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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, October 12, 2009
Texas Trouble: Readers Respond
Posted by Maureen

It's been three weeks since the first post on the photos of two Texas men with mysterious decorations on their shirts. In the second column, I really didn't have much to add, but since then, readers have sent in their suggestions/comments.

Here's the latest news.

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The Smith County Historical Society couldn't find anything relevant in their archives, but the staff members will keep their eyes peeled just in case something shows up. I really appreciate their help.

Kim Lawonn and a couple of other folks wrote to me with a suggestion, "Could the men be wearing early Western-style shirts?" It's possible. In the 1860s, most shirts lacked collars and closed with the double-butto,n as seen here. I'm looking for proof.

Beni Downing sent me a long e-mail outlining her thoughts. She's an avid needleworker. Beni wants me to consider that the shirts were made for a special occasion, such as a wedding, and to think about a Central European origin. I'm intrigued by the first suggestion.  As far as I know, Peggy Batchelor Hamlett doesn't have any central European ancestry.

Beni wishes she could see the shirts more closely. I second that desire!  Here are close-ups for further inspection.

Above is a close-up of the design from the left-hand photo.

Here's the pattern from the right hand photo.

Both Kim and Beni's suggestions have merit. These elaborate designs are similar to patterns seen in needlework. The eight-pointed star is a common quilt design. 

Beni's suggested I have my genealogist/needlework hobbyists check needlework pattern books for matches. Good idea! Beni has already looked in her books on Scandinavian designs.

I really think we're getting closer to solving this one.  I'll be in touch with Peggy to see if there's any family information to help. 

Thank you for all your help!

1860s photos
Monday, October 12, 2009 5:11:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]
Friday, October 16, 2009 3:12:08 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I live in the North Texas. I know there are groups of Scandinavian and Czechoslovakian descendants here especially near Waco. Could it be a wedding garment, maybe a member of the wedding party? (possible marriage?,, Jerusha Addeline Roberson and Francis Marion Montgomery, 1849, also see more on them: Another possibility is a group like the Masons (found this online:, "Seeking info on Francis Marion Montgomery, buried in Erath County, Texas... His tombstone is broken into several piece. Inscribe on the stone: Rev Do F M Montgomery died Jul 11, 1872, age 42yrs.,1 m.,2 d.also Mason emblem top of stone...") Also found mention of Scandinavian soldiers in the Confederate forces:
Saturday, October 17, 2009 4:29:31 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I too wonder if these are not Hungarian, Serbian, or Slavic dress.
The Hungarian men wore elaborately embroidered and embellished clothing, especially for weddings.
Sandra Parker
Monday, October 26, 2009 6:04:34 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
While I have never seen the bottom of the designs before, the top picture appears to be two Stars of David that connect at the center or heart of the person wearing the shirt/robe or gown. Also the design between the button hole diamonds appear to be small doves that could symbolize the Holy Spirit of God descending in the form of a dove at the baptism of Jesus. Here they are ascending to the head of the person wearing the garment. The two bottom picture designs appear to begin at their top with 3 identical and united symbols forming a Trinity with one symbol having a crown. From this Trinity appears to flow an energy (possibly love) from both of its ends coming down and forming an overlapping creation that concludes at the center of the person who is wearing the garment. Also there are three diamonds between each button that might symbolize God's highest creation in His image: human beings who are made up of body, soul or mind, and spirit. I am guessing at this symbolism, but the garments could very well be religious in nature such as baptism gowns or shirts/light robes worn while preaching from a makeshift pulpit in a fronteer setting. Whatever they are, they are as fascinating today as I am sure they were when first worn.
Larry Fenton
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