Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

February 13, 1992

Transcribed by Sharon Stelloh Schulte.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 






By Dee Zimmerman


At the turn of the Century in the early 1900’s, a cigar shop was on the corner of West Street and West 6th Street where Wayne’s Agri Fix Shop is now located.


The cigar shop had around 5 or 6 people working there.  Some of them were Pete Bronstad, Ed Sheff, Wm. Goeden (or Gaden), the grandfather of Ernie Gaden living here in Neillsville, Albert Daminsky, grandfather of Ruth Smukal, and Charles DeCremer, father of Ruth.


Somehow, after many years operating the cigar shop at this location, the partnership was dissolved and DeCremer and Daminsky moved their equipment to a room in the DeCremer residence and went in the cigar making business again.


The tobacco used in making the cigars came from Puerto Rico, and where the filler came from is unknown.


Pictured above is Charles DeCremer in the cigar shop at the turn of the century.


Making the cigars was quite an ordeal and very consuming.  Tobacco leaves were quite large and came in large wooden boxes.  The leaves had to be handled carefully as not to rip or tear them.  These leaves had a large vein in them that had to be taken out and were called stripping tobacco.  After the veins were taken out, they then were cut in narrow strips that would be used as the outside wrapper of the cigars.  The fillers for the cigars had to be made and put in the forms that you can see in the picture.  When the forms were filled, they were then put in a press and remained in them for a certain length of time.  After that, they were then taken out of these forms and wrapped in the thin wrappers and pasted with a certain brand of paste used only for the cigars.  They were then sorted out according to the filler being used in making the cigars.  The label rings with the name of the cigars, were then put on the cigars and packed in their own individual boxes and nailed shut, and a Union label was glued to one end of the box and a Tax label was glued to the other end of the box.  Some of the names of the cigars made then were:  Puerto Rico Specials, Havana, LaPalina and other names that couldn’t be remembered.  Albert Daminsky and one or two of the grandchildren delivered the boxes of cigars to the small towns surrounding the Neillsville area.  They would take the 7:00 a.m. passenger trains that came through Neillsville during this century and be on their way selling the cigars.  The stores and saloons in Granton, Chili, Auburndale and Junction City were some of the places that the cigars were delivered to.  Sometimes we would even ride the caboose on the freight train, if we happened to miss the passenger trains.


In the winter time, Bert Dresden, who operated a taxi service here, and a dray service, would hitch up his cutter and horse and would take Grandpa and Clarence to some of these places.


The DeCremer kids were Norman, now deceased, Ruth, Mrs. Bob Smukal and Clarence who lives in DeForest.


While other kids were outside playing in the summertime, the DeCremer kids were stripping tobacco and helping with the making of cigars.


This is a brief summary of what went on in the cigar shop and making cigars.



Charles DeCremer shown making cigars. Also helping him are from left to right: son, Norman; daughter, Ruth Smukel; son, Clarence; and father-in-law, Albert Daminsky.


Photos and story provided by Ruth Smukal.





Comments from “The Man on the Corner”:  “A school boy’s definition of a vacuum:  A large empty space where the Pope lives,” – Marie Corelli:  “I personally consider that a woman who shows the power of her intellect is more to be respected than the woman who shows the power of her legs.  But men always prefer the legs.”


Page 1 carried news of the death of Bernard Listeman, father of Kurt Listeman.  The elder Listeman and his wife, Sophie, had spent summers in this area for many years.  The Chicago Tribune said Bernard Listeman was a “famous violinist and one of the pioneers of the music of this country…  Mr. Listeman has been engaged in teaching and concert work in this country for forty-nine years.  He was 76 years old.”


Also, page 1, “Two More Pioneers Gone – Geo. A. Austin and Fred Vine – Death Takes Two of the Early Settlers of the County.”  Austin died at the age of 88.  Vine had served as president of the Lynn Mutual Fire Insurance Co. for 16 years.




“The fall of snow on Sunday put everybody on runners again, and the belated winter snow has everything its own way.  Loggers smile millions wide.”


“Last Saturday, the Condit  & Fuller wood sawing machine tongue slipped through the neck-yoke ring while being driven down a grade near Sam Boardman’s, and, bunting the horses, set them prancing.  Fuller was on the plush seat, driving, and, having no brakes to put on, hung on, while Condit sprang for the near horse’s bit and got dragged some distance between the animal’s fore legs.  But his grip was good, and his life spared.  A collection of very sore bones were the only injury.”


“A crew of ice harvesters have been at work sawing out blocks of congealed wet at Ross Eddy this week.  It is clear and clean as plate glass.”


“Mrs. Mary Finnigan’s oyster and ice cream restaurant opening Friday night was a gratifying and complete success, a large number attending.  Mrs. Finnegan understands the oyster.”



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