Saturday, December 31, 2011

Event Info -- Haskell County - Texas Independence Celebration

We would like to invite Living Historians to join Haskell County in its 3rd annual celebration of Texas Independence.
Our event is Saturday, March 3, 2012 around the courthouse square in Haskell.

We welcome any cavalry, infantry, artillery, campsites, Buffalo Soldiers, period costumes, etc. to help us celebrate Texas heritage!
We will start with a flag raising by local Boy Scouts at 10:00am.

Fort Griffin is scheduled to have soldiers and artillery on hand. Other attendees invited are Fort Concho, Hardin Simmons White Horses, a flintknapper, Drummer Boy Ice Cream, state photographer Wyman Meinzer, SMS Ranch Chuck Wagon, Lone Star Ladies riding group and many more. Haskell Fire Department will be selling hamburgers. Events will conclude around 3:00pm.
Thank you so much for considering our invitation. Our celebration has grown each year and has become a premier county event!
For more information contact
Susan Turner

Spring Ball in Waco - Event Info

You are Cordially Invited
to attend
The Annual Lace and Sabers Magnolia Ball
Waco, Texas
March 17, 2012
Earle-Harrison House

I will be hosting my annual dance on March 17th in Waco, Texas at the historic Earle-Harrison House. The setting will be in the garden under a tent overlooking the beautifyl views. Dancing will be held from 7 to 11 PM and music will be provided by "The Sweet Song String Band". You will walk into a setting right out of a magazine with crystal, candles, and beautiful tables. A light buffet will be served along with cake, punch, coffee, and water. We will eat and dance and have a merry time waltzing, reeling and such.

During the day ladies will watch a demonstration of cooking in the old kitchen using all the tools of the day to prepare sweet dough cobbler, cucumber sandwiches, and fresh veggies, for you to snack on during our ladies tea in the old house itself. We will visit and chat about the times at hand, and if anyone would offer a demonstration of the period etiquette, dress, or customs they may do so. It will be a leisurely time until 3 PM when you will retire to prepare for the dance.

Since the buffet will be a light fare you may want to have a small dinner prior to the dance at 7 PM, it is your choice, but if you know me I usually have plenty to eat. Accommodations in the area are varied. You may choose to stay at the Clarion which is just down the street on 4th Street, The Fairfield Inn on Lakeshore is also another nice hotel and not far. Once you send in your reservations I will forward information on hotels to you so you may choose.

In Waco you can visit many attractions during the day. Gentlemen may want to do these while we cook and chat. The Texas Ranger Museum is in Waco, There is a Mennonite settlement with furniture making demonstratins, crafts and a lot more. Several old homes are available for tours and The Ben Mc Coullogh home is right next door to our event. I have arranged for small guided groups to tour the Earle-Harrison home also at no cost to you. I will again forward information on all these places with your reservation confirmation.

Cost is $45.00 per person
Send Check, money order or Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover cards are accepted
Becky Noone
28011 Brendon Trail Court
Spring, Texas 77386
281-651-9209 store, or 979-709-7601 cell

Needlework Samplers

If you are looking for a project for the quiet times at living histories or to start a conversation with the public, consider a needlework sampler.  Not only did they provide beauty for beholder but told a story about the maker.  This site, shared with us by Bev, has lots of information on samplers.

Needlework samplers have a rich history and today take on an interesting twist.
The rich history of needlework samplers is hinted at in the commercially produced patterns of today. Samplers have often been dismissed as nostalgic decorative items of no importance but in the past samplers have been a method of recording information. Today they can be seen as format to explore stitches and design elements, mixed media techniques and some freeform contemporary samplers even include elements of journalling.

Needlework samplers, always act as a record of stitches, and skill but they can also record patterns and motifs, depict family trees, commemorate life events, such as weddings or births. Alphabet samplers and growth charts are popular today, but their function has changed significantly.

Links and resources on this page will take you on a journey into both the history of needlework samplers and how to stitch your own sampler.
Read more at this link:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas at Old Fort Concho

Christmas at Old Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas is guaranteed to bring a smile to the Scrooges among us and put the rest of us in the Christmas spirit.  This December 2-3, the troops and their ladies came back to Ft. Concho.  Although the weather was nippy, many visitors came to enjoy the Saturday. 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Did A Victorian Child Find under the Christmas Tree?

GIFTS FOR BOYS: For boys there are leaping-horses arranged on a platform in order not to injure the carpets; goats that bleat, and dogs that bark; menageries with all sorts of wild animals; fire-engines with hose that throw the water across a room; livery stables with vehicles, hostlers, and horses; grocery stores and restaurants; pack-mules with well-filled panniers, driven by Swiss muleteers; express-wagons heavily laden with boxes, barrels, and parcels; steamers, and craft of every nation; locomotive and train; canes, riding-whips, etc.—all exact imitations of those used by the grown folks every day before admiring boyish eyes.

A very expensive present for a little girl is a miniature dinner-set of French china, ornamented with a painted wreath. In the same case with the china are cut-glass goblets, silver-ware, cutlery, bronze candelabras, and table linen—every thing, indeed, that the most fastidious little folks could desire for a bountifully spread table—all carefully packed away in an oaken chest.

