STETSON HATS. The Stetson hat, a badge of the stereotypical Texan, was the contribution of John B. Stetson of Philadelphia, who went west to regain his health in the 1860s and fashioned himself a big hat that would protect him from rain, sun, and wind. After his return to Philadelphia, Stetson made a hat that he called the "Boss of the Plains," and sent samples to Western dealers. Texas Rangers adopted the hat and found that it could be used to drink from, to fan a campfire, to blindfold a stubborn horse, to slap a steer, to smother grass fires and to serve as a target in gunfights. It could also be brushed for dress wear. Because of its versatility and durability the hat became a distinguishing characteristic of the real cowboy as well as of popular fictional ones. The hats were manufactured by the Stetson Hat Company until the mid-1960s when its chief stockholder, Ira Guilden, closed down operations due to a decline in demand. Guilden switched to licensing the Stetson name. In one of the more successful ventures, Cody cosmetics purchased rights to use the trademark for Stetson Cologne. In 1984 Guilden, with the advice of one of his top executives, bought out the Stevens Hat Company and returned to manufacturing Stetson hats. The company also began to manufacture men's and women's accessories. In the late 1980s it overextended itself and fell upon hard times. Upon Guilden's death in 1986, his daughter, Frances Gardner, took over the management of the company and was forced into bankruptcy.
Mary Blount Christian, Hats off to John Stetson (New York: Macmillan, 1992). Forbes, September 22, 1986. Elbert Hubbard, A Little Journey to the Home of John B. Stetson, 3d ed. (East Aurora, New York: Roycrofters, 1916). San Antonio Express, November 22, 1925.
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, "STETSON HATS," accessed July 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lfs01.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 22, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.