Skip to comments.Look What They Found In Old Wild West
Posted on 03/07/2004 10:09:26 AM PST by ATOMIC_PUNK
Look What They Found In Old Wild West More than two years ago, archaeologists made an astounding find when they were digging in the dirt about 20 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada: The remnants of an Old West saloon that was open for business from 1864 to 1875. But this wasn't just any old saloon. It was the Boston Saloon of Virginia City, and it was owned by William A. G. Brown, a free black man from Massachusetts who catered to the community's small population of African-Americans, as well as the white people in the town. This is the first known excavation of a black-owned saloon of the 19th-century American West, reports The Associated Press.
Look What They Found In Old Wild West
More than two years ago, archaeologists made an astounding find when they were digging in the dirt about 20 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada: The remnants of an Old West saloon that was open for business from 1864 to 1875. But this wasn't just any old saloon. It was the Boston Saloon of Virginia City, and it was owned by William A. G. Brown, a free black man from Massachusetts who catered to the community's small population of African-Americans, as well as the white people in the town. This is the first known excavation of a black-owned saloon of the 19th-century American West, reports The Associated Press.
The Boston Saloon was likely one of the nicest taverns in the Old West, where its customers dined in elegance by the light of newly-patented gas lamps. They played dominoes. They ate the finest cuts of meat, including leg of lamb. "The Boston Saloon appears to have had a great deal of ambience and atmosphere. It was a lively, well-lit place with music," State Historic Preservation Officer Ron James told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Some 40,000 artifacts have been found, and quite a few of them have reshaped the traditional views of our nation's frontier. Maybe the wild west wasn't so wild! Oh sure, they found pistols and poker chips, but they also found crystal-stemmed goblets, remnants of expensive lighting, and a mouthpiece from a trombone.
A small cache of perforated and disfigured coins was found beneath the floorboards; the people of this mining frontier town likely believed those coins could be transformed into objects of supernatural control. They found bottles that once held champagne, wine, ale, Italian bitters, and "Gordon's Gin," as well as bottles that contained mineral water from Germany and soda water from Ireland.
One of the most remarkable discoveries was a 130-year-old bottle of Tabasco. Reconstructed from 31 shards of glass, it is now officially the oldest style of Tabasco bottle known to exist. Historians speculate that the Boston Saloon was among the first eateries to introduce Tabasco. "The Tabasco bottle is particularly intriguing because of what it implies about African-American cuisine and the development of the West," Kelly Dixon, administrator of the Comstock Archaeology Center who supervised the dig, told AP. "This was an exotic product, and Comstock African-Americans were apparently the ones breaking this new ground." Tabasco was created by a New Orleans banker name Edmund McIlhenny, who blended aged red peppers, salt, and vinegar to create the Tabasco brand pepper sauce in 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana. He first used discarded cologne bottles, but then made his own. "This discovery helps us fill the earliest chapter of our company's history," said Shane K. Bernard, a Tabasco sauce historian and curator of the company archives.
But the greatest find of all isn't as tangible as these artifacts. James told the Reno Journal-Gazette that said the discovery of the tavern is significant because it helps break down stereotypes of an ethnic group that has been targeted throughout history with prejudice and racism. "We learned that in Virginia City during the second half of the 19th century where there were hundreds of saloons, African-Americans had a place to go to that was respected and dignified," James said.
Seems to me that reporting something like this would bring people together we need more reporting of what Black Americans did to contribute to the wealth of our country weather large or small Im tired of being seperated from other Americans just because of my skin color or thiers !
But the greatest find of all isn't as tangible as these artifacts.
Nonsense, how could anything be more important than the history of Tabasco Sauce?
Hey, if you made it big at the diggings you sure wouldn't want to eat bad food on a dirt floor.
And the American West was perhaps the greatest meritocracy ever known on these shores. If you could do there the task you had set for yourself, you would survive and thrive, regardless of who you were or where you came from. If you could not do that, a swift and painful death from any of a variety of causes would be your fate.
Thank you for putting up this very interesting post.
Not a chance. Jessie Jackson, the extortion expert will no doubt be "the new sheriff in town."
Wow...I guess they'll need to re-write all the American history books to reflect this important new discovery.
Carson City, Nevada. A new chapter in the history of TABASCO® has been written with the discovery of a 130-year-old bottle at an archaeological excavation in Nevada's Virginia City, Nevada State Historic Preservation Officer Ron James and McIlhenny Company Historian and Curator Shane K. Bernard announced today. The artifact appears to be of the earliest surviving form of a bottle used by the company.
Kelly Dixon, administrator of the Comstock Archaeology Center, directed the research that recovered and reconstructed the artifact. "The glass fragments were found in the heart of the Comstock mining district, one of the richest sources of gold and silver ever discovered. The bottle was used in the Boston Saloon, which catered to African Americans and operated from 1864 until 1875. The saloon served meals as well as drinks, and apparently TABASCO® pepper sauce was enjoyed by some customers."
