Special Interests - Groups & Societies > The American Plainsmen Society

Creating the Plainsmen Persona stage 1

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TwoWalks Baldridge:

Just trying to get a conversation going and some insight into creating the Plainsmen Persona.

The Plainsmen time period is 1840 - 1865.  Now comes the work of deciding on a person to depict and what items that person would have had and used.

The plainsman would have been a minimalist at best. 

My persona is of a part breed Cherokee that came west in the 1830’s and the roots of the persona would have been a poor person at best. Indian Police, Buffalo hunter, Scout and Wanderer. 

When I stand in that place and time and try too view the life, I try to eliminate modern day thinking and standards.

What was Is.

The other day, I had my favorite shirt on and it finally fell apart.  Dang, things sure do not last like they use too.  My wife asked me how long I had that shirt.  After much thought and consideration I realized that I had owned and worn that shirt close to 20 years.

This got me to thinking and looking at different items that I have and use.  I own a rifle that my father had built in the 1930’s.  A hunting knife that was handed down from my Grandfather as well as a pocket watch.

This is reality while living in a world that has created a throw away mentality.  How many hand me down items would a person have had and used during a time when people did not own much, did not have a steady supply of new items readily at hand.

Women learned to make shirts, pants, coats and dresses from patterns handed down from their mothers and grandmothers. 

When choosing items and articles of clothing for the Plainsmen persona should we be looking only at items that were popular during that period?  Perhaps we should also look at “what was, Is.

Your insight and wisdom on this matter would be much appreciated.

bowiemaker:
There were a couple of permanent settlements in the west during that period as well as trading posts and annual rendezvous. Fort Bridger and it's trading post was established in 1843 in the Wyoming Territory (then part of Utah Territory). The Mormons settled in the area in 1847. By 1845 prospectors were heading to California to find gold. My point is that there were goods available and I suspect that, at least as far as clothing, people would at least make an annual purchase for some new duds just as the cowboys later tended to do after the cattle drives when they arrived in town with some money to spend.

TwoWalks Baldridge:

--- Quote from: bowiemaker on August 12, 2011, 11:19:41 AM ---There were a couple of permanent settlements in the west during that period as well as trading posts and annual rendezvous. Fort Bridger and it's trading post was established in 1843 in the Wyoming Territory (then part of Utah Territory). The Mormons settled in the area in 1847. By 1845 prospectors were heading to California to find gold. My point is that there were goods available and I suspect that, at least as far as clothing, people would at least make an annual purchase for some new duds just as the cowboys later tended to do after the cattle drives when they arrived in town with some money to spend.


--- End quote ---

Good point on the availability of goods.  I wonder if the average to poor folks would have tended to buy new duds or just material to make their own?

Would most of the plainsmen have wore store bought, homemade cloth or used hides to make a lot of their clothing like coats, pants etc. I think it would probably have been a combination.

bowiemaker:
It was probably a combination. Not all were that poor. I have read that a good fur trapper could make as much as a couple thousand dollars at a rendezvous and then blow the whole wad by the time he left. This was at a time when a skilled carpenter might make $1.50 per day.

TwoWalks Baldridge:

--- Quote from: bowiemaker on August 12, 2011, 11:51:24 AM ---It was probably a combination. Not all were that poor. I have read that a good fur trapper could make as much as a couple thousand dollars at a rendezvous and then blow the whole wad by the time he left. This was at a time when a skilled carpenter might make $1.50 per day.

--- End quote ---

Bowiemaker, the combination was what I felt was probably correct.  I think it was probably a pretty patch work period especially during the early period before the Civil war.  Most of the trading posts of any size would have been along the Oregon or Santa Fe trail.  There were of course the stores or trading posts that would spring up any place numbers of folks lived.

What got me to wondering about this was reading about the amount of homespun clothing the south wore at the beginning of the Civil War.  If homespun was that popular, how much would new fashion have entered into the normal day to day wear.  Pictures of the day were usually folks that were more affluent and also wearing their Sunday going to meeting clothes.

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