I received some interesting information about the birth of the cowboy hat from my friend in New Jersey. Can you believe that the birth of the Stetson was in New Jersey at a well known and successful hatter the No Name Hat Company. The company known for their superior quality hats; and it was said the No Name Hat Company made hats for George Washington. The company was led by Stephen Stetson and his son, John Batterson Stetson, learned the trade as a child.
In 1860, John B. Stetson headed west to recover from tuberculosis, which he’d had most of his life. He decided to try his luck ad venture to Pike’s Peak to seek his fortune in gold. Roughing it in the wilderness, John used primitive felting techniques to create water repellent blankets and the first hat to protect him from the elements. This was the original “Boss of the Plains”, a Western hat that would become the cornerstone of Stetson’s hat business and is still in production today.
Stetson did not strike it rich as a gold miner and so headed back East to start a hat manufacturing company—the only trade he knew. With only sixty dollars loaned to him by his older sister, Louisa, he purchased tools and fur, rented a small room in Philadelphia and hired two workers. To differentiate his products from his competition, he sent a “Boss of the Plains” hat to each South-Western dealer with a letter asking for an order of a dozen. By the early twentieth century, Stetson owned the world’s largest hat factory and became the essence of the Western Spirit. The current factory covers over nine acres and produce over three million hats annually.
Man, does the “Boss of the Plains” not look like today’s Stetsons! The “Boss” certainly reminds me of a miner’s hat.
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series “The Troubled Texan”.