Henderson County, Kentucky

Tobacco Manufacturers

On January 22nd, 1883, Messrs. J. D. ROBARDS and N. A. KITCHELL, under the name of the "Robards-Kitchell Manufacturing Company," filed their articles of incorporation. This, then, was the first manufactory ever organized in Henderson. The business was begun and carried on for a short time in the present John H. HODGE stemmery, but was subsequently removed to Mr. ROBARDS' stemmery, on the corner of Second and Adam Streets, where it is at this time.

Within the past three months, Dr. KITCHELL sold his interest and the firm is now J. D. ROBARDS & Company, being composed of J. D. and E. T. ROBARDS. The finest chewing and smoking tobaccos are manufactured, and none but the best material is used. The celebrated Greenville brand of chewing tobacco is made. The firm has ample capacity and means to push the work to any desired extent. Between fifteen hundred and two thousand pounds of tobacco are handled daily. Their trade is mostly South. Between twenty-five and thirty persons are employed.

Thomas B. HODGE, in 1884, established the celebrated HODGE Tobacco Manufactory on Lower Main, between Dixon and Jefferson Streets. This is by far the largest and most complete manufactory in the State, outside of the City of Louisville. The building is a large one and contains every convenience. It is supplied with the best machinery, and new additions, to facilitate work, are constantly being made. A large force of experts are employed and the best brands of chewing tobaccos known to the trade are turned out in large quantities. Between fifty and sixty operatives find employment in the factory, and between two thousand five hundred and three thousand pounds of tobacco is manufactured daily.

History of Henderson County, KY
by E. L. Starling, Pages 516 - 517


Definition of a hogshead:

Tobacco was usually delivered at the wharf (otherwise referred to as the rolling house, tobacco magazine or storage house), located at convenient and suitable ports along the rivers. It was packed tightly in various sized barrels, called hogsheads . Each end, or head, of the hogshead was reinforced to accommodate insertion of a stout pole into one end, through the middle and out the other end. Enough of the pole protruded out of each end to allow attachments for pulling the hogshead, in a rolling fashion, to the shipping point by oxen or other means.

Each loaded hogshead contains between 750 and 1,000 pounds of tobacco as the "bull gang," a team of strong-backed young men, roll them over to the elevators. Apparently, the size of these great containers was long ago accurately gauged to the ability of a strong man to roll them from place to place. There was a time, too, when farmers used similar hogsheads to haul their tobacco to market. The containers were reinforced by extra hoops to stand the wear and tear of the road, and an axle was passed through the center line and mounted on a frame. An ox then was hitched to the hogshead and it was rolled on to its destination. There are people still living who remember when farmers brought their tobacco down to the city in these traveling hogsheads.

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2005 HCH&GS