Saturday, August 22, 2015

These Boots Were Made For Walking by Linda Broday

In historical westerns four things are always in every story – Hats (Stetsons usually,) Guns, Horses and Boots. Not necessarily in that order.

But who were the early bootmakers?

The first boots, and maybe the forerunner of the western boot, were reportedly worn by Genghis Kahn way back in the Mongol Empire. He wore a pair of red boots with wooden heels. But definitely the Wellington boots worn in 17th and 18th centuries of England were a precursor of the cowboy boots. They rode high on the leg, had a low heel and were made of the same four part construction as cowboy boots.  Soldiers in the Civil War preferred them and when they went home from the war, they took their boots with them.

One on the earliest known bootmakers was Charles Hyer in Olathe, Kansas in 1872. He and his brother Edward founded the Hyer Brothers Boot Company and outfitted many a trail driver.

Down here in Texas as the cattle drives accelerated, bootmakers popped up in the towns along the trail.  The Justin Boot Company and the Nocona Boot Company in Texas are among two of the earliest makers of western footwear. I’m sure there were many others. Justin Boots is world famous. It was founded in 1879 and George Strait along with rodeo stars and thousands of others still wear them today.

Nocona boots were long made by H. L. Justin before he ever formed the company. He was a maker of fine boots in Spanish Fort, Texas which sat smack on the Chisolm Trail. Cowboys would stop on their way north and let him measure their feet and pick up their boots on the way back.

Boots are worn by rich man and poor, presidents, country singers and the cowboys of today who work the ranches, herding cows and riding the rangeland.

I have three pair of western boots-- an old pair of Justin ropers, a new pair I bought last month to wear to NYC to a writers’ conference and a pair I bought in Reno, Nevada at an RWA conference one year. My new pair is made by the Abilene Boot Company and they're as comfortable as my Justins. I've always had trouble finding shoes that don't hurt my feet. I never have to worry about my boots.

So what about you? Have you tried cowboy boots? Or boots of any kind?

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  1. No cowboy boots although my husband got a nice pair when visiting AZ. We live in PA so I've had many winter boots - unfortunately, it's a necessity.

  2. Really interesting post about bootmakers. I don't own cowboy boots, although I live in Texas. I wear flipflops most of the time! It's too hot for boots.

  3. My Frye boots were the most comfortable footwear I ever owned. I wore them with everything, even when I was pregnant. Especially when I was pregnant! They laced up. I had them for 10 years. Resoled and reheeled them a couple of times, but they stayed in Colorado when I left (in a hurry.) I should get another pair. I'd probably die with them on. I know how cowboys feel!

  4. Interesting challenge. Might take one step and fall on my nose though. :)

  5. I've never had cowboy boots...but I have such short legs, I suspect I would look pretty funny in them!