In 1909, a determined and energetic thirty-year-old man purchased
a 10' x 12' loft at 817 West Second Street. His purpose was to provide Nebraska
with quality cigars. However, John W. Kipp did not realize what massive
popularity his cigar-making efforts would come to enjoy.
two assistants, producing 1,000 cigars a day. By 1919 the payroll included
125 people, and four million cigars a year were being shipped throughout
Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado. The majority of those who worked for Kipp
were women and Russian immigrants (known locally as "South Side Rooshans").
Hastings had overwhelmingly become the cigar-making capital of Nebraska.
By 1921, one fifth of all cigars produced in Nebraska were rolled at the
Kipp Cigar Company; and by 1925, one-half of the cigars coming out of
the state were from Kipp with an annual production of ten million cigars.
Kipp's top selling brands were "Kipp's Hand Made," "Sensation"
and "High Altitude" coronas and panatelas that sold for five
to ten cents apiece. Kipp came to have over five hundred sales locations
for his cigars in fifteen states. The demand often exceeded the supply.
From 1878 to 1947, 39 cigar factories existed in Hastings; however, the
Kipp Cigar Company was considered the pillar of longevity within the industry.
Unfortunately, with the increased popularity of cigarettes, the effects
of the Depression and the larger East Coast cigar companies, with their
extensive national advertising campaigns, the Kipp Cigar Company was finally
forced to roll its last cigar in 1947.