Brightleaf tobacco is very well known as “Virginia tobacco”, often regardless of the state from where it is coming from. Before the American Civil War, a lot of tobacco grown from US was fire-cured dark-leaf. This kind of tobacco has been planted in fertile, special places.
After the War of 1812, the demand for a more aromatic tobacco, milder and lighter has risen up. Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and all innovated a little bit with milder types of the tobacco plant. Farmers around the country have experimented with different, interesting, curing processes. But the most important change didn’t come before 1839.
It had been observed for centuries that highland, sandy soil produced weaker, thinner plants. Abisha Slade was the Captain of Caswell County, North Carolina knew a lot of information about sandy, infertile, soil and has planted the new “gold-leaf” varieties on it.
Slade had a slave, whose name was Stephen and around 1839 accidentally made the first true bright tobacco. He used charcoal to restart a fire used to cure the crop. The surge of heat has made the leaves in a yellow color. Using that discovery, Slade organized an interesting system for manufacturing bright tobacco, using charcoal for heat-curing and cultivated on poor soils.
Slade has appeared many times in public to share the bright-leaf process with different farmers. He had built a house made of brick in Yanceyville, North Carolina.
The sandy soil of the Appalachian piedmont was all of the sudden profitable, and a lot of persons quickly developed flu-curing techniques, a better way of smoke-free curing. Farmers discovered that Bright tobacco needs starved, thin soil and other persons who could not grow other crops started to grow tobacco on those fields. The farmers who had no profit for a long time, suddenly had profit with 20-30% more. Till 1855, six Piedmont counties, Virginia conducted the tobacco market.
The soldiers went home when the war was finished and suddenly there was a national market for the local crop. Pittsylvania and Caswell counties were the only two counties in the South that experienced an increase in total wealth during the war.