Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Featured Artifact: Poughkeepsie Powderhorn


*Photopgrahs taken by Steve Newfield, a volunteer at the Cultural Resources Division


Powder horn from the Revolutionary Period. Etched by Samuel More, with Winding Map of the Hudson River from New York City to Onida Lake.

Length: 14 inches, dated Poughkeepsie, 1775.

A finely engraved horn, the map commencing at the base, with a view of New York City at the mouth of the Hudson; the fort there still flying the English flag. The river winds past Tapan, Phillipe Manor and New Windsor, above the plan of which is the following inscription contained in a panel; "Jacobus Rosecrans his horn, made by Samuel More, a Prisoner at Poughkeepsie, 1775." Poughkeepsie is the next plan and above this is finely executed copy of the Royal Arms, next comes Esopus and Albany, Schonactaday (so spelled) and a view of Johnston's Hall.

The river winds around the horn to Onida Lake at the top, and past the following forts: Hunter, Henry and Harkamon (Herkimer), Fort Stanwix and the Royal Block House. As at New York the Union Jack still flies about Fort Stanwix.

Rosecrans, the owner of the horn, was an Ensign in the Fouth Regiment Orange County Militia, and Samuel More an enlisted man in the Third Regiment.

About Powder Horns:

Powder horns were influenced by the Louisburg Expedition of 1745, from which they first appeared. Men were influenced by their frontier enviroment, which is shown by the different choices of designs and rhymes on a powder horn, with a impact on the experiences that each carver gained during their time in the frontier.

Most horns were decorated with motifs, rhymes, formats and themes of the horns chosen from the region that emcompasses Lake George; Lake Champlain; Strewsbury, Massachusetts; The Connecticut River Valley; and the Lake Ontario/Niagra area.

The horns were usually carved by soliders, who willed away the idle hours of a siege or of the occupation of a town by decorating their equipment. Sometimes a professional powder horn carver would develop, as in this case, and such a professional would usually beautify the powder horns of his comrades, and receiving perhaps, as remuneration, a jugful, or in some cases a barrel of rum. The charge for carving doubtless depended upon the temperament and desires of the carver and upon the affluence of his patron.

Powder horns were made during the periods of King Georges War (1774-1748); The French and Indian War (1755-1763); The pre-siege of Boston period, when anti-British sentiment began to emerge (1765-1774); The siege of Boston period (1775-1776); Through the end of the American Revolution (1776-1783) and on to 1787.

Morristown National Historic Park card catalog and the book, Drums A' beating, trumphets sounding: Artisticlly carved powder horns in the Provincial manner 1746-1781 by William H. Guthman, copyright 1993.

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