Rough on Rats Advertising Card

Source: Laupus Health Sciences History Collection

Staff Person: Matt Reynolds

Description: This late 19th Century advertising card for E.S. Wells Rough on Rats vermin extermination powder depicts a peeved family chasing a variety of pests from their home.  The powder, which contained a mixture of arsenic and ground coal was said to “clear out rats, mice, flies, bed-bugs, ants, roaches, mosquitoes, etc.”.  The Wells Company, based in Jersey City New Jersey, offered a wide range of products including Rough on Corns, Rough on Itch, Rough on Toothache, and Wells’ Health Renewer.

Wells promoted all of the company products far and wide in both newspapers and via advertising cards.  He even produced a Rough on Rats song touting the effectiveness of the poison, which included the chorus:
“R-r-rats! Rats! Rats! Rough on Rats, Hang your dogs and drown your cats:
We give a plan for every man to clear his house with Rough on Rats”

Sadly, some purchasers of the product chose to misuse it both to take their own lives and to take the lives of others. The most notorious case of the latter was the poisoning of Ada Appelgate by her husband Everett Appelgate and his mistress Frances Creighton.  Both were convicted of murder in 1936 and were sent to the electric chair at New York’s Sing-Sing prison shortly after.

Original, signed letter from Caleb (C. D.) Bradham, Sr., inventor of Pepsi-Cola

Source: Minges Collection #1136.1.a

Staff Person: Dale Sauter

Description: Original, signed letter from Caleb (C. D.) Bradham, Sr., inventor of Pepsi-Cola, to Dr. Jos. J. Watson in South Carolina promoting Pepsi-Cola as a safe drink.  Bradham also mentions some basic ingredients found in the beverage (1917).

Broadside (circa 1883) offering farmland and timberland near New Berne, N.C.

Source: Edward B. Ellis, Jr. Papers #753.4

Staff Person: Dale Sauter

Description: Original broadside (circa 1883) offering a “Rare Chance for Capitalists!”  Offered for rent or lease by Mrs. Virginia Harrison of New Berne, N.C. is Camp Palmer, “one of the finest farms in Eastern North Carolina.”  She also states she has “a good cotton farm” and “fine timber lands” available as well.

Tobacco Advertising in China

Source: James N. Joyner Papers (Manuscript Collection #429)

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin


James N. Joyner (1888-1972), attended the University of North Carolina and graduated in 1910. He was employed  by the British-American Tobacco Company (B.A.T.) in China from 1912 to 1935, returned to North Carolina to manage the family farm at LaGrange, and died at the age of 83.  His papers reveal many aspects of the operations of the B.A.T. Company and the social life during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

This is a photograph of a group of people advertising tobacco products during his time in China.

1912 Hat Sales Brochure

Source:  Benjamin B. Winborne Papers, collection number 691-005

Staff Person:  Dale Sauter

Description:  Today’s staff pick features a Spring and Summer 1912 Hat Sales Brochure for clothing manufacturer, Dunlap & Co.  Inside the cover is printed the local sales agency, Sole Agency, Hampton Roads Hat Co., Norfolk, VA. Interestingly, this street scene features both a horse-driven carriage and a “horseless carriage.”

The entire catalog can be found at the following link:

"The Eclipse" Steam Engine

Source:  Hunter-Wills Family Papers (#237) East Carolina Manuscript Collection

Staff Person:  Dale Sauter


Described as “The ‘Eclipse’ on Wheels, this portable steam engine was produced by Frick & Co. of Waynesboro, PA.  It is described as “especially adapted for threshing grain, sawing wood and lumber, ginning cotton, and whenever it is necessary to move from place to place.”  The image comes from a circa 1878 Frick & Co. catalog.  The entire catalog can be found at the following link:

This catalog, and other similar catalogs, can be found in the Hunter-Wills Family Papers, collection number 237.

Kinchen Wiley Cobb

Source: William E. Elmore Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #39

Staff Person: Martha Elmore

The image below is possibly of Kinchen Wiley Cobb of Greenville, N.C. According to a sketch written by his son Charles D. Cobb, Sr., in the Chronicles of Pitt County North Carolina (1982), Kinchen Cobb became Supervisor of the Greenville Tobacco Board of Trade around 1923 and remained in this position until just before World War II. He was responsible for directing tobacco sales and advertising the Greenville market. This image expertly illustrates the advertising aspect of his job. This photograph was bought at a rummage sale that Charles D. Cobb, Sr., held probably twenty years or more ago. If anyone can confirm who the man in the car is, please let us know so we can place this information with the photograph. This image (p-39/5) is part of the William E. Elmore Collection #39 and is found in box #39.5.a. The finding aid for this collection can be seen at Manuscript Collection 39.

Car advertising tobacco sales in Greenville.

Car advertising tobacco sales in Greenville.