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Ashless cigar invented in 1919 in Bluffton

Bill Hahn, member of the BHS class of 1919 held the patent

By Fred Steiner

It’s a little-known fact that Bluffton, Ohio, is the home of the patented “ashless cigar.” Why there’s no sign at the edge of town stating this fact is something I’ve never quite figured out. Perhaps it’s time to do something about it. So, here’s me doing something.

This cigar information is a long-held secret in my family, who happens to hold the patent. 

The credit goes to my Uncle Bill Hahn, member of the Bluffton High School class of 1919.

It appears that like many inventions, the ashless cigar came into existence by necessity. Here’s the story as my Uncle Bill told me. And, anyone with an uncle named Bill knows he’s telling the truth.

One additional historical footnote to this story centers on how Cigarette Creek, which flows through the Bluffton village park, received its name. Yes, the stream through the park is officially identified as Cigarette Creek on the Allen County map.

But, first the creek story.

At the turn of an earlier century cigarettes were a nasty habit picked up by teenage boys. Not wanting to be seen smoking, the boys found out-of-the-way places to light up. Obviously, there’s nothing new to be learned by this detail.

One of the popular hangouts where cigarette smoking occurred was on the banks of a small stream in a remote rural area southeast of town. 

Although no one knows for certain, an educated guess is the small stream earned the name “Cigarette Creek” probably by the youngsters who frequented it. It was so common a description that the name stuck for the generation of youth in the 1910-1930 era. 

Today that stream flows through the Bluffton village park on the county line road south of Interstate 75.

Uncle Bill was a member of the club who hung out there in the 1915 to 1920 time period.

Apparently cigarettes were forbidden to teenagers by their parents. However, cigars were somehow accepted. This fact never made sense to me, but I guess you had to be there to appreciate it.