March 19, 1876: Castle Hall Cigar Company Begins Small, Grows to Dominate Industry


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

March 19, 1876: David S. Erb began making cigars in a small building across from the Union Church on West Philadelphia Avenue in 1864 with two employees. His business grew to more than 500 workers who produced 400,000 handmade Castle Hall cigars per month, and he became one of Pennsylvania’s biggest cigar manufacturers.

He needed a larger facility to house his operation, so his father-in-law Daniel B. Boyer had a structure at 1 East Philadelphia Avenue, which had formerly been Boyer’s general store, constructed for Erb. On the first floor Erb has a retail store selling his products to the public.

By 1884, Erb needed even more room, and an addition onto the back made this the largest building in town. Boyertown has become a leading cigar manufacturing center, with at least five companies engaged in its production and Boyertown cigars are sold across the entire country. This dominance lasted until 1910, when machines took over the manufacturing of the product and Boyertown’s hand-rolled cigars became a thing of the past.

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