The Newspaper Cemetery of Tippecanoe County,
From: Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, Indiana
General R. P. DeHart, Editor in Chief
B. F. Bowen & Company, Publishers
Indianapolis, Indiana 1909
THE NEWSPAPER CEMETERY.
And now we turn our attention to the newspaper graveyard, which is well filled, Perhaps no town of its size in the country has been more exploited than Lafayette by the newspaper starter, who with ear to the ground has thought he detected the incipient rumblings of a coming roar of universal demand for just the kind of paper he proposed to furnish. And nowhere, perhaps, has his effort been less successful than here. The life of most of these aspiring journals was "of few days and full of trouble," so soon passed they away and were gone. The three now deceased which had the longest life, were the Daily Call, which ran for more than twenty years, the Home Journal, which ran for nearly thirty years, and the Daily Dispatch, which bravely fought for life for sixteen years before finally yielding to the inevitable.
The Daily Dispatch was established in the early spring of 1869 by John C. Dobelbower, who removed to this city for that purpose from Alton, Illinois, bringing with him a fairly equipped printing plant. It was a Democratic paper, and its founder was induced to locate in Lafayette by a general (and genuine) demand on the part of the local Democracy for an "organ," both the daily papers, the Journal and the Courier, being of the Republican persuasion, It was started as an evening paper, and so continued to its death. Mr. Dobelbower was a gentleman of the old school, who never breathed easily in anything but a Democratic atmosphere, and for years he vainly struggled on to the best of his ability to establish his paper upon a paying basis/ His losses in this effort ate up his entire capital, In the course of its progress the paper (daily and weekly) passed under the nominal proprietorship of several different members of his family, but with equal ill success for all. When finally, after a quarter of a century of consecutive defeats, the Democratic hosts won a notable national victory in the election of Grover Cleveland to the Presidency. Mr. Dobelbower confidently expected to be able to repair in some measure his shattered fortunes by securing the appointment as postmaster at Lafayette, In this he was disappointed: and the disappointment broke his heart. There was no more fight left in him. He surrendered to the inevitable, and on the eve of the inauguration of Mr. Cleveland, turned over his subscription list to the just starting Evening Call, and stopped the publication of the Dispatch. The postoffice appointment was not actually made until later, but he was already hopeless of success in his quest, and clearly discerned that he was to be disappointed. To his contemporaries, who could but sympathize with him in his brave fight for life, and in the heavy losses he had incurred, this has always seemed like one of the tragedies of politics, Mr. Dobelbower did not long survive his disappointment, but passed away shortly after the postoffice appointment was made. He may not have died of a broken heart: but there will always be those who will think so.
When Mr. Vater sold the Journal, in December, 1882, to Harry L, Wilson, he left Joseph L. Cox as city editor, "Joe," as everybody familiarly called him, was native born, son of one of Lafayette's earliest settlers, a sort of universal genius, hail fellow well met with everybody, and generally popular in the community, He soon had a falling out with the new proprietor and left his employ, and on December 3, 1883, in association with his brothers, Walter H., Sanford C., John S. and Paul F., started the Morning Call in opposition, Wilson, or, probably, some one else writing in his paper, had sarcastically remarked of the new competitor that a "plug hat and a quart of type" comprised its entire assets, In fact, this was not so far wide of the truth; but it was an exceedingly unfortunate remark to make. The four boys, with the assistance of their friends, worked it for all it was worth, and in a year had made serious inroads on the Journal's subscription list and advertising patronage. But the Cox boys had not succeeded in making the paper profitable, being too greatly hampered by lack of means, and on March 1, 1885, sold out to Septimius Vater, the former Journal proprietor, an experienced newspaper man, who, with the prestige of fourteen years' successful conduct of that paper still fresh in mind, made a success of what, with any one lacking this, would have seemed a doubtful venture. Mr. Vater at once turned it into an evening paper, the first issue appearing on March 4th, and added press dispatches, and other expensive features, to put it on a par with the other excellent daily papers of the city, The Call was then issued from the building south side of Columbia street, just west of the public square, in which the Sunday Times also had rooms, and the paper was printed on the Times press. After a vexatious delay, Mr. Vater got possession of his building on Fourth street, which the Journal was then renting, and proceeded to equip the newspaper baby with an entire new outfit, The paper was successful, and firmly established as a money maker, when Mr. Vater sold it, on June 16, 1896, after a little over eleven years of ownership, to John George, Jr., of Jackson, Michigan, Mr. George was a bright, versatile and experienced newspaper man, and associating with him as editor Mr. Morgan Bates, from the Chicago press, a gentleman of fine literary attainments, made a paper of high class. Mr. Vater had equipped