Community

50 Caliber Artifact

Most of the artifacts I find on the place are historical instead of archaeological.  Two, found about a half-century apart were cartridge cases from the Sharps “Big Fifty.”  Both were probably not just ejected, but rather discarded.  Each had a split along the sidewall, suggesting that they had been reloaded and re-used at least once past their “best-used before” date.

It is hard to figure out the story behind this brass.  The “Big Fifty” was introduced in 1872 as the 50-90, but with differing bullets these old empties could have been 50-100 or 50-110 cartridges.  Sharps Rifle Company folded its tent in 1881, the last of the great buffalo herds was slaughtered in 1884 (Standing Rock, North Dakota) and, by 1890 the rifle and cartridge were obsolete.  Both were found in wooded areas that overlooked spots where long shots -a bit over 200 yards- might have been possible – but the only solid inference I can make is that each was discarded after the shooter noticed the split.

Another empty from a “buffalo gun” showed up maybe 25 yards from one of the big fiftie empties.  This one could probably still be reloaded safely.  The 45-75 Winchester was the original chambering for Winchester’s 1876 rifle.  It was found in a spot that was unwooded, and coming from a lever gun, might well have been ejected for a fast second shot.  The rifle was produced until 1897, and the cartridge until 1935.  I suspect there were two different hunters using buffalo rifles long after the herds were gone. 

I have never encountered a 32 special empty – despite it being the only centerfire rifle my Grandparents used here.  I suspect they carefully hoarded each piece of brass – but on the other hand, the empty case is small, and every acre has 43,560 square feet for the years to conceal all evidence.

I still encounter haywire artifacts in the woods.  I started moving bales in 1960, and worked with twine-tied square bales.  The first incarnation wire-tie bailer was developed in 1879, so it’s hard to pin a date on that.  Occasionally tangling a foot in haywire along an old logging trail suggests that bales were brought in for a lunch for horses that were skidding logs out.  I haven’t ran across much haywire in the fields – but my explanation could be out to lunch.  Still, I think the baling wire came after the cartridge cases.

The orange artifacts are Dad’s – it’s amazing how long orange baler twine can last when it becomes one with the ground.  It’s equally amazing how long I have had to lie on the ground with a Kabar cutting it out of the rototiller.  I had to sharpen the knife 6 times before I got the last of the bailer twine cut out of the tines.

Community

The Modoc War

One of the more interesting tales from the Indian Wars is the Modoc War, in Oregon and Northern California, 1872-73.  A Native friend was of Modoc descent, so the history interested me.  It’s difficult to find much justification for the US, and the Modocs had fewer than 60 warriors amid 3 bands.  $20,000 would have funded the small reservation they asked for, and the war wound up costing about $500,000.

It was a small war by today’s standards – 37 US military dead, 2 scouts and 16 civilians.  Another 67 wounded.  Either 15 or 17 Modoc warriors killed . . . and that includes four hanged after surrender – Captain Jack, Boston Charlie, Schonchin John, and Black Jim.  

The recorded names of the Modoc leaders and warriors are predominately in English – Bogus Charlie, Boston Charlie, Curly-headed Doctor, Steamboat Frank, Ellen’s Man George, Greasy Boots, Shacknasty Jim and his brother Shacknasty Frank, Mooch, and, of course, Captain Jack.  Legend has it that Shacknasty Jim and Shacknasty Frank received their names because of their mother’s housekeeping – but the linguists make a good case that Shacknasty was a corruption of the Modoc word for left-handed. 

At the end, roughly a thousand US troops, led by Colonel Jefferson C. Davis, fought less than 60 Modocs, led by Captain Jack.  As near as I can tell, the Modocs won every battle.  The largest ethical problem was that Captain Jack killed General Canby at a peace conference, and that sort of thing isn’t condoned.  On the other hand, Colonel Davis had killed General William “Bull” Nelson in a hotel lobby.  If there is another war where both sides were led by men who murdered US generals, I haven’t found its mention.