Read the rest of this article at

Monday, December 5, 2011

Summer History Opportunity for Teachers!

Notice of this opportunity was received from Donna Smith of Ft. Davis.  If you are a teacher, check this out!

Thought you might spread the word to any teachers you know about this summertime opportunity provided by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York. The week-long seminars are held at universities around the country, and they welcome K-12 history, social studies, language arts, and English teachers. See and/or message below.

I was lucky enough to attend a seminar on Black History at Yale Univ. last summer because they allow National Park Service people who are certified teachers to attend; what I learned I plan to put to good use regarding the story of the Buffalo Soldiers. Teachers can even opt to get graduate credit for some of the seminars, if they so choose.

A great enrichment opportunity--I highly recommend it!


Join the Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School Program and receive priority for Teacher Seminars. Become an Affiliate by Dec. 31, 2011. Apply to the Affiliate School Program here.

Teacher Seminars in American History
for Summer 2012
Application Now Open
Deadline February 15, 2012

K-12 history, social studies, language arts, and English teachers are invited to apply to the 2012 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminars. Taught by renowned historians on college campuses in the US and the UK, these one-week interdisciplinary seminars give educators the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of topics in American history and literature—while gaining practical resources and strategies to take back to their classrooms.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 15, 2012 . Apply Now!

If you have any questions contact For a complete list of Gilder Lehrman’s 2012 Teacher Seminars, information about full and partial fellowships, graduate credit, and to apply online, visit:

Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminars

NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture

Empire City: New York from 1877–2001
Kenneth T. Jackson and Karen Markoe
Columbia University
* This seminar requires a separate application. Apply.
** The deadline for this seminar is March 1, 2012.

We are delighted to present 40 seminars in 2012, including:
9/11 and American Memory
David W. Blight
at the National September 11
Memorial Museum, New York City
The Great Depression and World War II
David M. Kennedy at Stanford University

Immigration and American Life
Vicki Ruiz and Ana Rosas
at University of California, Irvine
The Era of George Washington
Gordon S. Wood
at George Washington's Mount Vernon

New Orleans Jazz and the American Public Sphere
Matt Sakakeeny
at Tulane University The American Civil War: Origins and Consequences
Gary W. Gallagher
at University of Virginia |

Gilder Lehrman Institute | 19 West 44th Street, Suite 500 | New York | NY | 10036

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My West Texas

Just had to share this beautiful video of my home, West Texas.  Enjoy!

Wyman Meinzer's West Texas from Wyman Meinzer on Vimeo.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Venerable Pincushion

Many of you know of my fascination with pincushions and sewing kits.  I don't know why I like them so well because it seems the best way to find a pin in my house is with your feet.  (so says my husband).  I found this article and contest and thought it would be of interest to many of you.

 This article and contest notice came from Traditions Today.  To sign up for the blog go to

The Venerable Pincushion
Karen Brock
Assistant Editor
In the corner of the kitchen windowsill in the farmhouse where I grew up sat a giant pincushion. You know, the big fat tomato kind, jammed with a motley assortment of pins and needles, the dangling strawberry emery long gone. I have the fondest memories from that kitchen—making dolls from hollyhocks, pitting cherries with a hairpin, mom putting my sister's knitted 4-H sweater in the oven to dry in time before the county fair—and the fat tomato pincushion was witness to them all.

Tatted, embroidered pincushion by Susan L. Keenan, 2008

Apparently, it was the Victorians who introduced the tomato pincushion to the world. At the time, it was thought that putting a tomato on the mantle of their homes would bring good luck. If tomatoes weren't in season, they substituted by using a round ball of red fabric filled with sawdust whose presence on the mantle evolved into practical use as a place to store pins. And the Victorians couldn't restrain themselves: multitudes of pincushions were displayed on parlor tables and hung from walls in the shapes of shoes, dolls, teacups, umbrellas, and fruits.

But the hardy little pincushion was around long before the Victorians. It's likely that their use goes back as far as the fifteenth century when very expensive metal pins that had previously been stored in ornate boxes were pushed into stuffed shapes, made of decorated linens or silk for safekeeping.

Stumpworked camel pincushion by Natalie Hart, 2008.

We love pincushions despite their having been around for 600 years or maybe because of that. PieceWork has its own tradition with the pincushion. We had our inaugural Excellence in Needle Arts Pincushion Contest in 2000; the number and quality of entries were astounding. We were dazzled by strawberries and camels, kittens and beehives, miniature purses, and dozens of other unique designs. They arrived ruched and beaded, knitted, needlepointed, and stumpworked; they were lovingly crafted with bobbin lace, shuttle-tatted lace, and bead crochet. Our second contest in 2008 produced an equally remarkable group of submissions. And now it's time again to invite all needleworkers to enter those dear items of practical whimsy in PieceWork's third Excellence in Needle Arts Pincushion Contest!

For our 2012 contest, The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) will award the grand prize winner $500 in cash. Colonial Needle, along with other sponsors, will offer additional prizes in five distinct categories. Visit the PieceWork website to learn more about the contest and to enter now. We're really looking forward to seeing your entries. You only have until April 2, 2012, to send photos of your entry, so get started now! We look forward to seeing your pincushions.
Reprinted with permission.

