Origin of the Cowboy Hat

One version goes back to the early 1800’s, and that the cowboy hat evolved from the Sombrero. And the Sombrero came from Muslim Spain.  From the Sombrero came the bowler hat, and the cowboy hat.  The story goes that cattle herders, arriving from the East to work on the plains, adopted the sombrero and remodelled it into the cowboy hat that is still currently worn today.

So, the first “cowboys” were the Muslims from Spain, then the Mexican herders of the Southwest. The favored hat of the Mexican vaquero was a broad rimmed hat with a high peaked crown, many times decorated with design stitching. The size of the largest brim was 30 galleon, which the new cowboys from the East called “30 Gallon”.

The Spanish herders were well estabilished in the cattle business long before the Americans headed West. Vaqueros perfected a style of handling cattle, and passed it onto the Anglos. But, cowboy hats were not called their present name for many years to come. Cowboy was not the popular term used by men working cattle. They preferred to be called cattlemen if they were ranchers, and the help was called a “hand”, with the best cowboy in the bunch being referred to as “Top Hand”. The term Cowboy was reserved for the drifters that wandered from ranch to ranch, never staying in one place too long.

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