Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oil Creek Fashion- Dust Caps

by Donna Gloff
A cap made of white linen, gathered or pleated around the edge, maybe with a ribbon, was called dust cap, mob cap, or dust bonnet. Throughout the colonial era they were worn by hard working women. The cap was worn indoors and when a woman went out she put her hat over the cap. The dut cap fell out of general use in the early 1800s but it continued to be commonplace in the Oil Creek area into the mid-1900s.

Estie (Henline) Godfrey Thomas was wearing a dustcap in this still taken from a 1960s home movie by her Forinash descendents. As the other photos show, in the 1870s or '80s Estie's grandmother Fibi (Conrad) Skinner was wore one and so did her Aunt Christina (Murphy) Posey. Pat Rickart remembers at least one grandmotherly woman in 1940s Orlando who a dust cap.
Upper left: Estel "Estie" (Henline) Godfrey Thomas
Upper Right: Fibi (Conrad) Skinner with her husband Alexander. (This picture was costructed from separate photos of the couple.)
Right: Christina (Murphy) Curtis Posey with her husband Alfred Posey
As these pictures show, sisters-in-law Christina (Curtis) Posey and Phoebe (Conrad) Skinner (left) wore dust caps in the 1870s. Pat Reckart remembers Miss Ollie Skinner wore one in the 1940s.

Dust caps fell out of general fashion in the early 1800s. In 1863 Joseph Diss Debar sketched the images of West Virginia's working women seen to the left. He showed a bonnet more like the ones we see on the pioneers heading west in the mid 1800s, but he didn't include the dust cap, as seen on our Orlando forbears.

Still, into the 1940s and even 1960s we can find women of the Oil Creek valley for whom dust caps were part of every-day life.

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