1800-1820s Woodsman apparel?

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Beau Robbins

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Here's my portrayal from last summers bicentennial of the the Florida annexation. I was portraying Charles Vignoles, the first US surveyor for the FL territory. He was very well traveled and spent many months surveying in remote areas from the Carolinas to all over Florida.

Summer wear lasts much longer in the Southeast. The trousers are fall front in a white linen. There's a cotton block print waistcoat, and the unlined summer coat is an exact copy of an original in my collection with VA provenance. It's a thin unlined hemp cotton blend. I'm actually not wearing a shirt, but only a dickey patterned from photographs of a couple originals. I was relatively comfortable in this sort of outfit all weekend with highs into the 90s.

Lindsey woolsey is great for the period, but don't rule out jeans or Virginia cloth. Cotton is relatively common by 1820, especially in the South. Boots should only be considered if riding, otherwise stick with walking shoes. Lose the buckskins unless it's very chilly, and dear God please, if wearing a hunting shirt, please make one patterned from an original. All off the rack shirts and patterns are atrocious.
 
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Beau Robbins

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How do you keep them white pants white.
No matter how ‘spiffy’ I look about five minutes in camp or woods turn me in to Joe Sh** the rag man
You wash them? During the period very few textiles could survive the washing process outside of undyed plant fibres. Anything expected to soil would be usually constructed from white or natural linen... You know, like shirts and undergarments? Besides, nothing is cooler. Most summer wear, including outerwear was all white linen anyway.
 
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Just a note on shoes/boots with laces; some years back I was searching and came across a 'period write up' about Lacing. It talked about most period laced shoes being Straight Laced. Even today high end leather shoe makers Straight Lace their shoes. The article stated that cobblers, especially in Europe, take offense to crossed places as it "covers up their leather work and makes the shoe looked messy" it went on saying that even today many Europeans even kids with tennis shoes straight lace them.

Well it got me to thinking so I looked into it more, and I did begin to see straight lacing, especially in period shoes and boots, in paintings and drawings.

Now comes the benefit side: most period and modern articles on the subject speak of how Straight Lacing takes the pressure off the top of the arch, where those of us with high arches and wide feet get pain, pinching, from shoes - that's me!

I have since changed all my period shoes and boots to straight laced; trekker boots from Crazy Crow, Victorian dress shoes from Gentleman's Emporium, western shoes my wife brought home from her days working on movie sets.
The pain and binding on my arch are Gone, and the footwear does look more period!
Even my Army Surplus combat boots with 'zip laces' I changed to a modified straight lace following instructions I found on YouTube by a Guardsmen who spoke of pain across the arch.

Anyway, just thought I would pass it along, sorry I dont recall the specific article that got me started but if you have pain in that area from high arch and wide feet and you cross lace like American modern shoes, you might want to look into it.

As for my wide EE toe area, I still end up taking most non-custom made shoes in to have them stretched once or twice.
 

Notchy Bob

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Just a note on shoes/boots with laces; some years back I was searching and came across a 'period write up' about Lacing. It talked about most period laced shoes being Straight Laced. Even today high end leather shoe makers Straight Lace their shoes. The article stated that cobblers, especially in Europe, take offense to crossed places as it "covers up their leather work and makes the shoe looked messy" it went on saying that even today many Europeans even kids with tennis shoes straight lace them.

Well it got me to thinking so I looked into it more, and I did begin to see straight lacing, especially in period shoes and boots, in paintings and drawings.

Now comes the benefit side: most period and modern articles on the subject speak of how Straight Lacing takes the pressure off the top of the arch, where those of us with high arches and wide feet get pain, pinching, from shoes - that's me!

I have since changed all my period shoes and boots to straight laced; trekker boots from Crazy Crow, Victorian dress shoes from Gentleman's Emporium, western shoes my wife brought home from her days working on movie sets.
The pain and binding on my arch are Gone, and the footwear does look more period!
Even my Army Surplus combat boots with 'zip laces' I changed to a modified straight lace following instructions I found on YouTube by a Guardsmen who spoke of pain across the arch.

Anyway, just thought I would pass it along, sorry I dont recall the specific article that got me started but if you have pain in that area from high arch and wide feet and you cross lace like American modern shoes, you might want to look into it.

As for my wide EE toe area, I still end up taking most non-custom made shoes in to have them stretched once or twice.
Very interesting post, @Mad L ! However, I'm not sure I understand what is meant by "straight lacing." Can you show a picture or two?

Thanks!

Notchy Bob
 
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Very interesting post, @Mad L ! However, I'm not sure I understand what is meant by "straight lacing." Can you show a picture or two?

Thanks!

Notchy Bob
Here is a couple photos, shoes and boots. The Trekker boot sits next to my tennis shoe that is 'cross laced'.
As to HOW to do it, you will have to Google for instructions.
It's kind of complicated at first also the shoe/boot needs the correct number of eyes else there are modified versions.
All my historic shoes and the Trekker have correct number.
Also the length of lace matters, straight lacing takes less lace so in case of boots you lost wrap around the ankle.
It's all explained the the many tutorials out there.

Just google Straight Lacing or How to Straght Lace Shoes for both written and video tutorials - you will also find links to shoe makers and high end shoe stores explaining it all and the history as well
 

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Do you treat any of your roughout shoes with anything? I was looking at some hi lows and noticed they appear to be left with no stain or finish, and was wondering if people treated them with things like beeswax or left them as is?
 
