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A Year of Change and Achievement
On 23 May 2020 disaster struck our fandom when the software for the old lancerlovers site was corrupted beyond repair. On 25 May 2020, we created the new LancerLovers website on WordPress. Since then we’ve: – transferred 158 authors and 2,398 stories from the old LancerLovers archive to the new one, with the help of an archive team which included Ronnie Fish, Margaret Pollitt, and Margaret Smith – worked with Karen on supporting the old Peter Brown site by transferring 29 authors and 365 stories to a new site on WordPress, Lancer FanFiction – created the Lancer Fiction Gateway in September 2020, making it the portal for Lancer fans to find stories to read wherever those stories are archived on the internet. The Gateway, which isn’t in itself an archive, links through to LancerLovers, Lancer FanFiction, and to several multi-fandom archives (such as fanfiction.net and Archive Of Our Own). Although, sadly, we lost links to 133 stories from 4 authors who didn’t want us to list their work on the Gateway, as of today we currently have access to 227 authors and 3292 stories.
“See, the thing about John Madrid? He’s an ace high shootist. He’s the kinda man who don’t care a continental ’bout facing up to them road agents who fancy they got the bulge on him when they’s facin’ him three varmints to one, and that don’t change none ’cause these days he’s callin’ hisself a Lancer. So when them three, four desperados figured they could call Scott Lancer a juniper and crowd him a might, they didn’t reckon on ol’ Scott not only bein’ a curly wolf on his own account — ’cos he got a scad o’ sand, that’s fer sure — but that Johnny, seein’ that this was a real hair in the butter sorta day, had Scott’s back. Sure, he sat back and let Scott play with ’em a mite, seein’ as how Scott was real good at sloggin’ and he was havin’ hisself a real hog killin’ time, but when Johnny sees one of them hornswogglin’ scalawags fixin’ to brace his brother and pull a black-eyed susan on him, Johnny looks blue at them and he wades right in….”
Clear as mud, eh?
One of the things a writer aims to do is create a world for the reader to immerse themselves in. After all, we don’t live in the 19th century wild West these days. We have to create that on the page. So a good writer thinks about how to evoke the world’s history, geography, languages, religions, economy and government; its weather, its societies, its peoples; its plants, its animals … and every other little detail of what makes that world feel real.
Most of the time, you don’t need but a tiny fraction of it to show the reader where they are and how everything fits together. A writer picks out some of these little details and lets them seep through naturally into the story, lets them sink into the background. Do it well, and you’ll bring the West to life.
One great way of doing this, is through how the characters speak and the language they use. You know Scott wouldn’t talk like that (points upwards), and nor would Murdoch: one’s from the East with his own dialect, and the other’s a middle class Scot, and both are well-educated. They’ll sound very different. Johnny might have some of this language, but perhaps not in such an exaggerated form. He hasn’t had the education of his father and brother, and will speak less formally than either.
But that little speech? I can see Jelly talking like that, in the vernacular of the country, where a unique collection of colourful idioms and phrases created a language that had a passing resemblance to English – if you had a dictionary and translator handy!
I wouldn’t write Jelly in quite this exaggerated fashion, but I certainly would sprinkle his speeches with some of those phrases, the same way I’d keep Scott’s voice educated and more formal, and let some of Murdoch’s lowland Scots seep through into his vocabulary.
To help with that, our Resources section here has a collection of 8 different glossaries of the words and terms used by cowboys in the west. If you’re a writer of western stories, or a reader who loves words and learning new ones, then take a look at the glossaries and enjoy the wonderful, imaginative, creative world of slang. It really is colourful and fun!
Oh, and a dictionary of the phrases I used at the beginning? Here you are:
ace high – first class black-eyed susan – a six-gun. brace – confront with aggression curly wolf – real tough, dangerous man don’t care a continental – don’t give a damn got the bulge – have the advantage hair in the butter – a delicate situation hog-killin’ time – a real good time hornswoggle – cheat juniper – derogatory term for an easterner or novice cowhand look blue at – to look with displeasure or dissatisfaction road agent – a robber, bandit, desperado sand – guts, courage, toughness scad – large quantities, plenty, an abundance scalawag, scallywag – a mean, rotten, worthless, untrustworthy person slog – a blow, a fight with the fists
Back to Great-Granny’s recipe book for more home recipes. Some of the ingredients had us scratching our heads in bemusement, but we’ll share the recipes here anyway. You’ll never know when you need to mention one of these in a story sometime!
Measurements are usually given in drams or drachms (same thing, different spelling), which is shown as ‘dr’ and a number. The Britannica encyclopaedia defines as this “An apothecaries’ dram contains 3 scruples (3.888 grams) of 20 grains each and is equal to one-eighth apothecaries’ ounce of 480 grains.”
