Wilton History

Source:Henry Wildasin's Revised History of Wilton, Iowa***Containing a complete reprint of Wilton History 1854-1876 by Rider & Stevenson***1947


Among the foremost of the important events, connected with the history of Wilton, was the publication of the first newspaper. The consummation of an enterprise of this kind had been forestalled by the needs and desires of the business interests for a medium of communication with the country and towns adjacent; and moreover the fact that a town so thrifty and prosperous as ours, should enjoy means of heralding its advantages abroad, was duly recognized.

Until the summer of 1867, no one had been induced to make the venture of starting a paper here. But in the month of August, that year, Mr. Chas. Baker, of Wheatland, then publishing the " Clinton County Advocate," and a newspaper man of some years' experience, visited Wilton and consulted with our business men upon the subject, receiving much encouragement. He returned to Wheatland to settle his business at that place and return as soon as possible. In the second week of October, the first number of the " Wilton Chronicle," came out, Messr. Baker & Thompson, editors and proprietors--- Mr. Baker having associated M. H. Thompson in the business with him. It was a seven column paper, published entirely at home. In appearance it was very creditable and the matter it contained was prepared with care, having reference chiefly to the affairs of the town. This first number contained an interesting description of the business of the town---a history of the business men and their establishments.

Of this first number, there were one thousand copies printed, and yet the demand exceeded the supply.

Among the most extensive advertisers were, Frank Bacon, E. E. Bacon, A. C. Blizzard, C. B. Strong, and Addis & Strickland.

The " Chronicle " was neutral in politics, but was well edited and newsy, and was attended with as good a degree of prosperity as usually falls to the lot of embryo country journals.

In March, 1868, the name C. D. Eaton appeared as associate editor. At this time there were employed in the office, S. J. Mathes, Giles O. Pearce and Jesse Markee.

During the ensuing season, the paper was conducted with great vigor---the Presidential canvass between Grant & Colfax and Seymur & Blair. The billows of party politics ran high, and the publishers of the " Chronicle " desiring to soar above a neutral position, communicated their intention to make their paper " fearlessly and implacably Republican."

Accordingly about the first of June it took the position indicated and amid the varied vicissitudes and changes, maintained it to the close of its career.

In the autumn of that year, after election, Mr. Thompson withdrew from the firm, and the firm of Baker & Eaton continued the publication of the " Chronicle " till the spring of 1859, in the meantime starting the West Liberty "Enterprise."

In May of this year, while the firm remained the same, the two members divided their labors, Mr. Baker remaining with the "Chronicle," while Mr. Eaton gave his time to the "Enterprise."

In September, 1869, the firm of Baker & Eaton was dissolved---Mr. Baker being the sole editor and proprietor.

Early in the winter, Mr. Baker sold the office to Henry C. Ashbaugh, who conducted the " Chronicle " as editor and publisher for nearly a year.

In the meantime---June, 1860---Mr. Eaton returned and commenced the publication of a second paper, which he called " The True Republican."

Mr. Eaton succeeded tolerably well in this enterprise, and in January, 1871, he purchased of Mr. Ashbaugh the subscription list and good will of the " Chronicle." The two papers were consolidated by Mr. Eaton as the " Republican and Chronicle " until May of that year, when he sold the entire establishment to C. E. Cheesbro, who reduced the size of the paper and re-christened it the Wilton " Chronicle."

Early in the fall of that year, the paper was again sold to Mr. Baker, and in the following winter, Mr. Baker took as a partner, H. J. Vail, who continued about a year, when he withdrew, and Mr. Baker was sole owner again until August, 1873, when he leased the office to Messr. G. O. & G. B. Pearce for one year. In July, 1874, they changed the name from " Chronicle " to " Herald. " Thus perished the old name---only this and nothing more. During the administration of the Pearce Bros., valuable additions were made to the material of the office that when Mr. Baker took his away they had sufficient for every purpose. When their term of lease expired they purchased the subscription list and good will and continued the publication until November 23d, 1874, when they sold to J. E. Stevenson.

In the month of August, 1874, J. M. Rider & Co., established a second paper, called the Wilton " Exponent," the first number of which appeared Friday, August 21st, the next day after the great fire. Both papers continued publication until March 10th, 1876, when they were consolidated, and the names " Herald" and " Exponent " were merged into the " Review, " edited and published by Rider and Stevenson, and is the paper now published in Wilton. The office is well appointed, is supplied with a good job department, and is in every way superior to any office heretofore in Wilton.

Back to the Wilton History Index Page

Back to the Muscatine County Gen Web Page