Mail Order Catalogs, Cowboy Boots & Gear

In 1896 the United States Congress authorized Rural Free Delivery and by 1911 there was a local U.S. Post Office at nearly every crossroads in America... almost seventy-seven thousand of them!

Terry, Montana Post Mistress Susie Snow and her husband in front of their combination log house and post office in the summer of 1899.

Cowboys, ranchers and farmers no longer had to go to a boot shop to buy their boots. They could order and get them by mail. This transition from face-to-face contact with their customers to a mail order business with a larger, nationwide clientele changed the face of boot making. Boot makers developed self-measurement systems and mail order catalogs. Many advertised their Cowboy boots in stockman journals and other trade papers.

1935 Hamley & Co. Catalog

Sears, Roebuck and Co. as well as Montgomery Ward & Co. also sold Cowboy boots by mail order. Hamley & Co., N. Porter and Fred Mueller were primarily saddle makers but all offered Cowboy boots in their catalogs too. Many boot makers discovered that a good self-measuring system and nice looking catalog wouldn't ensure success... finding skilled boot makers and materials were critical to succeeding in this very competitive business. Boot makers selling by mail order couldn't simply "talk the talk", they had to "walk the walk" and deliver a quality boot that fit and did the job.

1936 Fred Mueller Catalog No. 75

Kansas boot maker C.H. Hyer and H.J. Justin in Texas quickly established themselves as the giants in mail-order Cowboy boots. By the early 1900's they were each others major competition, leaving smaller shops and suppliers like Sears and Wards in the dust. By the 1920s most of the small shops dependent on the mail-order business had closed their doors.

G.C. Blucher Boot Co. Catalog

One notable exception was the G.C. Blucher Boot Company. G.C. "Gus" Blucher opened his shop in the northern cow country of Wyoming in the fall of 1915. Like the other five boot makers in Cheyenne, Blucher made boots for the hard-riding Cowboys of the Northern Plains. But, unlike many other boot makers, he focused his advertising on the mail-order trade.

1936 N. Porter Catalog No. 26

Gus Blucher had worked for H.J. Justin for several years and may have had his own shop in Nocona, Texas before moving to Wyoming. He had learned Justin's mail-order boot-making business well and he advertised next to Justin and Hyer in the Wyoming Stockman Farmer and other trade papers.

Olsen-Stelzer Catalog

Like many other boot makers, the G.C. Blucher Boot Company did not last long in Wyoming. The environment was harsh, skilled boot makers scarce, materials hard to get and expensive. His health failing, Gus decided to leave Cheyenne in 1919 for Olathe, Kansas. Shortly after the move, the G.C. Blucher Boot Company re-opened making "real Boots for real Cowboys". Blucher's two young partners William Flournoy and Ray Powers came from Nocona, Texas and were thought to have worked for H.J. Justin.

2007 Blucher Boot Co. Sales Sheet

Now located in Beggs, Oklahoma, the Blucher Boot Co. continues to make "real Boots for real Cowboys"... same styles, same way that Gus Blucher made 'em in 1915. My hat's off to you Smitty.

2007 Blucher Boot Co. Sales Sheet

I'll be publishing more on the old G.C. Blucher Boot Co., their clients and their boots. The complete 1948 G.C. Blucher Boot Co. Catalog No. 30. was published here January 1, 2008. Most of the other catalogs featured in this article, along with many others, are available on CD-ROM from Cabin Creek CDs.

1899 Post Office Photograph: Evelyn Cameron


  1. Great information.I enjoyed this very much.Keep Up The Great Work and THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!

  2. Thanks for the boot book links! Just ordered a few . . . .

  3. Wow! that's a great bit of history there..thanks for the info.