Excerpts From Walk Softly:

According to Natalia Belting in Kaskaskia Under the French Regime, "On September 23, 1737, Michael le Cour engaged Louis la Vallie, a voyageur, to go with him to Missouri, from there to Makinac, and return from there to Cahokia. La Vallie was to be paid 300 livres in beavers and other furs, one pair of leggings, one pair of trousers, two deerskins to make shoes, and be allowed to carry a pound of glass beads and a pound of vermillion in his canoe to trade to his own profit." (Belting, Natalia; Kaskaskia Under the French Regime, Urbana; University of Illinois Press, 1948; 65). These were probably not to be European-styled shoes, but rather moccasins or shoe-packs.

Kalm does, however, describe the residents of New Sweden constructing a different type of simple footwear in the mid-1700's: "Their shoes were of their own making. Some of them had learned to prepare leather, and to make common shoes, with heels; but those who were not shoemakers by profession took the length of their feet and sewed the leather together accordingly, taking a piece for the sole, one for the hind-quarters, and another one for the uppers. These shoes were called kippaka" (Kalm, Peter; Peter Kalm's Travels in North America; the English Version of 1770; Dover Publications, NY 1987; 272).


Countless anonymous backwoodsmen and women wore moccasins, but they've made their way into popular folklore as well, by way of a few historical "celebrities," including the aforementioned George Washington. Daniel Boone told of dealings with the Shawnee: "In the most friendly manner, Boone told his children in describing Kentucky of 1769, the Indians provided the two Americans [Boone and John Stewart] with two pairs of moccasins apiece, doe skin for patch leather, a little French trade gun, and a few loads of powder and lead so that they could supply themselves with meat on their journey back across the mountains" (Faragher, John Mack; Daniel Boone, The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer; Henry Holt and Co., NY 1992; 80-81).
The naturalist John James Audubon describes meeting Boone during his residence in Kentucky and tells of accompanying him on a hunting trip: "...My companion, a stout, hale, and athletic man, dressed in a homespun hunting shirt, bare-legged and moccasined, carried a long and heavy rifle, which, as he was loading it, he said had proved efficient in all his former undertakings, and which he hoped would not fail on this occasion, as he felt proud to show me his skill" (Audubon, Lucy, editor; The Life of John James Audubon the Naturalist, Edited by His Widow; first published 1868; G.P. Putnam, & Sons, NY (1894 edition; 62).




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