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Buckskin Clad, Al Sieber's Hat On Wyatt Earp's Head

April 12, 2012

   A friend of mine, Wayne Jorgenson, is doing a self-published book on Al Sieber and the Men of the First Minnesota (Sieber fought in this unit in the Civil War and was seriously wounded at Gettysburg). Wayne sent me a couple photos asking where the originals might be and who to credit. One of them I had not seen before. This is Al Sieber with his Apache Scouts at Camp Verde in 1880:

Here is a close up of Al and his great hat:

Love the hat and I think this is probably the style of hat Wyatt Earp wore on the so-called Vendetta Ride. Now what's interesting to me, is he seems to be wearing the same exact shirt as in this 1877 photograph:

And, the hat is pretty close as well. I also think it's interesting that Al is wearing full blown buckskin pants and jacket, yet years later, when he was defending Tom Horn as a character witness, Sieber claimed:

"In regard to my picture, I have none here, and have no show at present to have one taken, and as for my scouting costume, it was ever the same as that of any roving man; for, during my twenty-one years of fighting and hunting Indians, I never wore long hair or buckskin clothes."

—Al Sieber, Roosevelt, A.T., April 7, 1904

Really, Al? What the hell were you smokin'?

Anyway, here are a couple sketches I made this morning trying to ferret out his style:

And here is a tighter one:

"I'm not interested in accuracy, I'm only interested in the truth."

—Kid Burns

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Comment by Murray A. Gewirtz on April 12, 2012 at 12:53pm

Why did Sieber's style of dress and haircut become an issue in Tom Horn's trial? Was it that respectable folk at that time considered those who wore buckskins and long hair, like J.B. Hickok or the mountain men, to be --- "troublemakers," or proto-hippies?

Comment by Bob Boze Bell on April 12, 2012 at 1:41pm

I'm not sure, but in context with the letters supporting Horn, he was trying to distance himself from a "buckskin clad ne'er do well" even though he describes himself as a "roving man."" Seems odd at any rate.

Comment by Jim Holden on April 12, 2012 at 2:03pm

Now that is a "stylin'" shirt that Al is displaying, and it seems it lasted him a few years in hard use...or maybe he only wore it for photographs?  Anyway, it gives the falsehood that our frontier heros weren't just real dandy's in their dress.  Although I'm not a fan of the hat, from a style point of view, it looks really utilitarian.  Now I need to find someone making a copy of that shirt.......at least I'm not buying a car that matches my hat!  :-)

Comment by Bob Boze Bell on April 12, 2012 at 2:15pm

You are correct, Jim. My car matches my hat exactly and I wouldn't have it any other way. But you are right: how come nobody makes that shirt. I've seen similar, but not the same as this. I would pay to have one.

Comment by anthony martin on April 12, 2012 at 2:56pm

  Bob,

    If you look carefully at the two photographs these seem to be two different shirts-one bib slightly more pointed than the other.I just finished making two piped bib fronts for my friend Lobo about a month ago-one in grey with white piping and one in indigo with red.You're right- none of the commercial makers of old west attire turn this out.

Comment by Murray A. Gewirtz on April 12, 2012 at 4:07pm

Wow! So Al Sieber, in his wide hat and buckskins, would have been a troublemaking ne'er-do-well!

Comment by Jim Hatzell on April 16, 2012 at 1:55pm

Half of the Officer's in Custer's 7th Cavalry were wearing a shirt very similar to this one...and they were all made from the same pattern.(I forgot which wife had the original)Most, if not all were

 dark blue with white piping. Billy the Kid had a similar shirt in his tintype...under the wooly jumper. By the way, this style was also referred to as a "fireman's shirt" in the 19th Century.

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