Bull Durham – Smoking Tobacco – Thomas Cusack Co. Chicago – Wallace, ID

© Vincenzo Aiosa

Bolger's Hotel & Cafe also seen fading above on the cinder blocks near the roof. © Frank H. Jump

© Vincenzo Aiosa

© Vincenzo Aiosa

© Vincenzo Aiosa

Bull Durham Tobacco

Much of this growth can be attributed to the establishment of a thriving tobacco industry. Soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were encamped near Bennett Place, just outside Durham Station, during surrender proceedings in April 1865. While on the battlefront, soldiers liberally helped themselves to the area’s Brightleaf Tobacco, which purportedly had a milder flavor than other tobacco varieties. Veterans returned home after the war with an interest in acquiring more of the great tobacco they had sampled in North Carolina. Numerous orders were mailed to John Ruffin Green’s tobacco company requesting more of the Durham tobacco. W.T. Blackwell partnered with Green and renamed the company as the “Bull Durham Tobacco Factory”. The name “Bull Durham” is said to have been taken from the bull on the British Colman’s Mustard, which Mr. Blackwell (mistakenly) believed was manufactured in Durham, England. – Wikipedia

W.T. Blackwell & Co. Tobacco Factory, circa 1895 - From (no author) "Hand-book of Durham, North Carolina: A Brief and Accurate Description of a Prosperous and Growing Southern Manufacturing Town." The Educator Company, Durham, 1895. Page 34. - Wikipedia

Tobacco advertising in America first appeared in 1789, when the Lorillard brothers advertised their snuff and tobacco products in a local New York daily paper. Advertising for tobacco, and most other products, over the next 70 years took this same form – mostly unadorned advertisements in local or regional newspapers.

For the three main tobacco products of the time – snuff, cigars, and smoking tobacco – manufacturing was primarily done by hand until after the Civil War. This obviously limited production levels; combined with the lack of transportation, manufacturers did not have the infrastructure to support a national demand for their items. As a reflection of these limitations, brand names were infrequently used. It wasn’t until the 1840s that brand names slowly began to appear on labels. Customers traditionally would ask for the “best” product, rarely requesting a specific brand, when they purchased their tobacco from the local grocer, or possibly from a traveling peddler.

Union and Confederate armies regularly traded tobacco for coffee and other goods throughout the Civil War, also without much preference for brand. The Bull Durham brand, though, grew out of an incident in Durham, North Carolina that occurred at the close of the war. Soldiers from both sides raided a farmer’s tobacco crop as they waited for a surrender to be completed. After returning home, these same soldiers wrote back asking for more of this tobacco. The farmer, Mr. John Green, happily obliged; the tobacco was named Bull Durham in 1868 and later became the largest selling tobacco brand in the world. – Duke University

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Thomas Cusack Company Chicago – An Outdoor Advertising Pioneer

In 1875, one Thomas Cusack, a youth in his teens, started a business with only a paint pot and brush and a remarkable personality as assets. The business consisted in painting advertising signs on the sides of buildings in a small way. Gradually, he took to building billboards of his own, and leasing suitable walls and other locations for outdoor advertisements.

After a half-century, Mr. Cusack decided to retire from active work. But it took a banking syndicate to buy out his interest in the Thomas Cusick Co. of Chicago. What his selling price was is unknown. But the company’s last balance sheet showed assets over $26,000,000 and annual gross business over $23,000,000. The headquarters of the company are located in Chicago, with branches in about one hundred other cities. The concern owns 100,000 separate leases controlling 40,000,000 square feet (10 10/99 square miles) of wall surface and 1,800,000 square feet (5/11 square mile) of billboards.

The bankers who have acquired the Cusack Co. expect to make a public offering of the stock shortly. This is said to be the first time in the history of U. S. business that Wall Street bankers have taken over an advertising concern, and also the first time that shares in such a business should be underwritten and sold to the public through the Wall Street markets.Time Magazine: Business: Cusack – Monday, Oct. 06, 1924

The outdoor advertising industry in the U.S. began to assume its modern form in the middle of the 19th century, when billposters pasted small posters on almost any available wall or flat space. Technological improvements in printing made it possible to print larger sheets that could be mounted in several pieces to create much larger posters. Circuses and theaters were early users of this form of advertising, which often was posted willy-nilly on fences and buildings. Wooden “billboards” (i.e. boards for the posting of “bills”) began to be erected along railroad lines, bringing advertising messages to train passengers. By the 1870s, developments in color lithography meant that ever-greater numbers of posters were printed in eye-catching color.

Bill posting companies began forming at mid century, including John Donnelley in Boston (1850), Thomas Cusack Company in Chicago (1875), and O. J. Gude in Brooklyn (1878). The industry as a whole made its first organizing efforts in 1872; subsequent organizations eventually became the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), which still is the main industry association today. – Duke University – More About R. C. Maxwell Company Outdoor Advertising

Thomas Cusack of Chicago, was born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland, October 5, 1858, died November 19, 1926. He was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Illinois 4th District, 1899-1901

Cusack’s family immigrated to the United States in 1861, and settled in New York City. In 1863, following the death of his parents, he moved to Chicago, where he attended the local schools and was trained as a sign painter. In 1875 he formed an outdoor advertising company, Thomas Cusack Company, which became the largest in the United States, with more than 100 branches, leases on more than 100,000 billboard and other advertising sites, and more than $23,000,000 in annual gross income. Cusack was a member of Chicago’s board of education from 1891 to 1898 and served as vice president of the board from 1896 to 1898. From 1893 to 1897 he served on the staff of Governor John P. Altgeld with the rank of colonel. Cusack served as a member of the Illinois Democratic Party’s central committee from 1896 to 1898. In 1898 he was the successful Democratic nominee for a seat in the U.S. House of representatives, serving in the Fifty-sixth Congress, March 4, 1899 to March 3, 1901. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1900 and returned to his advertising business, remaining active until selling his company to Wall Street investors in 1924. Cusack died from pneumonia at his home in Chicago and was buried in Evanston’s Calvary Cemetery. A home he built near Colorado Springs in 1922 was donated by his last surviving child in the 1970s and serves as a novitiate for the Congregation of Holy Cross. – Wikipedia

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