Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy lives on in Fort Atkinson through one of the smallest and unexpected ways

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. — As the world remembers Queen Elizabeth II, her legacy lives on in the smallest ways possible: all the way down to her socks.

According to the Hoard Historical Museum, there’s a good chance that on her wedding day, Queen Elizabeth wore stockings made in Fort Atkinson.

“Well, it’s definitely a claim to fame,” said Merrilee Lee, the director of the Hoard Historical Museum. “There aren’t too many things in Fort Atkinson that we can say went to royalty.”

In 1947, then-Princess Elizabeth was planning a wedding in Britain in the aftermath of World War II. This made it extremely difficult to get some items in Britain.

As the story goes, Miss Merritt, a schoolteacher from Neenah, Wisconsin, wrote to the princess asking if there was something she could send to the future Queen for her wedding. Princess Elizabeth wrote back, answering that she’d be pleased to accept some silk nylons, and gave her size and address.

Merritt was a customer of Bettersox Knitting Mills from Fort Atkinson and so sent Elizabeth two pairs of Bettersox Nylons. Bettersox’s factory was located along the Rock River next to the Fort Atkinson Club, now the location of the Riverview Manor.

Started in 1908 by Arthur Hoard, the middle son of W.D. and Agnes Hoard, Bettersox originally made only men’s socks but eventually included women’s hosiery as well.

According to a Facebook post from the Hoard Historical Museum, the headline of the local paper was, “Hosiery Made in Fort Atkinson to be Worn by Princess Elizabeth on Wedding Day.”

The museum says it can’t really be sure that the future queen actually wore the nylons on Nov. 20, 1947, when she married Phillip Mountbatten. However, the story still shows part of the Queen’s life had Wisconsin threaded inside of it.

“It’s a wonderful part of her legacy,” Lee said. “It’s very near and dear to both Fort Atkinson at Queen Elizabeth.”

Queen Elizabeth was not the only famous person to wear stockings made in Fort Atkinson. Bettersox also shipped stockings to Pope Pius XII and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Hoard Historical Museum has a display of a knitting mill used at Bettersox as well as some Bettersox stockings. More information on the museum’s hours are available on its website.