its territory.



Kaskaskia /Ft. 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 store.

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. There have been some foods found and used at some of these locations; one of those is shown below.

“Corn is probably not what you think it is: it is a generic term and it depends on where you live. In the United States, corn means maize. In England the term means wheat and in Scotland corn is the same as oats. In northern Germany, Korn is rye. In truth all corn means is "grain" and each locality interprets it as standing for its own familiar grain.” Leonard, W. H. & J. H. Martin. Cereal Crops New York: Macmillan, 1963.

“Maize saved the first white Virginians from starvation during their very first winter in Jamestown, when the Indians gave Captain John Smith some 500 bushels of corn, after the Virginians had exhausted their food supply. The same food allowed the New England Plymouth colony to survive and prosper. First raised in Europe in significant quantities around 1525 by the Spanish, it finally reached England in 1562. Generally, throughout Europe and England it had little use and was considered quite inferior to other more common grains”, per the book by Brothwell, Don. Food in Antiquity. London: Thames & Hudson, 1919. Carson, G. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart, 1957.

When we speak of corn, we speak of maize. Maize is a relatively new grain when compared to the rest of our grains. A grain unique to the Americas and while used for thousands of years by the Native American Peoples, it wasn’t until the first voyage of Columbus, in 1492, that Europeans learned of this grain.

By historical accounts originated in the southern areas of Mexico around 700 B.C. this maize was of the “blue” variety. By 4,000 B.C. it was in the area now known as the southwestern United States. The multiple colored varieties reached the Ohio River Valley a mere 2,000 years ago.

With this production of maize came “parched blue corn” and its salt brine wash that added to the storage life from the southwest. Being one of the first trade items to spread from the southern parts of Mexico to the northern border of the Americas, reaching from the shining sea to the west and being traded east to the Mississippi, this one item opened trade routes never experienced before.

Blue parched corn is roasted and then washed in a sea salt brine, (as done for centuries by Native Americans). Per references found in journals about Keaton, Boone, Bridger and others, this was done to make corn last longer.

It's also note worthy that they coarse ground their parched corn and mixed it with nuts, dried fruits and different sugars, depending on what was available in their area. (probably ground as its easier on their palate and digestive systems).



Here's how one can get lead off the beaten track trying to do things correctly and believing what one is told without checking things out closer.


Years ago we were selling a castile soap, heavy with a perfume odor (which I felt was not correct). I mentioned it to an Amish friend in Paoli PA, a week later I received a family recipe. 

After several months we found a manufacturer willing to produce this original castile soap with the right look and packaged much like the originals seen in museums. These were hand cut bars, using the Amish recipe that was dated "Feb. 1701". 

  • The original firm "Autmillers" produced these bars near Lancaster, PA. around this period. According to PA tax records this firm was one of the first to produce manufactured home products in the settlements, trading posts and supply houses. Records show this firm was a large operation producing as much as several 100 tons of castile soap yearly for trade.

BAD NEWS: After a short period it was found that the regular old "castile" soap seen in several of the local food chains was a pretty good match for the 1710 recipe that our forefathers used. This proved to be a big circle and waste of time in trying to provide "period correct products".

Hope this adds to your knowledge on preparing your next meal and correctness.

Buck Conner    



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