Cigar-makers, Bartenders, and Hod Carriers

Selzer building

August Selzer Building in Edwardsville, circa 1898. August Selzer, in vest and tie with arms folded, built this cigar factory/tobacco store on Vandalia Street in 1898.


August Selzer was 23 years old when he immigrated to the United States in 1892. He had learned cigar-making from his father in Prussia. In 1898, August opened the cigar factory (pictured above) in Edwardsville.

Two of bricklayer Rudolph Spanholtz’s sons worked for awhile in August’s cigar factory. Rudolph’s children were the second generation of descendants of Prussian immigrants to be born in Edwardsville.

Leland Hotel Bar

Leland Hotel Bar in Edwardsville, decorated for Christmas circa 1914. Bartenders Martin Mockler (left) and William Smolek are in their mid-50s and mid-20s, respectively, in this photograph. The men worked together at the Leland Hotel Bar for several years in the 1910s.


Martin Mockler, the mustachioed man behind the bar in the above photograph, was born in Ireland. He immigrated to the United States as a teenager. He had his own saloon on East Vandalia Street in Edwardsville for several years before giving it up and tending bar for Gottlied Holzweg at the Leland in 1911. Martin was in his sixties when Prohibition eliminated his profession. He worked as a janitor at Edwardsville Public Library for the remainder of his life.

A year after emigrating from Bohemia, 21-year-old William Smolek (the other bartender in the photograph) was tending bar in Edwardsville. He worked at the Leland Hotel Bar until Prohibition shut it down in 1920. William had a wife and two children to support, and he got a job in a coal mine. But by 1925 he was back in the hospitality industry, as the proprietor of a “retail soft drink establishment.” William and his wife Emma divorced in 1930.

IHCB ribbon

Fraternal ribbon, International Hod Carriers, Building and Common Laborers Union of America Local Union No. 397, Granite City, Madison & Venice. MCHS object 1999-090-0004.

Hod Carriers

A hod carrier is a laborer who carries bricks to a bricklayer. The bricks are loaded into a “hod”: a V-shaped trough mounted on top of a long pole. The laborer carries the hod over his shoulder. IHCB & CLU of A Local 397 was founded in 1892.


Edwardsville city directories. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.

Edwardsville Intelligencer. Various articles.

Find A Grave. Accessed August 30, 2019.

Grebel, Anna Marie Selzer. [First person account]. Accessed September 15, 2019; subscription required.

United States census records and other public records.