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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution ; and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

The great tobacco manufactories,   pp. 511-532

Page 522

The Lewis Tobacco Works, St. Louis,
And at Glasgow, Missouri, were for many years the leading ones in
the West. They were founded by Benjamin W. Lewis, who emigrated
to the State of Missouri from Rockingham county, Virginia, in the
year 1831, when eighteen years of age, and the eldest of five children,
the maintenance of whom, and a widowed mother, mainly devolved
upon him. From the product of a rented farm he succeeded in making
a comfortable support for his mother's family, and by great industry
and energy found himself, in 1837, possessed of about six hundred dol-
lars in money. With this small sum he formed a copartnership with
Mr. William D. Swinney, for the purpose of manufacturing Tobacco at
Glasgow, under the style of Swinney & Lewis. Leaf Tobacco that
year averaged in price about two and a half cents a pound, and it was
estimated that the labor of manufacturing it, and the cost of materials
used in the same, were equal to the value of the Leaf; and the terms
of the copartnership provided that Mr. Swinney should purchase the
Leaf, and Mr. Lewis manufacture and prepare it for market-the pro-
ducts being equally divided between them, and each disposing of his
own share as he thought proper. This copartnership continued, with
some modifications, the business constantly growing more and more
profitable and extended, until 1849, when the factory, which was the
property of Mr. Lewis, was destroyed by fire, involving a loss to him
of about twenty-five thousand dollars. The factory was immediately
rebuilt, on a larger and more extensive scale, and was completed in
January, 1850, when the firm of Swinney & Lewis was dissolved, the
former withdrawing. After which, Mr. Lewis associated with himself
his two brothers, James W. and William J. Lewis, under the style of
B. W. Lewis & Brothers.
James W. and William J. Lewis, in 1847, commenced the business
of manufacturing Tobacco in St. Louis-their establishment being
managed by William, James being in the employ of Swinney & Lewis
at Glasgow, for a salary-and when Benjamin admitted them into the
Glasgow house, he became a partner in the St. Louis house-and the
style of this house was changed to Lewis & Brothers. In January,
1855, Mr. John D. Perry was admitted a partner in the St. Louis
house, the style of which was then changed to Lewis, Perry & Co.;
and at the same time, Mr. Thomas J. Bartholomew became a partner in
the Glasgow house. These accessions contributed materially to the
influence and means of the respective firms, and in a short time their
business had so increased that the Lewis brands of Tobacco were
known and eagerly sought for in almost every State and Territory of the

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