How to Make a Victorian Purse

This article was found on the Victorianna Online magazine.  This would be a simple craft for teens at an event. 
An 1833 dress is accessorized with a simple reticule of figured silk bordered in Valenciennes lace and attached to a belt of rose-colored taffeta ribbon. During the early 1800s, women carried small bags or purses such as this, called reticules, to hold money and small personal items. Introduced in the late 18th century as a replacement for the pocket, reticules were customarily in the form of a pouch with a drawstring. These round, hexagonal or lozenge shaped purses became a canvas to highlight a lady’s needlework proficiencies — from a novice’s modest stitches to the elaborate embroidered, beaded, and painted embellishments of the skilled needleworker. This simple pouch-shaped purse was easily crafted; instructions for two similar reticules were provided in an early nineteenth century book and are highlighted below. Add your own trimmings or embroidery to make your own period accessory.

Take a quarter of a yard of fine cambric-dimity (or any lightweight cotton, muslin or small-figured gingham) and split it in two. Cut the shape of a small rounded scallop or a point out of cardboard or thick paper. Laying this on the fabric, draw a row of points or scallops all round, taking care not to go too near the edge, and turning the corners handsomely. The drawing may be done with a lead pencil. Baste or tack the two sides of the bag together, and following the outline of the scallops, run them along with very neat short stitches; taking care always to stick the needle through both sides, as it is that which holds the purse together.

Read the rest of the article and see embroidery and braiding patterns at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fort Stockton Living History Event

October 14 was a beautiful day at Ft. Stockton historical site in Ft. Stockton, TX.  This is a beautifully restored fort in West Texas where the Living History event was held.  The volunteers and site managers were very gracious with their hospitality and everyone attending had a great time.  I'll let you see for yourself with this video.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Story in a Dress

This lovely dress was part of an article in Pieceworks Magazine at  The article contains information on the fabric and construction of the dress and information on choosing a costume for reenacting.  At the bottom is a list of period sutlers with historic goods.

"Period fashions and fabrics today captivate all kinds of people: actors, costumers, restorers,
teachers, and scholars, as well as people involved with historic homes and living-history sites.
Fabric companies study them as source material, designers,for inspiration. An expert on all aspects of vintage clothing, quilts, and fabrics is Nancy Kirk, teacher, textile scholar, appraiser, collector, president of the Quilt Heritage Foundation, designer of contemporary and reproduction fabrics, and proprietor of The Kirk Collection inOmaha, Nebraska.
Kirk reads fabrics the way Martha Stewart reads a guest list, recognizing old friends, attention-grabbers, and delicatedarlings in need of support."   Read the rest of the article at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Choosing new fabric? Look through this electronic swatchbook.

Trying to decide on new dress fabric or date a piece in an antique quilt.  Check out this link below before you head to the fabric store.  This is an amazing resource which I gleaned from the Victorianna online magazine. This magazine is well worth the time to explore.  You'll find more information like this.

Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum has an Electronic Swatchbook containing bright, unfaded swatches of fabrics for both home decor and fashion ranging from the 1830s to the 1920s. These period swatchbooks were made and used for a variety of purposes. Fabric manufacturers and merchants assembled large swatchbooks to record and promote the latest textile designs to markets at home and abroad. The books were also prepared by pattern services that collected and sold fabric designs by various manufacturers.
Today, nearly two thousand public domain patterns are available to use and re-use, including more than 900 from the 1830s, 300 from 1849, 40 from 1887, 300 from the 1890s, and 300 from the 1920s. Within the interior design and fashion textile industry, these fabric swatches are treasured as a source of instruction and of inspiration. Hours of visual exploration await the costume and textile collector as they search this incredible collection by color or by year

Monday, September 26, 2011

Victorian Dress Movie

This is a YouTube movie that has some lovely Victorian dresses. View the full screen by double clicking the movie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Historical Events and Museums in Colorado

This summer I attended an event at Ft. Garland in southern Colorado.  It was a great event and introduced me to a wealth of history activities available through History Colorado.  This group consists of museums and historic sites throughout Colorado.  The museums covered are:

History Colorado Center
Byers-Evans House Museum
El Pueblo History Museum
Fort Garland Museum
Fort Vasquez Museum
Georgetown Loop Railroad
Grant-Humphreys Mansion
Healy House Museum
Pike's Stockade
Trinidad History Museum
Ute Indian Museum

You can see a list of their events at as well as visit the webpages of the museums.  Their website is worth exploring well. If you are lucky enough to be visiting Colorado, plan to put these places on your list of sites to visit.

---Ann Dixon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Return to TARA" Dinner and Masked Ball , October 29, 2011

This ball and dinner is being held at Beaumont Ranch in Grandview, Texas.  Find more information here:

Antique Corset Gallery Link

Take a guided tour through the last 250 years of corsetry and undersupports. Discover the fascinating ways in which our ancestors managed to achieve those fashionable figures. The Antique Corset Gallery has arrived, allowing you to view in detail those rare and unique items which were previously kept well covered up!

