Saturday, March 21, 2009
From the Quad Cities Times: Q-C cigar making, brewing on display. By John Willard | Tuesday, July 11, 2006 6:09 AM CDT
The Quad-Cities’ industrial heritage is not just about farm machinery and other heavy manufacturing. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, brewing and cigar making were major enterprises as the area’s German immigrants capitalized on businesses they had known in their homeland. The Quad-City region once counted a dozen breweries, and more than 30 small companies were producing cigars in Davenport in the late 19th century. 1
The Quad-Cities brewing industry had its beginnings with early German immigrants from the areas of Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria and Hamburg. Not only did they bring with them their hopes for a better life in the New World but also their acumen in a variety of professions and trades. They took their entrepreneurial spirit to such fields as brick making, (when the family came to Davenport in 1854, Claus Bielenberg found work as a gardener and "layer of brick walks" - quoting The ancestors and descendants of the Bettendorf-Kohrs and related families : a memorial to William Edwin Bettendorf, 1902-1979),. meat packing (i. e. Kohrs Packing Company), lumber (i.e. Mueller Lumber Company) and furniture making as well as brewing and cigar making. Early brewers included Ernst Zoller, Matthias Frahm, John Noth, Henry and Julius Lehrkind, Peter and August Littig and Ignatz Huber. 1
In Rock Island Illinois, Ignatz Huber obtained employment in a brewery, and after his first month's employment he purchased an interest in the concern, of which three years later he became the sole owner. From a small beginning Mr. Huber's business grew and his patronage increased until it became one of the city's principal industries, employing many men. He continued in business alone until the formation of the Rock Island Brewing Company, whereby Rock Island's three brewing plants were consolidated and a stock company organized. Then Mr. Huber turned over active management of the new enterprise to his son, Otto Huber. 1 Conrad Kohrs worked in the brewery for a short time for Ignatz Huber prior to heading for Montana. Quoting from Conrad Kohrs autobiography "I got employment in Huber's Brewery in Rock Island and worked there until the spring of 1855." (Page 5) 3
Ernst Zoller, who arrived in Davenport from his native Germany in 1848, founded a brewing empire that operated into the early 1950s under the names Davenport Malting Co., Independent Brewing Co., Zoller Brewing Co., Blackhawk Brewing Co and Uchtorff Brewing Co. Cigar making in the Quad-Cities followed a development course similar to that of the breweries as it grew from small, independent businesses to larger, consolidated firms. Most of the cigar factories in Davenport were in the west end, where many Germans lived and found work at the plants. 1
One of the most successful local cigar makers was Nicholas Kuhnen, who hoped his first shop in Davenport in 1854. By the 1880s, he was recognized as owning the largest cigar factory north of St. Louis and west of Chicago. Other successful cigar companies were the Ferd. Haak Cigar Co. and the Peter N. Jacobsen Cigar Co. Jacobsen began making cigars in northwest Davenport in 1880 as part of his hotel business. His son, Peter N. Jacobsen Jr., expanded the business and by 1903 had moved the cigar-manufacturing portion to a building that still stands at the southwest corner of 4th and Harrison streets. 1
By World War I, Jacobsen was producing an average of 250,000 cigars a week, including its “Jacobsen’s Brown Beauty” marketed to the working man. Despite competitive pressure from Florida and Cuba, Jacobsen remained the largest cigar company in the region until it closed in 1946 as cigarettes gained popularity.1
1. Quad Cities Times: Q-C cigar making, brewing on display. By John Willard | Tuesday, July 11, 2006 6:09 AM CDT
2. The ancestors and descendants of the Bettendorf-Kohrs and related families : a memorial to William Edwin Bettendorf, 1902-1979 by Darlene Ward Paxton; L T Sloane. Decorah, Iowa : Anundsen Pub. Co., 1984.
3.Conrad Kohrs : an autobiography. by Conrad Kohrs. Publisher C.K. Warren, ©1977.