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U.S. Originals

Cowboy Boots - Western Boots

Certainly considered traditional footwear in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain States, sometimes status symbol since prices may range from a hundred+ to thousands of dollars depending what type of leather, craftmanship and add-ons (e.g. gold, diamonds, etc.) the boots have.

But we're talking about the basic Western Boots, the genuine ones, not the fancy ones.

After the Civil War ended many soldiers were without a job and many of them became cowboy. Their outfit was basically the same as the they had during their military time - same boots, same clothing.

The boots that were manufactured at that time came with a wide, rounded toe form but what somebody who spent most of his time on a a horse's back really needed was a pair of boots with a type of narrow, pointy toe area to get quickly and easy in the stirrup. Additionally with a under-slung heel that keeps you in the stirrup. This is where Charles H. Hyer came into the play.

The shoemaker with German heritage was born in 1852, two years after his father emigrated from Germany to the United States.

He learned his craftmanship from his father and moved to Olathe, Kansas, in the mid 1870's. He began as a teacher at the local school for the deaf and taught them his craftmanship but he soon thought that the region could be a market for quality boots and shoes since Kansas City was nearby. He asked his brother whether he would support and help him. Edward agreed and both founded their own business in 1876.

It's said that the trigger for the idea of specializing in cowboy boots came from an unknown cowboy who once entered the store and ordered custom tailored boots and described exactly what his needs were. The unusual shape made other cowboys curious and through the word of mouth the small shoemaker store of the Hyer brothers became well-known and they were in business!

By 1880 they founded the Hyer's Boot Company which was specialized in - how the name suggests - in just boots. From 1890 on Charles ran the company alone and was ready for expansion. He traveled through the western states and promoted his product. Additionally and very remarkable: he created a mail-order catalog for his boots in order to be able to reach remote ranches and farms.
He and his company became a legend in the field of 'handmade boots'.

By 1921 his production reached 15,000 pairs per year - that was the year he died. His sons led the company from there on and sold it in 1977 to the Ben Miller Company in El Paso.

Some famous people who walked in Hyer boots: Buffalo Bill Cody, Clark Gable, Gene Autrey, Will Rogers, Ken Maynard and U.S. Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Dwight Eisenhower.



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Source: magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20041126
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