My metal detecting buddy Bill Burns found this scrap of iron near the cave spring at Byrnside’s Fort. After finding it, he set it on top of a fence post, believing it to be farm junk. After noticing it on top of the fence about a year later, I immediately suspected this to be an early “Betty Lamp,” a type of grease-based lighting device. Basically an iron lamp with a bowl for some type of grease for fuel, a lid of some sort, and a spot for a wick. The shape is right. You can see that there was a hollow reservoir at some point, with a hinged lid. You can see the remnants of the curved upright handle, which would hang on an iron hanger of some sort. This would have been forged out of wrought iron by a blacksmith, and would be consistent with the lighting options available at Byrnside’s Fort during the fort occupation of the site, circa 1770-1782. It also could have been early 19th century. But it’s primitive construction suggests earlier, to me.
Some recent finds we acquired from the coastline of Michigan in the areas surrounding Fort Michilimackinac and L’ Arbre Croche. These are all from 18th and early 19th century American Indian village sites within the territory of the Ottowa tribe, which was heavily engaged in the fur trade with both the French and the British …
A popular tool in the days of the 18th century North American frontier was the “fire striker, or “strike-a-lite,” or “fire steel” or, well there are a number of names for these things. The purpose is obviously to start a fire. The design is simple: a piece of carbon steel, which is struck against a piece of flint, chert, or similar rock, thus making sparks, which would then fall onto some sort of tinder, thus creating fire.
Most trade axes found on French influenced archaeological sites were manufactured in France. The sites where trade axes were found coincides exactly with the areas where French influence was felt : Saint-Lawrence valley, the Richelieu and the Lac Champlain region, the Great-Lakes region, south of the Mississippi, etc. In isolated cases, a few French style axes have been found on the east coast of the United States. Some east coast areas must have had provisional, or secondary, trade routes for the French trade goods.
The French folding knife, a.k.a., “clasp knife” imported into the North American Fur Trade was one of the earliest known type of knife to be introduced to the New World – dating back to the 1600’s, possibly earlier. These blades have been recovered from French influenced sites throughout the territory of New France, which extended from Louisiana to Canada.
It’s not easy restoring old log cabins. Fortunately, we only have the inside to deal with, since the outside got to keep its board and baten siding, and it now mostly finished. Once the old pre-Civil War plaster comes down off the walls inside, it’s a big mess. Even after it’s cleaned up, it’s still a mess.