Canes and riding crops as individual as their owners |

Canes and riding crops as individual as their owners

by Ruby McFarland

Canes and riding crops may be seen at the Dayton Museum. Canes are interesting because each is usually as different as the individuals who owned them.

The large display is from a collection donated by Dorothy Randall Layman, a member of two of Dayton’s earliest prominent families. It contains 30 canes, from fairly plain to very ornate. There are slender canes, possibly used by women, and knotty canes made from a tree limb, undoubtedly used by men. They are constructed of a wide variety of materials, including ivory, silver, gold and inlays of all sorts. Behind each cane I’m sure there is a story – since we don’t have that history, we leave it up to visitors’ imaginations.

The use of a cane was considered stylish as well as functional. Gout, identified today as a form of arthritis, was one of the ailments that required the use of a walking aid. Poor diets were the cause of many health problems in the olden days.

The riding crops are also individualistic and look as if they were custom made for their owners or even made by the user. Folks often made their own canes, crops and ropes. Rope was usually made of rawhide, but in the Dayton Museum, there’s a handmade strand of “sagebrush” rope in our American Indian display. It was constructed by Stony Tennant; come feel its amazing strength!

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The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton. It also houses the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and on weekends from May through November. Group tours are available. Call 246-7909 or 246-5543.

Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.