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History of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) online

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from its earliest history, a practically pure American population, not
all of them Amei-iean born, but thoroughly American in icleas of living
and progressiveness, ha.s ever been a staunch supporter of the pul)lic


press, and though from lack of population and the vicissitudes of its
sturdy settlers some of its earliest publications succumbed for want
of patronage, it is probably today, the strongest supporter of news-
papers of any city of its population in the state, having four daily
newspapers to its credit, all apparently well supported, while most of its
contemporary cities are sti'Uggling along with one, and in rare cases two.

No one thing except natural environment, is of more vital necessity
in the upbuilding of a town than a live, energetic and conscientiously
conducted newspaper, and Battle Creek was but in its swaddling clothes
when its first newspaper was born, for our historians say its first log
liouse arrived in 1831 ; its first frame dwelling in 1837 ; but its first
newspaper arrived one year before the first brick dwelling was erected
in 1846, for the year previous, 1845, Leonard Stillson was sent to
Rochester, New York, by some of the enterprising citizens of the village
to purelia.se the needed supplies to found a weekly newspaper. Equall.v
if not more important than the supplies he secured, was his capture of
a young printer, Walter W. Woolnough, one blessed with the true spirit
of journalism, and who was destined from that time on until his
death in 1904, to be a valuable worker in the field of newspaperdom
of his adopted city. Thus the Western Citizen and Battle Creek
Champion made its first bow in July, 1845, under their joint manage-
ment. It was Democratic in politics and lasted a year and a month
when ]Mr. Woolnough and E. Dougherty took the plant over, changed
the name of the jiaper to the Mivliigan Tribune, and its politics to the
Whig pei-suasion, it sni-viving until February, 1848.

The foUowiiit;' snininiT the Liberty Press, a state publication of
the anti-slavery (u^.mi/.ii ion. suspended at Ann Arbor and through
the instrument;! lii\ u\ liiastus Hussey, its editor and publisher was
removed to Battle (reek and its publication continued by Messrs.
Woolnough & Dougherty, Mr. Hussey retaining the editorship and man-
agement. Against nuich bitter opposition and difficulty it was continued
for about a year, when the plant was destroyed by fire in the summer
of 1849, after which for a short time they continued its publication
at Marshall but were finally forced to abandon it.

Then the city was without a paper until October, 1851, when Gannt
& Burton established the Battle Creek Journed, a weekly Whig paper,
selling it in the February following, to ilr. Woolnough who conducted
it until 1863 (its politics became Republican with the birth of that
party) when it was purchased by Chas. E. GrfQth, who in November,
1867, sold it to George Willard, who later on associated with his son-
in-law, Chas. D. Brewer, established the Battle Creek DaUy Journal,
July 2, 1872, still continuing the weekly. Mr. Brewer later on retired
because of ill health and some years later his son, Geo. B. Willard and
E. W. Moore, another son-in-law, became associated in its publication,
succeeding to the full ownership following the death of Hon. George
Willard, in 1901, and continuing its publication until June 1, 1908,
when it was sold by them to Messrs. A. D. Welton and A. E. McKinnon,
the former editor-in-chief and the latter formerly circulation manager
of the Detroit Free Press, a stock company being formed to take over
the paper, with the above gentlemen as its editor and manager re-


spectively. The price paid was $50,000 cash down, so it will be seen
that the newspaper field had improved in scope and importance in
the forty-one years in which it had remained under the management
of the one family, the "good- will" forming fully two-thirds of the
sum mentioned. The new management also purchased the Sunday
Record, o\\'ned by Chas. E. Moore, and this was merged with the daily
as the Sunday Record-Journal.

On June 1, 1909, the Journal passed into the hands of Eugene R.
Cole and Victor Polachek, who continued its publication until June,
1911, when it passed into the hands of William Thompson, its present
owner. During the Cole-Polachek regime, the old weekly was dis-
continued, the name Record was dropped from the Sunday edition and
the Daily Journal, is a continuous publication seven days in the week,
the Sunday issue, however, appearing as a morning instead of an evening

But the Journal has not been alone in tht' field all these years since
1851, for in 1857 Tlir Jcffersoninn (the name denotes its politics) was
established by Wm. S. Pease, who soon after was rewarded with the
postmastership under Buchanan, and the paper passed into the hands
of John C. Gentzler, who conducted it but a short time when it was

Tlien in February, 1868, Pease & Lewis established the Constitutional
I'll ion which survived a little over two years and upon its foundation
Alfred B. Tozer, a graduate of the Jouriud staff, an able story writer
as well as able newspaper man, founded the Michigan Tribune, which
he sold the following August to C. N. Pease and Lyman Reade, who in
turn sold their interests to Messrs. W. W. Woolnough and W. H.
Bordine in 1871, JMr. Woolnough holding the editorship and manage-
ment. They conducted it as a Democrat paper until September, 1877,
when the}' sold out to Charles E. Barnes, another Journal graduate,
and George W. Buckle.v.

