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Audubon County


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Early Days of Audubon County

In 1856 Audubon county had a population of 283; in 1860 it had 454; in 1870 its population was 1,270; in 1880, it had increased to 7,448 and in 1885 to 10,825.

The first newspaper published in Audubon county was founded by John C. Brown and J. J. Van Houghton in 1860. It was published at Audubon City and called the "Audubon County Pioneer." It was democratic in politics. There is no file in existence and but little is known of its history. When the Civil war broke out the paper was sold to Frank Whitney and moved to Lewis, Cass county. Brown enlisted in 1861, was an officer in Company I of the first Iowa volunteers and was killed. Van Houghton also served in the army, being captain of the Fourth Iowa Infantry. He returned after the war and died in 1883.

The next newspaper was founded by leading democrats who formed a stock company for the purpose. It was known as the "Audubon County Sentinel." It first appeared in the winter of 1870-71. The company imported a manager, R. Lespenasse, who they soon found did not fill the bill and the editorship was transferred to J. P. Lair.

Later Mr. Lespenasse purchased the plant. In 1873 it came in the possession of D. M. Harris who changed its name to the "Audubon County Defender." The following year he sold it to E. H. Kimball. In 1877 it was sold to J. A. Halleck and A. L. Campbell. It then passed into the hands of R. W. Griggs, then to Bert Simmons who let it go back to Dick Griggs who in 1883 removed it to Kansas.

In 1876 Mr. Lespenasse again started a paper called "The Sentinel" taking up the volume number of the old paper by that name, but it survived only a year.

In 1878 H. P. Albert began printing a paper in Hamlin taking the name of "Audubon County Sentinel." The following year it was taken to Exira and in 1879 to Audubon. In 1884 it was sold to the Advocate.

"The Audubon Advocate" issued its first number January 1st, 1879 with E. H. Kimball as editor. Within the first year a partner, B. F. Thacker, was taken in. Soon after, the owner of the plant, Seth Paine, came from Chicago and took possession. Mr. Paine got out a large edition January 1st, 1881, which contained a write-up of the county and especially of Audubon. He sold 4500 of these papers at 10 cents each. They were sent to all parts of the east and many were sent to Europe. The following year 131 cars were landed in Audubon containing freight for emigrants by reason of that issue.

In 1882 Mr. Paine sold the paper to R. M. Carpenter who published it until 1888 when it passed into the hands of Crane & Crane. Soon after V. B. Crane sold his interest to F. D. Allen.

The Audubon County Republican was founded by Cousins and Foster in 1886, the latter soon selling his interest to W. H. McClure. In 1894 the business was sold to James E. Griffith who in 1897 sold it to D. C. Mott.

In 1885 Timoth Y. Paine, a crippled boy, son of Seth Paine, published the "Liberator," a spicy little non-partisan sheet which ceased with the death of the publisher in 1888.

In 1885 the Audubon County Journal was established by George W. Guernsey at Exira. Mr. Guernsey died and in 1899 his widow sold the business to C. A. Marlin who turned it over to his brother, Chester Marlin.

In 1887, the Western Blizzard was started by Allen and Waitman, at Gray. Frank D. Allen soon became proprietor. It merged into the Audubon Advocate in 1889. The same year the Advocate was sold by Mr. Allen to Robert C. Spencer and James M. Graham. Mr. Graham's interest was sold to S. C. Curtis.

In 1891 Nis Larsen established a non-partisan paper at Audubon printed in the Danish language. It was called the Dansk Folketidende. After two years it was removed to Elk Horn.

In 1882 it devolved upon the board of supervisors to provide a county jail and after an election, the vote standing about two hundred majority for it the contract was let to P. McKinley. The structure was built with iron cells in the rear. The total cost was $6,927. The board consisted of W. E. Hensley, chairman, S. A. Graham and B. F. Jenkins. Jenkins died during his term of office.

The following year the proposition to bond the county for $30,000 to build a new court house was submitted to the people but was defeated.

Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass May, 2022 from Audubon County Journal (Exira, Iowa), November 11, 1920, pg. 6.
View original at Chronicling America