Jasper Co. IAGenWeb
Past and Present of Jasper Co.


Past and Present of Jasper County Iowa
B.F. Bowden & Company, Indianapolis, IN, 1912

The newspaper press of the land today exerts a more potent influence upon the world than even the pulpit or the bar. The power for good or evil of the press is almost unlimited. The shortcomings of the politician are made known through the columns of the newspaper. The dark deeds of the wicked are made known to the people of all communities. The controlling influence of a state or nation is its press, and what is true generally today is true and has been for many years in Jasper County.

The local press is justly considered among the most important institutions of every village, town and city. The people of almost all communities regard their special newspaper as almost invaluable in the home, the workshop and office. One by one the facts for news items are collected by competent, reliable reporters; the printer puts them into cold type; one by one the papers are rolled forth from fast-moving presses; one by one these papers are gathered and bound into a volume of invaluable historical information for the eyes of future people. The bound volumes of newspaper files are then gleaned by the local historian and from their pages, sometimes very yellow and dusty with age, come forth pages of history worth the reading, which had it not been thus safely preserved would forever have been lost to the reading thinking world. The people of each town and county naturally have a pride in their own publications. The local press, as a general rule, reflects the business enterprise, the moral standing and the religious sentiment of the community in which it is published. Judging from this standard, the efforts in the right direction in Jasper County have indeed been commendable.

The first newspaper in the county was the Express, founded in 1856. The first daily was started by Rodgers & Newell in 1861-2 and continued for seven months, when the war took the youthful proprietors into an Iowa regiment. Newell was killed at Vicksburg. Rodgers is now assistant editor on the Newton Record.

The latest newspaper venture in Jasper County is the socialistic publication established by Dr. Perry Engle of Newton. It is a small monthly paper devoted to political and economic interests. It is known as the Newton Ethics. It is partly home and partly outside make-up.

Among the earliest journals in this county, of which but little is now known, was the Wittemberg Educator, published by the faculty of the Wittemberg College, mentioned in the educational chapter. It was established in 1857 and continued a few years, then changed its name to the Wittemberg Review, which became a semi-monthly instead of a monthly, as had been the Educator.


In order to give a correct understanding of the press history in the City of Newton it should be stated that the history of several of the newspapers here are mingled one with the other, their history being about as follows:

The first real newspaper was the Express, founded in 1856 by Besack & Welker. Welker soon withdrew from the paper, and in 1857 F. T. Campbell purchased an interest, and a little later Besack disposed of his remaining interest to A. K. Campbell, about which date the name was changed to Free Press. Campbell Brothers conducted the paper till 1861, when F. T. (Frank) Campbell left his interests in the hands of his brother and went to the front as a Civil War Union soldier. On his return he engaged in the newspaper business at Montezuma until 1865, when he returned to Newton and published the Free Press until 1867, when he sold to Patton and W. A. Campbell. They, in turn, sold to W. S. Benham in 1870, and he continued until New Year's 1877, when he disposed of the property to Sage & Robinson, which firm was made up of the present weather bureau director, John R. Sage, of Des Moines, and Ralph Robinson, still residing at his old homestead in Newton, honored and respected by all classes. Mr. Robinson was once proprietor of the Herald at Clarinda, Page County, Iowa, also associated at Fairfield with that pioneer journalist editor, Junkin, and in early life, after having learned his trade as printer in Wheeling, West Virginia, was connected with the various papers at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. After a partnership of about twelve months, Mr. Sage had a banter from Robinson to buy or sell for cash, and Sage, not having the cash at his command, the property passed at once to the hands of Mr. Robinson, who conducted it as a straight out and out, always true-blue Republican organ, and his years of editorial writing on this publication, which name was changed to the Journal, when he took hold of it alone, have numbered thirty-three, he running it until 1910, and very reluctantly gave it up on account of failing health. He sold to F. L. Boydon, one of its present owners.

Mr. Robinson put in the first power press in Jasper County, and had one of the finest plants-newspaper and job--in Iowa and his editorials were copied widely among all Republican papers in the West.

To complete the history of the Journal, the reader will please note the connection it finally had with the old Banner and Headlight, the outline history of which here follows:

In 1868, J. B. Besack decided to start another journal in Newton, he having purchased the material of the defunct Banner, a Democratic paper, of short duration. He called his new venture in Newton the Republican, but through various financial causes it went to the wall and fell into the sheriff's hands in 1874. On its ruins F. T. Campbell and T. H. Rodgers established the Headlight, which continued to shine and reflect the news of Jasper County and Newton until 1877, when it formed a union with the Free Press, and the present Newton Journal arose out of the ashes of both.

