Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco

I’m visiting family this week in southeastern Ohio. This is Appalachian coal and tobacco country, known physiographically as the Allegheny Plateau. I was so happy to see this familiar advertisement on the side of the road this morning that I asked my dad to pull over so I could take a picture. We don’t seem have Mail Pouch barns in Wisconsin, although Wikipedia tells me that some were painted there. According to that Wikipedia article on Mail Pouch Tobacco barns, all barns were painted between 1891 and 1992. As can be seen with this barn, most of the signs are deteriorating with age. I know their days are numbered. Some year I’ll come back for a visit and there will be no Mail Pouch barns nestled into the hillsides along winding country roads. That makes me sad.

A better look at the sign itself

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. My blog is a space for playing with ideas about creativity, innovation, lifelong learning, and the nature of "insight."
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13 Responses to Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco

  1. mworfolk says:

    Nice! I like old signs painted on the sides of large buildings, but I’ve never seen one in a barn.

  2. mworfolk says:

    Oops, I meant “on a barn,” not “in a barn.”

  3. Rose says:

    Like this one. It’s nice to see some Americana history left. I’ve been noticing quilted pattern boards
    attached to barns north of Milwaukee. I do enjoy the different styles of barns from
    state to state. They also are starting to deteriorate Enjoy them for now. Happy Trails.

    • Oh yes, I’ve seen the quilt barns in Wisconsin, too! I wonder if that’s similar in any way to the Mail Pouch barns in terms of the farmer getting a free paint job in exchange for providing a billboard/ showcase. Maybe it’s purely decorative? I’ll have to look into it. Now I’m curious to find out the story behind the quilt barns.

      • Rose says:

        I believe they are painted on a large square plywood board, which I’m not
        sure of the dimensions. I would like to paint one someday. I’ve spotted
        them in other states on my travels as well. At one time many decades
        ago towards the end of the last century they may have been painted on
        the barns? Now I’m curious. I have a couple nearby to investigate when
        I’m in that direction. I take photos of old faded advertising paintings on
        city buildings when I come across them. Some are almost ghost images
        of another era. Thanks for sharing your chew mail pouch tobacco photo.

      • Let me know if you get any additional background on the story behind the quilt barns. I’m curious now, too!

  4. Rose says:

    WOW, 8’x8′ wood panels, painted quilt block, mounted on a frame to attach to a barn. There are smaller ones, which I’ve seen one, for houses or garden sheds as well. There are barn quilt country side auto tours in various states including Ohio, Adams County one of them. Some are painted on the barns themselves like advertising sign painting which are very cool themselves. I also found this out in a search, that quilt barn trails started in SE Ohio, in 2001 to promote tourism. Maybe you will run across one on your travels to post for us all to view. 🙂
    .

  5. Sally Cissna says:

    The tobacco land in Wisconsin is over around Janesville, Edgerton, Ft. Atkinson, Evanston. I remember seeing the black Mail Pouch tobacco drying barns over there. My nephews and maybe even my nieces worked tobacco back in the 1960s and 70s – they are from Edgerton. As a matter of fact, Edgerton still has a summer festival called Tobacco Days.

    • I never knew there was tobacco in Wisconsin! It’s changed down here. There used to be lots of tiny tobacco crops tucked into the hillsides along the winding country roads. That was about the only crop you could grow in that kind of land, with only a few small flat spaces to plant. But the tobacco plots seem to be gone now. My mom said they’ve all been bought out. The tobacco companies bought one last crop from everyone after the big lawsuit settlement, and now no one farms tobacco anymore.

  6. Sally Cissna says:

    As for the barn quilts, they’ve been around quite a long time in Amish areas. We have one that hangs…or rather hung and will hang in our living room that friends ordered as a gift from Shipshewana, Indiana. http://visitshipshewana.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/barn-quilt-map.pdf
    Not sure if the Amish were the first but that’s where we discovered them.

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