Harvesting and Curing Tobacco

The images below are Courtesy of the Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

After the tobacco was brought in from field, it was taken to a tobacco barn located on the property. Barns were usually constructed out of whatever materials were available to the farmer.  

Often women, along with younger children to help, were in charge of tying small bundles of tobacco leaves to each stick. Leaves couldn't be stacked too close together because air needed to circulate through the leaves, but they had to close enough to conserve space. It became an art,  even today tobacco stringing contests are held each year at the North Carolina State Fair. 

Once the sticks were filled with leaves, they were laid out in rows. Each stick would be handed to men in tobacco barn, where they were stacked in rows inside the barn.

The sticks were hung on multiple rows, filling the barn from top to bottom with leaves.

Once inside the barn, the leaves were heated, at a constant temperature, for 5-7 days. The flues would carry heat throughout the barn, drying the leaves. The fires used in the barns had to be tended constantly. Someone would have to spend the night by the barn to manage the fire.  This process would have to be repeated several times as other fields were harvested. 

Kernersville Museum
The Kernersville Museum
127 W. Mountain Street
Kernersville, NC 27284