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Charles Goodnight: Making Fire on the Prairie in Adverse Circumstances  

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Famed Panhandle rancher Charles Goodnight said:


"The 'catching of fire' by a pioneer plainsman became almost a science within itself ....As matches were unknown, other means of obtaining fire were necessary, the most common of which was the use of punk [ decayed wood, used as tinder] and steel. But in the prairie country, where there was no punk, the frontiersman had to turn to other ways of catching fire. A substitute for punk was frequently prepared as follows: Red corn cobs were burned to ashes, then the ashes were put in a tin plate and made into a very thin mush with water. Into this mush colored calico was put; when dried, this would readily catch fire from flint and steel.

In spells of rain the rangers were soaked and a fire became a matter of serious concern. Perhaps their powder alone was dry. As a last resort, the scout rubbed a damp rag through powder held in the palm of his hand, until it was saturated with half-melted explosive. Then he slipped off one of his Spanish spurs, placed a percussion cap at the end of a rowel, and wrapped the powder-laden rag around the rowel below the cap. He hit the cap sharply with the back of his Bowie knife. The rag caught the sparks and flashed into a blaze and burned; from this blaze the kindling was set."


----- legendary rancher Charles Goodnight in an interview with historian J. Evetts Haley, 1925

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

Posted : 27th December 2019 6:03 pm