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Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Crockett" - Colonel Crockett and the Honey Bees + "his" Almanacs about Eclipses - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

from The Crockett Almanac 1841
I've posted about bees and hornets recently (and even honey if you count the World War I recipes).  Old time "Crockett Almanacs" give us yet another story of these insects and also a 19th century look at eclipses.  August 21 we'll have the first total solar eclipse across the entire contiguous United States since June 8, 1918, so eclipses are something everybody seems to be talking about now.

Talking about folk heroes seems to make them last forever.  As for politicians, maybe they just seem to never die.  Davy Crockett was both a folk hero and a politician.  He officially died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836, but "his" almanacs (1835 to 1856) were filled with Crockett tall tales supposedly written down by the publisher, Ben Hardin, who also is given in some tall tales as a friend and companion in some adventures.

Reproductions occasionally do not perfectly show a letter.  Might the type face have been just as bad in the original?  I don't know, but the language is certainly the original.  The almanacs attempt to sound and be mis-spelled as the public expected the frontier hero, soldier, and politician might have told the stories.  It is an interesting visual way to attempt hearing the backwoods language of that day.  When it puzzles you (and it will), try saying it out loud to see if you understand what is said.

Eclipses - 1840

Eclipses -1841

and then the story, but first a quick note.  Because the story is supposedly about a trick Crockett played on Teddy O'Rourke it opens with a description of the differences between Yankees and the Irish.  Don't let it "get your Irish up", I know mine was under control and I always, or way too often, "speak before I think."

This was the picture at the end of the 1841 almanac.
Even though the story's title is "Colonel Crockett and the Honey Bees, he's in the background watching the trick he played with Jimmy Flatfoot on Teddy O'Rourke to stop his bragging (not that Davy would ever brag)

Before leaving the idea of almanacs and eclipses, let's have some facts and a bit of fun.  You may want to check the almanac that is probably the most accepted since its founding in 1792, the Old Farmer's Almanac.  Here is their look at Total Solar Eclipses in the U.S.  Notice that they say "Accurate observations of solar eclipses in the 19th century were sparse until the solar eclipse of July 18, 1860."

Anybody who knows me knows I can never resist a pun, so I'll close with this lunar or loony riddle.  How does the Man in the Moon gets his hair cut? . . . E-clipse it. 

O.k. stop that groaning and enjoy the astronomical mania currently happening.  Can't find truly safe solar glasses?  Here's a video on how to make your own solar eclipse viewer.

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at and put in in the search box.  I recommend using the latest "snapshot" on November 2016
       - World of Tales - 
    You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  For an example of using the "Wayback Machine", list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is gone, but using the Wayback Machine you can still see it.  At the Wayback Machine I put in his site's address, then chose 2006 since it was a later year and clicked until I reached the Library at  
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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