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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Near mint condition metal sign 20"x14". Local collection
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Cigar case.Photo courtesy: Jim Massey

BRADLEY BROTHERS. Bradley Brothers was one of the oldest manufacturers of cigars in Dubuque. The company was organized in 1886 by Charles Bradley.

At first the company limited itself to selling cigars and tobacco, but in 1895 they entered the manufacturing business and gradually became the largest cigar factory west of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. The factory, offices and warehouse were located at 717 Iowa Street where between 150 and 175 people were employed.

Cigars in 1911 were all handmade. The popular "Baroness," a ten-cent cigar, and the "Bradley," a five cent cigar, were the most popular and sold directly to the public.

Cigar box opener. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

The story behind the "Baroness" cigar involves another Dubuque resident. According to Edward Boyce, the assistant manager of the new company and a long-time employee at Bradley Brothers, the cigar box carried the picture of Belle Harper. Ms. Harper, a friend of the Bradleys, had left Dubuque to enter a theatrical company in Chicago when the cigar was ready to be marketed. Mr. Bradley wrote to the girl who was then touring in England asking permission to use her picture. She consented.

In January 1923 James O'Connor, once an employee of Bradley Brothers, returned to Dubuque as the company's president, general manager and part owner. In early January, O'Connor, Charles E. Ward and Frank COATES purchased the interests of the Bradley family in the cigar business.

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Baroness cigars
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Cigar cutter. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey



"James O'Connor Heads Cigar Firm," Telegraph Herald, January 28, 1923, p. 1