A few of us from the Hernando County Button Collectors Group will be participating in our local Heritage Day Festival with a booth full of buttons for viewing. We hope to attract more members!
I will also be bringing some new necklaces I made to sell. They are made of simple plain button colorful buttons and cording.
Many of them were already waiting for us when we arrived at the Brookdale Spring Hill Assisted Living facility. Susan, activities director, said the ladies had been looking forward to our visit since they read the article about button collecting in the December issue of the local Senior Voice newspaper. Four of us from our Hernando County Button Collectors Group spread samples of our buttons, button art and books about button collecting across three tables. We removed the chairs from around the tables so those in wheelchairs and with walkers would have an easier access to look at our display. Altogether we talked with a little more than a dozen lovely ladies who enjoyed seeing the buttons and recalling their mother's button boxes or the lovely buttons they had used in making their own clothes. Our visit lasted no longer than an hour but put smiles on the residents' faces, as well as ours.
I ran across this information about buttons that were found during the 1997-2001 Excavations at Fort Pierre Chouteau. It is in a report by the South Dakota State Historical Society. The report describes the military occupation of Fort Pierre under General Harney (around 1872).
In regards to buttons, the report describes the buttons that were worn by the soldiers as two-piece Sanders type brass buttons showing an eagle in whose claws held on the right, a laurel branch, which offers peace, and on the left a clutch of arrows that threatened war. The report says the message to Little Thunder’s Brule band of Lakota was "clear and explicitly coercive: submit or be destroyed."
But, one-piece loop shank buttons that were also found and are dated 30 years prior to Harney's stay, may have been used as trade items. This portrait on the left, shows how Native American men and women integrated gilded buttons with traditional items of adornment such as shell, feathers, and beads.
The report describes various possible cultural meanings of wearing the buttons:
The report also covers bone, shell and horn buttons at history.sd.gov/archaeology/downloads/rr/rr03_2.pdf.
Sylvia Liszka Durell, Author
Owner of HoleyButtons.com and a founding member of the Hernando County Button Collectors Group in Florida.