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Posted By: mary ellen lanigan (email)
Date: 9/28/2017 at 21:11:56

Ottumwa Tri-weekly Courier, Ottumwa Semi-weekly Courier and Ottumwa Semi-weekly Courier

Ottumwa is one of the largest cities in southeastern Iowa and serves as the seat of Wapello County. The Des Moines River runs through the center of the city, dividing it into northern and southern halves. Despite differing opinions on its exact translation, the early settlers of Ottumwa kept its Native American name because it was distinctive and set the town apart from other settlements in the area.

On August 8, 1848, Joseph H.D. Street and Richard H. Warden established Ottumwaís first newspaper, the Des Moines Courier. In January 1851, Warden became the paperís sole proprietor. James W. Norris joined Warden as an associate editor in April 1852; and a few years later, on December 20, 1855, he took over as the paperís editor and proprietor. In 1857, the paperís name was changed to the Weekly Ottumwa Courier. When Norris left the Courier in 1866, N.D. Mussleman, William H. Caldwell, and William C. Holden managed the paper for three years. In 1869, General John M. Hedrick and Major Augustus H. Hamilton took over as the Courierís joint owners and editors until Hamilton assumed sole ownership in 1878. Alfred Wilson Lee acquired the Courier in 1891 and continued to acquire newspapers across Iowa and the Midwest, establishing his publishing company, Lee Enterprises. The Courier was sold to Liberty Publishing Group in 1999, and then to Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., the paperís current publisher, in 2001.

Throughout its history, the Courierís name has been altered frequently to reflect changes in its publication schedule. It was the Ottumwa Semi-Weekly Courier from 1899 to 1903 and again from 1916 to 1918, the Ottumwa Tri-Weekly Courier from 1903 to 1916. A daily edition, the Ottumwa Daily Courier, began in 1865 and continues as the Ottumwa Courier to the present, publishing five days a week.

The Courier supported the Whig Party in its early years and adopted Republican views when the Whig Party disbanded. The paperís political coverage included strong support of Whig and Republican candidates for local, state, and national offices, reports of political campaigns and election results, and news of the activities of the governor and state legislators. The Courier also reported local births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and community social activities. For many years the paper included a page for children called ďThe Courier Junior.Ē

The Ottumwa Courier is the oldest business in Ottumwa and its success gave impetus to a number of other papers in the area. In June 1850, James Baker established the Des Moines Republic, which ceased publication after two years. The Ottumwa Democratic Statesman began publication in 1858, but was discontinued in 1868. Later that year, the Copper Head, a Democratic paper that originated in Pella, Iowa, relocated to Ottumwa, becoming the Ottumwa Democrat in 1871. Other newspapers followed, but none were able to last as long as the Courier, which is the only Ottumwa newspaper that continues to publish today.

Provided by: State Historical Society of Iowa

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