Harlie A. Grantham

HARLIE A. GRANTHAM for several years has been proprietor of the Dewitt Observer, one of the oldest newspapers in Clinton County, established over sixty-seven years ago. With a circulation of 2,500 copies, it is the largest newspaper in the county outside of the Clinton Herald.

Mr. Grantham was born at Marseilles, Illinois, November 21, 1894, son of Fred M. and Rebecca (Housman) Gratham. His father was born in Ohio and his mother at Belle Plaine, Iowa. Fred M. Grantham is supervisor of the water supply department of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway. There were five children in the family: Ferdinand M., Cecil H., Frederick M., Iona A. and Harlie A.

Harlie A. Grantham completed the work of the ninth grade in the Belle Plaine High School in 1910 and the following year he was a billing clerk in the office of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company. During the World war he was with the ground school of the Aviation Corps at Austin, Texas. Several years ago a staff correspondent of the Des Moines Register in a feature article published in the Sunday magazine section told some of the interesting particulars of "Tex" Grantham's life. The name "Tex," which he has signed to hundreds of contributions, is a nickname he acquired while promoting a boxing match for the Belle Plaine American Legion Post and later he used that pseudonym signature to some bits of verse he wrote for the American Legion news notes and it has become his permanent literary title. The author of the Des Moines Register article summed up his career prior to entering the newspaper field as follows: "He had tried railroading, farming (for two weeks), keeping a restaurant, office working, selling automobiles, soldiering (in the Aviation Corps), and even driving a taxicab." He was driving a taxicab in Cedar Rapids when he met opportunity in the figure of a daily newspaper editor and in March, 1925, took an assignment as a reporter, but still keeping his other job. After six weeks he gave up his night work for the newspaper but was soon back again, this time burning his bridges behind him by surrendering his place as a billing clerk. From June 21, 1925, to February 18, 1926, he conducted the "hell box column" for the Cedar Rapids Republican. That column enjoyed immense popularity and laid the foundation of "Tex" Grantham's fame as a writer. He signed off his column every day with a bit of whimsical prose verse, and not long ago the Torch Press of Cedar Rapids collected some fifty or more of these in response to many demands that they be kept in permanent form and published them in a brief booklet which is not the least interesting among Iowa's current literature.

Mr. Grantham left the Cedar Rapids Republican to accept the invitation to act as manager of the Dewitt Observer. About a year later, in 1927, he bought the Observer and has since combined the responsibilities of managing a very prosperous newspaper and keeping up his work as a writer and commentator on life as he sees it. In addition to the Dewitt Observer he owns a half interest in a printing plant at Dewitt.

Mr. Grantham married, June 29, 1914, Miss Anna Hlavacek. Her parents, Fran and Frances Hlavacek, were born in Czechoslovakia, and after coming to the United States settled on a farm in Iowa County, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Grantham have one daughter, Frances A. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, the American Legion, the Springbrook Golf and Country Club and a Republican in politics.