Workday Wednesday-The Cigar Maker

No doubt I had looked at the 1870 census many times before, and saw that my ancestor Esram Bough’s occupation/trade was listed as a Cigar Maker, but this time was different. I noticed that most of the ancestors of the family (George A. Bough) sons’ occupations were: Clerks, Shoemakers, and Taylors throughout the 1800’s.

I knew that Sugar was the main industry, and Tobacco was just another crop that was grown on small plots. However, due to my lack of knowledge of any cigar industry in the Danish West Indies, it was difficult for me to understand the profession and its dynamics. Therefore, I decided to do a further research focusing on tobacco.

I learned that Denmark only imported tobacco from the Danish West Indies for their own cigar production, and those Cigars that were produced in the Danish West Indies were never officially imported to Denmark as a finished product. Cigar-making on St. Croix was most likely made out of the family home. Most of these sole proprietors worked alone at a long table with their own tools, rolling cigars.(http://www.danishcigars.com/danish-cigar-history/)

Although, Esram did not establish a generation of Cigar makers in the family, however he made a profitable living out of it. I honor my ancestor, the Cigar Maker, for embracing a profession that took not only skill, and concentration, but a sense of pride that went into the making of a fine cigar.

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Esram Bough
Esram Bough

Esram Samuel Bough (twin) (1846-1900) was born just two years before the emancipation of the slaves in the Danish West Indies. He was the son of George A. Bough and Susan Crow-Bough. He was classified as a free person of color. At the age of 13, he was an apprentice in a trade. As an adult his profession was listed as a Cigar Maker. Esram Samuel Bough died in June 1900 at the age of 54 in St. Croix, Danish West Indies.

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