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

Section 1 - Page 22, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, July 3, 2012

Journal Housed in Modern Building

Photo of Building ~ Ample accommodations for the various departments of The Muscatine Journal are provided in its modern brick newspaper home, the front of which is shown in the accompanying illustration. The building, designed specifically for newspaper occupancy, was built in 1919 at the corner of Third and Cedar streets, the first Journal being issued from this location on Dec. 1, that year.

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Structure Was Designed for Paper Use

Occupying its own modern, fireproof brick building, 50 by 140 feet, designed and erected specifically to meet the needs of a daily newspaper, The Muscatine Journal today is printed under conditions far different than those which saw the birth of The Bloomington Herald, a century ago, in a rented cabin which was inadequate to accommodate even the meager equipment of a pioneer weekly and afforded insufficient protection from the weather.

Today’s modern building, located conveniently at the corner of Cedar and Third streets in the heart of the downtown business area, provides separate rooms for the use of the advertising and business staffs, for the news force, for the mechanical departments, for the circulation department, for the engraving and photographic studios, along with storage space for records and several carloads of newsprint paper.

Erected in 1919, the present building has undergone various interior changes since that time to care for the addition of departments and facilitate the tasks which go into the production of a daily paper. Among the most recent changes of this nature were the construction of the darkroom and engraving quarters in the basement at the time an engraving department was added to The Journal.

Occupied in 1919.

The Journal was first issued from its present quarters on Dec. 1, 1919, after equipment had been moved from its former office on Iowa avenue during a blizzard. Subsequently, on Saturday, Jan. 10, 1920, after building operations had been completed, open house was held, during which readers were given their first opportunity to inspect the structure.

Lee P. Loomis, now publisher of The Mason City Globe-Gazette, was then publisher of The Muscatine Journal and R. J. Leysen, present managing editor of The Daily Times at Davenport, was managing editor.

Just how far an advance the present structure represents from the initial quarters of The Bloomington Herald may be gathered from a few paragraphs contained in the first issue of that publication, which supplies the only data, so far as search has revealed, upon the accommodations occupied.

Early Difficulties Related.

John B. Russell and Thomas Hughes, the partners who launched The Bloomington Herald, Oct. 27, 1840 noted:

    “The first number of The Herald would have been issued two weeks ago but for the impossibility of securing a room. The room which we now occupy is so small that we can open not more than half our materials and so open as to afford us but little protection from the weather. We have concluded to delay the publication of the second number until a room for its reception can be furnished, which will require but a few days. The cold weather for some time past has proved the impossibility of making regular issues, with our office in such a miserable cabin, making the delay a matter of necessity.”

According to the recollections of Prof. T. S. Parvin, one of Muscatine’s pioneer residents and an authority on early day history of this community, the cabin referred to was, in fact, a stable belonging to Col. T. M. Isett, one of the prominent residents of Bloomington n the early days and whose name remains identified with the city on Isett avenue.

That the Bloomington Herald was subsequently successful in obtaining more adequate quarters is revealed by inspection of old files.

Moved to Chestnut Street.

Exactly where the paper moved from the Isett cabin is not clear, but an item which appears in the issue of Oct. 8, 1841 notes that The Herald “has been removed to the upper story of the new frame building on the west side of Chestnut street, between Main and Second.”

Later, at the time John Mahin started his long connection with Muscatine newspaper work in 1847, The Herald had its headquarters on the third floor of a building at 108 West Second street.

Later, in the 1850s, about the time Orion Clemens disposed of his interest in The Herald, which had in the meantime become The Muscatine Journal, the offices were moved to the third floor of the brick structure which at the time was known as the Masonic building and was located on East Second street, about half way between Cedar and Walnut streets, where The Journal remained until the early days of the Civil war.

On Iowa Avenue Long Time.

In 1861 another change in location brought The Journal office to Iowa avenue on which street it remained for approximately 60 years. The office was then established in the second story of a building later occupied on the first floor by the Bilkey Harness shop, within an alley’s width of a subsequent location at 114-116 Iowa avenue.

In 1867, John Mahin, The Journal’s publisher, purchased the building at 114-116 Iowa avenue, the deal making The Journal a real estate holder for the first time. The buildings at this location were occupied from 1867 to 1904, after the purchase of The Journal by A. W. Lee and associates, and its addition to the Lee Syndicate of newspapers, the structure then occupied was torn down and a new edifice erected. This was occupied until the present removal in 1919 to the present building at Third and Cedar streets.

