|LOUISA COUNTY, IOWA|
The Wapello Republican
June 18, 1981, Section B, Page 58 & 59
Transcribed by Shirley Plumb, June 14, 2018
HISTORY OF THE PRESS IN LOUISA COUNTY
1850 – 1964
Jane Ann Cotter
Updated 1965 – 1981
Rose M. Carlson
THE NEWSPAPER MAN Bit of a priest and bit of a sailor, Bit of a doctor and bit of a tailor, Bit of a lawyer and bit of a detective, Bit of a judge for his work is corrective; Cheering the living and soothing the dying, Risking all things, even dare devil flying! Sleep! There are times that he’ll do with a little, Work til his nerves and his temper are brittle; Fire cannot daunt him nor long hours disturb him, Gold cannot buy him and threats cannot curb him, Highbrow or lowbrow, your own speech he’ll hand you; Talk as you will to him, he’ll understand you: He’ll go wherever another man can - That is the way of the newspaper man. One night a week may he rest from his labor; One night at home to be father and neighbor; Just a few hours for his own bit of leisure, All the rest’s gazing at other men’s pleasure, All the rest’s toiling and yet he rejoices, All the world is, and that men do, he voices - Who knows a calling more glorious than The day-by-day work of the newspaper man? By Edgar A. Guest, from “All That Matters.”
The History of Louisa County certifies the fact that the Louisa County Times, published at Wapello beginning November 27, 1850, was the first newspaper in Louisa County. The editors of this six column, four page paper were David Sheward and James Noffsinger. Sheward soon left the paper. In a short period of time there were innumerable editors and publishers; historical sources vary as to dates as will be seen throughout this paper. In September 1853, the plant was sold to Ambrose Hodge and James D. Barrabe who changed the name to the Wapello Intelligencer and enlarged it to seven columns. It has also been reported that Noffsinger bought back the paper and the name was not changed until then. In the fall, J. S. and W. H. Milligan assumed ownership. Three months later the Wapello Intelligencer was sold to J. E. Herroun and L. P. Wells with the latter being editor though 1856.
In the early period of the county, a newspaper property was not worth much, and it changed hands twelve or thirteen times in the first twelve years. (Much of this information is from the souvenir edition of the Republican dated March 2, 1899, published by R. G. Hawkins.) Wells owned the paper four times in this period.
Wells, Miller and Co. were publishers from February to April, 1857, when Hodges and Barr bought it. Up to this time, the paper had been non-partisan. In October, Hodge took over controlling interest and announced it would be a Democratic paper.
In 1858 and 1859, at various times, the Wapello Intelligencer was owned and edited by J. P. Brigham; Thomas S. Bell; William Keach; Kelly, Iaves, and Mintun; John Jenkins and Co.; Jenkins and Barr, and probably many others. Jenkins and Barr published it until 1860, when Barr left for Texas. William Keach and Jenkins continued publication.
During the 1850’s a town was founded by Nathan Burris and ceased to exist, all in a short period of time. It was a settlement of Irish immigrants who had come to build the Airline railroad which was never completed. While in existence, this town had a large population than any other in the county. When the railroad project collapsed, so did the town.
In 1857, the Burris City Commercial was published. It was a short lasting venture and was purchased by Jacob Minton and his son, Henry, who moved it to Wapello in 1859.
Ed Stafford published both the New Boston Reporter and the Burris City Commercial, a 32 column weekly paper, at New Boston, Illinois, two miles below Burris City. Nathan Burris purchased a Guernsey press for Mr. Stafford but he failed to remove his office from New Boston before a mortgage sale forced the contents “under the hammer” and the press was taken to the type foundry. The press stood in the old warehouse until it was purchased by John Mahin and taken to Muscatine. The Journal was printed on this press until 1870.
In 1858, Dunlap, an attorney, and George W. Ellsworth, a druggist, launched a 23 column weekly, the Burris Iowan. “Well the Burris Iowan was born, blessed, and cursed within two short months.” Neither of the partners seemed to have much business acumen. Although no name is recorded, there was also a paper printed in Burris City in 1857, by the Robinson Bros. This one lasted only five or six months.
The Louisa County Record was established by James D. Barr and Ives on November 17, 1870. The first issue was printed without a single subscriber’s names on the books. In 1873, Barr bought Ive’s interest. E. M. Pike acquired the paper in March, 1887, and it was sold to G.E. E. Townsend in August of that year.
On August 14, 1873, a fire burned out the office but the paper never missed an issue. It was an eight column republican party minded paper, “neatly printed and filled with interesting local matter.” The subscription rate was $ 2.00 a year.
The issue of January 4, 1883, is the earliest Louisa County Record on file today. In 1889, with George Townsend as editor, the paper was reduced to five columns and the price was lowered to $ 1.00 a year. On April 4, 1889, W. E. Montgomery became publisher and conducted it as an Independent paper. The Record was enlarged to eight columns from May 10, of that year until September 12, of that year until September 12, when J. W. Barr became manager and reduced it to seven columns with a year’s subscription selling for $ 1.50.
