WOODFORD FITCH AXTON
Woodford Fitch Axton, President of the Axton-Fisher Tobacco Company, was one of the foremost tobacco manufacturers in Kentucky, and a member of that select company of enterprising and successful business men whose activities have been no small factor in the commercial growth of Louisville. He was born February 6, 1872, in Ohio County, Kentucky, and his parents, Isaac H. and Lois (Tracy) Axton, were also natives of the Blue Grass State. His mother was born in Louisville and his father in Breckinridge County. For several years Isaac H. Axton engaged in farming in Ohio County, and in later life was in the mercantile business in Owensboro, in which city he was residing at the time of his death. The mother is also deceased. They were the parents of the following children: Edwin D., Isaac Tracy, Robert L., Woodford F. and Mrs. Mary Vaughn Axton. These children have made their home in Louisville, while two daughters, Mrs. Chester Bishop and Miss Annie Lois Axton have made their home in Winchester, Kentucky.
Woodford F. Axton received his early schooling in Ohio County, and later attended the public schools of Owensboro. He began his business career in the employ of a wholesale grocery house of that city, later becoming the firm’s traveling representative. Coming to Louisville he accepted a position as salesman with the Ouerbacker-Gilmore Grocery Company. He was successful as a salesman and had no difficulty in forming a connection when he sought a change. In 1895 he accepted a position with the F. Smith & Sons Grocery Company, of St. Louis, remaining with them until 1899, when he began business for himself. He established a tobacco business in Owensboro, Kentucky, beginning on a modest scale. In 1902 he removed his business to Louisville. In that city the business was incorporated under the name of the Axton-Fisher Tobacco Company, which still continues under that name. He was continuously, from the incorporation of the Company, its executive head and his brother, Edwin D. Axton, was secretary and treasurer. The Company operates a model plant at 811 South Twentieth Street, where many people are employed. They are nationally known as manufacturers of the famous "Twenty-Grand” and "Clown” cigarettes; "Spud” mentholated cigarettes and "Old Hillside” smoking tobacco and "White Mule” twist chewing tobacco. They originated these brands and have marketed them for years. The more famous of their products are the three brands of cigarettes herein mentioned. The "Spud” cigarette was the first popular mentholated cigarette to come to public notice, and its popularity was assured from the beginning. This cigarette is impregnated with menthol under a patented process that produces a cigarette exactly like other cigarettes in appearance, but is cooling to the throat. The Axton-Fisher Company has enjoyed a remarkable growth from its inception over forty years ago and occupies a strong and prominent position among Louisville’s strong and ably managed industrial institutions.
In 1900, Mr. Axton married Miss Cinderella D. Whittinghill, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a daughter of David Whittinghill. Mrs. Axton preceded her husband in death, the end coming to her in 1901. The couple were the parents of one child who is also deceased. Mr. Axton was a consistent member of the Methodist Church throughout his life. In politics he was a Republican, but in 1912 supported the Progressive Ticket headed by Theodore Roosevelt and the following year was the candidate of that party for mayor of Louisville. A student of issues and conditions he was never the blind follower of any political doctrine, but in national and state affairs he invariably followed the fortunes of the Republican party. He was a member of the Audubon Country Club, and as an additional form of relaxation he sought the change to be found in managing a six hundred acre river bottom farm in Oldham County. On this estate he erected and maintained a beautiful home. The farm was operated under his direction and was largely devoted to fruit growing. The general improvement Mr. Axton made in this property resulted in it becoming one of the most attractive country places in that section of the state. Mr. Axton was a member of the Masonic Fraternity, being a Knights Templar and a Shriner. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Surrounded by family, friends and fraternal brothers, death came to Mr. Axton April 4, 1935, at his home in Oldham County, Kentucky. He was a fine type of the virile American business man, ready to meet the emergencies of life with confidence, poise and courage and it can be truly said that his success was due to his own efforts.
Source: A Sesqui-Centennial History of Kentucky; by Frederick A. Wallis. Published 1945.