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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Early Newspapers

Extracted from the 1915 History of Harrison County, Iowa, by Hon. Charles W. Hunt, Logan; published by B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.

Transcribed and submitted by Mona Sarratt Knight


Whatever Harrison county may have lacked in local factors calculated to build up a new country, certainly it has never lacked the potent touch of the local press, for almost every nook and corner of the extensive domain of the county has had, and still supports, a good local newspaper. The West is noted for excellent newspapers – the East and South have not yet begun to touch it in this respect for superiority. The pioneer had no sooner set his stakes and builded a cabin in which to live, and seen to a few county government and township school matters, than he demanded a newspaper – home-made and one that should not only chronicle the local happenings of his community, but one whose editor would set forth the glories of a new country, in order that others might be drawn hither and enjoy the new realm with them. There have been all kinds of papers, except Copperhead journals. These were never tolerated in this county. Loyalty to the Union and upholding the flag were among the important traits of Harrison county's first settlers.

The first newspaper in Harrison county, the Harrison County Flag, established at Calhoun in 1858 by Hon. Isaac PARRISH, was removed to Magnolia and published by Parrish & Hill, just about Civil War days. Capt. W. M. HILL was managing editor. It was a Democratic sheet and did not continue long, but during its career it was spiteful and full of local bickerings, unbecoming a newspaper in any community.

The second attempt at running a newspaper in this county was when the Magnolia Weekly Republican was founded, January 4, 1859, by George R. BRAINARD. It appeared as a very newsy, neatly printed journal. It was of the seven column folio form, having for its motto – Our libraries we prize and our rights we will maintain. The subscription price was two dollars per year. In volume one, number one, the publication was filled with state laws, which were then being printed in every county paper in the state, a custom which a newspaperman of Webster City, the late Hon. Charles ALDRICH, curator of the historical department of Iowa, caused to be enacted into a state law about that date. This law should never have been repealed, as the common people of the state have a right to know by reading their home paper just what changes the Legislatures make in the laws that bind them.

During 1859, O.V. BRAINARD was associate editor of the Republican, and finally Sylvanus ELLIS became a part owner and operator of that paper. He was a young man who, seemingly, had a bright career before him, but before the close of volume one of the paper he sickened and died. About 1862 George BRAINARD leased the paper to Judge FORD, he (Brainard) having been appointed postmaster of the House of Representatives. George MUSGRAVE was associated with BRAINARD also. The plant was sold to a Mr. TRUMAN and removed from Magnolia.

QUAINT AND CURIOUS CARDS. The first year's files of the Republican show one today many things of curiosity, and bring to mind events in history in the long ago times. Among the quaint business cards appeared these:

Addison OLIVER, Attorney-at-law (later he was member of Congress and a district judge); he was then practicing law at Onawa.

The bowels and their functions, address Doctor MORSE, Jersey City.

I.O.G.T. Lodge No. 74, meets at the house of O. V. BRAINARD; Charles HASLAM, Secretary.

Dr. T. L. COONS, physician and surgeon, may be found at his home near the mouth of the Soldier when not away on country calls.

Magnolia Lodge No. 126, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

Isaac PARRISH, attorney-at-law and counseller.

Dr. J. H. RICE, Magnolia, Iowa.

Dr. McGAVREN, St. John, Iowa.

In the issue of the Republican in march 1859, the editor said: Harrison county warrants were sold at sheriff sale for $1.03. Can any Iowa county beat this? The same date (March 5, 1859), it said: We hope ere long to be favored with a sight of the new state banking system of bills, which we hear are of a beautiful design. We anxiously await the sight of a V bearing Ex-Governor Lowe's portrait upon its face.

An item of 1859 said: Oregon was admitted to the union of states, making the thirty-third in the Union and the second one west of the Rocky mountains.

Remembering that this was just two years before the great Civil War, it will be of interest to note the following: Two of the late President Polk's slaves are on trial at Nashville, charged with conspiracy and insurrection.

At about the same date the Republican copied the following from the Pacific City (Iowa) Herald: We wish them success, but must tell the publishers that papers in Western Iowa are not now very profitable investments. In politics the paper is O.K. – Republican. That's the ticket that takes you into the menagerie in the future.

