THE NEWSPAPERS OF THE COUNTY
For many years after the organization of
there was no newspaper published with in its borders. The
citizens were nearly all subscribers to papers published at
the former homes, and many of them were readers of the Iowa
State Register, the Burlington Hawkeye, which was
depended upon for the latest news, the Council Bluffs
Nonpareil and the Bugle of the same city, while the
St. Louis, Chicago and St. Joseph newspapers also had patrons
at every post office. The only
representative the county had in Newspaperdom was the Corning
Sentinel, a newspaper published at Corning, Adams
county, by D. N. Smith and edited by the inimitable genius, L.
Raguet. The Sentinel was established in 1858 or 1859. It
contained a column devoted to interests,
which was filled with correspondence from Frankfort and other
points in this county. It required the united support of the
citizens of Adams and Montgomery counties to enable the
Sentinel to stand at its post, but despite the favor with
which it met -- attributable in great part to the sparkling
wit -- and brilliant humor of its irrepressible Democratic
editor it eventually gave up the ghost. Mr. J. B. Packard was
the Sentinel's chief contributor from this county.
The project of staring a newspaper in this county was
frequently talked of at Frankfort prior to the removal of the
county seat. At the close of the war, and a year or two
thereafter, when Red Oak Junction had become the capital f the
county, the enterprise was again discussed from time to time,
but nothing of importance done.
March 28, 1868, the first copy of a newspaper ever printed in
the county was struck at Red oak Junction. It was called
the Express. Mr. Webster Eaton was the editor and
proprietor. The paper was a seven column sheet, bright,
sparkling and newsy. It was republican in politics, and in the
presidential campaign of the first year of its
existence, supported with great warmth the ticket headed by
Grant and Colfax. It had an average weekly circulation during
its first year of about four hundred subscribers. Many
democrats of the county were its patrons, in spite of its
politics, for local and other considerations.
The first two or three numbers of the Express were printed at
Quincy, Adams county, and the press and material on which it
was there printed were afterwards used in printing it in Red
Oak. The following spring were afterwards used by some
prominent men of the county to assist Mr. Eaton in his
enterprise. Mr. R. M. Roberts rode over the county and secured
many subscriptions to the new paper, and others rendered quite
valuable assistance. The paper received something in the way
of public patronage by being awarded the publication of the
laws of the state and the proceedings of the board of
supervisors, together with the tax list and other county
Mr. Eaton continued sole editor and proprietor of the paper
until November 10, 1871, when he sold it to B. E. A. Simons.
February 20, 1872, Mr. Simons sold a half interest to W. F.
Eastman. May 15, 1872 Mr. Z. T. Fisher purchased Simons
remaining half interest , and the firm of Fisher and Eastman
continued the publication of the journal until November 15,
1872, when they sold to Joel and W. S. Mayne. Thereafter Mr.
J. Mayne was the real editor and publisher of the paper
although the firm was known as J. Mayne & Co. Mr. Mayne was an
old newspaper man. Prior to 1860 he had been editor and
proprietor of the Keosauqua Republican, at Keosauqua,
Van Buren county, and had presided over its columns for many
years. He conducted the Express until June 1, 1880, when he
sold to Hunter & Co., the latter firm being composed of W. A.
and S. C. Hunter, respectfully, father and son, formerly of
Oskaloosa. December 16, 1880, the paper passed into the hands
of its present proprietor, Mr. John M. Killets, latterly of
Bryan, Ohio, a young republican journalist of good ability,
culture and zeal. The Express is printed on a press
said to have considerable history connected with it. It
formerly printed the LaCrosse (Wisconsin) Democrat, published
by the noted, if not notorious, M. M. (Brick) Pomeroy, and was
the first power printing press ever owned by him. It was also
the first power press used in Council Bluffs.
There is an excellent job printing office connected with the
paper. The circulation of the Express is about 1,200.
Its subscription price is $1.50 per year.
Webster Eaton, the first to own and publish a paper in
, after selling out here, went to Kearney and
Lincoln, Nebraska. He engaged in the newspaper business at
Lincoln, and at other points on the State, publishing no less
than three different newspapers at the same time, but at
different places, and afterwards held a position in one of the
Federal land offices in that State. He is present residing in
New York City.
