Wheeling Cigar and Tobacco Industry, 1886
- from The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, September 14, 1886
CIGARS AND TOBACCO
AN INDUSTRY STEADILY GROWING
Fifty Millions of Cigars of all Grades Made in Wheeling and its Neighborhood. But the Fragrant and Seductive "Stogie" Leads all the Rest
Wheeling stogies are just as much identified with the city as the products of her heavier and more important industries. At home they are "in everybody's mouth," and abroad they have now a fame which has forced dealers in remote cities to place them on sale. Year after year they enlarge their field of occupation, making themselves at home in the populous centers of the East as well as in the remote States and Territories of the West. Without special effort they have "paddled their own canoe" down the Ohio and along the great Mississippi to its mouth and up its tributaries. In its Southerly course the Wheeling stogie has encountered the deeply rooted pipe, but there is an indispensable charm about it - a grace of proportion, a sturdy honesty, a readiness to come up to its work at all times - which has enabled it to surmount even this obstacle, and now thousands upon thousands go the "the land of the cypress and pine," the cotton field, the rice and the sugar plantation.
On its native heath the Wheeling stogie is free as air. Somebody pays the dealer for it, at the rate of "five for a nickle" and sometimes a sixth is thrown in. But the devotee has his vest pockets filled with them, their heads peeping out and their gentle voices greeting him with the familiar salutation, "Have a stogie?" The question is often asked how the stogie got its name. Perhaps the evolution can be traced backwards. Stogie is an obvious corruption of stoga, and end chopped off Connestoga, which word has been variously employed to designate things rough and ready. Stoga was pronounced with the flat sound of a, particularly in the plural, whence stogies, and then stogie.
The first man to make a stogie was Mr. M. Marsh, still living and actively engaged in the business. Perhaps Mr. Marsh ought to be called an inventor of a great boon to smokers who desire a cheap and good weed. There had long been a demand for the stogie, though it was not born and had not been named. A cheaply made "smoker" of Kentucky tobacco seen to be about the correct thing, and in 1857 the Wheeling stogie began its conquering career. The men who did this class of work received seventy-five cents a day, so that it was possible to put the stogie on the market at from $1 75 to $2 00 a thousand. The stogie got a fair start and was catching. It soon grew into such favor that in the drinking houses it stood in glass holders for the customer to help himself without money and without price, about as toothpicks are placed in this later day.
The industry grew as stogies came into favor, and Wheeling has easily held the lead in spite of all imitators. There are good stogies and bad, and Wheeling has held her supremacy by the very great rate she has given to the low-priced product. The stock for fine grades of cigars is scarcely selected with more scrupulous regard to the end in view; and though the stogie must necessarily be made rapidly to sell at the prevailing prices, its peculiar, long, slim form requires that it shall be well made, or it will not be "a good smoker." Experienced stogie makers become very expert, the best of them being able to earn $20 a week. In this city fifty-five concerns report themselves to the Internal Revenue Collector as cigar manufacturers, all of them making stogies among other grades. For the past fiscal year, ending June 30, reports to the Collector showed that Wheeling had made 30,572,000 cigars. The product in the vicinity will probably run the aggregate up to 50,000. Tips, the next grade to stogies, and fine cigars, figure to some extent in this large aggregate, but the stogie overshadows them all in number and money for value. It ought to be said that cigars average cheaper in Wheeling than in almost any other city of the country. This strikes visitors so forcibly that Wheeling dealers have built up a large box trade in the medium and higher grades, shipping to all parts of the country. Wheeling's Havana cigars are not equaled anywhere in the country, quality and price considered.
Manufactured tobacco, for chewing and pipe-smoking, is an increasing Wheeling industry. Last year three concerns made 815,671 pounds. Part of this was consumed at home, but a considerable proportion was shipped away. A growing demand has made necessary an enlargement of capacity, and increased facilities continue to be added. In manufactured tobacco, as in other products, Wheeling aims to win her way with an honest article, and this policy she has found to pay.
