KS Muzzle Loaders Association

Today on Around Kansas we are on the Prairie of sorts with Reenactors of 
the Kansas Muzzleloaders Association finding out what it took to set up 
camp on the Prairie. Find out what you carried with you, how to start firing 
a black powder rifle and cooking an old fashioned breakfast.  There is fun 
for all ages on this segment of Around Kansas.   
 
Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers. 
 
(Frank) Today, Around Kansas is with a bunch of reenactors, but let’s find 
out more about it. We are with Blue Hawk, but that’s not your whole name. 
(Male) No. My name’s Mike Blue Hawk Adams. (Frank) Okay, Blue Hawk is 
really? (Male) Blue Hawk is the name that everyone knows me by, so.  
(Frank) All right. Now you are we were fortunate today because Mike is the 
President of? (Male) The Kansas Muzzle Loading Association. (Frank)  
Tell us a little bit about this. (Male) Well we’re the statewide organization 
for black powder shooters. Our timeframe covers from the 1650’s on up to 
the 1890’s, the heyday of the black powder guns. So we cover everything 
from the French and Indian War and before that, all the way up to the 
buffalo hunters. (Frank) Now as I understand, because of your background 
in history, you go to like Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado?  (Male) Right. 
My wife and I travel all over the United States. We are living history 
educators. We have programs that cover about a hundred, a hundred and 
twenty-five years of American history in about twenty year jumps. (Frank) 
Are we going to get to see some muzzle loading and firing here today?
 (Male) Yes. In camp, we have had several different kinds of muzzle 
loaders here and we’ll be doing some demonstrations and showing people 
how they use the flint locks and the percussions and tell about the early 
mountain men verses the later time periods. (Frank) I’ve got to ask this 
question, because I know it takes a little bit of time to load that thing. 
(Male) Sure. (Frank) Alright, so say you’ve just fired at the enemy and 
now they’re counting two, three, four, so how long does it take to reload 
usually? (Male) Well somebody who’s well trained with one during the 
military times like in the French and Indian War and the Civil War, 
they said a solider was well-trained if he could load and fire his rifle
three times in a minute, so it takes about twenty seconds, even if you’re 
really, really tuned into what you’re doing. (Frank) So if somebody can 
run the hundred in like oh, nine seconds, you’re in trouble. (Male) You’re 
in trouble. That’s right, during the war, the Indians realized that especially 
with the British during the French and Indian War that they would fire, 
volley, fire and then they would reload. Well when they volley fired, they 
had twenty seconds to run in there and attack them with their hand weapon,
 so they learned pretty quick. (Frank) I would imagine. Alright, when we 
come back, we’re going to look at some of the stuff here at the reenactors camp. 
 
(Frank) We are now with Mongo. That’s his show name and welcome.      
(Male) Nice to be here. (Frank) Okay. Now you are the one that’s kind of in 
charge of this entire encampment. (Male) I’m the contact person for the 
group right now, yes. (Frank) All right. So how many people are here?   
(Male) Oh, shoot; I think we’ve got about fifteen, maybe twenty folks here 
so far. (Frank) Would this be kind of like a fall rendezvous in Topeka? 
(Male) Yes. We got everything from a fellow down on the end in a teepee to 
diamond flies and wall tents. We’ve got the whole gamut of folks here.       
(Frank) Okay, so what years do you cover? I mean we’ve got a covered 
wagon down there and a teepee, so? (Male) Well we’ve got folks who do 
mountain man era stuff which is 1820 through about 1840. The covered wagon 
is a bit later in the 1800’s, so it’s just a good representation of the 
whole 1800’s. (Frank) Okay, and this is a working display. (Male) Yes. 
We’ve got tomahawk instruction. We’ve got folks who will teach you about 
old style weapons and fire starting and traps and antique toys, got 
something for everybody. 
 
