The man pictured above – you could call him one of the original preppers – is my great great grandfather, Lebbeus Hammond Mathews. He was a gentleman farmer (or dirt farmer… vegetables and later broadleaf tobacco that was sold for use as wrappers in Cuban cigars) and lived on a homestead in Elmira, New York. A knowledgeable horseman, he was a harness racing trainer. In the generations that have passed from his time until mine, the vintage skills needed for everyday survival have vanished.
I’ve been digging up old resources pertaining to survival, outdoor skills, and general know-how from the 1800s to early 1900s. It’s my intention to pass along interesting finds in the hopes that they reach a greater audience and don’t get lost to the past.
In October I went on a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and made an excursion up to Ball’s Falls for their Thanksgiving Festival. There were a lot of great machines on display from the era this blog concentrates on. I’ll be uploading videos of these as individual posts so that if you know any details about each machine they can be added in the comments and discussed.
I haven’t included a recipe in awhile and always wondered how to make sour dough bread – or Ranchman’s Bread. This was found in “Camp Cookery – A Cookery and Equipment Handbook for Boy Scouts and Other Campers” by Ava B. Milam, A. Grace Johnson and Ruth McNary Smith, 1918.
Ranchman’s or Sour Dough Bread
From “Camp Cookery” 1918
In a five-pound lard pail mix enough flour and water to make a medium thick batter. To this add one tablespoon of sugar. The pail should be only 2/3 full. Allow this to stand until the mixture has fermented and then become sour. Pour out about ½ cup of the sour dough to start the fermentation in a new mixture. To the dough in the pail add 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon melted lard, and enough flour to make a very soft dough. Mix well. Melt a teaspoon of lard in a pan and drop the dough in by the spoonful, turning it over in the fat. Allow to rise until double in bulk and then bake. The ½ cup of sour dough which has been reserved may be poured back into the lard pail and the original quantity of batter stirred up. This will be sour and ready for use in a very few hours. This procedure may be continued indefinitely. The exact amount of soda needed depends upon the sourness of the dough, and it must be determined by experience.
I found an interesting article regarding iron furniture (wells being the main concentration) in “The Illustrated Annual Register of Rural Affairs and Cultivator Almanac for the Year 1868,” Containing Practical Suggestions for the Farmer and Horticulturist by J.J. Thomas. There is an interesting article about the history of 19th century blacksmithing for context.
In the final installment on the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919, we wrap up all the loose ends. Kreps reveals where the camp is that this was modeled after and furnishes a list of supplies that would be needed for two people. If you missed the beginning of the series, please follow the links below.
In this 7th installment in a series regarding the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919, we’ll build a table, bench and work on securing our food. If you missed the beginning of the series, please follow the links below.
This installment about constructing a wilderness camp goes into furnishing your cabin with a camp bed as described in “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919. In case you missed the initial series, follow the links below. The next installment will cover how to make a table for your cabin.
We’ve finished the part of this series constituting the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919. This part of the series goes into furnishing your wilderness cabin as described in this same book and starts off with the construction of a stove. In case you missed the initial series, follow the links below.
This is the fourth installment in a series regarding the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919. In this installment we go over finishing the floor, door, windows and sealing cracks. If you missed the first three installments, follow the links below. In future posts, we’ll cover the furnishing of the home camp.
This is the third installment in a series regarding the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919. This segment talks about the construction of the gables and roof.
If you missed the previous segments you can click on the links below.
This is the second installment in a series regarding the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919. The instructions in this segment go over the initial construction of the cabin walls, floor, and placement of doors and windows. If you missed the first installment in the series, check that out also!