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Iowa Official Registers

Pages 229-230

State of Iowa Official Register

 Thirty-Ninth Number, 1941-1942

~ transcribed by S. Ferrall for the IAGenWeb Special Project - Iowa History


Iowa's Newspapers

No report on Iowa's greatness would be complete without recognition of its newspapers. There is scarcely a home in the state which fails to receive a daily newspaper; many homes receive several Iowa newspapers.

To no small extent Iowa owes its reputation for literacy to its newspapers. Iowa citizens want to be informed; and to their newspapers, more than to any other source, they turn for enlightenment upon current issues and problems, and for entertainment and even amusement.

Iowa's first newspaper, 1836
The story of the beginnings of Iowa's newspapers is of more than passing interest.

John King established Iowa's first newspaper, the Du Buque Visitor, on May 11, 1836, and continued until June 3, 1937. One of the events of the Iowa Centennial celebration, in 1938, was the general recognition of the part which this pioneer paper played in the establishment of Iowa and its future development. A handsome Centennial edition of the paper had been issued in Dubuque on the hundredth anniversary of its founding.

The second Iowa newspaper was established by Dr. Isaac Galland, in 1837, at the town bearing his name, in Lee County, now generally known as Montrose. It was called the Western Adventurer, and lasted nine months. The machinery was sold to James G. Edwards, who moved it to Fort Madison, where it was called the Patriot and became an organ of the Whig party.

During Iowa's territorial years, no less than 24 newspapers were started, only 10 of which had survived when Iowa entered the union as a state in 1846. One of these was the Territorial Gazette and Advertiser, established in 1837, which is now published under the name of the Burlington Hawk-Eye and Gazette, being a combination of the two papers bearing these names.

Other Historic Newspapers
one of the names closely associated with the old Hawk-Eye was Frank Hatton, who learned the newspaper trade in Ohio, served through the Civil War with Union Army, and later on became a partner with Robert J. Burdette in the proprietorship of the Hawk-Eye. Hatton was assistant Postmaster General from 1881 to 1884; and Postmaster General under President Chester A. Arthur in 1884 and 1885, the youngest cabinet member since Alexander Hamilton. Later, he became editor of the Chicago Mail and the Washington Post. Robert Burdette, his partner in the Hawk-Eye, was not only a great editor but likewise a noble humorist. He wrote "The Rise and Fall of the Mustache," which immediately became one of the best sellers of its time.

Another famous newspaper of the southeastern section of Iowa is the Keokuk Gate City, long in the possession of the Howell family; perhaps it's best known editor being "Sam" Clark, as scholarly a man as Iowa journalism has ever produced; a member of Congress from that district for several years.

Other notable pioneer Iowa newspapers were the Iowa City Press, of which John P. Irish assumed the editorship in 1864; the Sioux City Journal, established in 1870 by George D. Perkins and his brother; the Des Moines Capital, edited and published for many years by Lafe Young, one of the most picturesque figures Iowa ever produced, United States Senator from Iowa for a short time; the Oskaloosa Herald, with which Colonel Al. Swalm was connected for many years; the Cedar Rapids Republican, with which the name of Cyrenus Cole is so prominently associated; the Muscatine Journal, of which Orion Clemens was editor in the fifties of the last century and where Mark Twain helped him intermittently; the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, under the late William R. Orchard; and the Iowa State register, now an integral part of the Register and Tribune.

Dailies and Weeklies of Prestige
There are more than a score of daily newspapers in Iowa which give to the immediate localities which their services center, assets which cannot be fully appreciated. All these daily newspapers present, to a greater or lesser extent, the opinions of the nations recognized best feature writers and political and social fields, and these messages, presenting the cream of thought an investigation into the field of politics -- in the sense of good government -- have placed the average Iowan on a plane of high intelligence and legislative understanding.

Lacking none in the presentation of a thought provoking and guiding influence are scores of lesser journals, of semiweekly and weekly periodical publication. The "country" editors of Iowa, whose praises are generally unsung, and whose compensation is upon a small scale, are the backbone of Iowa thought and action. When one meets a group of Iowa weekly newspaper editors in convention, he is face-to-face with the guiding genius of Iowa public opinion. Iowa weekly and semiweekly newspapers, and the small town dailies, have a combined circulation which secure the entrance of one or more of them into most of the homes of Iowa. The chosen representatives of the people, assembled in the states General assembly, give close heed to the opinions of their hometown editors, as a rule.

Three Awarded Pulitzer Prize
No small part of Iowa's leadership in literacy can be traced to the prevalence of Iowa newspapers in the homes; and to a large extent the editorial columns of these newspapers are one of the most potent forces for good within the state.

Three Iowa daily newspaper editors have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize, a distinguished honor originated by the late Joseph Pulitzer, editor and owner of the New York World and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Iowans thus honored are Verne Marshall of the Cedar Rapids Gazette; E. P. Chase of the Atlantic News Telegraph, and William W. Waymack of the Des Moines Register and Tribune.


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