ASHLAND -- While children hunt for eggs, their parents can hunt for hats this Saturday at the Ashland County Historical Society. 

The museum's first-ever Easter Hat & Eggstravaganza will feature more than 300 historic hats and a variety of children's activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 27 at the Victorian Era Manor.

"Some of these are museum quality pieces. Hats of this quality could be found in the New York Metropolitan Museum," executive director Jennifer Marquette said. 

The hats are from periods as early as the 1860s and as late as the 1960s. Some feature feathers and bright colors, while others are less decorated. Most were donated to the museum by Ashland residents. 

"What people wore on their head had significance, hats were always a thing up until the 1960s," Marquette said. "Now, they aren't worn much anymore, but prior to the 1960s, no lady went outside without a hat." 

Volunteers will be available Saturday to speak to the history of the hat collection, and each hat will have a card placed beside it describing its history. 

"These hats were made by Edmond J. Stover, a famous milliner of Hayesville," Marquette said when previewing one of the displays. 

The local hat maker has custom designed and created more than 1,200 hats in his lifetime. He was in business for more than 50 years before he passed in 1966.

"He was very particular about the creation of his hats. In order to make a special order, he had to know about the lady's personality. He would take into consideration her hair and eye color, her height and build," Marquette said. "And the hat he made for her may not have been their first choice, but the women almost always ended up buying the hat he made for them." 

Several of Stover's hats are displayed on a shelf, while others are featured nearby on mannequins. One mannequin wears a light blue, lace hat that Stover created to match her dress. Another wears a wedding veil made specifically for her. 


Hayesville hat maker, Edmund Stover created the hat pictured above to match the dress this mannequin is modeling. 

In a room nearby, a collection of hats shows the wide variety of items that milliners would use. One hat on display includes a small taxidermy animal head. Many feature feathers. 

"During that time, miners would make hats out of almost anything," Marquette said.

Their work prompted some states to pass laws limiting hunting of specific birds, she continued. 

Saturday's event will also feature crafts, games and a special visit from the Easter Bunny. Brew'd Coffee and Doughnuts will be parked outside with snacks. 

Pre-sale tickets are encouraged and available online at ashlandhistory.org. Availability will be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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