History of Journalism

By Herbert C. Willis

(Re: History of DeKalb County, Indiana; B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., Indianapolis, 1914) Submitted by: Arlene Goodwin, aagoodwin46706@yahoo.com

The making of a newspaper has given the projectors of the various enterprises more real worry and hardships than perhaps any other line of business investments. It has made men poor from a financial standpoint, some have lost friends and all of the promoters have lost sleep trying to make their newspapers pay and at the same time have a standing in their communities as molders of public opinion.

There have been as many newspapers in the county since the publication of the first paper as there have been establishments in any one line of business. Still today there are but ten newspapers published in the county. All of the papers now published have their fields in which to circulate and most of them have a political party whose principles they advocate.


The earlier newspapers of the county never thought of contesting with each other to get a ‘scoop’ on a news story. It was too slow a process and all that was thought of was to get a subscriber now and then, take a load of wood on subscription, or a gallon and a half of apple butter. The editors generally boarded their printers and the wages paid were small compared with that of the present time. One printer on a paper, with an apprentice and a ‘devil,’ who worked for a chance to learn the trade, composed the force that set up the type, with the assistance of the editor himself. And started the paper off to press, sometimes on time, sometimes late from one hour to two days. It seemed to make no difference when the subscribers received their papers, and in some instances it mattered not whether they received them at all.

About three times a year, Saturday afternoon was made a half holiday, when a pile of kindling would be gathered in the back yard an the process of roller-making was carried out. A portion of glue and molasses was cooked until it was of the paper texture, when the ‘dope’ would be poured into the molds of cylinder shape and a roller cast, with which the ‘devil’ had to stand on a box and by hand roll the forms on the hand press in order that the ink would be properly spread over the type. It is perhaps safe to say that there is not more than one printer or publisher in the county at the present time who ever helped to cast a roller in the old-fashioned way.

Today the newspaper plants of this county are modern country offices, well equipped for newspaper work, and with up-to-date job printing departments, able to handle much of the work that larger printing offices do.

The newspapers of today are no longer considered a subject of charity, supported in order to help out the publisher that he may secure food and clothing for himself and family. It is now a business proposition with the publisher. He sells his advertising space, and offers it as his stock in trade, the same as any merchant.

The press of DeKalb county has proved to be one of the greatest factors in modern civilization. It has aided the progress of the county from the time that the newspaper was first known to its people to the present time in a manner that cannot be told. Before this county had a newspaper it was necessary that all legal notices that were required by law to be published had to be sent outside the county for publication. This gave but little notice to the public or parties who were directly interested in such publications.


The first newspaper talk for DeKalb county was in 1852, when S. E. Alvord, then publisher of the Observer at Albion, in Noble county, contemplated starting a paper at Auburn, the county seat. Not receiving sufficient encouragement in the venture proposed, he soon afterward sold his outfit to Messrs. Berry and Milton J. Pierce, who launched the first paper in DeKalb county, by the publication of the Democratic Messenger at Auburn. This did not prove to be a successful venture and after the paper had been published less than a week Mr. Berry retired from the newspaper and shortly after this, in December, 1855, the office was destroyed by fire. Mr. Pierce was elected auditor of DeKalb County in 1856, and DeKalb county was without a newspaper.


However, in 1856, two papers started up at Auburn, but neither one proved to be a success and they were soon moved away. W. C. McGonigal became the editor and publisher of the DeKalb Democrat, and J. M. Bromagen of the Auburn Republican. During the same year and at the close of one of the most exciting presidential campaigns ever wager in the history of the county, the Republican was moved to Angola, where the Steuben Republican was issued, and since that time had been Steuben county’s leading newspaper. The Democrat moved to Wabash in 1859, where Mr. McGonigal began the publication of the Wabash Plaindealer.


The lack of support that these papers received at the county seat did not discourage others for starting similar ventures, and it was in August, 1858, that William T. and John M. Kimsey began the publication of the DeKalb County Times at Auburn. It only took the new publishers a few months to find out that there was not room for the Times at the county seat, Auburn then being a much smaller town than Waterloo, and they sold out their printing outfit to Timothy Y. Dickinson, a son of the late Hon. T. R. Dickinson, then a practicing attorney at Auburn, to whom an appeal had been made to have a paper printed in Waterloo. The Times plant was moved to Waterloo and on February 4, 1859, the first issue of the Waterloo Press came off the press, and since that time it has been continuously published.

The plant that was taken to Auburn by the Kimsey brothers was one that had been used at Angola, in Steuben county, with which was published a paper called the Truth Seeker, espousing the tenets of a religious sect, but it proved a financial failure.

