On Nov. 27, 1884, the Sheridan Owl Club held a Thanksgiving Calico Hop. Tickets for the event were $3.50 each and included supper. The event was certainly one for the social season with The Big Horn Sentinel publishing the invites, “are now in the hands of the printer.” 

Sheridan was not a recognized township yet, so most of those attending the dance were early shop owners and pioneers to this area who would have come from miles around to enjoy the evening of entertainment.

Much like their eastern counterparts, the evening started off with a Grand March. While set to music, this dance is more of a parade. While eastern events would have used it to showcase the finery of those attending, Sheridan did it in a different way. The Calico Hop was all about the calico textile rather than silks and satins. For this dance, the ladies wore their calico dress and the men wore, ideally, a matching necktie.

Why calico instead of silk or satin? The answer to that question is the practicality of the material. Calico is a woven fabric made of cotton and came in popular designs. Silk and other expensive materials, including other cotton options, were seldom affordable as clothing options for middle-class families. Calico provided ladies a nice design alternative that was not only affordable but practical. By practical, it meant that they could wash the dress, therefore extending its use.

The Calico Hop invite housed in the museum’s collection was addressed to Cameron W. Garbutt, Esq. and notified that he and his lady were invited to the event. Cameron came to Wyoming Territory in 1884 on a cattle drive and wintered in a cabin near Sheridan. He would move into town the next year. He became active in Sheridan life, and by 1886 he was a junior warden, and charter member, of the Sheridan Masonic Lodge. Who Cameron might have asked to the dance, we do not know, but in October 1889 he would wed Annie May Loucks, the daughter of Sheridan’s founder, John Loucks.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this holiday blast from the past. The museum staff and board of directors wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Mikayla Larrow is executive director of Museum at the Bighorns. 

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