Dressing the 1860s Gentleman

This article was published by the Victoriana Magazine online recently.  It explains some expressions we use today that have their roots in the Victorian period.  Finish reading the article by clicking on the link at the end of the page.  This online magazine is full of great information and I want to encourage you to check out this research material.  I have been unable to find contact information for the magazine to ask permission to reprint it and I don't want to violate copyright so I have only given you a "taste" of the information.  You will need to follow the link to get the full page.

Dressing the 1860s Gentleman on September 16, 2011 – 5:11 pm

The Victorian gentleman of the 1860s followed the rules and protocols for proper dressing. Clothing that was both appropriate and simple could never offend, nor rende.r its wearer conspicuous. It was mandatory that taste and judgment preside over the wardrobe. There were a few definitions of “dress” that guided him in his daily choice of clothing.
Undressed:  To be “undressed” was to be dressed for work and ordinary occupations, to wear a coat which he did not fear to ruin and a neck-tie which his ink-stand will not object to, even though his acquaintance might.

To be “dressed” on the other hand, was to be clothed in the garments which society pronounced as suitable to particular occasions. But there were shades of being “dressed.” A man was called “little dressed,” “well dressed,” and “much dressed,” not according to the quantity but the quality of his coverings.

Little Dressed:
To be “little dressed” was to wear old things, of a make that was no longer the fashion, having no pretension to elegance, artistic beauty, or ornament. It was also to wear lounging clothes on occasions which demanded some amount of care.

Much Dressed:
To be “much dressed” was to be in the extreme of the fashion, with the latest clothes, jewelry, and ornaments, with a touch of extravagance in colors. Thus to wear patent leather boots and yellow gloves in a quiet morning stroll was to be “much dressed,” and certainly did not differ immensely from being badly dressed.

Well Dressed:
To be “well dressed” was the happy medium between “little dressed” and “much dressed.” Thus while he avoided ornament and fads, he cultivated fashion, that was good fashion, in the make of his clothes. To be “well dressed” was to be dressed precisely as the occasion, place, weather, height, figure, position, age, and means required. It was to be clothed without pretension or eccentricity; without exaggerated colors, elaborate ornament, or senseless fashions. Good dressing was to wear as little jewelry as possible, to be scrupulously neat, clean, and fresh, and to carry his clothes as if he did not give them a thought. Learn about how to dress like a Victorian man from the 1860s.
Read the rest of the story at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Corsets and Hardware Stores???

Here is an interesting article about using zip ties for corset boning.
Kenneth King, contributor  -- Threads
"I was talking to a correspondent in Wisconsin recently, and we got on the subject of boning for strapless dresses. It seems she had a tight deadline for a wedding dress, and was in a quandary about where to get boning in her small town. I mentioned this tip about using zip ties as boning, and she really was enthusiastic about this--it was something she could readily get it at the building supply store, and not have to send away for it.
The tip: Using "zip ties" as boning.
These are also called "cable ties", and I heard about using them from some of my students who are into corsetry--they said the zip ties were a suitable substitute for whalebone. The zip ties come in different thicknesses, but the ones I decided to use were the heavy-duty ones. "....

Read the rest of the article here...

I think I would like to try out a corset pattern using the zip boning before I commited my expensive steel boning and busque to a corset that might not fit.  Check this article out and post your comments.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Victorian Tea and Gala in Calvert, TX

Click on the image to view an enlarged version the poster.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Call for Dates and Information

The fall Living History season will soon be here.  Please share with us your groups calendar of events.  This way we can all be aware of events all over the west.  It will also advertise your group's event.  Email your list to

Albequerque Courses on the Civil War

This message was received from Madeline Quillen of the NM CW Ladies Congress.  These are continuing education courses from UNM in Albequerque.  Thought they might be available and of interest to those you you in NM.

19401 Beyond Gone With the Wind: Women and the American Civil War

On the battlefield and on the home front, the Civil War transformed American society. Women who sent their husbands, sons and brothers off to fight, sought their own ways to support the Union or Confederate cause. By the end of the war, some women had donned uniforms to fight alongside their loved ones, while a multitude of others had protected families, managed property, provided physical and emotional assistance to men in both armies and established new career paths for themselves. We'll look at the individual stories of resilient and courageous women and evaluate the collective experience of women in this pivotal conflict.

Note: Online registration is not available for Osher classes. Please call 277-0077 and press 1 to register.

Section A Nov 1 - Nov 22 Tue 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
$45.00 For 4 Session(s)
Alegria Del Webb - Active Adult Community
Cheryl Foote

Section B Nov 1 - Nov 22 Tue 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
$45.00 For 4 Session(s)
CE South Building
Pamela Cornish

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Territorial Days in Chama, New Mexico

On July 8-10, 2011, Chuck and I participated in Chama's Territorial Days.  This was the first year for the event and it went well.  A tent city was set up to simulate an 1880's railroad camp in Chama.  There was a farrier, a blacksmith, ladies, cowboys, schoolhouse, saloon and a court.  We greeted the train in period clothers to the delight of the arriving and departing passengers.  It was fun. 