Ashley Dumas, a graduate student at the University of Alabama who directed excavations at the original TABASCO® factory, said that the Virginia City artifact is "what we refer to as a Type 1a bottle. That is, in fact, one of the earliest forms of TABASCO® bottles, distinctive because of its embossment and sharp shoulders." A second type of bottle did not have the stars on the bottom. Dumas said that the operating dates of the Boston Saloon help narrow the period during which this earliest form of bottle was used.
Boston Saloon owner William A. G. Brown was born in Massachusetts and named his business after his state's capital. Probably born as a free African American in 1833, Brown was educated and arrived in Virginia City in 1862 where he became a prosperous entrepreneur. The site of his Boston Saloon is now a parking lot for the famed Bucket of Blood Saloon, which made the property available to archaeologists.
Edmund McIlhenny of Avery Island, Louisiana, began producing TABASCO® sauce in 1868. At first he used discarded cologne bottles to hold his innovative pepper sauce. He was soon making his own bottles specifically for his product. The bottle type evolved throughout the early years of his business. Initially, his bottles had sharp shoulders, but McIlhenny found that they broke easily at the shoulder. As a result, he switched to the round-shouldered bottle known today. He also later added his name to the embossment of the bottle, but as Dumas pointed out, as to when, we're just not sure yet.
An excavation at the Boston Saloon site in the summer of 2000 yielded roughly 30,000 artifacts, most of which were broken shards of glass and pottery, rusted metal, and charred bone. Extensive lab work has begun to unfold the story of the saloon, but much more remains to be done. Supervising archaeologist Dixon has already been able to observe that customers at the Boston Saloon enjoyed lamb and essence of ginger more than at other Virginia City saloons.
"The TABASCO® bottle is particularly intriguing because of what it implies about African American cuisine and the development of the West. This was an exotic product and Comstock African Americans were apparently the ones breaking this new ground," Dixon said. "We're not certain why there are these preferences, but we hope to have more answers in the future."
Volunteer Dan Urriola of Reno played an important role in reassembling broken fragments of glass and pottery from the Boston Saloon. He worked with twenty-one pieces of glass to fit together the TABASCO® bottle. Urriola previously reassembled an extensive collection of artifacts from two Virginia City saloon excavations. Some of his work is currently on display at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno.
"Without Dan, we would not have such an array of exhibit-quality artifacts and TABASCO® sauce would not have this bottle to add to its history," Dixon said.
The TABASCO® bottle from the Boston Saloon is problematic because it is like the Type 1a bottle except that it has a thin glass lip. All other Type 1a bottles have a thicker lip. The earliest period of bottle production was one of dynamic experimentation, and the Boston Saloon artifact appears to be a very early stage in the development of the now world-famous bottle form.
"The bottle's thin lip appears to be of a type similar to early bottles without the Tabasco embossing that archaeologists discovered at the Tabasco lab," Dixon said. "This bottle's lip is like those artifacts and yet it has embossing, which tempts us to speculate that it represents a transitional form. Because this bottle dates to about 1870, it may be a form of bottle even earlier than the classic Type 1a, but, as is so common in archaeology, more research is needed," Dixon added.
"This discovery helps us fill the earliest chapter of our company's history," TABASCO® sauce historian and curator Shane K. Bernard said from the McIlhenny Company Archives at Avery Island, Louisiana. "Our pepper sauce clearly became important soon after its first production, but writing the story of its earliest distribution is an on-going process."
"We are all pleased with this remarkable discovery," said State Historic Preservation Officer, James. "Virginia City archaeology has helped us arrive at new understandings of the opening of the West and the region's role in national history. The discovery of this bottle is a perfect example of the importance of the Comstock Mining District and also of how historical archaeology can be a powerful tool in reconstructing the past."
James went on to say, "Having this innovative product associated with an African American business dramatically underscores the fact that diversity played an important role in building Virginia City into an internationally famous mining district."
Local newspapers often mentioned the Boston Saloon, noting its popularity in the African American community. Brown, a prominent Virginia City businessman and landowner, welcomed African Americans at his establishment until it closed in 1875.
In October of that year, the Great Fire swept through Virginia City, destroying the Boston Saloon along with hundreds of buildings in its path.
(you can tell Spradley by his small star on the forehead. Pickett sometimes rode a chestnut with a large white blaze and two white hind feet, but that wasn't Spradley.)
But you're right - they're trying to make these guys sound like ignorant ex-slaves with ju-ju medicine. Good grief!
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And what makes Kelly Dixon so sure it was "African-Americans". I suspect it far more likely to have been some New Orleans Creole gambler types. Heck, for all this twit knows, the chef at the Boston Saloon might have been a Cajun.
To this day, lots of people in South Louisiana don't consider Voodoo and Christianity mutually exclusive. Nor are they all black.
I hate to be a party-pooper here, but it seems to me one bottle doesn't carry that much of an implication about cuisine and Western development. Someone passing through could have tossed it in the trash for all we know. Now if they'd found a whole case...
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