Missouri Valley had the third newspaper in Harrison county – the Harrisonian, volume one, number one of which appeared July 3, 1868, with the late Hon. D. M. HARRIS (Judge Harris) as editor and proprietor. From the first issue, the able editor gave unadulterated Democratic doctrines in his editorials. He continued until 1872, when he sold the paper to H. M. GOLTRY, who at once changed the name to the Missouri Valley Times, the name it still bears. In 1874 the paper was sold to Gore & Cutler, who conducted it until 1876, when Hon. D. M. HARRIS, the original founder, returned from a sojourn in Kansas, purchased the paper and was connected with it until a short time before his death, a few years ago. Under his management, it was one of the strongest Democratic organs in all Iowa – never flinching to utter the truth as well as his own deep-seated convictions. At one time he carried a sub-head motto: Business is Business – Go In and Win.

In its eighth volume it became a seven-column folio and was first issued under the firm style of D. M. Harris & Sons. It became a daily paper in April 1891. It forged to the front and was greatly to the advantage of the reading public of Harrison County. Who could now boast of a home daily newspaper.

HEBREW EDITION – IN ENGLISH. On one occasion Judge HARRIS, long before he had made anything of a printer and typesetter of himself, found he was short of help, as his printers had all gone on a spree. He would not be defeated, so he tackled the type himself and thought he was making fine headway, doting on getting his paper out on time that week, printers or no printers, when, upon taking proof of a full galley of type, he discovered that he had set the pesky type up wrong side to and that his news items read from right to left, after the manner of the Hebrew language. But not having time to reset it, he locked the form up and run it off, calling it his Hebrew Edition. The paper issued the next day on time and the unpractical printer got all kinds of press notices for his skill.

After the death of Judge D. M. HARRIS, his son, Bob HARRIS, was at the helm until 1904, when the Times passed into the hands of relatives, being now conducted by a nephew Bob HARRIS, R.C. LAHMAN, who keeps it fully up to the standard set by his uncle and great uncle Judge Harris. It became a daily publication April 1, 1891. Its subscription rate is fifteen cents a week for the daily and one dollar and fifty cents for the weekly, per year.

The next newspaper venture at Missouri Valley was the Harrison County News, first established at Logan (for special political reasons), but early in 1884 it was removed to Missouri Valley by one BALLOU. It was a radical Republican paper and was owned and edited by BALLOU for two years, when its present owner, A. H. SNIFF, purchased it and at once made it a live local journal, publishing both a weekly and a daily for a number of years. It was eventually changed to a semi-weekly paper, and so continues today. It has always been uncompromisingly Republican in politics. As a chronicler of home news of the better, more important class, the News has no superior in its community. In the nineties it also published auxiliary papers for the towns of Persia, Mondamin, Little Sioux, and other Harrison county towns.

The paper is now a seven column paper, printed on improved presses, and having one of the best equipped offices in the county. The present printing establishment is known as the News Croft—the House of Good Printing. The building occupied by this plans was constructed of solid cement blocks. It is a two-story structure, with every facility for doing modern printing. It is likely the only printing office owned by its proprietor in Harrison county.

Editor SNIFF is known as being an excellent scholar and an able, interesting writer. His editorials at times are sparkling literary gems, while at other times they are cutting and sting to the very center. Both Mr. And Mrs. SNIFF (for the latter does her share in the office toward making the News the success it is) are well calculated to supply the community with all the local news of the week, in two installments—Wednesday and Friday.

Another Missouri Valley paper was the Eye, founded in 1888 by M. B. COX, as an independent journal. It was a six column quarto. A half interest was purchased in 1889 by R. J. MILLER of Mason City, Iowa, and it was then changed to a Democratic paper. January 1, 1890, Mr. Miller purchased the remaining half of the plant. He made it a good paper and carried on quite an extensive book and job office. In December 1890, he commenced running a Mondamin department in his paper. In February 1891 the Eye was first issued as a daily paper, continuing for several years.