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Las Golondrinas Civil War Weekend, May 14-15, 2011

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The Las Golondrinas Civil War Weekend is held the first weekend of May
each year at Rancho De Las Golondrinas, a living history farm near Santa Fe, NM.This rancho has been active since the 1600s.  There are many acres available for Federal
and Confederate camps as well as a large field for the battle.  The two battles that are reenacted
are the battle of Glorietta Pass and the battle of Val Verde, both of which took place not far from there.
The New Mexico Civil War Congress and the New Mexico Civil War Ladies League, sponsors of the event are planning an even larger event next year.  Next year will be the 150th anniversary of the two battles that took place here in New Mexico.  Check these websites for updates and
Consider attending this wonderful event next year as either a participant or a spectator.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fort Garland Living History, May 28-29, 2011

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Fort Garland Museum held its Living History Days on Memorial Day weekend 2011.  Fort Garland is a very nice museum/fort built of adobe near Ft. Garland, CO. Kit Carson was the commander there in 1866-67.  The fort was invaded by soldiers, cavalry troopers, artillery, and ladies.  On Saturday, there was a ladies tea, dinner and dance.  Sunday saw a pass in review flag raising and period church service.  There were many visitors to observe Ft. Garland to come alive that weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Explaining the Victorian Era

Explaining the Victorian Era

Find free learning resources from museums and libraries online to help explain the Victorian Era to children. Many feature video, virtual games and teacher worksheets in addition to lots of pictures. Here are a few places to get started:

Walk Through a Victorian House
The Victorian Servant
Dress a Victorian
Be a Victorian Millionaire Now!
Move It! In 1850 By Train, Wagon And Boat
Toys Of The Past
Children in Victorian Britain

More Civil War Resources

Charlestonians watch the Confederate bombardment of Ft. Sumter from rooftops overlooking the Bay.

This NPS 150th anniversary Civil War website also offers a comprehensive calendar of 150th anniversary events at more than 70 national parks and partner sites across the country, as well as historical features and resources that illustrate how the events of 150 years ago continue to be reflected in America today.

Fictional Civil War Correspondent highlights each day of the Civil War on Twitter.  This is an interesting way to intrique students.!/CivilWarReportr

Docs Teach  The National Archives has created a new web site to help educators teach with primary-source documents. The site, called DocsTeach, not only lets teachers explore documents in a variety of media from the National Archives holdings, but it also includes online tools to help teachers combine these materials and create engaging history activities for students.

NPS Events of Civil War list

Civil War E-Series of Books   Eastern National is celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War with electronic editions of eParks' National Park Civil War Series of books.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Child's View of History

Fort Chadbourne had a number of children participating in the event.  They were a joy to watch as they enjoyed the event.

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Fort Chadbourne Days 2011

Fort Chadbourne was established October 28, 1852 by companies A and K of the Eighth United States Infantry. The fort was named for 2nd Lt. Theodore Lincoln Chadbourne who fought and was killed in the Mexican War in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. Fort Chadbourne is one of the frontier forts established to protect the settlers moving west.

Fort Chadbourne Days was held on May 6 and 7, 2011.  1,100 children attended the school days.  Below are two movies of the event.  Enjoy!
Part 1 includes camp scenes and school day pictures.

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Part 2 includes the Ladies Tea and reenactment of the surrender of the fort to the Confederates and the return to the Union.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Keeper of Confederate Memoirs to Be Honored in San Angelo

This year a special honor is planned for a Texas woman who secured the memoirs of Confederate soldiers for generations to come.  Mamie Ann Yeary published  Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861–1865 in 1912.  Mamie Yeary is buried in Fairmont Cemetary in San Angelo.  She will be honored with a marker and ceremony by the Tom Green SCV camp. 

 The Texas Handbook at has this article about her. 

YEARY, MAMIE ANN (1876–1922). Mamie Yeary, compiler of Confederate memoirs, was born on October 10, 1876, to James Knox Polk and Mary L. (Bickley) Yeary of Farmersville, Texas. She grew up in Farmersville in a family and region sympathetic to Confederate ideals long after the Civil War. Due to a long-term physical ailment, Mamie remained with her parents into adulthood, allowing her mother to care for her. The family eventually moved from Collin County to McGregor. In 1912 Yeary published Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861–1865. This 904-page book comprised memoirs submitted to her by Confederate Army veterans living in Texas at the time of writing. To these records she added the constitution of the Confederate States of America and a complete listing of Civil War engagements. Although the book received minimal attention in Yeary's lifetime, renewed interest in genealogy and Civil War history later in the century encouraged a reprinting. Morningside House, a Dayton, Ohio, publisher, reissued the book with an index in 1986. Mamie Yeary died on June 15, 1922, and is buried in Fairmount Cemetery in San Angelo.

The Terry Texas Rangers archive online highlights some of her soldier memoirs on their site.

This blog has had several conversations on the importance of diaries and other primary source documents in making our presentations authentic.  Mamie secured these records so that upcoming generations could learn about the life and struggles of the most defining conflict in our country's history.  Hooray for this frontier woman!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Diaries- Links to the Past

In many respects, when we offer our knowledge to children and visitors at the Frontier Events at the Forts, we are Actors playing a part. In theater and acting studies, one of the primary elements of an actor preparing to perform a part, is the process of understanding the Motivation of a character. Understanding the Motivation of the character gives the actor the tools to portray that charcter with a commanding performance; it helps the actor to give a more 'realistic' presentation of the character.

