come settle up mr. howler.




the "flint hills" brand was a bit confusing to me when i first started to look into its history. the card itself is nothing special and its artwork is typical of mass-produced victorian era trade card blanks, so there was little to be gleaned from the illustration. the copy was of no help either; connor mercantile company simply sold the brand and was not the manufacturer behind the label. eventually i discovered that schramm & schmieg of burlington, iowa made and wholesaled flint hills garments, which sort of baffled me as i always assumed that they were manufactured in flint hills, kansas.

the schramm & shcmieg partnership began sometime after the civil war, but the wholesale business wasn't initiated until 1881 and i would imagine that's about when they started manufacturing the flint hills brand. charles f. schramm and frederich schmieg, both natives of germany, were brother-in-laws and residents of burlington for thirty years or so by the time they started working together. they had as many as 75 "girls" (not my words) sewing up overalls and such. the "history of des moines county, iowa; volume two" from 1915 has an excellent biography of schmieg but is a bit light on information about schramm and has contradictory dates for his death.

flint hills garments from the late 1800s to early 1900s seem to be quite rare. i only know of one pair of overalls from this period of time, but i'm not really privy to the secretive (more or less) group of collectors who may have them, so they may be more common than i think. regardless, for the number of flint hills overalls, coats, and pants that were made (or any early working garment for that matter), it would be safe to say that very few have survived. the brutal working conditions of the industrial revolution destroyed the majority of the clothes worn by its workers, and the clothes that weren't destroyed were re-used and recycled out of necessity. for me, knowing this serves as an excellent antidote for turn of the century nostalgia.