Author Topic: Important Tansel Powder Horn  (Read 2851 times)

Offline Tanselman

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Important Tansel Powder Horn
« on: November 08, 2020, 01:30:56 AM »
Every once in a while, you are at the right place at the right time. I sketched this "Ft. Meigs" horn back in 1995 off photos Jim Dresslar loaned to me, but it was a family heirloom at that time and hidden away. Of the three known horns marked "Ft. Meigs" and having a soldier's name on them, done in Francis Tansel's hand, only two are fully carved, and the third was badly scraped or cleaned years ago, obliterating most of the carving... except for the soldier's name, date the horn was carved, and the words "Ft. Meigs." Of the two fully carved horns, the other one is missing its butt plug, and is in the Ft. Meigs Museum in northwest Ohio. This horn has a family provenance behind it, from the original Kentucky militia owner, Samuel Arnold, through another family that moved from Kentucky up into Indiana, and then the final family that has had it the last 150 years. This horn fortunately came my way earlier this summer. I thought I'd share a couple photos to excite the Tansel fans outs there. 

Additional information and fresh, short articles on Tansel powder horns and Kentucky rifles [from state of Kentucky] can be found on my new web site, www.kentuckygunmakers.com.

Shelby Gallien






« Last Edit: September 08, 2023, 04:56:10 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Kevin

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2020, 01:39:17 AM »
Shelby,

A beautiful horn with a great history.  Thanks for sharing the photos.

Kevin

Offline louieparker

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2020, 04:55:43 AM »
Shelby you did good !

Offline j. pease

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2020, 06:03:50 AM »
Saw this horn earlier, great horn

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2020, 06:48:21 AM »
The Ft. Meigs horns by Francis Tansel are fascinating when closely examined: they have a unique style of eagle; their carving is substantially simpler, i.e. fewer cuts per figure; borders are simpler; there is no polychroming, etc. The simplification of these horns was the result of being carved under adverse conditions at Ft. Meigs. In addition, they were all carved within a small window of time, between September 9th to September 22nd in 1813, based on the dates on known horns, combined with a study of the small group of men to which these horns belonged. The period was between the time a company of Kentucky militia mustered out of their first enrollment period at Ft. Meigs, and then re-enlisted to go with General William H. Harrison up to Canada, culminating with the Battle of Thames where Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Indian war chief, was killed. More specifically, there were eight men who served together in the same company of KY militia at Ft. Meigs, then re-enlisted at Put-In-Bay two weeks later and formed a new company where each of the men was promoted to a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the new company. Apparently several of those eight men, and perhaps all of them, had their horns decorated by Francis Tansel [who was also at Ft. Meigs at that time] to recognize their service together at Ft. Meigs. This conclusion would suggest there may have been as many as eight of these unique horns made by Francis in that short window of time. We know of three, so perhaps a couple more have survived over the years and are still out there.  So if you find another one, give me a call.  Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 03:17:58 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2020, 05:29:56 PM »
 WOW!

   Tim

Offline VP

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2020, 12:51:57 AM »
I love it when a story begins to come together. Nothing like placing an object at a specific time and place. Way to go Shelby.

VP

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2020, 01:27:48 AM »
Beautiful horn, Shelby. Glad to know that it has found the right man for the job. Good on you for staying the course for all that time. Well done! Thank you for showing it here.
Dick

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2020, 06:18:15 PM »
Wonderful and historic horn. 
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Matt58

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2020, 06:12:20 PM »
Absolutely beautiful horn!

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2020, 08:57:28 PM »
This Ft. Meigs horn raises an interesting question about who made the horn body. The other two known horns with "Ft. Meigs" and a KY militia member's name and date of carving, are obviously horns carried to Ft. Meigs and not made by Francis Tansel. Their butt plugs and spouts are too different, and I would expect most of these horns to be items carried to Ft. Meigs when the soldiers first mustered into service.

But this particular horn has a butt plug similar to a few other Francis Tansel butt plugs from about the same time period. The butt plug is a typical Kentucky "bee hive" style, well done by lathe, and nicely attached with neat little cobbler nails... or at least small, square-cut nails. The spout, however, is not a fine "bead & cove" Tansel spout, but rather a simple raised ring. The horn was probably a Kentucky product carried to Ft. Meigs, but the quality of the plug makes me wonder if it might possibly be made by Francis Tansel, just "simplified" on the spout end like his carving was simplified on the body. A couple of Tansel horns made just before or after the "Ft. Meigs" marked horns have turned butt plugs, one or two of which might have been made at Ft. Meigs before or after the horns made for the small group of 8 men who wanted their horns spicifically marked "Ft. Meigs."

