Peoria County, Illinois
Genealogy and History
Peoria County Press
No better mirror of the times can be found than the modern newspaper. In this respect Peoria has been peculiarly fortunate from a very early date in its history. From causes already considered the growth of the village was greatly retarded from the year 1825 until 1834, but no sooner were these causes removed than it began to grow rapidly in population and business enterprise. One of the most important of the business ventures of that period was the starting of a weekly newspaper.
On the 10th day of March, 1834, Abram S. Buxton and Henry Wolford commenced the publication of "The Illinois Champion and Peoria Herald," a weekly paper of four pages 20 by 131/2 inches, five columns to the page, well printed and ably edited. Mr. Buxton had been associated with the afterwards celebrated George D. Prentice in the publication of the "Louisville Journal." He was a man of fine literary taste, had a good library, was a clear and forcible writer, and gave evidence of much ability as an editor. Mr. Wolford was a practical printer and did much of the type-setting and presswork with his own hands. Under their joint management the paper soon became one of the most popular and influential in the State. Mr. Buxton's life was, however, cut short by that insidious disease, consumption, his death having occurred on the 1st day of September, 1835. The paper then passed into the hands of James C. Armstrong and Jacob Shewalter, who continued its publication, with Jerome L. Marsh as editor, until the early part of the year 1837, when they sold out to Mr. Samuel H. Davis, formerly publisher of the "Winchester Republican."
The name of the paper was at that time changed to that of the "Peoria Register and North Western Gazetteer," the first number of which was issued on the 7th day of April of that year. It was somewhat larger than its predecessor, it being a four-page paper, 18 by 24 inches, six columns to the page and well printed. Its circulation in September, 1838, is indicated by the fact stated in its columns that, on account of sickness, one side of the whole edition, consisting of forty-five quires, had been worked off by the two sons of Mr. Davis, aged 16 and 10 years, respectively. It appears further that when Mr. Davis took hold of the paper he was in or past middle life; he was an able writer and a man of sterling integrity and great force of character. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and a leader in its Sunday School and other church work. He, as well as Mr. Buxton, his predecessor, was an ardent Whig, and while he in no sense favored the doctrines of the Abolitionists, yet, as related elsewhere, he resented with all the force of his intellect and pen the outrage which had been committed upon them in the Main Street Church, and the refusal of the proprietors of the paper to publish their vindication. During the first four years of its publication the paper was neutral in politics; but, in 1840, it openly avowed the principles of the Whig party and supported General Harrison for the Presidency. While Mr. Davis was its proprietor the "Peoria Register and North Western Gazetteer" was universally acknowledged as one of the ablest papers published in the State. On February 20, 1840, Mr. John S. Zieber began the publication of the "Peoria Democratic Press," in the interest of the Democratic party. This was probably the occasion of the action of Mr. Davis in changing his from a neutral to a Whig paper.
The Register. At this period Peoria had, as one of her citizens, a gentleman
who afterwards became somewhat noted in the central portions of the State, and
who formerly had been foreman in the printing establishment of the well known
firm of Harper Brothers, of New York. This was Mark M. Aiken, and it was
doubtless through his influence that two young men who had worked under him
there were induced to come to Peoria. They were Samuel and William Henry Butler,
twin brothers, to whom Mr. Davis sold his paper some time in the year 1842. They
continued the publication of the paper under the name of the "Peoria Register,"
dropping a part of its former title. Mr. Davis was, however, continued as editor
until the time of the anti-abolition riot spoken of in a former part of this
work, when in consequence of the attitude assumed by the proprietor in relation
to that event, he resigned.
During his connection with the paper he had erected on the corner of Printer's Alley, on the lower side of Main Street, a three-story brick building, in the second story of which was his office. In the year 1845, the Messrs. Butler sold out to Mr. Thomas J. Pickett, who continued its publication under the name of the "Weekly Register." On June 28, 1848, Messrs. Pickett & Woodcock issued the first daily paper ever published in Peoria, called "The Daily Register," a very small sheet and very short-lived. Sometime thereafter Mr. Pickett formed, a partnership with Mr. Henry Kirk White Davis, son of the former proprietor, and, in connection with "The Register," they commenced the publication of the second daily paper in Peoria, which, in memory of the first paper published there, they named "The Champion," the first number of which was issued December 13, 1849.
Both of these publications were continued until January 26, 1850, when the building in which they were printed and published was wrecked, and the printing materials, presses and other appurrtenances were destroyed by an explosion which occurred in the lower part of the building, which had until lately been occupied as a drug store, and in which still remained a quantity of straw and some combustible liquids. In this disaster two men lost their lives—Mr. William Pickett, a brother of the proprietor, and Mr. James Kirkpatrick, publisher of another paper called the "Peoria American," both of whom were crushed to death by the falling walls. Mr. Nathaniel C. Nason, who was employed in the office, and who afterwards became publisher of the "Peoria Transcript" and other periodicals, barely escaped with his life. To give an idea of the paucity of printing facilities in Peoria at that time, it may be stated that Messrs. Pickett & Davis had undertaken to print in pamphlet form an edition of 3,500 or 4,000 of the new Township Organization Law, with nates and forms prepared by Onslow Peters, Esq., the author of the law. They had begun the work and had a few pages printed at the time the building was wrecked. The firm then made arrangements with James J. Langdon, a printer in Chicago, for the use of the type in his office and sent Mr. Nason with another printer to help him to complete the job. Mr. Langdon had not enough of the type wanted and Mr. Nason, who had charge of the work, obtained the use of what more was needed at the office of the "Prairie Farmer," and did part of the work there. The paper upon which it was printed .was bought from A. H. & C. Burley, and the press-work was done at the office of John Wentworth, of the "Chicago Democrat," who had the only up-to-date press run by steam in Chicago. The books were completed by March 15, but there being then no railroads, and the canal not having been opened for the season, Mr. Nason was obliged to await that event. In the meantime he found employment in the office of Mr. Langdon and in that of the "Chicago Evening Journal," then published by Geer & Wilson—the first named member of the firm being the same Nathan C. Geer, who, nine years later, became proprietor of the "Peoria Transcript."
