Who Invented Cowboy Boots?

By | November 17, 2010

What’s a cowboy without a good pair of boots? The two are inseparable since cowboy boots are designed to protect cowboys from injury and possibly death while riding a horse. Thanks to the vision of one man from Kansas City, cowboys can safely ride off into the sunset.

Charles Hyer learned to make boots from his German father William who migrated to the United Stats in the mid-1800s  In 1872, Charles moved to Olathe, the fourth largest city in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, to work for the Olathe School for the Deaf where he taught shoe and harness making. He later asked his brother Edward to help him run a small shoe shop called Hyer Brothers Boots.

The story goes that in 1875, a Colorado cowboy visited the shop and asked Charles to make a new pair of boots with pointed toes, high heels, and scalloped fronts and backs. These boots would allow cowboys to slide easily into a stirrup, hold the stirrup, and get in and out of their boots quickly, The design differed greatly from the Civil War-style boots that were popular at that time but Charles couldn’t refuse a customer and the first cowboy boots were born,

As word spread abut the new boots, the brothers were swamped with many orders and the Hyer Boot Company was founded in 1880. Employing mostly immigrant boot makers from Germany, Sweden and Poland, the brothers made cowboy boots for cattlemen, rodeo performers and movie stars like Buffalo Bill Cody, Tom Mix, Will Rogers, and Gene Autry. Mail-order catalogs were also used to promote their boots.

The company remained in business for about a hundred years before it was sold to the Ben Miller Boot Company of El Paso, Texas in 1977. However, Charles’ legacy continued at the Olathe Boot Company which employs several former Hyer employees and remains in business to this day.

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