I realize that most of you have been doing the living history events much longer than I have, but I wanted to validate your efforts, and to put a name to the process you've all been doing: Finding the Motivation of your Character.

Knowing what our foremothers thought and felt, provides us a sense of their motivation in their daily lives. Once you understand their motivation, you can relay that to the audience.

For me, diary entries are invaluable; they are straight from the source; no historian adding their own interpretation to the event; no political persuasions slanting the ideologies or emotions; no modern moral or ethical re-directions to cloud the reality of those people at that time. Diary entries provide us the raw emotions, the reality of their lives with all its unpleasantries and their joys in the most simplest of things.

In my presentations for school children, I like to share with them some of the 'simple' day to day activities that children in the past did; it helps them to associate with the past- giving them something more tangible to associate with- than just the activities of the adults. Diary entries of children are invaluable to help today's children grasp what life was like in the past.

Here are links to some online diaries both adult and children, and some othe diary links have entire books of diaries available to purchase.

Carrie Berry- a short excerpt of her life in Civil War Atlanta in the days before and after the great Burning of Atlanta

Abba Owens- the diaries of a teenaged girl from Ypslanti, Michigan

Journal of a Residence of a Georgian Plantation originally published in 1863, the University of Virginia offers this adult diary online. It is written in the stylized prose of the day, so it can be laborious to wade through it all... but offers a glimpse to the mindset of the author.

As I continue to research, I will post more online diaries.

Angela 'ARNie' Grabowski
Owner of
Author of Encyclpedia of Tunisian Crochet

Monday, April 18, 2011

West Texas Heritage Days at Ft. McKavett

West Texas Heritage Days was held at Ft. McKavett SHS near Menard, TX on March 25-26, 2011

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The Victoriana Magazine online has a myriad of articles on the Victorian period.  Below is an article on crinolines or hoop skirts along with very nice pictures.  Have you ever resembled this lady as you "exploded" from a contemporary wagon at an event?

CrinolineThe 1800s crinoline, also called a hoop skirt or extension skirt, was  inspired by the open cage or frame style of the 16th and 17th century farthingale and the 18th century pannier. The Victorian crinoline developed various appearances over it's fashion lifetime as a result of new designs and methods of manufacture. Click here to read the rest of the article
by Joanne Haug

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Civil War Tintypes and Ambrotypes--The Stories They Could Tell

The Web has blossomed with sites dedicated to upcoming sesquicentennial of the American Civil War . Below are some web sites from various places that contain pictures of various aspects of the Civil War. These period resources are great for research into the lives of the men and women of the time.

Featured Acquisition: Library of Congress

Liljenquist Family Collection
Close to 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs highlight both Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. The Liljenquist Family sought out high quality images to represent the impact of the war, especially the young enlisted men. The photographs often show hats, firearms, canteens, musical instruments, painted backdrops, and other details that enhance the research value of the collection.
Among the rarest images are African Americans in uniform, sailors, a Lincoln campaign button, and portraits of soldiers with their wives and children. A few personal stories survived in notes pinned to the photo cases, but most of the people and photographers are unidentified. Tom Liljenquist donated the entire collection to the Library in 2010. An exhibition of the collection will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War in April 2011. (Note: Only the online images are available due to exhibition preparations.)
View collection (new images added each week)
View a slide show: Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs
Read an essay: From the Donor's Perspective: The Last Full Measure

Flicker -- Civil War Faces

In addition, Parade magazine has a Real or Reenactment set of photos. How well will you do?

More photos available at

Teaching Resources at the National Archives

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pattern Draping on YouTube

Our FWLHA conference featured a seminar on pattern draping for the advanced seamstresses among us.  Sara has found a link on creating princess line seaming similar to what we were doing.  Check out
Along with this one, there are other pattern draping demonstrations you can check out, as well.
Isn't amazing what is available online?
This wonderful set of links was submited by Sara and Florence.  They have given us links to some amazing BBC videos on Victorian England. 

Subject: BBC Victorian/Edwardian Documentaries

HIP HIP HUZZAH! There are THREE new BBC living-history documentaries!
Found them on youtube, but can't find them on disc yet. Since these were uploaded in 15 min. increments, I'm including the link for part one of each episode so that, if it works the way it should, the next video in the list will be part two.

Victorian Pharmacy:
Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Victorian Farm:
Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Episode 5:

Episode 6:

Edwardian Farm:
Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Episode 5:

Episode 6:

Episode 7:

Episode 8:

Episode 9:

Episode 10:

Episode 11:

Episode 12:

And one just for fun!

Life in a Cottage Garden:
Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Episode 5:

Episode 6:

More Great Links from ARNie This is the link to the Texas Woman's University collection of gowns that were worn by Texas First Ladies.
TWU- in Denton, has an extensive textiles museum and collection. I've never been to the exhibit, but my sister has told me wonderful things about it... when she was attending school there. and while I was digging around in the site, I found this: Womans' Collection Research- that I didn't even know was there. From what I can see at the site, you can visit the archives on the Campus, and you can order copies of materials... for a price. For those who are looking for more history on their era, this could be a gold mine of information. Again, I've never seen the archives, but only know the university from my sister.

