Cigarmaking, although never a leading Nebraska industry, was present in the state from early days. By 1869 there were 28 cigar makers in the state; by 1900 there were 233. The Grand Island Independent of September 2, 1890, described a Grand Island cigar factory as “a young and promising undertaking.” According to the Independent:
“A little over a year ago the Abraham Brothers commenced a little cigar factory with a few hands. Last fall they moved into the new Connell building and changed their plan of operation, by taking a number of girls as apprentices, teaching them the trade, and increasing continually their number. In the course of this summer Mr. Herman Abraham, one member of the old firm formed together with some prominent and wealthy Grand Island gentlemen, Mr. A. H. Baker and Jas. T. Rourke, a new firm under the name of The Grand Island Cigar Manufacturing Co.
“A considerable stock of fine tobaccos was laid in and the number of employees increased, so that their pay roll now shows 38 employees. All of these are educated to their work by Mr. Herman Abraham, the manager of the concern, and a good many are already so proficient in their work, that they earn from $8 to $12 a week. They occupy the first floor of one of the fine stores in the A.O.U.W. building which is 110 feet long, and it is a pleasure to see them busily attending to their duties. In the large basement under the store the firm keeps a great stock of fine leaf tobaccos of the best domestic brands, and of foreign tobaccos, which come all the way from Havana and even Sumatra.
“The firm does already an extensive business, reaching not only far into Nebraska, but beyond our state into the Dakotas and other neighboring states, and is already the largest cigar manufacturing concern between Davenport and Denver. Their output for the last month reached 150,000 cigars. There can be no doubt, that in a few years their business will grow to a large extent, . . . Such institutions are of great benefit to our city and its neighborhood, as they give profitable employment to young girls, who otherwise could not earn anything. And they are undoubtedly a good investment to the men, who started the business, and in about one year brought it to such importance.”