Source: Index to the 1886 Portrait & Biographical Album of Clinton Co.: Clinton Co., Iowa (CHAPMAN BROS.) pgs 684-689

The printing press is a great factor in the civilization of the nineteenth century. If Archimedes had had a printing press upon which to have placed his lever, he would have come nearer moving the world that if he had secured what he most wished--a base outside of it from which to operate. There is not a hamlet in the United States in which the newspaper does not enter, and scarcely a neighborhood. With the modern telegraphic communications, they are able to place before their readers the occurrences from almost every part of the world within a few hours after taking place. As a disseminator of news, the press is indispensable; as an educator its influence is immeasurable. Clinton County has been notable a county of newspapers, and the press of to-day is among the largest and ablest in the State, and Iowa has more newspapers, in proportion to its inhabitants, than any other State in the Union.

At the present time there are eleven regular publication in the county. Since the time the first paper came from the press, the newspaper enterprises have been numerous, and the number of editors counted by the score. Among the gentlemen who drove the quill for these publications were some talented, graphic and cultured writers, some of whom wielded a salutary influence in the county, while others won unenviable reputations. The editorial staff of the various papers at present represents pleasant, forcible and pointed writers, who advocate their various theories, principles and political views, with much ability and success.


The history of founding a local newspaper is almost without exception a story of un=realized hopes, misdirected efforts and unpaid bills. It is well-known fact that more failures are recorded in the journalistic profession than in any other. Few are those who attain success in founding a country or a city newspaper. Often it is not for want of literary ability, for many who wield an able pen fail, but it takes as well a high order of business tact. The successful editor and publisher must necessarily be a shrewd business-man. He must be a man of business in all that that term implies, for in this field of labor one will find a great variety of influences brought to bear against his efforts, difficulties unknown in other branches must be surmounted, the genius of dealing with people indiscriminately and successfully, must be possessed; indeed, the successful editor of to-day must be a business-man as well as literary scholar,.

There are few journals which continue long under their original management, seldom longer than two years, and thus it was with the Mirror. The paper of which it is the outgrowth was established May 18, 1854, by William Teal & Bros., and was called the Clinton Mirror. This, it will be seen, was the first newspaper published in Clinton County, and was started in the interests of the Whig party. In Ma6, 1855, Daniel W. Ellis purchased W. Teal’s interest, and the paper was then carried on by him and Cornelius Teal. It appeared first as a six-column folio. After a few months, Mr. Ellis retired from the paper and Mr. Teal continued to run it alone. In 1856, Thomas A. Stowe purchased an interest in the plant, and the Mirror was conducted under the firm name of Teal & Stowe. In April, 1858, Mr. Teal sold out his interest to H. H. Hawes, and in February, 1959, Theron R. Beers purchased Mr. Stone’s interest. In October, 1861, William D. Eaton bought out Mr. Hawes, and the firm became Beers & Eaton. At this time the name of the paper was changed to that of the Lyons Mirror. Mr. Hawes went to Washington soon after he sold out and subsequently secured an appointment from President Lincoln as Consul to Japan, where he died. During the Fremont campaign, the Mirror became a Republican paper and took an active part in that memorable contest.

The Mirror has been enlarged from time to time and is now a seven-column quarto, having and extensive circulation. The office was totally destroyed by fire in 1869, but, undaunted, its publishers soon replaced it by a better one It has never had time to change its politics and if it had, its editors are so strongly imbued with Republicanism that they would not have availed themselves of such opportunity. So it is still advocating the principles of that party and is one of its most influential journals in this section of the country. It is conducted with ability in all departments, is an interesting and valuable newspaper, and is devoted to the interest of its patrons of the city and the county.


The newspaper history of Lyons well exemplifies the general rule characteristic of the profession of journalism, while in most other branches the first efforts toward the establishment of a business in a new and growing place, are generally successful. In public journalism, the charm of talking to the people in print, the social and political influence to be obtained as a stepping stone to power and emolument, to ease and luxury, tempt the innumerable graduates of the printing-office to seek some unoccupied field in which to establish themselves and rise. Hence, they start out, and for want of the means necessary to run a newspaper a year or two, with but very little pay, they try a new place, and thus continue to roam, and it is but a corroboration of this remark to not that nearly all the newspapers now successfully conducted in Clinton County, are owned and edited by residents having some property.

