John B. Stetson

In 1865, with $100 in his pocket, John Batterson Stetson rented a small room, bought the tools he needed and $10 worth of fur; and the John B. Stetson Hat Company was born. A year later the “Hat of the West” or the now famous “Boss of the Plains” hat was born and the name Stetson was on its way to becoming the mark of quality, durability, innovation and beauty.

John B. Stetson experienced trying times in his life, but he relied on the one thing he did exceptionally well, making hats. He was trained by his father, a master hatter, and applied his skills and knowledge to a trade, not held in high regard.

A hatter was seen as unreliable, lazy, or aloof, only looking to make his money and go have fun. John B. Stetson changed all that and built one of America’s most well-known and successful businesses. The longevity and history of the John B. Stetson Company is based on innovation and quality.

John B. Stetson led the hat industry throughout his career, creating new styles, hats that possessed fashion and function. He believed in quality, and for the past 130 years, the name Stetson and quality are synonymous.

Today the Stetson hat factory in St. Joseph, Missouri is one of the largest in the country, and produces a line of hats in hundreds of various styles and colors. In spite of their size, however; classic styling and premium quality remain as the driving force behind each and every hat. As a result, Stetson hats are the most well known hats in the world. Wherever and whenever hats are discussed, Stetson will be recognized with distinction.

Stetson is the standard in hats, the essence of the spirit of the West and an icon of everyday American lifestyle. Because of its authentic American heritage, Stetson remains a vivid part of history and, for the same reason, will continue to excel in the future.


And NOW for the REST of the story!

Stetson hats or Stetsons, often known simply as cowboy hats, refers to a brand name and not a type of hat. The John B. Stetson Company of St. Joseph, Missouri, founded by Stetson, (1830..1906, USA), is the manufacturer of some of the more famous variants of the cowboy hat: a felt hat with a tall crown and very wide brim. It functions to protect its wearer’s eyes from the sun, and can also double as a water bowl.

There are two versions of the history associated with the Stetson hat. The first is a version, that although the most widely held belief, is in fact based on legend. This version states that in the 1860s Stetson created a rugged hat for himself made from thick beaver fur felt while panning for gold in Colorado.

According to legend, Stetson invented the hat while on a hunting trip while showing his companions how he could make cloth out of fur without weaving. Stetson made an unusually large hat from fur-felt he made from hides collected on the trip, and wore the hat for the remainder of the expedition. Although initially worn as a joke, Stetson soon grew fond of the hat for its ability to protect its wearer from the elements. It had a wide brim for protection from the elements, a high crown to keep an insulating pocket of air on the head, and a waterproof lining so the hat could be used to carry water.



Christy’s Hat Factory in Frampton Cotterell, England where it is thought the ‘Stetson’ hat was created. It is now a private house.

Studies have shown however that in fact, there is evidence to show that the ‘Stetson’ hat was actually originally designed by Christy’s Hats from Frampton Cotterell, Bristol, England.

Bristol University lecturer John Moore, said: “Few people know that the ten gallon hat was invented in Frampton Cotterell but it’s well documented in the records of the hatmakers who built and owned the factory last century J. B. Stetson fought a long patent case with Christy’s - and lost. The result was that he had to pay a license fee to market the famous Stetson hat.

Stetson might have lost, but he won in the long term. That style of hat is known universally as a Stetson, and Christy’s role is completely forgotten.

Christy’s famous hat factory in Park Lane, which once employed a quarter of Frampton Cotterell residents, is now a listed building and a spacious house. Christy’s built their factory in 1812 in an area where hatting was already a major cottage industry The main business was trading with the West Indies, making large brimmed felt hats for slaves harvesting sugar cane in the rainy season.

The hat was however more popular in the U.S. The hat was first sold in Central City, Colorado in 1865 in a style called the “Boss of the Plains,”.

In 1869 Stetson returned to Philadelphia to found his hat company, which produced high quality hats for outdoors use. By 1886 Stetson’s hat company was the largest in the world, and had mechanized the hat-making industry.


NWMP (now RCMP) officers, Yukon, 1900, wearing the famous scarlet uniform that includes a flat brimmed Stetson hat.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Red Serge dress uniform includes a Stetson with a flat brim. The Stetson was first used unofficially by the North West Mounted Police, in place of the traditional white pith helmet. The colour for the RCMP Stetson is sometimes referred to as “Belgian Belly”, it is a reddish buff, pastel like colour of the underfur of the Belgian Hare. It is also a very little used “second name” for the Stetson.

In the Second Boer War, the flat brimmed Stetson became the standard issue of the second Canadian Contingent, becoming recognized throughout the British Empire as a symbol of Canada. The Stetson hat became a part of the uniform of the Royal North West Mounted Police, which later became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Source – Wikipedia