Clinton County Newspapers

Source: 1901 Biographical Record of Clinton Co., Iowa, Illustrated  published: Chicago : S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1901.  pgs 238-246

The local newspaper press has ever been, since the first settlement of Iowa, one of the most powerful levers that has lifted on every load, whether of local improvement, schools, churches, political policies, or otherwise, and it has been potent for good in almost every community in Iowa where there are now more than one thousand newspapers printed--an average of then to the county. There have been good and inferior newspapers, but they have generally been as good as the people who patronized them would allow the editors and owners to make them, for be it remembered that but few men enter this high and laudable calling without the hope and belief that they are and sometimes do, but many sad failures are strewn along the roadways between the two great rivers that skirt our state on the east and west. The communities, as a rule, do not appreciate the hardships endured by the local newspaper man, as much as they should. When a child is born, the found parents expect to see a nice notice in the local paper; when a son or daughter marries, the editor is supposed to say nice things concerning both bride and bridge-groom, whether he knows them personally or not. Then when death calls, he is expected to whitewash the character of the deceased in a style exceeding even that of the minister. But when it come to recompense or appreciation, more than “Will you give me an extra copy of last issue”--well, it is seldom!

In Clinton county, the first paper, the Lyons Mirror, still being published, was a pioneer on the bank of the Mississippi and helped to blaze the way through the wilds and develop a great local kingdom in this goodly section of the Hawkeye state. Clinton county has had many newspapers and they have accomplished their share in making it one of the banner counties in Iowa.


The Clinton Herald is the oldest newspaper in the city of Clinton. It was established and its first issue pulled from the old-fashioned press, December 18, 1856, by Charles E. Leonard, who later settled in Chicago. Mr. Leonard continued at the helm until October 1, 1863, having been for a number of years associated with H. B. Horton. It was backed by a fine job department, in which was executed the work of railroad offices at this point, then the terminus of the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska Railway Company, whose general offices were located at Clinton. When this road passed over to the old Galena line, Horton & Leonard removed their job business to Chicago. The remainder of the plant was retained by Rev. John McLeish, whose career was brief--less than two months-- and on November 27. 1863, H. McAllister and Hugh Leslie bought the establishment and, under the firm name of Leslie & McAllister, conducted it until January 1, 1867, when Thomas J. Flournoy was admitted to the firm, he having a third interest. It was then Leslie, McAllister & Company, and the office branched out materially. September 18. 1867, a semi-weekly was established. In March, 1868, L. P. Allen purchased Mr. Flournoy’s interest. The latter part of that year, Leslie sold his interest to McAllister, and in the fall of 1869 McAllister sold it to H. S. Hyatt, who presently purchased Mr. Allen’s share. It was at that time that L. P. Allen established his printing and binding establishment.

During 1868, a daily was published for a few months, but it was not a financial success and went back to a tri-weekly. June 6, 1870, Mr. Hyatt established the Daily Herald, which has been successfully conducted to the present time and is known and quoted from far and near. The daily edition was too much for Mr. Hyatt and he met with disaster, financially, and the paper underwent various changes and finally was purchased by Josiah Russell, in April, 1873. He was more successful and conducted it until it was sold to Waldo M. Potter, in November of 1875. The paper has always been a Republican organ and has stood high in the cause it has sought to uphold in Iowa.

The next change from the ownership by Mr. Potter, was the forming of a stock company, with David Brandt as editor and J. K. Groom as business manager. Later they were succeeded by A. D. Dailey and H. E. Oates. After a few minor changes, the company came to be as now known, with L. M. Michelson as manager and W. R. Ashford as editor. The plant is and up-to-date one in all particulars, having the latest improved facilities for running a successful daily newspaper.

The Iowa Age was first established at Clarence, Iowa, by E. H. Thayer, in the early spring of 1868, but after a few issues, in consequence of financial aid was induced to move to Clinton, when the name was changed to the Clinton Age. It was an ably edited and, for a time, successfully conducted Democratic newspaper. It was later merged with another newspaper.

The Clinton Bee was established by L. P. Allen and was successfully conducted until August 12, 1873, when it was merged into the Clinton Herald, the job printing business of both concerns being consolidated in the establishment of Mr. Allen, which is still in existences doing an extensive business in both printing and book-binding--high grade work, such as banks and offices ever require in these days.

The Clinton Journal, a Greenback organ, was established by Frank r. Bennett, Jul 3, 1879, he having removed his material from the old Delmar Journal, which he had really published in this city a number of years. With the fall of the Greenback movement, his paper went out of commission.


