Mills County, Iowa

The County Press


      There is no power that deserves to take so prominent a position in a community or country as the press. It occupies a position far over that of any other, the clergy not expected. This circumstance arises not from any deterioration of the clergy themselves, but chiefly from the general infusion of knowledge among all classes. We do not look to the clergy for superiority of erudition; the scientists, the philologist, the historian all come in for a share of respect for their learning. Once the distinction between the clergy and the laity meant something; it means very little today. When only those who could read or write belonged to the church, each member was called a clerk, or clericus, or clergyman. But the clergy of today are not those who preach from the pulpit once a week, but those as well who preach from the editor's chair. As James Freeman Clarke, remarks, the editor has as much right to put "reverend" before his name as the preacher has. The editor wields a mightier weapon than any clergyman can. He influences the public mind for good or evil daily and the Sunday paper has snatched from the pulpit its ancient power, its traditional prerogative. Instead of dealing with questions, the very nature of which renders them unknowable, and therefore impracticable, the editor comes to our door with the live issues of today.

      The latest, the best, the most valuable of the thoughts and doings of men all over the globe reaches us every morning to sway our passions, enlist our sympathy, or arouse us to duty. Nor is this the sole prerogative of the city dailies, but that also of the country weekly newspaper. These latter come to homes of toil, homes where the busy cares of life absorb so great a portion of the time that all but the weekly visitant remains necessarily unread. The power of the type is felt in such hours, felt as no minister's sermons ever are.

      The newspaper is the poor man's library. It comes to him almost the sole exponent of national policy, and the source of his ideas of political economy. Moral lessons are conveyed, lessons which, if heeded, would lead the race of men to a higher moral life. Religion, the passing influence of an hour, has no claim on the press, which, if not directly by its records of disaster and death, point out the causes of evil as no purely mental or abstract theories of wrong ever can. Probably there is nothing that so soon arouses a nation to a sense of its danger, points out the remedy for public deterioration, and leads men to consider the causes of things as the paper. When the national existence as a union of all the states was threatened, it found its way to the homes of brave men who promptly responded to the demand for aid made known to them by the press. But it also brought the glad news of peace. If its uttererances sometimes seem dark and ominous, it is none the less often cheerful in its aspect on current events. Business without it would be impossible. Changes in prices occur which involve millions, but are known in time to avert impending disaster. On a question of great moment to the to the nation, long and sometimes angry debate is had, but the news thereof appears in the next morning’s paper; and men are, in a measure, prepared for any issue. So to it let its meed of praise be given, and let its support be equal to its importance.

      The first paper published in this county bears the date of Thursday, May 1, 1856, and was duly baptized into the world of newspapers under the name of The Glenwood Times. The first paper ever printed is still in existence, and is the property of Mrs. J. W. Coolidge. It is full of typo-graphical errors, as the second paper printed was used for purposes of correction. On page three the editorial page, appears the prospectus from which the following is taken:

“Experience having taught us that nothing tends more to promote and advance the welfare and interest of a county than a well conducted newspaper, and feeling confident that the interests of southwestern Iowa demand the publication of a reliable news journal—one that the businessman, mechanic and farmer can rely upon—one that will be useful as a family paper — we have undertaken to furnish such a paper. The Times will contain a variety of news of a local and general character, presenting it readers at all times with reliable information relative to the prosperity and growth of Western Iowa and Nebraska, a faithful chronicle of the events of the nation, and a correct journal of foreign news.

      “We ask the kind indulgence of such of our patrons as this number may not prove acceptable to, as this is our first essay in the editoria1 department. We promise to make amends in the future for whatever failings there may be.”

