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RVA Legends — T. C. Williams Tobacco Company

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

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[RVCJ93] — T. C. Williams Tobacco Company’s Works — Sixth & Canal Streets NE?

117 South Seventh Street
403 South Seventh Street
Sixth & Canal Streets NE
Sixth & Canal Streets SW

A tobacconist that named a law school.

(Library of Congress) — Box making in the T. C. Williams Tobacco Co. — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

(Library of Congress) — Box making in the T. C. Williams Tobacco Co. — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

The T. C. Williams Company, tobacco manufacturers at the foot of Seventh street, operates here, as a single concern, two of the largest factories, making plug and twist chiefly, and fine export tobaccos largely, not of Richmond only, but of the United States.

(Library of Congress) — “Lumpers” at T. C. Williams Tobacco Co., circa 1899 — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

(Library of Congress) — “Lumpers” at T. C. Williams Tobacco Co., circa 1899 — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900 — “Lumpers,” a term used to describe anyone whose job it is to manually handle freight in a warehouse

This company was incorporated in 1889, upon the death of the late Thomas C. Williams (from whom it takes its name), as successor to the old firm of Thomas C. Williams & Co., whose predecessor was James Thomas, Jr., established more than fifty years ago. It has $400,000 capital stock.

(Library of Congress) — African Americans, mostly women, sorting tobacco at T. C. Williams Tobacco Co. — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

(Library of Congress) — African Americans, mostly women, sorting tobacco at T. C. Williams Tobacco Co. — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

The output of its two factories is from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 pounds of finished stock annually. It furnishes employment to some 700 hands, and is, perhaps, the best known concern of the trade here to the dealers in foreign lands.

(Library of Congress) — Pot presses at T. C. Williams Tobacco Co. — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

(Library of Congress) — Pot presses at T. C. Williams Tobacco Co. — Images collected by W.E.B. Du Bois & Thomas J. Calloway for the “American Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition of 1900

It was a notable establishment before the war, even, and is still manufacturing many of the brands that were originated by it then. It is best known, perhaps, by its famous “Lucy Hinton” brand; scarcely less so, however, than by numerous others, among them the following:

(iCollector) — advertisement for Nosegay — note the brand is now owned by American Tobacco Co.

(iCollector) — advertisement for Nosegay — note the brand is now owned by American Tobacco Co.

“Mattaponi,” “May Apple,” “Nosegay,” “Paris Medal,” “Golden Eagle,” “Plum,” “Old Dominion,” and many others for domestic consumption; and for foreign trade, “Imperial Ruby,” “Bird’s-Eye Twist,” “Victory,” “Golden Eagle,” “Mabel,” “Juno,” “Janus,” etc.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 1 — showing the Sixth & Canal Street locations

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 1 — showing the Sixth & Canal Street locations

It is hardly necessary to go into details concerning the processes of manufacture in this establishment. It is sufficient to say, in that respect, that its management is in the hands of experts in the business of life-long identification with it, and that its fame, both in this country and abroad, conclusively establishes the superiority of its products.

(Find A Grave) — Thomas C. Williams Sr.

(Find A Grave) — Thomas C. Williams Sr.

The late T. C. Williams was manager of it for the founder of the business before he reached the head of it himself; and to his efforts, in large part, the development of this trade is due. He succeeded Mr. Thomas in 1862, and the firm of T. C. Williams & Co. succeeded him in 1886.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 8 — showing the 403 South Seventh Street factory

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 8 — showing the 403 South Seventh Street factory

Robert S. Bosher, James T. Parkinson and Thomas C. Williams, Jr., were his partners in that firm. Mr. Bosher is president of the company now; Mr. Williams, vice-president; Mr. Parkinson, superintendent; and Mr. W. S. Wortham, secretary and treasurer.

[RVCJ93] — T. C. Williams Tobacco Company Factory 2 — 403 South Seventh Street?

[RVCJ93] — T. C. Williams Tobacco Company Factory 2 — 403 South Seventh Street?

Mr. J. C. Knox manages the company’s “No. 2” factory. Mr. Bosher is a native of the city, and has been with the house from his sixteenth year. He may certainly be said to have been raised to the business. Mr. Parkinson has been in the business twenty-two years; Mr. Wortham seventeen years; and Mr. Williams eight or ten years. [RVCJ93]

[RVCJ93] — T. C. Williams Tobacco Company Factory 3 — Sixth & Canal Streets SW?

[RVCJ93] — T. C. Williams Tobacco Company Factory 3 — Sixth & Canal Streets SW?

T. C. Williams was another of those tobacco men who also dabbled in railroads and banks, and became stinking rich in the process. He was also a trustee of Richmond College and gave generously to that institution.

