The first newspaper published in the county , was the Cass County Gazette, established at Lewis , in January 1861 , by J. C. BROWN. John J. Van HOUTEN , now of Atlantic , was foreman of the office. Seth W. YOUNG, now of the Storm Lake Pilot, was the devil. The press and material were moved on a sled from Audubon City , then the county seat of Audubon county, to Lewis on the 4th day of January, 1861. The next day the office was rigged up and on that day the first type ever set in the county were put in a "stick" by Capt. Van HOUTEN. The press had been used seven weeks at Audubon City in the publication of the Audubon County Pioneer. BROWN was the editor of that paper while it was published and Van HOUTEN was the printer. The Cass County Gazette, was Democratic in politics , and was a four page paper with six columns on a page. The motto under the heading on the first page was: "Fidelity to the Constitution and the Union," which was a good motto for the time ( 1861 ) and a good one for all time. BROWN gave his life in defense of "the Constitution and the Union," in 1863, which is more explicitly mentioned in the chapter containing the military history. The paper was a good one, being well gotten up mechanically, spicily edited , with a pure tone to every item. We have but a few copies of the Gazette, and those few have been kindly loaned to us by Mrs. Wm. WADDELL, who possesses the only numbers we have been able to hear of after diligent search. The regular files of the paper were destroyed, when the Union House was burned in Lewis in 1864. The office was in the hotel building but was mainly removed and saved without material damage. The files, however, were left to be consumed. Thus perished a good record of the county’s early events and its progress - for every well-gotten up local journal is, as Shakespeare says, "an abstract brief chronicle of the time" "a map of busy life ; of the world’s events , its vicissitudes and its vast concerns." One issue of the Gazette which we have been permitted to examine, bears date April 20th, 1861, that memorable month in that memorable year, when the civil was began. It is filled with news pertaining to the bombardment of Fort Sumter; the effect of that event on the country, and accounts of Union meetings held in various cities in the north and disunion meetings in various cities in the south. LINCOLN’s first call for 75,000 volunteers is given, together with the insolent replies to the same by C. F. JACKSON, Governor of Missouri and B. McGOFFIN, Governor of Kentucky. The paper also records the fact that "Hon. Stephen A. DOUGLAS sustains the President and has had a long interview with him at Washington." Another telegram published says: "Jeff DAVIS’ answer to LINCOLN’s proclamation is rough and cruel. It is as follows: ‘Fort Sumter is ours and nobody hurt-with Paixam and Petard we tender old Abe our Beauregard.’" This one issue of the Gazette contained a good history of the beginning of the Great Rebellion, and told of the great excitement which then prevailed in the whole country. The paper appeared to be better in its general than in its local features. Local advertisements were scarce, the following comprising the list:
James W. BROWN, Attorney; H. H. OBERHOLTZER & Co., General Merchandise; Dr. J. B. CAREY , Physician; Dr. N.W. WHITTED, Physician and Druggist; Isaac DICKERSON, Notary Public and Land Agent ; PECK & KEYES, proprietors of the "Badger Mills," in which they say that they can sell flour and feed cheaper than any one east of Denver; M.T. JONES, dealer in dry goods, groceries , hardware, & c. He announced that he had 50,000 pounds of bacon and 7,000 pounds of lard on hands for sale. John KEYES announced that he wanted to buy 50 head of steers.
