Richard Joshua Reynolds (July 20, 1850 - July 29, 1918)
Born to Patrick County, VA, Richard Reynolds' father was a farmer, merchant and chewing tobacco manufacturer. Reynolds attended local subscription schools and studied under a tutor, before attending Emory
Henry College for two years (1868-1870). He left college to work in his
father's tobacco factory. In 1873, he traveled to Baltimore, studying at
Bryant and Stratton Business College and working with wholesale dealers to
sell his father's tobacco product.
On July 1, 1873, he signed a partnership agreement with his father to operate the tobacco factory at Rock Spring, VA. But a variety of reasons, caused Richard Reynolds to strike out on his own in October 1874, buying a lot near Salem, NC. He built his first factory (in today's Winston-Salem) that was 38 x 60 feet and located near the Richmond and Danville Railroad line.
Reynolds manufactured Southern flat chewing tobacco -- 150,000 pounds in his first year.
In 1881, Reynold's younger brother, William, began working for Richard. In 1886, Richard, William and Henry Roan formed a partnership.
In the late 1880s, he added saccharin to the product making it sweeter. He built a much larger factory and pushed for construction of the Roanoke and Southern Railroad (immediately taken over by the Norfolk and Western) which gave Winston and Salem rail access east and west, as well as north and south. By the early 1890s, Reynolds was selling more than 1 million pounds of tobacco. The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was chartered in North Carolina on Feb 11, 1890.
In 1892, Reynolds started officially advertising his products, expanding his market to more than 5 million pounds of tobacco by 1898. By then, pressure from James B. Duke's American Tobacco Company and the need for capital to expand, caused the R.J. Reynolds Company to reluctantly become part of the Duke tobacco trust on April 4, 1899.
Reynolds was prevented from entering the smoking tobacco market by the trust, although he experimented for years with different formulas. In 1907, the federal government initiated antitrust action against the tobacco trust -- American Tobacco Company. Reynolds immediately launched Prince Albert smoking tobacco (1907) -- with a Burley and flue-cured tobacco mixture.
N.W. Ayer and Son Advertising Agency developed and launched a newspaper and magazine campaign for the Prince Albert brand featuring Indian chiefs that helped propel sales of the product.
In 1911, the tobacco trust was dissolved by court order and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company resumed independent operations on January 1, 1912.
In 1913, Reynolds launched series of American cigarette brands -- Camel, Red Kamel, Osman (ceased production in December 1917) and Reyno. N.W. Ayer agency pushed the Camel brand -- "The Camels are Coming" -- so that by 1921, about 50% of all factory-made cigarettes sold were Camels.
Reynolds married Mary Katharine Smith on Feb. 27, 1905. He died on July 29, 1918, at his home, Reynolda.
Over the years, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., became R.J. Reynolds Industries, which merged with Nabisco Brands in 1986, before the operations were later spun off.
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