Recently I read a historian’s comments about settlers dress and appearance on the frontier.  That author indicated that settlers on the frontier shunned native clothing.

Maybe the shunning of Native American culture varied on individual community standards or that community’s history.

Joseph Doddridge (1769-1826) was born in Pennsylvania.  He attended a school in Maryland until he was 18 years of age and then moved westward.  He was served the frontier community as clergy, an author, and as a physician.  In his writings, Doddridge shared a first hand observation of this topic in the community where he lived:

“In the latter years of the Indian war, our young men became enamored of the Indian dress throughout, with the exception of the match coat.  The drawers were laid aside and the leggings made longer, so as to reach the upper part of the thigh.  The Indian breech clout was adopted.  This was a piece of linen or cloth nearly a yard long, and eight or nine inched broad.  This passed under the belt before and behind leaving the end for flaps hanging before and behind over the belt.

The flaps were sometimes ornamented with some coarse kind of embroidery work.  To the same belt that secured the breech clout, strings which supported the long leggings were attached.  When this belt, as was often the case, passed over the hunting shirt, the upper part of the thighs and part of the hips were naked.

The young warrior, instead of being abashed by this nudity, was proud of his Indian like dress.  In some few instances I have seen them go into places of public worship in this dress.  Their appearance, however, did not add much to the devotion of the young ladies.”


Notes on the Settlements and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, Doddridge, 1763-1783.


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