I realize that all universities will have historical books and documents, but Texas Womans' University centralize the materials specific to our interests: the history of Women in our area.

Maybe that could be a Field Trip for our Association, or maybe we try having our yearly conference there one year? I don't think we'd have time this year to get a second conference organized, but it is something for our members to discuss at the various events at the Forts. Keep in mind, that both of these collections are available only on Weekdays. However, the university might be open to private viewings, if this is part of an entire conference. What do y'all think? Would this be something you'd want to try to do?

Owner and Designer of
Encyclopedia of Tunisian Crochet

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Links

I was looking around the web and found this one full of probably hundreds of Victorian Portraits and photographs from a British Professional Photographers' collection. There are some amazing photos for ideas and validations on costuming.

This is another one of my favorite sites for loads of costuming help. Free patterns, photos, fashion plates... it is a wealth of information.

And finally, I found this short history on Buttons (from the BBC) enlightening.

I appreciate the work you do on the blog. I do go there and read through the articles. I love the vids from the NM museum. 

Owner and Designer of
Encyclopedia of Tunisian Crochet

Saturday, March 19, 2011

7th Annual Frontier Women's Living History Association Conference

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March 11, 2011 was a bright but windy West Texas day as ladies gathered from near and far to improve their living history skills and learn new things.  Arnie, our crochet expert, assisted those arriving early in getting started on creating a pair of new crochet mitts for their dresses.  Later that evening, we stepped into movie land and watched an old western called Westward the Women which was accompanied by pizza and sparkling punch.  Ladies then retired to their residences for the weekend, either the boarding house or historic building on the fort. 
Saturday, March 12th was also a typical sunny day as we gathered for breakfast and then broke into groups for sewing seminars.  Robin led the advanced seamstress in a pattern draping workshop that would provide them with a basic pattern that could be modified for most dress styles from 1850-1880.  Jane from Ft. Griffin instructed the group of Girl Scouts and other ladies on basic hand sewing techniques and helped them get started on creating a period appropriate skirt.  We broke for a delicious lunch and then returned to the seminars.  Many ladies brought items to exchange and sell.  Items ranged from period clothing, shawls, purses, bonnets, gloves, crochet hooks, jewelry and just about anything else a frontier lady might need.  At 4:00 we began to prepare for a formal tea in one of the fort building.  A couple of visitors passing by were kind enough to take pictures of the ladies as they gathered.  Inside the tables were beautiful and lovely music was provided by a string trio of young living historians, Cheryl M's three daughters.  Thanks so much to Sara and Cheryl who organized the lovely tea.  Conversation was lively and various ladies shared their living history memories.  Following the tea, we adjourned to go to supper and return to our quarters. 

Sunday was another sunny day as we gathered at Officer's Quarters 8 again.  Our friend from Louisiana, Joan, This time we choose a buckram hat base to begin designing a hat for our outfits.  The time periods of the bases ranged from 1850-1890.  Out came enough feathers, lace, trims and other fluffy things to rival a milliner's shop.  Hat making continued after lunch until about three o'clock when ladies prepared to travel back to their homes.  Heartfelt thanks to the Sharon for organizing this grand time, to Jane, Arnie and Robin for their expert instruction and to Sara, Cheryl and her daughters for the lovely tea. 

How to Make a Hat Base

There is a great tutorial on making a hat base found on the web link below that could serve as a base for any 1870s or 1880s hat .   The hats in these period illustrations could be built on a foundation similar to the on created on this page.  Check it out.  --Ann

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hstoric Calvert, TX Victorian Gala Sept. 30-31

Victorian Gala - Tea & Ball
Friday, September 30 - Saturday, October 1, 2011

Friday Evening - Welcome Reception & Hayride
Saturday Morning - Explore Calvert
Katy Hamman-Stricker Women’s Heritage Center
Calvert Historic District
Main Street Shops

Saturday Afternoon - Afternoon Tea $35
Tea Sandwiches, Scones & Sweets
Croquet on the Lawn
Ladies Hat Contest

Saturday Evening - Gala Ball $65
Hors d’oeuvres
Music & Dancing
Costume Contest

Combined Tea and Gala Ball Ticket - $90/person
Victorian Attire is Encouraged but not Required
Call Susan (512) 468-8317 for more information

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Victorian E-books

I chanced again on the Victoriana website ( which I have enjoyed before.  While there, I found the following links for ebooks and other Victorian living items that I thought you might enjoy.  If you have children who reenact with you, check out the Paper dolls and Victorian House Play books for an activity for your youngsters. Enjoy!
--Ann Dixon

Paper Dolls

Print and Frame 1808

Cloak Catalog

Family Memory

Baby Scrapbook page

Victorian House Play book

1850 Stationary design

Christmas Ornament e-book

Victorian Valentine

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Update for Victorian Ladies Conference, March 11-13, 2011

Here is information on workshops and schedule for the Victorian Women's Conference.  Check out last year's fun with the video below.

