John Batterson Stetson, Sr.

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John Batterson Stetson, Sr.

Birthplace: Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, United States
Death: February 18, 1906 (75)
at his winter home, Gillen, near Deland, Volusia County, Florida, United States (Fell in bathtub after suffering a stroke)
Place of Burial: Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Stephen Stetson, III and Susanna Stetson
Husband of Sarah Elizabeth Shindler; Nancy Stetson and Sarah Elizabeth Stetson
Father of Col. John Batterson Stetson, Jr.; Benjamin Stetson; George Henry Stetson and George Henry Stetson
Brother of Louisa Larrick

Occupation: Hatter
Managed by: John S. Norris
Last Updated:

About John Batterson Stetson, Sr.

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

John Batterson Stetson (May 5, 1830 - February 18, 1906) was a U.S. hatter, hat manufacturer, and, in the 1860s, the inventor of the cowboy hat. He founded the John B. Stetson Company as a manufacturer of headwear; the company's hats are now commonly referred to simply as Stetsons.

John Stetson was born in New Jersey, the 7th of 12 children..."

Stetson Hats "...John decided to offer people something better. Durable and well-made from waterproof felt, its high, open crown and broad rim would keep the hot sun off their faces, necks and shoulders.

The hat achieved instant popularity and was named the “Boss of the Plains.” The first real cowboy hat. Stetson went on to build the Carlsbad, easily identified by its main crease down the front.

His hat was called a Stetson, because he had his name John B. Stetson Company embossed in gold in every hatband. The Stetson soon became the most well known hat in the West..."

"...John Stetson owned a mansion in DeLand where he died in 1906. The over 8,000 square ft masterpiece called John B. Stetson House is a mixture of Gothic, Tudor, and Moorish styles. Stetson is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania..."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'John Batterson Stetson', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 January 2011, 09:47 UTC, <> [accessed 8 February 2011]

From the 1900 federal census, John B. Stetson lived in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and sons. the family at the time consisted of:

  • Head John B Stetson 70
  • Wife Elizabeth Stetson 42
  • Son John B Stetson, Jr 15
  • Son Henry Stetson 13

From John B. Stetson's web page at

Businessman. He learned the hat trade from his father. After his father's death he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and worked for a brick manufacturer. When the factory and business were ruined by floods, Stetson headed west to Colorado to find his fortune in gold. His hat making skills proved useful as he used the felting process to make a superior, waterproof tent material for prospectors to use.

Realizing that his fortune was not to be made in panning gold, he moved to Philadelphia in 1865 and returned to his hat making roots. His making hats in the traditional eastern style brought modest success, but the company flourished when Stetson used his practical experience in Colorado and the West in designing the "Boss of the Plains"—a cowboy hat that became the cornerstone of the J.B. Stetson Company. Stetson had found his niche in the hat business, and the name Stetson would become part of the history and imagination of the American West.

He moved to successively larger sites, until in 1872 he opened the hat factory at 4th Street and Montgomery Avenue that would increase his fortune. At the time of his death, Stetson's company of 3,000 employees made two million hats annually. As Stetson profited, he established organizations to benefit his employees.

The John B. Stetson Union was a YMCA-like organization for his employees. His employees also had the advantage of having a "medical department" on site. The company also had a building association which helped workers purchase their own homes. In 1903 Stetson devised and put into operation a profit-sharing plan for his employees. He issued $500,000 worth of company stock for distribution to employees according to merit and length of service. Stetson supported a variety of Baptist churches and organizations and was a director as well as a supporter of the Woman's Hospital in Kensington, Philadelphia.

The Stetson family summered in Florida where the hat maker became the force behind expanding Deland University into what became and still is Stetson University of Deland, Florida. After his death, his widow continued his philanthropic work.

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John Batterson Stetson, Sr.'s Timeline

May 5, 1830
Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, United States
October 13, 1884
Age 54
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
December 22, 1885
Age 55
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
July 30, 1887
Age 57
Cheltenham, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 56
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States
February 18, 1906
Age 75
Gillen, near Deland, Volusia County, Florida, United States
Owner Stetson Hat Company; Occupation: Founder