Bullets and Rails 2018

The Plum Creek Shooting Society hosted the Battle of Plum Creek – Bullets and Rails 2018 this weekend at the Comanche Country Ranch owned by landowners Lyman and Nancy who have kept it running as an outstanding cowboy range facility.

This year the shoot is based on famous train scenes in western movies with even a silent movie start in the Livery.

After much rain in previous weeks, it appears the range has been mostly spared and the ground is soft under foot but not boggy.

Day 1 was Wild Bunch and side matches which went off in fine sunny weather.

Day 2 rolls around with a clear cool start and more sunshine expected to continue. The mornings proceedings start with welcomes, pledge of allegiance, pledge to Texas, prayers and 'Patience'. Patience is a cannon but I couldn't tell you the details of her magnificence but if you asked her caretaker, Artiman, I bet you he could tell you more than a story or two.

 

Under the intricate instruction of Artimans artillery commands he and his fellow cowboys, come recruits get Patience ready for action. (You have to go to the Facebook page to see her in action). Now ready for firing, me holding iPad to video, I realise I don't have earplugs and only the capability to plug one ear hole, well….you can see by the video, that I still was not expecting the result! My ears were ringing for a good while!

 

We all moved off to our respective start stages for Day 1 of the Main Match and commenced stages 2-7 with our posse of Texas Ghost, Lady Ghost, Oklahoma Dee, Kansas City Sneed, Lefty Wheeler, Krazy Legs Kay, Texas Drifter, Chisos, Red River Raider (and the ever spectacularly dressed Petticoat Parker), G W Ketchum (thanks Suzie for keeping score all weekend), Six Goin South, Kickshot, Jack and myself.

Last night was the banquet and I assisted Six Goin South and Lorilei Longshot with a costume contest in the Parlour House Reception whilst men gathered in the Saloon next door. Congratulations to all who attended and placed.

 

Side match awards were given. A neat train whistle, theme appropriate for the shoot. I walked away with 4 so I may share with Jack if he wants to play trains! Haa haa haa!

 

Thanks Lyman for putting together your band and playing too. Music was great!!

Day 2 of the Main Match and we are set to finish stages 8, 9, 10 and 1. We had thunderstorms last night and the range has seen a massive downpour that has created better environments for pigs! Lol!

It is boggy as but the match officials are hurriedly running around clearing water and laying bags of sawdust as best they can, After a delay, we started at 9.15am to finish the match.

Lunch was on – fajitas – and might I just say the lunches and dinner the crew put on the whole weekend was outstanding especially lunch today. Awesome job and it was very much appreciated.

Awards got under way and the prizes were railroad spikes. Not just any old railway spikes I might add, these are the real deal. Actual 1800's railway spikes from Texas railroads.

 

Joe Darter gave a little trivia behind them before they started the awards. He 'acquired' these from somebody he knew that had connections. All the spikes are uniquely marked and highly collectible. The makers of the spikes would mark their initials or other carvings into them. If you were injured during other railway work back then, you usually ended up with one of these jobs also. All these spikes are marked, engraved with the shoot name and some with Champion on them.

Special awards made by Two Spurs and in keeping with the railway theme were given to our, shall we say, more mature cowboy and cowgirl at the match. Cherokee Clay and Lady Ghost received these awards for 'Most Train Rides'. Such a neat idea.

 

Jack with a jam in his rifle today finished 3rd in Elder Statesman. Congratulations 1st Skyhawk Hans, 2nd Wildcat Bob, 4th Dusty Mines, 5th Lefty Wheeler, 6th Little Bowley, 7th Ranger Tay.

 

Congratulations to my fellow Lady Wrangler shooter in 2nd place, Krazy Kat.

 

There were 16 clean match winners from 203 shooters for the match. I had a clean match!

Congratulations to Oklahoma Dee 1st man overall and I won ladies overall AND finished 2nd place in the match right behind him!

 

Thanks to all the crew at Plum Creek Shooting Society once again for a great match.

Kat xo

 

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Wild Bunch and Cowboy

This weekend was spent in gorgeous sunshine, blue skies and critter sightings as we headed to the range both days.

Seeing an actual armadillo – instead of roadkill – was a highlight. The small stag yesterday bounding. Along the roadside and seeing his shocked 'oh crap!' Look on his face when he almost darted out in front of us was kinda funny. The hawks sitting on fences and in flight are just gorgeous.