      The paper was a seven column folio, and presented rather a neat appearance when fresh from the press. It was edited by J. M. Dews, and for its motto there was adopted “ with all your getting, get understanding." The first article is a poem entitled “An Invocation to Spring,” by Richard Coe, which is here transcribed as being appropriate to the date of the paper in which it was printed, and presenting the additional interest of having been the first poem printed in the county:

Spring! Beautiful Spring!
Come to this desolate dreary world of ours,
Come with thy breath of balm, thy gift of flowers,
Thy gentle birds that sing
In sunny bowers;
Come with thy gladsome hours;
Spring! Beautiful Spring!
Earth is aweary of the Wintry sleep,
And longs to waken into life again;
To see the budding vines and graces creep
Along the cheerful plain;
For thou wilt bring
0! Beautiful Spring!
These and like beauties in thy train!
Come with thy children three—
The stormy April that weepeth all the day,
The fickle April, and the flowery May—
Oh! ‘twere a happiness to see
Far up on high,
Thy clear blue sky,
Like a bright, beauteous, and eternal thing, Spring! Beautiful Spring!
What time the primrose with a keen delight,
Comes peeping upward from the fallow ground;
What time the swallow in his rapid flight
About the barn door circleth round and round; I love to walk abroad and trace
On Nature’s face
The gladness of thy coming, and to sing
With bird, and flower, and bee,
Sweet praises unto thee,
Spring! Beautiful Spring!
Come, then, sweet Spring!
Come to this desolate, dreary world of ours;
Come with thy breath of balm, thy gift of flowers;
Thy gentle birds that sing
In sunny bowers!
Come with thy gladsome hours,
0! Beautiful spring!
And bring, ay, bring anear,
Sweet childhood of the year,
Joy, health and freshness on thy dewy wing
Spring! Beautiful Spring!

      Among the other principal contents of the paper are “Adventure at a French Party,” “The Minister and the Fiddle,” “From Ft. Pierre-Sioux Treaty,” “On Pruning Fruit-trees,” “Debate on the Memorial in the Senate,” which latter article occupies some three and a quarter columns. The matter at issue pertained to some territorial affairs in Kansas and the discussion was one both fiery and exhaustive. On the same page is an article on “Mr. Jefferson and his Daughter,” which contains a letter from the president to that lady that would be read with marked interest to-day. On the editorial page is a graphic account of the death of Crockett, who died as few men have ever died, his body riddled with musket balls, and drenched with his own blood. “In the agony of death, with a terrible grasp, he brought his last weapon upon the head of the nearest assailant, and fell victoriously across his body into the arms of death.” There is also a brief history of Page county, and a view of the business of Glenwood. A single death is recorded—that of William Brower, who died of consumption. The columns are filled with shorter notes, some humorous and some complaining. A letter, signed by “Unknown,” calls the attention of the citizens of the county to The Times as being an enterprise in which they ought all to be interested and to which they should give united support. There are the usual number of medicines—” never known to fail “—advertised, and the business cards of lawyers, physicians and merchants. In the advertising columns of the third page occurs a notice, which it is deemed best to transcribe:


“An Exhibition of the Massacre of Joseph and Hiram Smith, at Carthage jail, Hancock county, Illinois, at the Court House in Glenwood on Saturday evening, May 3d, 1856. Also the Nauvoo Legion listening to the last speech of Gen. Joseph Smith. Also a review of Great Salt Lake City, accompanied by busts of Joseph and Hiram Smith, and also the twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints; together with a number of rare and curious specimens, by “FRANCIS BROWN.”

On the second page is given an account of a meeting relative to the swamp lands, held in the courthouse by the citizens of the county, on the 23d of April, “to protect the citizens and county, on the against the incursions of foreign speculators upon the swamp land domain of Mills County," That the men convened were decided to stop the abuse complained of is evident from the third resolution which was reported and adopted as follows:

Resolved, That we call upon all the citizens of our county to stand up en masse in opposition to the grevious wrong which is sought to be enforced against this county and its citizens, and that if law and justice will not prevail, and protect that which law has given, then humble submission ceases to be a virtue, and our rights we will have, cost what it may.”

A further resolution was adopted to “withdraw or be advised to withdraw all dealings with, and patronage of any man who has infringed or may hereafter attempt to infringe upon the bona fide pre-emptor or the rights of any citizen to and in the swamp lands of the county.”

The politics of the paper was democratic. The Times was published for little more than a year when it ceased to exist.

