Welcome Guest Pam Hillman!!!

The Boss of the Plains
The Boss of the Plains
Pam Hillman

Pam Hillman

I’ve always heard that the first thing a cowboy puts on when he rolls out of his blankets is his hat, followed immediately by his boots. After reading about the care John B. Stetson took to create a hat that demanded that kind of respect, I now believe it.

Stetson learned the hat trade from his father. In a time when being a hatter wasn’t considered a respectable trade, Stetson took his trade seriously. He wanted to make a durable, high quality hat best suited for the rugged west, the  cowboy, and the plainsmen who flooded west in the 1800s.
 
In 1865, Stetson headed west, and in a small rented facility, with his tools and barely enough money to purchase the fur he needed, he made his first hat that would eventually become known as the famous “Boss of the Plains”. The Boss became synonymous with hard-working, rough-housing, loyal cow punchers the world over, but especially in the American West.
 
At first glance, the “Boss of the Plains” doesn’t look like what we think of as the traditional cowboy hat. But that was the beauty of the design. Men could shape it however they wanted to. Picture a cowboy grabbing that hat over and over with three fingers. Eventually, the crown and the brim would crease in exactly the way the cowboy wanted it to.The high crown provided insulation and a bit of air-space for ventilation for the top of the head. The wide brim offered protection from the harsh sun, rain, wind. But probably the most innovative part of the Boss was that it was made from the underbelly of 42 beaver pelts and was extremely durable, lightweight, and waterproof.
 
While I haven’t tested a Stetson myself, I’ve seen movies and read books that made me wonder how someone could continue to ride in the deluge of hours and hours of rain and not get soaked through. According to history, some Stetsons were so waterproof, they could be used as buckets, and at least one story tells of a cowboy whose canteen sprung a leak, and he used his Stetson to carry water across the desert. And while I’ve never seen someone offering water to another person out of a hat, I’ve seen it many times in movies. I might have scoffed at that before I discovered how watertight these hats were.
 
Dodge City Peace Commission
The Dodge City Peace Commission, some wearing The Boss
 
Not only could the Boss double as a bucket, the wide brim served as an umbrella against rain and shaded the eyes against the relentless sun. The brim could be tented to provide a drinking cup as needed, or pulled down and tied over the ears to protect against frost-bite.
 
It was the bellows that fanned many a campfire into existence and, in reverse, was also the bucket that carried the water to douse the fire when breaking camp. The hat was doffed at pretty ladies, and swatted against a pokey horse’s flank to escape a raiding war party.
 
Rolled up, it became a pillow at night, or the extra bit of padding to ease a sore shoulder or aching back. Waved over the head, it was easily spotted from long distances. In a shoot-out, it was hoisted on a stick to draw fire to scout out the location of the enemy. And it was removed and held over the heart when saying goodbye to another cowboy as the final prayer was said over his grave.
 
It’s no wonder that a cow puncher forked over as much as two to six months’ wages on his hat. And not surprising that he’d defend such a purchase with his life and his Colt 45!
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Want more? Check out this cool video: The Making of a Stetson Hat
  • Pam is giving away an autographed copy of Stealing Jake to one lucky reader. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. If you had to pick someone from movies, TV, or your own backyard who looks great in a Stetson (or any cowboy hat), who would you pick?
Stealing Jake Board

STEALING JAKE by Pam Hillman. When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-Fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy?literally while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town?as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off?Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

 
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com

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64 Comments

  1. If I had to pick just one person who looked good in a cowboy hat it would have to be George Strait. He also looks good in his Wrangler jeans too! The great thing about him is not only is he a wonderful country singer but he is a REAL cowboy who rides in rodeos and works his ranch. I’m smilin’ here. He does that to me.

    Pam I would love to win a copy of <i?Stealing Jake. Thank you for the chance.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. And he can sing, too! The many talents of George Strait! 🙂 So good to see you this morning, Cindy. Happy to be visiting with P&P today. 🙂

  2. I did not know the information in this post. I do know about Derby hats more.

    1. Debra, what’s your fascination with Derby’s? Geographical locale? Ancestral? I have my grandfather’s hat. It might be a Derby, but it has a bit of a wider brim than I thought a Derby has. I need to get it out and see if I can tell what it is. A couple of the hats in the photo of the Dodge City Peace Commission might be Derby hats… or something similar. What do you think? It’s hard to tell.

  3. Your book sounds like a good read!

    1. Thank you, Ashley. So glad it caught your attention. Blessings and thank you for stopping by.

  4. I love American history. Thank you for sharing about Stetson. I learned something new today. Your new book sounds exciting and fun!

