The Stetson hat was actually the creation of Yankee ingenuity. John B. Stetson of Philadelphia, who went West to regain his health in the 1860’s, fashioned himself a big hat that would protect him from rain, sun, and wind. After his return to Philadelphia, Stetson made a hat which he called “boss of the plains” and sent it to Western dealers. The Texas Rangers adopted the hat and found it could be used for many things: to drink from, water one’s horse, fan a campfire, blindfold a stubborn horse, smother a grass fire, and slap a steer. Because of the versatility and durability, the hat became a distinguishing characteristic of the cowboy, as well as one of the popular features of Western fiction.
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