History of Newspapers in Adams County, Nebraska
From: Past and Present Adams County, Nebraska
Edited by: Judge William R. Burton
Assisted by David J. Lewis
Published By: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago 1916


The first newspaper in Adams County was the Adams County Gazette, established at Juniata in January, 1872, by C. C. Babcock and R. D. Babcock. The Babcock brothers published the weekly at Juniata until 1876 and then moved the plant to Hastings. In 1880 it was purchased by J. W. Short and Charles Kelley and that year was purchased by the Wigton brothers, who had established and were publishing the Hastings-Journal. After the consolidation the Journal was called the Gazette-Journal. The Wigton brothers interested in the business were A. L. Wigton, J. W. Wigton and George A. Wigton. A. L. Wigton resided in Omaha for the last several years of his life and died at Omaha in December, 1914. J. W. Wigton now resides in Denver, and George A. Wigton lives in Hastings and is an officials in the Loyal Mystic Legion.

The Hastings Journal, which was the first paper to be established in Hastings, was founded by A. L. Wigton and M. T. Lewis. The first office was opened on Second Street, next to Hastings Avenue. The first paper was issued from the press, May 24, 1873. The initial number was received with great enthusiasm and it was decided to sell it at auction. It was knocked down to S. S. Dow, who had bid five dollars. Mr. Dow thought the paper cheap at the price.

In the fall of 1882 the Gazette-Journal Company was organized as a joint stock company and incorporated, with an authorized capital of $100,000. The erection of a fine two story brick office at the southwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Second Street was commenced at once and was finished and occupied in the spring of 1883. The publication of the Gazette-Journal as a daily was commenced in August, 3883.

In September, 1885, the company was reorganized. J. O. Fisher succeeded J. W. Wigton in the business management, while A. L. Wigton was succeeded as editor in chief by C. F. Royce. Other changes were made in the executive offices of the company. E. C. Webster became president, J. B. Heartwell vice president, J. J. Wemple treasurer, J. W. Wigton secretary, J. O. Fisher manager. These constituted the board of directors. In the spring of 1886, an addition double the size of the original building was built adjoining it on the west. The new building was completed in September of that year. The Gazette-Journal conducted, besides the newspaper plant, a large jobs and lithographing department and carried the largest payroll of any establishment in town. The paper was published until the plant was practically destroyed by fire July 29, 1889.

February 8, 1878, A. D. Williams, who had established a weekly paper in Keenest, the Kenesaw Times, removed the plant to Hastings and changed the name of the paper to the Central Nebraskan. In 1879 Mr. I. D. Evans, now of Kenesaw, was associated with Mr. Williams in the publication of the paper. After the Central Nebraskan had been published about two years the name was changed to the Hastings Central Nebraskan. At about the same time that the name was changed, the weekly was converted into a daily. Following Mr. Williams the paper was owned successively by Bratton & Renner, Professor Webster and Merritt & Creeth. The firm of Bratton & Renner was composed of the present city clerk, A. T. Breton and Fred Renner. The firm of Merritt & Creeth were John A. Creeth and E. E. Merritt. Mr. Creeth died in Los Angeles in 1915. The detailed ownership arn sale of the Nebraskan was as follows: Mr. Williams sold to Mr. Bratton, Mr. Bratton to Professor Webster, Mr. Webster to Dr. H. P. Fitch and Doctor Fitch to Merritt & Creeth. On the suspension of the Nebraskan, the plant was absorbed by the Daily Republican.

In November, 1889, the Daily Press was established by J. W. Kinsella, W. B. Palmer and Walt Mason. The three were newspapermen from Omaha, where Kinsella and Palmer had been connected with the Omaha Republican. The financial backing and advertising patronage did not prove sustaining and after publishing sixteen issues, the paper suspended. The printing of the Daily Press was done by Mr. Rounds, son of S. P. Rounds, who was one time a government printer. Mr. Rounds had purchased what was left of the Gazette-Journal plant after the fire.

About this same period a paper called the "Daily Times" was published for a short time by a Mr. Thornton.

March 24, 1894, John S. Williams began publishing a daily paper, the Hastings News. It was published for about a year as a daily and then was changed into a weekly. After polishing it two years as a weekly Mr. Williams again started it as a daily, finally changing it back into a weekly. After running the paper for nine years Mr. Williams sold the Hastings News to William Madgett, who continued it for a few weeks and then the paper suspended.

During the boom period a fine daily paper was established in Hastings by a socalled Boston syndicate. This was an eight page paper, carrying telegraphic news. Failing to get advertising patronage, the paper suspended publication and type and material was sold to the Omaha Republican.