Dunlap had the fourth newspaper in Harrison County. It was the Dunlap Reporter, established in July 1871 by George MUSGRAVE as the owner and George R. BRAINARD as editor and manager. In 1873 the property was sold to L. F. COOK, who conducted it for nine years, during which time he edited a clean, newsy paper. Considering the fact that he was not a professional newspaper man, he did remarkably well. In 1881 the paper was sold to Issacher SCOFIELD, and four years later he sold to Messrs. MIERS & WAITLEY. It was edited by G. W. THOMPSON until the plant was sold, in 1887 to J. H. PURCELL, who exhibited more genuine journalism than had ever been manifested on that publication. At one time, J. W. AINSWORTH edited the Reporter. From its first issue the paper has been Republican in politics and has shown no uncertainty regarding party lines. In 1890 it was sold to E. B. WILLIAMS, who conducted it until June 1894 when it was sold to W. N. GAUMER, who ran it until March 1900, when A. J. ENBODY became its owner. He conducted it until the fall of 1908 and then sold it to Thomas E. CAVERLY, who owned it until May 1913, when the present owner, W. C. HILLS took the helm and is giving the public a clean, readable newspaper.

The Dunlap Herald was founded by T. M. C. LOGAN, October 30, 1899, as a Republican organ. At first it was an eight-page six-column paper, managed by E. H. WILLS. After three months it was enlarged to a seven-column paper. In February 1891, this office was purchased by Mr. WILLS, who conducted it until it became the property of JENNINGS Brothers in 1891. They sold it to CHILD & CHILD, and in 1900, ten years later, it was sold to T. E. CAVERLY and consolidated with the Reporter.

EDITOR REBUKES EDITOR. At Little Sioux, the first paper launched was the Sentinel, which was established some time in the seventies, and was also a Republican journal. It was started by Samuel DEWELL of Magnolia, who operated a hotel there at one time. He was the author of a primary geography, which he wished to put on the market. With this in view, he purchased a cylinder press, and with it got out a small first edition of his geography, after which he started the Sentinel at Little Sioux village. He ran it a while and after many changes, it passed to the ownership of William WONDER, who founded the Independent in Mondamin. In 1882, he was succeeded by W. D. BUTTS, one of the oldest printers in western Iowa, who conducted it at Mondamin a year or two and moved it to Little Sioux, where he continued until his death, in December 1913. Mr. BUTTS was a wit, and on one occasion, when the Logal Courier was claiming that one Mr. HARD was the oldest typo in all western Iowa, Mr. BUTTS, of the Independent came back at Editor MUSGRAVE in these words: Now, friend Hard may be the oldest and slightly homeliest man of early typos of this section, but the present typo of the Independent makes some pretensions all the same. We printed the first election ticket that ever hid itself in a Harrison county ballot box, and the first ball tickets that shook up the French and half-cast and the Mormon girls of this part of western Iowa. Stir the ancients easily like, Brother George Musgrave!

Mr. Butts, although he had a few partners in later years, finally became again sole owner of the paper and conducted it to his last days, when he office was forever closed.

The Hustler is the local paper of today in Little Sioux. It is all its name would indicate—a liely local journal edited by a man full of genuine hustle and enterprise. He also runs a department for Pisgah. The Hustler was established in March 1901 by H. W. KERR. It is now a seven-column paper, printed on a power press. The job department of this office tackles any kind of job work, and produces fine, artistic work. Subscription rate is one dollar per year, in advance. Whatever is fit to print is found in this paper.

Logan had the sixth newspaper in Harrison county. It was when the Harrison County Courier, established at Magnolia in 1874, was removed in 1875 to Logan, having in view the newly created county seat interests. Alpheus DAVISON was the editor and general manager, who forsook Magnolia, notwithstanding the fact that money had been furnished him by Magnolia people to send for his outfit and family in Illinois. He saw the coming of Logan's superiority over Magnolia as a business center and left the inland town to identify himself with the Loganites, who felt the pressing need, just then, for a newspaper.