(Frank) Well we’re out on the prairie, pretending, of course, and now we 
are at the camp of Moose. Good morning. (1st Male) Morning. How you doing? 
(Frank) All right. So you’ve got camps set up, so now what happens?        
(1st Male) Well we demonstrate different skills that the mountain men would 
have had, everything from the ladies over there cooking over a fire, which 
a lot of people don’t know how to do anymore. I’ll be demonstrating making 
fire with flint and steel. (Frank) Okay. So tell us about some of the 
implements that are out here. (1st Male) What we have over here is a lot of 
the weapons, mainly the war clubs of the Native Americans that they would 
have used. We’ve also got the trade knife and the mountain pistol of the 
mountain men. (Frank) Okay. So now the camp here with the, would you call 
this a tent or a lean to? (1st Male) This is called a diamond fly.   
(Frank) Okay. Tell me about it. Why is it called that? (1st Male) Just 
because the shape. It was chunk canvas. They would either set it up like 
this. They could make a lean to out of it. They could use it just to cover 
up in. it was just chunk canvas they used and for some reason, got the name 
diamond fly. Easy to setup, it kept the weather off of you. You could 
actually build a fire back in here and keep somewhat warm. (Frank) So now I 
also see some traps and wood and all kinds of things around the camp. So 
how long does it usually take to setup a camp? (1st Male) If we want to go 
real primitive, we can have setting up something like this we’re up setup 
in about ten minutes. (Frank) Really? (1st Male) Really. It was something 
that you didn’t take a whole lot of time doing. For the displays and 
everything that we do, it takes a little bit longer. (Frank) Well it’s 
morning on the prairie, which is actually the Kansas Expo Centre, but 
anyway, your name is? (Female) My name is Wee Devawa Chi, which is Wind 
Dancer Woman. (Frank) Okay. So early in the morning then, you had to get up 
and do what? Tell us what’s happening here. (Female) We are frying up some 
bacon and then here in a little bit, we’ll use the bacon grease to make 
some real refried beans, scrambled eggs, we make a big breakfast out here. 
(Frank) Obviously this bacon didn’t just come out of a package. You’re 
actually slicing the bacon. (Female) Yes. (Frank) Okay and I see that 
it’s rather large or thick slices. Is there a reason for that? (Female) 
It’s thick sliced, yeah. We prefer the thick sliced bacon. They wouldn’t 
have had the real fake, thin bacon back then. It would have been right off 
the hog, it would have been pretty thick, so actually the thicker bacon’s 
the more authentic. (Frank) Wow. So back in the day, pretty much breakfast 
was bacon as the main part of it? (Female) Bacon maybe, definitely coffee, 
beans, beans were a staple out on the trail. (Frank) You had to carry all 
that with you, regardless of how long you were on the trail. (Female) Yeah, 
yup. (Frank) Yum. (Female) Yeah. (Frank) Well, of course, everybody was 
well armed when they were out in the wilderness and we are now with?    
(2nd Male) Fox Cove. (Frank) Okay, and that’s not your real name?       
(1st Male) No. My real name is Paul Houston. (Frank) All right. Okay, but 
let’s go ahead, so I can call you Fox? (2nd Male) Yes. (Frank) Oh, all right. 
So now I see that you are kind of well-armed with a pistol in the belt and 
then tomahawks. Tell us about those. (2nd Male) Right. Well tomahawks, 
these are metal hawks, so these are what the pioneers would bring with them 
because the natives would use what they had, they would use rocks and bones 
and that type of thing. (Frank) Okay. So they were used more for, not 
necessarily just for weapons, is that correct or? (2nd Male) Well they’re 
used for hunting primarily, but whenever the mountain men and buck skinners 
would get together once or twice a year for rendezvous, they would have to 
create their own games and, so, they would use tomahawks to think of their 
own kinds of games, you know, sticking the hawk so many times or trying to 
break each other’s handles so no one else could throw. They got real 
creative on different types of ways they could entertain themselves. 
(Frank) Okay. Show me how to do this. 
 
(Frank) Okay, Blue Hawk is all about black powder weapons, so we’re going to 
take a look at some of those and you have a nice leaning post here, as you 
call it. (Male) Yes, yes. I’ve got my leaning post here. This would be the 
kind of rifle that a mountain man would have been carrying in the early 
days in the late 17 and early 1800’s. This is the flintlock and you load 
it the same way as anything. They’re called muzzleloaders because 
everything has to go down the barrel, so you have to pour your powder 
charge, pour it down the barrel, take your piece of cloth or deer skin and 
put your round ball in it and push the round ball down and ram it home. 
Then you have to bring it up here with the flintlock, take the cock back, 
it’s not called a hammer, it’s called a cock on a flintlock and then you 
put a small amount of powder in the pan and close the top and 
when you pull the trigger, the flint drags across causing sparks 
and pushes it out of the way, drops into that powder, which flashes, makes 
a spark that makes the gun go off and this is where a lot of the early 
terms come from, Don’t go off halfcocked, because on these guns, the 
safety is the half cock, you shouldn’t be able to pull the trigger and 
don’t be a flash in the pan when the gun flashes, but doesn’t go off, it’s 
called a flash in the pan, so that’s where the term, Don’t be a flash in 
the pan, because you’re all flash and no go. (Frank) Now just how accurate 
were these weapons? (Male) Oh, in the hands of somebody that lived with 
them like the mountain men, you could match a modern rifle up to a hundred, 
two hundred yards with them. (Frank) Wow. (Male) They’re very accurate. 
(Frank) Now is this rifled inside or is this just a straight barrel? (Male) 
A lot of the early ones were just like a shotgun, the were smoothbore, but 
then they began rifling them and that really changed everything and made a 
lot more accurate for a longer distance because it makes the bullet spin in 
the air, so you get that on both of these rifles. This is the early 
flintlock and then the other one here is a half stock Hawken and it’s a 
percussion and in the 1820’s, there was a clergyman that was a duck hunter 
and he didn’t like the idea of every time his flintlock went off, the flash 
scared the ducks and, so, he was also a little bit of an inventor, so he 
came up with the idea of the percussion cap and now instead. Now with 
the percussion gun, you’ve got a small nipple. There’s a brass cap that sits 
on it. When the hammer falls and hits that cap, it throws the spark directly 
into the powder charge, so there’s no outer flash or anything like that, so it didn’t 
scare the ducks and, so, he’s responsible for us having the jump there in the 1820’s 
into the percussion guns verses the flintlocks. (Frank) All right. We’ll be back. 
 