The first newspaper in Clinton county was the Lyons Mirror, established May 2, 1854, and it has been reflecting the news of the city and county ever since, giving forth “the latest news from the sear of war,” during the dark day of the Civil war from 1861 to ‘65. Two brothers founded this paper, the pioneer venture of the press gang in this section of Iowa. They were Cornelius and William Teal. In May, 1855, Daniel W. Ellis purchased the interest held by William Teal, and was for a few months associated with the other brother, Cornelius Teal. Mr. Ellis retired and Mr. Teal conducted the Mirror alone until the spring of 1856, when Thomas A. Stow, of Cleveland, Ohio, became a partner. It may be briefly stated that between May 2, 1854, and October, 1861, C. Teal and D. W. Ellis conducted this paper. From 1861 to 1892 were these: Cornelius Teal, Teal and Thomas Stow, J. H. Hawes and Stow, Hawes and T. R. Beers; Beers & Eaton. Mr. Beers died April 6, 1888, being a partner of Mr. Eaton twenty-six years. Since that date Mr. Eaton has been sole proprietor. The paper is now an eight-page seven-column paper, and, as its genial editor and proprietor remarked to the historian, when asked as to the kind of machinery it is run by, “With tweezers, paper cutter and card cutter.” When asked what power employed, he remarked, “Armstrong,” and every printer knows that means a good old-time hand press.

One man connected with the Mirror who has been elevated to positions of trust may be named, j. H. Hawes, who 1861 was appointed to an important position in the interior department at Washington, and subsequently to a consulship at Hakodai, Japan, where he died, after several years of successful administration. The balance of the force have lived, worked and eked out an existence after the manner of common men.

In December, 1870, the Mirror was totally destroyed by fire, but, Phoenix-like, it reared itself from the ashes and was bigger and better than ever before. It has been a conservative, excellent newspaper, always standing for true and noble principles even to the present.

The various names, or headings under which the Mirror has been run, are as follows: First, the Clinton Mirror, having reference at that date to the county in which it was published; second, the Lyons Weekly Mirror, to which it was changed in May, 1856. Then when the two cities were consolidated into present Clinton in 1895, it was, for one issue only, run as the Clinton-Lyons Mirror.

The Clinton Anzeiger, a German publication, was established in 1897 by C. Fedderson and has been the property of the following persons: Paul Doman, Doman & Hemingson, Doman & Clauson, Doman & Heinsen, Heinsen & Burglott and August Burglott since 1906. This paper is an eight-page six-column sheet, independent in politics and is printed on a Prouty press by use of electric power. Five persons are employed in the publication of the paper, which now has two thousand subscribers, with weekly additions being mad. It is a clean, neat semi-weekly journal under excellent management.


This advocate of labor interests in the cities of Lyons and Clinton was established in 1900, by F.----- & Hoffman. After 1903 it was conducted by the Voice Publishing Company up to 1907 and since then by Peter Hoffman. The size and form is a seven-column four-page paper. Politics, Labor. It is run on a Webb perfecting press by steam power.

Fred Weeks and E. A. Roff, competent printers and editors, essayed the Daily Chronicle in Lyons, which bravely labored and lived about five months, and was then taken in and done for by the Fay brothers.

Previous to this time, Henry Clay Dean had commenced with a little Semi-Weekly Bugle, growing into a weekly and then a daily, and finally dying of innate nastiness.

The Lyons Advocate (now the Advertiser) was established in 1855, by A. P. Durlin, who continued its publication as a “straight” Democratic paper, with the exception of a brief suspension during the Civil war, until April, 1873, when the office was purchased by M. V. B. Phillips and J. C. Hopkins, who, in May that year, issued the paper as the Clinton County Advertiser. During that year Mr. Hopkins became sole proprietor. It was then made a seven-column quarto paper, Democratic in politics, and enjoyed a very large circulation in the interior of Clinton and adjoining counties. In 1883 it was purchased by Louis E. Fay, who conducted it for two years, and in 1885 Clarence Fay purchased a half interest when it was operated under the Fay brothers until 1891, when it was incorporated as Fay Brothers. It was established as a weekly and changed successively form weekly to tri-weekly and daily, weekly to semi-weekly, then again to tri-weekly, and finally a daily. Its present form and size is that of an eight-column eight-page paper. Politically, it is still Democratic. Louis Fay is its editor and Clarence Fay manager of the Clinton department, the main office being in Lyons. They use a perfecting press, with a speed of twelve thousand per hour, and employ both steam and electricity as power. This paper has taken the part of the people in municipal affairs. They have obtained favorable contracts with municipal corporations, doing at all times what was best for the tax-payers of a progressive city.

The Merry War was begun by D. H. Winget, and waged successfully ever since, capturing the Town talk not long ago, and fills the bill for both as a society paper.

