Albert F. Furstnow Company History

Miles City, Montana 1884-1946

Albert Frank Furstnow was born on February 22, 1862 in Fond Du Lac County, Wisconsin the second of 5 children born to Charles A. Furstnow (Firstenaugh) of Prussia (Germany) and Louisa Albertina Colba (Firstenaugh) Furstnow of Prussia. Charles A. Firstenaugh and Louisa Albertina Colba were married in 1854 and I am unsure if they were married prior to leaving Germany or sometime between Germany and arriving in the United States or in the United States. The original spelling of the Furstnow name when Charles A. Furstnow arrived in the United States in 1855 was (FIRSTENAUGH) which was later changed to Furstnow for reasons unknown.

By the 1860 Census the Furstnow Family was listed as living in Fond Du Lac City, Fond Du Lac County, Wisconsin consisting of Charles A. and Louisa A. Firstenaugh with children Charles F. and Emma A. in the household. By the 1870 census the family had grown to 5 Children Charles F. born 1855, Emma born 1857, Albert born 1862, August born 1864 and Herman born 1866 with Charles F. having been born in St. Louis, Missouri the rest of the children were born in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.

Charles A. Firstenaugh learned Saddle and Harness Making and Leatherwork in Germany and this is his Occupation listed on the census records for Fond Du Lac County from 1860 through 1890 when he changed his occupation to Capitalist. This was due to the fact that Charles A. Firstenaugh went into the Jewelry Business with his son August Furstnow in 1887 through September 28,1910 When Charles A. Furstnow died. The business was named A. H. Furstnow and Company Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Diamonds, Watches, Clocks, Jewelry, Silverware, Musical Instruments and Talking Machines (Phonographs). The A. H. Furstnow and Company were dealers for LONGINES WATCHES and for many years Longines manufactured Pocket Watches with the A. H. Furstnow and Company printed on the ceramic dials and they are HIGHLY COLLECTIBLE and that is why I have added all of this information.

Albert F. Furstnow was educated in the public schools of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and there learned the trade of a saddler with his father, with whom he continued until 1882. In that year he went to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he continued to work at his trade for about a year, and then traveled on to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he entered the employ of G. H. and J. S. Collins and was eventually promoted to the position of foreman of their business establishment. In 1884 he first came to Miles City, Montana, to enter the employ of E. Gottlieb, with whom he continued for some time, and here he made the first fine flower-stamped saddle manufactured in Miles City, for Lord Sidney Padgett and Leight Remington, of the Remington Arms Company.

On December 20, 1885, he was united in marriage with Miss Ida J. Sexmith, who was born in Belleville, Ontario on February 10, 1859 the daughter of John and Susan (Valou) Sexmith. The father of Ida J. Sexsmith was a lumber merchant in Fond du Lac for many years, died at the age of eighty-two years, while the latter passed away at the age of sixty-five. They had twelve children, of which Ida Sexsmith Furstnow was the youngest.

After discontinuing his connection with the E. Goettlich Saddlery, Al Furstnow re-entered the service of G. H. and J. S. Collins, becoming foreman of their shops at Omaha, Nebraska, and while in their employ outfitted Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show for the Paris Exposition. After spending another year at Cheyenne, Al Furstnow went to San Francisco, but in 1892 returned to Miles City, and until 1894 was connected with the Robbins and Lenoir Saddle Company.

In his personal life Albert F. Furstnow and his wife Ida J. Furstnow had 3 children Florence Edna Furstnow born April 30,1887 in Omaha, Nebraska died 1977 in Miles City, Montana, Alta Belle Furstnow born October 13, 1889 in Ogden, Utah, died 1909 in Miles City, Montana and Charles Furstnow born November 4, 1893 died October 6, 1944. Al Furstnow was a Republican, and his fraternal relations were represented by his memberships in the Miles City Lodge, No. 537, B. P. O. E., and Crusader Lodge, No. 7, Knights of Pythias, in both of which he was prominent and popular.

That year 1894 marked his venturing into business on his own responsibility, in which he continued throughout the rest of his life. He was the designer and manufacturer of the original Al Furstnow Saddles, which are known for their excellence and beauty in this and other countries. He maintained an inventory including his stock saddles and he carried a full line of up-to-date horse furnishings of every variety. His large and perfectly equipped establishment was located in his own building at No. 506-08 Main Street.