    1. Dawn, good to see you. Isn’t history fascinating? I’d just never thought about all the amazing uses for a waterproof Stetson. I imagine if we put more thought into it, we’d come up with more. 🙂

  5. Ooooh, can I answer the question? I’m using Christian Bale from 3:10 to Yuma as the inspiration from my current hero. And then there’s Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott. And that’s just the beginning…

  6. Pam, I love your post today and I love your choices for wearing their hats well. Tom and Sam certainly do justice to a hat! Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove…great cowboys and great hat wearers!

    Thank you for the giveaway! Today is my 60th birthday so I am keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. Great choices, Melanie! And Happy Birthday. Hope you had cake and a great book to read. Enjoy your special day!

  7. Always up for a good western.

    1. Kim, so glad you stopped by. Hope you get a chance to read Stealing Jake. Blessings!

  8. It’s hard to pick one man in a cowboy hat. I like all the guys who grace the covers of romance novels wearing stetsons.

    I just returned from a visit to Ridgeway, Colorado. There I visited the TRUE GRIT cafe dedicated to John Wayne and his movie which was filmed there. So I’ll pick Hollywood legend, John Wayne.

    1. Laurie, I cut my teeth on John Wayne westerns, so I’m right there with you. The Duke is definitely a legend. Yeah, I know he starred in non-western movies, but he’ll always be a cowboy to me. So glad you tossed his name into the mix today.

  9. Hmmm, don’t know… so many great looking ones especially on the covers of books!

    1. Colleen, sounds like a book-browsing field trip is in order. All n the name of research, you understand! 😉

  10. Wow, who knew so much interesting info was involved in the Stetson! 42 beaver underbellies?! That seems like a whole lot. 🙂 I love me a good cowboy hat. I have a black one and a white one and love to wear them.

    1. Susan, it sounded like a lot to me, too. When I was a teen, my brother trapped beaver. He made a good bit of money for a couple of years trapping beaver. For some reason I never went with him to the swamp. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to swampy areas. 🙁

  11. Oh, I think all cowboys need their cowboy hat. It’s part of the attraction (well that and heir fit bodies lol).

    1. There’s just something about a cowboy, isn’t there, Catslady?

  12. I have to go with Sam Elliott, he is the perfect cowboy to me voice and all.

    1. He does have the voice, doesn’t he? You gotta have that drawl, that country western twang.

  13. Lyle Lovett wears a cowboy hat since he is an authentic man, Texan, and rancher. So appealing.

    1. And he can sing. You gotta give him that. I haven’t listened to a Lyle Lovett song in a while. Just watched a couple of his youtube videos. Okay, “In My Own Mind” was a bit weird. lol

  14. Gary Cooper in High Noon would be my ultimate favorite. When men were men.

    1. I remember snippets of High Noon, and it’s been years and years… okay, and YEARS since I saw it.

  15. Clint Eastwood in any of his Westerns is the best.

    1. Ellie, now that Clint. The Outlaw Josie Wales. 🙂

  16. When I think about cowboys wearing a Stetson I see James Garner.

    1. True, he played in lots of westerns, didn’t he. Bret Maverick. 🙂 I guess I think of him more when he played that detective show for so long…where he lived in a trailer. The Rockford Files, maybe? But, yes, if you look at his portfolio, lots of great westerns and cowboy pics of him. 🙂

  17. I just looked up the 10 best screen cowboys of all time. The list includes John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart….

    And…..

    WOODY!!! Go Woody! 🙂

  18. This was a fun read. Thank you for sharing. As for who wears a cowboy hat well, I would say bull riders. My hubby and I watch a lot of pro bull riding.

    Thank you so much,
    Stephanie C.

    1. Amen, Stephanie. Those are some tough duds. A guy who graduated with my son rides bulls. His mama and grandmother are perpetual WRECKS!

      1. They could be the toughest guys around. If I was a bull riders mama or grandmama I would be a wreck too! Those guys keep their guardian angels mighty buys!

  19. Scott Eastwood

    1. Brandy, I just saw a picture of Scott Eastwood on my Facebook feed this week. Yep, I have to agree with you there.

  20. What a fun question! I think Scott Eastwood looks good in a cowboy hat. Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Okay, this is turning into a Scott Eastwood fest! 😉 He might turn out to be the cowboy of the day and give his old man a run for the money.

  21. I would say that all the cowboys at the rodeo look great in Stetsons. We loved going to the Mesquite Rodeo when we lived in Texas.

    1. Maryann, I agree. A cowboy doesn’t have to be famous, on the big screen, or even extremely handsome. If he’s a nice guy, respects his elders and isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty, then he’s got my vote.

  22. Hi, Pam! I loved learning about the Boss of the Plains! John Wayne comes to mind when I think of a cowboy and his hat.

    1. John Wayne would be on the top of the list for most of us, wouldn’t he? There are so many great actors from the generation before as well as wonderful new talent.

  23. Pam! Fun to see you here! I didn’t realize how waterproof the hat was. I do know it takes a l-o-n-g time to get a hat just the way you want it.

