Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


Thomas Stivers, publisher of the Evening Gazette at Burlington, is a native of Pomeroy, Meigs county, Ohio, and was born in 1844. His father, Aaron Stivers, was descended from an old Holland family that was established in America in the early part of the seventeenth century. The great grandfather was a soldier of the Revolutionary War, and the grandfather was a soldier of the War of 1812. Aaron Stivers was a civil engineer, and probably surveyed the first railroad line constructed in Iowa, this being prior to 1844. He was identified with railroad construction many years, thus contributing toward the development of the State. As the years passed, and he saw opportunity for judicious investment, he purchased lands and acquired considerable property. When the family came to the West in 1876 the home was established in Osceola, but Mr. Stivers spent his last days in Afton, Iowa, where he died in 1895. His son Henry built the old narrow-gauge railroad, extending between Des Moines and Gainesville, Mo., and was its general superintendent and manager for several years. In this line the father was also interested. Henry Stivers is now a banker and farmer at Osceola, Iowa, thus being closely connected with the business interests of that locality. A daughter, Jennie Stivers, became the wife of S. M. Leach, of Adel, Iowa, who was one of the World's Fair commissioners and a member of the Republican State central committee. He is connected with financial interests at Adel as president of a bank there. A half-sister of our subject, Susie Stivers, is living at Osceola, Iowa, and for many years was principal of the Afton Normal School. The mother of Thomas Stivers died when twenty-eight years of age, and the father afterward married Miss Sophronia Cole, who is living in Osceola with her daughter Susie.

Thomas Stivers spent his early youth in his native village, began his education there, and after completing the high-school course also enjoyed the advantages of academic instruction. At the age of sixteen years he entered a printing office and learned the printer's trade, and between the years 1870 and 1884 he devoted his time and energies to newspaper work in Atchison, Kans., being city editor of the Atchison Champion and also owner of the Atchison Patriot. At length he disposed of his newspaper interests in that city and removed to Leavenworth, Kans., where he built a mule streetcar line. This he equipped and controlled for a time, but eventually sold that property and removed to Burlington in 1887. Here he purchased the Burlington Gazette, a daily paper, which at that time had a city circulation of only five hundred and sixty-two. The paper had been established in 1836. It has had a remarkable evolution, keeping in touch with the progressive spirit of journalism. The paper has had a continuous existence from territorial days, having been established in Burlington when the city was known as a part of the Black Hawk Purchase, its owners being Cyrus Jacobs, a young lawyer, and James Clarke, a practical printer.

Various changes occurred in ownership as the years passed, and among its editors and publishers have been many men who have attained State and National reputations in connection with public interests. In the decade preceding the Civil War the Gazette was the State organ of the Democratic party and the champion of the Iowa senators. Hon. A. C. Dodge and Hon. G. W. Jones, ably defending them through the great struggle of the Kansas-Nebraska act. Up to this time the Gazette had been published as a weekly paper, but in 1853 the tri-weekly issue was begun; and after Iowa became a State the name of the paper was changed to the Iowa State Gazette. Different men purchased, owned, and controlled the paper, and different changes occurred in the name. It was on June 1, 1867, that the word Argos, which then formed a part of the title, was dropped, the paper becoming known only as the Gazette. On Sept. 24, 1874, the Gazette Printing Company was organized, and in 1887 Mr. Stivers and his associates purchased the paper with all its franchise and good-will. Its equipment at that time was of the most primitive, with a noticeable absence of improved machinery, and its entire circulation by mail and carrier was less than one thousand copies. Since then improvements have been continuously made, until the Gazette office has no equal in equipment in this country in a city of the size of Burlington. It is a practical demonstrator of the acme of modern invention.

In 1904 occurred changes, nearly fifty thousand dollars being invested in machinery and material for the publication of its papers. Under the management of Mr. Stivers a new press, the Goss straight-line, has been installed. It is a double-deck perfecting press, turning out twenty-five thousand folded, printed Gazettes in an hour. There is also a battery of Mergenthaler linotype machines, with all necessary equipment for publishing a modem evening daily. The paper has also been a financial success, and the circulation in the city now exceeds thirty-eight hundred copies, and there is also a large outside patronage. The paper has always been the champion of Democracy, upholding the principles of Jefferson, Madison, and other old-time leaders of the party. It is now the champion of sound-money Democracy, having supported Palmer and Buckner, and in the recent campaign Parker and Davis. The Gazette is furnished with the associated press dispatches, and in addition has a large and efficient corps of reporters throughout the State gathering the news that will be of the greatest interest to Iowa readers.

Mr. Stivers has always been active and influential in politics, doing much for his party aside from the strong influence which he exercises in connection with the publication of the Gazette. He attends to the conventions of his party, yet has never sought or desired political preferment.

Mr. Stivers was married in Pomeroy, Ohio, in 1870, to Miss Frances Metcalf, of McConnellsville, Ohio, and they have one son, George, who is now business manager of the Gazette. They lost a daughter, who was the wife of W. G. Coffin, and died at Memphis, Tenn., leaving a son, Joseph, who is now living with his grandfather. The family home of Mr. and Mrs. Stivers is at 1122 Smith Street. Mr. Stivers is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Commercial Club of Burlington, and the Golf Club. He is a man of marked business tact, a representative journalist, wide-awake, alert, and enterprising, regarding his field of activity not only as a business but as a profession, giving broad scope not only for the acquirement of a financial reward, but also for the exercise of a good influence.

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