HISTORY and DIRECTORY
Pages 41 - 48 submitted by Kitty Root, January 8, 2010
THE PRESS OF MUSCATINE.
ITS HISTORY FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FIRST PAPER
IN 1840 TO THE ERA OF STEAM PRINTING IN 1875
[From the MUSCATINE JOURNAL, April 21, 1875]
The Press, so potent in its influence on society and so valuable as an auxiliary to the material prosperity of a community, followed close upon the steps of the early pioneers to Muscatine county. The first newspaper published here was the IOWA STANDARD. It was issued by Crum & Bailey, on the 23d of October, 1840. Early the next year the STANDARD was removed to Iowa City, which was then assuming prominence as the Capital of the State.
One week after the appearance of the STANDARD, the first number of the Bloomington HERALD was issued by Hughes & Russell. This paper was a permanent fixture, having been, as the reader will soon see, the progenitor of the Muscatine JOURNAL of 1875. The controlling spirit of the HERALD was John Russell. He was a jolly, good-natured man, caring for scarcely anything but a living support for his paper and to have a good time generally. His paper contained very little original matter besides occasional notices of a sleighing party or a dance, in which the editor figured with his “colo-red whiskers,” as he was wont to designate his facial ornamentation. No attempt was made to discuss the issues of the day, and very little effort to “write up the town” so as to invite immigration. The HERALD, however, was a fair specimen of the newspapers of the day. A story on the first page, a few jokes and a scrap of poetry on the fourth page, with a small number of local items, thanks to steamboat clerks for late St. Louis papers, and a few items of general news on the inside. The paper was issued weekly only, and was very small, having but six columns to the page.
Mr. Hughes seems to have been of a quiet, retired nature, as we hear but little about him. In 1845 Mr. Russell disposed of his interest in the HERALD to Dr. Charles O. Waters, who, with Mr. Hughes, conducted the paper about a year, Dr. Waters being editor. Under his management the tone and contents of the paper were improved, the Doctor being scholarly and a good writer.
In 1846, M. T. Emerson, a printer, and a man of noble nature and good judgment, had charge of the HERALD for a few months. Death ended his career and his connection with the paper at the same time. The HERALD had been Democratic in politics, but Mr. Emerson changed it to Whig, and it was never more an organ of Democracy.
The next owners of the HERALD were N. L. Stout and Wm. P. Israel. Mr. Stout was editor and Mr. Israel the printer. They conducted the paper from 1846 to 1848. Mr. Stout delighted in political polemics, and the way he each week annihilated “Granny Ritchie,” as he called the editor of the Richmond (Va.) WHIG, was a caution to all antiquarians. Whether Mr. Ritchie ever deigned to reply or even saw these phillipics, deponent knoweth not. Mr. Stout was a writer of no ordinary ability, and was a strong abolitionist, which is much to his credit when it is remembered that in those days it required great courage for one to avow himself in favor of the abolition of slavery.
During the administration of Stout & Israel—i.e., in November, 1847—the writer of this, then a raw stripling of 13 years, entered their office as an apprentice. He will never cease to be grateful for the kindness and consideration shown to him by the publishers of the HERALD, and especially by Mr. Stout, of whose family he was for some time a member.
In the winter of 1848-9, F. A. C. Foreman came from New Boston, Ill., (where he had published a paper with the singular name of BROADHORN,) and took possession of the HERALD. Whisky was too much for Foreman. Notwithstanding the helpfulness of his uncomplaining wife, who set type by his side all day long (often at the same time rocking the baby in a cradle under the case), and then performed her household duties morning and evening while he was snoozing in drunken stupor, he was obliged to succumb to financial fate in about four months.
The HERALD was then suspended, but in about six months Noah M. McCormick came from St. Louis, purchased the office and revived the paper, calling it the MUSCATINE JOURNAL. Mr. McCormick was a fair business man, but a poor and pointless writer. Nevertheless he managed to do better financially than any of his predecessors. Still he found it necessary to sell out in July, 1852, to Jacob Mahin and John Mahin, father and son, who conducted the paper jointly till September, 1853, when they took in Orion Clemens (brother of “Mark Twain”) as a partner, the style of the firm being Mahin & Clemens. In June, 1854, they commenced the Tri-Weekly edition of the JOURNAL. Mr. Clemens was a good printer, an entertaining, sensible writer, and an upright, conscientious man. This partnership lasted till January, 1855, when J. Mahin & Son sold out to Charles H. Wilson, and the style of the firm was Clemens & Wilson. During their administration—in June, 1855—the first number of the DAILY JOURNAL was issued.
