What Is The History Of The Cowboy Hat?

What is the history of the cowboy hat? Learn the history of the cowboy hat. There's always been something about the look of a cowboy that just screams American history. The boots with the rugged jeans and...

There's always been something about the look of a cowboy that just screams American history. The boots with the rugged jeans and the huge belt buckle all play a huge role in making a cowboy come to life. But of all the accessories that come together to complete the image of a cowboy, none is more important than the cowboy hat.


For years, the cowboy hat has been the steadfast symbol of the cowboy. We remember the old days when the good guy would wear the white cowboy hat while the bad guy would always dawn the black. But how many of us actually know the history of the cowboy hat?




Joella Torres is a third generation hat maker. Currently, she is the president of Manny Grammages Texas Hatters, which specializes in making custom cowboy hats. As longtime enthusiasts of the cowboy hat, Torres speaks about the man that started it all back in 1865.

"Hunter Stetson originally created the cowboy hat," Torres said. "And he did this because he saw a need for wider brims and more durability than what men had. Hats were more for city life than the outdoors at that time. He needed something more durable that provided better coverage from the elements."

As most experts will say, the cowboy hat was invented first as a joke. According to Rand's Custom Hats, Stetson and some companions went west to seek the benefits of a drier climate. During a hunting trip, Stetson amused his companions by making cloth out of fur. Stetson would use the fur from hides and make the cloth without weaving.

In order to make the fur into cloth without weaving, Stetson would knead the fur while working it with his hands, dipping it into boiling water, spreading it out, kneading it out and dipping it again. Stetson continued this process until he created a soft, smooth piece of felt, the material that most cowboy hats are still made out of today.

When he was done, Stetson had made an unusually large hat. He wore the hat for the remainder of the trip, first as a joke. But as he found out how well his new hat protected him from the weather, he began to think of ways to market his new invention. He later began manufacturing his cowboy hats and the rest is history.

Torres said that the great thing about the cowboy hat is that people today still use them as protection from the elements. She also discusses how cowboy hats can help with diseases such as skin cancer.

"There was a time when the hat kind of died out," she said. "But I think people are realizing that hats are not just something to make you look pretty or cover your bald spot anymore."

"They are useful for keeping your head covered in the rain and keeping your face shaded in the sun," Torres added. "A lot of people are having problems with skin cancer and things like that. They are discovering that maybe they should've been wearing a hat their whole life. Even though most of our ancestors worked outside all the time, they didn't have the problems with skin cancer that we do today."

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