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Cowboys and Their Boots

The ten-minute produced by the Olathe Convention and Visitors Bureau explores the tradition of custom boot-making in Olathe, county seat for Johnson County, Kansas. Kansas and Texas became linked as a result of the great cattle drives after the Civil War. Research on the origins and evolution of the cowboy boot was conducted by the Kansas State Historical Society and resulted in a traveling exhibition titled "How Kansas Gave Texas the Boot." The video is based on that research.

Hyer Boot Company is highlighted. Charles Hyer, a German native, opened his boot business in 1876. He hired northern European immigrants as artisans in his shop and taught the craft to students at the Kansas School for the Deaf, also located in Olathe. His fame for quality custom-made boots grew by word-of-mouth. Hyer and his brother Edward devised a measuring chart to allow cowboys to measure their own feet. Soon they were selling boots by mail order across the county, not only to working cowboys but to rodeo cowboys, movie stars, and even presidents. Numbered among these customers were Buffalo Bill Cody, Buck Jones, Tom Mix, William S. Hart, Will Rogers, Ken Maynard, Buddy Rogers, Charles Russell, Gene Autry, Clark Gable, Dwight Eisenhower, and Calvin Coolidge.

During World War I, Hyer Boot Company supplied riding boots for the army. They were invited to exhibit annually at West Point until about 1938, when officers stopped wearing riding boots. The company continued in business for more than one hundred years. In 1978 the Hyer Boot Company ceased operation in Olathe. Ben Miller, Inc., of El Paso, Texas, purchased controlling interest and assumed the Hyer name in 1997.

Project documentation comprises several pages of text and the video.

Originally submitted by: Dennis Moore, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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