Tom Purcell & the Hampton Chronicle
contributed by S. Ferrall
T.W. Purcell Thursday announced the sale of his controlling interest in the Hampton Chronicle and Purcell Printing company to his son, Dwight V. Purcell, with possession by the new owner retroactive to October 1, 1940.
The senior Mr. Purcell retains ownership of the building occupied by the newspaper and job printing plant and all book accounts receivable as other assets, including subscription lists and accounts are included in the sale.
Mr. Purcell will retire from the active newspaper field, to which he he has devoted his life, after nearly 43 years as editor and publisher of the Hampton Chronicle, a record which has few equals in the state of Iowa.
Dwight V. Purcell
The younger Mr. Purcell has grown up in the newspaper business in the Chronicle office, starting in as a press feeder when but a boy in school. He has been actively associated with his father in the management and editorship of the Chronicle for the last 10 years and is fully qualified by experience and training to maintain the high standards of the publication.
The senior Mr. Purcell has announced no definite plans for his retirement other than he expects to take a "good, long rest" from the grind of the newspaper field and that he will maintain his residence in Hampton.
The current change of ownership of the Chronicle is only the seventh in the entire history of the newspaper. It was founded in 1871 as the Magnet by W.C. Eaton, who sold it in 1876 to J.C. Whitney, by whom the name was changed to the Hampton Chronicle. Other owners were C.S. Gilford, from 1884 to 1890; S.H. Shoemaker, from 1894 to Dec. 1, 1897, when the Chronicle was purchased by T.W. Purcell.
Eight newspapers were being published in Franklin county when Mr. Purcell took over the Chronicle 43 years ago, and since that time he has owned all of them and absorbed all but one of them into the Chronicle. That one is the Sheffield Press, which Mr. Purcell sold after he had owned it for a few years. Thus the Chronicle includes in its pedigree the first newspaper published in Franklin county, the Franklin Record, which was founded at Hampton in 1859.
Mr. Purcell entered the printing and publishing field when a lad of sixteen years as an apprentice in the shop of the Anamosa Eureka. This month marks his completion of 51 years in the printing and publishing industry. Three years later, in November, 1892, he went to Sac City as a full fledged printer on the Sac Sun. When that property was sold and the partnership of the owners dissolved, Mr. Purcell went with one of the partners to Ida Grove to work on the Record-Era. Here he remained until he purchased the Chronicle and moved to Hampton. Here, also, he was married to Nellie L. Babcock.
During the 43 years of his editorship of the Chronicle, Mr. Purcell has been an active force in the community. An ardent believer in and worker for his home town, his stories about the good things of "The Best Town On Earth" are almost legendary.
Aside from his active duties as an editor and pubisher, Mr. Purcell took time to serve his community as a member and president of the Hampton board of education; as a director of the old Franklin county fair and as president of the Hampton Commercial club. He was also active in fraternal affairs and had gone through the chairs in the Knights of Pythias, Modern Woodmen of America and I.O.O.F. lodges. He is also a member of the Masonic order, including all branches except the thirty-third degree, but the press of business prevented him from completing the service of all offices. He was junior warden of Anchor lodge, A.F. & A.M. when he insisted that he not be elected for any higher post.
Mr. Purcell served as postmaster at Hampton from July, 1905, until March, 1914, eight and one-half years. He was only 31 years of age when first appointed, which made him one of the youngest postmasters in an officee the size of Hampton at that time.
An early advocate of good reads, Mr. Purcell was one of the prime movers in making Hampton the first small town in Iowa to have paved streets, an event which drew wide attention and brought many official visitors from towns and cities of larger size to view the paving and learn how it was done. Later he carried on the fight for paved highways under the present bonding system. He was also largely responsible for securing the purchase of the present Franklin county fair grounds by the county, thus securing to the community for all time a site for its county fairs and similar events.
A staunch republican, Mr. Purcell has been a loyal and faithful worker in that party regardless of whether it has occupied the majority or minority position. Soon after he came in Hampton, Mr. Purcell was elected chairman of the Franklin county republican central committee. He has served continuously as chairman or secretary since then and has also been a delegate to every republican state convention for the last forty-three years.
Mr. Purcell was one of the founders of the present Iowa Press Association, which he served for many years as a director and later as president. He was awarded a plaque as a "Master Editor-Publisher" by his confreres at the annual meeting of that organization in 1937. He was also one of the founders and early presidents of the Hampton Rotary club and in 1930-1931 served as district governor of Rotary International for the district which includes practically all of Iowa.
Incidentally the younger Mr. Purcell is president of the Hampton Rotary club at the time he succeedes his father as publisher of the Chronicle.
Rightfully proud of his long record of continuous service in one community, perhaps his greatest pride is the fact that all of his ten children, six daughters and four sons, were graduated from Hampton high school.
In taking over the publication of the Chronicle, Dwight V. Purcell states that every effort will be made to maintain the newspaper's record for service to its community, state and country, and the maintenance of an alert news policy that will continue to bring in Chronicle readers the complete news coverage of the farms and towns of Franklin county for which the paper has long been known.
~Mason City Globe-Gazette, November 21, 1940
Tom W. Purcell, 1957
Tom W. Purcell was honored Saturday for the completion of 60 years as editor of the Hampton Chronicle. Mr. Purcell purchased the Chronicle on Nov. 18, 1897, and took possession Dec. 1 of that year.
At the time he bought the paper, it had a circulation of 350 papers and a retainer payment of $15 sealed the sale.
Hampton had two other papers in 1897 and there were five papers printed in nearby communities. The Chronicle, under the guidance of Tom Purcell, gradually absorbed the smaller papers until it eventually became the county seat weekly.
The Chronicle was first published in an office bulding in the basement of the old Rule Hotel, now the First National Bank building. Two years later it moved to the second floor of the Farmers Merchant Bank building, which is now the Swartz Apparel Shop in Hampton.
Mr. Purcell built his own newspaper shop in 1905 which was the home of the Hampton Chronicle for 50 years until it moved to it's present location in 1955.
Mr. Purcel, a staunch Republican who has served in county and state party affairs, has raised a family of 10 children, all of whom graduated from the Hampton High School. All are living, according to the Chronicle, except one son.
Mr. Purcell was one of the founders of the Iowa Press Association; he has served on the State Printing Board and the Hospital Advisory Council and served as Hampton's thirteenth postmaster from 1905 until 1914.
In 1937 he was awarded the "Master Editor - Publisher" plaque and was named honorary professional member of the Sigma Delta Chi journalistic fraternity.
His long career apparently hasn't dampened Tom W. Purcell's newspaper journalism spirit. He still rises in time to be at the Chronicle office by 7 each morning and works until 6 p.m. or until his work is finished.
~Waterloo Daily Courier, December 15, 1957
Note: Tom W. Purcell was killed in a car accident at Portland, Oregon in March 1958. He was fatally injured when the car driven by his son, Thomas, collided with a truck.
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January 17, 2012
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