The Clinton County Advertiser is the outgrowth of the Lyons Advocate, which was established in 1855, by A. P. Durlin. It was Democratic in politics and was published by Mr. Durlin, with the exception of a suspension of a short time during the war, until the spring of 1873, when he sold out to M. B. Phillips and J. C. Hopkins, who changed the name to the Clinton County Advertiser. During that year Mr. Hopkins bought out his partner’s interest and became sole proprietor. Later Mr. E. W. Conable had an interest in the paper for a while with Mr. Hopkins. In 1883, Mr. L. E. Fay purchased the entire plant, and in June of that year he sold out to his son, Lewis E. Fay, who had been connected with the Advertiser for several years. In June, 1886, the latter disposed of a half interest in the paper to his brother, C. A. Fay, and these two enterprising young men are the present proprietors.

In 1878 the paper attained a circulation which entitled it to the county printing, which it has since held. The Fay’s have gradually increased it circulation and enlarged the facilities of the office until it now ranks among the best equipped offices in the State. In 1884 steam-power was put in and the job department enlarged. In April, 1885, it was changed to a semi-weekly and is now issued every Tuesday and Friday. The present circulation of the Advertiser is 2,532, the larges of any paper in the county and excelled by a few local papers of the country. It is an eight-column folio, Democratic in politics, its print is good and its editorials are able, logical and convincing. It’s locals are fresh and crisp, and the Fay brothers are entitled to a great deal of credit for the present prosperous condition of their paper.


This is one of the numerous well-edited newspaper publications in Clinton County, and like the others has experienced its ups and downs. It is conceded to be one of the most difficult things known to the business world to establish a local paper upon a paying basis. It requires more energy, patience and perseverance to found one than to establish almost any other business. It is less remunerative, amore vexatious, and requires the expenditure of greater mental and physical force than almost any other enterprise. Few there are who properly appreciate the labors, the trials and difficulties of a country editor. He enjoys none of the advantages, but he is expected to send forth a sheet that will compare favorably with the dailies of the large cities. Mr. Shoemaker, editor of this paper, as well as other editors, can appreciate the force of these remarks perhaps better than people in general. The plant from which this paper is printed has witnessed many changes in newspaper life, and has also seen the rise and fall of many journalistic hopes.

During the latter part of the winter of 1855 O. C. Bates and J. McCormick started a paper here which was called the De Witt Clintonian and was Republican in politics. In 1858, P. C. Wright assumed the editorial management, but not being successful in its political contest, and failing in retaining patronage, it was soon obliged to suspend. From this wreck the Standard was established, in December, 1859, by O. C. Bates and D. McNeil, which paper was also Republican in its politics. There were other papers started here during these years, but they were short-lived. For a while the Clinton County Journal,, and then the Clinton County Democrat and the Wide-Awake, a campaign paper in the contest of 1860, were at different times presented to the people. The Standard was published in 1861, by a Mr. Steward, who was followed by James S. Patterson. The latter gentleman went into the army in 1862, joining the 25th Regiment, and was killed at the battle of Arkansas Post. After the enlistment of Mr. Patterson, O. C. Bates leased the office of D. McNeil, and started a paper called the Signal. Just what kind of a signal he proposed to give, tradition does not inform us, but the result showed it to be a signal failure, for he took down the signal in 1863. But a better fortune awaited this old plant. On the 15th of July, 1864, S. H. Shoemaker purchased it and established the De Witt Observer. It was started as a six-column folio and Republican in politics. Nr. Shoemaker has seen no good reason for changing its political creed, and his journal still continues to advocate the principles of the Republican part. He has also added the principles of Prohibition. With these two flags at its masthead he believes he can successfully sail over life’s tempestuous political sea, passing safely by its rocks and over its shoals.

The paper has been twice enlarged, first to a seven and then to an eight column folio. In the early part of 1886 it was changed to a six-column quarto. In August, 1885, Mr. Shoemaker took in as his partner J. C. Benedict, the former taking the position of editor and the latter that of business-manager. The Observer office us furnished all through with the best material and presses, and for mechanical execution the job-work done at this office will compare favorably with that turned out at the large establishments, In its business management it is ably conducted, and its editor wields an able pen and is ever earnest and untiring in using it in behalf of his community as well as his party. In fact, the Observer is a great favorite with its numerous patrons.