The Iowa Volkszeitung was established in 1867 by a man named Pringel, who sold to Joseph Gottlob, in 1868. He transferred the property to Peiffer Brothers the same year. Peiffer Brothers sold to Madralz & Nissen in 1877. The present owner acquired an interest in the paper in April, 1878, continued with Peter Matzen under the firm name of Matzen & Leita until January, 1881, since which time John Leitz has been sol proprietor. This ia a ten-page six-column paper in the German language. Politically, it is a Democratic organ. A cylinder press is used and electricity is the motive power. This journal has made a wonderful record and is highly successful at this time. John Leitz, the owner, is also its chief editor.

The papers thus enumerated--at least the better part of them --none should fail to recognize as one of the most important factors in the progress of greater Clinton in every phase of its existence, in the elder Lyons as well as in the thrifty Clinton; and upon their maintenance in good character and vigor depends their powers as aids in the onward march of the city. Some of them are well sustained; others may be, as well as they deserve, and yet we think there may be something lacking in some directions, which business and professional men might easily remedy by occasionally scattering their favors.

Few, if any, cities of this size have more or abler or more enterprising newspapers than Clinton.


The first attempt at running a newspaper in De Witt was in the month of December, 1855, when O. C. Bates and J. McCormick launched the De Witt Clintonian. Mr. Bates was the editor and its politics was

Republican. It was the year previous to the John C. Fremont Presidential campaign and he entered into the first real fight in this county as a vote winner for the new party. In the autumn of 1859 the paper was turned over to P. C. Wright, as editor, for the purpose of opposing the election of Hon. John F. Dillon as district judge. The judge was elected and the paper suspended.

The next paper at De Witt was the Standard, a Republican organ, which was established in the fall of 1859, with O. C. Bates and Hon. D. McNeil as editors and publishers.

In 1860, the Clinton County Journal was published for a few months. It was Democratic in politics, with R. S. Lawrence as editor, and was followed by a short lived Democratic paper known as the Clinton County Democrat, by C. P. Cotter.

Then there was the Wide-Awake, a Lincoln and Hamlin campaign paper, edited and printed by P. C. Wright and O, C. Bates, during the campaign of 1860. The Standard was edited for a time in 1861, by a Mr. Stewart and followed by James S. Patterson, who struggled on until July, 1862, when he joined the Twenty-sixth Iowa Infantry Regiment and was chosen first lieutenant of Company H. At Arkansas Post, while leading a gallant charge, he fell mortally wounded.

At about that time, O. C. Bates leased of McNeil the old Standard and changed its name to the Signal, continuing until 1863, when he “closed shop” to let two of his compositors enter the Union army in the one-hundred-days service, While this suspension was on, his lease was out and the plant was turned over to S. H. Shoemaker, who, in July, 1864, commenced the publication of the DeWitt Observer. It started out as a Republican paper and was highly successful as an advertising medium and good family newspaper/ It is still in existence and a first class paper. From May, 1882, to 1889, H. L. Barter published the Clinton County Democrat. From September, 1898 to January, 1899, Rev. C. L. S. Brown published the

De Witt Messenger. For some time the De Witt Standard was published by Ballard & Tawney. May, 1909, E. C. Brown & Company began their connection with the Observer, continuing until August 1, 1907, when it was purchased by Fred W. Mitchell, now running an independent Republican paper.


Camanche, once the county seat,--the first seat of justice of Clinton county,--in her palmy days supported a newspaper. The Camanche chief (sounds Indian-like even to this day) was the first paper of the once favored spot in this county. It was established in 1854, by Bates & Knapp, which firm soon changed to Bates, McCormick & Company. Its life was sweet, but it died in its childhood. In 1856 came the Iowa Register, published a short time by N. G. Parker, who was succeeded by L. D. Bradley. This lasted about one year, with disappointment on every hand. In April, 1860, B. C. Galliday established the Camanche Republican, which, too, had but a brief existence. In May, 1868, the fourth real attempt at starting a newspaper here was begun by the re-establishing of the Camanche Chief, which the publisher managed to get out on time until November of that year, when he moved the outfit to Minnesota. The Camanche Couier was established about 1903, run two years and sold to a man in Low Moor and became the Independent, that was destroyed in the fire of two years later. The good will of the paper was purchased by the De Witt Observer.


Calamus has had many home-printed newspapers in its history. The first issued was by H. L. Barter, called the Free Press. Then it was the property of Barter & Sunderlin. It was short lived and finally suspended. In the eighties, Whip & Cook published a local paper here for a brief season only. The Calamus Record was established in August, 1901, by A. J. Gault. This paper flourished from the start and was well patronized by the community for a time, but finally succumbed to the inevitable ion little towns and had to seek other fields.


