1800-1820s Woodsman apparel?

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Notchy Bob

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I can't be of much help, but will offer up a couple of things I've run across.

An English gentleman named William Blane wrote an interesting book entitled An Excursion Through the United States and Canada During the Years 1822-1823. He wrote a lot of detail. He had this to say about hunting shirts in Kentucky:

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That excerpt is from Google Books, page 111.

Blue hunting shirts were evidently common on the southern frontier at that time. Daniel Boone was living in Missouri during the timeframe that interests you, and he wore one:

D. Boone - J.O. Lewis.jpg


It looks as if he is wearing buckskin leggings and moccasins, too. I have no doubt that shoes were popular, especially in the towns, but at least some people were still wearing moccasins. Meshach Browning made this comment in his book, Forty-Four Years of the Life of a Hunter:

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Browning was a professional hunter in the state of Maryland in the early 19th century. He lived on the frontier, where people were very self-reliant. They made and wore clothing of fabrics, but buckskins were certainly still in use, both as a material for clothing, and as an article of trade for other materials to be made into clothing:


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I think it is noteworthy that he mentioned flax and wool, but not cotton. I have understood that cotton fabrics were relatively less common at that time.

One final thought is that you'll probably want authentic kit to go with your rifle as you put your southern Appalachian persona together. Jim Webb wrote a little book about southern Appalachian hunting pouches some years ago, in addition to books about other accoutrements from that area. These have been out of print for quite a while, but the Contemporary Longrifle Association recently published an updated version of the hunting pouch book, which appears to include material on the other accoutrements as well:

Jim Webb Book.jpg


Powder horns and measures, vent picks, worms... all sorts of stuff is in there. It is profusely illustrated with tinted pen-and-ink drawings of the type you expect to see in the "sketchbook" type publications. He shows some rough patterns for several of the pouches. I bought a copy of the book and would recommend it. I ordered mine directly from CLA Publications.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
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I would just say that when building your impression, always look at paintings and drawings from the period that you want to portray. Look at all you can find. If it was painted after the period, forget it. You can go to some historic sites and date the paintings (of the same subject) by the clothes and accoutrements shown. Painters paint what they see around them and what will please their customers. Remember, they are first and foremost businessmen. Even the best of them will throw in an anachronism if they like it's looks.
 
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What an interesting thread, thanks everyone for the info!
Here are some pictures that I took at the Alamo of the bronze of Davey Crockett. The bronze was in the shade, but you can still see the clothing and implements pretty well.
 

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Notchy Bob

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I would just say that when building your impression, always look at paintings and drawings from the period that you want to portray. Look at all you can find. If it was painted after the period, forget it. You can go to some historic sites and date the paintings (of the same subject) by the clothes and accoutrements shown. Painters paint what they see around them and what will please their customers. Remember, they are first and foremost businessmen. Even the best of them will throw in an anachronism if they like it's looks.
I would agree with this, but I just don't know of any paintings dating from that period in the southern Appalachians. I am sure there are a few out there, and I have seen paintings from the lowlands and tidewater areas but usually depicting people of some means. In the Spanish southwest, there are the casta paintings showing all sorts of people. The mountain men had Miller, Bodmer, and Catlin (among others), and there are paintings from the French and Indian War and from the American Revolution. But paintings of southern frontiersmen, in their natural habitat? If anybody finds any of these, by all means let us know. Audubon was there, but apart from a portrait of Daniel Boone, he concentrated more on his wildlife art.

Good advice, but the images may be scarce. I'm sure there are some, but I haven't found them.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
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I would just say that when building your impression, always look at paintings and drawings from the period that you want to portray. Look at all you can find. If it was painted after the period, forget it. You can go to some historic sites and date the paintings (of the same subject) by the clothes and accoutrements shown. Painters paint what they see around them and what will please their customers. Remember, they are first and foremost businessmen. Even the best of them will throw in an anachronism if they like it's looks.
I think that applies to even contemporary painters.
The cartoon that shows frontiersman draw for the German market during the revolution shows what looks very much like a riflemans shirt, although there are many who do not think it very accurate.
The men are shown with beards, and great flowing ones at that.
German states at this time beards were popular in the general population, only the wealthy followed French shaving styles and were shaved.
Ok
So, were the American frontiersman really bearded? Or did the drawer reflect local ideas on ‘plebs’.
Miller put about all MM in skins, sales ledgers tell how much pre made cloth clothing went to ‘voo.
Catlin paints Indians all in skin and fur. ( and two cute Crow girls frolicking near nude)
Like MM the trading companies sent a lot of cloth in to trading centers.
That begs a question. Eastern Indians adopted cloth as quick as they could get it. And almost all paintings or drawings of eastern Indians show them in cloth.
Did Catlin avoid Indians in cloth for his subjects?
Even early photography had to be set up. There was no snap shots. So there was a tendency to get best dressed.
I’m a big fan of Bringham. However he tends to paint the rough of Missouri. Again did he make a snap shot or try to catch the feel.
People who came to see Catlins paintings wanted to see ‘wild Indians’. And Millers customers wanted to see the wild frontier. They could see folks dressed like laborers and working men out their front window.
We tend not to think of movies as the best area for research. So I’ll go out on a limb here.
Ron Howard’s ‘Heart of the Sea’ has some in Town scenes that I THINK reflects real good working men styles from cr 1820s. It’s the story of the whaling ship Essex, the inspiration of Moby Dick.
 
