RVA Legends — R. H. Whitlock Tobacco Box Factory

RVA Legends — R. H. Whitlock Tobacco Box Factory

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

[IOR] — R. H. Whitlock Tobacco Factory — 1800 East Cary Street, circa 1886
[IOR] — R. H. Whitlock Tobacco Factory — 1800 East Cary Street, circa 1886

AKA, Harwood & Jones, C. W. Hardwick & Co.
1800 East Cary Street

Once a box factory, always a box factory.

(VCU)* — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 2
(VCU)* — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 2

This is one of the oldest tobacco box factories in the city, and the largest in its line in the United States. The proprietor of this immense business has four factories, the largest, of which the following is an illustration, is at the corner of Eighteenth and Cary streets, Richmond, one in Danville, one in Lynchburg, and one at Tiffin, Ohio.

These factories have a working capacity for the consumption of 4,000,000 feet of lumber per annum. He employs about seventy-five hands directly, and several hundred indirectly in this industry.

(American Rails) — Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 “American Type” — St. Marys, West Virginia — circa 1910
(American Rails) — Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 “American Type” — St. Marys, West Virginia — circa 1910

The Tiffin factory is located in the best section of the Sycamore country, and the principal portion of the lumber used comes from this belt. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the North-western Ohio Railroad, both have side tracks running to this factory, thus affording competing freight rates to all points between the great rival corporations, the Baltimore and Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroads. The sidings are on the property of Mr. Whitlock.

(PicClick) — Old Virginia Cheroots tobacco box
(PicClick) — Old Virginia Cheroots tobacco box

Boxes in shooks are shipped in car lots at the lowest figures. The trade of this concern is chiefly through Virginia and North Caolina, but shipments are often made to foreign countries. Mr. Whitlock has been in this line of business since March, 1867, and he has ample means for all his purposes. He is an ex-member of the City Council. [IOR]

[RVCJ93] — Harwood & Jones’ Box Factory, circa 1893
[RVCJ93] — Harwood & Jones’ Box Factory, circa 1893
Things change quickly in business. Whitlock died in 1893 at the tender age of 53. The building did not long remain inactive.

Harwood & Jones, manufacturers of tobacco boxes and shooks, at Eighteenth and Cary streets, are successors to R. H. Whitlock, who started this enterprise of theirs about the year 1867. Since the establishment of the business; so many years ago the manufacturing plant has been greatly enlarged and new machinery added from time to time, until, at present, the firm has unsurpassed facilities for carrying on the large and increasing business they enjoy.

(Farm Collector) — a Corliss steam engine which offered the best thermal efficiency of 19th century steam engines — Appleton’s 1885 Cyclopaedia of Applied Mechanics
(Farm Collector) — a Corliss steam engine which offered the best thermal efficiency of 19th century steam engines — Appleton’s 1885 Cyclopaedia of Applied Mechanics

Their factory is located on the comer of Eighteenth and Cary streets. It covers nearly one entire square. Steam is the power used to operate it, and the daily capacity is upwards of two thousand boxes of all description. Tobacco boxes are the leading specialty, and they are produced of excellent quality and superior workmanship, at a comparatively low cost, and are rapidly disposed of to the trade in all the tobacco manufacturing sections.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 45
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 45

This firm cuts upwards of 2,000,- 000 feet of lumber yearly, and, with the numerous advantages possessed, Messrs. Harwood & Jones are prepared to compete with any concern of the kind in this section of the country. [RVCJ93]

Unfortunately, they didn’t compete for very long. They took over Whitlock’s enterprise in 1893, and by 1905, Sanborn shows that it had transformed into C. W. Hardwick & Co., still making boxes.

[FLIN] — Mrs. R. H. Whitelock, the former Miss Lou Ford, circa 1891
[FLIN] — Mrs. R. H. Whitelock, the former Miss Lou Ford, circa 1891
Robert Henry Whitlock may not have been long-lived, but he does appear to have been lucky in love. Indeed, his wife was well regarded enough to rate an effusive and gushing write-up in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper:

Among the gay society leaders of charming old historic Richmond, Mrs. R. H. Whitlock stands conspicuous. Nor is her social success due to wealth, position, and and attractive personality than to the innate graciousness and kindness of heart — the true secret of abiding popularity — that is her fairest heritage.

Mrs. Whitlock excels in the beauty and elegance of her toilettes, Worth and her own inherent taste-combining always to make her one of the most effectively gowned women in any assemblage. She has a beautiful physique, and her skin is as white and smooth as marble A sharp contrast is furnished by her densely dark hair and brows. She entertains magnificently. [FLIN]

November 2019 — looking towards 1800 East Cary Street today
November 2019 — looking towards 1800 East Cary Street today

Whitlock plucked her from the wilds of Covington, Kentucky, and they made their crib on fashionable Franklin Street. [FLIN] Alas for Richmond, when he died Miss Lou found a new husband in William Ambrose Wilson of Kansas City, Missouri, which was where she died at the very young age of 42 in 1899. (Find A Grave)(Ancestry)

(R. H. Whitlock Tobacco Box Factory is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Note

Readers of this space who pay attention to things like the links for reference attribution should know that VCU Libraries has reorganized their public site, and has relocated the Baist Atlas maps. The correct link appears with this post. Sadly, however, there are not enough hours in the day to chase down and correct the hundreds of previous posts which will continue to have the incorrect link. Alas, Rocket Werks laments this condition.


Print Sources

  • [FLIN] Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Saturday, February 21, 1891.
  • [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
  • [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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