San Diego, CA
Ivanhoe Tobacco - The American Dream
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© Christine Till
Henry W. Meyer was born in Germany in 1850. He came alone to America in 1866, when he was 16, and very poor. When he landed, he got a job as a clerk in a grocery store at Grand Street and Bushwick Avenue in the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn, New York City. It was the practice of the store to extend credit to their grocery customers. When the economy took a downturn in 1871-1872, the business became insolvent. Henry Meyer had saved his wages and had sufficient funds to buy the business.
He phased out the grocery store and started producing his own pipe and chewing tobacco. Eventually, he had six brands of pipe and chewing tobacco, namely, "Best," "Hub," "Pilot," "Harvest," "Galaxy" and "Ivanhoe". Ivanhoe was his best seller. His plant was known as the Bushwick Tobacco Works. He eventually had 20 horsedrawn wagons delivering his products (pipe-smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff) to his customers who primarily were grocery stores and tobacco shops.
In 1886, Mr. Meyer moved his residence from Williamsburgh to Glendale, NY to the John Siney House, which he had purchased. It was the finest home in Glendale and was located at what is today the northwest corner of Cooper Avenue and 72nd Street. Henry Meyer became ill and he died on October 3, 1898, 11 days short of his 48th birthday, as a very rich man.
The negative health effects of tobacco were not known during Mr. Meyer's lifetime; in fact, most early European physicians had subscribed to the Native American belief that tobacco can be an effective medicine.
July 10th, 2013
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