MARSH STOGIES SAYS GOODBYE AFTER 160 YEARS
November 7, 2001
by Phyllis Dye Slater.
(Photo provided by Margaret Brennan.)
The M.Marsh & Sons company,
maker of Marsh Wheeling Stogies, is set to close at the end of the year, but
the company has a rich history dating back more that 160 years.
At a time when cigar making was a cottage industry, the first Marsh Wheeling Stogies were made in the home of Mifflin M. Marsh.
Carrying his stogies in a market basket over his arm, Marsh sold them to steamboat crew members docked at Wheeling's wharf and to people traveling through the city on National road aboard conestoga wagons.
Because so many customers were conestoga travelers, the special cigars were termed "stogies."
A stogie differs from a regular cigar in that it is longer and thinner and it is comprised of a different blend of cigar leaves. The first stogies were hand-made stogies and not as refined as the current machine-made stogies.
Initially, Marsh sold his stogies four for a penny.
Because Marsh's customers were travelers, popularity of the mild, inexpensive stogies grew quickly all over the United States.
After the Civil War, the popularity of the stogie boomed and there were about 100 factories in business in Wheeling. Wheeling-made stogies were popular all over the U.S. and overseas.
The first Marsh factory was located on Water Street between 12th and 14th streets. Later, the factory was on 12th, between Main and Water.
Finally in 1908, operations were opened at the 900 block of Market Street, where they are now.
By 1920, all operations were centered at the present plant, where one story had been added to the original building and two five-story brick buildings had been built.
In the spring of 1940, the plant was further enlarge by the purchase of an additional adjoining building.
Currently about 40 people work at the Market Street plant. In the 1940s, the company hit a peak of about 600 employees.
Among the varieties of stogies offered through the years are the Deluxe, Virginians, Mountaineers, Pioneers, Dry Slitz Majors, Old Regliables, Drums, Melo Crowns, Gallaghers,Elite Marsh Tips and the Stogie Special Deluxe.
One of the oldest businesses in the city, the company is the oldest manufacturing enterprise in Wheeling and it is the oldest cigar maker still operating under the same name and in the same city.
Born in 1818, Marsh, of Quaker decent, was one of nine children. A native of Smithfield, Ohio, he died in 1901 at his Wheeling Island home.
He and his wife Rachel had four children, John P., William, Amanda and Rachel Ann.
After Rachel's death, he married Lucetta Tolliver in 1849 and they had one daughter, Margaret, born in 1850.
William Marsh was involved in the cigar company and served as a member of Wheeling City Council for two terms.
In 1990, Mifflin Marsh was elected to the Wheeling Hall of Fame.
In 1988, the company joined National Cigar, which is in Frankfurt, Ind.
National Cigar makes Evermore, El Verso, Farnam Drive and many other brands of cigars.