Other measures used are ordinary ounce (oz) and pound (lb). Liquid measures used are pints and gills (a gill is ¼ of a pint).
We’re used to buying whatever beauty products we want, when we want. For most Victorian women, these were too expensive or difficult to come by. So, being inventive and clever, they created their own:
1 oz pure wase (?) 2 oz spermaceti 1 pint almond oil.
Melt together and mix well. Beat in 12 drops attar of rose and 3 oz honey. Put in jars and cover securely. It will last a long time.
For Chapped Hands/Dirty And Rough Hands
Chapped Hands Recipe One 1 dr carbolic acid 1 oz glycerin
Mix with water and apply to hands.
Chapped Hands Recipe Two Take an equal quantity of glycerin and methylated spirits and mix thoroughly together to rub on hands after washing.
For Dirty, Rough Hands Use Bicrolium Jelly, which removes all dirt and makes them soft and white.
Hair Tonic 1 oz Lavena de Composee (?) ¼ dr menthol crystals 3 oz Bay Rum
Falling Hair Get some Boranium from chemists (pharmacist) and mix with Bay Rum
For Grey Hair
To keep hair from turning grey, obtain some Tammalite (?), dissolve it in Bay Rum and apply this lotion every day.
Shampoo 1 teaspoon Stallax dissolved in hot water
Home Care Products
Most housewives found it easier and cheaper to create her own polishes and cleaners, rather than buy ready-made ones. Here are a couple of recipes:
Cheap boot polish
1 dr hulball (?) 1 dr turpentine 1 dr neat’s foot oil
Melt hulball and mix with oils, and put in a tin. This makes boots waterproof.
A good floor polish
1 dr bees wax and scrape it into a jar. Pour over it enough paraffin to cover it and put on stove to melt. When cold it is ready for use. Is a good furniture polish, too.
Do you have old family remedy recipes like this that you’d like to pass along? Post them into the comments here (or email them to email@example.com) along with the name of your ancestress who is credited with the recipe, and we’ll add them to the relevant page in the Resources section.
Here’s the first of a new series of mid-month posts about… well, stuff that might be of interest to our readers, and to writers who want to add a note of authenticity to their stories. These posts will cover a whole range of topics on the history of the old West. We hope they’ll be interesting, useful and fun. Enjoy reading this post, and be grateful for modern medicine!
For many Victorian families, seeking treatment from a doctor or drugs from a pharmacist was prohibitively expensive, a situation made worse in the American west where medical professionals may have been few and far between. Many families relied upon recipes for home remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation, using ingredients commonly available from a local apothecary or pharmacist – or, in some cases, the local butcher! This page gives you the recipes from the collections of two ladies: one an English Victorian (using her spelling, which was variable at times) and an American.
Measurements are usually given in drams or drachms (same thing, different spelling), which is shown as ‘dr’ and a number. The Britannica encyclopaedia defines as this “An apothecaries’ dram contains 3 scruples (3.888 grams) of 20 grains each and is equal to one-eighth apothecaries’ ounce of 480 grains.” Clear as mud.
Other measures used are ordinary ounce (oz) and pound (lb). Liquid measures used are pints and gills (a gill is ¼ of a pint).
Methods are often patchy, at best, and don’t give the sort of precise instructions we are used to – no oven temperatures, for example. But remember that the Victorian housewife used a stove (in the US) or a kitchen grate (UK) where the fire was always on, winter and summer, to ensure they could cook. They were used to controlling recipes by the position they’d put things in the oven.
The recipes often contain ingredients that are now controlled drugs (opiate derivatives such as laudanum, or poppy syrup) or poisonous (such as syrup of squills, or belladonna), which were all then readily available and bought over the counter. Dosage instructions are sometimes missing – if they aren’t mentioned with the recipe below, then they aren’t given. That alone must have made taking these remedies a bit of an adventure.
So our advice is, don’t try these at home!
(i) From the Receipts (Recipe) book of Julia Robson Winter
Julia Robson Winter (1872-1962) was Starry Diadem‘s great-grandmother (Starry’s first name is Julia, after her), born in the Co. Durham area of the UK. Her ‘receipt book’ was started just after her marriage in 1894, and she and her daughter Caroline kept it going for decades. It was handed on to Starry when Caroline died in 1978.
1 oz tincture of cayenne 1 oz tincture of rhubarb 3 dr laudanum 1 oz essence of peppermint 1 oz spirits of camphor 2 dr oil of pennyroyal
Dose: 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon in well-sweetened hot water.
Recipe One 2 dr laudanum 2 dr oil of aniseeds 2 dr syrup of squills 2 dr paregoric 1 dr oil of mint 2 ozs of Spanish (liquorice) 1 lb of treacle.
