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Old 03-27-2009, 01:20 PM   #1
TommyBB
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Tobacco in Pennsylvania

Quote:
Cigar factories flourished in eastern Lebanon County
By CHRIS SHOLLY
Lebanon Daily News
Posted: 03/20/2009 08:52:52 PM EDT

As a 5-year-old boy, Earl Ibach of Womelsdorf used to strip tobacco plants that were used to make cigars.

To strip tobacco, he held a dried tobacco stalk by the main stem and gave it a pull, stripping the individual leaves off the stem, he explained during a recent talk at the Lebanon County Historical Society.

A good cigar maker could make 400 to 500 cigars a day, and the average wage was about $2 a day.

“I know that some of the tobacco strippers, like in Richland, some of the women were paid only 15 cents a day. The work day was considered 10 hours a day,” he said.

His mother also worked in the industry.

“My mother pasted various parts of cigar boxes (together) and put the etchings on. She made a dollar a day working 10 hours a day, five days a week,” he said.

Ibach said the cigar industry was one of the most important sources of income for people seeking work in the country during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Northeast was the major hub of activity for the industry before it spread to other parts of the country, he said.

“Philadelphia was the cigar capital of the United States throughout the 1800s, and still manufactures cigars today,” he said.

In his latest book “Tulpehocken Cigarama,” Ibach writes about the production of handmade cigars in local communities in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The area he writes about includes Richland, Newmanstown and Myerstown, which had a number of
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