This hat can not hold ten gallons so why do we call this a ten-gallon hat? Her is the answer [pictures]

Most people think it is because the hat will hold ten gallons, but as you can see by the large hats below, the most a large hat could hold would be a few quarts.

Man from Jacksonville, East Texas Oct 1939 – Photograph by Russell Lee

man from East Texas

 

Cowboy. Imperial County Fair, California photographer Russell Lee 1942 Cowboy. Imperial County Fair, California photographer Russell Lee 1943

A famous ad for the Stetson company once depicted a cowpoke giving his weary horse a drink from the crown of his hat.

Stetson Ad from 1924

Stetson Hat Advertising 1924

 

The nickname (10 gallon hat)  became popular around the 1920s, when silent film stars like Tom Mix and Tim McCoy helped popularize the oversized hat in Hollywood Westerns.

Men in Eldorado, Texas Nov. 1939 by photographer Russell Lee

men at auction Russell Lee Nov. 1939

“Most experts argue that the name “10-gallon hat” is actually an import from south of the border. Cattle drivers and ranchers in Texas and the Southwest often crossed paths with Mexican vaqueros who sported braided hatbands—called “galóns” in Spanish—on their sombreros. A “10 galón” sombrero was a hat with a large enough crown that it could hold 10 hatbands, but American cowboys may have anglicized the word to “gallon” and started referring to their own sombrero-inspired headgear as “10-gallon hats.”

Mexican cowboy sharpening his knife. Roundup near Marfa, Texas photographer Russell Lee May 1939

Mexican cowboy sharpening his knife. Roundup near Marfa, Texas photographer Russell Lee May 1939

Another theory argues that the name is a corruption of the Spanish phrase “tan galán” —roughly translated as “very gallant” or “really handsome”—which may have been used to describe the majestic image of a hat-wearing cowboy in the saddle.

 Cowboy on horse with equipment on cattle ranch near Spur, Texas by photographer Russell Lee May 1939

Cowboy on horse with equipment on cattle ranch near Spur, Texas by photographer Russell Lee May 1939

Whatever its origin, the 10-gallon hat wasn’t even the preferred headgear for most people in the Wild West—top hats and bowlers were more common.

Cowboys and spectators at Ashland rodeo, Montana August 1941 by photographer Marion Post Wolcott

Cowboys and spectators at Ashland rodeo, Montana 1941 by photographer Marion Post Wolcott

A group of Texas cowboys 1901 photographer William Henry Jackson Detroit Publishing Company

A group of Texas cowboys 1901 photographer William Henry Jackson Detroit Publishing CompanyThe 10-gallon hat went on to earn a place as a quintessential piece of the frontier wardrobe, and presidents like Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson would later use them to cultivate a rustic image while serving as commander in chief.

President Lyndon Baines JohnsonPresident lyndon baines johnson

President Harry TrumanShooter-Truman-Harry-with

As family historian, do you have friends and family ask you how to get started in family research? This is a hard question to answer in a few minutes. Refer them to the book below to help them get started in this fun hobby. Purchase several – Books make great Christmas gifts!

Where Do I Start?: HINTS and TIPS for BEGINNING GENEALOGISTS with ONLINE RESOURCE


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Where Do I Start?: HINTS and TIPS for BEGINNING GENEALOGISTS with ONLINE RESOURCE


Features: Where Do I Start
By (author): Donna R Causey

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me

All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

3 Responses to This hat can not hold ten gallons so why do we call this a ten-gallon hat? Her is the answer [pictures]

  1. Bill Schultz says:

    Looking for a 10 gallon hat, red, party hat.

  2. Chelsea Klomp says:

    Where can I find a poster of a list of pictures of 10 gallon Stetson hats throughout history?

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