Smoke Signals

Jan/Feb 2012


NAF Newsletter Scribe & Staff Writer

1ST Quarter 2012




























Your North American Frontiersmen Association "Newsletter Scribe" is looking for NAF Club news, state and local. We would also like to invite you to help provide any information of interest pertaining to our period of 1750 to 1843 for the NAF Newsletter. That information may be sent to the return address shown with your address. Please excuse the lateness folks of our 1st issue due to our late election results, we wanted to have them for this issue. Our Election for 2012 is completed with these results :

Captain: Tom Casselman Chief Factor: Jack Swallow Sect./Treas.: Mark Hatfield

Thank you Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Quilter for all your hard work done in the name of the Association. If Bill and Pat had not pushed us we would still be kicking around the bi-laws, they kept us on the straight and narrow in that process. Our officers were always there when needed, Thank you all past and present officers for their hours spent to make this group come together for the benefit of all.

As a new association we are becoming know for some of our benefits of your membership which include:

  • Admittance to NAF Encampments and the NAF Annual Nationals.
  • Having an On-Line journal filled with articles of those that went before us.
  • Quarterly Issues of the Broadside, the official newsletter of the NAF.
  • Members use of a “Trade Room” for selling their period wares. [NEAR FUTURE - WORK IN PROCESS].

In each issue, we will share some things of interest along with the NAF News & Issues. This is our first NAF Newsletter, may there be many more. The North American Frontiersmen Association Newsletter will be sent on a Quarterly bases (4) times a year, and repeated in "Smoke Signals" our On-Line Journal.

As promised, we will share some items of interest to living history folks like yourself. This was an email from a friend back in MI that I had visited while on business. I was invited to attend one of their local muzzle loading club functions.


Do not believe everything you read.

Subject: Poster, et al.  Date: Saturday, November 15, 1997 5:53 PM

Buck,   Received the poster. Am having it matted and framed and it will probably hang in the Fur Trade library we are compiling upstairs at the center. Would be interested in the details concerning the battle, if you run across them. We have been having some discussions on a Muzzleloader list about the movie, The Mountain Men; specifically the guns that were used by Charleton Heston. Knowing that you were there, I volunteered to try to find out about them. Some say that the Leman he had was a present from you guys who were in this movie. Any info on the subject? The following is what some have conjectured. Anything you can add would be appreciated.    Dave K.

> message follows.....................> .................

> Let's see; In The Mountain Men, Charlton Heston uses a customized plains rifle with a T/C patchbox, a couple of rawhide stock repairs, and a few tacks aft of the nose cap, and a Leman flint, full stock "Indian rifle", Brian Keith uses a Dixie Hawken percussion with the ubiquitous tacks, and Victoria Racimo uses a Northwest trade gun - maker not mentioned. Referenced (Buckskins and Black Powder, Grissom... 1983)

The book doesn't give the make of the Leman which leaves the reader to believe that it might be an original, but a picture of it with him shows it with tacks and a familiar looking patchbox I can't quite place. Still, I'm not familiar with Lemans. And I can't get past the T/C nose caps of the plains rifles Heston and Keith tote around.

end of included message........................> ......

Dave,   As for the guns of the movie "The Mountain Men" I called a couple of friends to make sure my memory had not slipped, we all camped together at the movie, I was correct in my thinking, with who built each gun.

Charleton Heston used two rifles and a shotgun;

  • 1) Leman flint, full stock "Indian rifle" built by Dr. Gary White, one of the owners of Green River Rifle Works, when still in Colorado before the move to Utah.
  • 2) Leman flint, half stock "Indian rifle" built by Green River Rifle Works after the move to Utah, this is the one we gave him, cost each "background actor" $8.50 apiece that included bag and horn also.
  • 3) Greener 12 ga. perc. shotgun, an old original in average shape.

Brian Keith used a Dixie Hawken percussion rifle built by Jack Gardner of Tenn. Valley Mfg., this gun was used in the movie "No Knife" also. I remember seeing Brian carrying the Greener that Heston had, that’s probably where the writer got "he (Keith) was using it".

