I guess the answer would be the Virginians as per much published research on the topic. NC seems to be oldest preservation of the practice though
But to take your thought process a bit further, let's say some tea sipping colonialist back in ye olde whenever in Viriginia did learn the process thru either trade with the Caribbeans or slaves, it seems that many of these cultures practice a very pungent "rub" on their animals. That didn't really seem to get transferred over i.e the uses of all that spices. I'm wondering if it was simply a matter of accessibility to spices? Or did they like the smoking part but not the spice paste part.