While no one really knows what Francis Tansel took with him to Ft. Meigs, he obvioiusly took his carving tools since we know he made the "Ft. Meigs" horns there, and I would think there was a possibility he also took a small treadle lathe, knowing he would probably make, or at least decorate, some horns during his 6 month enlistment period. Soldiers, like sailors, had a lot of idle time to fill. So here's the plug, to get comments on if it might have been made by Francis, or if it was carried there by Samuel Arnold.  Shelby Gallien


« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 09:04:47 PM by Tanselman »

Offline T.C.Albert

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2020, 11:57:51 PM »
Just thinking out loud here, but he would need to carry horns if he was
Going to finish them in the field anyway, so why not just carry a dozen or so otherwise
Finished but “uncarved” horns instead of a lathe and related tools. He could still carve them
To order as needed.

Good stuff to ponder though. I had never really considered it much either way before but
Just assumed he was carving on horns that others were already carrying. But if the construction
Including plug are all similar it may indicate he did in fact make them as well as carve them?

Did he take Sick at The fort? I seem to recall reading somewhere that he had to be helped home as a result but my mind may be totally making that up. Thanks for such an interesting post Shelby.
TCA
« Last Edit: November 14, 2020, 12:04:54 AM by T.C.Albert »
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Offline Tanselman

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2020, 12:28:13 AM »
Francis Tansel was listed as sick and unable to make roll call on his last payroll card in September, and it seems to me there was a later payroll card that simply said he was left at Ft. Meigs when the army moved out - but I need to go back and check. But his illness is the reason we think he stayed up in Ohio for a year or two, at North Bend just west of Cincinnati. There is a slightly later horn with most of the Ft. Meigs figures, including a drawing of Ft. Meigs expanded to show the British batteries and the Maumee River, but with no date or soldier's name. It has Tansel's depiction of a town, i.e. what I call his "pile of houses," with the word "Cincinnati" next to it, which to me reinforces the idea that he was probably at North Bend for a while after leaving Ft. Meigs. That horn, by the way, was completely made by Tansel, horn body and carving. He also disappeared from KY property tax records for a few years at this period in his life, and when back in Scott Co., KY was on a different piece of land in another part of the county.

I thought Harrison's troops probably drove some cattle with them, or at times purchased or "procured" them along the way, to get fresh beef once in a while when in the field, possibly giving Tansel access to a few fresh horns. Of course, he always selected the white ones, and right-handed carry, from all the ones I've seen, to better show off the carving, so perhaps he did bring a few "good ones" with him.   Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: November 14, 2020, 06:24:53 AM by Tanselman »

Offline T.C.Albert

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2020, 09:01:18 AM »
I wonder about Boswells personal horn cup too. it has the lay out of the fort much like on the Tansel horns I think.
Do you think it may have a connection to the FT Meigs horns? Maybe even just as a template for the fort engraving on
the ones Francis did? Or maybe even the other way around?
TCA
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Offline Tanselman

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Re: Important Tansel Powder Horn
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2020, 07:40:47 AM »
I have seen a couple of other Ft. Meigs horns, carved by other hands than Francis Tansel, and not as accomplished. I am aware of the cup with fort drawing, but have not studied it closely to see how well it mimics the Tansel carved "Ft. Meigs" horn images. My guess, which is all we can go on these days, is that the layout of the fort was drummed into each soldier's head. Tansel was there for much of his 6 month enlistment period, so I would imaging he knew rather well the structure, shape, approx. dimensions, locations of gates, etc. of the fort, as well as the trenches dug inside it to protect soldiers from cannon/mortar shells. I would guess most images of Ft. Meigs carved on powder horns or cups were probably rather easy for Tansel, or others, to briefly sketch on the surface before carving. Actually in Francis Tansel's case, he at times sketched figures on paper first, then pin-pricked their outline on the horn to assist his carving accuracy. It would be interesting to study the Boswell cup and the Samuel Arnold horns' depictions of Ft. Meigs side-by-side, to see how closely they mimiced each other.

Another reason for thinking Tansel did his own design for Ft. Meigs images is that, on the two fully carved Ft. Meigs horns, carved a couple days apart, there are slight differences in the two images of Ft. Meigs, both in walls and in the internal trenches, suggesting he was doing the carving from his own recollections on the day he carved each horn.

Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: November 16, 2020, 07:48:04 AM by Tanselman »