Brown & Williamson

Rufus D. Brown and his brother, Dr. William Brown, had a small tobacco factory in Mocksville, when they moved, along with their families, to Winston about 1875, the same year R. J. Reynolds came to town. This firm, Brown Brothers, was among the pioneer tobacco businesses of Winston; it continued for many years after the death of Rufus Brown in October 1893.

Rufus and his wife Sarah Gibbs Brown had a son George Thomas Brown. As a child, he moved with the family to Winston.

  1. F. Williamson was another tobacco pioneer in Winston. He operated two chewing tobacco manufacturing facilities. He had a son Robert Lynn Williamson.

After attending Davidson College 1887-89, George Thomas Brown married Elsie Thompson, whose sister, Minnie, was the wife of Robert Lynn Williamson.

The two brothers-in-law formed a partnership for the manufacture of chewing and smoking tobacco, even though the financial Panic of 1893 was in full force. They took over one of the factories and brands of T. F. Williamson Tobacco and began operation as Brown and Williamson on 1 Feb. 1894, with $10,000 of capital and thirty employees.

George Brown had received the $10,000 from his father. With it he bought one hundred thousand pounds of tobacco. Brown took charge of the office and buying for the partners. Robert Williamson, with the technical knowledge and practical experience, managed the manufacturing operations.

In 1906 the business was incorporated in North Carolina as Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, with Brown president, an office he held until his death, and Williamson vice-president.

In 1927, the Brown and Williamson families sold the business to London-based British American Tobacco. The business was reorganized as the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. It expanded manufacturing and distribution and built a new factory in Louisville, Kentucky.

Wikipedia. “Brown & Williamson.” Last updated March 3, 2020. Accessed July 6, 2020.