The same year, Mr. Clemens sold his interest to James W. Logan. Logan & Wilson conducted the paper till January, 1856, when D. S. Early bought out Mr. Wilson. The same year Mr. Early’s interest was purchased by John Mihin and F. B. McGill. Logan, Mahin & McGill conducted the paper till August, 1857, when John Mahin assumed sole charge of it and continued to manage it without change of proprietor till January, 1866, when L. D. Ingersoll purchased a half interest and took the chair editorial. Mr. Ingersoll’s connection ceased in 1868, when James Mahin took a proprietary interest with his brother John, and the style of the firm has been Mahin Brothers up to the present time.
Of those who have thus far been mentioned as connected with the HERALD and the JOURNAL further brief notice should be made. John Russell died of cholera at Keokuk in 1850. Thos. Hughes removed to Iowa City many years ago. Dr. C. O. Waters is living in Chicago. N. L. Stout died in Kansas eight or ten years ago. Wm. P Israel died in this place about the same time. F. A. C. Foreman died in the western part of this State a few years ago. N. M. McCormick is living in California. Jacob Mahin died in Missouri two years ago. Orion Clemens is living near Keokuk, Charles H. Wilson at Washington, in this State, and J. W. Logan at Waterloo. D. S. Early returned to Pennsylvania and L. D. Ingersoll to Washington, D. C.
Several persons have been engaged as writers on the JOURNAL whose names have not appeared in the foregoing historical account. One of these was Hugh J. Campbell, now a prominent politician of New Orleans, who, during the years of 1860 and 1861, contributed largely to the editorial columns of the paper. As a writer he was methodical, concise and as clear and sharp as an atmosphere of frost in December. The same may be said of W. F. Davis, now dead, who was associate editor of the JOURNAL in the campaign of 1864. Geo. W. Van Horne, now editor of the TRIBUNE, was employed editorially on the JOURNAL a short time in the campaign of 1860; also a few weeks in 1868. As a writer, Mr. Van Horne is one of the best who has ever been connected with the press of Muscatine, being scholarly and well-informed, having a graceful, easy expression, and a gossipy, pleasing style of composition.
In the earlier, struggling days of the JOURNAL, Judge J. Scott Richman wrote a few strong and sensible articles which appeared as editorial. The most noted and vigorous editorial writer on the JOURNAL was L. D. Ingersoll, the “Linkensale” of the Iowa Press, who has been well described as “rich, racy, piquant and original, with a dash of literary dogmatism and pugnacity in his disposition.”
The JOURNAL has had several spicy local editors. Among these were F. B. McGill, E. O. Upham, Frank Eichelberger, T. W. Eichelberger, D. A. Prosser, E. F. Richman, O. G. Jack and Frank Mahin, whose connection with it, nearly in the order here enumerated, covers a period of almost twenty year.
Regarding him who has longest been connected with the JOURNAL the following is all that need be here stated. It is from a book written by J. M. Dixon, the blind editor, called the “Valley and the Shadow,” published in 1868 by Russell Bros., of New York, and is part of the chapter devoted to Iowa Journalism:
I remember when I first became acquainted with the outlook of professional life in the West, that I saw the name of John Mahin in connection with the editorial page of the Muscatine JOURNAL. Although I was unable to discover any actual superiority in that paper, I soon began to feel an admiration for the patient industry and general judiciousness of clippings and editorials which were always visible on investigation. Mr. Mahin never took kindly nor easily to the drudgery of composition. He was never troubled with that literary malady—cacoethes scribendi—which has assailed so many thousands of my fellow-beings.
Having now traced the history of the JOURNAL down to the present day, we will revert to that of its contemporaries.
The DEMOCRATIC ENQUIRER was started in July, 1848, by H. D. LaCossitt, who remained connected with it (excepting a six months’ administration by W. B. Langridge in 1853) until 1854. It was then purchased by Jerome Carskaddan and T. Meason Williams, who gave way in June, 1855, to Williams, Gibson & Co., the senior member of the firm being Robert Williams, present Police Judge. In January, 1856, Daniel S. Biles and E. W. Clark took charge of the ENQUIRER. Mr. Clark retired in a few months and was succeeded by Samuel McNutt as sole editor of the paper. Mr. McNutt’s connection ceased the same year, when Mr. Biles took charge of the paper and conducted it alone till 1860. The ENQUIRER was then suspended. John Trainer King bought the office and established the REVIEW, which he published as a daily. Edward H Thayer succeeded Mr. King in 1861 and changed the name of the paper to the CURRIER. Barnhart Bros. bought the office in 1864 and continued the publication of the COURIER (having in the meantime associated with them W. W. Witmer) till 1872.
In 1870 a third paper—theTELEGRAPH—was started by E. O. Upham and Chas. Sibley. It lasted about six months, when it was merged into the WEEKLY TRIBUNE, under the management of Geo. W. Van Horne. The next year Mr. Van Horne purchased the COURIER and consolidated it with the TRIBUNE. The paper was published as a weekly only till April, 1874, when Mr. Van Horne, having become associated in partnership with E. H. and W. C. Betts, commenced the publication of the DAILY TRIBUNE.