Yesterday was Wild Bunch day and we had a blast! Jack shot Wild Bunch but I shot cowboy as I didn't know know how my hand would take it with the .45 and stitches and best not to mess that up.

With Hondo Tweed, Elwood James, John Elder, Jodi Coyote, Gordy Hattrick, San Jacinto Joe, DJ, Slade, Jack and I, we ran through 4 stages.

Hondo, not wanting to see us leave OKC as a base, had made up lines referring to Jack and I. It was fun and humbling and we thank you for your kind words yesterday. We will miss everyone much.

 

The Mine – he had remembered when Posse'd with us one time and Jack was having a few issues that I had said “Suck it up princess!” and so that was the start line for that stage. I gave Gordy style points for saying it almost wih an Aussie accent but then when he 'princesse'd' his rifle vertically into the rack, I had to recall the style point. Lol! Good fun.

We moved on to the Mercantile and in recognition of my artwork there (Jacks handy timber work also) the line became “Welcome to Kathouse Kelli's place”

Into the Saloon and Hondo likes an adult beverage as much as we do and so the line became “A toast to Jack and Kat” (I heard you use that one again today too Hondo ;))

 

The final stage at The Depot and not wanting to say goodbye..and really what cowboy ever does…the line became “Happy Trails to you” ….until…we meet…again.

 

A great day followed with Cowboy Chicken and said adult beverages with the odd Ziegen Bock. Thanks guys for an excellent day! We thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Today was Cowboy match with 23 turning up that weren't at other shoots. Two posses ran the 6 stages. Jack had a pretty uneventful day and shot his first clean club match all year. Good work man. A blonde moment had me leave one shotgun target up but extremely happy with pistol and rifle. Hand is working fine and not pulling on the stitches.

 

Thanks Stoney Cahill, Hurricane Deck, Badly Bent, Trent, Prairie Drifter, Elwood James, Stonewall, Travellin' Travis, Gun A Do It, Hondo Tweed. We had a blast! Another sensational day with great cowboys and cowgirls finished with Mexican at Habanero's.

Thank you Territorial Marshal's.

Kat xo

Hee hee hee, new sayings I learned today – anymore inbred and he'd be a sandwich! – and – his family tree is like a wreath! Lol! Redneck lives matter, just sayin' 🙂

 

Casey Jones

Casey Jones, climbed in the cabin,

Casey Jones, orders in his hand

Casey Jones, leanin' out the window

Takin' a trip to the Promised Land

Now you've got that stuck in your head, haven't you?! I did the whole way through the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum.

 

Mind you that is the chorus from Johnny Cash's version of 'Casey Jones'. The original 'Ballad of Casey Jones' was written by Wallace Saunders, a friend of Casey Jones.

Come, all you rounders, if you want to hear

The story told of a brave engineer;

Casey Jones was the rounder's name

A high right-wheeler of mighty fame.

It is long and tells of brave Casey Jones riding the trains and saving his passengers on his last fateful ride.

 

He was born John Luther Jones in Southeast Missouri on March 14, 1863, the eldest of 5 children. He and his siblings grew up in Cayce, Kentucky. He fell in love with all things railroad. During his railroad work when asked where he was from, with Cayce being the answer he was soon known and referred to as 'Casey Jones'.

Casey started work with the Mobile & Ohio Railroad as a telegrapher at age 15. While boarding with a family in Jackson, TN he met and fell in love with the proprietors daughter, Janie Brady. He and Janie were married in 1886 and had 3 children of their own. He was a devoted father and husband.

 

Having become a proficient telegrapher, Casey then moved up to the position of fireman. Eventually earning his ultimate role as an engineer, Casey was one of the best.

 

During his employ with Illinois Central Railroad, Casey was making a run from Memphis, TN to Canton, MS on April 30, 1900. At 3.52am he was killed in a train wreck.

The mainline was supposed to be clear for the mail and passenger run but Casey didn't know that ahead, a train had stalled on a siding due to a broken air hose, leaving 3 of its carriages still sticking out on the main line.

 

Casey had almost no warning but managed to slow his engine from 70mph to 35mph, telling his fireman Sim Webb to 'jump!' just moments before the impact. With one hand on the whistle and the other on the brake, Casey's engine collided with the other train and he was killed in the crash. He had managed to slow the train enough that all his passenger cars stayed on the track and all passengers survived. He was just 37 years old.