When the Waterloo Press was started William T. Kimsey was employed to work on the paper and he continued in this position until the breaking out of the Civil war, when, in 1861, he entered into the service of the Union Army. Mr. Kimsey is living today and is the only survivor of the former publishers or printers who worked on the first newspapers established in DeKalb county.

C. K. Baxter, another printer then employed on the paper, left the office at the time and also entered into the army service. Mr. Baxter passed away at his late home in Ellsworth, Kansas, in June 1913. Soon after the Civil war broke out, T. Y. Dickinson was appointed assessor and internal revenue collector for this county, and he leased the Press to J. R. Radcliffe, a printer in his employ, who appears as the editor of the paper in February, 1862, although the ownership of the paper remained in Mr. Dickinson until after Mr. Baxter came out of the army in the fall of 1864, when he bought the paper from Mr. Dickinson. The Press continued under the ownership of the new proprietor until the spring of 1865, when he sold it to J. F. Radcliffe and Henry J. Long. This partnership existed but a short time and Mr. Long sold his interest to Benjamin F. Kennedy, and the paper continued under the editorial head of Radcliffe & Kennedy until in September, 1868, when Mr. Baxter again became connected with the paper, having bought the half interest held by Mr. Radcliffe. Baxter & Kennedy then published the paper until 1873, when Mr. Kennedy was forced to retire on account of failing health, holding his interest in the paper until 1875.

On January 1, 1884, Mr. Baxter sold out the Press to his brother-in-law, the late Frank W. Willis, and his nephew, Edward P. Dickinson, the only surviving son of the founder of the Press, T. Y. Dickinson. This partnership existed a short time and then Mr. Willis became the sole owner, continuing the publication of the Press until the great fires that visited Waterloo on February 12, 1896. While the presses were hot and the embers were still burning, Mr. Willis formed a partnership with his son, Herbert C. Willis, and the paper was continued without missing an issue, although the fire occurred on the morning that the paper was to go to press. Phoenix-like, the Press arose from its ashes, and was but a few hours late in going to press, as a full sized paper, being seven columns, eight pages. This partnership continued until the death of the senior Mr. Willis, which occurred on May 19, 1913, when the paper was continued by his son and partner, and today stand foremost for the best principles of good citizenship, enjoying a wide circulation. It supports the Republican party.

During the time that the paper was published by Baxter & Kennedy in 1868 the office was destroyed by fire, but publication was resumed with but slight interruption.

On the morning that the Press office was burned in 1896, at three o’clock, when the junior editor of the paper was circulating about the streets to find business men who had not suffered loss, soliciting them to take advertising space in the paper, and at the same time making the rounds to get items for the paper, the editor was accosted by Mr. D. L. Leas, one of the business men who had burned out, who remarked, "Well, we won’t have a paper this week, will we?" the editor replied, "Yes, but we may be a few hours late." Mr. Leas thought that the answer was made in a jesting wary, and said, "Oh, what a liar you are getting to be." On publication day Mr. Leas was surprised to see the Press issued in full size, seven columns, eight pages, the work having been accomplished in Fort Wayne. He looked up the editor and apologized, saying that he had no idea the editor meant what he said.


is the Waterloo Press, which has been printed continuously for over half a century. The first copy that was ever printed is now framed and occupies a place in the office of the present publisher of the paper, who has a complete set of bound files of the paper for the last forty-four years. The editor of the Press set his first type in 1884 and had followed that trade ever since, working at the case during school vacations until he took up active work on the paper in 1891.


In the fall of 1859 George Kuhlman started another paper at Auburn, known as the New Era. This paper was later continued by Joseph C. Loveland until in 1865, being called the Observer and Reporter. Mr. Loveland moved his paper to Clyde, Ohio.

The second paper to be called the DeKalb Democrat at Auburn was started by William H. Dills in 1864, who was later succeeded by Howard Coe as editor. Another paper known as the Democrat was published at Auburn by H. D. Carroll, but it lived only a year and suspended publication in 1868.