About this time the firm of Pickett & Davis was dissolved by the withdrawal of Mr. Pickett and the purchase of his interest by Mr. Davis. The latter then undertook to revive "The Register" and "The Champion," the latter of which he did publish for a short, time much reduced in dimensions and printed from old worn out type of large size, which had been used in a job-office. But after several unsuccessful efforts he was forced to abandon the enterprise about the first of May following, when he sold out the material remaining in his office and left the city.
The Republican. Mr. Pickett then purchased a new outfit and, on the first day of June, 1850, began the publication of the "Weekly Republican," Henry Butler, one of the former publishers of "The Register," being his foreman. This was a large, handsomely printed and well edited paper, intensely Whig in politics until the breaking up of old party lines from 1854 to 1856, when Mr. Pickett became an ardent Republican. About the year 1852, Bernard Baily, a brother-in-law of Pickett, became associated with him in the publication of the paper, but this partnership only continued a short time, probably not more than a year. On January 17, 1853, Mr. Pickett commenced "The Daily and Tri-Weekly Republican," which continued to be published as long as the Weekly. In 1856 Mr. Pickett became a candidate for the office of Circuit Clerk and the. editorial management was (nominally at least) turned over to Campbell C. Waite, who had been, from its inception, employed as a compositor, but who from time to time had done considerable editorial work. Some time in the same year or later the paper was transferred to Samuel L. Coulter, a gentleman of ripe scholarship and an able writer, who endeavored to run it as a Whig paper, but the Whig party rapidly becoming disintegrated, there was no call for its further publication, and in a year or two it went out of existence.
The period covered by the publication of the "Peoria Republican" is a marked one in the newspaper history of Peoria. The paper, first issued as a weekly, was later issued as a daily, tri-weekly and weekly, and so continued until its publication ceased. Mr. Pickett, its founder, was a man of decided ability as a writer and became quite noted as a politician. His father was a Virginian, a soldier in the war of 1812, who after that war moved from his home in Lynchburg to Louisville, Kentucky, where, on the 17th day of March, 1821, his son, Thomas, was born. In 1830, the family moved to St. Louis and, in 1836, to Peoria, where Thomas acquired the art of printing in the office of the ''Champion and Herald." In 1844 he and a brother of N. C. Nason published a paper in Pekin, Tazewell County, called "The Palladium," and about a year thereafter he got hold of the "Peoria Register," as already stated. In 1851 he was elected President of the First Illinois Editorial Association, defeating John Wentworth, of Chicago. In 1856, while yet connected with the "Peoria Republican," he was one of the twelve editors who met in Decatur on the 22d of February, which resulted in the call of the first Republican State Convention, at Bloomington, on May 29th of that year, at which time Mr. Lincoln delivered his famous lost speech. He was also a delegate to the first Republican National Convention, which met in Philadelphia in the month of June of that year, and which nominated John C. Fremont for the Presidency.
Having severed his connection with the "Peoria Republican," Mr. Pickett went to Rock Island, where he became proprietor of the "Rock Island Register," and it was during his residence in that city that he wrote a letter to Mr. Lincoln, suggesting the use of his name in connection with the Presidency, which letter Nicolay & Hay have made historic in their Biography of Lincoln. He was also a delegate from the Rock Island District to the National Convention of 1860, which nominated Lincoln, and in the same year was elected to the State Senate, where he rendered efficient service in support of the measures of the Government. At the outbreak of the war Mr. Lincoln tendered him a commission as Brigadier General of Volunteers, but at the request of Governor Yates, who thought his services would be of more value to the State in organizing troops and attending to legislative duties, he reluctantly declined the honor. At a later date he was instrumental in raising the Sixty-ninth Regiment of Infantry and became its Lieutenant-Colonel, and still later the One Hundred and Thirty-second Regiment of Infantry, of which he was made Colonel. After the war he went to Paducah, Kentucky, where he founded a paper called "The Federal Union," was appointed Postmaster, and later Clerk of the United States District Court. In 1879, having removed to Nebraska, he in connection with his sons founded "The Nebraska City Sun," and a year later "The Capitol," at Lincoln, which he conducted successfully for some time. He next became proprietor of the "Franklin County Guard" (Neb.), which he conducted until it was destroyed by fire in 1890. In April, 1891, he removed to Ashland, where he made his home with his son, Hon. Thomas J. Pickett, Jr., and continued to assist him in the publication of the "Ashland Gazette" until the time of his death, which occurred December 24, 1891.
The Gerrymander. Simeon De Witt Drown, who was at work on "The Register" in the office of the Butler Brothers, having become disgusted with the way in which the Legislature had redistricted the State congressionally, began the publication of a little sheet called "The Gerrymander"—a Whig paper intended to caricature that proceeding—the first number of which was issued on the 22d day of March, 1843, and continued to be issued during the campaign of that year. The character of its contents is given in a former chapter.
The Peoria American, another Whig paper, was started in July, 1845, by James Kirkpatrick. It is said to have been the first paper in the State to advocate the nomination and election of General Taylor to the Presidency. The paper continued to be published until the death of its founder as herein related.
The Nineteenth Century, a National Reform paper, was started, in 1848, by Messrs. J. R. Watson and David D. Irons, but after a few months it was sold to Mr. Kirkpatrick, who merged it into the "Peoria American."
