American Cigar Company & Red Kap Industries

 

As a result of the efforts of individuals comprising the Dickson Development Corporation, the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Dickson, a new cigar factory located in Dickson in 1924, hiring 500 young women to work for $5.00 per week while in training to make cigars. Women were quick to sign up and on March 24, 1924, ground was broken for the American Cigar Company’s plant #C-206 at the corner of West College and North Mulberry Streets. The factory building was completed in September of 1924 by the Cowan Lumber and Planing Mill Company and paid for by the Dickson Development Corporation, a group of men who had personally borrowed money to build the building since at the time, municipalities were prohibited from borrowing for such a purpose.  The company signed a ten year lease with the Dickson Development Corporation at $1,800 per year to pay for construction of the building.

 

Dickson Mayor H.T.V. Miller proclaimed October 29, 1924, as a special holiday, and Dickson businesses closed to attend the opening ceremony at the cigar factory, which employed up to 300 young women, starting them at $1.00 per day. After about six weeks the pay increased, with some earning as high as $25.00 per week while producing more than 50,000 Chancellor Cigars each day.

 

On February 11, 1930, the American Cigar Factory closed its doors in Dickson because of innovations and automation in the cigar industry. A short time later J.G. Hayes, Charles Rathburn and Charlie Siler moved to Dickson and started renovating the old cigar factory building for the manufacture of work shirts. Opening in October of 1930, the Central Overall Company had a payroll of $2,000 a week and employed 100 people. In 1931 the name was changed to the Central Manufacturing Company, later to the Dickson Manufacturing Company, and still later Red Kap Industries, Inc, inspired by a pouch of “Red Cap Brazil Smoking Tobacco” that featured a long-billed red “jockey” cap.

 

After the death of founder J. G. Hayes in 1941, his son, Mitchell Hayes managed the plant for several years. 

 

On June 25, 1959, Mrs. Doy Myatt Goodrum sold the Town of Dickson ten acres of land in east Dickson, the location of the old Wayside Inn, as the site of a new Red Kap Factory building.

 

As of 2006 that building is home to the Greater Dickson Gas Department, and the original Red Kap Building houses Red Cap Flats, an eleven unit condominium complex.

 

Photo and text provided by Alan Ragan