Newspapers of Tippecanoe County, Indiana
From: Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, Indiana
General R. P. DeHart, Editor in Chief
B. F. Bowen & Company, Publishers
Indianapolis, Indiana 1909

(By S. Vater.)

Lafayette is one of the very few cities of our state indeed of the whole country which can boast of two still live representative newspapers whose birth dates back to the early settlement of the place.

A newspaper is an ephemeral thing, after all. There is only one kind of newspaper that lives long one which is fairly representative of the community for whom it is published, and which confines itself within legitimate lines. The sensational, prurient, scandalous and unprincipled journal, to our shame be it said, often flourishes abnormally and for a time seems to quite outdo the staid, respectable, reliable family paper; but this success is dearly bought, and after all is evanescent. The life of such is measured by decades, and not by centuries. The paper started to further self interested ends, political or personal, rarely attains to any general or permanent recognition. It is the newspaper which really supplies a public want, alone, that survives to long life. The journalistic cemetery of every community is dotted over with innumerable graves of the other kind of papers. The Lafayette Journal has been regularly published more than three quarters of a century, and the Lafayette Courier for more than half a century. The fact is honorable alike to those newspapers and to the community which has sustained them.

The Journal is the lineal descendant of the Lafayette Free Press, the first newspaper published in Lafayette. It was started by Major John B. Semans. The fourth number, discovered fifty years afterwards by accident by a Journal representative canvassing for subscriptions in the southern part of the city, neatly framed, for many years graced the Journal's editorial sanctum. The date of the first issue was September 29, 1829. The full name originally was "Lafayette Free Press and Commercial Advertiser," but the second name never attracted much attention. The Free Press was the first paper in the state save one the Pottawattomie Times, established in Logansport a year previous, but which the junior has long outlived. The Free Press office was most of the time in a log house at the northwest corner of Main and Second streets (not then so called). Major Semans was an ardent Whig; and the paper carried as a subheading over its editorial columns, the motto, "While I have Liberty, I will write for Liberty," a motto which sounded well, at least, and in those days such things counted for more and went farther than in these modern times.

The Free Press ran along without experiencing anything unusually eventful until the campaign of 1840. It would be an entertaining chapter in this history, did space but permit it, to dish up some specimens from the contents of those early numbers, because of the light which it would shed upon the manners. the social and business conditions, and the primitive ways, of those pioneer times. Meanwhile, in February, 1835, Major Semans had sold his paper to Joseph Tatman and John D. Smith, the former of whom shortly after sold out to his partner Smith, and retired. Major Semans on disposing of his paper had removed to Fort Defiance (now the site of the town of Defiance), Ohio, and practiced law a little and edited the Defiance Banner a good deal; but in 1840 he returned and bought his Lafayette paper back, and again mounted the tripod. The campaign of 1840 was a warm one, as a few of our real old citizens may possibly remember. It was the famous "log cabin" campaign, in which William Henry Harrison, the victor of the battle of Tippecanoe and governor of the territory out of which the state of Indiana was later formed, was pitted against the scholarly and accomplished Eastern gentleman and typical professional politician, Martin VanBuren; and the western warrior won over the eastern diplomat. Those were the Henry Clay and Daniel Webster days. To the fierce rivalry between these two great Whig leaders no doubt Harrison was largely indebted for his nomination. The slavery question was also beginning to loom up, though the great issue ostensibly of the campaign was free trade versus protection; and protection represented by the Whigs, won a sweeping victory. The northern Whigs were suspected of having anti slavery, or so called "abolition," leanings; and it was deemed necessary for Harrison to make a trip in person through the South to reassure the slave owners that he meditated no war upon their right to hold slaves as property.

General Harrison, it will be remembered, lived only about a month after his inauguration, in March, 1841. He was succeeded by John Tyler, who proceeded to reverse the administration policies. Major Semans was thought a little weak in the faith by the stalwart Whigs of Lafayette at this time, and was accused of flirting with Tylerism. The result was the establishment of the Tippecanoe Journal, as the mouthpiece of Simonpure Whiggery, for which the late Judge Samuel A. Huff and other ardent Whigs wrote the editorial articles gratuitously, until, in July of that year (1841), Major Semans gave up the fight, and the two papers were consolidated under the name of "The Tippecanoe Journal and Lafayette Free Press" and the proprietorship of John D. Smith & Company. Thus the name Journal became attached to the paper, under which name in chief it has ever since been conducted.

The Daily Journal was started in January, 1849, by Bausman & West, who had bought the newspaper and plant, and continued by them for several years, when it was sold to James P. Luse & Brother; the brother being A. P. Luse, afterwards famous among the publishing fraternity as a very successful type founder at Chicago, in which business he amassed a fortune, In 1853 the Luse Brothers sold it to W. G. Terrell, who soon after took into partnership his brother, C. M. Terrell, and William S. Lingle, under the copartnership name of the Journal Company, The publication office was then in the third story of what is now the Baltimore clothing store building, northeast corner Fourth and Main; afterward removing to the T. S. Cox building, hereafter alluded to. When later Mr. Lingle bought the Courier, which he conducted with distinguished success until his death in 1894, the Journal firm became W. G, and C. M. Terrell, and the brothers conducted it until 1858, when they sold to James P, Luse and Alexander Wilson, and it became an adjunct of the very successful book and stationery establishment of Mr. Wilson, The Terrells afterwards removed to Kentucky, where they attained to considerable prominence in political affairs during the exciting Civil war times, "Bill" Terrell, as he was familiarly known, was a man of bright and forceful mind, and though his gibes and jests had at times a strong leaning to double entendre and bordered on the vulgar, their real wit has spared many of them from oblivion, Mr. Luse, the returned editor, was a vigorous writer and quite a political leader. Mr. Wilson was a fine business man and a man of acute perceptions and sound judgment in general affairs; and under Luse and Wilson the Journal attained a local pre-eminence which it retained for many years. At this time it occupied the Reynolds "stone front," then a notable three story building on the north side of the public square, which has for many years now been occupied by Stoy's carpet store, having been removed thither by the new proprietors from the quarters occupied by the Terrells in the third story of the room on the north side of Main street between Second and Third - rooms afterwards for many years occupied by John Rosser, Rosser & Spring, and the Thompson Brothers, as a job printing office, After a few years Mr. Wilson sold his interest in the newspaper to W. H. Schuyler and J. C. Batchelder, who associated themselves with Mr. Luse, and who removed the newspaper to the Orth block, on Fourth street, adjoining John L. Reynolds' building (now occupied by the Baltimore clothing house) on the north. This was the precise location (though a very different building) from which Major Semans first issued the original Free Press. On the night of the 22d of February, 1864, the office was totally destroyed by fire, which swept away the whole block; and in that fire were consumed the complete files of the paper from its beginning in 1829. To the historian this was an irreparable disaster. Some effort was made to restore these valuable repositories of early history, but it was fruitless, Only a few fragments were ever gathered together, The business was reorganized after the fire, Mr. Batchelder disposing of his interest to S. B. Woolworth; the office was temporarily reopened in the building southwest corner of Second and South streets, afterwards for years occupied by the Lake Erie & Western Railroad Company for its freight offices but now torn down, and early the next year removed to the southeast corner of Third and Ferry streets, where the firm had purchased an old brick boarding house, quite a landmark in its day, and therein housed their plant. Luse was the presiding genius of this firm; Schuyler an indefatigable worker in the business department; Woolworth the hard working general utility in the editorial department. They were strong and successful.

In 1866 a new and unique figure appeared in the field, in the person of John Purdue, who has left, as the proudest monument which any man could have, the university which bears his name. Mr. Purdue had begun life as a school teacher, was then clerk in a store, then a merchant in a small way, then in a large way, In every venture he had been conspicuously successful, He was now well along in years, rich, and in the simplicity of his heart unsuspicious of the wiles of the professional politician. Poor Mr. Purdue was victimized. He was persuaded that the people were clamoring for his election to represent them in congress, and that the thing which above all else would make his calling and election sure would be to buy the Journal. Had he been better versed in such matters he would probably have been wise enough to buy an editor instead of a paper, and would have realized - as he soon did by bitter experience that anything a newspaper might say in behalf of the ambitions of its owner would have little weight; that the fact of ownership would destroy its influence.

In the spring of 1866 the old Journal firm went to pieces, Schuyler and Woolworth retiring, and Mr. Luse gave to Charles C. Emmons and D. A. James (the former the father of C. D. Emmons, now of the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Company), a one third interest in the paper, on which they had long been faithful employees. Before giving the new combination a fair trial, however, Mr. Luse got the Purdue project in his head, and in a very short time sold his two thirds of the Journal to Mr. Purdue, James and Emmons soon after also selling, though consenting to remain as employes and manage their old departments,

Mr. Purdue had quite a varied experience in getting editors to suit him, and, in his unsophisticated innocence about everything connected with journalism and politics, was plucked on every hand. He soon tired of footing the bills, and, his congressional campaign having ended disastrously, as everybody but himself expected, turned over the paper on January 1, 1867, to the management of Messrs, James and Emmons as partners, under the firm name of James, Emmons & Company, Mr. Purdue being the "Company," The next year the brilliant but erratic Joseph Odell was brought here (where his body still lies), as editor, and admitted to the firm, which then became the Journal Company. Later in the year the partners all drew out, leaving Mr. Purdue sole proprietor, and gladly he unloaded his white elephant upon Benjamin B. Barron and Septimius Vater, two young men who had been for several years employes of Mr. Lingle, on the Courier, and who had some business and editorial ability and experience, but not a cent of money; Mr. Purdue permanently retiring from the field of journalism on January 1, 1869, his entry into which had been the one mistake of an otherwise uniformly successful life. The young men met with success for a year and a half, when Mr. Barron was attacked with consumption, which, six months later, ended his life. The surviving partner then, ex necessitate, shouldered the whole load, and carried it along until 1876, when, on the death of Mr. Purdue, the newspaper establishment was turned over to his administrators and sold to Mr. Vater and Albert B. White, son of E. E. White, then president of Purdue University, who conducted it under the firm name of S. Vater & Company, and in 1879 removed the paper into Mr. Vater's building, on Fourth street, just half a square south of the public square, which for more than twenty years thereafter was occupied as a daily newspaper office. A year or two later Mr. White, though still retaining his interest, removed to Parkersburg, West Virginia, on account of his health, and became proprietor of the Parkersburg Journal, which proved a stepping stone to the governorship of that state, to which later he was elected. In December, 1882, S. Vater & Company disposed of the Journal establishment to Harry L, Wilson, of Crawfordsville, youngest son of Hon, James Wilson, who had been a very prominent man in the public life of this part of Indiana in early days. Mr. Wilson was a bright and accomplished young man, who has since been quite successful in appointive politics, but who was not a success as a newspaper man; and realizing his misfit, made haste to unload. In the latter part of September, 1884, he "sold" to Florence, Bonnell & Gregory, the latter of whom he had brought with him from Crawfordsville as editor on first taking over the paper. Of Florence and Bonnell, said to have come from Delphi, little or nothing was known, and they didn't stay long enough for anybody to find out anything; for six weeks after the "sale." Wilson marched in one night with an officer and took possession, and the new proprietors went down and out by the back stairway as he went up and in at the front, and disappeared. They never came back. On January 1, 1885, next succeeding, Mr. Wilson sold again to Walter C. Fraser, who, with a succession of brief partners, including Isaac Herr, a newspaper man of Brazil, Indiana, and the late J. Rosser McClure, a Tippecanoe county native, for years engaged in the printing business here, continued the publication of the paper until it was sold on execution by the sheriff in 1887, Meantime the office had been removed to a location on the south side of Columbia street, about midway between Fourth and Fifth, At the sheriff's sale the Journal was sold to James W. French and W. Bent Wilson, and the politics of the paper took a sudden flop, For nearly sixty years the Journal had been politically first Whig and then by natural inheritance Republican. The new proprietors bought it for the purpose of filling the aching void left by the then recent decease of the Dispatch, the recognized Democratic organ, This political somersault of the old Journal, depriving the Republicans of a morning organ, produced consternation indeed, and ultimated in the starting of the Morning News shortly after - the paper on which George Ade, then a raw college graduate, did his first newspaper work, and chiefly remembered because of that fact,

The new proprietors were good newspaper men, and notwithstanding its political reversion, the Journal under their management began to steadily recover its lost ground. Mr. French was a man of force, a ready writer, a good politician, and personally a model citizen, The worst thing ever charged against him was the accusation that in a spelling match once away down in Posey county, from whence he came, he had been guilty of spelling "opossum" "posem:" a charge which his esteemed contemporaries charitably exhausted their malicious ingenuity in devising new ways of casting at him, as soon as they discovered that, despite its triviality, it really annoyed him. Mr. Wilson was an unusually good business man, and the Journal prospered. After less than three years of joint proprietorship Mr. French withdrew, to take the wardenship of the state prison at Michigan City, and Mr. Wilson became sole proprietor, so continuing until June I, 1902, when the Journal executed another sudden political somersault back into the bosom of the Republican party, of which it has ever since been, as of old, a staunch adherent, During Mr. Wilson's proprietorship a very unique arrangement was made between the Journal and the Evening Call, for a co-operative plant, The Journal moved from the room now occupied by the Canton Cafe, on Fifth north of Main, into the room on Fourth street adjoining on the south the one which had been occupied by the paper under the proprietorship of S. Vater & Company, and which the Call was then occupying, The two papers used the same presses and linotype machines, and the Journal bindery and job office occupied the upper floors of the Call building as well as their own, This arrangement continued for several years, Finally when the Letchers bought the Call, the Journal broke away and fitted up the spacious quarters on the west side of Fifth street, half a block south of Main street, which, greatly extended, the establishment still continues. In June, 1902, as already stated, there was another change, Mr. Wilson and the Burt-Terry Company, both of whom operated extensive job printing and book binding establishments, combined, and included in the consolidation the Journal newspaper, which returned to the Republican faith, under the editorial guidance of Mr. Burt, the Burt-Terry-Wilson Company being the corporate name given to the consolidated institutions, About a year ago Mr. Wilson sold his stock and retired, Mr. Terry had done the same a short time before, and the company was finally reorganized with the following officers: Thomas W. Burt, president and manager; George P. Haywood, vice president; Marshall Haywood, secretary and treasurer. The company is capitalized at seventy five thousand dollars. They operate four linotype machines, day and night, on book work and newspaper, a Goss perfecting press and stereotyping equipment for their newspaper, and an extensive outfit of steam presses and book bindery machinery of all kinds. They now occupy a full quarter of a block at the corner of Fifth and Ferry streets, employ one hundred and forty five people in the various departments, and are doing a mammoth business, They have developed greatly the department of local correspondence in connection with the paper and have a force of eighty young men and women as local news gatherers in the territory contiguous to Lafayette an organization hardly surpassed for its thoroughness in the country,


In 1841 Mathias Peterson purchased a newspaper printing outfit at Delphi, and removing it to Lafayette, commenced the publication of the Lafayette Advertiser, At the end of the first year he sold to H. W. Ellsworth & Company, who continued publishing the paper under the editorial supervision of Dr, James Wilson, James White and others, until it was sold by them to James P. Jenks, who at once changed the name to the Courier, which journal he ably conducted until his death, From the estate the plant was purchased by William R. Ellis, in March, 1851, and conducted as the leading organ of the Democratic party in the congressional district for many years, Upon the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in congress, Mr. Ellis renounced the party and changed the tone of his paper, making it a thoroughgoing Republican organ, In 1857 the Courier was purchased by William S. Lingle, then twenty three years of age, and who had been a reporter on the Lafayette Journal in association with W. G. Terrell. He possessed a bright mind, was polished and genial in his ways, and full of genuine pluck and energy. He was one of the most adroit and tactful of men in personal intercourse, and made fast friends. It was under his management that the paper soon became known as one of Indiana's leading journals, It was his boast for many years that it was he who put into action the first steam printing press in the Wabash valley, and with other improvements he made his paper grade with the highest in this section of the country, Uncompromisingly Republican, it did great and telling work for the new political party. Mr. Lingle died September 2, 1884, when fifty one years of age. He was a highly honored .citizen and gifted editorial writer, and one of the men of note and influence in the community. On December 13, 1884, the Courier was purchased from the Lingle estate by Mrs, Frances E. Lingle (widow of the deceased proprietor), and M. M. Mayerstein, under the firm name of the "Courier Company," Mr. Mayerstein becoming manager and Thomas E. Scantlin, Mr. Lingle's son in law, editor, Mr. Mayerstein commenced his experience in journalistic work on the Courier in 1868, at the age of nine years. He had worked his way up, and for five years before Mr. Lingle's death had full charge of the business details of the concern. Mr. Mayerstein was at the helm until his death in 1900, having meantime bought out the Lingle interest and become sole proprietor, and the paper has ever since been the property of the family, Mr. A. A. Mayerstein has been manager of the business since his brother's death, assisted by his sister, Miss Hennie Mayerstein, who is one of the keenest, brightest business women in the newspaper profession of the state, In 1905 the Courier acquired the Evening Call, which had previously absorbed by consolidation the Weekly Home Journal, and now all is merged and run as the Daily and Weekly Courier.

In 1895 the paper was removed from its old stand at No. 43 South Third street, just midway between Main and Columbia_ on the east side, to its present place at No, 21 North Fourth street, where it occupies three floors and also one floor over No, 23 on the same street. The presses are on the ground floor, while the type setting is accomplished on the third floor, Along in the eighties or early in the nineties, the office was equipped with linotype machines for setting type, and now four of these modern laborsaving machines are employed, The paper is printed on a Goss perfecting press with a capacity of ten thousand papers, printed and folded, per hour.

The Courier is, and has been for many years, a leading Republican paper, and wields no little political influence in northern Indiana, Among its well known editors may be named Col. Charles E. Wilson, who was private secretary to both Governor Mount and Governor Durbin. He began his editorial career on the Courier about 1885-1886, and has held it on three different occasions, but on account of ill health, was compelled to resign his position August 1, 1909, when he was succeeded by Charles R. Trowbridge, of Indianapolis.

With a full equipment of modern day machinery, a fine location, the prestige that long years of good standing in the journalistic field lends, and the command of editorial strength, together with the fair treatment given all of its patrons, the Courier has come to be a favorite newspaper in Lafayette and vicinity, For more than fifty years it has pursued the even tenor of its way, and few papers have had a successful life so long with so few changes in proprietorship.


Few cities of the population of this support two Sunday newspapers, but Lafayette has two - the Times and the Leader. The last named was established March 1, 1872, the pioneer in the Sunday field, as a six column quarto, by John P, Carr, a native of Lafayette, but who in later years held a position in the government printing office at 'Washington, District of Columbia. After conducting the paper until the following October it suspended, but in November was revived by F. E. D. McGinley, then mayor of Lafayette, who owned and edited it until 1883, when he sold to Ross Gordon and Charles F. Williams. In August, 1887, these gentlemen enlarged the paper to a seven column paper of the quarto form, It has always been conducted as an independent paper, and is issued each Sunday morning, Its office quarters were originally in the Barbee block, northeast corner Fifth and Main streets, but in 1884 were removed to the present location just north of Main street, on Fifth. After it was about twelve years old, Gordon bought out Williams and the firm became Gordon & Son; but after fifteen months Mr. Gordon died and for the next year or so the son conducted it until the date of his death, The paper was then sold by the estate, in 1895, to Charles F. Williams, Sr., the present proprietor, At this time the office occupies three stories and a basement at 215 North Fifth street; has a large job office; a linotype machine, and issues an excellent paper each Sunday morning.

Mr. Williams' son, Charles F. Williams, Jr., from the same plant, issues the Lafayette Leader, a weekly Democratic organ, issued every Thursday.

Since Mr. Williams, Sr., first commenced the printing trade, in Civil war days, he has seen great changes worked in this, which was one of the last callings to be revolutionized by invention and machinery, It was long supposed to be the one branch of industry in which inventive genius, oft expended in efforts to "set type" by machinery, would always meet its Waterloo, and which would be spared forever to go on in the "good old way." But Mr. Williams, a practical printer, now pounds out his editorial stuff through a typewriter keyboard as naturally as though he had always done it that way, Mr. Williams came to Lafayette in 1869, along with the family of his father in law, John C. Dobelbower, of the Dispatch, and for forty years has lived here, an honored and respected citizen, He is a member of the board of public works of the city, and though never a vociferous politician, has been a staunch and consistent Democrat in a quiet way.


The Sunday Times dates from April, 1879, when Frederick S. Williams began its publication. Later it was conducted by his father, Col, John S. Williams, who became third auditor of the United States treasury, F. E. D. McGinley served as his associate editor, It was conducted from the first as an independent, spicy news journal, and wields considerable influence. John S. Williams died December 3, 1900, since which date the Times has been the property of his widow, Mrs, Mary J. Williams, Its present editor is her brother, Charles H. Ball. The paper is conducted as an independent journal, issued each Sunday morning, and delivered at the homes of its patrons in Lafayette by carrier, Politically it has ever been independent, but with Democratic leanings, It is a clean, up to date family newspaper, always filled with the best and brightest of items of interest and inspiration to the reader, In form and size, it is a seven column, eight page folio. It has been printed on the best of paper on a modem printing press, while its type have been set since 1898 on a Mergenthaler typesetting machine. The plant is now operated by both gas and electric engines, The office now occupies two floors at No, 22 North Fourth street, across the alley north of the old Call-Journal location, where it has been since 1891, having at first been located on the north side of Columbia street just west of Third, Among the leading special features of the Sunday Times may be mentioned its "Man About Town," filled with racy if sometimes caustic running comment upon political and other matters of public interest locally, which feature has obtained since its first issue, and is still looked for each Sunday morning with unabated interest. Then there is the "society department," which is always replete with the comings and goings, as well as the doings, in all social circles of the city and county. The Times is "the" society paper, pre eminently, of the town, and widely read for its personal news and gossip, as well as its more solid contents.

[Continued in The Newspaper Cemetery of Tippecanoe County. (Former newspapers)]

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