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Re: [War Of 1812] Fort Meigs axe

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  • Ray Hobbs
    Michael: Check this out. Found at Ray The Fort Meigs Belt Axe. ... Many vendors carry this neat little item,
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 29, 2007
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      Michael:
      Check this out.
      Found at <http://www.geocities.com/old_lead/oops.htm>
      Ray

      The "Fort Meigs Belt Axe."


      ----------

      Many vendors carry this neat little item, often with the descriptor
      that it is copied from an axe “found at Fort Meigs.” One such
      description reads: “is a copy of an early hunter's belt axe found at
      the site of Fort Meigs.”

      Other descriptive discussions indicate that the axe was issued to
      American soldiers during the War of 1812 (perhaps an extrapolation of
      the Fort Meigs association.) Many woodsrunning and War of 1812
      reenactors carry this axe based on these descriptions. Their comments
      generally note that while the axe is lightweight and very portable, it
      is simply too light for anything other than very modest chopping
      chores. Practically no one has questioned its provenance.

      There’s just one problem. Fort Meigs State Memorial at Perrysville,
      Ohio reports it has no artifact like the “Fort Meigs Belt Axe” in its
      collection!

      Retired Illinois State Blacksmith James Patton first brought to my
      attention the lack or artifact or other provenancial association with
      Fort Meigs. Other investigators have weighed in to confirm this
      assertion. Researcher Randy Wolfe wrote: “There is an ‘original,’ was
      found on the Maumee not actually at Ft M, currently owned by Jim
      Johnson. Ft Meigs does have, in its collection, an axe (full sized not
      belt) that is a scaled up version of the 'Meigs Axe'. After years of
      research, I haven’t found any other originals that match the shape and
      weight of the so-called "Ft Meigs Axe".

      If there is no provenance for this hatchet as being from Fort Meigs,
      what exactly IS this tool?

      One answer may be found in the late Dr. Carl Russell’s Firearms,
      Traps, and Tools of the Mountain Men. On pages 264-5, Dr. Russell
      described the tool as a “Kentucky” model ax “with a fourteen inch
      handle; the blade is about 5 inches long, with a cutting edge of 1 7/8
      inches.” He noted that while original specimens are rare, one
      documented example was attributed to General Samuel Hopkins, circa
      “late eighteenth century,” in the collection of the Audubon Museum,
      Henderson, Kentucky. The line illustration of General Hopkins’ axe very
      strongly favors the so-called “Fort Meigs belt axe” found in reenacting
      supplier's catalogs.

      Dr. Russell continued: “The Kentucky Model… continued in favor all
      through the fur trade days…” He recorded several merchants--including
      the fur-trading post at present-day Milwaukee, Wisconsin-- that either
      purchased or looked to purchase such Kentucky or “Yankee” axes from the
      post-Revolutionary war days through 1845.

      CONCLUSION: The “Fort Meigs belt axe” has been incorrectly named
      because of association with "artifacts" at the historic site of the
      same name, which reportedly do not exist. According to Dr. Russell, the
      tool should properly be termed the “Kentucky axe” or the "Kentucky belt
      axe.”

      On 29-Jun-07, at 6:38 PM, Michael Mathews wrote:

      > What's the current opinion on the "Fort Meigs Axe" regarding
      > appropriateness for our period and functionality? Thinking about
      > getting one as a belt axe and for camp use. Your opinions are
      > welcomed. Facts even more so. <grin>
      >
      > Michael
      >
      > ----------------------------------------------------------
      > He either fears his fate too much,
      > Or his deserts are small,
      > Who dares not put it to the touch,
      > To win or lose it all.
      > --Montrose's Toast
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      >

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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