In 1910 the Daily Journal made its first appearance and is now run as such. It is a creditable daily and well circulated in the community.

The Jasper County Independent was established September 1, 1868, by H. A. Hanson, at Newton. Under his management it was, however, known as the Democratic Sentinel. Four years later he sold to Charles A. Clark, who issued his first paper in August 1872. He changed the name to that of the Jasper County Independent. It was ever a strong Democratic paper, ably edited and well patronized. In 1877 a Campbell power press was made to supersede the old hand press, and for many years it stood as one of the able advocates of Democracy in Iowa.


The first daily newspaper in Jasper County was established in the winter of 1861-2 by two striplings of boys, yet in their teens, T. M. Rodgers and Jackson F. Newell. The farmer is now the well-known newspaper man called familiarly "Tommy" Rodgers, and the latter was wounded at the fearful Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, May 22, 1863, and died from the effects June 1st, that year.

These two youths were apprentices on the Free Press of Newton, run by the Campbell Brothers, and they got permission of these gentlemen to work extra time and get out a four-column daily paper, giving the important Civil War news, as they had arranged to secure the dispatches from the first telegrapher who ever handled the keys at the Newton office, C. J. Housel. He took them as they passed over the wires to the western cities. The Free Press being a weekly paper, it used same of this war news matter in its edition. They continued to conduct this daily, which had a large circulation for those days, until August 1862, when both boys enlisted as volunteers in the Union cause (See War chapter). Had it not been for that war, no telling what their career might have been by this time. The name of the daily was The Newton Monitor. They were at a loss to know what to call the publication until that well-known lady, Mrs. Nettie Sanford-Chapin, whose maiden name was Skiff, suggested the name Monitor, in honor of the gunboat by that name that had just sunk the Rebel "Merrimac." It was greatly appreciated by the patriotic citizens of Jasper County.

The next daily in Newton was that run by the Herald office (see Herald history). In passing, it should be added that the daily run by the Herald office was not of long duration, as it passed to the hands of the present Newton Daily News.

The Herald dates back many years in its history. First the Iowa National, a Greenback organ, was established in the winter of 1877-8 in Newton, and in 1878 a stock company was formed, composed of citizens of Newton and one Charles F. Neal. The paper appeared February 1st, with Mr. Neal as its editor. Soon J. D. Rickman purchased a part of Neal's interest and the paper was published until September 23d, when Neal & Rickman sold their stock to the balance of the company and in 1878 the stockholders were: Milton Briggs, J. H. F. Balderson, J. C. Cotrell, C. W. Harcourt, George Early, Squire Sims, Perry Engle, M. D., J. R. Clements, Dr. Miller, John Meredith, A. T. Hinshaw, J. R. Mershon, Rev. T. F. Brown, D. N. McCord. Their motto was "Forward, upward and onward, and while we solicit the indulgence of our friends, we ask no favors of our enemies." Dr. Perry Engle became editor and changed the name to the Newton Herald. It is still run as a weekly paper, but has been in the hands of many persons up to the present time. It was run by Engle, then by Engle & Son, and they sold to G. F. Rinehart, who conducted it many years in a successful manner as a Democratic organ. In December 1905, he sold the plant to J. F. Robinson, and in April 1906, he sold to his son, L. E. Robinson, and in September of that year he sold to Mr. Rinehart, who had previously owned it. Rinehart conducted it until November 1906, when he sold it to M. Bilderhack and in January 1910, he sold to C. F. Ridings and he in turn sold in May 1910, to J. F. Klein. He ran it till July 1910, when he sold to M. Miller, and he in October 1910, to the Herald Company, W. M. Ward, editor, as it is still published. This paper has cut a wide swath in the history of Newton papers. It is still one of the leading newspapers in Jasper County. It has had good and bad men at the helm, but the property has always been valuable and found a warm welcome in many of the homes of this county. Its numerous changes in form and dress are of not so much historic interest, as its policy and its editorials.

At present its business is large, including its subscription list and excellent job department, operated through the medium of the latest appliances known to the art.

It was once a daily, with F. L. Boyden as editor, and under the editorship of Perry Engle the Herald was the first paper in the nation to advocate the policy of "referendum," now so highly popular.

The daily was sold to the present Newton Daily News office.