(Frank) We’re at another encampment here and we are talking with? 
(1st Male) Bitter Creek. (Frank) AKA? (1st Male) Well actually my name is 
Joe Richmond, but AKA, Bitter Creek. We go by our names so long, that’s all 
we know each other by. (Frank) Okay. Now we’re here by a campfire and a 
tent and the family’s here. About what year is it that you reenact?     
(1st Male) 1845, 1830’s late. We’re mountain men and we also do the 
plainsmen and we have a good time doing what we do. We love it.      
(Frank) Tell us about some of what you have here. (1st Male) Well this is 
standard gear. When you went up into the mountains to trap fur, number one, 
you had your rifle and this is a forty-five Kentucky long. It’d be good for 
squirrel and such. You’ve got a fifty caliber, which my grandson has that 
and we would use that for elk and deer and then we’ve got our forty-five caliber 
pistol in case you hit a critter and you haven’t quite got him down, you can 
put that last shot to him. You always also carry your tomahawk. (Frank) I 
just found I’m fairly good at it. (1st Male) Well I screamed. I saw you 
nail the target. That’s pretty darn good. It took me a long time and then 
you’ve always got your knife on the back for in close work. That’s why we 
dress like we do because we had to trade and work with native Americans and 
different tribes, so we started taking on a lot of their habits to get 
along with them and trade with them and that’s why you see what I’m 
wearing, Native American bead work. This is a patch knife and that’s what 
we put our patch in first after we pour our powder, put your ball on top 
and press it down with our ram rods, but this cuts the patch. If our nipple 
cap gets stuck on there, we can also use the knife to pop that cap. This is 
a percussion cap. We started out with flintlocks and a lot of the old boys 
would rather go flintlock than they would percussion cap because they 
didn’t like new things, so we went percussion cap towards the last because 
of the weather. Flintlocks, when they get moisture in them, they won’t go 
off, henceforth, you hear the flash in the pan. You know, He’s just a flash 
in the pan? Well that’s what that came from because all you’d get that is 
that powder going off in your pan and it wouldn’t ignite the charge in the 
barrel. (Frank) I also noticed, you have a medicine bag. Do you say what’s 
in it? (1st Male) I can’t tell that. That’s our power and we keep it in 
there and we keep it secret and sacred and like I said, we took on the 
habits of the Native American and we learned to live their way and take 
care of Mother Earth and only took what we need. (Frank) And now we’re at a 
Native American encampment. What does your name mean? (2nd Male) Eyes 
like sky. (Frank) And you have a companion here. (2nd Male) He is a full blood 
Timber wolf. He’s two and a half years old. (Frank) Tell us a little bit about your 
encampment here.  (2nd Male) Well basically we’re set up like a traditional 
Comanche. They didn’t have a lot of frills ort things in their teepee because they 
would move a lot and the women would do the set ups. They might 
have their weapons outside the camp backed up. The buffalo skull in front 
of the teepee was actually where they keep the bad spirits out and for 
protection more or less. (Frank) So now I can’t ignore the face paint. Is 
there some secret to this? (2nd Male) Yes, sir. The face paint, each 
warrior would wear their own face, a lot of different tribes did it 
different ways, but the Comanche’s would either take their face, 
if they’d seen another warrior, they liked his face, they might use it, but 
I actually dreamt my face in a dream, but each color has its own 
meaning. The black means you’re going to battle for death. You’re not 
afraid to die. The red is the bloodshed by you and your enemies and the 
white is beginning a new life. The cross, of course, is the center or the 
circle of life, the medicine wheel and the dots represent my children 
inside the wheel for protection. The teardrops are for blood teardrops and 
they’re for your ancestors that’s died in battle. That could mean anything 
from war to cancer. (Wolf) AWWWWL! (Frank) Well he got his word in 
too, so. (2nd Male) Yeah, he always has to be the center of attention. We just 
left Dodge City and we were there for a month at Boot Hill and he was the new 
mascot. He’d go visit everybody. He’d go into the saloon every morning and 
that was his deal, but what we’re doing here basically is we’re trying to 
show what the 1800’s people looked like and dressed like. You know 
everybody thinks that Indians, when they hear Indians, you know, they 
either think Hollywood or powwows and we did not wear, you know, back in 
the old days, did not wear the bustles and the silk outfits and things. We 
were, you know, ready for battle. I would probably have way too many 
clothes on right now for what a Comanche would be wearing, but in this time 
in age, we do have to keep the eyebrows down, you know, but what we’re 
going to be doing here today, we’ll be walking around with the wolf and we’re 
doing photos. People can come by and get a picture with us and they’re just 
five dollars. They use their own cameras and we do school programs and all 
different kinds of stuff, movies, commercials and, so, that’s basically 
what we do. 
 
Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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