The foregoing were all Whig papers in their origin, or became so afterwards, and cover the entire period of Whig journalism in Peoria.
The Peoria Democratic Press, the first distinctively political paper in Peoria, was first issued as a weekly on the 20th day of February, 1840, by John S. Zieber, who had published "The People's Press" in the town of Princess Ann, Somerset County, Maryland. Either at that time or soon afterwards he took as a partner Enoch P. Sloan, and the paper was published in the name of Zieber & Sloan. They sold out about June I, 1846, to Thomas Phillips, who had formerly published the "American Manufacturer," and who continued to publish the paper for about three years, when it was purchased by Washington Cockle. In the fall. of 1851, the paper was again sold to Enoch P. Sloan who, during all previous changes, had retained his connection with it as editor or .assistant editor. On January 5, 1854, Mr. Sloan commenced the issue of a "Daily" and "TriWeekly Press," which continued to be issued until about the time of the starting of the "Democratic Union." He remained proprietor of "The Press" until the fall of 1856, when, having been elected Circuit Clerk, he severed his connection with it and Leonard B. Cornwell, once Sheriff of the county, became its owner, with John McDonald its principal editor. During all of its history up to this time, especially while under the editorial management of Mr. Sloan, "The Press" had maintained a very high character as a political journal. It was well edited and free from the trash which is often retailed to the public through the columns of party papers. Mr. Sloan was a remarkably thoughtful and considerate writer, never descending to that species of low vulgarity commonly called mud-slinging; but always maintained a high order of excellence in all his editorials. During the eight years of his incumbency of the office of Circuit Clerk he devoted a portion of his time to the study of law and was afterwards admitted to the bar. After spending a number of years in a quiet way as the legal adviser of numerous friends, in the examination of land titles, in the preparation of a system of abstracts, unique in its plan, and in writing numerous articles for the newspapers, he was, upon the opening of the United States Circuit and District Courts, at Peoria, in the year 1887, appointed Chief Deputy Clerk thereof, which position he held at the time of his death. During the heated controversy between Douglas and Buchanan, "The Democratic Press" was always found on the side of Douglas, but, after Buchanan's election, the patronage of the administration was thrown in favor of its rival, "The News," which probably led to its becoming merged into the latter paper.
The News was started by George W. Raney as a daily on May 26, 1852, and on July 15th of the same year he commenced issuing the "Weekly and Tri-Weekly News." Raney was what would, in these days, be called a hustler. He knew how money could be made in publishing a newspaper, and he was not slow to avail himself of his knowledge. The paper catered to the tastes of a lower stratum of political influence than did "The Press," and was not at all scrupulous in the use of the party lash. It was the representative of the "Danite" or administration wing of the party, and its editor was rewarded by receiving the appointment as Postmaster at Peoria. In the winter of 1857-8, the office of "The News" was destroyed by fire, and about the same time Mr. Raney bought what remained of "The Democratic Press," and, having united the two, he commenced the publication of "The Democratic Union." The different political elements represented in this paper are not fully known, but it is certain it continued to be the leading Democratic paper during the campaign of 1860 and until the month of September, 1862.
But one curious feature connected with its editorial management was that, upon the nomination of Douglas for the Presidency in 1860, Mr. Raney, who still continued to hold the office of Postmaster, retired from the editorial chair, and was succeeded by William Trench, an ardent supporter of Douglas. This arrangement continued until after the election, when Raney resumed the editorial chair and continued in that capacity until the month of September, 1862, when, having accepted a position in the army, the publication of the "Democratic Union" ceased.
The Daily Mail. Soon after the publication of the "Democratic Union" had ceased, the party whose principles .it had advocated having been left without an organ, a few of the leaders of that party put their heads together and started an entirely new paper, called "The Mail," a daily and weekly publication, the first issue of which appeared October 16, 1862, Charles H. Wright being the editor. It was at first a morning paper, but was changed to an evening paper May 31, 1864. The names of the proprietors of this paper at its inception and in course of the changes it underwent during its publication, have not been perpetuated in history, and it is probably well they should not be, for in its vindictive and vituperative spirit towards .the measures of Mr. Lincoln's administration it was outspoken and offensive. Specimens of the contents of its columns are given in another part of this work. . After running about a year "The Mail" was succeeded by "The Star," under William Rounseville, and it by "The Post," under Thomas K. Barrett, both published in the same interest. These publications all died for want of sufficient support, to be succeeded in a short time by a paper representing Democratic principles under an entirely new dispensation.
The National Democrat. Finding himself unable longer to continue the publication of "The Post," Mr. Barrett, in the summer of 1865, sold the entire plant to Colonel William T. Dowdall, who disposed of the old material and put in an entirely new outfit, a caloric engine, new presses and type, and on the 5th day of September, of that year, commenced the publication of "The Daily and Weekly National Democrat." He continued to issue the same as a Democratic paper until the year 1887, at which time, having been appointed Postmaster at Peoria, and his health not justifying a continuance of his labors in connection with the paper, he sold out his interest therein to a joint-stock company.
About the year 1870, Mr. P. W. Sheldon and Mr. Eugene F. Baldwin, under the firm name of Sheldon & Baldwin, started a paper called "The Evening Review." It was independent in politics, but, in the confusion of parties then existing, it became opposed to the re-election of E. C. Ingersoll to Congress. The partnership was soon dissolved and a corporation was formed which carried on the publication for some time, but having become involved in financial difficulties, it was sold by the Sheriff, and Mr. Thomas Cratty became the purchaser. Mr. Cratty associated with himself Mr. Leslie Robinson, and they continued its publication for some time. In 1872, Col. Dowdall purchased that paper and continued to publish it as an evening paper in connection with "The National Democrat," which was a morning paper, until 1887, when he sold both papers to the corporation before mentioned.