AT THE HEAD
The largest manufacturer of cigars in West Virginia is Augustus Pollack, whose "Crown Stogies" have become a sort of West Virginia institution, and are most widely sold in all the prominent markets of the country. These cigars have been increasingly manufactured by Mr. Pollack for the past fifteen years. They have especially recommended themselves to the trade on account of superior material and workmanship. Their make-up includes American Havana long filling and the best Pennsylvania wrappers, a combination as to quality not inferior to goods sold in New York at $40 per thousand, while the Wheeling article is sold at $9 50 per thousand.
In the way of tobaccos Mr. Pollack's combination specialty, known as the "Seal of West Virginia" for both chewing and smoking, is scarcely less well known than his "Crown Stogies." He was the first manufacturer to introduce such a combination to the trade of this country, and is also the inventor of the patent refining process by which this class of his goods have attained their high standard of excellence and popularity. This process imparts to the tobaccos produced at Mr. Pollack's factory a degree of refinement and excellence unattainable by any other manipulation, and gives to the consumer, at an extremely moderate expense, the very best natural leaf smoking and chewing tobacco to be had in this country at the price.
In addition to this brand. Mr. Pollack manufactures also two other excellent brands known as the "American Sovereign" and the "Civil Service," which, like his "Seal of West Virginia," are composed exclusively of high grades of American fermented tobacco, of natural delicate flavor, smallest percentage of nicotine, and which are by reason of their mild and fragrant character especially adapted to a large class of consumers.
The following prices will serve to show how remarkably low are the prices in this line of Wheeling's activity:
"Seal of West Virginia," "Sovereign" and "Civil Service" tobaccos - 1/4s (qr. lb. packages), 22 1/2 cents per package; cases of 60 lbs. and 1 1/2 cases of 30 lbs. delivered. Terms - 30 days or 1/2 percent off for sharp cash.
OTHER IMPORTANT FIRMS
Marsh & Son come next in the order of production, having last year made 4,343,200 cigars. Their stogies and tips are rated high in the market and are widely distributed. Their aim is to produce the best article of its kind, and the large quantity of which they dispose is evidence that their effort is not in vain.
John Schneider & Co., came third in point of production, having returned in the past fiscal year 1,806,200 cigars of all kinds. Their output is in high favor at home and wherever it has made it way.
Muhn & Brandfass made 1,731,700 cigars last year. They give careful attention to the selection of their material and in all the grades they manufacture have established a reputation which carries their goods into remote markets. Their best cigars, while fewer in quantity, have materially added to the firm's standing with the trade.H.L. Loos & Bro. manufactured 1,709,300 cigars last year, but the better grades enter so largely into the volume of their business that the money value is much larger than indicated by the number of cigars made. A large part of their force is employed on work that brings from $20 to $60 per thousand, the highest price representing carefully hand made Havana goods not surpassed for style and, not equaled in price by the large cities. Their "Profesh," "Old Judge," "Ixion," "Lincoln Club," "Flor de Alma," "Banquet" and "Henry Clay" take high rank in their respective grades. It is true, of course, that here as elsewhere in Wheeling the lower grades, including stogies, form the bulk of the business.
Ebeling & Pebler made 1,456,200 cigars last year, Henry Wheeler 1,393,000, and Henry Hanks 1,209,000, energetic concerns whose business grows as their goods become better known in distant places.
Henry Seamon is one of the pioneers in the stogie trade, and though he has devoted some of his attention to other business, he has made the Nail City cigar works a factor in this industry. His specialty is stogies and tips, though he has a good trade in cigars of higher price. His trade, like that of Wheeling cigar manufacturers, is the result of natural growth. Recently Mr. Seamon made a trip to the Northwest, combining business with pleasure, and the result was that he was obliged to increase his force to supply orders. His "Nail City Stogies" do not let go where once they take hold.
Other manufacturers, though producing largely in the aggregate and giving satisfaction to customers, do not individually approach the figures above given by way of illustration.