At the turn of the century there were 100 cigar factories in Ohio. By the end of WW2 there were just 40 left. The last operating cigar factory in the State of Ohio was, … the Blaine-Stewart in Hicksville, Ohio. When they finally closed in the early 1970′s, they had been in operation for many years using equipment that was over a hundred years old.
I was very fortunate to have acquired that complete shop and move it here to the museum. All the cutters, grinders, rollers, presses, molds, clamps and vices and cigar boxes and labels came with the shop. I even acquired the very large zinc lined, wooden storage chest still filled with curing tobacco. A nicer, richer smell is hard to imagine.
Originally, I set up the shop in the museum’s main barn. While it was there, a couple of fellows visited from Pennsylvania just to see the old equipment and smell the fine cigar smell of the shop they used to travel so far to, in order to buy their cigars. They spoke with great affection of the quality of the cigars they had once so enjoyed.
Since then I have now moved the Blaine-Stewart Cigar Shop into the former Darrowville Post Office. I have also added to the collection a large number of other brand cigar boxes, two woven wood tobacco carrying baskets, spittoons, signs, tobacco we grow, chopping knives, ash trays and more. I also acquired a wonderful display case, complete with R. G. Dunn decals, which formally served as the sales desk of our friend Nina at the now closed Peninsula Antiques that once stood east of town on Rt. 303.
In tribute to the fine tobaccos once so commonly smoked and enjoyed, we painted the interior of the shop a color somewhat reminiscent of the color smoker’s fingers used to turn from holding lit cigars and cigarettes. A nice rich, brownish yellow. …How it all reminds me of my long passed but so fondly remembered Grandfather William.
This past week I have spent a great deal of time cleaning out the “old tool shop” where I keep many of my more modern tools. It had gotten rather cluttered over the years with much of the surplus I have collected. Along with chain saws, paint, tools of all kinds, gas cans and such, I had also saved large collections of nuts and bolts and nails, many of them still in the cans where various farmers had originally stored them. It has been interesting how often many of the repurposed cans, now full of nails and such, where originally tobacco tins. I had forgotten about the tins until this most recent cleaning. And so the cigar shop’s collection grows.