After murdering General Nelson, Colonel Davis fought his way through the American Civil War, and formal charges never caught up with him.  After the war between the states, he was sent north to Alaska as its first military commandant.  After surrendering, Captain Jack was hanged for the murder of General Canby, and 153 Modocs were sent to Oklahoma, where the descendants of Captain Jack’s band remain, the smallest tribe in Oklahoma.  In 1909, 51 surviving Modocs were allowed to return to the Klamath reservation in Oregon.  The histories do not have great details about 51 people over a century ago.  Bogus Charlie became the Chief who succeeded Captain Jack.  Steamboat Frank became a minister. 

It was not a splendid little war.

Community

Bismarck’s Belief

There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”   Otto von Bismarck, 1907

Three fourths of my neighbors voted for Trump, and I figure even more believe that Biden won through some form of chicanery.  As I look at media comments, I see fears of what will happen – from tax increases to gun grabs to civil war.  There is comfort in Bismarck’s observation “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”  I recall that, a century ago, my country elected a president – Warren G. Harding – who was even slower than Joe Biden.  And Harding replaced Woodrow Wilson.  I can make a strong case that Woodrow Wilson was more racist than any American President, including Jefferson Davis.

You might argue corruption, and cite the investigations finally underway on Hunter and James Biden.  Remember,  “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”  The history textbooks tell of Harding’s Secretary of the Interior and the Teapot Dome scandal.  Remember, Woodrow Wilson had a stroke in October 1919, paralyzing him, and that caused the greatest crisis about presidential disability, presidential incapability, in our country’s history.  According to whitehouse.gov, “Wilson returned to campaign for Senate approval of the peace treaty and the League of Nations Covenant. His health failed in September 1919; a stroke left him partly paralyzed. His constant attendant, Mrs. Wilson took over many routine duties and details of government. But she did not initiate programs or make major decisions, and she did not try to control the executive branch. She selected matters for her husband’s attention and let everything else go to the heads of departments or remain in abeyance. Her “stewardship,” she called this.”  That was 16 months with a non-functional president.  Joe may indeed be going into dementia – but we have Wilson’s example, with fewer problems for the nation after his stroke than before it.

I have been unable to find any record of where Otto Von Bismarck really said “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”  – but it is an optimistic way to look at any election.

Demography

Defund the Police and Legalize Marijuana

I never liked teaching criminology.  Usually, sociology departments get a former or off-duty cop to teach Crim.  It works pretty much OK – he or she teaches the science of criminology to a room full of undergraduates.  The problem is getting a scientist to teach criminology.

Criminology is a moving target.  Last November the people of Montana voted to legalize marijuana.  Harry Anslinger was appointed to head the Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, responsible for cocaine and heroin, and it just wasn’t enough to keep a bureau busy.  In what we now term “mission creep” Anslinger managed to outlaw marijuana by 1937.  Nobody cared before that.

In 1636, the Plymouth Colony made five crimes punishable by death:
1) willful murder, 2) making a compact with the devil by witchcraft, 3) arson (ships and houses), 4) sodomy, rape, and buggery, and 5) adultery.  Well, Massachusetts still frowns on murder, rape and arson – but the rest are pretty much mainstream.  It’s difficult to call it science when things change so much – in 1637, John Alexander was branded and banned from the colony for homosexual conduct.  From 1981 to 2013, Barney Frank represented his part of Massachusetts in the US Congress.  Nothing personal, but it’s hard to do science when the definitions keep changing.

Teaching Criminology did convince me that the whole concept of deviance is socially constructed.  I could have probably got into teaching the social construction of deviance – but we had a good, reliable deviance guy in the department.  He was still married to his high school girlfriend when he retired.  About the only thing I could see deviant about Bob would have been what the texts call positive deviance.

When faced with losing federal highway funds, Montana’s legislature made the 55 mph speed limit state law, then fixed the fine at $5.  It was a time when breaking the law wasn’t considered particularly deviant. 

I can’t see where criminology is good science. That’s OK.  Defunding the police seems even less scientific.  In either case, politicians define crime and politicians determine police funding.  Both change with the political winds.