"Let freedom ring; let the white dove sing." -Martina McBride

On the fourth day of the seventh month of the two thousand and tenth year of our Lord, Andrew and I got no takers on an Independence Day afternoon on the American Tobacco Campus in historic Durham. But we went anyway. Just him and me, me and him. We actually went out to lunch with some new church friends, spend two hours talking, came home and fell asleep and didn't leave the apartment until about six o'clock. But, since no one was joining us, we weren't actually late at all. In keeping with my latest trend of sharing the history of my topics, here's a brief rundown of the story of the American Tobacco Company, which later was renovated and refurbished to be the American Tobacco Campus, now a thriving area for art, music, food, sports, and community.

In 1865, Washington Duke of North Carolina was released from Libby Prison, having been captured during the Confederate army's retreat from Richmond. He was sent to New Bern, North Carolina-137 miles from his 300 acre farm four miles north of Durham. A federal soldier gave him 50 cents for his 5 dollar Confederate note, and with that Duke set off, walking 137 miles to his home.

There was little left of the farm except for a small amount of Bright leaf tobacco. Duke subsequently sold some of his land and became a tobacco farmer. With his family's help, he pulverized and cleaned the crop in a small log barn. Then he packed it into muslin bags and labeled it "Pro Bono Publico"--for the good of the public. The first wagon load he took to Raleigh was drawn by two blind mules.

Soon Duke & Sons found itself in tight competition with the Genuine "Bull Durham Tobacco Factory. His son, James Buchanan "Buck" Duke, decided the company could generate much needed profit for the relatively small but growing cigarette market. He succeeded in this area so well that in 1890 his four biggest rivals joined him and he became president of the new firm--The American Tobacco Company.

Duke & Sons found W.T. Blackwell's Genuine "Bull" Durham Tobacco Factory to be strong rival. In fact, it was one of the largest in the world. The "Bull" had many imitators, other brands that capitalized on the words "Bull" or "Durham" in their tobacco advertising. Buck Duke refused to follow suit, choosing instead to delve into the cigarette market in order to compete.

In subsequent years, American became the biggest tobacco company in the world with successful products such as the unique, "toasted" tobacco in the Lucky Strike brand. Pall Mall and Tareyton also ranked among their successes. American even enjoyed the help of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny in its promotional efforts.

In the early 1890's, Washington Duke left the business for his sons to handle while he became involved with local affairs. He succeeded in bringing Trinity College to Durham. Through the continued generosity of the Duke family, the school soon became the largest endowed college in the Southeast and, in 1924, Trinity College became Duke University.

Congrats for making it through that snooze fest. Raise your hand if you skipped to this paragraph. Be honest. Now I don't care much for cigarettes, or Duke for that matter, but I'm a big fan of history and knowing the Five W's about a place. Andrew and I went and listened to some live music on the lawn, ate tapas at Cuban Revolution, and then attempted to watch the fireworks after the Bull's game, however, we soon found that the best place to see them was from the highway. C'est la vie. (...Er, "that's life". Probably shouldn't throw in a French catch-phrase during a post about American patriotism. Uhh, um...freedom fries?)

Listening to live music on the lawn, "Red, White, Blues & Bluegrass". A very peaceful afternoon. I'm pretty aware that my eyes are quite misshapen in this photograph. Moving on.

The Lucky Strikes tower and the stage underneath, housing performing "Mandolin Orange".

The stage underneath the tower (you can't see it in the pic, but the stage was "floating" in a stream that ran through the middle of the lawn.

Annnd we're on to a different topic altogether! This past weekend we went to Brad and Cory's engagement party in Society Hill, SC. It was a delightful evening meeting family and friends and celebrating with the Coopers and O'Tuels, and one soon-to-be Mrs. Cooper!

Me and Andy--yep, there's a ponytail back there.

The good ol' Pee Dee River. Man, I love me some South Cackalacky. For those of you who thought you might appear in some of these party pics, let's just say I exercised my artistic license and decidedly omitted them. If you're not pickin' up what I'm puttin' down, call me and we'll chat.

Oooohhh yeah, don't forget to visit your old pal Facebook and vote for Meghan to be the next Levi's girl!

Ok, I think I'm done here. Am I done? Yep. Done. I mean, finished.


  1. MG - what the heck? Why didn't you put the most attractive picture of all time up here? JKJKJK thanks for saving us the embarrassment.

    Until next time my cornhole champion...

  2. American by birth, a Southern gal by the Grace of God...

  3. Duke's history... mmmm...interesting. The med school and research areas are making up for the damage inflicted by the tobacco industry, although some might not see it that way... Likes it.