The Times was followed by The Thought “devoted to progress in agriculture, science, politics and literature.” It was owned and published by L. Shields, and edited by J. L. Sharp. It adopted for a motto “Pierce out Our Imperfections with Your Thoughts.” Number one, of volume one, appeared July 24, 1856, and like its predecessor was a seven column folio. It was democratic in politics, and a large portion of the first page of the first issue was devoted to the proceedings of the democratic state convention, held at Iowa City, June 24, 1856, and to the democratic congressional convention, held at Ottumwa, June 30, 1856. Other subjects on this page are, “A Fortunate Kiss,” “A Key to British Philanthropy,” “Great Excitement in Gentry County,” this last article being an extract from the St. Jo. Journal under the head of “Mobocracy Triumphant,” the main point in the article being the taking of a prisoner from the hands of civil officers and hung. The last page is devoted to “British Outrages,” a circular relative to the establishment of the State Agricultural College, a few brief sensational articles and local advertisements. On the second page occurs the obituary of Isaac Tyson, a young man, aged twenty-three, and the victim of consumption. An anonymous contribution signed by Fidus, gives the readers an insight into the natural advantages of Mills county.

The second paper to be established was the Union, under the editorial management of J. R. Tyson. The paper had a short life and then passed into the hands of other parties. The editor, J. L. Sharp, opened the editorial page with a statement of the aims and plans of the paper. Among other things he said:

“The Thought will be devoted chiefly to the dissemination of correct information relative to this region of our common country, and of each particular town, city, county and neighborhood upon either side of the great Missouri valley, in its middle division. To accomplish this we will, at no distant day, have secured the services of reliable correspondents in each particular locality.

“We shall condemn whatever we believe to be wrong among men, in religion, morals, society or politics, and approve the right, and will denounce all dereliction of duty, in national, state or county officers, especially those in high places who so far forget their duty as to offer to give or take a bribe in any shape.

“In politics we are Democratic; that political association, in our opinion being nearest the right thing, we co-operate with them. But while we are this, we shall not feel at liberty to dictate to our fellows what shall be their political faith, but will at all times fully concede to them the same privilege claimed for ourself,—the choice of their own political associates; may respect the man while we condemn the principles of his party, and will, at all times, be ready to assign a reason for the ‘hope that is in us.’"

Other articles to claim the attention of the reader on this page are, “Our Purpose,” “ Honesty in Politics,” “Party of Principles,” “Arrival of the Salt Lake Mail,” under which last caption it is stated that the trip bringing that mail was made in nineteen days, notwithstanding the “roads were in a terrible condition." The third page is devoted almost solely to advertisements and legal notices. The Thought was finally abandoned, for the reasons which caused a like proceeding with reference to the Times.

The Opinion may be properly called the first permanent newspaper of Mills County. Prior to its first issue, several attempts had been made to establish a newspaper in the county, but they resulted in failures, as has been seen. April 16, 1864, Thomas Paxton Ballard commenced the publication of a five--column folio paper, modestly headed "Our Opinion." The Hon. Wm. Hale was its first political and general editor, assuming the duties of the position on the the 6th of August, 1864, and continuing until April 1, 1865. At the commencement of the second volume the paper was enlarged to a six column folio, having during its first year assumed the name it now bears "Glenwood Weekly Opinion" Mr. John R. Huffman became a partner at this time, but retained his interest only a short time, when he disposed of it to the Hon. John Y. Stone, who assumed the editorial duties, and continued as editor and manager until June 15, 1867, when John T. Duepree purchased Mr. Stone's interest. November 9, 1847, Mr. Deupree sold it to one A. E. Clarendon, , and with No. 49 of volume four, Mr. Clarendon's name appears as editor, and the paper is enlarged to seven columns. With No. 5 of volume five, F.P. Morgan and E.D. Lunt, the latter at present editor and proprietor of the Perry Pilo, appear to be owners, and continue to be until February 5, 1870, when Mr. Ballard purchased the interest of Mr. Lunt. November 12, 1870, the paper was enlarged to eight columns, its present size. March 11, 1871, Mr. Morgan disposed of his interest to the "Opinion Printing Company," who own it at this time. Since the date last mentioned the editorial chair has been occupied successively by W.P. Robinson, Thomas L. Stephens, Fred Harris, and C.M. Shultz, the later retiring in October, 1877. That interval to January 1, 1878, was filled by W.P. Robinson. From that date the present editor, Mr. Charles A. Croney , has edited and managed the paper. The Opinion is now, and has been since its first issue, an unwavering of the principles of the republican party. It is the leading paper of the county, and has established a reputation as one of the few leading papers of the eighth congressional district. From a feeble beginning it has reached the proud position of being one of the most complete county newspapers in all that constitutes a first-class job and newspaper office. It has made a home of warm, personal friends during its career, and perhaps many enemies, in a political way, but has aimed always to be fair towards its opponents while it dealt them sturdy blows. In the matter of caring for the interests of the whole people, its policy has been to advocate that which has seemed best for the whole county, regardless of locality, and pursuing steadily this course it has come to be looked upon by all the people as their paper. Its family of readers is large, many of them having been conscientious readers of it from the first issue.