The Hastings Daily Republican was published from January 12, 1889 to September 4, 1915, when it was purchased by Adam Breede, publisher of the Hastings Daily Tribune. The Republican was founded by Charles L. Watkins and Frank A. Watkins. For the first two years the Daily Republican was published as a morning paper with an eight page Sunday edition. After absorbing the Daily Nebraskan the Republican was changed into an evening paper and so continued to the time of its sale.

F. A. Watkins bought the interest of his brother, Charles, and associated with himself his younger brother, Ed. Watkins, who for a number of years before had been engaged in the job printing and bookbindery business. Several years later Frank Watkins bought the bookbindery and job printing departments and assumed the sole direction of the plant. On January 1, 1912, Sidney G. Evans, son of G. I. Evans, purchased a half interest in the entire plant and was associated with Mr. Watkins until a few days before the newspaper was sold to Adam Breede. Mr. Watkins retained the job department and bookbindery.

The first linotype machine to be used in Hastings was installed in the office of the Republican by Charles H. Palmer in May, 1904. The machine belonged to Mr. Palmer and his association with the Republican was by contract.

Other papers founded by Messrs. Watkins were the Ayr Times, the Blue Hill Times and the Red Willow County Times at Indianola.

Sidney G. Evans is now assistant editor of The Searchlight on Congress, published at Washington, D. C.

The Hastings Evening Record was established in Hastings early in 1899 by Harry Mock and Ed. Mock, who came from Alma, where they had sold the Alma Record to E. H. Batty. The Record was published for about two years by the Mock brothers and then sold to J. S. Ramsey, who published it for a short time before the paper suspended.

Our Own Opinion was a paper established by George Lynn during the time of populism. About the same time George E. Brown established the Peoples' Journal, also a populist weekly, which later absorbed Our Own Opinion. The Peoples' Journal was discontinued in 1907.

The Nebraska Volksfreund was a German weekly newspaper which was established in 1883 in Hastings and continued publication under various ownerships until 1890, when it suspended. It was edited by William Breede and P. N. Carson.

The Adams County Democrat, supporting the democratic party, was founded July 10, 1880, by Richard. (Dick) Thompson and Durlev Dent. It was purchased by the present owners, R. B. Wahlquist and C. B. Wahlquist, March 1, 1888.

The Hastings Daily Tribune is the outgrowth of two newspapers and the absorption of a third. The Hastings Independent was established as a weekly newspaper, July 3, 1886, by Frank D. Taggart. Mr. Taggart was a republican and established the paper mainly as a political organ. Isaac LeDioyt was the managing editor of the Independent. At about the same time another weekly newspaper, the Tribune, was established by A. P. Brown and Dick Thompson.

The Independent was purchased by A. L. Wigton and his son, Will Wigton. A. L. Wigton did not act as editor very long, but turned the management over to his son. A. H. Brown purchased the Independent and later the Tribune. The name was then changed to the Hastings Independent-Tribune. Adam Breede purchased the Independent-Tribune from A. H. Brown in 1894 and changed the name to the Hastings Tribune. Mr. Breede published the Hastings Tribune as a weekly until October 2, 1903, when the Hastings Daily Tribune was established. The weekly Tribune has been continued.

The Hastings Daily Tribune was set by hand composition until 1907, since which time linotvpes have been in use. A perfecting press was installed in 1910. August 15, 1914, the Daily Tribune began using full United Press telegraphic news service received by leased wire. Henry G. Smith has been associated with the Tribune since the founding of the daily. The subscription list of the Hastings Daily Republican was purchased by Adam Breede, the owner and editor of the Tribune, September 4, 1913. When the Independent-Tribune was purchased by Mr. Breede the paper had no printing plant, not even a proof press. For many years the paper was printed by the Adams County Democrat.

The first paper published by the students of Hastings College was the Vidette, which was first issued in 188.5. The present college paper was first issued in 1895.

The Wholesaler was a trade journal founded and published by R. D. McFadden in 1910. It suspended publication after about a year.

The Juniata Herald was first issued October 23, 1876, by the Citizens Company; A. H. Brown was the editor. September 13, 1877, it was purchased by G. S. Guild, and then was owned successively by William Knickerbocker, J. W. Iiveringhouse and F. W. Francis. Upon the death of Mr. Francis in March, 1884, the Herald was purchased by the present editor and owner. I. H. Rickel. who has issued the paper continuously.

Following the removal of the Kenesaw Times from Kenesaw in 1878 a. paper has been issued in the town by various publishers. The Kenesaw Citizen was published for a time. Dr. E. J. Latta was the editor of this paper for a period. The Kenesaw Sunbeam is the paper published at this time; it was purchased by W. W. Malman, the present owner and editor, November 1, 1913, from J. A. Gardner, who now publishes the Holstein Herald. Mr. Malman installed a linotype in the office of the Sunbeam in 1913.

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