Stetson, John Batterson, 1830–1906, American hat manufacturer, b. Orange, N.J. Stetson, who had learned hatmaking, traveled to the West in the 1860s to improve his health. He returned to Philadelphia and began manufacturing hats suited to the needs of the Western cowboy. These hats, known as Stetsons, soon became the popular headgear of the West. The John B. Stetson Company, formed in 1885, became, under his direction, one of the largest hat firms in the world. He donated generously to DeLand Univ. (at DeLand, Fla.), which was renamed (1889) John B. Stetson Univ. (now Stetson Univ.).