West Tampa Factory & History Time-line

1895 - 1899

During this time the City of West Tampa kept growing, was incorporated, elected the first city mayor, and new city council. Mother nature showed the power of destruction. The city served as stage during the Hispano-American War. And was the time for population growth and when more major cigar manufacturers relocated to West Tampa...

Click years to see different time lines...

Seal of West Tampa 1895 - 1925


Fernando Figueredo


1895 - Monday January 7, Mr. Fernando Figueredo (see photo) first day is office as first West Tampa Mayor, and Mr. George Benjamin who served as president of the City Council for two years. (Click here to see the mayors of West Tampa)
Sunday January 27, 1895 - Tampa suffer the "Great Freeze" when temperatures went below 20 degrees, creating damages to the cigar industry, city was almost paralyzed.
Friday February 1, 1895 - the population in West Tampa had grown to 3,500 residents and 30 cigar factories in operation. With assessed value of $ 1.5 million dollars. According to City Council meeting records.
Tuesday April 2, 1895 - a violent tornado severely damage factories and houses in West Tampa. Over $30,000.00 dollars in damages of uninsured tobacco stock was destroyed to the Armina Cigar Co. #53 located at the corner of Armina Ave. and Walnut Street, other properties were also damaged or destroyed.
Wednesday April 3, 1895 - La Paz, Parson & O'Halloran Cigar, Co. started operations in West Tampa.
Monday April 22, 1895 - Garcia Brothers & Co. #57 started operations in West Tampa with 56 workers.
Friday May 17,1895 - West Tampa is incorporated as a City of West Tampa, by the State of Florida, and Fernando Figueredo was the first mayor (1895-1896) , George Benjamin served as President of the first City Council for two years. Members of first city council, J.D. Silva, Martin Herrero, Peter Someillan, L.J. Napolis, V.D. Cruz, Francisco Fleitas and G.N. Benjamin.
Thursday June 6, 1895 - J.C. Warshauser Cigar, Co. inaugurate operations in West Tampa.

Monday June 10, 1895 - Andre & Brothers Cigar, Co. moved to West Tampa from Ocala. They employed about 15 to 20 workers. Also in the same date Havana & Key West Cigar Company #61 started operations in a building located in the N.E. corner of Howard Avenue and Beech Street. This was also the second brick building in West Tampa. (The company closed a year later and Cuesta-Rey Cigar Co. occupied the building.

June 19, 1895 - Today the first election for city officials was held, approximately 200 ballots were cast. Fernando Figueredo defeated Alfonso Garcia.

June 21, 1895 - Mr. Tranquilino Martinez was elected City Marshall.

June 26, 1895 - A post office substation started operations today at 237 Main Street.

Wednesday July 10, 1895 - The Bustillo Bros. Cigar, Co., relocated from Havana, Cuba to West Tampa with 120 workers. Also in this date Barraco, Rico & Guerra Cigar, Co. moved to West Tampa in a facility located in Howard Avenue and St. John Street, they employed around 100 workers.
Wednesday July 31, 1895 - Alfonso Cigar, Company #70 moved to a new location from Key West to West Tampa (unknown address).
Tuesday September 10, 1895 - Juan B. Creagh started his cigar company in West Tampa. Creagh & Gudnecht Cigar, Co. # 74 (The company went out of business in 1901).

Thursday October 10, 1895 - Tampa Cigar Co. #72 was created by George Benjamin & Phil Collins. Located at 58-60 19th (Rome) Avenue; with 70 workers. (After ten years the company was acquired by A. Symonette & Bros. in 1905).

  • The West Tampa City Council pass a motion for the construction of a wooden band stand on a vacant lot at the corner of Ysolina (Albany) Avenue and Main Street, for Saturday and Sunday night dances.
Wednesday October 30, 1895 - Five other companies were relocated to West Tampa (only names were available) Freed & Malga Cigar, Co.#91; Sideman & Lachman Co.#76; John A. Rigby & Co #321.; John P. Someillan & Co. #66, and J.W. Fitzpatrick #86.
Monday November 18, 1895 - Barraco, Rico & Guerra Cigar, Co. #80 relocated operations to a new building located in the N.E. corner of Howard Avenue and St. John Street, opposite to previous location.
Monday November 25, 1895 - Spanish Gen. Valeriano Weyles declare a Cuban tobacco embargo from Cuba to United States for six months, which created a situation for the manufacturers, they are very concern.
1896 - At the beginning of this year forty two cigar factories had relocated to West Tampa, mostly of them from key West. Three new large companies will call West Tampa home this year.
Monday March 9, 1896 - Cuesta-Rey Cigar Company, at the corner of Beech St. and Howard Avenue (See Photo) started operations with 96 workers.
Monday July 6, 1896 - Monroe Cigar & Co. (unknown address) started operations with 44 workers.

Thursday August 20, 1896 - Socorro, Lozano Cigar Company (unknown address) started operation with 74 workers.

  • Today during the City Council Meeting a motion was presented and approved to purchased a plot of land near the north west city limits for a public cemetery.