The Freeman. On July 28, 1880, a new Democratic paper was started by a corporation called "The Freeman Company" with J. A. Monger as editor. This paper was intensely belligerent in its editorial management. It was published as a Daily and Weekly for four years or more, the last number of the Daily which has come under our notice bearing the date, December 31, 1884; J. A. Monger and J. M. Kinlock being the editors. Several other papers devoted to special subjects have from time to time been started, but their lives being of short duration, it has not beep deemed wise to notice them any farther.
The German Press. The Germans were among the first settlers in Peoria. They came here as early as 1834 and founded homes on farms in Woodford and Tazewell Counties on the other side of the river, and many more took up residences in the city. The German population in Peoria and vicinity increased so fast, that they soon felt the necessity of a newspaper printed in their own tongue, to keep them abreast with the time and posted on all important events at home as well as abroad. In 1852 Mr. Alois Zotz came here from St. Louis, and printed the first German newspaper in Peoria and Central Illinois. Its name was "Illinois Banner," and it appeared weekly. About this period two other German papers appeared, "The Volksblatt" and "The Courier," but they were both short lived. In 1858 Mr. Zotz sold his paper to Mr. Edward Rummel, who changed the name of the paper to the "Deutsche Zeitung," and also changed its politics. "The Banner" was Democratic and supported President Pierce and Buchanan, while Mr. Rummel's "Deutsche Zeitung" supported Abraham Lincoln for President. The German Democrats having lost their patty organ, induced Mr. Zotz to start a new Democratic paper and, in August, 1860, he began the publication of the "Daily Demokrat," which he continued until 1864, when Mr. Bernard Cremer bought it. It is still edited by himself and published by B. Cremer & Bros. In 1868 Mr. Edward Rummel was elected Secretary of State, and had to take up his residence at the State Capital. The "Deutsche Zeitung" then came under the control of Captain Edward Fresenius. He disposed of the paper in 1871 to Mr. Rudolph Eichenberger, who, in turn, sold it, in 1878, to B. Cremer & Bros., who consolidated it with their "Demokrat."
In the spring of 1879 Messrs. L. Ph. Wolf, Joseph Wolfram and Wm. Brus started a new German daily, "Die Sonne," which is published at present by Mr. L. Ph. Wolf, with a Sunday paper called "Die Glocke." In 1893 Messrs. Wm. A. Rennen and Wm. Brus commenced publishing a Sunday paper, "Die Sontags Post," which has lately been published by Mr. Herman Goldberger, who consolidated the "Sontags Post" with a new daily called "Der Volxsfreund," published by Mr. Carl Wolf. There are at the present time three German daily papers in Peoria:—the "Demokrat," "Sonne" and "Volksfreund," to chronicle the news and keep German society alive. They all have a large circulation in the city and country, and are prosperous.
The Transcript. "The Peoria Daily Transcript" was started as an independent paper, the first number of which was issued December 17, 1855, and the first number of "The Peoria Weekly Transcript" on January 1, 1856. In the spring of 1854 ,William Rounseville, pastor of the Universalist Church of Peoria and Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the State, who had had some experience as editor and publisher of certain magazines, induced Mr. Nathaniel C. Nason, who was a practical printer, but then employed in a general mercantile house in Wesley City, to engage in the publication, at Peoria, of a magazine devoted to the interests of Odd Fellowship. Nason purchased the necessary press, type and printing materials, partly on credit, and entered upon the publication of the magazine. In about a year thereafter Rounseville proposed the starting of a daily paper. After considerable hesitancy Nason consented to try the experiment if Rounseville could find a man to furnish money to pay existing indebtedness and make the required purchases, with such additional amounts as might be needed to pay current expenses up to a certain amount named by Nason. Rounseville procured a friend to advance just enough money to induce Nason to contract for the materials in his own name, but who, when the. time came for further advances, as promised, failed to do so. Induced, however, by further assurances from Rounseville, Mr. Nason commenced the publication of the paper; but, as was anticipated, the receipts did not meet current expenses, and at the end of the third week the men in the office received nothing. Nason then called a halt and notified Rounseville man that not another stroke of work should be done until money should be forthcoming sufficient to pay all arrearages of wages—he at the same time offering to turn over the whole concern to any person they might name who would furnish a satisfactory guaranty that all claims should be paid. At the earnest solicitation of Rounseville Mr. Nason agreed to keep the paper running for another week, during which time a purchaser was found in the person of Caleb Whittemore, the veteran locksmith, who took into partnership with himself his brother-in-law, Sanford Moon, under the firm name of C. Wittemore & Co. In this transaction Mr. Nason sacrificed all he was worth to secure his creditors against loss. After running the paper for some time at a loss of four or five thousand dollars, Whittemore notified Rounseville (with whom he had an understanding to turn the paper over to him when Whittemore's advances with interest at two per cent. per month should be paid) that another purchaser must be obtained. Such a purchaser was found in the person of James G. Merrill, a rich farmer of Trivoli, who had a brother, Gilman Merrill, working for wages on a daily paper in Boston, and anxious to obtain a higher position. The paper was purchased in his name, but the real purchaser was James G. Merrill. The result was his financial ruin. After struggling until some time in the year 1859 to make the paper a success, Mr. Merrill sold out to Nathan C. Geer, who had formerly been associated with Charles L. Wilson in the publication of the "Chicago Evening Journal," but latterly engaged in publishing "The Gazette," a paper published in Waukegan.
Rounseville was a Democrat, while Nason was a Whig, with a strong infusion of Americanism, and would never have consented to be identified with a Democratic paper. Rounseville continued to be editor from the commencement of its publication until the sale to Geer, which sale was consummated without his knowledge or consent; and, as soon as Geer had obtained possession, he notified Rounseville that his services would be no longer needed. "The Transcript" then for the first time became a distinctively thorough-going and aggressive Republican paper.
