Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 1 - Page 19, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, July 3, 2012

Brisk News Breaks Greeted Throop
First Week On Journal A Busy One

(Note – the following article was written for The Journal’s centennial edition by Frank D. Throop, publisher of The Lincoln Star, Lincoln, Neb., former managing editor and publisher of The Journal.)

By Frank D. Throop Photo ~ As a former employe of The Muscatine Journal it is with considerable gratification that I extend congratulations and best wishes for your continued success as you start the second century of your existence. It is a far cry from the old barn at the corner of Second and Walnut streets, with its old outdated equipment to the present thoroughly modern and up-to-date plant of The Muscatine Journal.

It was Sept. 1, 1901 that I took over the city desk in the old Journal office on Iowa avenue. John Mahin was the editor of the paper at the time, and while as United States post office inspector he spent considerable time on the road, nevertheless he found time to contribute many strong and powerful editorials to the paper. J. M. Beck, now of Centerville, Ia., was managing editor, but there are a few of the back office force who are still with the paper.

First Week Recalled.

I will never forget my first week on the Journal. Monday, Sept. 2 was Labor day, with a big celebration at the old fair grounds, the principal feature being some horse races, with the late former mayor R. S. McNutt as starter for the races. Tuesday morning, Sept. 3, the people of Muscatine were awakened by a terrific explosion in South Muscatine, when the boiler in the plant of the Musser Lumber Co., blew up.

Wednesday, Sept. 4 was a comparatively quiet day. Thursday night, Sept. 5, about the time the crowd gathered on the levee to see the evening packet come in from Davenport, they were surprised to see what was considered a tiny flame burst into a raging fire and the steamer burn to the boiler deck. Thousands gathered on the levee to witness the conflagration.

McKinley Assassinated.

Just as the city edition of The Journal of Friday, Sept. 6, was off the press, the startling news came over the wires of the assassination of President William McKinley at the Buffalo, N. Y., exposition. Plates were hurriedly taken off the press and an extra gotten out to tell the people of Muscatine and the surrounding country of the tragedy which had befallen the nation.

It was certainly a busy week for the new and untried city editor of The Journal. I remember distinctly that J. B. Dougherty rushed out of his drug store on East Second street and came up to the office to give me a story about how the news of Lincoln’s assassination was received in Muscatine. I remember the big memorial service held after McKinley’s death, at the Grand Opera house, which was attended by hundreds of people, and E. M. Warner, whose eloquent tongue had been heard in many public gatherings, paid eloquent tribute to the martyred president.

Few remember, possibly that the Muscatine Journal was one of the few papers to have a staff correspondent in Buffalo, N. Y., at the time of the death of President William McKinley. J. M. Beck, the managing editor, was visiting the exposition with his bride on their wedding trip, when the news came from the Milburn home in Buffalo, telling of the serious condition of the president and the fact that he would not last many hours.

Beck Sent Bulletins.

J. M. Beck of The Journal mingled with the great writers and correspondents of that day, who were on the lawn of the Milburn home. In spite of the fact that he was on his wedding trip he never forgot he was The Journal correspondent and sent us bulletins concerning the death of the president, and later the swearing in of the late Theodore Roosevelt as president of the United States.

There were many important news happenings in Muscatine during my connection with the paper from September 1901, to October 115, but that first week with all its big news breaks made an everlasting impression upon me and my introduction to the newspaper business in the Pearl City.

In those first few weeks of my connection with The Muscatine Journal I met some very forceful personalities, whose lives left a deep impression upon me. I remember distinctly the dedication of the P. M. Musser public library and the joy and pleasure which Mr. Musser received because he was able to give such a magnificent and lasting gift to the city.

I remember having several interesting interviews with the late H. J. Heinz, upon the occasion of several visits he made to the city. At one time he asked me to visit his farms with him and gave me a running interview that day, telling of his early life, modestly recounting his successes and expanding on his hopes and ambitions for the future. He was a wonderful character and I hope the people of Muscatine still appreciate how much value that splendid institution has been to the city.

Mahin Controlled Paper.

I was with The Journal during the period of its transition. The Mahin family, with all its beautiful and delightful traditions was in full control. Harold J. Mahin was business manager and “Uncle” John Mahin, as we affectionately called him, used The Journal as a vehicle for some of the most stirring editorials ever appearing in an Iowa newspaper. One of the most interesting experiences I ever had was the assistance I was able to give in the preparation of the fiftieth anniversary edition of John Mahin’s connection with the paper. We all worked like Trojans on that paper, and on those sheets can be found the most interesting and accurate history of the early life of Muscatine.