    Who looks good in a Stetson? Who doesn’t? 🙂

    (P.S. Don’t enter me in the drawing … but so glad to see it in print!)

    1. Who looks good in a Stetson? Who doesn’t? 🙂

      You nailed it, Nancy! lol And getting the hat just right… it’s like a worn pair of jeans or a comfy shirt. Who hasn’t had a shirt so worn that it’s almost an embarrassment, but it’s just gotten to the point of “But that’s my FAVORITE shirt!!!” 🙂

      So glad to see you over here in P&P!

  24. The first man to come to mind is Sam Elliott. He’s a perfect cowboy!

    Thanks for the history lesson on the Stetson!

    1. Chalk another one up for Mr. Sam! Glenda, you have good taste in cowboys. 🙂

  25. My vote for best looking cowboy in a stetson would be Tom Selleck. In his roles as a cowboy, he wore the hat with authenticity. It was dusty, battered, and had obviously seen some use.
    Congratulations on STEALING JAKE. It sounds like a thoughtful, enjoyable read. I hope it does we’ll.

    1. Thank you, Patricia. I’m so excited to see Stealing Jake in print. 🙂

      And, you are so right about being authentic. I’m a country girl, raised on a cattle ranch/farm in MS. My Cowboy still run a pretty hefty number of cattle (btw, for those who pray, we could use some rain in the heart of MS)… Anyway, as I was saying, sometimes I see actors and actresses, book covers, or I’m searching for just the right image to convey my next hero or heroine, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny how some of these oh-so-squeaky-clean-just-off-the-rack guys and gals and their clothes pass for real cowboys, cowgirls, and/or pioneers.

      Trust me, nobody looks like that after a day in the saddle, six months on the trail, or even a day of working cattle in August in MS when it’s 99 in the shade.

      It ain’t happening. 🙂

      1. I was in the Peace Corps and some times took carriages, a calaysa ( a rather basic 2 wheel version that is anything but comfortable and enclosed) to barrio schools. It was over dry dirt roads and a dusty trip. So often you see cowboys in the movies slap their hats on their jeans and dust puffs out. I have no doubt that is true. After riding the calaysa I could slap my dress or skirt and had the same effect. I thought maybe they were exaggerating. No more. Riding drag on a trail drive would leave one so dust covered you wouldn’t know who it was.

  26. I loved this Pam. My cowboy Joe in his Stetson and boots was a handsome man. He did love his hats and boots. I loved Sam Elliot too. But my favorite cowboy , other than my husband was always John Wayne, And was thrilling when I got to meet him and talk with him and get pictures. Would love your book. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    1. MAXIEEEEEEEE!!!! You got your picture made with JOHN WAYNE????? Lucky girl!!!! But, I can tell that as much as you treasure that experience, the pics and memories of you and YOUR JOE outweigh the other a hundred-fold. Your cowboy was blessed to have you.

  27. Kevin Bacon.

    And I had my choice made by the time I got to “Who would you like to see in…” No matter what follows, my choice is the same.

    This was a fascinating blog post, Pam, and the Stetson material is something I would never have learned about any other way.

    As my beta drafts of my first novels are still about eight months out, it was also refreshing and encouraging to see what their long term perspective could look like.

    Thanks so much.

    1. Linnie, that’s too funny that you had your answer on the ready. You sound like a woman that knows her mind! 🙂

  28. My grandfather never wore anything but a Stetson. My dad did too. I do wonder if the cowboys really did put his books on second, though. How did he get his pats on over his boots? Just askin’.

    1. Good question, Whitney. If he was on the trail, he probably slept in his pants. If he was caught in the bunkhouse during a shootout in the middle of the night, well, I’d grab my gun first, then my boots, then my hat. Pants would probably be an afterthought!

  29. Very interesting, I clicked on the link to see the making of a Stetson. Now I want one. Hmmm.

    Who looks good in a hat? My sweetie! 🙂 Look forward to reading your book someday too.

    1. Kathy, wasn’t that amazing? I enjoyed watching that video as well. I hope you enjoy Stealing Jake as well. Blessings!

  30. Another interesting post, with so much I didn’t know. Although in the movies the cowboys are never ever without their hats. I think I want to see Tom Selleck in a Stetson. I wonder if that is what he was wearing in “Quigley Down Under.”

    1. Sally, I’m not sure if that’s a Stetson in Quigley or not. But according to my friend, Mr. Google, Quigley’s hat came from (or is similar to) a hat from http://www.knudsenhats.com/quigley-down-under.html

      1. That’s great, thanks for the link. No idea what I would do with it but since I love the movie I may just have to have one.

  31. Pam- My cowboys choices in a cowboy hat are: John Wayne, Clint & Scott Eastwood, Cheyenne and Tom Selleck. Love live cowboys!!! Thanks, for the chance to win your book.

    1. Great choices, Lois! I heartily agree. 🙂

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