After publishing the paper for about a year, as it is said "upon somewhat extravagant views, and having failed to make it a financial success, Mr. Geer, in 1860, sold it to Enoch Emery and Edward A. Andrews, who continued its publication under the firm name of Emery & Andrews until the close of the war, Mr. Emery during all that time being editor-in-chief. Mr. Emery then purchased his partner's interest and ran the paper alone until 1869, when a corporation was formed, entitled "The Peoria Transcript Company," with Mr. Emery at its head as President and General Manager. In January, 1880, a new organization was formed, with Hon. Richard H. Whiting, as President and Mr. Emery as editor. In May of that year Mr. Alexander Stone, who had come to Peoria from the State of Iowa, purchased a controlling interest in the paper from Mr. Whiting, and soon afterwards purchased the remainder of the stock. Under this new arrangement Mr. Emery continued to occupy the position of editor until January of the following year, when he withdrew and started a paper called "The Peorian," which, after running for a short time, was sold to the Transcript Company.
While Mr. Emery was its editor "The Transcript" was one of the most influential papers in the State. He was a very positive man, making no compromise with what he believed to be unsound in principle. He was an unswerving Republican, and, when he took hold of the paper, it became a powerful factor in shaping the policy of the great party which, at the next Presidential election, was destined to work a revolution in the political affairs of the country. When the rebellion broke out, and even before that event took place, he threw the whole weight of his influence into the scale of loyalty, and, during the whole period of the rebellion, was a firm supporter of the measures of the Government. After the assassination of the President his counsel was "to have faith in Andrew Johnson," so long as his policy seemed for the best interests of the country; but, when that policy became, as he supposed, recreant to sound principles, he did not hesitate to denounce it, although he then held a lucrative office at the President's hands. Mr. Stone retained the financial management of the paper until the month of June, 1892. Soon after assuming control he changed the form of the paper from a folio to the more modern quarto, and, from time to time, enlarged it with a view to its improvement, both in mechanical appearance and in the extent, variety and character of its contents. Mr. Emery was succeeded; in the editorial chair by Welker Given, of Des Moines, Iowa, who served in that capacity at two different periods; William Hoyne, who after a few months returned to Chicago, and afterwards was chosen to be head of the Law Department of Notre Dame University; Col. E. P. Brooks, of Washington City; Maj. William S. Brackett, of Peoria, and R. M. Hanna, the veteran editor who still wields a vigorous pen in connection with the "Peoria Journal." These all served in succession during the proprietorship of Mr. Stone.
A new company was organized, March 1, 1893, with a paid-up capital of $50,000, the directors of which were J. N. Garver, President and Treasurer; Thomas R. Weddell, Vice-President, James L. Garver, Secretary; A. D. Hosteman and E. S. Kelly, all from the State of Ohio. These gentlemen were prominently connected with the publication of several other newspapers in Ohio and Indiana and, for some time, pushed the publication of "The Transcript" with a considerable degree of enterprise. Mr. Weddell was at first the editor-in-chief; Howard Fuller, City Editor; Willis Evans, Assistant; J. H. Aubere, Telegraph and Society editor; E. F. Younger, Chicago correspondent, and Harry E. Mitchell, legislative correspondent. Mr. Weddell was a young man of varied attainments and of sufficient newspaper experience to have made the paper a success, but it seems the managers had too many irons in the fire elsewhere to give "The Transcript" the attention it required, and after a fitful experience it finally passed into the hands of the proprietors of "The Herald," and the famous "Transcript," which, for so many years, had fought the battles of the Republican party, became merged with one of opposite views.
The Herald Transcript is at present the only Democratic paper printed in the English language in Peoria. From the time of the merging of the "Democratic Press" with "The News," under George W. Raney, until March, 1889, the Democracy did not have an organ which commanded the full confidence and support of the citizens outside the pale of that party. It is true the "National Democrat" had had a long continued career and had met with some degree of financial success, but its support had been drawn very largely from its own party, it being intensely partisan. On March 7, 1889, Mr. Henry M. Pindell, then late from Springfield, Illinois, and the late Senator Andrew J. Bell commenced the publication of a new Democratic paper called ""The Herald." This paper took a higher stand, both morally and politically, than the Democratic papers had heretofore occupied, and being edited with ability and fairness to all parties, and its columns being well supplied with the current "news of the day, it very soon began to command the respect and support of the entire community. Mr. Bell remained with the paper but a short time, when his interest was purchased by Mr. Pindell, who has had the management of the paper ever since.
From the time that Mr. Emery had left "The Transcript," its fortunes seemed to 'wane, one cause probably being the lack of financial management, another the fact that it had met with vigorous competition in the "Peoria Journal." "The Herald" now began to invade the field formerly held, almost exclusively, by "The Transcript," and in the course of a few years it was induced to sell out to Mr. Pindell, which purchase was effected on the 28th day of December, 1898. Since that time the paper has been published under the joint title of "The Herald-Transcript," the present year being the thirteenth of the "Herald" and the forty-seventh of the "Transcript." Through a fearless advocacy of that which he believes to be right in politics, of a clean city government, of uprightness in journalism, and of all measures of improvement calculated to advance the best interests of the community, Mr. Pindell has achieved a success far beyond most of his predecessors.
