History Snapshot: Alexandria, Virginia and Tobacco

Hamilton & Co Plantation, Alexandria, Virginia Cigar Box. (Photo: Ken Lopez, OurHistoryMuseum.com)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Before there was an Alexandria, there were tobacco growers, tobacco plantations, and tobacco warehouses. By the time the town was formally established in 1749, it had already been the site of a public tobacco inspection station for decades. England sought to standardize the raw product coming from America and set up pre-export inspection stations.

After the Revolutionary War, the town became home to manufacturers of cigars, snuff, cigarettes, and other types of tobacco products. Alexandria was a top ten port and was surrounded by tobacco cultivation. Of course, someone would want to capitalize on that and add value through manufacturing.

Pictured are a handful of items from the Our History Museum collection. The first is a Hamilton & Company Plantation cigar box. The next two are letters from the same sender, Frank Corbett, from two different companies. I believe both Old Dominion Cigar Co. and Steiner & Yohe were located in the present-day Ramsey House Visitors Center location.

From the Arlington Historical Magazine [PDF] about Frank Corbett:

Over the years, he was a deputy collector for the U.S. Custom House (in at least 1870 and 1876), ran a Chinese Tea Store ( early 1870s ), and was partner in a brick manufactory (circa 1874-1890s) and a cigar manufactory (late 1880s until his death). In addition, he was a Common Councilman for Alexandria’s second ward ( 1883-1889), president of the Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company of Alexandria (in at least 1887), and president of a building association, the Mount Vernon Co-Operative No. 2 (in at least 1888).  When he died, the Alexandria Gazette discussed these types of activities, covering his Arlington holdings with one sentence: “He owned a farm in Alexandria county said to be worth about $20,000.”

The final item is an invoice from A.J. Fleming & Co, “jobbers” in tobacco products.

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RELATED: Old Virginia Tobacco Company Moves into King Street

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Ken is a lifelong entrepreneur and collector of history. While attending the Delaware Law School in the early 1990s, Ken taught himself computer animation as a hobby. It was that hobby, combined with his law degree and a degree in economics from the University of Mary Washington that helped launch his career of entrepreneurship. In 1995, he founded his first company, A2L Consulting, where he served as its Founder/CEO for 25 years. A2L provided trial support services to all of the nation’s top law firms and their clients around the world. Often called upon when the dollars at stake are high, A2L’s services include helping to predict how judges and juries will react to a case, the creation of sophisticated visual evidence used to persuade judges and juries, and the deployment and use of state-of-the-art technology and technology consultants in the courtroom. Bestselling business author Dan Pink highlighted A2L in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, and Ken has been quoted by many news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Inc., NBC News, Wired, the Washington Post, and the BBC. In 2013, Virginia’s Governor appointed Ken to a four-year term on the University of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors. He has also served on the Dean’s National Advisory Board of Delaware Law School and a variety of local and business boards and advisory groups. After a stroke in 2020 ended his litigation consulting career, Ken founded our history museum. He combined his passion For history, his collection of artifacts related to Alexandria Virginia, and his entrepreneurial spirit to found what will become the world's largest virtual history museum. In spite of an interesting and varied career, Ken still lists his top passion and proudest accomplishment as father of triplet girls born in 2008.

1 COMMENT

  1. The entire enterprise was based on slavery yet it was not mentioned one time. This is why we are so ignorant.

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