The colonists smoked it in clay pipes then, and some was shipped back to the mother country, but it is said that Connecticut’s Revolutionary War hero (and French and Indian War) Israel Putnam, bringing tobacco seeds back from Cuba was the start of the growing of this special tobacco for rolling into cigars. We visted his monument in this previous post.
Commercial tobacco growing, mainly on small family farms, took off in the 1800s, when cigar smoking among men became popular. The kind grown here was called Broadleaf, the outer wrapper of the cigar. Competition from Sumatra later in the century inspired growers hereabouts to turn over a new leaf, so to speak, in tobacco growing. In the early 1900s they came up with the idea of erecting enormous light cloth tents over the tobacco fields, which by cutting direct sunlight and increasing the humidity of the atmosphere underneath the tenting, replicated the growing conditions in Sumatra. This is called Shade tobacco, and it is considered the finest cigar wrapper.