The Peoria Journal, an independent daily with Republican proclivities, was started by Eugene F. Baldwin and Jacob B. Barnes on December 1, 1877, Baldwin being the editor-in-chief and Barnes, business manager. The enterprise promised to be a financial success from the beginning. After running for a period of eight years, a corporation was formed for the purpose of continuing the publication, the entire plant being turned in at a capitalization of $100,000, of which Baldwin took $40,000 in stock, Barnes $40,000, M. N. Snider $10,000 and Charles H. Powell $10,000. These gentlemen constituted the first Board of Directors, Mr. Baldwin being chosen President; Snider, Vice-President; Powell, Treasurer, and Barnes, Secretary. Soon afterwards Snider sold his stock to Powell, who, in turn, dropped out June 9, 1889, and was followed by Baldwin in October, 1891. Before this time, however, Mr. Baldwin's time had become largely engrossed in other business, and Mr. Barnes had assumed a partial editorial control of the paper. He finally became owner of all the stock, as well as sole editor, and so continued for a period of about twelve years. During the campaign of 1896, the paper advocated a protective tariff and a bi-metallic basis of currency, although in former years it had been an advocate of partial free-trade. It has generally supported the candidates of the Republican party for office. In the year 1900, the paper passed into the hands of Hon. James P. Dawson, of St. Louis, and Charles Carroll, of Peoria, the present manager, at the price of $40,000. It is now conducted as a strictly Republican paper.
The Peoria Star is one of the latest candidates for public favor in the newspaper line of Peoria. It was started on September 27, 1897, by Eugene F. Baldwin and Charles H. Powell, both formerly connected with the "Peoria Journal." It therefore entered the field with no little prestige, not from that fact alone, but because Mr. Baldwin, who had for many years been connected with other newspapers in Peoria, was well known as a pungent and spicy writer, and one who could hew to the line when occasion seemed to require or justify it. The paper, therefore, began with 3,400 subscribers and, from that time, it has steadily increased until now (January, 1902) it has over 20,000. It has had a very prosperous career, it having proved a financial success from the start. It is now run on a three-deck Ostrander & Seymour press and a four-deck Goss perfecting press, which, it is claimed by the proprietors, make it the finest equipment of any paper in the United States in a city of the size of Peoria. It is also provided with the latest improved machinery for type-setting and other necessary mechanical operations for the rapid production of a daily paper. It is published at the Bohl building, north corner of Jefferson Avenue and Fulton Street, where it has secured quarters for twenty years, with an option of twenty years longer. The paper is thoroughly independent in and of everything and of everybody, and hesitates not to speak its mind freely upon all subjects affecting the public interests. While independent in politics, it generally has supported Republican candidates, but, as occasion may seem to require, it lends its support to an independent or one of an opposing party.
The Locomotive Firemen's Magazine is the official publication of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, the first number of which was issued December i, 1876, by a private printing establishment at Dayton, Ohio, but under the supervision of the Grand Secretary and Treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. This firm retained charge of the magazine until 1879, at which time the publication was transferred to Gallon, Ohio, and Mr. W. N. Sayre, then Grand Secretary and Treasurer of the organization, Was also elected editor of the magazine. Mr. Sayre continued to edit the magazine until 1881, ,at which time Mr. Eugene V. Debs, of Terre Haute, Indiana, was elected editor. At this time the magazine was established at Terre Haute, Indiana, then the home of the Brotherhood, and it continued to be published at that place until January, 1895, at which time the present editor and manager took charge of the publication, and the headquarters of the organization were removed to Peoria, Illinois. The magazine is, as its name indicates, a magazine in form, size of pages, 6x9 inches. The number of pages in its early days was limited to thirty-two; but it has increased to an average of 160 per month. Until 1887 the circulation was maintained by personal subscription of the membership of the Brotherhood, and was about 4,000 copies per month. The present circulation is 44,000 copies per month. The laws of the Brotherhood were so changed, in 1887, that the magazine was, after that, received by all members of the Brotherhood as a part' of their benefits of membership.
The Trades and Labor Gazette was established, in 1895, by George Wilson Bills, who, after publishing it for a year or so, sold out to J. R. Austin, but, in the course of a year or less, it was re-purchased by Mr. Bills in company with Bert H. Zarley. After a period of about five months (February 24, 1899), the present publisher, Walter H. Bush, became the owner, and has continued to issue the paper in an eight-page form every Friday morning.
In the meantime, in the month of August, 1897, "The Peoria Woodman" had been established by Frank N. Bush. It was a monthly containing eighteen pages and continued to be published until December 22, 1899, when it was consolidated with "The Trades and Labor Gazette," in which a page each week was devoted to the Woodmen, Frank N. Bush continuing as editor of this department, in which the interests of the Woodmen were voiced. "The Trades and Labor Gazette" contains all the labor news, and all current reform matter. It is the organ of "The Peoria Trade and Labor Assembly," and of the Peoria and Canton Sub-District No. 12, of the United Mine Workers of America. It has a circulation of about 4,000.
The Illinois Teacher. One of the most influential publications ever issued in
the State was "The Illinois Teacher," started, as elsewhere related, under the
auspices of the "Illinois State Teachers' Association." At the first annual
meeting of that organization, held at Peoria, December 26, 1854, it was resolved
that a periodical devoted to the educational interests of the State be
established, to be entitled "The Illinois Teacher," and a committee of nine
members was appointed with full power to make all arrangements for its
publication for the ensuing year. The committee accepted the proposition of
Merriman & Morris, newspaper publishers in Bloomington, to print and publish the
periodical for one year, in pamphlet form, in monthly issues of 32 medium octavo
pages each, the committee to provide all matter to be printed. A board of twelve
editors was appointed, each of whom was
expected to furnish all needed "copy" for "The Teacher" for the month assigned to him. Two of these editors were residents of Bloomington, and, in addition to their editorial work, attended to the business department. The plan adopted was cumbersome and proved unsatisfactory. Some of the editors did their work well, others poorly, and two not at all. The printing was of very low grade in every respect, rendering the work unattractive in appearance and a discredit to the body of which it was the acknowledged organ, and to the State in which it was produced. "Judged by its first year, "The Teacher" was not a successful enterprise.