From the limited information available, there apparently were two papers published at different intervals under the name of Louisa County TIMES. There is also some confusion in dates between the second paper of this name and the Wapello Times. The latter Louisa County Times reportedly made its first appearance at Columbus Junction on October 20, 1876, with A. E. Coffee as editor. After nine issues it was moved to Wapello. Apparently after this move, it was called the Wapello Times. L. P. Wells bought out the paper in 1878, and published it as a Democratic paper until July of 1882. O. I. and M. J. Jamison, both Democrats, purchased the Times in 1883 and moved it back to Columbus Junction on June 24, 1884. They changed the name again to the Louisa County Times, under which name it was published until January 1, 1886.
The paper was then purchased by Neal and Philips, who continued publication until august 2, 1887, when the last issue appeared.
The same source contradicts itself by stating that the Louisa County Times was established by J. H. Wells who ran it about two years as an Independent newspaper. Kelly, Ives and Minton were the next owners until Mr. Wells bought it back and continued publication two years longer. William Keach bought him out and published the paper under the name of Wapello Republican. Later it was sold to Dr. Jones by whom it was discontinued.
L. W. Meyers, a Whig and Republican, purchased the material of the office and reestablished it in 1866.
The Wapello Republican has taken rank among the ablest papers in the state. It is a neatly printed and well-conducted sheet. Its local column bearing evidence of considerable care in the collection of local items of interest, while its editorial columns are proof of the ability of the editor, who is thoroughly conversant in the political history of the country. Soon after taking possession of the office, Mr. Meyers added largely to its stock of type and put in a job press. From time to time new material has been added so that the office is now one of the best in this section of the country. Not one issue of the paper has been missed since it came under the control of Mr. Meyers.
The only valid proofs to substantiate any of the above facts are the bound volumes of the Wapello Times which are today filed in the Auditor’s Office of the Louisa County Courthouse. The earliest is Volume VII, published by J. S. and Joe F. Beard in 1863. This proves that it was established in 1876, and remained in existence for a period of years with a change in name. When J. F. Beard retired, O. I. Jamison took over editorial control. The issue of January 6, 1885, shows the name changed to the Louisa County Times with O. I. and M. J. Jamison publishers at Columbus Junction.
George P. Neal and Philips were listed as publishers and proprietors in the issue of January 6, 1886.
This is our first appearance before the people of the county as managers of the Times, having bought the Paper of O. l. and M. J. Jamison. The paper will continue to be an exponent of pure democracy of the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian type. We felicitate ourselves in having such high-toned and honorable gentlemen managing the opposition press of the county. Our relations with the Senior Editor of the Safeguard have been in the past of the most happy character, and in spite of all political differences, we confess that we esteem him above all; this on account of close intimacy in the past. With the others we have also enjoyed the most friendly relations.
“ With this issue of the paper, Mr. Phlips retires. All bills against the firm of Neal and Philips will be settle by G. P. Neal.” The next issue quoted G. P. and M. C. Neal as publishes and proprietors.
The first volume of the Louisa County Democrat on file today is the fourth, published in 1896, by Clint L. Price, Volume VII, beginning January 5, 1899, is the only other one available. Price was still publisher with subscription rates listed as $ 1.50 for one year. From these two volumes it can be surmised that the date of establishment was sometime in the year 1892. This may have been a continuation of the Union Democrat which was edited by Julius Taylor during the years following 1870.
The Wapello Tribune was established as a six column paper by the Tribune Company. J. B. Wilson, Ed., and R. L. Bailey, Ass’t Ed. The first… … publication was January 7, 1898, with the price of a year’s subscription being $ 1.50. Wilson sold out to Reiley soon after the turn of the century. Sometime between 1908 and 1912, the Tribune was purchased by J. S. Bigger who published the last issue on November 15, 1923.
“The Wapello Republican today is the successor and consolidation of every newspaper ever printed in Wapello since 1859, the date of its establishment.” It is the oldest weekly in the State of Iowa, ad is one of 33 papers in the State established before the Civil War and still circulating.
The first edition was published by J. M. Edwards and since that time has been the county’s leading newspaper. Soon after the Republican was established, the Intelligencer died. The Republican was formerly the Burris City Commercial which was moved to Wapello in 1857. Other sources say that the Burris City Commercial and the Wapello Intelligencer consolidated under the name of the Republican with L. P. Wells in control until 1862, when Jenkins and Barr entered the journalism field again. Barr bought out Jenkins and published the paper until June 1865, with John Hale, who had been county clerk for a number of years serving as editor.
Under his guidance, the Republican became the most “radical, redhot Republican newspaper ever published in the state” with some 200 copies being mailed to members of the Union army with Hale paying postage out of his pocket.
