The company’s roots started with the Kay and Bishop families. In 1909 they moved to Pendleton, OR and took over the defunct Pendleton Woolen Mills. The town of Pendleton is a major railhead for the Columbia River Plateau and allowed convenient shipping for the growing business. In 1895 the mill was enlarged and converted into a textile mill and in 1896 began making Native-American blankets—geometric patterned robes (unfringed blankets) for Native-American men and shawls (fringed blankets) for Native-American women in the area—the Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes. New designs, colors, and patterns to their product line were then introduced. The company expanded their trade from the local Native-American tribes of the Columbia River area, as well as tribes of the American Southwest. To do this, they enlisted the help of designer Joe Rawnsley, who visited tribes to learn their customs and color preferences. Like many other mills of the day, Pendleton emulated the multicolor patterns of candy-stripe blankets, like those found on Hudsons Bay Point blankets for their Glacier National Park blanket. The Pendleton blankets were not only basic wearing apparel, but were standards of trading and ceremonial use.
The company began to expand their product line into other woolen products such as clothing. In 1912 the company opened a weaving mill in Washougal, Washington for the production of woolen fabrics used in suits and other clothing.
Fun Fact: In 1960, a little-known singing group known as the Pendletones was formed, taking their name from the classic Pendleton wool plaid shirt. This group later changed their name to The Beach Boys and the Pendleton shirt became popular among American youth.
Every winter you will find a selection of curated vintage Pendleton wool coats, shirts, sweaters, skirts, vests and more at HalfPint!