At the second annual meeting of the Institute, held in Springfield, December 26, 1855, Charles E, Hovey, of Peoria, the newly chosen President of the Institute, was elected editor of "The Teacher" for the year 1856, and to him was committed the entire management of the publication. Twelve associate editors also were elected, upon whom he might call for such contributions to the contents of "The Teacher" as he should deem advisable. Mr. Hovey at once entered into negotiations with N. C. Nason, the well known printer and publisher of Peoria, to do the printing of "The Teacher." Mr. Nason expected soon to sever his connection with the printing office he then owned and managed. As soon as the arrangement with Mr. Hovey was completed, he purchased an entirely new outfit of materials and machinery, and took into partnership Mr. H. S. Hill, a skillful printer recently from New York, who had been in his employ for some time.
In due time "The Illinois Teacher" began the second year of its existence. Under the vigorous and able manage- ment of Mr. Hovey it at once took rank as the equal in every respect of the best educational journals of the land, and far superior to most of them. Mr. Hovey continued as editor and manager for two years. His successor was Newton Bateman, of Jacksonville. At the close of Mr. Bateman's year of service, the State Teachers' Association, for reasons that seemed sufficient, relinquished its control over the management of "The Teacher." Thenceforth it was continued as a private enterprise, by Nason & Hill, until 1860, and from that time to 1873 by N. C. Nason alone. In January, 1873, it was . transferred to the publishers of "The Chicago Schoolmaster," the name of which was then changed to "Illinois Schoolmaster."
The editors who followed Mr. Bateman were: 1859, Charles A. Dupee, of Chicago; 1860 and '61, Dr. Samuel Williard, then of Bloomington; 1862 and '63, Alexander M. Gow, of Rock Island and Dixon; 1864, Samuel A. Briggs, of Chicago; 1865 and '66, Richard Edwards, President State Normal University, Normal; 1867, '68 and '69, William M. Baker, of Springfield and Champaign; 1870 and '71, until August, Samuel H. White, of Peoria; from August, 1871, to 1873, Eliab W. Coy, of Peoria. Each of these was assisted by associate editors, generally for special departments. From the beginning to the close of its existence "The Illinois Teacher" was the medium of official communication of the Department of Public Instruction with the school officers throughout the State.
The Memento. This was a magazine of 32 octavo-pages monthly, devoted to the 'interests of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and entered upon its career in August, 1854. William Rounseville, who was Grand Master of the I. O. O. F. in Illinois, was editor, and N. C. Nason publisher. In February, 1856, Mr. H. S. Hill became a partner with Mr. Nason in the publishing business, under the firm name of Nason & Hill, this partnership continuing until April, 1860, after which time Mr. Nason conducted the business alone. Mr. Rounseville's connection with the magazine ceased with July, 1856. When the Civil war broke out, in April, 1861, the publication was suspended. Arrangements were in progress for resuming soon after peace was restored, when the "Odd Fellow's Union," a monthly quarto, published in Springfield by Harman G. Reynolds, appeared. As the patronage was not sufficient to support two such papers, revival of "The Memento" was postponed. One year satisfied Mr. Reynolds, and he abandoned the field, kindly turning over his mailing-book to Mr. Nason. Publication of "The Memento" was resumed in April, 1867, the quarto form being adopted, and continued until Hay, 1870, when, owing to pressure of duties of an official nature, the publisher finally relinquished it. "The Memento" never paid the cost of publication from its direct income, but it brought much printing from all parts of Illinois, and not a little from other States, the profit on which more than balanced the account.
The Christian Sentinel. This was a magazine of 32 octavo-pages monthly, conducted by O. A. Burgess, I. N. Carman and John Lindsey, in the interest of the church styling itself "Christian," but often designated by others as the "Campbellite." It had previously been published elsewhere, and the first issue at Peoria is No. 8 of Vol. Ill, dated May, 1856. The last was dated June, 1858. It was afterwards published at Eureka for some months. While published in Peoria, it was printed by Nason & Hill. The Peoria Medical Monthly, a journal devoted to the interests of the medical profession, was founded in the month of May, 1880, by Dr. Thomas M. McIlvaine, then a student without his professional degree. The design was to furnish the members of the profession remote from the centers of learning with ready access to current developments in medical science. The first number contained well written articles by Drs. John Murphy, J. S. Miller and John L. Hamilton, of Peoria, and one by Dr. A. R. Small, of Decatur. It was well received by the profession and, during the first volume, gave its readers original articles and clinical reports from the best known men in the country. The first volume had 328 pages, after which it was enlarged to about 500 pages. Its publication continued for about ten years, during which time it had attained such a reputation as to make it sought after by the best medical authorities. It made money from the beginning, but because of the increasing and lucrative practice of the editor and publisher, it was discontinued.
The Directories. In the year 1844, Simon De Witt Drown, a practical printer, issued a small volume of 124 pages entitled "The Peoria Directory for 1844" containing an account of the "Early Discovery of the Country with a History of the Town," which he claims to have been the first book ever printed and published in Peoria. It contains an account of the "early discovery of the country," as related by Marquette, Hennepin and others; a History of Peoria County"; a "History of Peoria" furnished by C. B. Esq., (presumed to have been Charles Ballance); "Reminiscences of Peoria" furnished by I. U. Esq. (said to have been Isaac Underhill), and J. H. Esq. (supposed to have been John Hamlin); an article on Lake and River Navigation; Early Records of the Village of Peoria; An Alphabetical list of the Heads of Families, with their places of residence and an account of the organization of the Churches and Secret Societies of the Town, together with numerous business cards of merchants, professional men, manufacturers and others. The book is exceedingly valuable as an historical monument.
