Ignacio Haya produced his first cigar on April 13, 1886 - before the more famous Ybor.
By MICHAEL CANNING
Published February 13, 2004
He was one of two Spanish cigarmakers who decided in 1885 to bring the cigar industry here. His factory was the first to produce cigars in Tampa. But his name isn't Vicente Martinez Ybor, nor is the town that sprang up around his factory named for him.
Only a little-known street well outside of Ybor City bears his name.
Ignacio Haya got hooked.
Haya (pronounced "EYE-yuh") was born in Escalante, Spain, in 1842. After receiving his education there, he moved to Havana in 1860 to take up the cigar trade. He moved to New York City seven years later and established a cigar company with business partner Serafin Sanchez.
Haya married Fannie Milledoler of New York City in 1874. They had one son, Pedro.
Although their factory was successful, by late 1884 labor strikes led Haya and Sanchez to consider other locations for branch factories. A friend and colleague of Haya's, Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, was also having labor problems at his New York and Key West factories and was considering other locales.
By 1885, Haya and Ybor had learned of Tampa through business associates who stopped here during New York-to-Key West excursions. In October of that year, Ybor purchased 40 acres northeast of Tampa, where he planned to build a cigar factory and surrounding town for its workers.
Haya bought 10 acres adjacent to Ybor's property and started construction on a factory and housing for workers. A friendly race was on to see who would roll the first cigar.
Haya beat Ybor. Minor labor and tobacco problems caused unexpected delays, and Ybor's factory, a much larger brick complex, took longer to complete. (Ybor's building still stands today at Ninth Avenue and 14th Street under the name, Ybor Square.)
Haya's Factory No. 1, or Flor de Sanchez y Haya, produced its first cigar on April 13, 1886.
Haya, along with Ybor, went on to play a large role in the development of Ybor City. Among other things, Haya was a co-founder of the Centro Espanol mutual aid society.
He died in 1906 at age 63.
Some could argue that Haya is insufficiently memorialized here. His namesake street originates in south Seminole Heights, a neighborhood outside of Ybor City that didn't exist until some years after his death.
- Sources: Tampa Bay History Center and author Glenn Westfall.