Lexington in Fayette County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
Gentlemen Farmers and Burley Tobacco
The decades between the Civil War and World War I (circa 1865-1915), brought big events and big changes.
Freshly-minted millionaires transformed farms into showplaces where the best thoroughbred and standardbred horses in the world grazed, foaled, trained, and raced.
Fortunes made in mining, industry and other ventures beckoned a new sort of gentleman farmer to the Bluegrass. These wealthy newcomers mingled with long standing gentry, and brought more fine horses and livestock to the neighborhood. If you focused on breeding, raising, training and racing fine horses and held ample funds, this was where you wanted to be.
Rarely of southern heritage, most recent arrivals hailed from urban areas outside Kentucky, pursued farming on a part-time basis, and kept at least one other residence elsewhere. From iwo or more traditional farms, they created estates with formally-designed, signature -styled buildings and landscapes, road networks and infrastructure. This gentleman intended his farm to stable the finest Thorouglibred or Standardbred horses in the world -with little concern that it generated income.
"I put in 20 acres of tobacco in 1882, 40 acres this year, and will probably put in 75 next year."
Light burley promised extraordinary profits, so pastures of never-broken sod were plowed and planted in tobacco. Between 1913 and 1920 alone, profits from tobacco almost quadrupled, while production costs remained stable.
Raising tobacco takes months of time and countless labor hours, Workers plant seed beds, pull and set seedings, top, cut, bring in, hang, take down, strip, sort, and bale the leaves. The process goes from early spring to late fall, when the last tobacco ships to market.
Local builders like the Lacefields of Midway built tobacco barns with two main requisites: adjustable vents for air circulation, and a sturdy frame of tier rails to hold hundreds of the tobacco-heavy sticks.
Drive any road of the Scenic Corridor in the past 100 years and you could count at least-one tobacco barn on every farm you pass. But the once common tobacco landscape has almost disappeared. The recent "tobacco buyout” removed the quota system set in place in 1938, eliminated restrictions on planting, and gave payments to farmers to stop growing Add a decline in domestic tobacco consumption and increased growing of the leaf abroad, and a perfect storm
Above: A.J. Alexander of Woodburn (sitting second from left) with neighbors and fellow stockmen, sometime before 1900. (KHS)
E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Farm, over 1200 acres on both sides of Old Frankfort Pike, established in 1900. (UK)
Loading tobacco in the field.
Delivering a wagon of tobacco to market.
Tobacco auction, Louisville (All, LOC)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1900.
Location. 38° 4.123′ N, 84° 33.453′ W. Marker is in Lexington, Kentucky, in Fayette County. Marker is at the intersection of Old Frankfort Pike and Alexandria Drive, on the right when traveling east on Old Frankfort Pike. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Lexington KY 40502, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Breed Only The Best (here, next to this marker); Create An Agri-culture (here, next to this marker); the International Thoroughbred Landscape (a few steps from this marker); Calumet Farm (a few steps from this marker); The West Fayette County (a few steps from this marker); The Settlers (a few steps from this marker); Idle Hour Farm (a few steps from this marker); Geology And The Land (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lexington.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 28, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 28, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 78 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on March 28, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.