In the month of March, 1851, Mr. Drown issued a second volume, entitled "Drown's Record and Historical View of Peoria from the Discovery by the French Jesuit Missionaries in the Seventeenth Century to the Present Time; also an Almanac for 1851, calculated for the Latitude and Longitude of Peoria, Illinois, Latitude 40 degrees 40 minutes North, Longitude 89 degrees 40 minutes West from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and 12 degrees 40 minutes West from the City of Washington, to which is added a business Directory of the City, with business cards; Printed by E. 0. Woodcock, Main Street, 1850." The contents of the book fully justify the expectations aroused by the title-page. The preface is dated December, 1850, but in the introduction to the "Peoria Business Directory," which occupies the last part of the book, the information is given that, from circum- stances over which the publisher had no control, the publication had been delayed far beyond the time intended; that he had with his own hands executed the press-work on an old "Stansbury Press," made in Cincinnati in 1826, equal to the best that Peoria could produce at that time for book-printing. The further information is given that the book was the second bound book to be printed in Peoria. It contains 164 pages of reading matter and business directory, and 48 pages of advertisements or business cards. The Almanac occupies 24 pages, the historical part 128 pages, the remainder being taken up with statistical matter relating to Peoria, the organization of its churches and societies, schools, and a Business Directory.
Mr. Drown was a man of varied attainments, he being not only a printer, but also a surveyor, a writer for the press, a statistician and a man of general information upon all subjects touching the public interests. He was proud of Peoria, and believing that it was destined to become an important city, bent his energies to the preservation, as far as his limited means would permit, of its early history. From the time of the issue of his first Directory until the issue of the second, he had published annually a small statistical sheet under the title of "Peoria Annual Record or Drown's Statistics," none of which prior to 1850 have come under the notice of the writer, but after the issue of the second book this record was enlarged from time to time, and changed in size and form—it having been issued in quarto form until the year 1856, when, for that and the following year, it was issued in the form of an octavo pamphlet. These publications of Mr. Drown, although somewhat lacking in methodical arrangement, and, especially as to the early history, not wholly accurate, are exceedingly valuable for the historical data they furnish. In fact, they entitle Mr. Drown to be called the father of Peoria's History. His statements have been followed to a great extent by all subsequent historians.
Root's Directories. In 1856, Omi E. Root published the first Directory of Peoria, devoted wholly to that purpose. It was a small duodecimo volume of 180 pages, and contained little else than the list of names, to which was added a list of churches and societies. This was the first of a consecutive series of sixteen issues, covering a space of twenty-four years. For six consecutive years they were issued annually, but at times thereafter the intervals between issues would be two or three years. These directories, besides the list of names and business cards, contained much valuable historical and statistical matter. The last issue was for the year 1879.
Other Directories were issued during the same period as follows: In 1859, J. F. Beatty issued one, and in 1868 and 1869, J. M. Cartwright issued one in each year. These followed the general plan adopted by Mr. Root. In 1876, Richard Edwards issued a "Census Report and Historical and Statistical Review," combined with a City Directory. This publication was issued for the purpose of correcting errors in and supplying omissions from the Government Census. It contains much valuable historical and statistical matter.
In 1878, Messrs. Ebert & Clark, of Hannibal, Missouri, published a directory of Peoria, following the plan of that of Richard Edwards, but not so comprehensive. It also is of historic value.
David. B. Gould issued the first number of his series of directories for the year 1880-81, and continued the publication through a series of eight annual issues, the last being for the year 1887. For the year 1887, he issued a special business directory in addition to the regular issues. In the year 1889 Mrs. S. E. Alien, wife of Dr. Melville V. Alien, the business manager in Peoria of Mr. Gould, issued a select Directory, entitled, "Allen's Blue-Book and Avenue Guide for the City of Peoria," which contained also a "Purchasers' Guide of the most Prominent Business Houses in the City." The purpose of this unique publication was "to give as complete an epitome of the Business and Social Interests of the City as possible." In addition to a selected list of four or five thousand names, it contains a complete Street Directory and the best Church and Society Directory ever published in Peoria. It also contains a department of Etiquette. The book was intended especially for the use of ladies, but its publication ceased with the first volume.
For the year 1886-87, Messrs. J. W. Franks & Sons issued a Directory in the same style as that of Gould, so that, for that year, there were two rival directories. The same happened in the year 1890-91, when Mr. A. E. Ayer issued a directory of the city, which was printed by the "Transcript Publishing Company." In the meantime the Gould and Franks interests had been combined in the formation of a corporation under the name of "Gould's Peoria City Directory Company" of which David B. Gould was President, and Gerald B. Franks, Vice-President, but the Directory was published as "Franks' Peoria City Directory." In a short time the name of the company was changed to that of "Franks Peoria City Directory Company," under which name it has continued to publish the directory annually until the present time. It therefore dates its first issue back to that of David B. Gould, in 1881, the last one issued under date of August 1, 1901, being its twentieth volume. These directories are a great improvement over any previously published, they being provided with the patent marginal index and a numerical street directory, in both of which improvements they are the pioneers among publishers of City Directories.
From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited
by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company,
Daily Paper at Peoria
The Peoria Register announces that as soon as the magnetic telegraph shall be completed to that city, which it says will be the case in four or six weeks, that paper will be issued daily. Peoria contains now a population of between four and five thousand souls, and is growing more rapidly than any other city in the state. [The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, March 10, 1848 Contributed by Nancy Piper]
Home | News
Peoria County, IL Genealogy Trails
© Copyright by Genealogy Trails
All data on this website is © Copyright by Genealogy Trails with full rights reserved for original submitters.