website  watertownhistory.org

    ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

 

Miller Cigar Factory

Adolph Friedrich Miller [Müller]      09 1834, Diepholz—10 30 1901, USA

1834-1901

314 E Main (Fourth & Main)

 

Main, E, 316   1898, Adolph Miller house, WHS_004_NT_063

 

Reminiscences of Early Days in Watertown, Jacobi

 

In the pioneer days, the manufacture of cigars, not alone here, but everywhere, was in the hands of men who were driven by the revolution of 1848-49 from their fatherland.  We here in Watertown had a large colony of such men, mostly highly educated and who were not afraid to take hold of anything to make an honest livelihood.

 

In the fifties and sixties the following cigar factories were established here, namely:  Bernhard & Rothe, Ernst and Carl Grossmann, August Tanck, Charles T. Lotz, Charles and Hugo Juessen, Eugene Wiggenhorn, later Wigrenhorn Bros., Ade & Broeg, Squire Dacasse, Bernhard Miller, A. F. Miller and a few others.

 

Miller Cigar Store “Turk” Resides at Octagon House

 

Carved in 1860’s

 

Normally a wooden effigy of a Native American holding a cluster of cigars

was used as the emblem of a tobacconist, not that of a Turk

 

 

Visitors to Watertown’s famed Octagon House can see, among other things, a relic of the Wooden Indian age.

 

Only in this instance it is not a wooden Indian they’ll be seeing, but a carved wooden Turk.  The Turk was presented to the Watertown Historical Society some years ago by the Miller family of Watertown, for several generations operators of a cigar factory here.

 

The wooden Indians and also some other figures, such as the Turk, were once quite common and occupied a place in or in front of cigar stores.  Watertown had several of them, most of them figures of Indians or Indian chiefs.  Today they are a collector’s item and many of them have been bought up for private collections.  Even today an occasional inquiry is made in Watertown by representatives of dealers and collectors who visit Watertown “scouting” for any stray wooden Indians that may have escaped the eye of previous inquirers.

 

The Turk, carved from a solid block of wood, was in the Miller family since the 1860’s and was purchased by the late A. F. Miller, father of the late Charles H. Miller under whom the family cigar business here continued until it was taken over by the grandson, the late Edgar C. Miller under whom the business was finally liquidated.

 

Before 1870, many wooden Indians and other heroic figures were carved in Milwaukee for cigar manufacturers.  It was there that Mr. Miller bought his Turk.

 

Wooden Indians, however, date back to England as early as the reign of King James I.

 

There is pictorial evidence that a wooden Indian was in existence in the year 1617, the year Pocahontas died, the year prior to Sir Walter Raleigh’s beheading and only 12 years after the celebrated Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes.

 

In the United States wooden Indians were used in front of cigar stores as early as 1780.

 

Among owners of wooden Indians here – not Turks – were Schlueter Bros., and Walter Kuenzi who operated cigar manufacturing concerns in the city.

 

Abstracted from WDTimes 08 05 1966

 

Wooden Indians once stood in front of cigar stores and tobacco shops.  Watertown had several of them at the turn of the century and much later, but at the moment they have all disappeared, some gathered up by collectors while others just disappeared without a trace.

 

Watertown still has one of the huge carved figures which stood in front of the old Miller Cigar store at Main and North Fourth Streets, now part of the F. W. Woolworth Co. store.  But this last remaining figure of a past era in Watertown is not actually an Indian; it’s a Turk.

 

Members of the Miller family presented the Turk to the Watertown Historical Society years ago and he is now at the Octagon House. 

 

The Miller family operated a cigar factory here for several generations.

 

The Turk, carved from a solid block of wood, was in the Miller family since the 1860’s and was purchased by the late A. F. Miller, father of the late Charles H. Miller under whom the family cigar business here continued until it was taken over by the grandson, the late Edgar C. Miller under whom the business was finally liquidated.

 

Before 1870 many wooden Indians and other heroic figures were carved in Milwaukee for cigar manufacturers.  It was there that Mr. Miller bought his Turk.

 

Among owners of wooden Indians here— not Turks—were Schlueter Bros., and Walter Kuenzi who operated cigar manufacturing concerns in the city.

 

______________________________________________

Following info and image from external website

 

Adolph Miller left Diepholz about 1850 and moved to Watertown, Wisconsin.  He founded a cigar company and got a well known member of his town.

 

Whom he married is unknown but a photo of his two children was sent to the German tree of the family. 

 

Last information is that a descendent of Adolph Miller moved to Corpus Christi, Texas.  Children:  Charles and Bertha Miller.

 

WHS_005_968

Bertha and Charles Miller

______________________________________________

 

WHS_006_597

 

WHS_006_600

 

WHS_006_599

 

310 E Main, Emil Seibel dry goods, post remodel, c1910

312 E Main, Wright's Art Gallery, post remodel, c1910

314 E Main, Miller Cigar Manufactory, Charles A, post remodel, c1910

 

Pedigree (PDF file) where you can see the roots back to about 1600.

In the 1860 Adolf Friedrich Miller left Diepholz Germany to settle in Watertown.  He had two children Charles and Bertha.  Was owner of a cigar manufactory in Watertown.  We know also about a lost brother who may have died in the Civil War called Carl or maybe Charles Miller in the English version.  He was born 19.12.1840 in Diepholz.  His full German name is Carl Diedrich Mueller.

 

1847

The Miller home was one of the oldest landmarks in Watertown and was erected in 1847 by William Holsen.  In 1848 the property was acquired by the late Ernst Achilles, father of Mrs. A. F. Miller. 

 

1861

09 17       In 1861 A. F. Miller occupied the second story of the Miller House as a cigar factory, which was discontinued in this building after two years, and the factory was removed to its present [1909] quarters.  Mrs. A. F. Miller has lived in this residence continuously for over fifty years.   WG

 

1873

EARLY VIEW OF

  

 

1901

ADOLPH MILLER, b. 1834, d. 1901.  Buried in Oak Hill Cemetery

 

1908

10 02       Charles H. Miller's [son of Adolph] cigar factory was entered by burglars.   WG

 

1909      Old Landmark Sold

09 17       The Miller residence, Main and N. Fourth streets [316 E Main], was sold to H. Davies, who will remove it to a vacant lot at 312 North Second Street [current location of City Hall].  The building is one of the oldest landmarks in Watertown and was erected in 1847 by William Holsen.  In 1848 the property was acquired by the late Ernst Achilles, father of Mrs. A. F. Miller.  In 1861 A. F. Miller occupied the second story as a cigar factory, which was discontinued in this building after two years, and the factory was removed to its present quarters.  Mrs. A. F. Miller has lived in this residence continuously for over fifty years.   WG

 

1937      Philip J McCarthy took over the Miller Cigar business.

 

Cross References:

William Schlueter was employed at Millers. 

Walter A. Schimmel became associated with the Tri-County Tobacco Co., formerly the Miller Cigar Co.

Albert P. Benke (1870–1944) in early life was a cigar maker, working for the Miller Cigar Co. and later for Schlueter Bros., before going into the floral business.

 

 

 

Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin

Index