Julius Fecht came to Ottumwa as a cigar maker in 1874. He worked for the H. L. Waterman Cigar Company (1879) and later was foreman in the factory of Bensberg & Cheadle, a wholesale liquor and cigar company. In 1884, with his total savings of $600, Julius Fecht started his own cigar manufacturing business. One printed source states that he started his cigar factory in an “old shack” in Ottumwa.
Julius Fecht lived in Ottumwa for 50 years and was connected to the cigar manufacturing industry all of that time. The cigar manufacturing company he founded operated in Ottumwa for 70 years from 1884 until 1953. Julius Fecht was a hard worker who dedicated himself to producing a quality cigar. Most of his tobacco was imported from Havana, Cuba. Records indicate that he owned a tobacco plantation in Cuba. His Cuban partner was Señor Armando Piños y Sandrino. Julius made yearly trips to Cuba to purchase tobacco.
The number of workers at the Julius Fecht cigar factory varied with the times. In 1918, one hundred nineteen employees were listed in the city directory. In 1922, the work force was down to 53 people. 1924 saw a further reduction to 43 employees. In 1927 there were 34 people employed there and by 1931 thirty-five were listed in the city directory. Although the number of employees declined steadily, the Julius Fecht Cigar Company was always one of the largest cigar manufacturers in Ottumwa.
The Julius Fecht Cigar Factory produced many brands of cigars, but the Three Star, Little Yara, Universal, and Veto were the most popular.