In December, 1868, J. F. Radcliffe started an opposition paper at Waterloo called Air Line, but it met with many hard knocks, and in 1870 suspended for lack of patronage, then being published by James A. Barnes. The plant was sold to Tom Mays and removed to Auburn, where, on January 1, 1871, the Auburn Courier was launched. Before coming to Auburn, Mr. Mays had been connected with the Fort Wayne Sentinel, and was an experienced newspaper man of that time. He continued the paper until July 1, 1878, then selling the Courier to Theodore Reed, who came to Auburn from Columbia City, Indiana. Shortly after his purchase he sold an interest to Robert J. Lowry, of Fort Wayne, who purchased Mr. Reed’s interest in 1880, and continued the paper until he died in 1880, after which time the paper fell into the hands of James A. Barnes and Daniel Y. Husselman, who lived in Waterloo. They continued as partners until January 1, 1882, when Frank P. Blair bought Mr. Husselman’s interest in the Courier, and in March, of the same year, he disposed of his interest to Mr. Barnes, who continued the publication until about 1899, when his health began to fail and he formed a partnership with Mr. Coxey Miner, of Garrett, and later the Courier Company, Mr. Barnes still being connected with the paper until he died. During the time that Mr. Barnes was connected with the Courier he established the first daily paper in DeKalb county, and the publication of the Daily Courier continued until February 7, 1913, when the office was destroyed by fire. At the time of the fire W. H. McIntyre, the automobile manufacturer of Auburn, was the owner, and then it was that a merger was formed with the Auburn Dispatch, daily and weekly, and the two daily papers suspended and by a combined force of the former publishers of the two papers, the Auburn Evening Star was launched, both the Courier and Dispatch continuing their weekly papers, being issued semi-weekly.


W. T. Kinny started the first paper in Butler, known as the Herald. This was in 1866, but it had a brief existence of one year. In 1868 another paper was started in Butler, called the Banner of Liberty, published by Emory Higly, the father of the present editor of the Butler Record. Mr. Higly, desiring to advance with the progress of the county seat, soon moved his paper to Auburn, styling it the Auburn Times, but was short lived. In 1874 R. Harry Weamer began the publication of the Butler News, but in a short time had a vision of a Republican paper at the county seat and moved the plant to Auburn, where he launched the DeKalb County Republican. Soon after going to Auburn he became associated with his nephew, and the firm name was Weamer & Weamer. In March, 1878, R. H. Weamer sold out his interest in the Republican to Calvin P. Houser. In May, the same year, Mr. Houser sold out his interest to George Weamer, who was then the sole owner, continuing the Republican until March, 1881, when Mr. Houser and Joseph Rainier bought the paper, but in November of the same year Mr. Houser bought out Mr. Rainier’s interest. In June, 1884, Myron H. Hoisington bought an interest in the paper with Mr. Houser.

From the publication of the Auburn Republican evolved the Auburn Dispatch, which paper is published at this time.

After M. E. Smith sold out the Butler Record he secured the Republican at Auburn and continued the paper a short time until Wallace B. Campbell, now of Anderson, Indiana, came to Auburn, and with a printer partner, by the name of Stevens, who came from Paxon, Illinois, the Republican was changed to the Auburn Dispatch. They continued the publication of the paper until in the early nineties, when Mr. Campbell, who had became the sole owner, sold the Dispatch to George W. Gordon, the veteran postmaster. For a while Mr. Gordon continued the paper alone, and later took in as a partner Charles Spake, his foreman printer. This partnership existed until there were some differences and Mr. Spake started a job printing office and the Dispatch was again under the control of Mr. Gordon, who, at his age, was unable to carry on the hard work incident to the publishing of a paper, having in the meantime established a daily paper, known as the Evening Dispatch. The project finally failed and the paper was sold to James E. Buchanan, who was editing the Albion New Era. This change was made about ten years ago, and Mr. Buchanan continued at the head of the Dispatch until his death, which occurred during the summer of 1913. Since that time his son, Vern, had become editor and manager of the paper, and with the assistance of his mother, they are carrying on the publication along the plans of the late editor.

The Evening Dispatch was discontinued early in the year, as stated in another part of this chapter, which covers the merger story with the Auburn Courier.


Soon after the town of Garrett was started it was considered necessary to have a newspaper in order that the new town might be made an important factor, not only in the railroad circle, but in the business world as well.

The Garrett News was launched in October, 1875, by C. W. Wing & Company, as publishers, and Thomas Malony, as editor. It was but a short time when the publishers found the venture losing money and they decided to discontinue the paper.

However, in 1877, Otho J. Powell tired another venture in Garrett, establishing the Garrett Herald, and conducted it as a Republican paper. This paper also contained many religious stories, and the editor being a religious turn of mind, gave religious subjects more space in his paper then he did news or politics, and there was a sentiment growing in favor of another paper of the opposite views on religion as well as politics. This led up to the establishment of the Garrett Clipper in 1884 by Henry E. and A. J. Little, brothers. This partnership existed until 1897 when they sold out to Solomon Ellis, who lived in Chicago, and desired to conduct a country newspaper. After conducting the paper for one year he sold the paper to Henry E. Little, and his son Tracy C., now deceased. The father and son conducted the paper as a live wire until 1905, when the senior Mr. Little died, and the son conducted the paper until the year 1908, during which time he made considerable money out of the newspaper business. He sold the Clipper to C. B. Hamilton, the present owner. The paper is a stanch Democrat newspaper, fearless and newsy. After Tracy C. Little sold out the Clipper he formed a partnership with his uncle, and former partner of his father, A. J. Little, in the Little Hardware Company, remaining there until his death in the spring of 1913.