Monday August 24, 1896 - The order of the Sisters of the Holly Name open a school at the corner of Albany Avenue and Spruce Street.

Monday 9, 1896 - The City Council of West Tampa acquired the plot of land for the public cemetery and named in honor of Jose Marti. J.F. Reed was granted the exclusive right to operate the facility effective today.

Thursday November 12, 1896 - Gen. Valeriano Weyles lifted the embargo of Cuban tobacco to the United States indirectly increasing political pressure in Washington.

Tuesday November 17, 1896 - West Tampa Cigar industry celebrated with Ybor City the new title as "Capitol Cigar of the World" for a world record production year of hand made cigars. (Note: This record still valid and never broken).

1897 - The year started badly for the american cigar producers of "Havana Cigars" due to the present cuban revolution that was widely getting strong importance by the "yellow press" of editor William Randolph Hearst. The Mayor of West Tampa is Hon. George N. Benjamin. (See photo next)
Monday February 4, 1897 - El Modelo Cigar Co. #89 moved from Jacksonville, to a building at the corner of Garcia Avenue and Arch Street.
Tuesday July 13, 1897 - Andre, Jorrin & Sanchez Co., #91 moved from Tampa to West Tampa.
Tuesday July 20, 1897 - El Arte Cigar Co. # 96 moved to a facility located at Green Street and Fremont Ave. (see photo)
Wednesday August 11, 1897 - Hernandez & Gonzalez merged with Heineman Bro. Cigar,Co. and relocated to West Tampa (unknown address).
Monday October 25, 1897 - Severo de Armas and Juan La Paz merged and started operations today and now are Armas & Lapaz Cigar, Co. #97.
1898 - This year the conditions in Cuba worsened, and american intervention was inevitable. During the first part of the year, the routine in West Tampa changed month to month as the stage for the war preparations was developed. (Click here to see more...)
Tuesday February 15, 1898 - the battleship USS Maine was sunk (under very questionable circumstances) in Havana Harbor, and with the American's newspaper howling for Spanish blood, it wasn't hard to determine the results.
Sunday April 24, 1898 - the war to Spain was declare and Tampa had already been picked as a major staging area for the troops.
Thursday May 12,1898 - The first invasion force of American troops left for Cuba at 2 pm this afternoon on the Steamer Gussie. It consisted of Companies E and G of the First Infantry, and the twenty Cubans who go with them. ----New York Post Report
Thursday May 26, - Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders are camp at the Benjamin Park (today's Ft. Homer Hestery Armory) .
Monday May 23, 1898 - regardless the military presence, two local companies began mid size operations in West Tampa. Mr. Nicolas Santana with Santana Cigar, Co. (1301 9th Avenue) with 45 workers, and Mr. Jorge Perico with Perico Cigar, Co. (unknown address) later Peninsular Cigar, Co. with 52 workers. No other new companies open after this date in record.
Sunday August 14, 1898 - Hostilities have ceased and the war has come to end... Spain will relinquish all claims of sovereignty over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines . The Cubans of Tampa are pleased at the end of the war".
1899 - The West Tampa cigar industry encountered major difficulties, only two new companies opened operations. Genaro Hernandez & Co. moved from New York. And Ambrosio Benitez Cigar Factory at 113 19th (Rome) Avenue.
Thursday April 6, 1899 -The first general strike was declared by the cigar workers. Cigar production was minimal and the economy is by first time greatly affected at all levels in the Tampa area. The reason of the strike was when Spanish workers demanded that a popular Cuban foreman in Martinez Ybor Cigar Co.(Ybor City) be fired for dismissing a Spanish worker because of his nationality. At the time 4,000 workers left their benches.Eventually the foreman was fired after few weeks. During the strike one person was shot and several wounded.
Monday June 3, 1899 - Started the contruction of the new West Tampa City Hall located on the corner of Main Street and Francis Avenue.
Thursday August 24, 1899 - The cigar workers back to work, an agreement was reached by both sides, Ybor City and West Tampa. The Cuban foreman who precipitated the strike left Tampa. At this time hundred of workers left the region to look for work elsewhere, and the cigar industry was seriously hurt for years to come.

Monday December 11, 1899 - O'Halloran Cigar Co. consolidated operations with Thomas F. Gray & Co. of New York, and the new company name was announced, Gray & O'Halloran & Co. A year later the name was changed to O'Halloran & Company (unknown address).

Tuesday December 12, 1899 - First day and inaguration of the new City Hall in West Tampa located on the corner of Main Street and Francis (Albany) Avenue. .

Reference: Tampa Tribune Archives, University of South Florida Archives, Tobacco Journal, Hillsborough County Public Records. B.A.T.F. License Records Archives. - "Cigar City Architecture and Legacy" - 2015 - Author - Resercher: W. Reyes, Ph.D.

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Havana-Key West Cigar Co.









Barraco, Rico, Guerra Co.








El Arte Cigar Co.








Cuesta-Rey Cigar Co.


Cuest-Rey Label - 1896
George N. Benjamin
Theodore Roosevelt - 1898
Peninsular Cigar Co. - Label