The following interesting data is given in tracing the history of this able paper, a stanch organ of the Republican party. In 1856 Charles E. Leonard issued to the little village of Clinton a very neat and newsy paper. It was December 18 if that year that its first number appeared, and Mr. Leonard continued to publish it until 1863, and associated with him during the latter part of this time H. B. Horton, the firm sailing under the name of Horton & Leonard. When the railroad company moved their general offices to Chicago, Mr. Leonard took the job office of the paper there. What was left of the plant here was sold to Rev. John McLeish. His connection with the Herald terminated in about two months, when it was purchased by H. McAllister. They conducted it until Jan. 1, 1867. At that time Thomas J. Flournoy, Jr., came in with a third interest. Extensive additions were then made to the plant, and in September a semi-weekly was issued. In March, 1863, Mr. Flournoy sold his interest to L. P. Allan. In the latter part of that year Mr. Leslie also withdrew, disposing of his interest to McAllister & Allan. In the latter part of 1869, it evidently became McAllister’s time to withdraw from the paper, and we find him selling his interest to H. S. Hyatt. Subsequently Allan sold out to Hyatt, who became sole proprietor.

During the period when McAllister & Allan were proprietors, a daily was started, but the patronage was not sufficient to warrant a continuation very long and a tri-weekly was substituted.

Another and more successful attempt to start a daily was made June 6, 1870. The paper appeared under the name of the Clinton Daily Herald. Since then it has been regularly published as a daily, escept Sundays. There is also a weekly edition, having a large circulation. Mr. Hyatt was not, however, financially successful, and after some changes the Herald became the property of Josiah Russell. Two years later, in 1875, Waldo M. Potter purchased the paper and conducted it until March, 1881, when he sold out to Frank W. Mahin and W. C. Kegel. On Jan. 1, 1885, Mr. Mahin purchased Mr. Kegels’s interest and conducted the paper until the first of the following August, when the business was incorporated under the name of the Clinton Herald Company, with a capital stock of $15,000. The officers are F. W. Mahin, President and Treasurer; L. R. Bradley, Secretary. The daily and weekly are still issued, the daily coming out in the evening.

The Herald has a liberal circulation and is the official paper of the city. The weekly is a twelve-page, six-column paper, while the daily is an eight -column folio. In its management is displayed considerable enterprise, tact, energy and superior business ability. Its editorials are able, and its local columns are generally full, well-arranged, and embrace all the happening of the city and indeed of the entire county.


The journalistic profession is of such a peculiar nature, so complicated in its literary and business channels, and withal one of the difficult in which to acquire success, that but few journals remain long under their original management. Not so with the Age, however, which continues under the control and management of the founder. In 1868 the editor of this paper, E. H. Thayer, came to Clinton and began its publication, which he has continued since, winning for it great favor, especially among its party friends. it is a six-column folio, issued every Friday, and in politics is Democratic. It is an ably conducted, newsy paper, enjoys a fair circulation, and Mr. Thayer, one of the oldest editors in the county, has shown great skill and ability in the management of his enterprise.


The Bugle is one of the numerous papers of the county which not only lays just claims to a liberal share of public patronage, but enjoys it. It is a six-column paper published at Clinton by C. H. Dean, and by whom it was established in 1881. It is an excellent sheet, very readable and a credit to its publisher. It is independent in politics, and liberal in its religious views. Its editor believes he can exert a greater influence under that banner than any other. He will not be influenced by party or sect. He advocates such measures, national, municipal, religious and social, as will best subserve the interest of the mass of the community, regardless of any party, clique or individual. As such a journal it deserves, and it has, the patronage of all classes. In his advocacy of measures, be they cosmopolitan or local, the editor us only guided by what he conceives to be the right, and will best conserve the true interest of his city, county, State and nation. In the interests of the merchants, he advocates the best means of developing trade, and in the interest of all he fights against ring, monopolies and every species of fraud that has a tendency to retard or lessen the people’s interest. A local journal established upon such a broad and liberal platform and evincing the enterprise and public spirit the Bugle has under Mr. Dean’s able management, should receive the undivided support of men of all parties, creeds and opinions. It is not hampered or circumscribed by partisan principles of any nature, save truth and probity.