the establishment with linotype machines, the first, by a few weeks, installed in the city, and Mr. George added a new printing machine and other improvements. The paper was the first in the city, also, to use a leased line for its telegraphic reports, employ its own operator, and take the reports in its own office, then quite a novelty in towns no larger than Lafayette, but now common enough. Mr. George had only been a few months proprietor when he and Mr. Wilson formed the novel co-operative arrangement elsewhere referred to, and which continued until 1902. In February, 1899, Mr. George sold the Call and returned to Jackson, Michigan, The new proprietors were James E. Walker and George M. Snyder, of Noblesville, Indiana, and Pierre Gray, an attorney, of Indianapolis, a son of Ex-Gov. Isaac P. Gray. Mr. Walker was the editor and sole manager; Mr. Snyder, a banker of Noblesville, and Mr. Gray, having only gone into the enterprise with him as an investment. Mr. Walker had been quite successful in the publication of the Weekly Ledger at Noblesville, but was inexperienced in the conduct of a daily newspaper, and his intense application brought on an affection of the brain, of which he shortly died, Mr. Pierre Gray, for the other partners, employing various editors and business managers, kept the business going until about the time of the Loeb and Hene fire, in March, 1902, when the paper was sold to the Messrs, Letcher, proprietors of the Home Journal, the transfer dating from April 1st. The new proprietors and the Journal people did not get along at all with the co-operative arrangement, and the Call people moved back to Main street, a few doors east of their old location, about August 1st, The Journal followed the example, and in November, 1902, removed to the present location, on Fifth street, a few doors north of the room which they had left to join hands with the Journal six years before. The career of the Letchers as daily newspaper conductors was brief, if not brilliant. They were inexperienced in daily journalism, and unable to stem the tide which set in against the paper strongly after Mr. George let go of it. The ground lost during the uncertainty and inefficiency of the administration following the untimely death of Mr. Walker, they were unable to regain; and on August 1, 1904, they sold to A. E. Blunck, a journalist of experience and ability from Jamestown, New York. The new purchaser took hold with vigor indeed. He soon essayed the role of iconoclast and reformer, and apparently his effort was to make himself such a thorn in the flesh to some of the powerful influences underlying the Lafayette social and business fabric, that something would have to be done to get him out of the way. After a brief but meteoric career of a few months. Mr. Blunck turned over the name and good will of the paper and its press franchise privileges in May, 1905, to the Courier, which discontinued the publication, and he shipped away his printing outfit. Thus died the Call, aged twenty one years and about six months.
THE HOME JOURNAL.
had its origin in the "Granger" campaign of 1874. In the pride of its early strength the Grange counted confidently upon being able to revolutionize the political as well as the business conditions of the country; and in that year the farmers' granges of Tippecanoe county nominated an independent ticket for all the county offices. Of course, they had to have a newspaper organ, and raised by subscription sufficient funds to pay for the publication of the Independent Granger, as it was called, Attorney Samuel P. Baird, who was a candidate for prosecutor on the ticket, was temporarily the editor, and the paper was printed at the Journal job office. The first number was issued June 28, 1874. After a few issues, the printing job was taken to the Thompson office, the managers of the Granger campaign conceiving the notion that it was not quite the thing to have their campaign paper gotten up in the establishment of a straight out Republican organ, About the same time they acquired an editor in the person of Abraham Timmons, who was willing, backed by their moral encouragement, to undertake to maintain the paper permanently, He changed the name to Western Granger and Agriculturist. In July of the same year Lewis R. Thompson, Sr., took a half interest with him. Timmons, after a short experience, went out, and Mr. Thompson conducted the paper alone, then with various parties, from September, 1874, until November, 1875. Melbourne Lewis was the editor when Mr. Thompson and his son, Robert J., took entire charge. The name had been changed from Western Granger and Agriculturist to the Western Granger and Home Journal. In December, 1875, W. H. Ogden bought an interest in the paper, and for the next year or two the firm was Thompson & Ogden. Later, K. M. Hoover was associated with Mr. Thompson under the firm name of Thompson & Hoover. When Mr. Hoover dropped out Mr. Thompson's son, Lewis R. Thompson, Jr., took his place, the firm being L. R. Thompson & Son. At this time the Granger movement was pretty well exploded, and in some quarters a little unpopular withal; and the name of the paper was changed to the Home Journal, which it afterwards retained. On the death of the senior Thompson the paper was continued by his sons under the firm style of Thompson Brothers. On March 5, 1895, the Thompson Brothers sold their printing establishment. including the newspaper, to J. H. and Fred R. Letcher, who continued both until they bought the Call of Pierre Gray and his associates, April 1, 1902, when the two establishments were merged and the paper discontinued.
THE MORNING NEWS.
