Vintage Hats of Perry County

When I was in Cape last fall, I wrote a piece for my bike blog about my favorite ride: the 26-mile run from Cape to Altenburg.

I try to stop in at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum whenever it’s open. Their permanent collections are full of fascinating artifacts of the German communities. I see something new every time I visit. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. It’s free, but your conscience should twitch a little if you don’t throw SOMETHING in the donation box on the way out the door.

I was planning on doing a series on cool stuff to see in Perry County, but the Easter bonnet theme caused me to jump the gun.

Hats off to 100 Years

The current exhibit features 100 historic hats and related photographs and other artifacts. It is the inaugural celebration of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society’s centennial year as an historical society.

These aren’t hats from some far-off place. These are hats worn by local women who loaned them to the center just like they loaned their aprons to the exhibit I saw last fall. Knowing that the hats were worn by real women to Perry County church services or club meetings make them come to life for me.

Historical Society organized in 1910

The Perry County Lutheran Historical Society was organized in 1910 to preserve, interpret and promote the Log Cabin Seminary. The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Bus tours and groups are welcome.

I wasn’t in Missouri for the Christmas Tree display between Nov. 18 and Jan. 5.

My Mother mentioned to the tour guide that it hasn’t been too long ago that women didn’t feel dressed unless they were wearing a hat and gloves.

This looks like Brain Coral

Maybe I’ve been in Florida too long, but this one makes me think of Brain Coral

Who needs pepper spray?

You didn’t want to have to chase one of these intricately-designed hats down the street on a windy day, so you used hat pins to hold it on. I am reasonably sure you couldn’t board a plane wearing one of these today. Some of those pins looked to be as much as eight inches long. I can see now how they were good tools for defending one’s honor.

How do I get to Altenburg from Cape?

View Cape Girardeau to Altenburg Bike Route in a larger map

There are more direct ways, but the way I go by bicycle is a great route. It takes you through some beautiful farming country that’s just now greening out. If you click on the map, it’ll make it larger. You can pan and zoom to see more detail.

You’ll pass farm houses that have to be closer to 200 years old than 100. You’ll cringe when you come to some bridges that are marked as one-lane when you recall that we drove on them as two-lane bridges at 60 mph.

The Tour of Missouri rode a good portion of this route. When you come to some of the steeper hills, think of climbing them under your own power on a bicycle. When you come to some of the sharper curves, think of taking them with 120 of your closest friends on all sides of you in a game of chicken.

Check out the Heritage Center web site

The Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum has an easy to navigate, uncluttered web site with lots of information. If you make the trip, tell them you heard about them here.

8 Replies to “Vintage Hats of Perry County”

  1. Oh, my! I just never know what I’ll find on your blog, Ken! I marvel at how you come up with all these ideas.
    I am trying to start a hat trend at my church here in Advance – but so far, it’s a one-woman crusade. We always wore hats and gloves to church when I was growing up in Dexter in the fifties, and I loved it. Easter was an especially elegant time.
    I thought fancy hats were gone until I went to Memphis to visit my daughter last year. We were shopping at Burlington Coat Factory and found the most beautiful collection of fanciful hats I ever saw! I must have tried on a dozen, each one more elegant than the one before! I became confused and came home with none.
    With the modern “dressing down” tendancy in our churches, I fear that fancy hats won’t be coming back, and it’s more the pity.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    1. Madeline,

      This is what I used to do five days a week when I was working for The Athens (OH) Messenger. Every weekday, we had a 9 x 17 hole we called The Picture Page that was ours to fill. The two photographers on the staff would alternate two weeks on, two weeks off, working on the page vs. handling daily assignments.

      If you’ve been around here long, you’ve heard me talk about my goal of shooting ordinary people doing ordinary things. We wanted to put people in the paper who would normally show up only when they were born, died, got married and, maybe, got a speeding ticket.

      It was fun turning some waitress in a mom-and-pop diner into a celebrity for the day. The day after it ran, all her regulars would bring in copies of the paper and make her feel special.

      I had forgotten how much fun this was.

      I’m headed back to Florida Tuesday, so things will be a little light here for a few days.

  2. Thank you for bringing this musem to everyones attention.
    My Great Grandparents wemong the German imigants that settled the area in 1840. The landed at Nw Orleans and came up river to Cape Girardeau and proceeded to Altenburg.
    There rich hitory in that area and well worth the time to inverstigate. The original Lutheran Seminary has benn restored. It is a small log building in the town of Altenburg.
    The Lutheran Church has many historical items, including a registration book containg my reletives names and many other names of the residents of te era.

  3. Beautiful! When I was growing up in Cape we ALWAYS wore hats AND gloves to church every Sunday. Easter meant we would get to buy a wonderful new hat. I still love trying hats on and buying them . . . but then I never wear them; they’re too hot, mess up my hair, don’t sit right, etc. Hmm, come to think of it, I have a closet full of brand new never worn shoes, too.

  4. Ken, thanks for this beautiful blog entry of our museum. I hope everyone can come and visit. We also have a new Heisey Glass exhibit–it’s wonderful.
    Take Care, Carla Jordan

  5. My Grebing grandparents lived in Wittenberg and grandpa drove the mail buggy. I have my grandmother’s winter and summer hats. They are in an original Sears shipping box that was sent to her. Wish I was closer and could get things like that to you Carla.

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