W. Smithson NEWLON, family physician, Newlon’s Grove, Iowa.
F. H. WHITNEY, Land Agent and Deputy County Surveyor, Whitneyville, Cass county, Iowa.
The following advertisement filled a column, and may be read with interest:
"The undersigned, citizens of Cass county, Iowa, have for sale a few thousand acres of valuable farming land in western Iowa, at this time one of the most attractive portions of the far west, especially to the farmer and stock grower. Our lands, it is evident, are unsurpassable for fertility of soil and beauty of location for the farmer and stock grower, situated as they are on the waters of the Nishnabotna river and its tributaries, embracing the finest class of high rolling prairie down to beautiful valley land interspersed with large groves of fine, healthy timber, and brooks and rills clear, pure water, sufficient for stock at all times of the year, making it the finest and most desirable stock raising county in the entire west. Here thousands of tons of fine, luxuriant native hay may be procured every autumn with no cost to the farmer save the harvesting of the same. Our wood-lands are as good as there are in the west, giving off a variety of growths, such as White and Burr Oaks, Walnut, Hickory, Bass-wood, Hard and Soft Maples. Our lands are located fifty miles east of Omaha City , the capital of Nebraska territory, a handsomely located city , on the left bank of the Missouri river. Omaha is a flourishing town with a population of from four to five thousand permanent citizens. We are also forty-five miles east of Council Bluffs, a fine town on the right bank of the Missouri river, the great emporium of western Iowa. In the amount of its commerce it is second only to St. Joseph, Missouri. The citizens are noted for their courteous manners and hospitality, being enterprising, kind and benevolent. There is published in Council Bluffs three good newspapers, one daily, and there is also a telegraph office. Moreover, our lands are in the immediate vicinity of Lewis, the county-seat of Cass county, which is truly a handsome village of from three to five hundred inhabitants, with good stores, hotels, and an industrious, enterprising class of citizens. In Lewis there are two good schools, a printing office, and one magnificent church house of the Methodist denomination. Others are in contemplation , as good societies of the Baptists and Congregationalists are already in Lewis. The undersigned would say to their friends in the East that we can furnish you with good homes at a small cost in price, compared with your Eastern land. We are pioneers in the FAR WEST, and purchased our lands immediately after the Indian title to the same became extinct, and it is true that they embrace the most magnificent lands in the Missouri River Valley, a valley that ere long is destined to be the most densely populated portion of the far West."
Lewis, Cass county, Iowa.
We shall always be of the opinion that the "kind and benevolent people of Council Bluffs" should have borne part of the expense of the above advertisement.
W.H. BEEDLE & S. DISBROW announced that in connection with J.G. WARNOCK, they could do all kinds of blacksmithing and wagon making. Their advertisement wound up with the following words, which indicate the excitement of the times: "Come farmers, if you expect to save the Union, you must have new wagons, or your old ones repaired; the stars and stripes should be set in letters of gold on every wagon and wheel-barrow. Our motto is, Liberty Union, Victory or Death." This advertisement is dated February, 1861.
From the issue of the Gazette of September 21, 1861, it might be inferred that the contest for the county offices was getting interesting. The Gazette supported the "Union Democratic Ticket," which was as follows: For Senator L. D. BURNS, of Dallas county; for Representative S. L. LORAH, of Cass; for Treasurer and Recorder, Isaac DICKERSON; for Sheriff, John KEYES; for County Judge, Andrew IRVIN; for County Superintendent, James S. RAND; for Drainage Commissioner, T. J. BYRD; for Coroner, H. CAYWOOD. The paper contained strong complimentary notices of Messrs. LORAH, BURNS, DICKERSON, KEYES, RAND, and the whole Democratic ticket. The Republican county nominations were as follows: For Treasurer, L. L. ALEXANDER; for sheriff, Dr.H. S. CAREY; for County Superintendent, E.W. HALL; for Drainage Commissioner, J.S. HAWORTH, for Surveyor, E.W. DAVENPORT; for Coroner, M. EVERETT. The Gazette seems to have been strongly partisan. Speaking of the ballotings in the Republican County Convention it said: "The highest number of votes cast for any candidate was eight. Mr. ALEXANDER was nominated by six votes against five for A. WAKEFIELD, and four for Wm. WADDELL." The Democratic ticket, with the exception of the nominee for Senator, was elected in October. Mr. REDFIELD, of Dallas, was elected Senator, over L. D. BURNS. The paper was loyal from the beginning of the war. In the paper dated April 20, 1861 from which we have already quoted, appeared the following editorial, which we trust may be read with interest, and the noble patriotism therein expressed, be applauded, by all those who in future years, may either write editorials or read them in this and all other localities: WAR COMMENCED.
"The startling news contained in our columns to-day leaves no further hope of arresting the horrors and calamities of civil war. Sumpter has been taken, and Major ANDERSON compelled to haul down the Star Spangled Banner, and surrender to Jeff DAVIS’ infuriated rebels, whose batteries made short work in reducing the proud fort. The success which crowned the rebel arms in their first engagement with the Government troops inspires the Secessionists with joyful courage and impresses every patriot with grief. The accounts from all parts of the Union represent the people in a state of the most intense excitement. In the Northern States thousands are volunteering to defend the Flag of the Union and wipe out the disgrace inflicted upon at Charleston. The people of the North seem determined to put forth their might in sustaining the President in protecting the Government property."