The feeling of loss experienced by the Lafayette Republicans when, in 1887, the Journal was bought by French & Wilson and turned into a Democratic paper, has elsewhere been alluded to. The Courier and Call were both evening papers. From the time Lafayette had daily papers at all there had always been a Republican morning paper, and most of the time, as now, one at each end of the day. The Republican politicians, particularly, were inconsolable. This genuine and unmistakable sentiment led James W. Jefferson, a local collection attorney, to think he saw an opening for a successful newspaper centure. He organized a stock company, the subscribers to which numbered many prominent and influential citizens. Among those who, in money or work, or both, were prominently identified with the movement, were N. I. Throckmorton, Cyrenius Johnson and Samuel Meharry. Mr. Jefferson, who was a man of much energy and wide local acquaintance, was made president of the company and general manager of both the business and editorial departments; and George Ade, who had just graduated from Purdue University, was engaged as general utility editor. The paper was issued from an office in the Milwaukee block (so named because it was built by James Spears out of the profits of a successful grain deal in Milwaukee, then the center of grain speculation) on Columbia street, just east of Fifth, in August, 1887, and in October following a weekly edition was commenced. The enterprise was financially a failure, however, and the paper only lasted about five months, when publication was suspended. Mr. Vater bought the press and machinery and added it to the Call equipment, and the type was variously disposed of. Mr. Jefferson did not remain to be teased over the ill success of the venture, but removed to Springfield, Illinois, where he successfully engaged in the insurance business.
The Deutsch-Amerikaner was established as a weekly October 4, 1874, by Francis Johnson, who soon succeeded in making it the recognized mouthpiece of the "German element," and all that the phrase implies. For quite a while he had associated with him as solicitor Michael H. Gallagher, a well known and active Irish workingman, and between the two the utterances of the paper came to have attached to them a political import and significance possibly in excess of the truth. Mr. Johnson was a gentleman of literary culture, and cut quite a conspicuous figure in local politics for many years. He was first a Democrat, and as such elected to the state senate on the temperance issue, in which his party espoused the "anti" side, and won an overwhelming victory throughout the state. Afterwards he turned Republican on the currency issue, and so continued. It was Senator Johnson's personality which gave character to the paper. The paper itself was rather unique. Senator Johnson never hesitated to stop the issue for a few weeks, or months, even, at his convenience, resuming again when he got ready, and apparently just where he left off; these intermittent vacations never seeming in the least to interfere with the success of resumption when they were over. The paper was discontinued in consequence of his failing health after an intermittent publication of almost thirty years. The body of the paper was printed in German, but its editorial articles of local significance were generally printed in English. Part of its life it was published as a semi weekly.
THE DAILY DEMOCRAT.
The defection of the Daily Journal, in June, 1902. when it marched back into the Republican fold, leaving the Democratic party again without a daily newspaper organ, led to the establishment, in March, 1903, of the Daily Democrat, by a stock company, numbering among its subscribers and promoters sundry of the leading local politicians of that political faith. Leroy Armstrong, who formerly, under Democratic auspices. edited the Journal, and James Kirby Risk, a local politician of note, were the moving spirits in the enterprise. Mr. Armstrong was elected editor and Mr. Risk business manager. They made a good, snappy paper, while the sinews of war held out, but in November of the year following (1904) the baby gasped its last gasp, and died for want of nutrition; and in January succeeding the plant passed into the hands of a receiver and the business was finally wound up.
THE DAILY REPUBLICAN.
In the spring of 1875 a difference of opinion arose between some of the leading Republican politicians of Lafayette and its two recognized organs, the Journal and the Courier, as to the nomination of a regular Republican ticket for city offices. At the time there did not seem to be much prospect of the election of anything labeled Republican in Lafayette under any circumstances likely to occur; and the temperance question was a thorn in the flesh. The editors of the party papers thought it would be good political policy and in every way advisable, to make no local nominations, but leave the field clear for a square contest between the temperance forces and the Democratic organization. A non partisan, or rather bipartisan, ticket, was nominated by the temperance people, headed by Capt. William H. Bryan, then the Republican leader in the city council, for mayor, and the two Republican papers pledged to this independent bi partisan ticket their support. Some of the Republican managers of the regular organization were not pleased with this, and determining that there should be a straight out Republican nomination, called in the outposts, held a Republican city convention as usual, and nominated a ticket. headed by Ex-Judge John M. LaRue for mayor. The Republicans had to have a daily organ. of course, and arranged with the Cox Brothers, of the Bee, to print the Daily Republican as a campaign issue. Col. James Tullis, James M. Reynolds and other leading Republicans contributed spirited articles. As a campaign paper the Republican was a success. From a state of doubt and amaze the rank and file of the party who always follow the flag were brought over to their usual straight out party enthusiasm, and the result was a very pretty split of the Republican vote of the city, and an overwhelming Democratic victory. The paper expired, however, with election day. There was fierce talk for a while of making it a permanency, but it soon died out.
was the title of a bright and successful weekly started by Mrs. Helen M. Gougar, August 13, 1881, and published by her regularly for about three years, when she sold it to Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, of Chicago, who removed its publication office to that city. Our Herald was devoted to championship of prohibition and woman suffrage, but was rendered specially interesting locally because of Mrs. Cougar's strong personality. This energetic and capable townswoman rose to a more than local fame, and giving up the Herald in order that she might be free to spend more time away from home, became widely known throughout the country as a lecturer and occasional writer on these chosen themes.
