B. B. Ruth
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Cloth, , Rhinestones
This object is a lady’s hat sold by Joske’s Department Store in the early to mid-1900s. It was owned by Elise Denison Brown Lane, a long time San Antonio resident. The stamp inside the hat shows that it was made by B.B. Ruth for Joske’s Department Store.
After immigrating to Texas from Prussia in 1867, Julius Joske opened a dry goods store in San Antonio. After returning to Prussia in 1873, Joske returned to San Antonio a year later with his wife and children and reopened the store. When his sons joined the business the store name was changed to J. Joske and Sons. In 1883, after the retirement of Julius Joske, the store became known as Joske Brothers. In 1903, Alexander Joske bought out his brother and father and renamed the store Joske’s.
At the time that this hat was made for Joske’s, the store carried mostly merchandise for men and boys. After an expansion in 1909, fabric and other materials were added to the store’s inventory. This gave women the option to have dresses and other apparel made for them.
Joske’s Department Store was headquartered in San Antonio with its flagship store in what is now Rivercenter Mall. Joske’s ultimately had twenty-six stores in Texas and one in Arizona. In 1939, after an expansion, Joske’s downtown San Antonio store became the first air-conditioned store in Texas. The store was hailed as the largest department store west of the Mississippi River until it was bought by Dillard’s in 1987.
Joske’s introduced the “bargain basement” in 1877 to help those with lower incomes be able to shop at Joske’s. This area of the store featured items at discount prices. Not only did the store sell goods, they also had several eating establishments which included a restaurant called the Camellia Room. In 1960, Joske’s opened a Christmas promotional area on the fourth floor of their downtown San Antonio store called Fantasyland. There was a thirty foot tall, mechanical Santa on the roof of the store that waved his hand. There was also a train ride that took children through the display. If you have ever seen the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” you can get an idea of what Joske’s Fanstasyland was like in the scene where the character Ralphie and his family look at the Christmas display windows and when they visit Santa at the department store in their town.
In 1987, The Dillard Corporation of Arkansas bought Joske’s Department Stores. All the Joske’s stores throughout Texas were renamed as Dillard’s. The building that housed the flagship Joske’s store in downtown San Antonio is still being used today and is now part of the Shops at Rivercenter mall. [Kim Grosset, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
The Research, Exhibits & Collections Department has just a few days to put all the finishing touches on the Hats Off to Fiesta! exhibit, that opens on March 28th. Below are a few sneak peek images of the exhibit, to tide you over until the big reveal.
Help us spread the word about the exhibit by using the hashtag #hatsofftoitc when you tweet! As a bonus, you can receive 10% off an ITC membership when you use the hash tag, see the ITC Gift Shop on your next visit for details on this great deal.
Also, be sure to mark your calendar for the Fiesta® Family Day on April 26th!
Materials: Felt, leather, brass
This item is an 1889 model of a Buffalo Soldier forage cap. It has an attached 1872 model brass cavalry insignia that shows two crossed swords. Above the swords is the regimental number 9, and below the swords is the troop letter, F. Buffalo Soldiers belonged to one of two regiments, the Ninth United States Cavalry or the Tenth United States Cavalry. The regimental number 9 means that this cap was used for the Ninth United States Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Edward Hatch of Iowa. The two regiments were divided into a number of smaller troops. The troop letter F means that this cap was used by a soldier in Troop F, led by Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt in Fort Davis, Texas.
In 1866, the United States Congress authorized two regiments of African American cavalry, the Ninth United States Cavalry and the Tenth United States Cavalry, to be added to the United States army. For the first time in the history of the United States, African Americans were able to join the army during peacetime. The term ‘Buffalo Soldier’ was given to these two cavalry regiments by the Plains Indians since the hair of these soldiers appeared similar to a bison’s curly black hair. The term caught on with the soldiers themselves, and they eventually added a bison to their regimental crest.
Following the Civil War many African American men joined the army, seeing it as an opportunity for advancement. As soldiers they were fed, clothed, sheltered and earned $13 per month. Initially, white officers were reluctant to lead a regiment of African American men, believing that they would be obstinate and difficult to manage. Once the white officers were in place, they soon found that their fears were misplaced. The degree of drunkenness and desertion of African American regiments was far lower than white units.
The Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at a variety of posts in Texas from 1866 to 1890. The Ninth United States Calvary was ordered to western and southwestern Texas in 1867 to protect the area between the Rio Grande and Concho Rivers from Native American attacks. Troop F, along with troops C, D, G, H and I, were under Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt in Fort Davis. Fort Davis was situated on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and the Chihuahua Trail. Its location allowed for greater ease in controlling activities on the Mescalero Apache war trails and the Great Comanche war trail during the American Indian Wars, a period when Native Americans were being forcibly removed from their land.
