Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 4 - Page 21, Submitted by David Bunker, March 28, 2012

Machine Age Brought End to This Industry

Like many other early trades and industries which became virtually extinct in Muscatine with the advent of modernized manufacturing machinery, the cigar manufacturing trade experienced immense popularity at one time only to fall victim to the speedier processing methods of modern times.

The manufacture of cigars by hands, in small shops in homes, or in any suitable place was a flourishing industry in Muscatine less than a half a century ago. In fact, Charlie Eichenauer, one of the oldest living veterans of the cigar manufacturing trade, recalls that many shops and home establishments were still being operated in the city 20 or 25 years ago.

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Since machine-made cigars began moving onto the market nearly a quarter of a century ago, the number of independently owned shops in Muscatine has decreased gradually and are now nearly extinct. At one time during the late years of the nineteenth century, according to Mr. Eichenauer, more than 50 independently owned shops and “Buckeyes” were operating in Muscatine at one time. The veteran manufacturer explained that the term “Buckeyes” was used in old days by shop owners in referring to manufacturers who did business on a smaller scale, usually those who manufactured in their homes.

All cigar-making was done by hand in the days when the industry was at its peak in Muscatine, Mr. Eichenauer stated. Machines were unheard of in those days, he said.

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Mr. Eichenauer received his early training in cigar making in a shop operated by an elder brother, George Eichenauer, at the spot now occupied by the Eichenauer Cigar Store. The Eichenauer establishment has remained at the same location since.

Mr. Eichenauer recalls also that the lack of cigar makers’ unions in the early days made it possible for workers to remain at their jobs for long hours each day stripping tobacco and preparing it for rolling. The majority of shops which operated at that time employed seven or eight men at one time, though many cigar makers operated as individuals.

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The average output of a single cigar-maker in the old days was approximately 1,500 cigars per day, according to Mr. Eichenauer. The majority of these were made for home consumption, he said.

Other prominent Muscatine cigar-makers of an earlier era were Frank Gottbrecht, Herman Gremmel, Dan Fogarty, John Hahn, and Jack Asthalter. One of the earliest cigar making plants in Mr. Eichenauer’s recollections was operated by Ferdinand Kaufmann. Later this establishment passed into the hands of Adolph Kaufmann.

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Photo of BEOPPLE FACTORY WORKERS – Employees of the Boepple Button company, one of the earliest established in Muscatine, are shown in the large group pictured above. The factory was located on the corner of Sixth and Linn streets, according to Mrs. Nona C. Rink, 1201 Oregon street, who submitted the picture.

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An Open Prairie Provided Setting for Wedding Vows

Thus proclaimed a Journal editor through the printed word back in his edition Feb. 16, 1856, when he gave to his reading public the following résumé of a marriage ceremony performed on the open prairie: A novel wedding – Some weeks ago a stranger came into our office and requested us to publish in substance the follow-ing incidents which we neglected from time to time, confident that the story was too good to ever grow old.

On Sunday, Dec. 20th., Mr. Samuel Stillion and Miss Elizabeth Longerbeam were united in the holy bonds of matrimony by the Rev. Mr. Swin, all of Cedar county.

It seems that the license was obtained in Johnson county, and the clergyman could not conscientiously perform the ceremony in old Cedar. So that after reaching the reverend gentleman’s residence, the happy pair, just oscillating on the brink of bliss, had to be tantalized by a still further procrastination. But their love was too ardent to be quenched by cold or snow, and the whole party embarked in a couple of jumpers for the territory of Johnson, which must have seemed to them a good deal like the promised land.

Arriving at last in a convenient, though tremendous snow-drift, which was known to be upon free soil, the exultant couple arose and were pronounced man and wife, while the bleak prairie winds alone echoed the solemn amen of the ceremony.

Then they faced about, met with the rather serious mishap of breaking one of their vehicles just enough to compel the unfortunate bridegroom to exercise his legs in locomotion for several miles.

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Photos of View of Benjamin Hershey Hospital Showing Nurses Home at Left

For almost forty years the Benjamin Hershey Memorial Hospital has been serving the sick and afflicted people of our Community. It has always endeavored to give the people the highest type of service. By making constant improvements in its facilities this hospital has always been kept strictly up-to-date and is today one of the finest institutions of its kind in Iowa. Its management will continue to maintain this high standard.

It is to the altruistic ideals and the far-seeing vision of Myra Hershey that this hospital owes its origin. Among various improvements and new equipment an interesting and useful article is a baby incubator of the most modern, efficient type, which has been added within the past year. This equipment has been used on numerous occasions and, many babies have shared in the benefits.

Benjamin Hershey Memorial Hospital
Est. 1902
1810 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine, Ia.

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