 

If my memory serves me correctly from the short introductory video, compensation payouts totalled around $29, with the highest being $5 for bruising to the fireman.

Through personal appearances by Sim Webb at events honouring Casey Jones, the ballad written by Wallace Saunders and his wife, Casey became famous around the world.

The museum houses many railroad artefacts, a model display of Casey's crash, news articles, photos, and much more. Through the museum and out on the platform is Engine 382 where you can ring the bell of the engine.

 

After hearing the railway sounds on the platform you can walk around to go through and view his original 1870's home that was relocated to the current site in 1980. It was originally located at 211 West Chester Street in downtown Jackson.

 

Also located here is a number of small shops in the Casey Jones Village. The Brooks Shaw & Son Old Country Store, is a step back in time! From the moment you enter there are the original post boxes, counters filled with old antiques, exquisitely ornate timber shelving, the antique original soda fountain and 1890's ice cream parlor.

 

The Old Country Store offers buffet style meals, three times a day or you can get take out or eat in the Dixie Cafe on the other side within the store.

The food choices were many and everything was very fresh. There is also another area with some old homes, chapel, bakery, mini golf and farm that we didn't visit.

If you ever get into Jackson, TN this is all worth a visit!!

Kat xo

Click on the link below for more info.

Casey Jones Village

 

Parker’s Crossroads

We left Tullahoma, TN this morning and it has been raining overnight. Not long into the trip and it's raining on and off.

Not far from Jackson and not our intended tourist stop for the day, we pulled into Parker's Crossroads for a quick look. Part of the Tennessee Civil War Trails, this where Union Troops led by Col. Cyrus L. Dunham fought Confederate Gen. Nathan B. Forrest's cavalry on December 31, 1862. This is where Forrest gave his famous order to

“Charge them both ways!”


 

Forrest had been dispatched with his 1800 men to sever U.S. Grant's rail communications in West Tennessee. After a successful two-week mission across the region, Forrest then headed east toward the Tennessee River.

 

Five miles northwest of Parker's Crossroads they stopped for a couple of days. Union Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan saw a chance to capture Forrest. He sent two brigades to trap the Confederates.

The morning of the 31st, after learning that Forrest's troops were at Flake's Store, Col. Dunham's brigade of 1500 men left Clarksburg and marched South toward Parker's Crossroads.

Dunham's men got to the crossroads first and formed a line of battle at Hick's Field, a mile northwest. Forrest's artillery and dismounted cavalry went into action on the northwest perimeter of Hick's Field, causing Dunham to retreat back towards John Parker's house at the crossroads, where they reformed a line, paralleling the Lexington-Huntingdon Road.

When Forrest flanked this position, Dunham changed his front northward,M suffering severe casualties from Forrest's artillery. Pushed south by the constant bombardment, the Union line took refuge behind a split-rail fence.

While unrelenting artillery fire held Dunham in place, Forrest ordered an attack on the Union rear. Dunham about-faced most of his brigade and charged southward but his forces were surrounded. With the battle seemingly over, Forrest parlayed with Dunham for surrender. Suddenly, Col. Fuller's entire Ohio Brigade arrived from the north behind the Parker house, where it captured 300 Confederate horse-holders.

Forrest was now caught between the two Union brigades. He thundered, “Charge them both ways!”, gathering 75 men and charging into the left flank of the Ohio Brigade. The swift counterattack disrupted the Union attack and Forrest escaped, heading to the Tennessee River Ferry crossing at Clifton.

(The above has been written from the Parker's Crossroads brochure)

All in all, here were 3000 Union soldiers (237 casualties) 1800 Confederate soldiers (500 casualties).

Forrest led a number of brigades through several battles during a a four year period from1861-1865. He later became a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1867, just two years after it was formed and was elected its first Grand Wizard.

He remains today as a highly controversial individual. Ya think!?! A very interesting story behind this Civil War General indeed.

So there's a little piece of history in brief for today's trip.

Kat xo

Parker's Crossroads

Gen. Nathan B. Forrest

Civil War Battlefields

 

Book Review With Kat: The Son

New York Times Bestseller, The Son by author Philipp Meyer.