Due to sickness, Barr sold out in a Dr. B. E. Jones, county physician and judge, of Grandview. Shortly after, for the same reason, Jones leased the plant to L. W. Meyers of New Boston, Illinois. Just before Jones’ death, Meyers bought the plant and improved the paper to one of the best in the state. He continued to publish it until he was appointed vice consul to Victoria, B. D. by President Harrison, in 1892. The paper then went under the guidance of J. B. Wilson, a well known and successful Wapello attorney, who ran the plant for two years before selling out to Charles M. Wright.
In 1884, The Record, established in 1870, and the Republican, established in 1859, consolidated under the name of the Record-Republican. Page 2 about the History of the Press – Continued
For more than seven years our best efforts have been given to the newspaper work, having taken it up from a collapsed and ruined condition without a single subscriber or a cent of advertising patronage, and built the paper up until it is by far the best, most influential and most widely circulated paper in the county.
With this proclamation, Wright sold out to R. B. Hawkins who was then publishing the Morning Sun Times.
Between 1850 and 1912, Wapello had possessed nine different papers with three papers in circulation at a time on three occasions. One of these, with the exception of the Tribune, J. D. Barr had been connected with every paper which was published in Wapello between 1850 and 1896, that identified itself politically as Republican.
September 17, 1896, marked the date of the first publication of the Wapello Republican by Mr. Hawkins. In 1921, he formed a partnership with his son. On November 22, 1923, the Republican headlines read, “ REPUBLICAN AND TRIBUNE MERGED – CONSOLIDATION IS FOR RBEST INTEREST OF ALL.” The Wapello Tribune had been purchased by R. G. Hawkins. In 1937, he leased the paper to his son, who upon the death of his father in 1941, purchased all stock from his sisters and became sole owner.
The Republican remained in the Hawkins family for 51 years until Blaine sold out in 1947 to Kenneth C. Wells, a republican, who only published it for a few months. With the August 21, 1947 issue, the paper was enlarged to seven columns.
Soon after that Mark Green became editor and publisher and made many improvements in the printing plant and newspaper. For one week, while a new press was being assembled in the plant, the paper was printed at Tipton, Iowa.
Green was publisher until February 1, 1954, when he sold out in to the Louisa publishing Company with James L. Hodges and H. Frank Lunsford, owners. They remained partners until October 1959, when Hodges bought Lunsford’s interest. On October 5, 1963, the plant moved its offices and production facilities from the Oddfellows building in downtown Wapello to a new Haydite block building on Highway 61. The building, 50” x 70”, gave the firm 36000 ft. of working space compared to the 2150 sq. ft. at the old location.
It was planned as a printing plant and layout of machinery was drawn up at the same time the plans were made to facilitate ease of publishing production.
The move of all the heavy equipment which included a press weighing 13 tons, was accomplished by the plant employees with the expert help of a Corry Machine and Tool Co. of Bonaparte, Iowa.
The plant changeover to a web offset press and becoming one of the pioneer central plants in southeast Iowa was a major event.
In 1965 an addition was added. This switch required another addition to make room for the press.
Since the plant uses over one boxcar load of newsprint in approximately two weeks, storage was needed to accept delivery of the truckloads of paper.
On March 19, 1970, Louisa Publishing installed a computer which takes coded punched tape which is produced on a machine much like a typewriter, reads the codes, then photographically prints these on a paper ready to be pasted up and become a part of what you are now reading.
This computer decides how much spacing to use, decides where to hyphenate a word when it comes to the end of a line.
In September of 1971, two additional units were added to the present web fed offset press, making it the largest and fastest in the area.
In May 1972, Louisa Publishing Co., Ltd. Announced the purchase of the Des Moines County News, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hal Connor and published at West Burlington, Iowa effective June 15, 1972.
Construction of a 25 x 25 foot addition to the Louisa Publishing Co. Ltd. Was completed in March of 1973. This squared out the building after the same size addition was put on in 1971 to house to units of the web offset press. The building is used for storage and holds one and one-half cars of storage.
The Richland Plainsman, Richland, Iowa was started in 1975. In 1976 a Cheshire Listing machine and addresser was added to the equipment in the circulation department. The new machine will print 10,000 labels an hour.
On November 16, 1978, the Morning Sun News Herald was added to the list of weeklies owned by Louisa Publishing.
In June 1979 the Richland Clarion and the Brighton Enterprise located at Packwood, Iowa were purchased. They are consolidated with the Richland Plainsman.
To facilitate the process of copy for the newspaper, several MDT’s were purchased, with units at the Wapello office, Des Moines Co. News office and the Richland office. Copy is set at the three offices and transmitted over the telephone to Wapello where it is processed for print. The terminals allow each typist to edit and correct material before it is prepared for print.
Photo of a MDT
Photo of Louisa Publishing Co. Ltd.
Photo of the Press