A notice on the front page of The Journal of Nov. 29, 1919 conveyed news of the removal of the office and also sounded something of a note of farewell to a location in which The Journal had been published for so many years. It noted:

“The Journal issued its last edition from its old home shortly after noon today. The press time was advanced in order to facilitate the removal to the new quarters on East Third street, from which Monday’s paper will be issued.”

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Mahin Guided Journal for 50 Years

(Continued from Page 3 ???) …views or deviate from the course he pursued.

Home Bombed in 1893.

It was during the height of Mr. Mahin’s opposition to the liquor trade that his home was bombed, along with those of two other Muscatine men who shared his views. On the night of May 11, 1893 severe explosions caused extensive damage to the homes of Mr. Mahin, E. M. Kessenger and N. Rosenberger.

Community sentiment was aroused by the incident and indignant citizens immediately called mass meetings to express their sentiments and offer rewards for the perpetrators. Miraculously no one was seriously injured by the explosions. Mr. Mahin, although startled by the event, refused to back down from his previously expressed views. In a front page statement in The Journal the day following the destruction of his home he stated in part:

    “I have not the time today to speak as I would desire of last night’s terrible affair, nor is my mind in a suitable frame to speak what I should. Suffice it to say that I am almost dazed to think that there could be in a civilized community any person or persons so dastardly as to seek to take the lives of my innocent wife, daughters and son because of any resentment towards me.

    “The fact that the homes of E. M. Kessenger and N. Rosenberger were wrecked in the same manner, at nearly the same time in the night, leaves no possible doubt of a conspiracy. . . .

    “Fellow-citizens, there is something for you to do, for your own protection. I have confidence that your good judgment with the highest sense of honor and good citizenship will guide you in whatever you may do.”

Widespread reverberations in the press, not only of Iowa, but in other states, followed the explosions and the widely circulated news stories about it. Mr. Mahin received messages of sympathy and condolence from many quarters outside of Muscatine. All this contributed to the advancement of the cause to which Mr. Mahin remained steadfast until he retired in 1903 from his journalistic career.

After disposing of his interest in The Journal, Mr. Mahin moved to Evanston, Ill., to make his home near his son, who was engaged in the advertising business in Chicago. For several years after his retirement from the field of journalism he remained in the active service of the federal postoffice department as a postal inspector. Later, failing strength compelled his retirement from active business pursuits.

Died in 1919.

Mr. Mahin’s death occurred at Evanston July 24, 1919, after he had attained the age of 86 years. Funeral services were conducted at Muscatine and burial was in Greenwood cemetery here.

Mrs. John Mahin, the former Miss Anna Lee of Iowa City, a sister of the late A. W. Lee, founder of the Lee Syndicate of newspapers, whom Mr. Mahin married in September of 1864, survived her husband for a number of years. Her death occurred March 25, 1935 at East Orange, N. J. The body was returned to Muscatine for services and burial.

Tribute from men who had been privileged to know Mr. Mahin and to be associated with him in the newspaper business was paid by The Journal in its issue which chronicled his death. Editorial tribute paid him said, in part:

    “For 63 years he labored at his chosen profession and knowingly wronged no man. . . . .

    “In everything he undertook, John Mahin succeeded. He did not amass wealth because he was never willing to sacrifice greater things in the pursuit of it. . . . .

    “John Mahin was great in his public life because he maintained and fought for those things which he believed citizenship stood for. He was great in his private life. As friend, brother, husband and father he succeeded as it is given to few men to succeed. He performed every duty and every obligation not because they were duties or obligations but because it was his pleasure to put before self the service of others.”

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The Journal editor gloated over the fact that S. C. Dunn, Davenport salesman and a frequent caller at Muscatine who gambled with a “30 cent nickel” had been bested by a Montezuma landlord. Dr. Dunn had a trick nickel in which he cold conceal a gold 25 cent piece, which he exhibited with two dimes, a silver quarter and a half dollar with the offer to bet anyone there was more than a dollar exhibited. But “Mine Host” in Montezuma substituted the trick nickel for an ordinary and wagered Mr. Dunn out of cigars for the crowd. – Feb. 7, 1880.

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Muscatine county vital statistics, for April 1885, announced on April 30, were: 32 births, 15 marriage licenses and 29 deaths.

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