The Cigar-Label Gazette
THE CIGAR INDUSTRY OF EAST PROSPECT, PENNSYLVANIA
by Steven Gilbert
East Prospect Cigar Co. (circa 1930)
Located in the rolling hills of the Susquehanna River Valley lies the small town of East Prospect, Pennsylvania. It is located twelve miles east of York and just one mile west of the Susquehanna River. East Prospect is one of the oldest boroughs in York County, PA. It was incorporated into a borough in 1874 but its history dates back to the 1840's. Early inhabitants of the town were manufacturing cigars before the civil war.
In the early days, cigars were known as "twist heads" and were manufactured by cigar pioneers such as L.E. Olewiler, George Young, Henry Darshinger, and David Forry. By the turn of the century, East Prospect had a well established reputation as a cigar town. This small town of less than 500 people was home to a booming cigar business throughout the early part of the century. With the construction of a concrete road in 1923, that connected East Prospect to York, the cigar industry grew by leaps and bounds. By 1931 there was no less than six large factories engaged in the manufacture of five cent cigars. And local residents can account for several other smaller cigar makers that occupied the back alley garages throughout town. Many of these produced cigars for the larger factories.
Probably the best known, and certainly the largest factory, was the East Prospect Cigar Company. B.M. Hanigan was the head of this concern. Mr. Hanigan and his associate Paul Dellinger were both brought up in the cigar business and were well known in the trade. Their knowledge and reputation in the cigar industry lent itself to the production of quality six and one-half inch, five cent cigars. The company featured five major brands. They were: Epco, Las Vegas, Emilia Garcia, Airedale, and Flyer.
Another major manufacturer of cigars was A.F. Burg. His most popular brand was an invincible shape cigar which sold under the name Satin Ribbon. Other five cent brands included True Yankee, Ideal Garcia, Little Puritan, and Glenn Wilson. The Burg factory was also noted for producing private brands.
Q.S. Overmiller began producing cigars in East Prospect around 1923. His best known brand was Royal Seal, a cigar that retailed at 3 for 10 cents. Mr. Overmiller also produced five cent cigars for various private brands.
Two other well known cigar makers of the time were the Temple Cigar Company and The National Cigar Company. The latter of which being a subsidiary of The East Prospect Cigar Company. The National Cigar Company is best known for its Champ Clark brand. A brand that enjoyed wide spread sales throughout the country. The Temple Cigar Company manufactured 3 for 10 cent cigars under the brand name Blue & White Triplets.
Q.S. Overmiller Factory
East Prospect was also home to the C.E. Myers Cigar Box Company. The founder of this company began manufacturing cigar boxes in December of 1895 at a site which is still standing today. Mr. Myers played a pivotal role in the advancement of the East Prospect cigar industry. He served as Secretary of the School Board, Chairman of the Highway Committee, and as Chief Burgess of the town for eight years. In later years, the cigar box business was taken over by Mr. Myers sons. They converted the company into a print shop which specialized in printing cigar bands.
If not for the persistent efforts of Mr. Myers and Mr. Hanigan, the highway that connects East Prospect to York may have not been built in 1923. This was the major link to the city and beyond. Without it, the cigar industry would probably not have grown to be the principal industry of this small town.
Like most small towns, East Prospect was home to other stores and businesses. But all of these put together employed less people than the largest cigar factory. Practically everyone in town, and in the surrounding countryside, was in some way connected to the cigar industry. If they didn't work in the factories themselves, surely a friend or relative did.
Burg Cigar Factory
Most of the buildings where cigars were manufactured were torn down to make room for homes, or converted for other uses. Today, a few of these buildings still remain as a testament to a simpler time. A time when a hard days work was rewarded by the sweet taste of a good East Prospect nickel cigar.