THE GENUINE STAND-PAT STRIPE. About that time Uncle Henry REEL, proprietor of Logan, equipped a printing office and placed A. G. HARD in charge. This was too much, and Mr. DAVISON sold his Courier to Mr. REEL, leaving HARD as its editor. Mr. REEL had more money than he had newspaper experience, and soon tired of his journalistic ventures. Another wing of the Republican party established a paper at Logan, known as the Harrison County News, but, full of grit and sand, Uncle REEL kept the Courier alive until 1885, although at a loss of five thousand dollars. Then the plant was leased to George MUSGRAVE, who operated it one year, and then established a paper of his own, the Observer. J. K. DAVIDSON edited the Courier for a short time, but at a loss to Mr. REEL, who in 1887 sold the plant. George MUSGRAVE continued to conduct the Observer until December 19, 1889, when John C. McCABE bought the property and continued to edit the same until his death in October 1911. Since then it has been owned and edited by his son, Frank McCABE, who had been associated with his father for many years before the latter's death. The Observer has always been noted for the advocacy of strict Republican principles of genuine stand-pat stripe. The elder McCABE was a vigorous practical writer. He espoused the cause of every good and deserving project in his county and state, and was never afraid to come out in the open and vindicate his principles. He held the office of county surveyor many years, even while editing his paper, which was quoted from ore than any other western Iowa paper. Through inheritance and association, the son Frank very naturally followed the style of his father, being a strong write, and an advocate of true Republican principles.

Of the office, let it be said that it now occupies a fine building erected by the Odd Fellows. Modern machinery is found in this office, and an excellent job department is maintained. The power by which the machinery is run is a gasoline engine. In 1892 the present Standard power cylinder press was installed, and in 1896 a folder was added; also a typesetting machine. The Observer is a six-column quarto, all home print. Subscription price, one dollar per year, if paid in advance.

The Nucleus, of Logan, was established by the former proprietor of the Observer, George MUSGRAVE, in May 1890 as a Democratic paper. From his hands it passed to J. E. FERGUSON, who conducted it a number of years and discontinued it to move the plant to Des Moines, where he established a job printing office.

The Gazette of Logan is in its fifteenth year of publication. It was established by George MUSGRAVE, who took a partner named J. M. DAVIS, and they continued a number of years. Finally, Musgrave, true to his roaming newspaper disposition, sold the paper to Davis and started a paper at Manilla, where he died some years later. Davis ran the Gazette until May 1914, when it was sold to F. N. WITHAY, present proprietor. It is a six-column paper, part home and part plate print. Its makeup is good and its local department excellent, as is its general mechanical appearance.

THE POLITICAL GREENBACKERS. Woodbine's first newspaper and the only one now published there, was the Woodbine Twiner, established in 1879. It was edited and managed by that noted newspaper starter, George MUSGHRAVE. He continued it for five years. It was run in the interests of the then flourishing political party known as the Greenbackers. When the prop was pulled from under that party by the monetizing of silver, MUSGRAVE returned to his first love, the Republican party. In 1885 the paper was sold to Reverend DeTAR, a minister of the Methodist Church, who conducted it until the spring of 1887, when Henry Clay FORD assumed control. It then became the property of T. M. C. LOGAN and was styled the Courier. November 1, 1890, the plant was sold to M. B. COX and in July 1893 it went back to H. C. FORD, who in December 1897 sold it to Will L. CLARK, an Iowa newspaperman of considerable experience. Mr. CLARK conducted it until the following April, but owing to objectionable clauses in the bill of sale from FORD, which caused considerable litigation, the plant was finally thrown back on Ford's hands. He then leased it, after a time, to Dennis O'LEARY, but again it was taken in hand by FORD and finally, July 1, 1908, it was sold to its present owner and editor C. W. BAYS. The Chronicle was merged with this paper in May 1911, by the Twiner Publishing Company with Mr. BAYS as manager, but a little later one of the company, George ATKINS, stepped out since which Mr. BAYS has had full control.

Mr. BAYS edits a clean, up-to-date newspaper. It is always Republican in politics, is well filled with country correspondence and general local news of Harrison county. The office is now located in the Woodbine Savings Bank block, where one finds an exceptionally well cared for office, with modern equipment including a first-class jbo office. The Twiner has long been one of the official organs of this county. Its pretty name, it should be stated, originated in George MUSGRAVE's fertile mind, when he established the paper in 1879. Just before the founding of the paper, the famous Jim FISKE, railroad broker of New York, had been asked what had become of certain watered railroad stocks and had replied that they had “gone where the Woodbine twineth” meaning in modern parlance “up the spout!” Hence, MUSGRAVE coupled the words woodbine and twineth, making the name of his Woodbine paper, The Woodbine Twiner.