Victoria Racimo used a Northwest Trade Gun built by Frank Hall of Ft. Collins CO (5) years before that movie was made. Jerry Crandell (Historical Advisor for movie & known artist) saw the gun at the making of "Centennial" in Estes Park, Colorado a year before "Mountain Men", I know this is correct, as it was one of (2) I had for sale at that movie. Jerry told one of the asst. directors about it and Reb Brown (movie actor) loaned him the money to purchase it. Brown was Bridger in this movie and later he got a series on Sat. morning Kid’s programing as "Capt. America", whatever.

They the movie people beat the hell out of the weapons and everything else they used, sad. Made me sick seeing that NW gun and the shape it was in at the end of the movie.

The movie guns used at a distance were Springfield rolling blocks with a fake hammer and frizzen fastened on the side, needed them to go off without hang fires in the hands of non-gun actors, shooting blank 45/70 cases. They were old originals in pretty good shape, other than the hole that held the hammer and frizzen. The actors would throw them around like sticks of wood, really sad.

Hope this will help with your member’s questions, OH, at the filming of "The Mountain Men", John Wayne passed to the other side and "The American Sportsman" held a shoot in his honor. Several of us put together a shoot on Saturday evening and they filmed it on Sunday morning most of the actors came out to try their hand at muzzleloaders, only one or two had ever shot a muzzleloader.

I was the Range Officer in charge of the shooting line, Heston and his son showed and wanted to shoot. At this event, he shot a borrowed prop gun, T/C Hawken in 50 cal., missed his egg and eats it raw in front of the cameras, good sport.

Take care, Buck Aux Ailments de Pays!


Food has always been a problem in the early years 60s - 80s, you could go to just about any time period from the F&I War to the American Civil War and see this. The folks at these re-enactments had spent thousands of dollars on the equipment yet when going into their camps after the tourists have left was an eye opener. Your seeing great outfits on these people as they sit around eating modern foods. When questioned about what was being eaten we would hear “if they had it they would have used it”. How many times have you said or heard a friend make such a remark? This was when “Clark & Sons Mercantile” was born after a few seasons of these situations. When dealing with period correct edibles, foraged and cultivated we would get asked about some of our wares. We would be questioned about one product more than the others, that being Orsa Salt. Folks would see this product in their local Organic Food store and wonder what it was, how old, who used this? We would send them information from our research files.

One of those inquiries was from Mark Baker, he was looking for material for his next postings in “Muzzleloader” magazine. I would sent Mark a few items several times a year with the historical information we found with our research on these products, he used everything we would send him. Folks that was a “windfall” for us, an example was “millet flour” I had purchased and field tested for making bannock (bread). Hadn’t been able to sell one pound in almost a year. Sent Mark some “millet flour”, he tried it and then wrote about some of our goods he had used on his last outing. Have you ever tried to find 50 pounds of this item in short order !@#$%^ My fault with bragging about us shipping within 3 day of receiving your order. So now if anyone ever asks you about Orsa or any other of the salts available in North America you’ll have the answer.

* * * *

ORSA SALT: Orsa salt is salt that is mined from the salt flats of Utah. This has been in many journals as a trade item the Native Americans used with the French, Spanish and of course the European or Americans, has been found from the Mississippi River west. I read one account that was from 1670 mentioning Orsa salt and its pinky-brown color, even Jed Smith traded for this same salt in the 1830’s.

SALT: On the Swan River (W. Manitoba), there was a salt spring whose waters NW Co. voyageurs boiled to make salt. "It is not so strong, as that which comes from Canada, but it preserves Meat &c. well." 1804, IIRC (Harmon, 34)

Salt was also made by boiling water from "the saline Brooks of the Red River". (Thompson, _Narrative_, 151), salt was shipped in kegs. (Why carry it in open wooden pails when a cooper can make a keg with only a little more effort?)

Some people did manage to get by without salt. Midshipman Hood was wintering at the HBC's Cumberland House in 1819 when he wrote "The Indians do not use salt, and the Europeans indulge a little indolence at the expense of living without it; for though it is found in many parts of the country, in springs and on the earth, they eat fish the whole year improvised with it..." (Hood, 47)

West of Danville, Illinois, the Big Vermilion River forms at the confluence of three tributaries, the North Fork, the Middle Fork, and the Salt Fork. In earliest times, salt was obtained by the Indians from deposits on the Salt Fork. Sometime before the permanent trading post in Chicago was established, two men (don't remember their names) had a trading post at Danville. Salt was one of the commodities which they traded. Slightly later, a salt works was established on this sight.

