n November 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the southern United States to help settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. While on the trip, Roosevelt went bear hunting, but had little luck. Others in his party did find a bear, which, cornered near a water hole, fought with and killed one of the group's hunting dogs. When Roosevelt saw what had happened, he ordered his men to humanely put the wounded bear out of its misery. Clifford Berryman, a newspaper cartoonist for the Washington Post witnessed the incident and turned it into a cartoon. Called "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," the cartoon depicted Roosevelt's dual accomplishments on the trip - negotiating border disputes and protecting wildlife. To Berryman's surprise, the cartoon was published in newspapers across the country. However, the bear had not really been the helpless animal Berryman had first drawn, but, rather, an angry animal that just killed a dog. So, the cartoon, as well as the story of Roosevelt's hunting trip, was given a new spin..
Berryman redrew the cartoon, changing the angry bear to a small, frightened-looking cub. The story changed too. The newly invented legend said that, after having poor luck hunting, Roosevelt was given the opportunity to shoot a bear a cub that his staff had captured. Of course, Roosevelt refused. This account of Roosevelt's trip caught on and soon the cub was appearing in all of Berryman's cartoons featuring the president. "Teddy's bear," as it came to be called, quickly gained popularity with Americans of all ages.
The small cub sparked the imagination of Morris Michtom, the owner of a small novelty store in Brooklyn, New York. Michtom's wife stiched several plush toy replicas of the bear for sale in the family store. When they sold quickly, Michtom decided to send Roosevelt a bear and ask his permission to use the president's name on the bears. Roosevelt responded positively, and the Teddy Bear was born.
The Knickerbocker Teddy Bear
The most authentic reproductions of original Teddy Bears are manufactured by the Knickerbocker Toy Company, established by the Van Whye family in 1869. The toy bear inspired by President Roosevelt was mass-produced by Knickerbocker from 1920 to 1960. The company has journeyed back into its archive to recreate the early craftsmanship of its first bears. The new Teddy Bear has a collector's tush tag, to identify it as a true Knickerbocker.
n 1950, a careless act turned into tragedy when a fire burned wild and swept away over 17,000 acres of forest and watershed land in Capitan Mountains, Lincoln National Forest, N. M. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze.
A strong wind trapped 24 firefighters and only by laying face down with their faces covered with wet kerchiefs were they able to escape with their lives. The flames flared-up all around them and the smoke nearly choked them to death. When the fire died down the 24 firefighters spotted a badly burned little cub clinging to a charred tree.
The name Smokey was given to the small cub who escaped death by wildfire, and Smokey became the national symbol for forest fire prevention.
The Knickerbocker Smokey Bear
Knickerbocker's Smokey Bear wears his signature pair of jeans, a belt and buckle with his name in bold letters. The new bear is an authentic recreation of the Knickerbocker Smokey Bear first made throughout the 1970's.