B. E. A. Simons now resides near Red Oak.
Mr. Joel Mayne, as has been stated, is an old newspaper man.
He came to Keosauqua, Van Buren county, about the year 1857,
and a short time thereafter became editor and proprietor of
the Keosauqua Republican. Mr. Mayne was a pioneer if
not a charter member of the Republican party, and has been of
great service to that party. He has never been an
office-seeker, but on one occasion, when he was a candidate
for clerk of the courts, but learned that political parties,
like republics, are often ungrateful.
THE DAILY EXPRESS
In 1872, a
daily edition to the Express was started and published
until 1873. It was a six-column sheet, and had an average
circulation of probably 300 copies.
RED OAK RECORD
The first number of the Red Oak Record was issued June 5th,
1871, by John S. Stidger, of Keosanqua, Van Buren county. Mr.
Stidger had been editor and publisher of the Keosauqua
Republican some years before the beginning of the war. He
was a captain in the third Iowa cavalry, and a brave and
gallant soldier. The citizens of Columbus, Georgia, will ever
hold him in grateful remembrance for the magnanimity and
generosity with which he treated them when provost marshal of
their city immediately after its capture by General Wilson, in
the spring of 1865. He repressed all acts of vandalism and
lawlessness, and while obliging the people to respect the
Federal authority, did not cause them to dread it.
The first office of the Record was in Evan's
building, west side of the public square, Red Oak. When first
started the paper was a seven-column folio, and was
independent in politics. It supported the Democratic ticket,
headed by Judge J. C. Knapp, of Van Buren county, for
governor, in 1871 - the editor's familiar acquaintance with
and high personal regard for the Judge doubtless influencing
the course of the paper to a considerable extent. The paper
continued its independent character politically and otherwise
until, in the fall of 1874, when it came squarely out of favor
of the principals of the Republican party, which it has ever
In the Fall of 1875, the Record was enlarged to
an eight-column paper, 26 x 40 inches, at which it is still
published. In 1876, Captain Stidger associated with him his
son, C. W. Stidger, and September 23, 1880, the firm became
Stidger Bros., Captain Stidger retiring from the field.
July 8, 1879, the first number of the Daily Record
was published. The paper was and is a folio in form,
containing six columns to the page. It is the only daily paper
now published in the county. Both the daily and the weekly
Record are printed on a power printing press, and there is
a good job printing office in connection, presided over by R.
C. Stewart, Esq. The circulation of the weekly Record is about
1,000 copies; of the daily about 225. Subscription price of
the weekly, $1.50 per year; of the daily, twenty cents per
week. The present office is on the east side of the public
RED OAK DEMOCRAT
The Red Oak Democrat was established by Wm. C.
Stigder in 1879. As its name indicates, it has always been
Democratic in its politics. Mr. Stidger had for the motto of
his paper this legend: "Democratic at all times and under all
circumstances," and the editor's choice for president of
the United States as announced at the head of his editorial
columns prior to the nomination of General Hancock in 1880,
was Samuel J. Tilden. Mr. Stidger died in August, 1880. A
biographical sketch of this gentleman will be found on another
page of this history.
September 8, 1880, Messrs. Lineham & Esser purchased the
office of the Democrat. These gentlemen were formerly
conductors of the Ackley (Iowa) Times, and Mr. Linehan
was for many years connected with the Dubuque Herald.
When first started the Democrat was a seven-column
paper, and the office was in the postoffice block, but it was
afterward enlarged to eight columns to the page, and the
office removed to Moriarity's building, north side of the
square, Red Oak. February 18, 1881, these gentlemen gave up
the struggle, suspended publication of the Democrat,
said the material of the office was for sale, and that
henceforth they should work with the Republican party. Their
valedictory made quite a sensation in Red Oak at the time.
The first Democratic paper in the county was the New Era,
which was established at Red Oak in february, 1786, by Captain
H. M. Hall. In the fall of 1877, it was consolidated with the
THE PEOPLE'S TELEPHONE
September 7, 1877, the first number
of the People's Telephone was issued. Mr. G.
