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______Napoleon DuBrul - One American Success Story

_This is the story of a one man's desire to produce the very best cigar making tool possible. In achiving his goal, Napleon DeBrul established far-reaching standards in an industry where so much attention was given to the finished product that little credit was given to cigar maker's tools.

_Napoleon Dubrule was born at at Ste. Genevieve, Pointe Claire, Quebec, in 1846, the same town chosen in 1685 by his several times great grandfather for the new-world home on coming to Canada from France. Point Claire is on the same St. Lawrence River island as Montreal, and was the location of a military strong point, and a flour mill.

_At the age of fourteen, Napoleon was apprenticed to a pattern maker for steams engines for boat. There he meets a new friend Jacques Mayer an American born in New Orleans, and s stonemason. He worked at this and at learning English for seven years. Like many of his countrymen, he held no love for the English who governed French Canada, and speaking their languages was merely one of the accomplishments he needed too rise above his early environment. With typical enterprise, he left Montreal, Canada in 1866, at the age of 20, on a steam ship, and went to Chicago. At this time, "DuBrule" be-came "DuBrul," simpler to live with in the United States.

 

 

_Frederick Jacob Mayer father of Jacques Mayer was a stonemason and working in Joliet, Ilinois prison, telegraph Napoleon that the warden was needed in the Joliet, Illinois prison to be a forman in the pattern room, foundry, and machine shop, and confident of his skill as a pattern maker, he sought the position, and was accepted for the job. He remained there for four years, during which he applied for and was granted his first patents.

_These are dated May, 1869, and are for tin-lined cigar molds. In 1870, at the age of 24, DuBrul, influenced by a man who also had developed cigar molds, moved to Cincinnati, and established a residence at #53 Everett Street in the West End. Napoleon DuBrul promptly entered the manufacturing business, abetted by the confidence and capital of Ferdinand A. Shill, a resident of Mount Auburn. The enterprise was established as Schwill & DuBrul, and also used the title, the Cincinnati Cigar Mould Company., located at 212 West Second Street. At the same time, another manufacturer, Miller and Peters, was making similar machinery at Front and Pike streets, a firm which DuBrul later joined. Always innovator and inventor, in this tin shop he invented the barn lantern that became American standard.

Napoleon Dubrul  
_In a return trip to Canada 1872 he married twenty years old Liliose LeGault, and with his bride, his five brothers, Albert, Cyriac, Almina and Julia ranging in ages from nineteen to two, and Julia was his youngest sister, returned to Cincinnati. Cyriac moved to New York early on and ran Napoleon Company in New York, Ferdinand moved to Maine and Elmira DuBrul move to Lake Champlain, New York.

-In 1882 at the age of 13 years old Emilien Mayer, one of three sons of Jacques Mayer came to Cincinnati to learn the cigar mold business from Napoleon. Emilien Mayer married Julia Dubrul in September 19, 1888. On January 1889 Jacques Mayer died in Montreal, Emilien and Julia when back to Canada for his funeral, and became the Canada distributor for Miller, Dubrul, Peters Manufacturing Co. from 1889 to 1927.

_Dubrul was granted more than 40 patents by the U.S. Patent Office. And he was also greatly admired by those who used his tools, for he took much of the repetitiveness and tedium from many of the steps of cigar making. The cigar maker was also able to increase his productivity and thereby make more important, leisure time became something that could be enjoyed rather than something just dreamed about.

 

  Emilien Mayer - ca. 1904
 
_The cigar mold had recently been introduced into this country from Germany by the thousands of cigarmakers who immigrated in search of work in the cigar factories. At the time Cincinnati was then a burgeoning cigar-making center.

_This fact, combined with the flourishing cigar industry along the Ohio River, convinced DuBrul to open the "Cincinnati Cigar Mold Company" in 1873. The company became a success early on, and DuBrul was forced to seek capital to asure its growth. Having had the foresight to patent every idea he develop, DuBrul was able to raise the needed capital not through loans, but through litigation against competitors making large profits from his ideas. In each instance he sued, he was able to recover a settlement, as well as to effectively curtail the activities of his many competitors.

The tools of cigar makers were few and simple, but the size of the industry at this time translated into a need for millions of units. DuBrul's primary success came from the hundreds of different shaped cigar molds the company produced, but the firm also provided rolling boards, tuck cutters, tobacco knives, presses, and packing cigars equipment.

_At the turn of the century the electric motor had begun to make inroads throughout American business, and the cigar industry was no exception, DuBrul was not only able to accept the motor but was able to put it to work for the good of the industry.

_Dubrul never considered himself or was thought of as a social reformer, but his labor saving inventions did much to lessen the industry's dependence on child labor and helped to eliminate the tenement house sweat shops.

_Napoleon Dubrul died in 1916, having satisfied his personal competitive ambition and, at the same time doing so much for an industry he was influential in guiding for almost 50 years. Even today his equipment still in use by many cigar manufacturers around the world...

 

Photos and information courtesy of Mr. Mike Handfield & " The Tobacco Observer "

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02.13.07