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 🙂