We’re looking for artifacts, documents, letters, photos, and historic information all the time and we need your help to locate items to include in our exhibits and historic interpretation.
June 2013 – SCAVENGER HUNT
Except as a crop, tobacco is no longer one of the major products of Rockingham County. For many generations, the people of the county were dependent on the crop for their income. They could grow what they needed to eat, but they raised their families on the tobacco income. No crop grew better. No crop produced more money per acre. The size of families often was influenced by the amount of tobacco grown. Slaves grew the tobacco before Emancipation and after, they could grow their own crops. Tenant farming was a path to the purchase of a farm with a few acres of tobacco. In 1936, the tobacco quota system put stringent restrictions on the amount of tobacco a farm could produce. The incentive was to preserve the small farmer but over the years allotments were bought and concentrated. In 2004 the quota system was ended.
In the 19th century tobacco was produced as plug and pipe tobacco. Plantation owners manufactured in small “factories” and sent their sons south to peddle their product. To differentiate, they began naming their product and some brands grew in reputation. After the Civil War tobacco was in high demand in the North and cigarettes became the rage. Small factories combined and North Carolina, led by such families as Penn, Harris, Duke, and Reynolds, created major industries and tobacco towns like Reidsville, Durham and Winston. As part of this industry, tobacco sales warehouses built other fortunes slightly less than the large manufacturers.
Rockingham County was at the heart of this bright leaf/flue cured tobacco market. Factories had names. Products had names. Products were advertized with prizes and fancy packaging. Warehouses produced sales receipts and promotions. All these were part of the byproduct of the tobacco industry. MARC already has a unique “tobacco barn” on display. We have a representative display of tobacco packaging and products. With the opening of the Archives at MARC, we need to preserve more of these records of tobacco manufacturing. We should be building a record, and locating, the tobacco factories of all kinds that used to dot the county. We should do the same with the many names given to products of those factories. We should do the same for the tobacco warehouses. Let the Scavenger Hunt begin.
If you have what we’re looking for, please contact us at the MARC. If you know someone who might have these things, please contact them and pass the word on.