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

Section 8 - Page 8 Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, June 29, 2012

Home of Journal Before 1904

Photo ~ For approximately 60 years The Journal occupied offices on Iowa avenue, moving to that street in 1861 and remaining until 1919. The buildings pictured above were utilized by the newspaper prior to 104, when a building program saw the completion of a structure which was hailed at the time as the last word in a newspaper home.

* * * * * * *

The Journal’s First Century, Chapter Two

Mark Twain employed for time in Early days; Daily established in 1855;
John Mahin closes long editorial Career in 1903.

John and Jacob Mahin, father and son, assumed control of The Muscatine Journal only slightly more than a year after Muscatine had become a city through the adoption of its special charter. The charter was adopted Feb. 21, 1851. The population of Muscatine was at the time slightly in excess of 2,000 and the county’s population was just below 6,000.

The first Journal under Mahin management was issued Saturday, July 17, 1852. A new masthead adorned the front page of this first issue, and announcement was contained in a news story that additional typographical changes were to follow. Something of the new owners’ plans for the future were contained in the item, which read:

    “OUR PAPER – We hope our friends will reserve their criticisms on the appearance of this issue as we have labored under many inconveniences – such as a press of mechanical business, want of a new roller, etc. We have had scarcely any time to reflect in preparing our editorials, they being mainly composed as we arranged them in type.

    We do not consider this a specimen number, we intend making greater improvements soon and to increase the amount of reading matter by excluding some unprofitable advertisements. We are now negotiating for a font of new type, which will be received in a few weeks.

    “The new head of the “Journal” does not exactly please our sake of a change than a tasteful appearance. A better looking one will be procured soon.”

Modern headlines had not yet made their appearance in The Journal when the Mahins assumed control. Political news and agricultural notes took up a major portion of the front page, with advertisements of Mississippi river packet lines standing out prominently on other pages, mingled with advertisements of business houses and professional cards.

Mahin and Clemens continued their partnership to January, 1855, when the Mahin interest was sold to Charles H. Wilson, a printer who had been employed by The Journal, and the firm became Clemens and Wilson. Meanwhile a tri-weekly edition, later discontinued, had been established in 1854.

First Daily in 1855.

The first daily Muscatine Journal was issued in Junek 1855, 85 years ago, and publication as a daily has since been continued.

Clemens disposed of his interest in The Journal in 1855 to James W. Logan and the publishing firm became Logan and Wilson briefly. In January 1856, Mr. Wilson, who subsequently moved to Washington, disposed of his interest to D. S. Early and the firm of Early and Logan was in control briefly.

John Mahin, who had, since 1855 not been identified with ownership of the paper, acquired an interest in it again the next year. In connection with F. B. McGill, he bought out the Early partnership and in August, 1857 he became sole owner.

Mahin Alone in War Period.

Mr. Mahin remained alone in his ownership of The Journal through the whole Civil war period. N 1866 however, he sold a half interest to L. D. Ingersoll, who became editor. Ingersoll remained identified with The Journal for a two year period, leaving in 1868 to continue his newspaper career in Chicago.

That same year James Mahin took an interest in the paper and the firm was continued as Mahin Brothers. James Mahin had previously been employed by The Journal, first as a carrier boy and later as a typesetter and reporter before his 20th birthday. After entering the partnership he was associate editor and remained in this capacity until his death, which occurred in 1877.

Journal Printing Co. Formed

Organization of The Journal Printing Co., which company has continued until the present in ownership of the newspaper, was completed in 1878, the first officers being John Mahin, John B. Lee and A. W. Lee. The latter had come to Muscatine in 1874 to work at the postoffice when his brother-in-law, Mr. Mahin was postmaster. Subsequently he had become a reporter for The Journal. John B. Lee, his father, and the father of Mrs. John Mahin had come to Muscatine during these years to serve as business manager of The Journal.

A. W. Lee’s ability along the lines of newspaper management became evident during his connection with The Journal and he became, first in fact, subsequently in name as well, its business manager.

Son Aids Mahin

Ownership of all the stock in The Journal Printing Co., was acquired by John Mahin and his eldest son, John Lee Mahin in January, 1889. Stock at the time amounted to $20,000. The son had previously been employed at the newspaper since 1885, serving a part of the time as city editor. John Lee Mahin was made business manager subsequently, in which position he continued until 1891, when he went to Chicago to continue his newspaper career. His father then bore the brunt of the business management until in 1900 Harold J. Mahin took over the duties of business manager. He continued in this capacity for about two years, going to Chicago in 1902.

J. M. Beck, now of Centerville, came to The Journal in 1900 as a reporter and subsequently advanced to the position of managing editor. In 1903 H. M. Sheppard became managing editor. The Mahin stock in the firm was sold, in 1903 to A. W. Lee, W. L. Lane and H. M. Sheppard, and The Journal at this time was added to the Lee Syndicate of newspapers.

Chapter Three will be found on page 18.

* * * * * * *

Sec. Hopkins Sends Journal Congratulations

Noting that The Journal’s 100th anniversary “represents another distinguished landmark in the annals of American journalism,” a letter of congratulations was written to The Journal for this special centennial edition by Harry Hopkins, secretary of commerce, an Iowa member of the presidential cabinet. Sec.Hopkins’ letter follows:

    “I am delighted to have the opportunity to extend my congratulations upon the centennial anniversary of The Muscatine Journal. This represents another distinguished landmark in the annals of American journalism.

    “I hope the observance will be a lasting reminder of the wisdom inherent in the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press. At a time when the principles of democracy are being sorely tried throughout the world, the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of The Muscatine Journal is encouraging proof of the solidity of democratic institutions and our American way of living.

    “Freedom of the press, one of the blessings of our American way of life, places an obligation upon the publisher to use his newspaper not in the cause of selfish interests but in the cause of the common welfare of the people. It is upon this note that I am happy to send greetings to The Muscatine Journal as it moves into a new century.

                “Very truly yours,
                (Signed) “Harry L. Hopkins.
                “Secretary of Commerce.”

* * * * * * *

Atalissa was platted and filed for record on Jan. 31, 1856 by John P. Cook and William Lindy, the latter being former owner of the land. The town was named for an Indian princess of California where Mr. Lindy had worked as a miner before coming to Iowa.

* * * * * * *

-- The New Mill – The new Nevada mill commenced running last week, and her machinery was found to work with perfect symmetry. Having tested the quality of flour manufactured at this mill, we are pleased to recommend it as the best and cheapest now to be obtained in this region. We wish Messrs. Washburn and Cohick every good fortune in this much needed enterprise. – Oct. 23, 1852.

* * * * * * *

Return to Centennial Table of Contents Page

Back to the Muscatine Co. IAGenWeb, Index Page

Page created July 5, 2012 by Lynn McCleary