"The Flag of the Republic must be protected. There is no time now to talk about the errors and follies which have brought this terrible calamity upon the county. When the Temple of our Liberty is in flames there is no time to seek for them that applied the torch. Let the patriotic energy of the nation be at once employed in subduing the destroying element."
"While there was any hope of a peaceful adjustment of the national difficulties, we favored the policy of conciliation and compromise, believing it to be that only which wisdom dictated. Had a compromise been agreed to by Republican members of the last Congress, war might have been averted. That was not done. It is to be deeply deplored that the spirit of faction prevented it. But the failure of the Republican Congress to do their duty must not keep Democrats from meeting the terrible issue and sustaining the rights and honor of that glorious Flag which they have upheld for nearly a century. Let no emblem of treason ever look upon its humiliation. Throw aside partisan issues and unite in the defense of the Constitution and Union, for the establishment of which the best blood that ever flowed in human veins was freely shed."
The Gazette of August 31st, 1861, contained a letter, dated at St. Joseph, Mo., written by G. B. KIRKPATRICK, who had enlisted in the 4th Infantry and was with the regiment on his way to the seat of war.
In August 1862, J. C. BROWN enlisted in the 23rd Infantry and sold the Gazette to F. H. WHITNEY, who continued its publication as a Democratic paper. Mr. WHITNEY in his editorials urged the vigorous prosecution of the war. T. P. BALLARD, now County Clerk of Mills county, and part owner of the Glenwood Opinion, was Mr. WHITNEY’s foreman and mechanical manager. Mr. WHITNEY made an enterprising editor, and during several months of 1862 published the war news from first hands-that is, he tood the dispatches on the day of publication and the day previous, giving his readers the "news from the front" in advance of all competitors. The Western Union Telegraph line then passed through Lewis and had an office there. Monroe SMITH, the operator, was one of the best who ever touched a key.
In the Gazette, dated November 8th, 1862, the fact is noted that W. W. GARDNER is teaching school across the river, and the editor wishes there were more such good teachers as he in the county. In the same issue it is stated that the stage that left Des Moines at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning, November 5th, arrived in Lewis at 9:30 the same evening, making the trip of 105 miles in thirteen hours, including stops for changing horses and the mails.
In the Summer of 1863, the Gazette passed into the hands of J.M. HOLADAY, who changed its politics to Republican, and changed its motto to "Westward Ho!" T. Q. MORGAN was Mr. HOLADAY’s printer. The paper under Mr. HOLADAY’s management was exceedingly spicy, but was too prone to call things by their right names, to be popular.
In the paper dated September 12, 1863, it is stated that on the previous Wednesday John A. KASSON, and L. W. ROSS made political speeches. A letter from the army, dated at Black River Bridge, August 24, 1863, is published, telling of the death of John Wesley TEAL, a soldier and a son of Dr. TEAL. The letter was from Capt. Geo. A. HENRY.
Mr. VALE was then teaching the Lewis school.
From this paper we learn that at that time two daily stage lines ran into Lewis-one from Des Moines, the other from Oskaloosa.
F. H. WHITNEY kept the Union House and advertised board at two dollars per week. Mr. W. also advertised as a claim agent, real estate and insurance agent, & c.
In July, 1864, Mr. WHITNEY sold his office, it having come back into his possession, to G.F. KILBURN, who removed it to Fontanelle, and H.C. JOHNSON bought a press of Mr. FULLER, at Adel, brought it to Lewis and established the Cass County Messenger. In 1869, Mr. JOHNSON removed his paper to Atlantic, where the paper has been published since. In 1871-72, J.R. MORRIS, Jr. was associated with Mr. JOHNSON in the publication of the Messenger. In 1873, J.H. WILLEY, a typographical graduate of the office was admitted to partnership in the establishment, and at this time the firm is JOHNSON & WILLEY.
[The remainder of the press history will be found in the sketch of the City of Atlantic.]
From the History of Cass County, Iowa Together With Brief Mention of Old Settlers
by Lafe Young, Atlantic, Iowa: Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1877, pg. 51-57.
Transcribed for Cass County by Brenda Magee, November 2009.