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).
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.