FACTOIDS: Davenport Cigar Manufacturing

  • James Burge opened the first exclusive tobacco store and cigar factory in Davenport in 1852.
  • H. Wagener was the first person who manufactured cigars in Davenport.
  • Nicholas Kuhnen tried to get local farmers to grow tobacco. He gave them free seeds and paid them a premium for their best tobacco. Farmers complained that it was “too much work” and voted at a Grange meeting to plant corn, rye, and oats, instead.
  • The Peter N. Jacobsen Cigar Co. began making cigars in northwest Davenport in 1880 as part of its hotel business. His son, Peter N. Jacobsen, Jr., expanded the business. By World War I, Jacobsen was producing an average of 250,000 cigars a week. Jacobsen was the largest cigar company in the region until it closed in 1946.
  • The Sternberg Manufacturing Company made cigar manufacturing equipment in Davenport. Their catalog contained about 6,000 different sizes and shapes of molds for cigars.
  • The Hickey Brothers Cigar Stores didn’t make cigars. They were retail only (1901-1957). At their peak, they had 136 stores in 68 cities and 9 states.
  • A large number of Davenport cigar factory owners were born in Germany: Ferd Haak, Claus Hanssen, Otto Albrecht, Alfred C. Bieberbach, Ambrosius Fersch, Anton Moormann, August H. Sunderbruch, Benjamin H. Warnke, Carl Charles Brockmann, Charles Dau, Diedrich Blesse, Edward Boettger, Hans J. Westphal, Hans Harkert, Henry Haak, Henry Weiskopf, Herman Jacker, Julius Goos, Jacob Schulz, John Wahlig, William Oden, Louis Feid, Martin Beck, Meyer Levy, Nicholas Kuhnen, Peter Puck, Rudolph Priester, Rudolph Fischer, and others.
  • In 1884, the cigar factory of N. Kuhnen was employing 350 people and making 750,000 cigars a month. Some of their leaf tobacco was imported from Holland and grown on the island of Sumatra.
  • The Harkert Cigar Company had plans to pack cigars in glass jars of 50 cigars instead of wooden boxes. The glass jars would retain the aroma of the cigar and keep it fresh.
  • Fire totally destroyed the Ferd Haak Cigar Factory on March 1, 1904. The building at 1110-1112 W. Seventh St. burned for two hours, collapsing the walls and floors. An immense quantity of tobacco and cigars was lost in the fire.
  • The Ferd Haak Cigar Co. went by the name “Great Western Cigar Factory” from 1890 to 1901.
  • In 1886, Davenport had 39 cigar factories producing 13.7 million cigars a year.
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