Based on the McCullough family and it’s heirs in the mid 1800’s to the mid 20th century, The Son ended up being a book I was very taken with.

Recommended and loaned to me by Wild Horse John, I began the intriguing journey Philipp Meyer took me on as I poured through the pages.

It is a story of Indians, frontier survival, early Texas under Spanish rule, Civil Wars, oil magnates, cattle and disjointed families.

The chapters change with family member and time, so during the first quarter of the book I had to keep going back to the family tree to see where I was.

The more I got into it the more I knew and could easily flip between centuries, characters and visual scenery in my head.

I loved the tangled tale of intrigue, misfortune and fortune that went with Eli McCullough and the generations after him.

Thanks John for the recommendation and I would certainly recommend it to any other avid reader or like me, who hasn’t picked up an ‘actual’ book in a long time.

A television series has been made of it starring Pierce Brosnan and although I did catch one episode have not seen others as yet.

Give it a go if you come across it!

Yours in paperback

Kat xo

P.S. just might have to find another good read now. Got any western history, fictional or otherwise, recommendations??

Stone Mountain Park

We had heard from some Oklahoma friends (Lady Roadrunner is from Georgia) that Stone Mountain Park in Georgia was a place to see. We did some research and added it to the list.

Agarita Annie and Neuces Slim had visited Stone Mountain before the Georgia State match and said it was definitely a must see. They had managed to see it, despite low fog and mist.

Jack and I headed there yesterday under perfect skies. Slightly overcast made it a little more pleasant for doing the walking trail, I didn't get right to the summit as I'd lost sight of Jack for some time and headed back to where he was resting. A great track though, stacks of people of all differing athletic abilities were on this stone track on a Sunday morning with a church revival service resounding from another section of the mountain.

We stopped near the flag poles, reading the plaques and the use of these flags during the Civil War. Many people do not understand the 'rebel' flag. It is history! It is the 'Confederate' flag and had great significance during the Civil War.

 

At the left end of the Confederate Flag Terrace is the Confederate Battle Flag.

At the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, the Confederate Commander was unable to recognize reinforcements because in the dust of battle the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy could hardly be distinguished from the Stars and Stripes of the Union forces. As a result, the Confederate battle flag was adopted in September 1861.


Far right on the terrace is the First National Flag.

The First National flag of the Confederate States of America was the Stars and Bars, with seven white stars in the blue field. One star for each Confederate state at the time of adoption this flag was raised over the Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, at sunrise on March 4, 1861.


Second from the right is the Second National Flag.

The Second National, a pure white flag with the 'battle flag' in the upper left hand corner, was adopted by the Confederate congress on May 1, 1863. The Second National was substituted for the First National which, it was thought, bore too great a likeness to the flag of the Union.


In the centre of the flag terrace is the Third National Flag.

Because the Second National flag, when hanging limp, could be mistaken for a flag of truce, the Confederate congress, on March 4, 1865, changed the design by adding a broad red bar across the end. This created the third flag of the Confederacy which was known as the Last National flag of the Confederacy.


Second from left is the United States of America Flag.

 

Now you can see and understand how it all ties in to history and in my opinion, a history that needs to remain told, understood, and never to be forgotten.

Great men fought, won and lost during this time period. The carving on the side of Stone Mountain is a tribute to the Confederate States of America. It was conceptualised in the early 1900's when both Northerners and Southerners were establishing memorials for the Civil War heroes.

 

Inside Memorial Hall (sits directly opposite, with a view to the carving) their is an auditorium with a film explaining the Civil War battles and a huge window with reproduction pieces indicating actual size, references to the 3 men depicted, how it came to be, design competition, the carvers etc.

 

The carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (left), General Robert E. Lee (centre), and General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is a spectacular sight to see and you really don't get the scale and depth of it until you have read the information or taken the Skyride up the mountain to fully appreciate the great feat the carvers have produced.

 

The total dimensions of the carved section is 90 feet high and covers an area of a large city block.

The actual dimensions of the carving itself are 76 feet high, 160 feet wide and at the deepest relief section, 42 feet. You can fit two school buses side by side on the back of Lee's horse. I liked the comparison between other well known carvings around the world. It's half the height of the Statue of Liberty but larger than Mt Rushmore and I thought that was big!


