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Bernhard Leidersdorf –
Worldwide Tobacco Entrepreneur

Bernhard was born in Peine, Germany and in 1858 immigrated to New York City, eventually settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He became a cigar salesman before starting his own company under the name of Helmholz & Leidersdorf. The company eventually became B. Leidersdorf & Company. Between the 1870s and 1905, the business grew, even after being devastated by fire twice. During the latter years, Bernhard’s son Max took over operations of the business.
 
Bernhard was active in municipal work, serving as Alderman between 1880 and 1881, and serving as Public Debt Commissioner from 1905 to 1906. He was a Republican delegate to the national convention that nominated William McKinley for president and an active member of multiple civic and social clubs.
 
He married twice and had five children – three daughters and two sons. They traveled between the United States and Germany several times each year – the first so Bernhard could hunt with friends in private game reserves and the other for family vacations. He had an engaging personality, genial and kindly, and won friends in all classes. He loved the art of music, for which he had marked talent and once served as president for the Milwaukee Musical Society.

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