The raccoon or more commonly called coonskin cap has been an
icon of the Americas for longer than European settlers have been in the new
world. In the oldest painting known that shows a coon skin hat, an native
American Indian is shown wearing a round hat with a raccoon tail connected
to the crown. When pioneers were beginning to settle Tennessee and Kentucky
the coon skin hat had evolved into a hunting cap.
The coon skin cap had a popularity surge in late 1954 with the debut of Fess
Parker in the role of Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter." During a
brief period ending in December 1955 the caps were extremely popular with young
boys but many adults, including Presidential candidate Senator Estes Kefauver
who wore one at numerous public appearances. After a shortage in raccoon tails
caused people to turn to using muskrat, rabbit, and fox tails, the fad finally
died. Today this hat is still popularly associated with such historical heroes
as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.