Large kettles were brought in for the purpose of evaporating the briny water. Since Gurdon Hubbard was the chief trader for the American Fur Co. during this same time, and since his main outpost was in Danville, it is safe to assume that he had his hands in this kettle. This salt was traded in several directions by water to the Wabash, and upstream toward Northern Indiana and Western Ohio, or gone downstream to the Mississippi.

Hubbard often transported goods overland both by foot and on horseback to Chicago. From here, the salt was sent down the Illinois by boat, or back to the main factory at Ft. Mackinaw. At some time, the operation ceased to be profitable and was closed. This business was the first industry, referred to in French records as early as1706.

That makes it almost certain that salt from here was transported down the Wabash (Ouibache) to Ft. Ouitenon and some of the other early French outposts along that river.

As for the salt and carrying it any distance: wood buckets or iron pots would work for processing it. But for moving any distance, probably like anything else, wrapped in cloth or blanket material - then some kinds of water proof covering like greased leather or rawhide, just a guess – no documentations after being processed and "caked".

Wonder how it would be stored after reaching a large camp or settlement for a long period of time - their conditions where not the best for such items. IIRC there were some well-known salt-works around the Great Salt Lake and north of there that are mentioned in accounts of the era. Osborne Russell?

Salt was one of the commodities packed into rendezvous and also remember reading of a reference to a salt mill, presumably used to grind caked salt for use. Salt and hunters went hand in hand through history, as natural salt licks are the great "singles bars" of Mother Nature. So woodsmen kept an eye peeled for salt-making spots and also used them for meat-making.

An artist's (John Clymer) rendition of a salt operation in southern Utah - a picture of such activity with whites and Indians, cooking salt and salt stored in wooden buckets. There was an article years ago in the “Fur Trade Quarterly” about a salt operation in Kentucky or Virginia, showed a couple of men each carrying wooden buckets on a yoke, I guess they had salt ?

Lewis and Clark carried a large quantity of salt and they cooked a large amount of salt on the west coast. This was a common practice with The Rocky Mountain Fur Trappers.

In Washington's "kitchen mess kit", they stored salt, Havana Brown sugar and spices in metal tin containers that where tinned on the inside, the outside had turned a dark gray color from age, but the tinned inside was dull but not really discolored for it's age. Had a chance to examine the complete "mess" years ago when a friend of the family was working there at Valley Forge PA. There were samples of home spun cloth that had lined the spice and sugar containers, so apparently the spices, sugar and maybe even the salt where wrapped in cloth - then stored in the containers. With the high moisture rate back there and being near the coast, I would think the items would stick to the cloth if not used daily, that's just a guess - nothing documented.

This method was used in the Rockies, seemed to work fine, but a dryer climate than some areas and this may have helped.

For large quantities some of the traders carried "caked" salt in wooden buckets to settlements from the Mississippi River east. Salt was evaporated from sea water in ponds. Salt was in crystal form and that is how it lumps from 1 to 7 inch thick. Salt as we know it today has been ground. It can be crushed between stones on the trail. The best way is to carry a small lump of rock salt and a piece of old file. Just rub the rock salt over the file over the meal. Salt drops where you want it. Wash the file after use when you rinse utensils. DON"T use soap on it.

* * * *


Here’s the North American Frontiersmen Association’s logo for “BROADSIDE” seen along side our NAF Flag, both are seen in the pages of the NAF On-Line Journal “Smoke Signals“ starting in the Jan/Feb issue.


Friends once you get involved in this past time, then really get into doing your wanderings as close as possible for correctness of your chosen time period you’ll find how it must have been for our forefathers to survive. Many of us that have been involved to this extent have made some really bad choices in our early purchases of wares. Once discovered there have been some really great garage sales of poor choices made when getting started, you’ll find this as you get equipped so don‘t feel alone, we have all been there.


As mentioned, we will try in each issue to share some things of interest along with the NAF News & Issues. Hope this 1st issue got your attention, if you have items of interest that you would like to share please forward them to me.

Remember this is your association and everyone are friends” as our founder Ole Jensen has said this many times, whether new or seasoned your thoughts are always valued.


