Old West icons

06/19/2011 12:00 AM

06/21/2011 1:45 PM

The Boss of the Plains

Kansas can technically claim the cowboy hat because it was in Kansas territory in 1858 that John B. Stetson made a hat, according to Jim Hoy, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University.

Stetson was in the gold fields of Colorado — then considered Kansas territory — when he made the wide-brim hat with a waterproof lining and 6-inch crown to protect his head and neck from the elements.

Nicknamed the "Boss of the Plains," the hat protected cowboys from sun and rain, could be used as a water bucket for a horse, a pillow at night and something to shoo the livestock with.

The Boot

"The story is a cowboy had been in Kansas City and stopped at Olathe and asked for a special kind of boot," Hoy said. "Instead of the broad, round toe of the military boot, he wanted a pointed toe and a higher slanted heel."

Bootmaker Charles Hyer fitted him with the Olathe Cow Boy Boot. The pointed toe was designed to slide easily into stirrups. The high shafts protected the legs from brush and scrub.

Lee Jeans

Lee Jeans, the brand started more than a century ago by Salina entrepreneur Henry David Lee, is still a giant in the denim industry.

His intent was to manufacturer work clothes for men. He founded the company and opened his first garment factory in 1889 in Salina.

Lee was among dozens of manufacturers who capitalized on the jeans concept made popular by Levi Strauss & Co. Lee was the first company to make zip-fly jeans, in 1926.

The Marlboro Man

Wayne Dunafon became an American icon through his modeling appearances in Marlboro cigarette advertisements.

Dunafon was born June 15, 1919, in Yuma, Colo. He moved to Russell, Kansas, at age 5 with his parents, attended high school there and worked for several years on ranches in Colorado.

He had a competitive rodeo career, which led him to modeling.

Dunafon appeared in advertisements for Lee Rider jeans, Firestone tires and Chevrolet pickups.

He was the "Marlboro Man" from 1964 to 1978.

The cowgirl

Her name is Willie Mathews and in Caldwell in 1888 she became what historians now believe was the first cowgirl.

She hired on with Samuel Dunn Houston of Clayton, New Mexico during the summer of 1888 to drive cattle to Montana.

In Hoy's book, "Cowboys and Kansas" he writes of how Mathews disguised herself as a man before hiring on with Houston.

When Houston discovered that Willie was a lady, he put her on the train home and hired three men to replace her.

The Cowboy's Lament

Texas claims it, but the song "The Streets of Laredo" really belongs to Kansas.

First written by Frank Maynard in 1876, "The Dying Cowboy," wouldn't be published until 1911 in a book called "Rhymes of the Range and Trail."

It was about a gunfight and a dying cowboy that Maynard saw in Dodge City.

"As I rode down by Tom Sherman's bar-room, Tom Sherman's bar-room so early one day ..."

Tom Sherman's bar was one of Dodge City's rowdiest saloons.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service