In the nineteenth century, trousers were commonly held up with suspenders rather than a belt running through belt loops. A pair of suspenders consisted of leather or fabric straps that were placed over one's shoulders and attached to the front and back of the pants using buttons or clamps. Suspenders typically had a pair of buckles on the chest side of the strap so the strap length could be adjusted for a perfect fit. Suspenders were very common in the nineteenth century, and continued in popularity well into the twentieth century.
Artifacts from the farmstead indicate that the Williams' men and boys owned and used a variety of different suspenders. One specimen is a nickel-plated buckle (a) with an 1890 patent date stamped into one of the pieces. This buckle matches the sketches of a "Suspender Buckle" (b) patented in 1890 (Patent No. 432,258, issued to S. Baum and V. B. Ulman, Google Patents). Another suspender buckle (c) has an ornate geometric design and a different type of locking mechanism. A suspender adjuster (d) has the name "Carlsbad" stamped into its face. This mark may be a trade name used by a specific manufacturer, but it has not been identified. A nickel-plated suspender adjuster (e) is stamped with "PAT APLD FOR," indicating that a patent application was made for the design, but there were hundreds of different patents issued for suspenders and suspender parts and this particular patent has not been found.
The simple line drawing, below, shows how suspenders were attached and fit over a man's shoulders