At present there are no regular newspapers printed at the town of Lost Nation, but a sheet is edited there and printed at the near-by town of Oxford Junction, which gives the town-folk there an advertising medium, as well as the local news generally. In the near future there will doubtless be established a home paper. The history of the paper enterprise in Lost Nation is that in 1871 the Lost Nation Chief was established,, but only run a few months, and then in 1888 or 1890 was re-established and conducted a few years longer. It was first run by H. C. Ford and later by H. L. Bartes. Then the Lost Nation Chronicle, the present organ of the community, appeared about 1896, but was printed at the Oxford Junction Mirror office, as it is now.


Various have been the changes in newspaperdom at Wheatland. In 1860, was established the Times, by O. D. Crane, which only existed a few issues and died for support. However it was continued, in a way, by E. J. Franham a year or more afterwards.

The second attempt was by A. J. Gault, who bought the press of the old Times. He knew nothing about the art preservative. but was a good writer and made his way to the front and learned the cases and set his own type. His paper was called the Clinton County Advocate, published until 1865. He took in a tramp printer, who proved a bad egg on his hands as he dare not trust him to make up the forms for he was usually under the influence of drink. He claimed he could install the office, but it was soon seen that he would stall it, so he was fired.

Early in the seventies, Doctor Caruthers started the Wheatland News and conducted it until his death in 1876. The next two years it was run by T. L. Dennis.

The fourth paper was the Enterprise, by W. H. Bayliss, and it was soon numbered among the missing.

The fifth paper was the H. C. Ford organ, who had been on the Lost Nation Union; he conducted it a few years at Wheatland.

The sixth paper was established 1881, the Spectator, by A. J. Gault. From 1883 to 1888 it was edited by D. R. Markham, but was taken back by Mr. Gault in 1901.

The seventh paper was the Free Press, by H. L. Barter, from 1881 to 1882.

The various changes on this paper have been about as follows: Frank W. Buxton bought out Dieckmann February 6, 1880. The firm name was Markham & Buxton until July 5, 1893, when Buxton purchased the entire interest. Buxton sold to Parsons brother (Paul and Otto) May, 1894. They resold to Buxton April 1, 1895. John F. Feddersen leased the plant from Buxton July 1, 1899, but allowed the paper to die before the expiration of the lease January 1, 1901. On January 2, 1901, Perry T. Buxton went into partnership with his father and resurrected the Gazette under the firm name of F. W. Buxton & Son. With the exception of the first six months, the junior partner has had full control of the Gazette since his advent into the newspaper business, up to the present time. The paper is now a seven-column quarto, run on a power press by gasoline. This is the only Democratic paper, outside of Clinton, in the county. Yet the county is conceded to be strongly Democratic. The word Buxton was attached to the title Wheatland Gazette, at the request of many patrons, who recognized it as a distinctive mark of stability and permanence, an idea rarely utilized by men of the profession.

N. J. Edwards, of Toronto, has been connected with the Gazette correspondence staff for seventeen years, surely a record of unbroken faithfulness and historic mention in this work.


In October, 1872, Gen. Daniel McCoy established the Delmar Journal and at first had his paper printed elsewhere, for lack of facilities. In February, 1874, the paper was consolidated with the Preston Clipper and both centered at Delmar. McCoy had charge until January, 1875, when F. R. Bennett took charge until his office was destroyed by fire in 1878. Previous to the fire, McCoy had started the Delmar Independent, which he still continued to run in the eighties.

March 1, 1888, F. L. Sunderlin established what is still the Delmar Journal. It was in his hands entirely until 1908, when he sold to Harry J. Reger, who conducted it one year, when its founder, F. L. Sunderlin, took it back and continues its publication. It is a four-page paper, issued each Friday; is Republican in politics; a first class lively country local paper, edited by its owner, who is ably assisted Minnie E. Grinrod.


At Charlotte, in Waterford township, this county, the first newspaper adventure was in about 1870, when the Advance, a page sheet printed at the De Witt Advertiser office, was established. Next came a small concern that only ran a short time and died a natural death. Then the Charlotte Monitor was established and operated two or three years. The present paper of the place is the Record, established by A. W. Gault in 1904. It is a seven-column, twenty-four by thirty-six paper, independent in politics, printed on a Washington hand -press. This plant was originally the Wheatland Spector, established in 1881, moved by Mr. Gault to Calamus in 1901 and to Charlotte in 1904. The Monitor preceded this at Charlotte and was run two years by L. V. Dunn.