Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


Of the many businesses and manufacturing operations that opened in Farmington, the one that strikes me as most interesting is the cigar factory.

Charles Doeling came to Farmington in 1861 and immediately began to make cigars. In 1868 he occupied the second floor of the Meek Building, and by 1871 moved his operation into his own building. Although it was destroyed by fire, he purchased property and established a factory at the corner of Front and State Streets.

At first he worked by himself, but as his business grew, he employed his four sons along with a few other cigar makers. At one time he turned out more than half a million cigars per year under the brand names of "Firefly," "Puritan," "Bull Frog," "Grand Opera," "Goodin’s Favorite," "Charlie’s Dandy," and the "Central."

Most of his business was in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri and Hugo Doeling was his traveling salesman.

He used special brands of tobacco for his cigars including Sumatra, Havana. Zimmer Spanish, Little Dutch, Housatonic, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Havana Seed, Yara Seed, and Duck Island. What is not apparent is where these tobaccos were grown and harvested, and how the product reached his Iowa facility.

It can be assumed that the rails were used to transport tobacco to Farmington, since steamboats no longer operated on the Des Moines. It is surprising that cigars could be made in Iowa cheaply enough to retail, since tobacco growing in this country is limited to the upper south. The closest growing areas to the Iowa market would have been Kentucky and the Ozarks in Arkansas or along the Arkansas/Missouri border.

It seems logical that Doeling may have obtained his raw materials through a supplier out of Chicago or St. Louis. This would (of course) increase his costs as it would employ at least one middle man.

According to Tharp’s History of Farmington, Charles Doeling’s cigar manufacturing wasn’t the first in Farmington. George Doeling started a cigar factory in 1840, one of the earliest industries in Farmington. At this point I do not know how long this first Doeling factory operated.

(material from "Historical Sketch of Farmington" Leader-Record, September 1983)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick