History of the Press in Will County Illinois
From: History of Will County, Illinois
By: August Maue
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1928


The history of the press dates back almost to the beginning of Joliet. The first newspaper, a copy of which we have before us, was issued on the 20th day of April, 1839, and was called the "Juliet Courier." It presents a very attractive appearance, for a country village of forty years ago.

The paper was started by thirteen of the enterprising citizens of Joliet, or Juliet, of whom were the Allen brothers, Charles Clement, R. Doolittle, Judge Henderson and E. Wilcox. The press had been shipped to Ottawa, but not being wanted there, was offered on favorable terms, and was bought by Joliet. After considerable search they found a man of the name of O. H. Balch who had edited a paper in Michigan, and was also a practical printer, and him they secured as editor and publisher. It was a true blue Democratic paper, and in his salutatory the editor promulgated this sensible doctrine: * * * "He will only state in general terms that he intends to publish a newspaper in which the principles of Democracy shall be enforced and vindicated, and in which the National Constitution shall be held up to view as the foundation of our Republican institutions and the bond of our Union and as the safeguard of our civil liberties." In its columns we find this item of news, which was probably quite an achievement in its day, but when compared to present improvements, is dwarfed into insignificance: "Rapid Traveling. - It is stated in the Wilmington (N. C.) Journal, that the mail is now carried from New York to Charleston (by way of the Wilmington & Raleigh Railroad) in eighty four hours." It experienced the usual struggle for a foot hold in the newspaper field, and, after many changes, passed into the hands of D. L. Gregg, a brilliant young lawyer, and afterward a member of the Legislature, then secretary of state, and afterward United States consul to the Sandwich Islands. In 1843, it was purchased by Hon. Wm. E. Little, who changed its name to that of Joliet "Signal" which name it still retains. He, in a year or two, sold it to Hon. S. W. Randall, and he sold it to A. O. Stillman, who in May, 1846, sold it to C. & C. Zarley, sons of Reason Zarley, the first settler of Joliet Township. Calvin Zarley, before his death, disposed of his interest to P. Shuts, the other Zarley still retaining his interest. The firm is Zarley & Co., and their paper has ever remained Democratic, carrying out the principles heralded to the world on the day of its birth.

The Joliet "Republican" is the next oldest paper to the "Signal." It was originally established by A. McIntosh in 1847, as the "True Democrat." In 1848, he sold it to H. N. Marsh, who owned and edited it until 1852, when Mr. McIntosh bought it back, and, in 1857, sold it to Joseph L. Braden, at one time postmaster of Joliet, who, in 1864, changed its name to Joliet "Republican." In 1866, Braden died, and the paper being sold, was bought by James Goodspeed, Esq., the present owner, and the present postmaster of Joliet. The "Republican" is a semiweekly paper and quite readable.

The Joliet "Record" was established in 1870, as a Democratic journal, and is a live, free, outspoken newspaper. It is an able defender of the "true faith," and death on political stealings and unprincipled doings generally. A large quarto paper, it is well filled with chaste reading matter, and a good fireside journal. D. C. Henderson, the proprietor, is a man of considerable journalistic experience, and understands making a readable newspaper.

The "Phoenix" is a weekly paper. In January, 1877, a consolidation was effected of the "Will County Courier," Lockport "Phoenix," Lamont "Eagle" and Plainfield "Echo," and two other publications were added, one at Wilmington and the other at Braidwood. An editor was stationed at each of these towns; the type set up by them and shipped to Joliet on publication day. The matter was then assorted in such a manner that the reader obtained the local news of all these points. This plan gives more home news than is usually contained in ordinary country newspapers. Each editor has more time to devote to news gathering, and therefore a better paper can be published at each point and sold cheaper than by the old plan. The issues at present, together with the editors and proprietors, are as follows: "Joliet Phoenix," J. S. McDonald, editor and proprietor; "Lockport Phoenix," J. S. McDonald, proprietor, and Leon McDonald, editor; "Wilmington Phoenix," J. S. McDonald, proprietor, and C. H. Duck and F. H. Hall, editors; "Lemont Phoenix," J. S. McDonald and W. P. Haughey, proprietors, and W. P. Haughey, editor.

The Joliet "Sun" was established July 12, 1872, by C. B. Hayward, as a Republican newspaper. In October, 1874, the proprietor issued the first copy of the daily "Sun," and since then a daily and weekly paper has been issued, the daily being an evening paper, and the largest daily issued in the Seventh Congressional District. The "Sun" is a live newspaper, and a true exponent of Republican principles.

The Joliet "News" was established in April, 1877, as a morning paper, three columns, by Charles F. Dutcher, as editor and proprietor, and was independent in politics. In October, of same year, it was bought by Nelson, Ferris & Co., and a weekly Greenback paper added. It is still owned by these parties, and published daily and weekly in the interests of the Greenback party. It is in a flourishing condition, and rapidly increasing in importance.

Joliet Herald-News. - (By Edward Corlett.) - The first issue of the Joliet Herald appeared November 18, 1904. It was a paper of 24 pages, produced by tremendous effort, and regarded, at that time, a far greater achievement than this paper probably will be, although this issue is the biggest paper ever published in the city of Joliet.

The Herald was published by the Joliet Printing Company, which was organized for that purpose in 1904 by a group of business and professional men. The names of the organizers and original stockholders follow:

John Lambert, F. H. Hall, William M. Cochrane, T. A. Mason, C. E. Woodruff, Dr. J. C. Flowers, C. B. Hayward, A. C. Diliman, Dr. H. W. Woodruff, George A. Ducker, John O. Barret, Fred Bennitt, A. E. Dinet, C. S. Witwer, Edward Corlett, E. E. Howard, Frank Kiep, Dr. P. G. Rulien, August Schoenstedt, J. J. Hail, A. W. Fiero, J. J. Gaskill, James Smith, L. F. Beach, W. O. Bates, James W. Martin, Harry N. Hall, F. S. Lambert, H. B. Smith, E. R. McClellan, Thomas McHugh, Dr. E. J. Abell, C. G. Jones, W. H. White, John Stukel, Henry Hallenstein.

The first board of directors was John Lambert, E. R. McClellan, C. B. Hayward, Dr. J. C. Flowers, Frank L. Kiep, George A. Ducker, Frank H. Hall, C. E. Woodruff and C. S. Wither.

Colonel John Lambert was the first president and C. E. Woodruff the first secretary. Frank H. Hall was the first general manager and James Murphy the first editor.

The paper lost a lot of money from the start, which was a great shock to the stockholders, as they had expected that the enterprise would be prosperous from the beginning. Naturally the stockholders blamed the general manager for the losses, and he sold his holding to Colonel Lambert and resigned. He was succeeded by James Murphy, the then editor, but the losses continued as before. In 1906 Mr. Murphy resigned and was succeeded as editor and general manager by Archibald S. Leckie who continued in charge of the paper until 1920.

The paper continued to lose money from year to year for several years after Mr. Leckie took charge of it, but by that time the stockholders had been convinced that the paper could not pay its way until it was established. They realized at last that the deficit from year to year was just as much a part of the cost of establishing a newspaper as the cost of the printing press or any other equipment, and therefore Mr. Leckie had an opportunity to build up and establish the paper, in which he acquired a substantial interest. In other words, the stockholders had come to realize that it required more than a printing press and a few rolls of newsprint paper to make a newspaper.

It is due to Mr. Leckie to say that he is entitled to a very large amount of credit for what the paper became and is.

As many of the stockholders grew tired of waiting from year to year for dividends, which, for a period of eight years it seemed would never come, they one by one sold their stock, and Edward Corlett, present general manager of the paper, is the only one of the original stockholders who is now a stockholder in the paper.

In 1911 the Herald and the News purchased from the Joliet Republican its newspaper publishing franchises, good will, and subscription list, which were equally divided between the Herald and the News.

Colonel Ira C. Copley, the present owner of a majority of the stock in the Joliet Printing Company, publisher of The Herald-News, acquired, in 1913, a majority of the stock in the News Company, and a majority of stock in the Joliet Printing Company. He continued the publication of each paper under separate managements, but with little success, until June, 1915, when he consolidated the News Company into the Joliet Printing Company, which has since published the Herald-News.

Local history records that the Joliet Republican was established in 1862, but it was really the True Democrat, founded in 1847, under a new name. The True Democrat was launched by A. McIntosh, who sold it to H. N. Marsh, who afterwards sold the paper to Joseph H. Braden in 1857. Mr. Braden published the paper under its original name, the True Democrat, until 1862, when he changed the name to the Joliet Republican.

The Joliet Daily Sun was established in 1872, but within a few years thereafter it was merged into the Joliet Republican, which for a time was published under the name of the Republican-Sun, and later changed back to the Joliet Republican.

The Juliet Courier was the pioneer newspaper of Will County, the first issue of which was published April 20, 1839.

The Juliet Courier was founded by Charles Clement, Edmond Wilcox, Hugh Henderson, R. Doolittle and the Allan brothers. It was published on what was then called Merchants row, on north Bluff Street. It is, indeed, a remarkable coincidence that Cordelia W. Clement, wife of Charles Clement, once owned the property, which is now the site of the Herald-News building at Scott and Van Buren streets, and that this property was purchased by the Herald-News from Genevieve Stevenson and Cordelia Ensign, granddaughters of Charles Clement, one of the founders of the pioneer paper of the county, which by successive newspaper mergers is today a constituent part of the Herald-News.

The Courier was purchased by William E. Little in 1843 and the name changed to the Joliet Signal, under which name the paper was published until it was merged into the Joliet News in 1899.

The Joliet News was founded in April, 1877, by Charles H. Dutcher, who in November of that year sold the paper to James H. Ferriss, R. W. Nelson and H. E. Baldwin, the latter now a member of the Herald-News advertising staff.

The Joliet Record was founded in 1870 by Henderson brothers, John, James, and Daniel. In 1880 W. W. Stevens bought a half interest in the paper, and in 1883 acquired the other half interest, continuing the publication of that paper until 1899, when the property was taken over by, and consolidated with, the Joliet News.

A number of other newspapers not mentioned in this article were merged into the News and the Republican within the memory of our readers, but it will be seen by the newspaper mergers referred to that the Herald-News today is, in fact, a continuation of the pioneer newspaper of Will County, the Joliet Courier, founded in 1839.

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