The Putnam Cigar Factory was one of Patterson's major employers for many years, but its employees
were not native Patterson residents. The factory was established by Jacob Stahl, a German who immigrated to the
United States at the age of 23. The Cigar Factory was opened in approximately 1888, and Stahl's factory soon attracted
fellow Germans: either immigrants from Europe or first generation German-Americans from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Eventually Bohemians, Hungarians, Czechs, and Poles followed, joined by a few Americans. So many Europeans were working
in the factory that the 1900 census became the first to record the presence of Europeans. The January 10, 1896 edition of
The Putnam County Courier
reported that there was talk of changing the name of Patterson to Germantown or Stahlburg. The
resulting influx of workers swelled Patterson's population, creating a housing shortage. Stahl responded by building homes
that he rented to his workers. Many of his workers settled in Patterson and had families. These homes still stand today in
the area roughly bounded by Orchard Street, Richard Street, Locust Street, and NYS Route 311. Many of these homes still
relied on outdoor wells and outhouses as recently as the 1960s. Some of the outdoor hand-pumped wells are still visible today
Many languages could be heard on the factory floor, mainly Czech and Hungarian, but most workers also spoke English. Stahl
hired translators to help the workers who could not speak English or any of the other commonly spoken languages.
In August, 1896, the Cigar Factory installed a new boiler and engine, which would allow the machines to run independent of a
The Cigar Factory did considerable business. In January, 1898, The Putnam Cigar Factory accepted an order for 60,000
cigars from a customer in California. In June, 1900, a case of 29,000 cigars was shipped to a customer in Honolulu. The
March 27, 1903, edition of The Putnam County Courier reported that "Work in the Cigar Factory has increased
greatly and shipments have doubled. Capacity of the factory may be enlarged to meet the growing demand." The factory had
both hand and machine departments.
On March 3, 1900, the employees of the hand-made cigars went on strike for more money. Workers met for two hours in the
American House, located where the present Patterson Town Hall is located on NYS Route 311 at Front Street, and voted to
demand a pay increase of 50 cents per thousand cigars, either for "bunch making" or rolled. The Factory offered an increase
of 25 cents per thousand. Five days later the men were back at work after the Factory agreed to split the difference
between the worker's demands and its initial offer. But harmony did not last: shortly after the settlement, the Factory's
remaining workers went on strike, inspired by the successful gains of the workers in the hand-made department.
Jacob Stahl's cigar brands became well-known throughout the country, and by 1900 another Stahl cigar factory was operating
in New York City with his son, William Stahl, acting as foreman of the City factory. In 1903, Stahl sold the Putnam Cigar
Factory and the workers homes to a group of businessman in New York City. Stahl continued to operate his New York City
factory. Jacob Stahl died in February, 1905 at age 67. He had been ill for several years after suffering from a bout of
pneumonia. The cause of his death was reported as congestion of the brain.
The new owners of the Putnam Cigar Factory renamed it the "Elite Cigar Factory", and continued to operate it until July 1, 1907.
The plant's owners had notified workers in May, 1907, that the factory would be closed and moved to New York City. Workers
were offered jobs in the new factory. At the time of the closing, the factory's payroll had been between $1,200 and $1,400 per
week, and its loss had a devastating effect on the merchants and other businesses in Patterson. In January, 1908, rumors swept
through Patterson speculating that a new cigar factory might open, employing many of the old workers. It would take many years
before another cigar factory would open. The 1910 census indicated that few of Stahl's former workers and their families remained
In 1919, a small cigar making business was operating in Patterson on an experimental basis. By January, 1920, business appeared
to be satisfactory, and a Spanish company in New York City, E. P. Cordero & Co., rented the old Jacob Stahl Hall building, a building
housing the telephone central office, and several acres of adjoining land to be used to construct thirty or more homes for factory
workers. The telephone company had a lease on its building and was to remain in the building until the expiration of the lease.
The new factory was to be headed by Joseph Horack, the son of one of Jacob Stahl's cigar makers. The new factory never matched the
production of the Stahl factory, or had the same influence on the Patterson community.
The first postcard view looks south on Railroad Avenue (Front Street). (Jane Cronin) The Putnam Cigar Factory can be seen
between the Patterson Depot on the left and the Judd Building on the right. The second postcard shows the Putnam Cigar Factory
on Railroad Avenue, probably at Lumber Street. (The Putnam County Historian) Both postcards are undated.
The third photo is of one of the work areas within the factory, and dates to the late 19th century. The equipment appears to
be a rolling machine. The young girl seated at the table is Mary Zoubek, and her father, Frank Zoubek, is to her right. Child
labor was not unusual in American factories of that era. The next photo is c.1907 and shows workers gathering in front of the factory
at the start of a new workday.
The next two photos are of two of the hand-pumped outdoor wells that were in use in the houses
Jacob Stahl built to house his workers. They are still visible today.
The final three photos show an abandoned and dilapidated factory, a sorry end to what had once been one of Patterson's most thriving
and best known businesses. Windows are missing or covered with boards. The photos are undated, but may date to the 1940s based on the
truck and gasoline pump. The man in the middle photo is unidentified.
The next photo shows a receipt for the rental of Jacob Stahl's Hall to the Patterson Grange in 1908. The receipt was prepared by
the estate of Jacob Stahl. The receipt was written on Cigar Factory stationery and shows that the factory used the image of Gen. Putnam
as a trade mark. It appears to be signed by "Wm. Stahl" as trustee for the estate. The Cigar Factory's New York City office was
located at 3489 Third Avenue. The next photo shows a 1910 envelope that was used to mail a rental receipt for the Hall to A. (Albert) I. Akin
and the Grange in Patterson. The return address is from Jacob Stahl Jr. Co., Inc., 1895 First Avenue, New York City. It shows the
logo of the Brunswick Cigar.