The Garrett Herald was continued and later bought by C. W. Miner, who with his son conducted the paper for a number of years, but finally closed out the paper about 1900.

Other papers were started since that time, but all had a short duration. The Garrett News was the title of the paper which was conducted by Alfred Kist, who was also connected with the circulation department of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Mr. Kist absconded and left his paper heavily involved and it was closed up by a mortgage foreclosure proceeding.


came into existence in March, 1877, with W. M. Kist as the editor and publisher, who continued at the helm of the paper until 1880, when he leased the plant to R. Harry Weamer, now deceased, for a term of one year. Mr. Kist died during the year and at the end of the time for which the plant was leased his estate sold the paper to W. F. Garrison, a brother of Mrs. Kist. Mr. Garrison conducted the paper for a number of years and then the Record passed through several hands, becoming the property of Mr. Maxwell, who sold the paper to M. E. Smith, and later to Luther H. Higley, the present editor and publisher, who had built up a good printing business in connection with his paper.


Is the name of the Democrat paper published in Butler at the present time. It is the offspring of the Butler Review. After Mr. R. H. Weamer had leased the Butler Record, before the death of Mr. Kist there seemed to be some misunderstanding as to the time which he was to continue the paper. By the death of the proprietor of the Record, a termination of the lease was made at the end of the year. This aroused Mr. Weamer to start a paper in opposition to the Record. To do this and make it pay, he believed it prudent to make it a Democratic paper. Mr. Weamer was a very stanch Republican, and so close did he draw the party lines, he could not write a Democratic editorial, so he conducted the paper as the publisher and proprietor and secured the services of John Baxter, then a Butler resident, to write the editorials. This arrangement continued until 1884, when, on the first day of October, he sold the plant to Edmund Calkins, who edited the paper until in March, 1885. It then was edited by George Lautzenheiser for three months and was sold to John J. Higgins who published the Review for several years, when he sold the plant to O. H. Downey, now editor of the Churubusco Truth. Mr. Downey conducted the paper a short time and then sold it to M. E. Gardner, now publisher of the Democrat, at Lansing, Michigan. In a short time Mr. Downey again became editor of the paper and in order to make some changes in appearance of the paper, and for the purpose of placing it more before the people as a democratic organ of the county, he changed the name to the DeKalb County Herald.

Later Mr. Downey disposed of the Herald to W. H. Keenan who had charge of the paper until five years ago when it was sold to A. S. Powers who today is publishing a good paper.


These papers have been numerous, and some of them have been organs of spite and malice, while some have tried hard to maintain a circulation and gain a prestige.

In the latter part of the eighties a paper was started at Corunna, known as the Corunna Headlight. This was a small pamphlet form, and was an experiment along the line of the Ram’s Horn. Joseph Loveland, an eccentric character, was the publisher of the paper, but it died after a short existence, struggling to the last. During the time that he was editor of this paper, his sister, Miss Mary Loveland, a maiden lady, and his son, Joseph Loveland, Jr., learned to set type, and after the death of the senior Mr. Loveland, Mr. Loveland Jr., and his "old aunt Mary" came to Waterloo and started a paper called the DeKalb County Democrat. This was in 1890, and the paper had a struggling life for nearly two years when O. S. Davison, then photographer of Waterloo, made adventure and purchased the hand outfit of the Democrat and launched the Advocate. This paper was run during the campaign of 1892 as an organ for the Patrons of Industry, but was found without support enough to keep it going in less than a year and the paper was discontinued. The outfit was then bought by Charles Spake, an Auburn printer, who moved the plant to Auburn and started an opposition paper to the Auburn Dispatch. The new Auburn paper was known as the Auburn Times, but had a short existence, when it was consolidated with the Dispatch, and Mr. Spake became a partner of George W. Gordon, then the publisher of the Dispatch.

Shortly after this, others saw what they thought to be an opening for a third newspaper in Auburn, and the Times was again launched with Frank Fluke and Frank Cline, brother-in-law, as the editors and publishers. A new outfit was purchased and the two printers used what means they had to experiment on a money-making newspaper scheme, but they were compelled to retire. At this time R. H. Weamer again entered the field and took up the Times, but in only a short time he was convinced that a third paper in Auburn had no place and he moved the plant to Hudson where he published the Hudson Banner. This paper was conducted a number of years and was finally suspended when Mr. Weamer became to feeble to continue its publication and unable to find anyone to take up the work. Mr. Weamer’s death followed the suspension of the paper.


