The stogie became popular in 1827, when Wheeling tobacconist George W. Black first sold the distinctive cigars to wagon drivers on the National Road. Stogies, longer and thinner than the traditional cigar, were named for the Conestoga wagon that many of the wagoneers drove. Making them was a cottage industry in Wheeling until well after the Civil War. One of the cigar makers was Mifflin Marsh, who in 1840 at age 22 was selling stogies to steamboat crews and passengers, as well as Conestoga drivers, at the price of four for a penny.
Wheeling is a union town, and in 1869 the stogie makers were among the first trades in the city to unionize. That same year Marsh went into business with his son, William, and formed M. Marsh and Son. Mifflin Marsh was president of the company until his death in 1901. William, who succeeded his father, served as president until 1920.
Stogies traditionally were rolled by hand, and a good roller could produce 1,000 stogies a day. As cigar-making was mechanized, M. Marsh and Son rented more than 40 machines in 1931, each producing 5,000 stogies a day. Women were hired as machine operators, especially during World War II. Marsh employed 600 workers, its peak number, at this time. With a general decline in the market after the war, Marsh soon became the only large stogie manufacturer still in business. Today, the Marsh Wheeling stogie remains a good cheap smoke, with the Mountaineer, Virginian, and Deluxe labels. The dark, slender cigars sell in the five-pack for less than $2. The Wheeling plant closed in 2001, and Marsh Wheeling cigars are now made in Indiana.
This Article was written by Katherine M. Jourdan
Last Revised on October 08, 2010