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Long pants didn't become popular in the U.S. until 1820 or later. John Quincy Adam's was the first President to wear long pants.
We have lots of description of long trousers from colonial days. ‘Overalls’ were worn by soldiers during the revolution.
Breaches were formal wear.
Wellington was refused entry in to a restaurant in the 1830s for his trousers, and a painting from the Mexican war showed an older gent still in breaches. Paintings show plenty of young gentleman in trousers by 1800. Some eighteenth century trousers
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oreclan

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Basic clothing styles changed slowly, especially in the back country. Mothers and grandmothers did not change their sewing styles from what they knew and what was economical. Hand- me - downs and altered and repaired or updated clothing was common. Nothing useable went to waste.
While it only took a few months for the latest fashion to come to the back country, so you could be in fashion ; if you could afford it.
Tailors ( a very common trade) made the fitted garments.
 
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Basic clothing styles changed slowly, especially in the back country. Mothers and grandmothers did not change their sewing styles from what they knew and what was economical. Hand- me - downs and altered and repaired or updated clothing was common. Nothing useable went to waste.
While it only took a few months for the latest fashion to come to the back country, so you could be in fashion ; if you could afford it.
Tailors ( a very common trade) made the fitted garments.

Good Stuff Sir!
 
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I certainly appreciate everyone's input here. I feel like it opens up more options than I had previously thought before. One would think that in some backwoods areas clothing style between late 18th century up to 1820s probably didn't change all that much. I may decide on some sort of transitional type outfit. Maybe breeches with some hi-lows, a hunting frock and large brim felt hat are some of the things i'm thinking of.
 
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We have lots of description of long trousers from colonial days. ‘Overalls’ were worn by soldiers during the revolution.
Breaches were formal wear.
Wellington was refused entry in to a restaurant in the 1830s for his trousers, and a painting from the Mexican war showed an older gent still in breaches. Paintings show plenty of young gentleman in trousers by 1800. Some eighteenth century trousersView attachment 141506 View attachment 141507 View attachment 141508 View attachment 141509 View attachment 141510
I didn't say they were unknown. I said they didn't become popular in America until about 1820. The Europeans adopted them before we did they were popular during the French Revolution. All your paintings are European and someone made a reference to the Mexican War which took place in the 1840's. Just stating historical fact.
 
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No, I don't think they were popular until roughly the 1820's. If you look at the picture of Daniel Boone, he's not wearing long pants, he's wearing leggings. There are no pictures of Washington in long pants. The pictures of War of 1812 soldiers show most of them wearing high spats or boots over their pants. Europeans adopted long pants before we did. There are examples of "lower class" or tradesmen wearing long pants so they weren't unknown.
 
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I didn't say they were unknown. I said they didn't become popular in America until about 1820. The Europeans adopted them before we did they were popular during the French Revolution. All your paintings are European and someone made a reference to the Mexican War which took place in the 1840's. Just stating historical fact.
I pointed to the Mexican war to show breechs we’re still being worn then.
What are you pointing to as evidence. That’s not a ‘smart’ question. I’m interested in why you said that.
I know Addams wore trousers but that was a formal occasion. Churchill would don breeches a century later when he went to report to the king, but again this was formal.
People of course didn’t change over over night because of style. And a young man of late teens or early twenties might be more bold in dress then mature thirty year old or a grumpy old man like me.
I would hazard that Addams had wore them all his life, so wasn’t going to change on becoming President.
I have been led to believe that after cr 1780-90 day to day wear was trouser except for gentleman or formal. Farmer John might keep a pair for go-to-meetin’, but sun up Monday saw him in trousers.
What’s your thinking on this?
 
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Well I guess we will agree to disagree, we know that long pants were worn by SOME in the 1700's (see tennguns posts above) and that the military saw some advantage to them to go to long pants in ALL uniforms by 1812.

Daniel Boones portrait may or may not have been what he was actually wearing as artists took license and he may have been a hold out for what he was comfortable with.

I do not think long pants were common in the mid 1700's but they were not unknown and became more common as time went on, it is an argument over the rate of transition, If the OP decided to wear long pants in his time period it should not be questioned, they may or may not have been common but they were not unknown. (I might have just repeated myself)
 
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I pointed to the Mexican war to show breechs we’re still being worn then.
What are you pointing to as evidence. That’s not a ‘smart’ question. I’m interested in why you said that.
I know Addams wore trousers but that was a formal occasion. Churchill would don breeches a century later when he went to report to the king, but again this was formal.
People of course didn’t change over over night because of style. And a young man of late teens or early twenties might be more bold in dress then mature thirty year old or a grumpy old man like me.
I would hazard that Addams had wore them all his life, so wasn’t going to change on becoming President.
I have been led to believe that after cr 1780-90 day to day wear was trouser except for gentleman or formal. Farmer John might keep a pair for go-to-meetin’, but sun up Monday saw him in trousers.
What’s your thinking on this?
Hi, Google "when did breeches go out of style" answer, mid 19th century.
 

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