Long before the town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin became known for their beer and bratwursts that made their city famous, it was the lumber industry that first drew settlers there. Many of the settlers were of German descent. Of course, lumberjacks do work up an appetite and thirst, and given the ethnicity of its early residents, this may go a long way toward explaining the town’s fixation on making the perfect bratwurst and imbibing in the beer that made their homeland famous.Yet, anyone who has visited the Badger State, outside of summer, knows that it can get pretty chilly. There is nothing like wool socks and knit hats to keep warm. Because of the cold weather, another local industry was founded to ward off the winter chill. To this day, Wigwam Mills still calls Sheboygan home.
More than 110 Years of Family
In 1905, three partners Herbert Chesebro, Robert Ehany, and Lawrence Bentz founded the Wigwam Performance Sock Company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Their purpose was to serve those who made a living in the area’s lumber industry. They had been employees of the Sheboygan Knitting Company, which suffered the misfortune of being decimated by a fire the year before. This provided them an opportunity to start a new company and purchase new equipment. Originally known as the “Hand Knit Hosiery Company,” it focused on producing high-quality wool socks and headgear supplied by local wool mills. Now over 110 years later, the company, which changed its name to its popular sock line back in 1957, is still producing high-quality wool socks and headgear in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. They are proudly using wool sourced almost exclusively from American mills and wool growers.
One, Two, Three Generations
Seventeen years after founding the Hand Knit Hosiery Company, Herbert Chesebro managed to buy out his partner, Lawrence Bentz, and achieved at least partial control of the company. Fourteen years later, in 1936, his son, Robert Chesebro Sr., gained full control and soon the company found itself shifting 75% of their production to providing products for American troops headed overseas. Once the war was over, production shifted to domestic goods, such as baseball stockings and other socks for various outdoor activities, as well as hockey caps and mittens. By the 1980s, Chesebro’s grandson, Robert Chesebro Jr., took over the company and by that time the company was producing roughly 120 different types of hosiery and 90 styles of headgear with the motto of “socks for every sport.” Today, Robert Chesebro Jr. is Chairman of the Board of Wigwam, his son and daughter work for the company and Wigwam is now producing hundreds of varieties of socks and headwear for men, women, and children and for a variety of outdoor sports and activities.
Warmth, Wicking, and Wonderful to the Touch
Wigwam’s merino socks are said to be the most comfortable of their outerwear line. Merino socks are made of wool and are exceptional at regulating body temperature, therefore, are perfect for the outdoor enthusiast, especially those who participate in sports. They provide warmth without overheating and are an excellent wicking agent. Unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet, especially in the rain or after sweating from exercise. In addition, merino contains lanolin, which because of its antibacterial properties, results in reduced body odor. One of the most sought-after qualities is its softness, due to the fine fibers and small scales of this type of wool. The Merino Comfort Explorer and the Merino Comfort Hiker are just two of many merino wool socks produced by Wigwam.