In 1860 a campaign paper called the MESSENGER was published by Samuel C. Dunn, who with much spirit and pertinacity supported the slim chances of Bell and Everett ass Presidential candidates. Since then several minor publications have appeared—such as the ROARIN’ RAG, issued semi-occasionally by B. F. Neidig, and which was intended for advertising his handsome and well-equipped job office, though full of humerous and miscellaneous reading. In 1872-3 Messrs Washburn & Whicher published the NEW ERA, a monthly, to advertise their real estate business and advance the interests of Muscatine generally. Mr. O. J. Jack has for a year past been publishing a monthly called the HUMMING BIRD, which is attaining deserved popularity for its literary excellence.
The German press was first represented by the ZEITUNG, established by Chas. Rotteck in 1857, but removed the following year to Keokuk. Over a year ago J. W. weippert commenced publishing the weekly DEUTSCHE-ZEITUNG, which appears to have become one of the permanent institutions of the place.
For five years past West Liberty has had a paper know as the ENTERPRISE. The CHRONICLE was established at Wilton about the sme time by Chas. Baker. It is now called the HERALD, and is published at Wilton by Mr. Rider.
The press of Muscatine county is now made up as follows:
MUSCATINE JOURNAL—Daily, Tri-Weekly and Weekly.
MUSCATINE TRIBUNE—Daily and Weekly.
WEST LIBERTY ENTERPRISE—Weekly.
The Era of Steam
The foregoing closes the history proper of Journalism, and as our Senior falls back exhausted after his effort, and helplessly resigns his hieroglyphics to the ever-present “devil,” whose cries for “copy” have made glad music (?) in his ears for more than a quarter of a century, the Junior seizes his falling goose quill and sends it gliding with fairy-like tread over the foolscap, to add a word about the latest development in progressive journalism as concerns our own paper—in other word,
OUR NEW STEAM ENGINE.
For several years past it has been one of the fondest dreams of the publishers of the JOURNAL that they might introduce steam into the economy of their office. But various circumstances prevented the realization of their hopes, chief of which was that they had no building of their own. On the purchase of their present quarters they at once began looking about for an engine. They corresponded with parties abroad and conferred with Messrs Kleinfelder & Co., of this city. At last they closed a contract with the latter for a three-horse power engine, to cost $300, including shafting,--1st, because we were desirous of encouraging home industry, and, 2d (not the lesser of the consideration, it must be said), because the bid of Kleinfelder & Co. was lower than any other establishment. It was understood that the builders were to take their time and put up a model engine, one that would in every way meet the requirements. We are happy to say that they have fi8lled their contract to the letter. Last week the engine was set up in the JOURNAL press room and is to-day in successful operation. In every respect it works to a charm, and all who have seen its easy motion,, its perfect pay and complete parts, and the admirable service it performs, are unanimous in their verdict that it is not only one of the prettiest and handsomest, but one of the most perfect pieces of machinery ever put together. No engine builders in the east could surpass it in all that belongs to skillfull workmanship and exact adjustment of the parts, and with this as a sample, had we a hundred engines to order, we should get them all at home. We can hardly realize that our large power press, which has so long responded only to the vigorous tug of a pair of brawny arms, extracting enough “sweat of the brow” every six months to run a grist mill, at last moves off like a thing of life at the very breath of a little piece of machinery, and clatters and rattles like an express train on the down grade when the spurs are applied to the little pony that propels it.
The engine is advantageous to us in more ways than one,. It enables us to run our presses at a greater speed and at much less expense. It is always ready and never tires, and by the regular motion it imparts to the press, the wear and tear of machinery is not so great.
But to come to a description of our new machine. The engine cylinder is 3 ½ inch bore, 7-inch stroke, running 150 revolutions per minute, and estimated at 3-hourse power. The shrll of the boiler is 21 inches in diameter, with 21 flues 2 inches in diameter; 20 pounds working pressure to run the counter shaft and press, and the tested working pressure 175 pounds to the square inch. Both engine and boiler have all modern appliances. Much credit in getting up the engine is due to Mr. Thos. Beesley, the foreman of the foundry, who superintended its construction and set it up. He is a first-class machinist, and, withal, one of the pleasantest gentlemen it has been our lot to deal with.
But we must not conclude this sketch without a work of tribute to our faithful old friend and long-tried press room assistant, Mr. Wm. Conway, who, for a period of nearly fourteen years, has furnished the motive power for our large press as “wheelman.” “Billy,” with that devotion characteristic of those who wear the Shamrock, has stuck by us through thick and thin—when Fortune thundered from an angry sky as well as when she spread her golden rays. We part with him reluctantly and regretfully, and though humble his station may be, we shall ever think of him with the kindliest feeling. Verily, “Othello’s occupation’s gone”—but we hope better fortune is in store for “Billy.” Selah!
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