The shape of the cowboy hat is derived from the Mexican sombrero. The broad rim helped keep the sun and rain off the cowhand’s face. Cowboys used their hats to dip water out of streams for themselves or their horses to drink, to fan fires, and as pillows. To hold up under these uses, a hat had to be made of fur or beaver felt. By the late 1860s, the famous Western-style hat made by John B. Stetson was popular. Most cowhands called their hats “Stetsons” or “John Bs” whether they were genuine Stetsons or not. The favorite model was “The Boss of the Plains,” which was trimmed with a braided horsehair, silver, or rattlesnake-skin hat band. The buckskin thongs threaded through the crown of the hat were called the “bonnet strings.” Most cowboys did not buy their hats creased but made creases themselves while they were wearing them. [See The Boys of the LS Near Tascosa Lingering at the Chuck wagon After the Day’s Work is Done, Listening to Range Boss of the LS, Storytelling, LS Ranch, TX, (LC S59-110).]
Erwin E. Smith (1886–1947)
Eight rodeo performers in a posed photograph taken outside the grounds of a rodeo somewhere in the Southwest , 1920-1930
Nitrate negative
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
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