Bernice (Bunny) Pohlmann Lacroix (11/12/1917 Ė 2/7/2012) was the grand-daughter of Joseph Pohlmann (1845-1933), who
operated Pohlmann's Cigar Store in the old North End. Bunny was born in Manchester, but when she got married, she and her
husband traveled a lot, eventually settling in Rockville. Bunny returned about 1980 to 46 Hudson Street, where her family
had lived for many years. Her last job was sewing at Bob's Stores, but they relocated in 1995, and she didn't continue
She told me once about her job as a hairdresser. She did "Marcel" waves, a type of permanent curl using heated wires. She loved to talk about the old days, especially in the North End, which was such a friendly community. She remembered fondly the cigar store Indian that stood in front of the cigar store to advertise the wares inside. Her grandfather operated a cigar business from 1869 to 1872, when he went back to New York, returning to Manchester in 1881, and operating the business eventually with his son Frederick. The old North End's Depot Square area was demolished in an urban renewal project in the 1960s, but the cigar store had already closed.
When Bunny died, her granddaughter Danielle gave some items to the Historical Society. Click each image to bring up a larger view:
Manchester loses another of its oldest and most respected citizens today in the passing of Joseph Pohlman, 87, of 23 Main Street, following a lingering illness. A resident of this town for the past 52 years, Mr. Pohlman conducted a cigar manufacturing shop during those years from 1869 until 1872 when he returned to New York and conducted a cigar manufacturing establishment in the city of his birth. He returned to Manchester in 1881 and upon his return he adopted Manchester as his permanent home in preference to the life he had known in the busy metropolis.
Good Tobacco Judge
Joseph Pohlman was a master craftsman and was one of the best judges of tobacco leaf in this section. Coupled with his
uncanny knowledge of the quality of tobacco leaf, he took a special pride in his work and never lowered the quality of his
product during his lifetime of labor over the bench.
When Joseph Pohlman began the manufacture of cigars in the little shop in Oakland Street in 1869, Manchester was but a village. There were no large tobacco plantations in Buckland or Wapping when Mr. Pohlman first made cigars, most of the leaf coming from other lands. Later tobacco raising was introduced in this state, and Mr. Pohlman became an authority on the quality of the domestic leaf. He was ever a staunch supporter of home-grown products and his cigars attained a large sale in this section and elsewhere. During his lifetime he is estimated to have made over six million cigars.
Depot Square Shop
Upon his return from New York in 1881 he secured a shop at Depot Square and lived on Oakland Street, later moving to
Main Street, nearby his shop. He retired from active work several years ago. He was a charter member of the local order of
Knights of the Maccabees, Manchester Tent No. 2, and also a member of Teutonia Lodge, New York City.
He is survived by one son, Frederick W.P. Pohlman of this town, two daughters, Mrs. H.J. Robinson of this town and Mrs. R.C. Stow of Fort Worth, Texas, 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Mr. Pohlman's wife died November 26, 1928.
Funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock from the home of his son, 46 Hudson Street. Rev. H.F.R. Stechholz, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Zion church will officiate. Burial will be in the Buckland Cemetery.
The Pohlman Cigar Manufacturing Company, founded April 1, 1881, by the late Joseph Pohlman in the Spencer Building
on Depot Square, now known as 22 Depot Square, and located in the same place for 55 years, is to be transferred to the
Hartman Building, 241 North Main Street on February 1.
On April 1, 1881, Joseph Pohlman, a cigar maker, who had learned his trade in Germany and followed it in New York City, came to Manchester and opened a store for the manufacture and sale of cigars. He named the first cigar that he made the Silver Wave, taking the name from a piano number that was being taught to beginners on the piano by nearly all teachers of music in those days.
For the first three years he engaged an assistant in his work, but on April 1, 1886, his son, Fred W.P. Pholman, became connected with the company and together they carried on the manufacture of cigars. They later added the sale of plug and smoking tobacco and when cigarettes came into the market they added that line to the stock.
Three years ago next summer Joseph Pohlman died and the business, still in the same location, was carried on by his son. After considering all the changes that he and his father had seen going on in business, Fred W.P. Pohlman decided that a change was necessary. Today he leased the east store in the Hartman block, known as 241 North Main Street. The building is owned by the Savings Bank of Manchester. The bank has agreed to have another window opened on the east side of the brick building that will give daylight over the bench at which the cigars are to be made. This change will be started at once and all will be ready to have the move made by February 1.
