Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Longmeadow has benefitted from the talents of immigrants in our community. Gottlieb Baer and his family are just one example. Gottlieb and Melchior Baer were brothers who grew up together in Switzerland. Gottlieb, the younger of the two, emigrated to the United States in 1869 and settled in Springfield. In 1886, he received a patent for an improved tip for a cigar and he opened a factory and store in Springfield, G. Baer & Sons. Why would it be a good idea to open a cigar factory in Springfield? Because tobacco was one of the major cash crops in the Connecticut River Valley. In 1880, 32 Longmeadow farmers grew over 91,000 bushels of tobacco. Farmers in neighboring towns, including Suffield and Enfield, still grow shade and broadleaf tobacco for cigar production today. And, you can still see tobacco barns dotting the landscape in many areas of the valley.
Tobacco Barn, Enfield, CT
In 1891, Gottlieb moved his operations to the Porter-McElwain block in Springfield. He lived at 264 Sumner Avenue in Springfield and was very involved in the affairs of the Forest Park community. He even knew the Geisel family and, in 1901, he served as a pallbearer for Christine Geisel, the grandmother of Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).
Gottlieb's older brother, Melchior Baer, and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1881 and they settled in Longmeadow. Melchior was a farmer and he lived on what is now Shaker Road; his son, Gottlieb, lived on what is now Parkside Drive.
Son Gottlieb and his brother, Rudolph, worked for their Uncle Gottlieb Baer at G. Baer & Sons. In 1911, the Longmeadow Gottlieb was elected Tree Warden of Longmeadow and he stopped making cigars. He continued as the town Tree Warden for 36 years until he retired in 1946. The town honored him in the 1946 annual report for his many years of service to our town. Sources 1900 & 1910 U.S. Federal Censuses
1946 Longmeadow Annual Report
1894 Map of Longmeadow
Annual Statistics of Manufacturers
Springfield Republican Mar. 15, 1909
Contributed by Elizabeth Hoff, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member
Originally published November 19. 2020