Serafìn Sànchez - "The man & businessman"


Serafin Sanchez


..Serafin Sanchez was born in the town of Villavisiosa, in Asturias, Spain on 1839. Not much is known about his parents and childhood, or if he has siblings, otherwise he was a very intelligent child. He also happened to be very good in math and business.

He was 21 years of age when he arrived to New York in1860. And on August 7, 1866, that he first made the acquaintance of Mr. Ignacio Haya, in a reception at the Spanish Club in New York. The friendship grew and on November 9, 1867, the co-partnership between them was formed. Originally there were six members in the firm, Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Haya, his two brothers and two others.

The aggregate capital of the six young men was less than $1,000, but they worked with the will and the net profits of their first year's business were $7,000. This was kept in the business, which grew steadily, and on May 1, 1870, when the firm moved from Brooklyn, where it began its career, to New York , and it was a firmly established institution. The firm of Sanchez & Haya remained at No.2 Liberty Street, in this city, from May 1870, until 1886. On March 26th of 1886 the firm opened its factory in Tampa , Florida (south west corner of 7th Avenue and 15 th Street , Ybor City ) and acquired property in the area. Mr. Sanchez was a key factor to meet with the Tampa Board of Trade to discuss the possibility of relocated their industry there. His abilities in the English language and business negotiations were ideal. Was on July 15, 1885, when Sanchez arrived, to meet with the Board. The "Tampa Morning Tribune" in the editorial section stated, - "The benefits that would endure to Tampa from the establishment of such an industry cannot be too deeply impressed on our citizens now".

Sanchez & Haya Real Estate Company constructed a two story wooden factory (at the corner of 7th Avenue and 15th Street ). Haya also bought 10 acres adjacent to Ybor's property, for his factories buildings and housing for the workers. Was then that a friendly race was on to see who would make the first cigar. The firm Sanchez & Haya and V.M. Ybor and Manrara were the pioneers manufacturers of that now prominent hand made cigar manufacturing centre.

On Tuesday April 13, 1886, Sanchez & Haya Cigar, Co. produced its first cigar. Is then when received the title of "Factory No. 1". The secret to be the first was the used of tobacco which had already been stripped of its stems and the advantage of a present strike at the Ybor factory. In the Spring 1906 a new brick (located at 2311 North 18th Street ) building was inaugurated as the new company facilities.

“The factory Sanchez & Haya is one of the largest there, its annual output of Clear Havana cigars exceeds 6 millions and the business is constantly on the increase” -The Tobacco Leaf Journal – March 3, 1894.

According to those who knew him, “Mr. Sanchez was generous, noble and patriotic man”. There was never been anything done in the Spanish colony of a philanthropic nature in which he was not taken an active part. Charity was his theme, and Spain was his cult. And a good description for him be, that to know him was to love him.

He was not only a co-founder of a large cigar business and held the respect of his employees. He was president of the Spanish Mutual Benefit Society, and proof to be one of the most active and efficient officers of the organization ever had. During his presidency the Spanish Benefit Society it reached its highest success. At one time he was also president of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, and as such did so many thing in the interest of his native country that the Spanish Government, in recognitionof his services, presented him with a medal. During his life in Tampa he was always looking to provided the best for his company and employees.

Of the six young men who in 1867, organized the firm, at the time of Sanchez death the only survivor was Ignacio Haya. Who happens to be in Tampa when he learned the news about the death of his dear friend and partner. At the time he hurried to New York and reached in time to attend the funeral services of his partner and business associate, friend. Also present were some others Tampa , cigars manufacturers and friends, like Eduardo Manrara, Gavino Gutierrez, Blas O'Halloran, Peter O. Knight (representing Vicente Martinez Ybor), and Bernardino Gargol, among others.

Mr. Sanchez died of pneumonia at his home located at, No. 380 Macon Street, Brooklyn,at 11.30 in the evening on April 20, 1894. He had been ill but one week. On the Friday before his death he had taken a slight cold, which later develop into a fatal illness. He was 55 years old. His widow and four children survive him” “The funeral of the deceased gentleman took place on Tuesday afternoon last. He wasburied with Masonic honors in Greenwood cemetery. His funeral cortege was one of the largest which ever enter the gates of the famous cemetery”.“Every Spanish American Society in the city and in Brooklyn was presented, and in his honor every Clear Habana cigar factory in this day closed its door on the day of the funeral”. – The Tobacco Leaf – April 25, 1894.

Those who knew Serafin Sanchez in life all concur in saying that it will be impossible to put too high an estimate upon his manly worth. In his business dealings he was the soul of honor, in his civic relations he was an ideal citizen, to his family he was a providence. His memory will be long cherished by his fellow townsmen of Spanish birth and ancestry.

..The names Serafin Sanchez and Ignacio Haya have made history in the cigar industry, and in Tampa Sanchez & Haya Cigar, became – Factory No. 1.


Source: Tobacco Leaf Journal (April 1894) – Tampa Tribune Archives (April 1894) New York State University - Special Archives Records (1894) - Photos: USF Special Collections - "Once Upon a Time in Tampa - 2014 - "Cigar City Architecture and Legacy" - 2015 - Author, Researcher - W.Reyes, Ph.D.

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Cigar Box Label



Ignacio Haya


7th Avenue & 15th Street - 1886



2311 N. 18th Street

Sanchez & Haya factory - 1890