National Geographic : 1941 Jul
In the Pennsylvania Dutch Country another. "Here's the last type flintlock that was made. See the date-1844?" After showing a pistol similar to that used by Booth to shoot Lincoln, he led the way up stairs to another room. Almost enough guns to outfit a platoon striped the walls. Arranged in racks, the exhibition told the story of the evolution of American rifles from the Revolu tion to the first World War. And still, no two of his 200 were alike. "Kentucky" Rifles-from Lancaster On one wall hang a dozen so-called "Ken tucky" rifles. The model, originally manu factured near Lancaster, went west with pio neers and early settlers. It was so popular in Kentucky that it took the name of that State. Two distinguishing features are its barrel, up wards of four feet long, and its elaborately hand-carved stock, often embellished with brass. Old Order Amish make virtually everything they wear except their boots. A few pro fessional hatters, however, manufacture the black felt broadbrims. Women in many families weave the straws that Amishmen and boys wear in warmer months. When an aged Amishwoman we know is not engaged in the long, slow process of braiding or hooking rugs, she turns to the equally tedious task of plaiting rye straw for hats. The stuff looked as clean and yellow-white as soda-fountain straws. "It was reaped while green and spread on the lawn to dry," she explained. "After this, we cut it in equal lengths and tied it in bun dles big as a man's arm. We hung it up in a near-by shed for a spell and burned sulphur there. That's what really bleached it more than anything else." Seven Straws for a Preacher's Hat She took five straws from a drawer. Her knotted fingers began to braid, moving nimbly and deftly as Chinese fingers with chopsticks. "Of course, I usually wet the straw in hot water to make it more pliable," she said. "Do you always plait five straws?" "For an ordinary hat, yes; for a preacher's hat I use seven." Some straws were much coarser than others. Hats made of the cruder strips cost half as much as those made of the finer. It took longer to braid the fine straw.