Here's some perspective on the stars on General Lee's collar, the buckle from “Black Jack's” bridle, and the mouth of the horse – actual size reproductions. You could fit in the horses mouth to get out of a rain shower, the buckle is as big as a stove, Jefferson Davis's thumb is as big as a couch and Robert E. Lee's head is 15ft tall.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum's first concept for the memorial was to include an entire Southern army!? It took 60 years (approx 13 actual carving) before it was completed as it was! A widower of a Confederate soldier, C. Helen Plane pushed for a memorial and by 1915 had rallied the Atlanta Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy to contract the renowned sculptor for the project.

Over five decades, three sculptors later (Gutzon Borglum, Augustus Lukeman and Walter Hancock) time, lease, money issues and artist grievances, the carving was finally dedicated in May 1970. The some 420ft 'tallest' outside elevator was eventually completely removed by 1972.

 

The mountain itself was formed by volcanic activity and over time soil erosion has revealed the largest exposed granite rock in the world. It's only taken about 120 million years for it to get like this!?!

The park has the Skyride cable car, you can do a return trip, walk up and take the ride back to the bottom, ride to the top and walk down. There is a train that runs around the base. The Ampitheatre and pond area are beautiful and there are night time laser shows against the side of the mountain. Historic Square has a number of old homes that have been relocated, restored and house a number of antiques, these can be viewed for an extra entry price.

 

Confederate Hall which sits at the base of the walking trail doesn't open until 12pm on a Sunday so we missed seeing inside this building. It sits adjacent to the car park where the original owner Andrew Johnson's house, the Gilbraltar Hotel was when the township was known as New Gibraltar.

 

A beautiful spot to visit and I would recommend it to anyone. I can imagine summer season is going to be jam packed with visitors, it was bad enough on a warmer than usual spring day in off peak. Lots of people enjoy this area that is evident. My tip is if you are going to spend the money to get in, enjoy the rides and historic square then I would suggest picking a time when you can spend the time to stay and enjoy the laser show as well.

Thanks Georgia for highlighting our trip as we left this state.

Kat xo

 

Louisiana to Texas

With some time to kill, Jack and I headed South today through forest areas of Lousiana heading down to Alexandria and on to Lake Charles.

Alexandria is almost the centre of the state and the ninth largest city. Sitting on the edge of the Red River, it once supported French trade activities at Post de Rapides. Alexandria, in the parish of Rapides, was first settled around the 1790's.

During the Civil War gunboats arrived in Alexandria around Spring of 1863. Occupied by Union forces during this period they then departed to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Alexandria suffered much through the Civil War with cotton wars, and the ultimate burning of Alexandria as the Union troops departed its shores.

The city was rebuilt and has two remaining properties that survived the fires – one being The Kent Plantation House (circa 1795) which although moved from its original site, still remains on one of the first Spanish land grant allotments.

 

We weren't intending to stop before Lake Charles but when I looked up Kent House and found it was open today and held tours it was a must see!

 

Our first part of the tour started with docent, Miss Carolyn, who gave us a tour of the outbuildings, starting with the Milk House.

A small building, the milk house has an outside cistern that's purpose was to keep the milk cold for butter making.

 

Inside the milk house were variations of butter churner's and mold's for pressing butter blocks.

 

Next, the Kitchen House. This was separated from the main house mostly in part to the fires that often happened in a kitchen. This is the third of such buildings for the Kent House – #1 burnt down, #2 destroyed by a tornado.

 

Notice the brick hearth out front of the fire place? They used to use it for cooking also. Placing hot coals on the hearth, it gave the ability to cook another dish over the coals whilst others were being cooked in the fireplace. Baking in the oven, was only done a couple times a week.

Herb racks were also used for drying homegrown herbs for both cooking and medicinal purposes.

 

As with most large affluential homes, the lady of the house was in charge of the keys, especially for expensive items. Salt and pepper were even kept under lock and key, only being doled out to the cooks each day as an allowance.

Bottle trees, a tradition of the African Americans, were believed to attract bad spirits with the colours of the bottles and keep them away from the houses. The wind creates sounds in the bottles sounding like moans. When they heard the sounds they believed the spirits had been trapped. The bottle would be removed, stuffed full of sticks and leaves and then thrown into the river, thus getting rid of the evil spirits.