The Newton Daily News was established in 1902, as a separate publication, it having been run as the daily edition of the Newton Herald up to that time. The News pulled its first issue as a daily under the present name, on May 19, 1902. James R. Rhoades is its editor. It is a newsy, public-spirited publication, greeting hundreds of homes each weekday in the year. Its circulation grew rapidly from the first issue under the present able management. It is perhaps one of Iowa's best dailies for a town of the size in which it is published. Its moral tone and business enterprise is indeed praise worthy. Its present form is a seven-column folio. Its mechanical appearance is up to date. The job office connected therewith is fully abreast with modern printing. It is set up by means of the first linotype in the city. See history of the Herald for the early history of dailies in Newton.

The Newton Record (weekly) was established in the month of August 1894, by Blazer & Whitham, of Aledo, Illinois, and was edited by Homer A. Galloway. October 15, 1897, it was purchased by L. A. Andrew, who conducted it five years, but had many an enemy and sold to C. A. Marlin of Audubon, Iowa, and he in turn sold, in February 1905, to W. S. Johnson a one-half interest. In 1907 Mr. Johnson purchased the entire property and still conducts the paper as a weekly. It has always espoused the Republican political cause, and is one of the cleanest, brightest local papers in this section of the state. Its local editor, T. M. Rodgers, has long been connected with the press of the town and he makes it a fine family newspaper, because of his industry and wide acquaintance throughout Jasper County. It is a six-column quarto paper, run on a Cottrel power press operated by electric motor power for the last five years. The office also has a fine job plant, including a Gordon and a two-revolution cylinder jobber. Its subscription price is one dollar per year.


Lynnville has had her own share of newspapers, some short-lived, and some longer. The history of the press at this point in 1878 was written up as follows by a local scribe:

The Lynnville Gazette was established as a six-column folio newspaper, November 26, 1868, by Evans & Arnold. It continued six months, when Evans collected all advance subscriptions he could and went away for the enjoyment of the money thus obtained, while Mr. Arnold was left to settle up the affairs of the office. The paper was soon discontinued and Lynnville was paperless until September 16, 1876, when Mr. Arnold started the Iowa Interior News, which continued until June 1, 1878, when the proprietor went to Kellogg and there engaged in like business.

After the editor of the Interior decided to remove to Kellogg, the town was without a newspaper for a time, but other attempts were made by different persons, these trials only ending in dismal failures. The present spicy newspaper, the Lynnville Star was founded in 1900 and is ably conducted by Charles W. Wildman, who is the mayor of the town and the efficient postmaster, as well as an insurance and realty operator of the place. This paper is a six-column quarto, partly home and partly foreign print. It is published each Thursday and its yearly subscription price is one dollar.


At Baxter there was a paper established soon after the building of the railroad, and in 1882 it was founded by a Mr. Brown and known as the Baxter News. It was being conducted in 1888 by Will Johnson, who sold to C. B. Francisco in 1892 and after two years he sold to James Brower, who conducted it fourteen months, when it died. Brower then, in the summer of 1895, established what is now the New Era, which he sold to C. B. Francisco, September 1, 1896, and he in turn sold to the present publisher, Harry Hazlett, July 1, 1899. The present outfit is good; up to date, and in keeping with the general enterprise of the town of Baxter. Three presses are installed, a Campbell, Peerless and Gordon jobber. The New Era is always Republican and an organ of no little or uncertain influence. The news, all the news and not afraid of printing the news as its editor finds it, might well be its motto.


The history of newspapers in Colfax is somewhat hard to get at for various reasons, among these the fact that complete files have not been preserved from the founding of the pioneer papers.

It is known that the Colfax Reporter was founded in 1876 by W. B. Stearns. This was published until November of that year when it was sold to meet the debts incurred in founding it. It was purchased by J. W. Jarnagan, and on January 4, 1878, he began the publication of the Sentinel, first a six-column folio, and later a five-column quarto.

The Colfax Tribune was established in 1893 and is now conducted by C. L. Smith as an independent local paper. It is six-column and a quarto, fifteen by thirty inches in size. It is run on a power press, by gasoline power, and is issued each Thursday, at one dollar and fifty cents per year in advance.

The Colfax Clipper was established in June 1879, by H. W. Robinson and is still owned and operated by him. It is a six-column quarto paper, run on a Campbell press by gasoline engine. It is a "stand-pat" Republican organ, four pages home print and balance ready print.

The Clipper succeeded the old Colfax Sentinel. It now enjoys a liberal patronage and does an immense amount of fine job work. Its plant is equipped with the latest type and presses for the speedy and artistic execution of such work and the jobbers are busy the year round.

The Prairie City News, among the bright news papers of Jasper County, has come down through the following changes in proprietors. The following was written of the newspaper history in Prairie City, in 1878:

"The first paper published in Prairie City was the Gleaner and Herald, by Jacob Sanders, in 1870, which only survived about one year.