The motto of the Ninth United States Cavalry was, “We Can, We Will.” This motto truly guided the regiment as they carried out a variety of assignments. The soldiers protected the frontier, recovering livestock, capturing horse thieves and serving justice. They restored a number of forts, built roads, hung thousands of miles of telegraph lines and escorted stagecoaches, wagons, mail parties, survey parties, railroad trains and railroad crews. The soldiers even partook in frontier campaigns. Perhaps most importantly, the Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth United States Calvary overcame prejudice on the frontier and were greatly respected for their hard work and contributions. [Lauren Thompson, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Roman Centurion’s Costume Helmet
Mexico City, Mexico
Date: 20th century
Materials: Papier Mâché
This object is a brightly colored papier mâché Roman centurion’s helmet that was worn by a child during Semana Santa in Mexico City. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the week leading up to Easter, from Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) to Domingo de Pascua (Resurrection Sunday, or Easter). Since the majority of Mexicans are Catholic (over eighty percent), Semana Santa is a very important holiday in Mexico. The majority of schools in Mexico give children a two week break for Semana Santa to enjoy the festivities, which include processions and passion plays (or reenactments of the Jesus’ final days).
This helmet was most likely worn on Viernes Santo (or Good Friday). On this day, there are processions where statues of Christ (or men dressed as Christ) are carried throughout the streets of the city and people dress in costumes to resemble Biblical characters. This helmet was worn by a child dressed as a Roman centurion, or soldier. Roman centurions carried out the crucifixion Jesus and are popular costumes for Viernes Santo.
TheSemana Santa celebrations that can be seen today in Mexico City started in 1833 after a cholera epidemic decimated the majority of the population. The few survivors decided to give thanks to the Lord by putting on a passion play in the streets of the city. This small act of veneration has grown every year and is now one of the largest fiestas in the country.
This fiesta has spread from Mexico into the United States, especially in states with large Hispanic populations like Texas. Most of the large cities in Texas, (and even some smaller towns in the Rio Grande valley), celebrate Semana Santa with traditional processions and passion plays. The Institute of Texan Cultures has a small exhibit that features some items used in Semana Santa, including this helmet. [Amber Beck, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
The following video shows how to make your own papier mâché creations.
Material: Leather, metal
This helmet is a standard model Prussian pickelhaube, an iconic emblem of the Prussian Army and of Imperial Germany. The name roughly translates to pickaxe-bonnet (pickel meaning “pickaxe” and Haube meaning bonnet) and was worn by German soldiers, firefighters and police throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pickelhaube was originally designed and commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia for standard use by Prussian troops in 1842. While it was a predominantly Prussian helmet, many of the other German states, such as Bavaria, Saxony and Mecklenburg, used their own versions of pickelhaube until it became standard issue for the United German Imperial Army after unification in 1871.
The pickelhaube was constructed of steamed leather covered in many layers of black lacquer until it had a bright finish. A brass spine would be added to the rear of the helmet as well as a brass trim to the front visor. The iconic spike affixed to the top could be removed either to make the wearer less visible or to be replaced with a larger spike. The front of the helmet is covered with a gilded metal plate called a wappen. This helmet has the standard wappen, an imperial eagle with the words “Mitt Gott, fur Koenig und Vaterland” (With God, for King and Fatherland) written across it. The pickelhaube was phased out in late 1916 due to the fact that leather did little to stop bullets. It was to be replaced with the equally iconic M1916 Stahlhelm.
While very few of them were ever likely to have worn a pickelhaube, a significant portion of the settlers that came to Texas were German. According to a 1990 census, 17.5 percent of Texas’ population claimed pure or partial German ancestry. The first wave of German settlers came in 1831, when Johann Friedrich Ernst and his family moved from Oldenburg. Ernst insisted that emigration would be a solution to the social, political, economic and religious issues that they faced in their homeland. He was granted 4,000 acres of land on what would become a belt of German settlements stretching from the Coastal Plain of Galveston to the Hill Country of Mason. Many of these first wave German immigrants were drawn to Texas by advertisements made by Ernst.
The next major wave would come in the 1840’s because of the efforts of the Adelsverein (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas). The Adelsverein was an organization founded by a group of German nobles that aimed to make a Texan colony of German peasant farmers. They believed that in doing so they would both alleviate rural overpopulation in Germany and benefit financially. Although bankruptcy prevented their final goals from being accomplished, the Adelsverein aided in the transportation of more than 7,000 Germans to Texas between 1844 and 1847. These groups of German immigrants founded the towns of New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and Boerne.
While German settlers were generally welcomed, there were some clashes of culture. The majority of German settlers took an unpopular, pro-Union stance during the civil war. However, perhaps a greater challenge to the German-Texan culture was the wave of Germanaphobia during the First World War. During this time, Brandenburg changed its name to Old Glory and Schmidt’s and Müllers became Smiths and Millers. In San Antonio, King William Street, named in honor of Wilhelm I of Prussia, was briefly renamed Pershing Street. These wartime hostilities gradually faded. Now the history of Germans in Texas is celebrated through annual cultural events such as Oktoberfest and Wurstfest. [Lauren Thompson, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
The following video discusses Wurstfest.