Spurred to Action

How the Cowboy Boot Became the Official Footwear of Texas

It all started with some Houston-area middle school students just over a decade ago.

By Katelyn Kenney June 15, 2017

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If you’re in need of a last-minute Father's Day gift, perhaps you can draw inspiration from a little state history. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the legislation that designated the tried-and-true cowboy boot as the official footwear of Texas. It seems impossible that the Lone Star State existed for over 150 years without making its love of boots official, but luckily Lucchese offered us a little history lesson on how Texans fell in love with the cowboy boot, and the Houston-area kids that made it official.

Cowboy boots as we know them took shape after the Civil War between 1866 and 1890. Texas ranchers were driving their cattle to western and northern markets, and they needed a shoe built for the task, prompting bootmakers in Texas and Kansas to innovate, adding a pointed toe and a heel that would work well in a stirrup, as well as a high-low shape to make them easier to put on and take off—and just like that the cowboy boot was born.

Fast-forward to 2007 when Bleyl Middle School teacher Kay Pechacek of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD was teaching her seventh-grade social studies class about Texas symbols. Her students questioned why cowboy boots weren’t officially included, so Pechacek decided to take action.

While the students collected research on the history and celebrity of the boot, Pechacek contacted her state representative to draft up legislation that would elevate the trusty footwear to Texas icon status. The process took almost a year—and at one point was almost halted altogether—but on June 15, 2007, House Concurrent Resolution 151 finally became a law (or, well, a resolution, which is close enough).

The legislation is filled with references to the boots’ beginnings as well as their featured appearances in various movies and other works of art. Legendary Texas bootmakers like H.J. “Big Daddy Joe” Justin, Enid Justin Steltzer and Sam Lucchese are referenced by name in the law, as are celebrities like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, who helped make the boots' popularity global.

"While they hew to a basic form, cowboy boots have evolved into an amazingly versatile article; fashioned with a variety of toe and heel styles, types of leather, and embellishment, they can be worn today on virtually any occasion," reads the resolution.

On the 10-year anniversary of the cowboy boot’s designation, don’t be afraid to flaunt some western footwear. We’re Texans, for goodness sake! 

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