"The next publication was the Index, established by McGinitie & Bartlett, in 1873. After a short time Bartlett sold to Col. W. Hammond, who soon purchased McGinitie's interest. After a short career, the Colonel, having other business affairs of more importance to him, ceased the publication of the paper.

"The next paper was the News, established by H. L. McGinitie. In 1878 this paper was described as a six-column folio, Republican in politics and had a good business, including a good job office.

"A Greenback organ was published at this town in 1878, but in August of that year suspended."

H. L. McGinitie established the News from the old Index office, and he was succeeded by B. C. Ward, now of Des Moines, who continued six or more years and gave way to A. A. Thompson and he in turn to Hammack & Allen, who sold to S. M. Robinson, who sold to Frank L. Woodard, who is now engaged in the general insurance business at Prairie City. He conducted the paper from October 1891, to the spring of 1897 and sold to Robert Jones, who consolidated with the Kodack (another paper of the town) and it was then known as the News-Kodack. The next change was when it was purchased by E. G. Robison and changed to the Prairie City News. After some time he sold to S. B. Patterson and he to D. A. McDonald, who sold to the present proprietor, Al S. Condon. The last named took possession some time in 1910. The office is well equipped with job printing material and its proprietor seems to be the right man at the helm, both as a local editor and job printer.


At Monroe, the first newspaper was the South-Side Transcript, established in 1872, by Leroy W. Allum, but a year later changed the name to Monroe Mirror. The founder sold the material, but not the subscription list, which the purchaser had overlooked in the sale contract. Allum continued the Mirror till 1877, when P. St. Clair took a partnership for a time, but retired in four months, when Mr. Allum took full control. The Transcript and Mirror worked side by side for nine months, when the Transcript ceased to be issued.

In the month of April 1877, Messrs. Betzer & Jarnigan established the Times, which survived three months only. Later on, the Monitor, a little monthly, was started by Elder J. W. Todd, which publication was changed to the Temperance Reformer, and continued three months, when it was converted into a weekly paper. It had four editors within a dozen weeks' time.

Mr. Allum was in control until October 1880, when he sold the office to john Vandermast, the present owner and editor; who has been constantly in the editorial harness ever since that autumnal day thirty-one years ago. At three different dates since his coming to Monroe, attempts have been made to run a newspaper outside of his, but all have "gone up the flume." The list is the Monroe Leader, by L. J. Anderson, who stuck to it three months; the second attempt was the Monroe Review, by a Mr. Booton, and he held down the tripod about one year. Then came the Pride of Monroe by C. A. Cox, who stuck to the ship for about two months and since then the Mirror has been the only reflector of the local news for the town, and be it said that it is a good newspaper, run in a modern way, by a man who understands what a news item is and runs it down. Long may its pages shine under the present management.


At Kellogg the first paper established was the Reporter in 1873. Its founder was N. C. McBeth, who continued until 1878, when he abandoned the field. His partner for a short time was M. E. Rudolph.

In 1878 the Kellogg Post was established by B. F. Arnold, during the month of June. It was a bright, newsy Republican local paper. At first it was printed on material and presses of the Interior News at Lynnville. Mr. Arnold sold the Post to J. R. Chandler and he in turn sold to J. C. Pratt, who later moved the plant to Perry, Iowa.

In 1876, the Iowa Workman was founded at Kellogg by J. Madison Kirk. This was the organ of the United Workmen in Iowa. It had a very large circulation and was finally removed to Davenport in the spring of 1878.

The Kellogg Enterprise, the present creditable newspaper of the town, was founded April 30, 1880, by J. W. Burke and W. P. Coutts, who were in partnership for six and almost a half years, when Mr. Coutts became sole proprietor and for all these thirty-one years has been connected and edited the Enterprise. At first it was a five-column quarto and was printed first on a Wells job press of an ancient type; then it was printed from a Washington hand-press, but today is printed on a Hoe power press and is an eight-column folio in form and size. The office is also equipped with two modern style jobbers, a Star and a Gordon press. The power press was installed in 1902. The Enterprise has missed but one issue in thirty-one years and then on account of changes in office equipment, which could not be accomplished in one week. The editor of this paper is a true citizen of his town and county and is now running the only Democratic sheet in the eastern part of his county. He is an able writer and works early and late, year in and year out, for the up building of Kellogg.

The Tribune was established in 1889, by J. W. Burke, who conducted it until February 1909, but the plant was injured by the great fire and after running it a few months longer it was suspended. Its politics was Republican.

Transcribed by Ernie Braida in July 2003