This was a question asked when we first started “Smoke Signals” back in the day when Ole was full of p… never mind.

DJ wrote:

Mr. Conner,   How come when going to a rendezvous or living history event we never see any real Native Americans or Breeds attending the events? This seems like the perfect place to have them in attendance showing their beautiful clothing and other items if interest.                                                                                 Thank You,   Diane Seymour wrote:

Hello Diane,   Sorry Diane but as in much of the world today it is all befuddled. We don't get to see too many Native American at most Rendezvous or Living History events. I talked with a professor who is Native about these years ago. The general consensus is that we are nuts......

The younger folks are more interested in modern ways, stepping out of the run down settlements, or like some - wanting more than what is handed to them by the government. Not all but a good percentage wants more than what their folks have had, not just clothes and a new car or truck.

Go to Pow Wow, and I don't have to tell you "Vegas style" (my name, you can make up your own) rules. I have seen and this is the ultimate best, Native Americans at Pow Wow co-opting (hope I "spelt" that right) velvet ribbon work and 3-D bead work from the Mardi Gras Indians not the Hong Kong junk of years pasted.

We have done these in the Denver area (Pow Wow's), selling beautiful clothing which much of it is made by the whites, many ex BSA's that got their start with the old “Joe Hunt” books back in the 50's and 60's. Some of the native trader's main source of supply is from these craftsmen; biggest problem is the items are presented as "Native American Made". I have a good friend that is considered one of the best in this trade, he signs his pieces to let the buyer know who made the item and NOT "Native American Made".

Jake Pontillo, an Italian young man from Queens NY, has been paid by Reservations and Native groups to teach porcupine quill work to Native Americans. Jake is not alone, there are many whites per say that teach the almost forgotten stories, crafts, and so on to various Nations throughout North America, this is seen more and more in resent years.

We from a historical perspective research things as they were. Many mountain men and long hunters lived, traded, married, fought against and were allied to Native Americans in the day.

It's funny on one hand their culture has faded from many, but on the other - good that some are starting to get involved in relearning the ways and starting to teach those interested, finally.

Native and ALL Americans have the right and even the obligation to proceed into the future. Just remember your past and those that worked and gave for you to have the option to do so when moving ahead.

Awareness Groups in many of the large corporations in the Americas have started to work with their different groups of people within their companies to promote the different cultures and to support them.

I worked for a telecommunications company that its territory took in 14 western states; I was involved with a group called "Voice of Many Feathers" that covers most of the different groups. Here in Denver alone we have a dozen different native American tribes coming to monthly meeting, taking part in feeding the poor, caring for the needy and working with Native Americans for the different holidays.

When first started we had a few "token" as the Indians brothers and sisters called themselves, more 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8 than full bloods, the original group for the 14 states was less than two dozen, now we are proud to say we are over 2,500 + members for our region. That doesn't sound like many for a company that's 53,000 strong but you have to remember that many still feel that others look down on them, so rather than stand and be counted, they keep low profiles.

For myself, I never knew my family had any other blood than Irish/Scot or Dutch until I was taking care of an Aunt on my father’s side of the family; three weeks before she died she told me that my great great grandmother was taken by Delaware Indians from PA to OH when a young teenage girl. She walked home 4 years later in Jan. and Feb. carrying my great grandmother; she managed to slip away when gathering firewood with a single guard not paying attention. When my mother’s mother died we were going through old photographs and found several newspaper clippings about my Grandmother Boyer’s mother being a half breed too and the hard times suffered when growing up with whites. This was getting interesting to have had Indian blood on both sides of my family, not finding out until I was close to 50 years old. The reason we where never told about this was Indians on the East coast where considered worthless and drunks when I was growing up.

Oh, as close as we can figure I’m about 40 drops of blood short for meeting US Indian Standards from collecting funds from Uncle Sam, crap there goes the freebies. Lenni-Lenape (Delaware) member.

Later, Buck Conner  



Our newly elected Captain is concerned about a few of you not receiving NAF information when sent to you. If you would please let him know that you received this 1st issue of our newsletter he will thank you for your efforts. Drop him a note letting him know you did or didn’t receive this posting at:

NAF Captain

  • Tom Casselman
  • 1231 Mason Street, Unit #B
  • Santa Barbara, CA 93103
  • or email him at:


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