This is a new enterprise and not yet beyond the stages of infancy. The first issue bears the date of March 20, 1879, and was edited by H.C. Ayrnes, the proprietor and publisher. In politics it is devoted as the principles of that national greenback party, of which it is an able and fearless exponent.

This paper was started in the fall of 1869, by H.A. and William Copeland, at Malvern. H. A. Copeland was its editor and publisher until July 14, 1876, when it was taken to Emerson and the name changed to The Emerson Chronicle. It was conducted by Fred Boehner, then a mere boy of fourteen years of age, from the time of its removal to Emerson until May 16, 1879, when Woods & Hall became the publishers and proprietors. On the first of March, 1886, it then passed into the hands of A.G. Parrish, the present publisher. The Chronicle is republican in politics, and devoted to the interests of the party it has opposed. It is a six-column quarto, and the largest paper published in the county. It has considerable influence, and takes a high rank amongst the papers of the county, being devoted to the various interests thereof, and a ready supporter and exponent of any measure promising to aid the material interests.

This paper succeeded The Mills County Chronicle when, in 1876, the latter was removed to Emerson. It was established in the same year that its predecessor was moved, by a joint stock company, and edited by Robert Aiton. It has changed owners several times. In 1880 it was consolidated with The Leader. The last paper was established in September, 1875, by H.G. Rising, who published it until the following year. It then passed into the hands of J.J. Morris, who continued to publish it until November, of 1880, when the consolidation mentioned was perfected. The title under which it now appears is the Republican-Leader, and managed by Messrs. Parrish & Morris, who continued to publish it until November, of 1880, when the consolidation mentioned was perfected. The title under which it now appears is The Republican-Leader, and managed by Messrs. Parrish & Morris. Its politics are indicated by its name was established in 1872, the first number going to press July 31, of that year. The editor and proprietor was C. W. Sherman, who has since been actively connected with the paper. When started, the country was engaged in the memorable presidential campaign of that year, and it became necessary for the paper to take a decided stand upon the topics of current political interests. This it did, its politics being liberal-democratic and into the canvass the paper entered honestly and heartily. The campaign following, the paper advocated the anti-monopoly movement, which was successful in this county by a majority of more than two hundred, and in which the paper wielded a deserved influence. In 18T4 a half interest in the paper was sold to S. W. Harmon, but a year afterwards was repurchased by Mr. Sherman. In 1876 Mr. John R. Howard became associated in the conduct of the paper, but retired a year afterwards. In that year The Journal supported the candidacy of Samuel J. Tilden for president, and has since been an ardent supporter of the democratic nominees, though thoroughly and completely independent in its expressions of opinion with regard to public and party policy. The paper was started as a twenty eight column folio, but was enlarged several years ago, to thirty-two columns. In November last the enterprising editor began the publication of a daily edition of The Journal, containing sixteen columns, and has thus far been successful in his venture. The prospects of the daily are very encouraging, and with its prosperity comes constant improvement. The Weekly Journal is now in its ninth year of publication; and the list advertisers and patrons proves it to be a paper of considerable influence. It is racy and rich at times, and always replete with the latest news. It steadily advocates all matters of public interest, and to it not a little of the prosperity of the county, in its later years, is due.

Edited by J. D. Morris and E. B. Parrish, was established December 4, 1880. It is the youngest paper in the county, but growing wonderfully in favor and influence. In politics it is independent, and in all matters of public interest on the right side and outspoken. It is a four page, eight column sheet; and perhaps is the freshest and newsiest paper in the county. The names of its editors are a sufficient guarantee of ultimate and enduring success.

~ source: History of Mills County 1881
~ Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner

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Page updated on January 9, 2022 by Karyn Techau