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Smyth Hat Shop 1883

This is a picture of Richard Smyth’s hat shop in 1883 Richard Smyth is located on the right with his daughter Edith. The shop was located at about 7th Avenue and C Street in Salt Lake City.


We trace our roots back to 1853 when John C. Tatton, a Mormon Pioneer, brought his trade of Hatting from Lancashire, England to the Salt Lake Valley. When Tatton left the valley in 1863, another hatter from Ireland took over as Salt Lakes hatter. Richard Smyth operated his hat shop in downtown Salt Lake before passing the legacy on to his son, Jim, and his grandsons. James Whittington, “JW” himself, then took over the hat shop in 1977 and we are proud to be serving you today!

Pioneers in Hat-making

John C. Tatton

August 4, 1818 – March 2, 1889

John C. Tatton was born in Lancashire England. At the age of 13, he began learning the trade of hatter in the mills along the Mercy River. He left England in 1853 with his family after joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He traveled across the Great Plains in a wagon to join other Mormon settlers in Salt Lake City.

John C. Tatton stayed in the Salt Lake Valley for ten years operating one of the first hat shops west of the Mississippi River. After acquiring a lead vat, Tatton was able to work furs into the felt needed to make fine hats. He then moved south to Manti, Utah where he continued to work on hats for the people in his community. At the time, his hats would sell for $7 – $12 a piece.

Richard Smyth

December 25, 1838 – July 4, 1914

Richard Smyth was born in Dublin, Ireland. He learned the trade of hat making in his native land. Richard emigrated to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1863 after joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was not only a talented hatter, but a poet and writer as well. He opened a hat shop in Salt Lake City and taught the trade to his son Jim Smyth. His shop was located at approximately 7th Avenue and C street.

James R. Smyth

September 11, 1884 – June 16, 1971

Jim Smyth was born in Salt Lake City. The son of a hatter, he began apprenticing to his father at the age of 10. At the turn of the century young Jim had had enough of hatting and decided to go into show business. He worked backstage at many local theaters until he decided to give the hat business another chance. In 1912 he opened a hat shop of his own.

Jim kept the legacy alive passing the hat business down to his sons, Al and Sidney. Smyth Brothers was eventually sold. The equipment was placed in storage until it was bought in 1977 by Jim Whittington.

James C. Whittington

March 10, 1936 – November 

Jim Whittington or “J.W.” was born in New Mexico. He served in the Army in his youth. After hi service in the Army J.W. worked for JW Jones building interstate highways.

J.W. relocated to Salt Lake City where he started a printing business. After discovering the hat making equipment belonging to the Smyth brothers in 1977, he started making Hats.

J.W. was a pioneer in the hat making business. He not only created hats of his own, but also trained may new hatters. He designed and manufactured hat making equipment for hatters throughout the world. J.W. could be seen in the hat shop right until the end of his life, shaping the hats that he loved.

Raymond Crane

Current Owner

Raymond Crane has lived in Utah since he was eight years old. As a boy, he loved cowboys and Indians. Some of his favorite movies growing up were “The Man from Snowy River” and “Dances with Wolves.” As a young scout, he joined the Order of the Arrow and learned to make Native American style costume pieces. He first became interested in JW Hats in the 2010’s. He was honored to take over the shop in January of 2018. He was excited to carry on the legacy of all the wonderful hatters that owned the shop before him! He graduated with a degree in Business Management and served as JW Hats’ manager before purchasing the shop.

His greatest treasures are in his faith, his wife, his children and in serving others. He is committed to preserving the high-quality hats you’ve come to expect from JW Custom Hats. Thank you for allowing us to serve you!


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