September 2019 — looking toward Sixth & Canal Streets NE

September 2019 — looking toward Sixth & Canal Streets NE

When he died at the relatively young age of 57 in 1899, the family donated $25,000 as an endowment for the Richmond College law school, which was named the T.C. Williams School of Law in 1920. Sadly, UR rebranded it as the University of Richmond School of Law in recent years and lost the connection to its early benefactor. (Find A Grave)

September 2019 — looking towards Sixth & Canal Streets SW

September 2019 — looking towards Sixth & Canal Streets SW

As for the company, in 1903 it was gobbled up by the British-American Tobacco Company, a joint venture of Imperial Tobacco and the American Tobacco Company as part of their tobacco war truce. T. C. Williams continued to operate as a subsidiary in Petersburg, but eventually, the company vanished. (Duke University Libraries)

September 2019 — looking toward 117 South Seventh Street

September 2019 — looking toward 117 South Seventh Street

As for the factory locations, the 1893 edition of Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James doesn’t tell the whole story. It says that the business operated “at the foot of Seventh street”, and Baist shows both of these South Seventh Street locations as belonging to the James Thomas Estate, so they are likely the originating factories.

September 2019 — looking towards 403 South Seventh Street, which would be somewhere near the top of the stairs

September 2019 — looking towards 403 South Seventh Street, which would be somewhere near the top of the stairs

However, Baist also shows the Sixth Street addresses under the ownership of T. C. Williams, so the business expanded to four locations by 1889. Unfortunately, Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James is aggravatingly silent as to where each of the three illustrated buildings actually stood. The tentative identification here is purely guesswork based on orientation and topography.

(T. C. Williams Tobacco Company is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [CDRVA] Chataigne’s Directory of Richmond, Va. J. H. Chataigne. 1881.
  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

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Schools, nonprofits hustle to feed over a half million Virginia students: ‘It’s incredible’

Richmond school bus driver Tyrone McBride is still driving a big, yellow bus through Richmond neighborhoods, but these days, he’s transporting boxes of food for kids in need. More than a week has passed since Gov. Ralph Northam announced students will not return to school this academic year, and volunteers are still fighting to feed the 590,000 children in Virginia with free or reduced lunches who were ordered to remain home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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By Hannah Eason

Richmond school bus driver Tyrone McBride is still driving a big, yellow bus through Richmond neighborhoods, but these days, he’s transporting boxes of food for kids in need.

“It gets me out of the house,” said McBride, who has been a school bus driver for 18 years, “and you know, you’re doing a great deed and helping people out.”

More than a week has passed since Gov. Ralph Northam announced students will not return to school this academic year, and volunteers are still working to feed the 590,000 children in Virginia eligible for free or reduced lunches who were ordered to remain home during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools have been closed since March 16, though students were originally slated to return by March 27.

Whitcomb Court resident Simone Sanders said her children are now eating at home during the day, but she didn’t receive an increase in food stamps. One child is disabled, which prevents Sanders from being able to work.

“It’s affecting us bad, especially in the projects, and there’s nothing for the kids to do all day,” Sanders said. “And then you have to worry about your child just being outside getting shot.”

Sanders said she’s grateful for the food from Richmond Public Schools, and says she occasionally gives food to neighborhood kids who say they’re hungry.

The Richmond Public Schools meal distribution program, like others around the state, continues to evolve during the coronavirus pandemic that caused a surge of Virginians to file for unemployment. Almost 46,300 Virginians filed for unemployment between March 15 and March 21. The previous week 2,706 people filed an unemployment claim, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

The program started with 10 school sites, and has since grown into at least 43 sites throughout the community and 10 school sites.

Erin Stanley, director of family engagement at Richmond Public Schools, said volunteers, bus drivers and the district’s nutrition staff have made the efforts possible. Volunteers were using personal vehicles to drop off food, but RPS decided that school buses would better suit the cause.

“We did that for a couple of reasons,” Stanley said. “One, so we can get more food out, and two, because school buses are a bit more well known and probably more trusted than individual volunteers going in with their personal vehicles.”

Plastic bags filled with milk cartons, sandwiches, apples and snacks are handed out in neighborhoods found on the Richmond Public Schools’ website. School distribution sites are open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and neighborhood times vary by location. Any student in the school district can use the program, Stanley said.

Volunteer Natalie Newfield said many families she gave meals to lost jobs in the restaurant industry.

 “They’re changing the way they do deliveries, which is amazing,” Newfield said. “Every day you give them a count. If they need more food, the next day, all of a sudden your bus has more food. It’s incredible.”

Statewide efforts to feed children in Virginia

When schools closed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture activated the Summer Meals Program, which funds public schools and local organizations to serve breakfast and lunch during the summer.

Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, pressed the USDA to change its policy which required parents to have their child with them when picking up food.

Roem said it was difficult for a Prince William County mother to access food for her two children. Her daughter has an immune system deficiency caused by recent cancer treatments, making her susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.