The News is a comparatively young paper. It was established May 4. 1882, by A. T. Alexander. Subsequently D. R. Markham came in as a partner. The paper was issued first as a four-column folio, and in politics was independent, In July, 1883, J. H. Tierry purchased the plant, but only published the paper for a short time when he sold out to E. W. Conable and F. H. Oakes, the present proprietor. In September, 1883 the News was enlarged to a seven-column folio. Under the new management it became a strong Democratic paper, and to-day is the leading organ of that party in this portion of the State.

In 1883 the paper was incorporated with E. W. Conable as President, F. H. Oakes, Vice-President, and A. O. Conable, Secretary and Treasurer. In connection with the daily , a weekly paper is published every Saturday. The typography of the News is neat and tasty. Indeed it would reflect honor on any office to send out such excellent quality of work. The News office is furnished all through with the best material and presses for mechanical execution; the job work done at this office will compare favorably with that turned out from the larger establishments of the country.

The News is edited with ability and ably managed in all its appointments. The senior editor is an experienced journalist, and a prominent politician, and under his skillful management the News has become an important factor in the Democratic party in this section of the country. The paper enjoys a fair patronage, and in every way is a well gotten up sheet.


As its name implies, this is a German paper. It was established in 1867 by Pffeifer Bros., who published it for several years, when they sold out to Matzen & Leitz, the latter of whom, John Leitz, is its present publisher and editor. The paper is issued ever Friday, is liberally patronized by the Germans throughout this section, and greatly admired by its readers.


Another weekly German paper, issued every Wednesday at Lyons, and owned by Greisen & Petersen, is the Wochenblatt. It was established several years ago and has grown with the interest of the Germans in this locality. It is a large paper, printed with good type, neatly gotten up and ably edited, Mr. Greisen, its editor, is an educated gentleman and an experienced journalist. He is therefore able to bring his paper up to a very high standard among the journals of the day, and few papers published in the German language in this section compare with it in their editorial management. It is liberally patronized and worthy the support it has well earned.


This bright little sheet was established in the early part of the current year (1886), pending the city elections and is issued in the interest of the Knights of Labor, or the laboring men. The first issue appeared on the streets of Clinton Feb. 12.1886. It is a four-column quarto, issued every Friday, and is luberally patronized by the laboring men as well as others. It is published by D. D. McKinzie and edited by Hugh Leslie. It is very neat in appearance, a newsy and spicy sheet, as well as an able advocate of the rights of the working-men.


Wheatland has been quite a place for planting newspapers. In the autumn of 1864 the Clinton County Advocate was established there, by R. S. Baker and Charles Graham. In December following Mr. Baker retired, selling out his interest to a Mr. Gault. This was the first paper printed here, but its life was short. In 1873 the Wheatland News was started by Dr. Carothers, who conducted it until he died, which was during the winter of 1875-76. Frank L. Dennis then took the paper and published it until the summer of 1878m when it was closed out and the plant removed. W. H. Bayless then tried his hand at the newspaper business for a few months, conducting the Wheatland Enterprise. Seemingly, there was not enough enterprise in it to last long, and it suspended. The Wheatland Union was a paper that greeted the good people of this town for several years. The plant was moved from Lost Nation, where a paper called the Chief was published for a short time by H. C. Ford. He removed to Wheatland and started the Union, and continued its publication until about 1880.

The Spectator was established May 1, 1880, by D. A. Gault. It was independent in politics. In may, 1882, it was purchased by D. A. Markham, who is the present publisher. It is a seven-column folio, published weekly, and is Democratic in politics. It enjoys a liberal advertising patronage and a fair circulation; its locals are abundant, fresh and crisp; its foreign and general news are such that the public desire to become acquainted with; its editorial columns are ably managed, and the political measures and movements of the day are discussed fearlessly yet dispassionately.


Back to the 1886 Portrait & Biographical Album of Clinton Co.