Friday: You may check in at Officer’s Quarters #8 beginning at 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Arnie will be there showing us ow to create mitts using the Victorian Crazy Blocks stitch. Bring your own yarn. Arnie is suggesting you purchase a period correct yarn from this site: (it is a very fine merino ; silk blend)  You will also need either a F or G crochet hook.
Beginning at 6:30 we will be meeting at the Living History stables class room for Pizza & a movie, Western  the Women. You will need to pay for your pizza (about $5.00) when you check in at OQ8. If you do not want to join us, Arnie will get you going on the project on Saturday.
Saturday: Beginning at 7:30 am you may make your way to Officer’s Quarters #8 for check in and breakfast. Breakfast will end at 8:30 and that time you will move to your sewing workshop preference.
Lunch will be at OQ8 from 12:30 until 1:30, then back to your sewing workshop.
Tea will be from 5 until 6:00, Dress in your finery! Our tea will be formal with four ladies per table and their table will each have their own hostesses and decorated with flair.
Dinner will be on your own, or go in groups to one of the many fine restaurants in San Angelo!
Sunday: A light breakfast will be served beginning at 7:30 and the hat workshop will begin at 8:30 and we will break for lunch at noon. At this time you may leave, or stay to finish hats and have some one on one time visiting with our seamstresses.
Conference will end at 3:00 PM. Please make sure you have at least 1/4 to 1/2 yard of material to cover your buckram frame. Also, any feathers or other embellishments you desire to decorate your hat bring them along, too!

Advanced: Robin will be leading the workshop on draping a bodice, and is quite easy to adapt for different styles that you will be planning to make. This method requires the ladies to get up close and personal with a draping partner, and you should wear your corsets over a tight tee shirt or a correct chemise for the class. If you do not intend to wear a corset with your dresses you need to wear a really good-supporting bra that can tighten to keep the bust line up in a good position.
The materials for the class to bring with them will include a tape measure, medium to large straight pins, a soft lead pencil  or chalk-type fabric pencil (so it won't bleed into the clothes on the lady being draped), good scissors to cut the muslin, and maybe an image of the style of bodice they are planning to make. A high quality muslin has been provided for this workshop.

Beginner-Intermediate: You will need to bring at least 4 yards of washed and ironed material. A good calico, or solid cotton material would work well. Please bring large to medium strait pins and good quality scissors. Bring your sewing machine, if possible. I will bring one and an offer has been made to bring some more, just let me know.

Other Suggesstions:

Bring your own bottles of water with you. There will be coffee, hot chocolate & ice tea for beverages served all day.
We will have our Victorian Bazaar, once again this year.Please bring some items you would like to sell, or trade. If you want to contribute a door prize, that would be lovely.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Twiggs Surrender, San Antonio, TX, Feb. 12.2011

These pictures are of the 2011 Twiggs Surrender Reenactment in front of the Alamo in San Antonio. Read about the history of the event below the slide show.
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After the Mexican-American War, Brigadier General David E. Twiggs

was appointed brevet major general and commanded the Department

of Texas. Twiggs's command included about 20% of the U.S. Army

guarding the border of the U.S. and Mexico. As the states began to

secede, Twiggs met with a trio of Confederate commissioners, including

Philip N. Luckett and Samuel A. Maverick, and surrendered his entire

command to them. At the time of his surrender, Twiggs was in San

Antonio with approximately 200 Union soldiers, the remainder of his

troops scattered along the border between the United States and Mexico.

1,000 Secessionist militia entered the city, intent on capturing the

Union arsenal there. With his troops outnumbered five to one, Twiggs

surrendered on February 16, 1861. All Federal troops then left Texas for the

East coast.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Civil War Quilts

I chanced upon a wonderful site today. Barbara Brachman, renown for her Civil War fabrics and books, has a great blog where she is celebrating the 2011 Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a period quilt block each week.  Each block post contains the pattern and a true story fron that time period.  This week's post and quilt block is called "Cotton Boll" with a lovely block to make and referernce to Dolly Lunt Burge, a southern woman who survived and told her diary of Sherman's  March through her plantation.  There are period pictures and a link to the acual diary of  Dolly Burge. An amazing link to history.

Here are the Quilt Blocks listed so far.
 Cotton Boll

Not only is this a great place to find appropriate blocks with stories to tell for your living history impression, the primary documents she references will add to your knowledge. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hurry Spring!!

Can you imagine the winter days our foremothers must have endured?
Can you imagine ?
...Inside a cold house with only a fire or wood store to warm it and restless children to entertain
...Outside chores that required you to bundle up in all that you owned to brave the wind, snow and freezing cold.
I am sure that they found the advent of Spring just as amazing as this video I have added just because of its beauty. Hurry, Spring!!

Colors Mother Nature from Alessandro Cirillo on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

School of the Victorian Lady, March 11-13, 2011

It nearly February! Who would have believed it! That means that the Victorian Ladies’ Conference is just around the corner. This year’s theme is period sewing and hat making. There will be something for every level of seamstress – beginning to accomplished – that will help improve your impression. It will again be at Ft. Concho in San Angelo on March 11-13. Contact Sharon Baird for more information on accommodations near the site. Enjoy meeting other reenactor ladies from all over. There are a limited number of spaces so don’t delay signing up.
The registration form below can be download in PDF form at