THE TIPPECANOE COUNTY DEMOCRAT.
was established in April, 1908, as a weekly organ of the Democratic party, by John F. Metzger, publisher of a Democratic paper at Brookston, the mechanical work being done in Mr. Metzger's office in that town. After about six months the paper was sold to R. M. Isherwood, of Delphi, formerly publisher of a Democratic paper there, who has been maintaining a business office here in part of the building so long occupied by the Courier, on the northeast corner of Third street and the alley between South and Columbia streets, the mechanical work being done at a job office. The publication has now survived about a year and a half, and the proprietor says he expects to put in a plant and maintain an equipment of its own in the near future.
HERALD - QUOHOSH HERALD.
William S. Haggard, who served the county as representative in the legislature, then as senator, then was elected lieutenant governor of the state, afterwards served again as representative in the legislature, and is at this time commandant at the State Soldiers' Home, along in 1890 started the Herald as a Sunday paper. A year or so later he changed the name to the Quohosh, under which singular name it was published for more than a year, at the end of which time the name was changed back to the Herald again. Having been elected lieutenant governor. and in consequence necessarily spending most of his time in Indianapolis, Judge Haggard was desirous of selling the paper, and thought the name Herald would probably sell better than Quohosh. This, at least, is the reason assigned by himself for the change of name back from the unique to the conventional and commonplace. C. M. Bivens had in the meantime become associated with Judge Haggard in the publication; and on leaving for Indianapolis to occupy the lieutenant governor's apartments in the state house, the paper was turned over to Mr. Bivens, who let it die as easily as possible, its death occurring at the age of about ten years. When first started it was issued from No. 12o Columbia street; but in its somewhat checkered career the office of the paper underwent several removals. It was a good paper while it lasted, full of originality, and specially devoted to politics and the old soldier. The news feature was rather subordinated to these. It was essentially a personal organ, and did not long survive the dropping out of the strong personality of its founder. Judge Haggard in 1902 became editor of the Daily Journal, on its jump back into the bosom of the Republican party and continued in that position for about three years.
was a picturesque figure in Lafayette journalism in the county campaign of 1874. John H. Spence, who for some years had published a Democratic weekly paper at Covington, Fountain county, was imported to do guerrilla work for the Republicans in that year; but gained no permanent foothold, and the publication of the paper did not outlast the campaign.
was a literary and feature paper of singular originality and full of bright things, started in 1885-6 by Orth
H. Stein, who had previously been city editor of the Courier; and in the editorship of which he was assisted by
Charles E. Wilson of the Lebanon Patriot, who after its discontinuance dropped into a congenial place as editor
of the Courier and retained it for many years. The paper was not a financial success, and its publication was only
continued for a few months.
was a musical monthly started by John Franklin Kinsey in the fall of 1885. Professor Kinsey removed hither about that time from Ohio, where he had been director of music in some college, and where he had started the College Echo. He brought the periodical along with him when he came to Lafayette to engage in teaching and the music publishing business. He dropped out the "College" and continued "The Echo" in Lafayette. The paper at one time attained a very large circulation. While still in Ohio, Professor Kinsey, in association with Professor Hanson, then of Green Hill, Warren county, now Williamsport, had written and published a book of Sunday school music, which already enjoyed some sale. Mr. Kinsey had the faculty of writing bright, catchy, popular music, and his monthly and individual sheet music were widely popular. In June, 1886, Joseph E. Pauley bought a half interest in the monthly and the publishing business. At that time the Echo had but a limited circulation; but it "took" wonderfully, and with one issue raised to a circulation of seventy five thousand copies, widely distributed over the country. The ordinary newspaper postage bill for the magazine was two thousand six hundred dollars per year. In March following, the Echo Music Company, as the firm now became known, bought the Rosser, McClure and Morley printing plant and went into the general printing and publishing business. In July, 1902, Mr. Pauley withdrew from the business, which Mr. Kinsey continued alone for about five years longer, at the end of which time he sold the printing plant and removed to Chicago with his publishing interest, including the Echo; publication of which, however, was soon after discontinued. Professor Kinsey subsequently turned the publishing business over to his son Carl and opened a music store in Fort Wayne, but soon disposed of it because of his failing health, and died in October. 1908.
Of other papers long since gone the way of all the earth may be named the Wabash Mercury, started by R. R. Houston
in 1838; it was also run under the name of Indiana Eagle.
[Also see Newspapers of Tippecanoe County.