The Cities Tobacco Built


The Moravian Church is a Protestant denomination begun in 1457 by followers of John Huss in Bohemia and Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic. In 1722, these German-speaking exiles found protection on the estate of Count Zinzendorf, a Saxon nobleman, who helped create the village of Herrnhut as their home.  First settling in Savannah, Georgia in 1735, the Moravians moved to Pennsylvania in 1740, where they founded Bethlehem and other towns.  In 1741, Zinzendorf visited Pennsylvania, one of the few 18th-century European nobles to set foot in the Americas.

The Moravians looked for more space and decided on land in North Carolina.  In 1753, a Church Bishop, selected a settlement site in the three forks of Muddy Creek, purchasing 98,985 acres from Lord John Carteret, second Earl  of Granville.  Carteret, was a British statesman, and a descendent of George Carteret, one of the original eight Lord Proprietors of Carolina.

The Moravians named this land Wachovia in honor of Count Zinzendorf’s German estate.  Brethren from Bethlehem came down the Great Wagon Road, the Interstate Highway of its day, extending from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and later into Georgia.

They settled the Wachovia tract in six communities.  Salem was the central town – the economic, religious, and administrative center.  Construction began in 1766.  The Church controlled Salem and most of the other communities, owned all property, and only leased land for construction. Everyone in the communities had to be members of the church and could be expelled from town if they violated the community’s regulations. The governing bodies kept meticulous records and sent copies to the Bethlehem and Herrnhut archives.

Salem was a typical Moravian settlement with the public buildings of the congregation grouped around a central square, today Salem Square. These included the church, a Brethren’s House and a Sisters’ House – dormitories for unmarried young adults.

In 1849, Forsyth County was created, but Salem was unwilling to be the county seat and sold the property to the north for the new courthouse town. This town became Winston, which quickly grew into a thriving industrial center and surpassed Salem in size.

In 1857, the church divested control of the town and allowed the residents to purchase their property. Salem then became a legal municipality. The town expanded twice, in 1889 and 1907.


Called “the county town” until 1851, it was then named Winston for a local hero of the Revolutionary War.  For its first two decades, Winston was a sleepy village.

In 1868, Salem and Winston business leaders began work to connect the town to the North Carolina Railroad.  Thomas Jethro Brown of Davie County rented a former livery stable and established the first tobacco warehouse in Winston. Pleasant Henderson Hanes, also of Davie, built his first tobacco factory a few feet from Brown’s warehouse.

In 1875, Richard Joshua Reynolds built his first tobacco factory a few hundred feet from Hanes’s factory. By the 1880s, there were forty tobacco factories in the town. Hanes and Reynolds would compete fiercely for the next twenty-five years, each absorbing several smaller manufacturers until Pleas Hanes sold out to Reynolds in 1900 to begin a second career in textiles.


Salem and Winston merged in 1913.  Winston-Salem is called the “Twin City” for its dual heritage.  It is sometimes called “Camel City,” a reference to Reynolds Tobacco’s Camel cigarette.  By the 1940s, 60% of Winston-Salem’s labor force worked either for Reynolds or the Hanes textile firm.

Reynolds imported so much French cigarette paper and Turkish tobacco that the federal government designated Winston-Salem an official port of entry, despite the city being two hundred miles inland. The city was the United States’ eighth-largest port of entry by 1916.


Prior to the railroad, the region that is now Durham was almost entirely agricultural, with a few businesses catering to travelers, particularly livestock drivers.

Durham’s arose from the nineteenth-century railroad industry. Steam locomotives had to stop frequently for firewood and water, and the new North Carolina Railroad needed a depot between Raleigh and Hillsborough. The residents of what is now downtown Durham thought that catering to livestock drivers offered a better future than a railroad. They refused to sell or lease land, but Bartlett S. Durham in 1849 donated land for a rail depot.

As the Civil War ended in 1865, Union and Confederate armies passed through Durham and other Piedmont communities.  They confiscated the area’s mildly flavored bright leaf tobacco.  Far more pleasant to smoke or chew than any tobacco they had ever seen, when they returned home and couldn’t get anything like it, they sent letters to Durham requesting more.

The prosperity of both the Bull Durham Tobacco Company and Washington Duke‘s tobacco company brought rapid growth to Durham. Washington Duke was a good businessman, but his sons were brilliant.  Their American Tobacco advertisements on radio in the 1930s and television up to 1970 was the nation’s image of Durham until Duke University supplanted it in the late 20th century. This image was further transformed by Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s success with the Blue Devils basketball program.  Durham’s manufacturing fortunes declined in the early twenty-first century.    Competition, as well as a decrease in smoking after the 1960s, reduced revenues for Durham’s tobacco business.

Wikipedia. “Old Salem..” Last updated June 18, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020.

Wikipedia. “Winston-Salem, North Carolina.” Last updated June 28, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https: //,_North Carolina.

Wikipedia. “Durham, North Carolina.” Last updated June 29, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://en., North_Carolina.