Dennis was the editor and proprietor of the paper. It was to
advocate the principals of the then new national greenback
labor party, and right well has it performed its work. The
nomenclature of newspapers has always been more fanciful than
appropriate. Very slow going journals are frequently called
"Express," "Telegraph," and other names indicating
celerity and briskness, while many another paper is christened
the "Statesman," though why no person is ever able to
Mr. Dennis chose to call his paper the Telephone, after
the new instrument which had just then been invented and
brought into successful use.
The first office was on the northeast corner of the northwest
corner of the public square. The paper was an eight column
sheet when first established. It rapidly came into favor with
the members of the greenback party throughout southwestern
Iowa generally, and attained a considerable circulation in
other counties. It was ably and vigorously edited and well
In the spring of 1879, Capt. H. M. Hall, an old printer and
practical newspaper man, became a partner with Mr. Dennis. The
paper had been enlarged to a nine column sheet the previous
February. December 3, 1879, the paper was sold to Capt. N. W.
Cook, formerly of Bloomfield, Davis county, and a gallant
officer of the 3d Iowa cavalry in the war for the Union. His
paper purports to have a circulation of 1,200 copies, at a
subscription price of $1.50 per annum. An excellent job
printing office is run in connection. Early in February, 1881,
in the case of Hall and Dennis vs. Cook, before the circuit
court, the petition of the plaintiffs that a receiver be
appointed to sell the Telephone newspaper was granted.
R. M. Roberts Esq., was appointed receiver and was instructed
to continue the publication of the paper until the June
session of the court, if not sold before.
A paper called the Enterprise was started at
Elliott, in Sherman township, By O. C. Bates, a short time
before the election in 1880. It was printed for two months;
then was printed for two months at the Record office,
in Red Oak, but is now not published.
NEWSPAPERS AT VILLISCA
The first paper published here was by a company of citizens
consisting of Dr. F. Cooper, G. H. Pulver, John Patten, Joseph
Mann and L. N. Gordon. It seems to have been some sort of a
private or personal affair. Name and date of the paper were
not obtained; it is said only two numbers were issued.
The Villisca Journal was started in the spring
of 1869, by W. T. Sherman, editor and proprietor; politics,
republican. It kept up about eighteen months , then died and
went to newspaper heaven.
A seven-column paper called the Villisca Enterprise, was
started by T. F. Willis; he issued two numbers, with the
following notice attached for those to whom he sent copies of
"If any objection, return the paper
and state reasons why."
It is told that the papers were all returned, with all sorts
of serio-comic "reasons why" written on the margins. The poor
editor wilted. The date of those papers was not obtained.
The The Weekly Iowa Mercury was started July
14th, 1871; it was a six-column paper, and both sides were
printed at home, which was a point of special pride with the
publisher, as much the greater portion of county newspapers
are what is called "auxillary sheets" - that is, one side of
it printed at Des Moines, or Chicago, or Omaha, or Kansas
City, or some other place, where one side of more than a
hundred different county papers are all printed from the same
type, the sheets thus half printed being furnished to the
country editor about as cheap as he could buy the raw white
paper. This system has its advantages and it has its evils;
the historian states the fact, but does not discuss or state
which way is the better way. The Mercury appears to
have been a company enterprise, for the name of Thomas S.
Kames stands as editor and manager, and six numbers were
issued as a six-column paper, then it was enlarged to a
On the 25th of August, 1871, Wm. E. Loy bought out the company
and conducted the paper until March 7, 1872, calling it
independent in politics.
At the last date above mentioned the name was changed to
Villisca Review, it was still "independent," and a
seven-column sheet; but August 1, 1871, it was enlarged to
eight-column size. From April, 1874, till September, 1875, Mr.
H. G. Thurman was the editor; he made it a republican paper
and it has continued so ever since. In September, 1875, Mr. C.
K. Kennedy took charge of it as editor and proprietor.
November 15, 1877, Mr. A. E. Powers bought a one-half interest
in the paper, and since that time it has been conducted under
the firm name of Powers & Kennedy. The Review is a
staunch advocate of the interests, prosperity, morality and
home news of Villisca and all the region round about. Terms
$1.50 per year.
The Villisca, , Independent was established
by its present editor, H. K. Gregory, in 1879. It is an eight
page, six-column quarto, 30 x 44; is Republican in politics,
and is devoted more especially to the interests of farmers.
The office is supplied with a large power printing press, and
has excellent jobbing facilities.