The fine two-story double brick building he built for his own use in the business. It is one of the fine buildings of the city, and has a solid plate glass front for show purposes, and in his windows always displayed the Finest Exhibition of Saddlery, Harness and Leather trappings that will be found in the state of Montana. His products, especially the Al Furstnow saddles, were used throughout the civilized world, especially in the western states and in old Mexico, many shipments go to foreign countries, their export trade being particularly heavy.

The shop was equipped with the latest machinery and appurtenances known to the trade, and they are in every way prepared to turn out the finest of work. Al Furstnow employed none but the most skilled artisans, and this fact combined with the excellence of the raw material used in his shops, assures the purchasers of the best possible products.

There was a brief two years partnership between Charles E. Coggshall of the Coggshall Saddlery and the Al Furstnow Saddlery this was from 1897 through 1899 when the two men each went their separate way maintaining Saddleries in Miles City, Montana and continuing a fierce competition for market between the two businesses for 50 years. In 1909 Charles E. Coggshall sold out his Saddlery to Clem Kathman, Frank Jelinek and Bert Coleman who renamed the business, The Miles City Saddlery.

In 1910 the Al Furstnow Saddlery was one of the busiest Saddleries of the Northwest and after building a new building Al hired a young Leather Stamper from California named Al Moreno. In 1914 Al Moreno married Florence Edna Furstnow and he became Al Furstnows son-In-law and the Al Furstnow Saddlery Miles City location foreman. The business had grown enough that in 1915 The Al Furstnow Saddlery added a second location managed by Charles Furstnow in Sidney, Montana and this location operated until approximately 1918.

In the time period between 1918 and 1925 Al Furstnow had developed a very good relationship with Edward H. Bohlin who had recently came to America from Sweden and he was working as a Cowboy in Wyoming and Montana. I believe while working as a Cowboy Edward H. Bohlin used an Al Furstnow Saddle and frequently visited the Al Furstnow Saddlery in Miles City, Montana for much of his working leather equipment. Sometime around 1919 Edward H. Bohlin had setup a Shop in Cody, Wyoming and Edward H. Bohlin mirrored his workshop setup to operate like the shop of the Al Furstnow Saddlery of Miles City, Montana.

By 1919 Al Furstnow, his wife and Son Charles had all moved to Los Angeles, California with very little documentation other than Census records and Death Notices. It is written in earlier works that Al Furstnow had a shop in Hollywood, California and that when Edward H. Bohlin came to Hollywood, CA in 1923 he setup his shop very close to Al Furstnow's shop. Ultimately the Hollywood, California location was not successful because of the untimely passing of Al Furstnow in 1925. The Hollywood, California shop continued to operate for a short time under the management of Al Furstnow's son Charles Furstnow. Most of the work produced at the Hollywood, California location was for the growing movie industry and there are very few examples of Al Furstnow Maker Hollywood, CA marked leather goods.

Al Furstnow owned the Al Furstnow Saddlery of Miles City, Montana until his death on September 19, 1925 in Los Angeles, California the business continued to operate under the management of Al Moreno until 1946 when master saddle maker Pete Ver Beek left the Saddlery. Al Furstnow's widow Ida J. Sexsmith Furstnow moved back to Miles City, Montana after the death of Al Furstnow she died on April 26, 1928. Al Moreno had divorced Florence Edna Furstnow sometime in the 1930s and they had 1 child together. He died May 19, 1956 in Miles City, Montana.

Al Furstnow Early 1900s
Al Furstnow (Firstenaugh) - Early 1900s

Albert Joseph Moreno Late 1800s
Albert Joseph Moreno - Late 1800s

Al Furstnow Saddle Mark
Al Furstnow Miles City, MT Saddle Mark

Al Furstnow Holster Mark
Al Furstnow Miles City, MT Holster Mark

Al Furstnow Oval Saddle Mark
Al Furstnow Miles City, MT Oval Saddle Mark

Al Furstnow Holster Mark
Al Furstnow Hollywood, CA Saddle Mark 1919-1920s

Al Furstnow Saddlery Co Building, Miles City, MT
Al Furstnow Saddlery Company Building
506-508 Main Street, Miles City, MT

Florence Edna Furstnow c1910
Florence Edna Furstnow (c. 1910)
Al Furstnow's Daughter - Al Moreno's Wife

A.H. Furstnow Company Advertising Change Tin
August H. Furstnow and Company Advertising Change Tin [1895-1910]