James, it would be safer in a tent than open flames, but marginally so. Most older tent floors were wood or dirt. Good to hear there are vents at the bottom. I like Brittany’s ideas about the stove being used for smoking, considering there is so little room on top for cooking. If you check inside, just underneath the top, are there any hooks or eyes to hold chains? That could be a clue that it was used for smoking. Other than that, it might just be a portable utilitarian heating stove.