Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jessie's Boots

Friday's Featured Foto this week, stars two of our handsome ancestors and their BOOTS! What great boots! The more I look at this great photo, the more I have to wonder about those boots. Jesse Silas Hopkins, pictured on the right, is shown with his two sisters: Theresa "Rettie" Ann and Jane Eliza. They are pictured with their cousin, Aronah Hopkins on the left. The photo was taken in Stephenville, Texas around the year 1895. These boys were very obviously proud of their boots! A new research project is in the making to try and find out more about their prized foot ware. One is lured into the thought of exciting days in the old west, but sadly, the reality of life steps back in.

Jesse Silas was born at Ripley, Tippah Co., Mississippi and first went to Texas between 1882 and 1885 with his father and mother and settled around the Stephenville area. In August of 1897, Jesse Silas Hopkins was united in marriage to Flora Virginia McPherson while still in Texas. For a short time in the early 1900's he homesteaded near Kenna, New Mexico but eventually returned to the Stephenville area. Most of his life was spent building road and railroad grades using teams of horses and mules to pull the heavy construction equipment in the early years. Jesse took his wife and four surviving children and began to move northward through Colorado and into Wyoming, building irrigation ditches and grades. The work was hard and both Jesse and Flora put in long, arduous hours working and taking care of crew and family.They eventually ended up in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and remained there for the rest of their lives. Jesse's children graduated from school in Scottsbluff and eventually migrated back to the state of Wyoming. Jesse and Flora are both buried in Scottsbluff, Nebraska- far from the state of Texas and the seemingly romantic western setting of the photo with the young men and their new boots.

The beautiful 1880's style boots that "the boys" wore in the picture were typical of the style of boot that evolved after the civil war. They were often designed after European riding boots and served the cowboys and working men in this country. I would love to know more about their boots and wonder if they both purchased the same style and maker boots or if they were studio props for the photo? I am willing to think they were the proud owners as they sure did make a point to "show" the boots off for the photo. One can make out part of the name on them as ____Banner boots. Needless to say, we love the photo and cherish the memory of our Great Grandfather Jesse and our other Hopkins ancestors.

Our cousin, Gene Hopkins had a photocopy which he generously shared with us and Melissa McCoy Bell found one of the original prints that she also gave us a copy of. Thank you to them both!


  1. Those are awfully fine boots (and I'm a real boot addict). I also wonder sometimes if the finery some of my ancestors have appeared wearing in photographs is theirs; in one of my pictures, a great aunt is wearing some really fancy button-up boots (which I'd die for).

  2. Great boots and lovely old photograph. Let's hope their hard life and tough work earned them enough to purchase such stylish and practical boots. Let us know how you get on with your research.

  3. You might want to take a look at the book "I See By Their Outfit" on the boots. This book details period cowboy gear, and might provide a little insight on the footgear.