When the weight of years became too burdensome and Mr. Mahin decided to move closer to his children and live a retired life the paper then actually passed into the hands of the Lee Syndicate, of which A. W. Lee, brother-in-law of Mr. Mahin, was the founder. Mr. Lee sent in Walter L. Lane of Ottumwa to be the publisher. Mr. Lane was a man of tremendous energy and his ability and love for hard work proved to be an inspiration to the entire force. He inaugurated many innovations and sound business policies which prevail in The Journal office today. Unfortunately Mr. Lane was stricken with a deadly disease, after having been with the paper but a short time and in January, 1907 passed away. At that time I was managing editor and was made temporary publisher, later given charge of the paper.

Loomis Came in 1907.

Lee P. Loomis, former publisher of The Journal and now publisher of The Globe-Gazette at Mason City, Ia., came to The Journal in that spring of 1907 as managing editor. From that date up to the time I left for Davenport (he succeeded me in Muscatine) we enjoyed a very close and sincere friendship. In fact in those eight years many things happened in Muscatine and in The Journal office which threw us to closely together that there has been a lasting bond ever since.

There was no World war to worry about, but we had Teddy Roosevelt and his ‘Big Stick,’ the Bryan-Taft campaign of 1908, the pearl button strike, the double murder at Fairport, the big split in the republican party of 1912, and numerous political battles in the city, county and state, and countless items of interest and importance at that time, but which have now faded into insignificance because of the present problems of the modern world. The files of The Muscatine Journal for one hundred years have revealed the headaches, the hardships, the defeats and the triumphs of a fine people, who have built a fine, cultural city on the banks of the Mississippi. There is no city on the river with a more interesting history, or the story of a happier or more contented people.

Congratulations on reaching your hundredth anniversary and your wonderful achievements in the last one hundred years.

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Greetings Sent to Journal by Sec. Wallace

Hailing the leadership which pioneer Iowa publications have shown in advancing the interests of the state of Iowa, a statement of congratulation from Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace, Iowa member of the presidential cabinet congratulates The Muscatine Journal on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. Sec. Wallace’s statement, prepared for this centennial edition, follows:

    “I welcome the opportunity to extend my best wishes on the occasion of the publication of your special centennial edition.

    “One hundred years is but a short time in history, but for Iowa it spans the period, beginning with the earliest pioneer days, which included development of some of our most productive agricultural land. The fertility of the land has been the basis for the wealth of the people. On the continuing fertility of the land depends the future of the people.

    “Over this 100 years period publications like The Muscatine Journal have led the way in progress. In the next 100 years their wise community leadership will be needed more than ever.”

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Hinshaw Sends Congratulations on Anniversary

Congratulations to The Muscatine Journal, which as an institution this year reaches the 100 year mark, are extended in a letter from Geroge M. Hinshaw of Marshalltown, managing editor of The Journal through the nineteen-twenties. Mr. Hinshaw’s letter reads:

    “Any institution which is the work of human hands and minds and which attains the age of 100 years is entitled to congratulations. In this chaotic age, only a few individuals (who may wish their fate was otherwise) and the eternal verities of truth, honor, love, generosity, and the corresponding vices of hate, jealousy, greed, malice and falsehoods, are supposed to live that long.

    “In a hundred years, the impact of any one personality is like a pin prick to Gulliver. The institution lives; the individual, with rare exceptions such as John Mahin, touch it but briefly and its impress upon them may exceed theirs upon it.

    “During the time I was in Muscatine I had a part in many things, a few of which stand out in my memory. I fought, through the Journal, for good roads at a time when highways such as we have today were considered by nearly half the population to be works of the Devil. Gale McClean will remember that fight in 1926. Politics, for good or evil, received a lusty going over, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. The bond issue which brought Muscatine a badly needed school building was another venture. The effort, successful for too long a time, to turn human misery into civic prosperity was opposed; against the wishes of some men who should have known better than to think a city could erect a lasting prosperity on the credulity of those who fell prey to an artful seducer. All these and many more things come to mind; whether they were understood or appreciated does not matter now. Sincerity of motive, however, can be claimed for al.

    “To exist for a hundred years a newspaper must have had a ‘soul,’ even though it be the perishable product of human making. Because it is the outlet for community thoughts and acts, it becomes the civic nerve center. Without question much of what Muscatine is today is because of what the newspaper made it.

                “Very truly yours,
                “George M. Hinshaw.”            

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