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Do you treat any of your roughout shoes with anything? I was looking at some hi lows and noticed they appear to be left with no stain or finish, and was wondering if people treated them with things like beeswax or left them as is?
The Trekker boots above and my replica Whydah shoes from Loyalist Arm (not shown) are both treated with "Montana Pitch" (a pine pitch blend, the paste not the liquid).
It is NOT a water "proofer" but does make them water 'repellent'. And it will darken leather (some more then others). You can see my Trekkers only darkened a shade or so (the rest is just dirt, they are about 4 years old now). I have used it on veg tan leather and even buckskin - buckskin darkens more. It looks Dark at first but lightens up after it dries. It is even used on expensive horse tackle.
My Whydah shoes have had a few dunks in ocean water and the Trekkers crossed a couple creeks, they have held up fine (the Whydah shoes are over 10 years old now and none the less for wear)
 

DixieTexian

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On cotton, you can look up records of cotton gins in the area you are depicting. If you can find cotton gins, there would have been cotton clothing available for pretty much all classes.
As far as hunting shirts go, I suspect that at some point during this time period the capes became optional and possibly even fell out of style eventually. For instance, this portrait of Stephen F. Austin reportedly from his 1833 trip to Mexico City depicts him in a capeless hunting shirt and matching trousers or leggings.
ff_gallery_1.jpg


If you look at the Davy Crocket Almanacs (published in Nashville beginning around 1835) there are more depictions of him wearing a hunting shirt without a cape than there are of him wearing one with a cape. There are also plenty of depictions of normal coats, etc. being worn, so that isn't to say that a hunting shirt is mandatory.
9-davy-crockett-1786-1836-granger.jpg

This appears to be one trimmed with fur.

sc-davy-crockett-almanac-1839-desperate-fight-with-two-catamountswtmk3.jpg

From the 1839 one. Based on the fact that it is belted closed, I would call it a hunting shirt. Could be the artist didn't want to draw fringe on it, or it could be just a regular coat and he happens to be wearing a belt for other reasons.

sc-davy-crockett-almanac-1847-crocket-riding-his-expresswtmk.jpg


This last one is from 1847, so well after the time period you are interested in. There appears to be fringe on the bottom, but lapels like a coat.

I would expect these Almanacs to depict frontier styles at the time, but some of the later ones may have been published back east, so I would rely less on their illustrations. However, if they are accurate it would lend support to my theory that hunting shirts got more and more coat like through the early to mid nineteenth century, losing the cape and gaining a tailored cut somewhere along the way, until they essentially became the western fringed jacket.
 
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On cotton, you can look up records of cotton gins in the area you are depicting. If you can find cotton gins, there would have been cotton clothing available for pretty much all classes.
As far as hunting shirts go, I suspect that at some point during this time period the capes became optional and possibly even fell out of style eventually. For instance, this portrait of Stephen F. Austin reportedly from his 1833 trip to Mexico City depicts him in a capeless hunting shirt and matching trousers or leggings.
ff_gallery_1.jpg


If you look at the Davy Crocket Almanacs (published in Nashville beginning around 1835) there are more depictions of him wearing a hunting shirt without a cape than there are of him wearing one with a cape. There are also plenty of depictions of normal coats, etc. being worn, so that isn't to say that a hunting shirt is mandatory.
9-davy-crockett-1786-1836-granger.jpg

This appears to be one trimmed with fur.

sc-davy-crockett-almanac-1839-desperate-fight-with-two-catamountswtmk3.jpg

From the 1839 one. Based on the fact that it is belted closed, I would call it a hunting shirt. Could be the artist didn't want to draw fringe on it, or it could be just a regular coat and he happens to be wearing a belt for other reasons.

sc-davy-crockett-almanac-1847-crocket-riding-his-expresswtmk.jpg


This last one is from 1847, so well after the time period you are interested in. There appears to be fringe on the bottom, but lapels like a coat.

I would expect these Almanacs to depict frontier styles at the time, but some of the later ones may have been published back east, so I would rely less on their illustrations. However, if they are accurate it would lend support to my theory that hunting shirts got more and more coat like through the early to mid nineteenth century, losing the cape and gaining a tailored cut somewhere along the way, until they essentially became the western fringed jacket.
We see so few historic shirts, I think there are three from the Revolution. One is known with pockets. It’s often thought that the shirt evolved from the workers smock.
Those didn’t have capes.
We know they were used as uniform for militia in the war of 1812 and well in to the black hawk war. The blue with red fringe was popular.
However I doubt that they were regular. Big capes, tiny capes, no capes, double capes, little fringe, lots of fringe, I honestly doubt that going with the basic style of the times one can go wrong.
Mountain man sketch book has a ‘civilized tribe’ coat from cr 1840 Oklahoma that was woolen, with similar styles in skin and stripped cotton, that’s every-bit a basic riflemans shirt except for a gusset fit between the front and back on the sides giving it a flared body.
 

DixieTexian

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I'll have to look back, but I'm pretty sure I've seen extant Native American garments that pretty much fit the definition of a hunting shirt from the time. I've even seen instructions on how to make them that pretty much line up with how the Europeans made them, except the cape was more of a triangular shape. I wonder if the Indian wars and removals in the early to mid 1800's shifted public opinion on the frontier about capes and ended up with them being left off so as not to be associated with those "savages?"

In the late 1830's, Friedrich Gerstäcker was around the Texas/Louisiana border when his coat was destroyed in an encounter with a bear if I recall correctly, and he managed to find his way into a Native American village where he was able to trade for a wool hunting shirt. He later remarked about finding more appropriate clothing so he wouldn't look like an Indian, so maybe there is some truth to this. I'll have to look up the quotes later, but they can easily be found by finding the public domain texts for Wild Sports in the Far West and searching for hunting shirt, or even just searching for the word shirt and filtering through the results to make sure nothing is missed.
 

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