“When you’re talking about a 7-year-old with cancer, we have to really evaluate what is it that our policy is trying to prevent that is more important than feeding a child with cancer,” Roem said.

Roem said she was able to bring groceries to the family, who live in the representative’s district. As they carried bags of food inside, Roem said the mother told her children, “We’re eating tonight.”

“I fought with the USDA for a full week and won a major, major victory for kids throughout Virginia and across the country, and especially immunocompromised kids, to make sure that they stay safe, that they stay home,” Roem said.

The USDA waived the restriction last week, and states can now choose to waive the in-person policy for students to receive food.

No Kid Hungry, a national campaign launched by nonprofit Share Our Strength, is offering emergency grants to local school divisions and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants can help people who are trying to make meal distribution possible, but may lack the equipment necessary to feed children outside of a school setting.

Sarah Steely, senior program manager at No Kid Hungry Virginia, said the grants can fund necessities like vehicles, gas, coolers and equipment to keep food safe during distribution.

“Those might not be resources that folks already have, because those aren’t service models that were expected of them before,” Steely said, “so we’re here to support community organizations and school divisions as they figure out what it is they need to distribute to kids.”

The organization works with YMCAs, childcare centers, libraries and all 133 of Virginia’s public school divisions.

The organization recently activated their texting hotline for those unsure of where their next meal is coming from: text “FOOD” to 877-877. The hotline is generally used during the summer months, but was reactivated to combat food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Steely called the hotline “a tool in a bigger toolbox of resources” and encouraged families to contact their local school board for updated information about their locality.

“They count on that as a primary source of nutrition, so with schools closed, we want to make sure that the students who are accessing meals at school are now accessing those meals at home,” Steely said.

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Use Exact Change or E-Zpass on Powhite Parkway Starting Today

There will be no manned booths taking money on Powhite for the foreseeable future.

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The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has temporarily suspended cash exchange tolls on Powhite Parkway extension and the George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge. This means there won’t be someone to take your money so either have exact change, pay too much, or use an E-Zpass. No mention of any changes to Nickel aka Boulevard Bridge.

As of April 1, if you make an unpaid trip on a Virginia toll facility, you may be able to pay that toll through the “missed-a-toll” process before receiving a notice/invoice. The “missed-a-toll” payment process must take place within six days of the unpaid toll trip.

The standard administration fee associated with “missed-a-toll” has been suspended temporarily.

Exact change can still be dropped into the coin basket at the Powhite Parkway Extension.

E-ZPass is now the most convenient and safest way to pay tolls.

For more information or to order your own E-ZPass, click here.

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Friday Cheers cancels, postpones various concerts amid COVID-19

Venture Richmond Events staff is working to reschedule Friday Cheers’ early June artist performances, and remain cautiously optimistic about performances later in June.

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Friday Cheers fans are devoted and unwavering, but in these times we must all be mindful that the COVID-19 virus has dramatically changed our daily social interactions and we must all follow the directives of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home executive order through June 10.

The governor’s order prohibits all public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals.

With these guidelines, and for the safety of both our patrons and staff, we have made the following changes to the May Friday Cheers schedule:

  • Jade Bird with Sweet Potatoes that was previously scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2020 is cancelled.
  • Billy Strings with Andrew Alli and Josh Small is rescheduled for Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
  • RVA Music Night – Palm Palm is rescheduled for Friday, May 21, 2021.
  • Jay Som with Angelica Garcia – We are working to reschedule this show for Friday Cheers 2021 and will provide details when finalized.

Venture Richmond Events staff is working to reschedule Friday Cheers’ early June artist performances, and remain cautiously optimistic about performances later in June.

2020 Friday Cheers Season Pass holders can still use their pass for the remaining June Friday Cheers events and for the rescheduled Billy Strings event on August 26, 2020.

In addition, as a thank you for your understanding during this difficult time, 2020 Season Pass holders will receive a 50% discount off a 2021 Friday Cheers Season Pass! TicketsToBuy.com will email current Season Pass holders with information about the discount which can be used when purchasing a 2021 Season Pass.

Those who have purchased a ticket online for any one of these May events may request a refund by emailing [email protected]com beginning Friday, April 3, 2020.

Venture Richmond Events, LLC and its staff work to produce an excellent experience for you on Brown’s Island, but we take the safety and health of our guests, staff, and community very seriously, and appreciate your continued support moving forward.

At this time, all other events produced by Venture Richmond Events, LLC, including the June Friday Cheers events, remain scheduled as planned, but are subject to change. Again, thank you for your continued support of Friday Cheers.

Presented by: Pacifico
Sponsored by: CoStar, Dominion Green Power,  Delta Hotels by MarriottDrive Shack103.7 PlayRichmond.comStyle Weekly NBC12CW Richmond and Easley Made Catering.

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