Among the old time tobacco signs owned by Mr. Pohlman is a wooden Indian. It is at his home on Hudson Street and it is being repainted. A broken arm is to be repaired and it will be placed in front of the new location when the store is opened.
MANCHESTER , June 5 -- Mr. and Mrs. Fred W. B. Pohlman, 46 Hudson St., celebrated their 50th wedding
anniversary June 2 and they said they never could have believed they had so many friends. Mr. Pohlman, one of
the few cigarmakers still working at the trade did his usual stint at the Pohlman cigar store in Depot Square
the day before. He is the third generation of cigarmakers in his family.
His grandfather, Frederick, made and retailed cigars. He traveled around in a horse drawn wagon. Everything was very simple. No revenue stamps were needed back in those days. Mr. Pohlman's uncle, William Prelie owned a tavern in lower Manhattan, which was on the way to the Jersey ferry and Mr. Pohlman's father who lived in New York made cigars for him.
Mr. Pohlman, who was 84 on his wedding anniversary, learned the cigar making trade at the age of 14, started smoking cigars a year later and has smoked an average of half a dozen cigars a day ever since. He canít see where it has affected his health in any way.
Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Pohlman has ever been sick, and with the exception of surgery, have never been under a
doctor's care. Back in the days when Mr. Pohlman moved to Manchester, wooden Indians were almost universally
used to advertise cigar and tobacco stores. Mr. Pohlman sent to a firm in New York that carved these wooden
Indians. He ordered one about seven feet tall. It cost him $100 and he paid the freight.
For many years the tall chief with his feathered war bonnet (stood in) front of the Pohlman store. Then youngsters broke an arm of the figure and it was brought to the Pohlman home where it adorns a corner of the porch. Mr. Pohlman has been offered a fantastic sum for the figure, but guesses he won't sell.
When the tobacco festival took place two years ago the festival management borrowed the old Indian chief to
stand on one of the floats. Manchester people in the crowds that lined the street yelled, "There's the Pohlman
Mr. Pohlman named one of his cigars the Silver Wave, which was the title of a piece of music that years ago was featured by most of the piano teachers.
He says he's heard of a man who was able to roll 400 cigars a day, but he finds it hard to believe. His average has been 250 to 300 a day. Years ago he recalls paying 75 cents a pound for imported Sumatra. He has paid in recent years as high as $7 a pound.
The Pohlmans were married by the Rev. G. L. Hartwig of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rockville.
The wedding took place at the home of Mrs. Pohlman who, before her marriage was Mary Zuehlke. She has a sister
Emma who for years was ticket agent and telegraph operator at the Rockville railroad station. Mrs. Pohlman is a
very active member of the Manchester Garden Club and she has a lovely flower garden. She is also a member of the
Women's League of the Second Congregational Church.
They have four children, Joseph, of Columbia Lake; Mrs. Ernest L. Reynolds of Stafford Springs; Freddie, who is associated with his father at the store and Mrs. George LaCroix of Margaretville, N.Y.
Frederick William Bernard Pohlman, 91, of 46 Hudson St., operator of Pohlman's Cigar Store in the North End from 1881 until his retirement in 1953 died at his home Monday night after a long illness.
He is believed to have been one of the last manufacturers of handmade cigars.
Born here on June 2, 1870, he had been a lifelong resident of the town and the cigar store he operated was a landmark in the north end for many years with a cigar store Indian guarding the front door.
He leaves his wife, Mrs. Mary (Zuehlke) Pohlman, two daughters, Mrs Gertude Reynolds of Stafford Springs and Mrs. Lillian Stow of Fort Worth, Texas; two sons, Fred Pohlman of Manchester and Joseph Pohlman, Columbus Ohio; and nine grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Leclerc Funeral Home, 23 Main St. The Rev. Felix Davis, pastor of Second Congregational Church will officiate and burial will be in Buckland Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.
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Ed. Note: Some articles above spell Mr. Pohlmann's name with only one "n." However, the sign in the picture above shows the correct spelling, as Pohlmann.