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JPR Feature
Welborn Beeson's Fashion Statement   
Tuesday July 5, 2005
By Dawna Curler

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

Fashion is a matter of taste. What tickles one man's, or woman's, fancy may repulse another. In 1862, Welborn [WELL-born] Beeson [BEE-sun], a young man from Talent, Oregon, had definite opinions about ladies headwear and freely expressed those views in his personal diary.

"Mother sent to Jacksonville for a shaker bonnet…They are all the rage now. The women are all crazy about them, and yet they are the ugliest thing a woman ever put on her head. But such is fashion. Last 4th of July Mrs. Tolman was the only woman that had a shaker bonnet at the celebration…and this year there will hardly be a woman but what will have one. I am down on shakers bonnets for life. They are so ugly. Better suited to pick up chips in."

The "chips" Beeson referred to were dried buffalo or cow plops, which women would gather to fuel their cooking fires when wood was scarce.

The accessory that was the subject of his disgust was just a simple woven straw bonnet with a long brim that somewhat resembled an upside-down sugar scoop.

It's curious to think what Beeson would make of ladies' head fashions today with their brightly colored and spiked hair dos.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

Beeson, Welborn. Unpublished diary, June 28, 1862, University of Oregon Knight Library Special Collections.

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