Cigarettes, Cheroots & Stogies


Marlboro Man

When I began writing westerns, labeling a cowboy’s choice of smoke became a bit of a tricky wicket. I was repeatedly told “cigarette” is too modern of a term to be used in the 1870’s…but is it really? While “cheroot” is totally expectable, is a cheroot a cigarette?

Uh…no. A cheroot is a cylinder shaped cigar that does not taper and is clipped at each end. While cigarettes today are clipped at each end, in the mid to late 1800’s cigarettes were generally hand-rolled by the smoker. A cowboy had his pouch of tobacco and a book of rolling papers.

The word cigarette is a French word meaning “small cigar”.



In 1854 Dr. Bartlett Durham sold four acres of land to the North Carolina Railroad Company to build a new station between Hillsborough and Raleigh and before long a small settlement grew there which was to become the city of Durham. The first tobacco factory had opened in Durham in 1854 by R. F. Morris. Ten years later, In 1865 the armies of Union and Confederate forces gathered around Durham Station as General Joseph E. Johnston negotiated his surrender to General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place at the end of the Civil War. Union troops liked the taste of the local bright leaf tobacco. This began the growth of Durham’s tobacco industry and led the city to prosperity. By 1880 Durham’s population had grown to over 2000. Textile mills began to grow along the railroad lines and banks and insurance companies soon appeared as money flowed into the community.


1860: Manufactured cigarettes first appear in the United States. A popular early brand, Bull Durham, commanded 90% of the market

1861-1865: Tobacco is given with rations to Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, and many Northerners are introduced to tobacco this way. During Sherman’s march, Union soldiers raided warehouses in search of the mild, sweet “bright” tobacco of the South. Bright tobacco becomes the rage in the North and eventually replaces the heavier Turkish tobacco in cigarettes.

1864: First American cigarette factory opens and produces almost 20 million cigarettes annually.

The word stogie has an interesting conception. “Stogie” is short for Conestoga. The cigar was the smoke of choice for teamsters driving Conestoga wagons in the cigar-making Conestoga valley area around Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

For the ninteenth century smoker on a tight budget, a pipe was the most affordable option. But pipes will have to be a blog for another day 🙂

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21 thoughts on “Cigarettes, Cheroots & Stogies”

  1. Interesting post, Stacey. I didn’t know that stogies was short for conestoga.

    Laughing at Mary’s comment: In California you can’t smoke in parks but you can legitimately buy marijuana for whatever ails you. Bi-polar indeed!

  2. Loved Mary’s comment and I can see it happen! The town I live in has went tobacco-free but they brought in Alcohol right after. It has always been a dry county until now. So they take out the cigarettes and bring in the booze, makes no sence to me!

  3. ah, interesting
    if i had to pick smelling any one of the above…it would be the pipe
    but, i’m really enjoying our newly smoke free state 🙂

  4. Hi Margaret! I had no idea about the stogies either–love it when cool tidbits like that pop up 🙂 I do love that CA is tabacco free. I forget about that until I head out of state and am reminded what a great law that is 😉

  5. Wow, Quilt Lady–booze for smokes?

    I can certainly see affects of all those anti-tabacco comapaigns in the eighties. When I was young all of my parents smoked, and most of my relatives, aunts and uncles and so on. Now, not a one. But I’m still stunned by the number of young people who do.

  6. I don’t think smoking was such a health concern back in the day. Since most people died beneath a buffalo stampede, or a post-child birth fever, or an infected scratch or a runaway stagecoach accident, or typhoid or polio or measles, or ….etc.

    Who lived long enough to get lung cancer?

  7. Stacey, this is so interesting. I never knew the time-line for cigarettes. I did know cigars were around long before though. Smoking was so common in frontier days. I love the smell of cigars, but can’t stand the smoke. It gives off a very distinctive aroma that I find pleasing. Thanks for clearing up some of my questions. I enjoyed the lesson. 🙂

  8. Fascinating post, Stacey.

    I gave one of my heroines the habit of sneaking a smoke now and then, and boy did I get the mail about what a health hazzard that was and a poor example to our young people.

    Sometimes we can’t be realistic because of the modern connotations!

  9. Glad you enjoyed it, Linda! Timeline or no, you still won’t find the word “cigarette” in my westerns 😉 When they roll their own, I simply call them “smokes” *ggg*

  10. Great post, Stacey,

    I thought about letting my heriones smoke too but then decided against it.

    You have taught me some things I was not aware of Stacey.

    Walk in harmony,

  11. Stacy, I’m not sure what today’s young people think when they start smoking. That it’s cool, makes them seem older – those were among my reasons when I began smoking in my late teens. When my children were in elementary school, there was a major anti-smoking campaign which they kept telling me about. It wasn’t until we watched my father-in-law dying from lung cancer, that I finally stopped, cold turkey and overnight. It’s such a harsh reality. I didn’t want my children to go through that experience!

    Pat Cochran

  12. Interesting post, Stacey. My grandfather smoked cigars and I can remember choking on the smoke. Pipe tobacco does smell wonderful. Unfortunately, our son started smoking in high school. He was trying to fit in plus someone told him it would help his asthma. (I know, 145 IQ and no common sense). He rolls his own, so no filters. He is old enough to know better now, but is addicted to nicotine.
    My Dad started smoking at 14 (back in the ’30s). He tried to quit so many times. He finally managed to quit cold turkey about 5 years ago. Unfortunately, he has emphysema and COPD, and is on oxygen.
    What I find upsetting, is the number of parents that allow young children to use smokeless tobacco. When my husband was coaching little league (15 years ago), he noticed one of the boys had a tin in his pocket. We are talking 11 and 12 year olds. He called the parents over and asked them if they were aware of it and they got very angry and told him to mind his own ….ing business. He made them take the tin (league rule are no tobacco products on the field). The mother had her son come over to the fence when the team was off the field and was poking it into his mouth. Doesn’t that qualify as child endangerment? His father even threatened my husband with a baseball bat after the game. Accusing us of being (still are) outsiders and just don’t understand that is the way things are in TN. I still don’t understand what they were thinking. Ignorance may be part of it, but there is no way not to know the danger of tobacco. He’ll have an addiction he’ll be fighting for life. This all happened at the time when one of the high school students died of mouth cancer from chewing tobacco/scoal.

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