Recipe Two 2 dr syrup of squills 2 dr syrup of poppies 2 dr Friar’s Balsam 2 dr paregoric
Shake well before taking 1 teaspoonful, 2 times a day.
Recipe Three 1 dr peppermint 1 dr paregoric 1 dr spirits of nitre 1 dr ether 1 dr laudanum 1 dr aniseed
Put ½lb treacle into a jug, pour ½ pint of boiling water over it and let it stand until cold. Then shake ingredients well and add to treacle and water.
½ a wine glass-ful for an adult, a little less for a child.
Recipe Four ½ oz of ipecuana wine (that is: ipecacuanha or ipecac) ¼ oz essence of ginger 4 oz syrup of squills
Add to 8 oz bottle and fill up with water.
Dose: 1 teaspoonful every 4 hours.
There are actually several more recipes in the book, but you get the general idea.
Recipe One 2 drams (drachms) each of: – tincture of rhubarb – laudanum – essence of peppermint – spirits of champher (camphor) – cayenne tincture
Recipe Two 2 dr peppermint 2 dr red pepper 2 dr camphor 2 dr rhubarb 4 dr opium or laudanum
Adults 12 to 18 drops on sugar (cube).
Recipe Three 1 dr tincture of capsicum 1 dr oil of cassia 1 dr oil of aniseed
10 drops on sugar.
1 oz best Turkey rhubarb 1 oz of B Carbon Potass ? syrup of sugar
Put into a jug and pour over 2½ pints Boiling water keep in the steam until cold, then add 1 oz of spirits of wine and 1/10th oz of (?) peppermint.
1 tablespoon-ful before breakfast every morning.
6 dr of laudanum 2 dr of hearts-horn oil (harts-horn) 1 dr of soap liniment 1 dr of belladonna liniment
Mix it and shake well together.
Recipe One ¼ lb Epsom Salts 20 grains Pot sulphate of iron (potassium?) 20 grains quinine 5 drops sulphuric acid
Dissolve in 1 pint hot water.
Dose: 1 wineglassful in the morning.
Recipe Two 1 packet of Lions Blood herbs 1 packet of Lions Constipation herbs ½ oz of liquorice juice
Boil 1 pkt blood herbs and ¼ pkt constipation herbs for 20 minutes together, then add juice and two tablespoons of treacle.
½ gill of turpentine ½ gill of white wine vinegar whites of 2 eggs
Shake well together in a bottle and let stand for 24 hours, then use.
Salves and Ointments
Recipe One 3 oz lard 1 dr beeswax 1 dr camphor 1 dr spermaceti 1 red precipitate powder
Grate wax, camphor and spermaceti and put into a jar, then add the other ingredients. Place in the oven top until it is melted, then stand the jar in a dish of cold water, stirring until it stiffens.
Recipe Two 1 lb mutton suet ¼ lb lard 2 oz olive oil 2 oz beeswax 2 oz burgundy pitch (?)
Cut suet up into small pieces and render down over a slow fire, then strain it into the other ingredients which must have been previously melted. Simmer the whole for about ¼ of an hour, then pour into a suitable receptacle to cool.
Recipe Three get 2½ oz resin 1 oz yellow wax 4 oz lard
Melt them together over a slow fire, strain the mixture through muslin and stir constantly until cold. This is good for scalds or burns.
Recipe Four 1 oz beeswax 1 oz white pitch 1 oz white resin 2 oz frankincense 2 oz Venice turpentine ½ mutton suet
Render suet in the oven. Bruise beeswax, white pitch, white resin and frankincense. Add suet after it has been strained, and let stand in the oven until is is all properly dissolved, then add the Venice turpentine. Set it to cool.
Recipe ½ pint of best vinegar ½ oz camphor ½ oz spirits of wine 1 oz best turpentine 1 new laid egg
Break up camphor and put in with spirit of wine in a bottle. Beat up egg into the vinegar and when the camphor is melted, add the egg and vinegar to the spirit of wine. Then add turpentine, and shake it all up so it gets thoroughly mixed. Rub this mixture on sprained joint. It should be kept in a well-corked bottle. It is also good for rheumatism.
(ii) From the recipe book of Zelma Irene (Heaney) Larson
Zelma was Buckskin‘s maternal grandmother, whose handwritten recipe book has been printed out for her descendants to treasure.
Beat all together and spread on a cloth. Place cloth, mixture side down on chest. Leave on all night. It will not blister skin. Makes three applications for a child
For boils and ulcers
Place a piece of bread (white bread) over the affected area. Drip HOT milk (whole milk) on to bread until saturated and let sit for 10 or so minutes. Will draw poison to a head to be drained.
Do you have old family remedy recipes like this that you’d like to pass along? Post them into the comments here (or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org) along with the name of your ancestress who is credited with the recipe, and we’ll add them to the Home Remedies page in the Resources section.