In 1891 there was run for a short time in Woodbine what was known as the Alliance Bugle, but its blasts did not long echo in these parts.

VOX POPULI. There have been several other Woodbine newspapers and political organs. From what is the present understanding of the history of several papers, whose files have been scattered with the passage of years, the Sentinel was established by a number of Populists, several years before the founding of the chronicle. George B. LANG was its editor and promoter. About one thousand two hundred dollars in cash was raised among the Populists of the county, and this was invested in a plant, operated a year or two. LANG was a red-hot Populist, at times bordering on anarchy. He had ability as a writer, but was misguided by a new political fad then in the political atmosphere. He, failing to make a financial success, sold the paper to Freely MYERS and S. C. BARTHOLOMEW, two noted “bull-pops,” or rather those gentlemen got control of the stock of the company. They rented the plant to Arthur E. PELTON, who changed the name to that of the Chronicle, and the politics to independent Republican. Ten months later, MYERS succeeded in selling to Lyman W. WHITE for the sum of four hundred dollars, and WHITE hired Mr. PELTON to manage the paper, while he himself did the editorial writing. PELTON's health failed, and in a year or thereabouts, WHITE took full charge of the paper, abandoning the real estate business in which he had been engatged. WHITE owned and conducted the Chronicle about thirteen years, and then sold it to Messrs. ADAMS and BRICKA, of Weeping Water, Nebraska. A few weeks later, these men not agreeing, George G. ADAMS, a one-armed man, bought BRICKA out and continued to conduct the paper until he consolidated it with the Twiner, under the head of the Twiner Publishing Company. Then, it may be said, the Chronicle really was founded as the Sentinel in about 1891, and as the Chronicle about 1894 or 1895 and continued until January 1909. One Everet STEWART was a partner with Mr. WHITE two years and a half before they sold to ADAMS and BRICKA.

WHITE conducted an up-to-date journal, full of interesting local news, and was independent Democratic in politics, generally giving the devil his dues—sometimes more than that. As a live wire in life insurance and as a past noble grand of Iowa Odd Fellowship, Mr. WHITE is well and favorably known. He still resides at Woodbine.

At Mondamin, the Independent was established by William WONDER, the first issue being dated August 13, 1881. Mr. WONDER had been publishing a musical journal, having the mechanical work done elsewhere. He finally decided that it would pay to print his own music and secured type and presses for that purpose. Soon he started the paper just mentioned and was convinced that it paid better than his musical productions, published in what he called the Banner. He conducted the Independent for a year and a half, when he sold it to D. W. BUTTS and went to Whiting, Iowa, later becoming editor of the Monona County Democrat. Mr. BUTTS soon removed the paper to Little Sioux.

The next newspaper of Mondamin was the Enterprise, established in 1889 during the month of April, by Bruce MORRISON, who sold it to E. W. WONDER & Son, after which the son, Oscar WONDER, became owner and editor. The next change was made when the plant was sold to Charles B. WILSON, who soon let the paper go back to Oscar WONDER. Mr. WONDER later sold it to J. W. BEAMANN & Son, and they transferred it to Fred KELLEY, February 1, 1914. The paper is now a six-column quarto and is run on a new Prouty press by a gas engine. Job work in all of its branches is neatly executed at this office. The paper is printed on Thursday of each week and has a subscription rate of one dollar a year. Mr. KELLEY is certainly the right man in the right place, and his news columns are worth the reading from week to week.

The Persia Globe was established by George E. FERGUSON, September 1888. Several failures had been made there in trying to launch a newspaper, but this one proved a success. The circulation embraced surrounding counties. Today the paper still gives the local news and works for the better interests of the place. Owners of the Globe have included these: George T. SMITH, A. A. DEVANTIER, BAYS & THOMPSON, C. W. BAYS (now of the Woodbine Twiner), E. STEWART, MEDILL & IVENS, Charles PERNELL, James LAING, George H. HOLTON, S. G. CAVE, and the present owner, M. P. McELROY, who came in 1912. It is a six-column folio paper and carries much local news.

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