 

Next a two room slave cabin of a higher class, as it bears wooden floors. It is brick to board, with saddlebag construction i.e. the fireplace is in two sides or two rooms, one side for the women and the other side for the men or husband/wife and kids the other side. They are very small rooms, sleeping on the floor amongst the kitchen and living areas.

Next we stepped in to the laundry room where all manner of agitators, washboards, irons and other interesting artefacts reside. The Lye soap mold, used ash from the fireplace and pig fat for the moisturiser.

What about rolling your own tobacco? Well the cigar mold would be perfect for pressing and drying. By the fireplace is the cutter for cutting your ends before smoking the cigar.

 

She showed us a candle maker mold as well. Hair tongs, thrown in the fire and used to crimp hair. Hmm I smell burnt hair!

Outside are two old sugar kettles. These were used for laundry – 1 for washing and 1 for rinsing.

 

The gardens were also a staple requirement with a house and sometimes the slaves were given a plot of their own to grow. If they were able to grow something the house garden didn't have or might require for a dish they would actually pay to use some of that produce.

Over to the barn which is made up of hand hewn Lincoln logs it's a dog trot design with two separate barn rooms with a 'breezeway' like central area to keep air flow during the hot summer months.

 

The cotton picking bag would hold 100lbs and would go over your shoulders and be dragged behind as cotton was picked. Some would hold up to 300lbs! Very much back breaking work picking cotton.

 

The other barn building has lots of cool old skill carpentry tools including a foot driven jigsaw.

The blacksmith shop always had a dirt floor because of fire hazards, Windows were for getting air in for the heat.

 

Mr Hinson trusted William the blacksmith slave so much that he allowed him to often take the wagon into town on his own which would almost be unheard of for fear of flight of their slaves.

Eden House, the newest acquisition to the outbuildings has a 300 hundred year old loom and eventually this little house will have samples of cotton to finished fabric product on display.

 

This property was originally on 500 acres, Pierre Baillio II ended up with around 1700 acres.

The property used to also produce sugar cane and indigo. Molasses and sugar were made from the cane and indigo obviously was cooked to produce the blue indigo dye.

This cane press once driven by mules was fed cane stalks, producing the juice that would then be taken for refining.

 

Now Miss Carolyn is quite small and you can see just how short these doors are which were part of the original mill. Mostly slave boys would be the ones to feed the fire for the mill process.

Le Grande the biggest one of the kettles was used for the first round of juice, the paddles were used once brought to the boil to get rid of the 'trash' off the top; Le flambeau the second process during the firing off; Le sirop, now like cane syrup molasses at this point they would take half of it and bottle it for cooking use; final kettle then crystallised and this became their raw granulated sugar.

The hearth is sloping back so if it boiled over it would flow back to the previous kettle and be saved for reprocessing.

 

This beautiful live oak tree is spectacular! So called because their leaves always stay green. (I thought that's what an evergreen was???) it's long low and bendy limbs left unsupported can grow back to the ground. You can see how it has started enveloping the limb support.

The monument beneath is there as a nod to the plantations cemetery as all plantations had their own. Gustavus Baillio, one of the 14 children joined the confederate army and died the day after his 16th birthday.

The second docent, Miss Sandy, took us on the house tour. It is 218 years old, took 5 years to build and was built by Pierre Baillio.

All the brick under the house was handmade by slaves. Some bricks still have fingerprints and even a toes can be seen in them. All the timbers used were from trees on the plantation. Gardens were meant to be looked upon and therefore viewed from the balcony (besides the flooding issues of the bayous beyond). All plants in the garden are period correct as would have been at the time, the grass and brick work period for the garden also.

 

The handwritten recipes of the daughter in the right hand painting are now written into a cook book. The children were well to do with the third also having been to Harvard, coming back home to become judge.

 

The boys bedroom has the only original floors left in the house. The bed in this room is a rope bed to which would have been rest reached and tightened each day – hence the phrase “sleep tight”. The mattress would have straw and often tree moss which might have bugs and chiggers still in it – hence the phrase “don't let the bed bugs bite”.

Into the dining room and above the table is a large wooden paddle known as a 'punkah' – an Indian fan. A boy too small to work in the fields would stand in the corner and pull the cord to work the punkah during the hot months. (Further research shows that the operator was also known as a punkahwallah)

 

Houses were taxed per room so no closets or hallways as they were considered rooms and would be taxed accordingly.