Just at the time William Jennings Bryan was coming into prominence by his freesilver ideas, the Silver Dawn was conceived in Waterloo. Karl Gerner, hailing from Madison, South Dakota, struck this county after having been in Owensboro, Kentucky, seeking a location for a silver paper. He launched the Silver Dawn in July, 1896, and sought subscriptions for the sum of a silver dollar. The silver dollars never increased the circulation to any extent and the publisher became restless, desired to make a disposition of the paper. He finally succeeded in leasing the paper to Lewis Barnett Fretz and Saxby McIntosh, two printers, who conducted the paper for four months, when Mr. Gerner was forced to take the paper back, During this change in management the name of the paper was changed to the Dawn.

During the local option campaign of 1909 Mr. Gerner sold the Dawn to the Indiana Brewing Association, through the agency of Hon, S. B. Fleming, of Fort Wayne, with Alfred Kelley as local proprietor and publisher. Then it was the Enoch Moffett came to Waterloo to take charge of the paper and, while posing as a temperance people came to the town and incidentally "birds of a feather flock together," and the detective became so "dry" that Mr. Moffett kindly offered to take his money and go to a drug store where he could get a bottle of whisky for him. The detective consented, and after being convinced that the contents of the bottle were whisky, he labeled the bottle and dated it, with the name of the purchaser and seller. Later the bottle appeared in the grand jury room and the court did the rest.

The incident is mentioned to show the drift of the influence that the Dawn had an to explain that it was no wonder that it died in April, 1910, by "drowning," after fighting for a wet campaign.


was started with the inception of the town of Ashley, located on the county line adjoining Steuben county, by George W. Strayer, who came along with the town boomers to make Ashley a railroad division point. Mr. Strayer conducted the paper for a number of years when his office was completely wiped out by fire in the middle of an afternoon. Without loss of time, Mr. Strayer organized the Ashley Printing Company, and resumed the publication of the Times. He continued this paper until his death which occurred in 1903, when the business was continued by his widow, who secured the services of Charles F. Kettering, who eventually leased the plant. It was running down hill and the new editor not being able to pay his rent, refused to relinquished his lease on the paper. An action was begun in the circuit court praying for a receivership. Judge J. H. Rose appointed Herbert C. Willis, the junior editor of the Waterloo Press, to take charge of the paper as editor and receiver, continue the business, close up affairs, collect accounts, and run the paper at the same time in order that it might be put in shape to be sold at receiver’s sale. This was during the summer of 1904, and in November the plant was sold, Mrs. Strayer, the widow of the late George Strayer, and one of the stock holders, bidding in the plant. The business had been worked up and the paper placed on a basis that made it self-supporting. Mrs. Strayer in turn sold the paper to J. F. Coss, who conducted the paper for some time. Later Mr. Coss sold out his paper to the Angola Herald, which tried to print an Ashley paper in Angola, and have it circulated in the DeKalb-Steuben county town. This venture was not a success, and after some litigation the sale was annulled. In the meantime, and five years ago, John L. Gillispie bought the old Hudson Banner outfit and started up another paper in Ashley under the name of the Ashley News to A. C. Wolf, who has since conducted the paper, and Mr. Coss vanished from this section of the country almost simultaneously.


was started at St. Joe, in the southeast part of the county, several years ago by Mort E. Olds. The paper was continued under this management several years and had a very successful career for a paper in a small town. Later the paper became the property of Lloyd Yeiser, who finally disposed of the paper to the present publisher, Fred J. Leighty, who has continually improved the paper, as an independent sheet.


was one of the late projects that faded away, and after a struggling existence of about two years, Rex B. Wood, the preacher and checker player who came from Wolf Lake to this county, discontinued the paper and his subscription list was taken up by the Waterloo Press, which paper is now filling the unexpired subscriptions. The Star was a independent.


John C. Lochner, who had conducted a job printing office in Auburn for a number of years, and at one time was connected with the Auburn Courier, thought out a plan by which a weekly newspaper could be published for fifty cents a year. He launched his paper January 1, 1911, and since that time the paper has prospered and all subscriptions are received at the nominal sum of fifty cents per annum. Politically, it is independent. Mr. Lochner has installed a new Intertype machine and issues a four page paper, all home print. It is worth the price charged. One of the features of his paper is to paint a list of new subscribers each week, also the name of those who pay their subscriptions.