A fireplace on the internal walls of a room was influence of the French. The English had fireplaces on the outside walls at the ends of the house.

Next we visit the parlour room for the ladies. They could sit and chat/gossip, do their needlework and take tea beside the fire. The picture above the fireplace of one of the Baillio women shows a hairstyle covering her ears. In those days you were not to show your ears so if a lady had not the hair to cover she would have to use horsehair, curled and styled into additional ringlets etc to be worn.

In the corner of the room is a sewing table, a fabulous looking little piece with a 'work bag drawer' of beautiful upholstery fabric. This would hold your needlework projects. The drawer above would house threads, needles etc. I want one! How neat is that?!

 

Last, the girls room with its ornate bed was much better than the boys, this feather bed was built in 1810. On the ceiling you can still see holes as this room would be partitioned for the older girls on one side and the younger girls on the other but if the county clerk was coming around to check rooms for taxes the partition could be quickly taken down!

The beautiful armoir, hand made in 1840 has a hidden drawer, the centre leaf piece where the doors close to could be removed be secret latch and the drawer was in behind it where jewellery could to be stashed.

The second owner of the house was a Mr Robert Hinson. The original style of the house was French creole and by the time he bought it creole was out and Greek revival was in. With the addition of the two side rooms at the end of the verandah he had changed the style.

These rooms have higher ceilings, additions of wallpapers and no exposed beams. By now, it was deemed you didn't have enough money to finish the house properly if your beams were exposed.

The gothic revival furniture and empire pieces also show changes in the time periods. This was mostly used as Mr Hinson's office, a more formal area for meetings and receiving businessmen.

 

The beautiful piano was played by his daughters for the entertainment of guests. It has not been restored as piano tuners are afraid to touch it's gorgeous piano wires of sterling silver as it is too precious.

It has beautifully ornate candle holders for light to the music sheets and keyboard and the handles on the sides of the piano lend its use to be dragged onto the porch for entertainment, for it to be heard during parties in the garden below.

 

Shutters were very important in the time and not just for aesthetics. If your shutters were painted green it meant you made your money off the land. If they were blue you were from the water, an importer or exporter. If they were black you had read your letters, so being educated, perhaps a lawyer etc.

If all the paint and all the siding was taken off the Creole section it would be a mud like house. Clay, horse, bear, deer hair and Spanish moss similar to Adobe. If you had the money you would white wash or paint it as Kent House was.

Turning our attention back to where we had made our entry, the narrow staircases were made for original empire dress styles in the early days. As the years and fashion changed (as we know it was pretty dramatic between 1800-1865) Mr Hinson had taken out the middle banister section and put steps in to the front of the porch down to the garden for the ladies in their hoop petticoat gowns. This may not be the only reason but with the restoration of the property they have taken in back to the original.

 

The second room at the end of the porch is the master bedroom, children stayed in here until they were two before they moved to the other children rooms. The day bed was used for exactly that – day naps – as the main bed was not to be messed up after being made. Called the rolling pin bed, the rolling pin was used off the bed head and rolled across the feather bed to get it neat and then placed back into position on the bed head.

The Hinson family with its 11 children, all used the same water starting with father, then mother, then the eldest children down to the baby. By this stage the water wouldn't be so clean and much less than had started, perhaps hence the term 'don't throw the baby out with the bath water'.

Look at the gorgeous red ware set as well, a wedding gift to their granddaughter and one of few sets left. This room in its darkness appears just as it would in that time period although on the top jutting ledges of the armoir would have been lamps, the white ceiling reflecting light across the room so they could at least see a little!

 

As we finish up the tour, the final room on the back porch was 'the strangers room' or as we call it today, a guest room. If someone stopped and asked for a room for the night this is where they stayed. There was a separate staircase and the door to the room did not open into the main house so you could keep your family safe. You enjoyed having people stay as they were useful for gathering information, finding out if war was close, were the levee banks holding during storms etc.

 

What a fabulous hour and maybe a half pit stop. So glad I looked up a little bit about Alexandria and found this fabulous place. Wasn't out of the way either, was only quarter of a mile off the main road!

Now we are in Beaumont, Texas for a couple of nights before heading on to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill country.

Au revoir Louisiene!

Kat xo