June 19, 1880, Mr. Barnes sold his interest to Mr. Buckley, who
later took E. A. Onderdonk into partnership and the paper was later
sold to Joseph Saunders, who discontinued the Tribune and started the
Daily Republican. The plant was later severely damaged by fire, and
the paper was abandoned.

On August 8, 1884, Messrs. Barnes and Eugene Gla.ss started the
Sunday Morning Call, which in June, 1886, was sold to the Call Printing
Company, representing the Knights of Labor, who added a daily the
Evening Call, born June 28, 1886. Mr. Barnes was made president
of the company and editor-in-chief of the paper, but resigned to go to
Lansing as labor commissioner, February, 1887. The paper suspended
after about four years existence. On his return from Lansing in
1891, Mr. Barnes started the Michigan Patriot, a weekly paper devoted
to propagating the People's party principles, which was continued aliout
a year, when it was sold to parties who removed the ]ilant to ( 'aliniirt,

In April, 1881, Tlie Commoner, a Greenback paper, was brought here
from .Alassachusetts and published by ^Messrs. Hull and Robiii.^on as a
weekly, Irat survived only a few months. Mr. Hull, the editor, then


started the Battle Creek Citizen, also a weekly, which was continued until

The Battle Creek News, D. J. Westfall, proprietor, J. W. Bryce,
city editor, had but a few months existence following its birth, October
19, 1894.

The Daihj Xeirs, started in December, 1898, by D. Z. Curtis, as a
morning paper, lasted only until the following February, because there
seemed no room for it at that time.

The second daily paper to obtain a permanent foothold in Battle
Creek was the Nightly Moon. It was started in 1878 as a morning paper
by IMartin E. Brown (who had served at the ease on the old Michigan
Tribune under ilr. Woolnough), and Dennis E. Alward. who had some
experience at the news end of the business and the paper at fii-st was an
adjunct to the Detroit Evening Xews. It was soon changed from a
morning paper to an evening paper, at which time the name changed
from nightly to Daily Moon, and I\Ir. Brown purchased the interest of
his partner." Brown continued the Moon and enlarged it from time to
time, until from about "postal card size," as it was quoted by an ex-
change of those days, it grew and grew until it became full size and is a
permanent fixture in the city's excellent galaxy of newspapers, still
under Brown's sole ownership. After it had gotten a foothold, that
old pioneer of journalism, Hon. Walter W. Woolnough, assumed charge
of the editorial columns, and continued in the position up to within a
few years of his death.

A. B. Tozer once more entered the newspaper field here, by establish-
ing the Sunday Record, February 6, 1898, but sold out in October
following to Eugene R. Cole, under whose management it continued for
seven years, when Chas. E. Moore was taken in as a partner, the latter
purchasing Mr. Cole's interest in July 1906, afterward selling to the
Journal Publishing Company as mentioned elsewhere.

Jos. L. Cox, first inventor of the Duplex Press, ex-mayor of the city,
and a former newspaper man of Indiana, fresh from Lansing, where he
had held the office of labor commissioner under Pingree. launched the
Morning Enquirer July 21, 1900, and made a live, bright paper out of
it, but it was an uphill" fight with limited capital, and Jlr. Cox, knowing
the field of inventions promised more lucrative returns, together with
his brother, Paul F. Cox, who was associated with him, sold the paper to
Dr. Chas. W. Green and Eugene R. Cole, July 30, 1906. About a year
later Chas. W. Post bought ]\Ir. Cole's interest, and Air. Green assumed
the management for another year, when the control of the paper passed
into the hands of jMr. Post, who organized the Enquirer Publishing
Company, which has since greatly increased the mechanical facilities of
the paper, enlarged the official staff and launched the Evening News,
under the management of the Evening News Publishing Company,
naking four daily papers now in the field and all a credit to the city,
to which may be added one small weekly, The Worker's Herald, a
Socialist paper, started in the fall of 1911, under the local editorship
of Levant C. Rogers.

Good Government, a weekly, was started by Chas. R. Mains, March
1, 1900, but had only a brief existence.


On October 18, tlie same year, Tlu Sonal-Dt iin„nil was launched by
the Socialists and Union Labor people, with Ed. 11. Ellis, as editor, Inil it
was soon discontinued.

Some twenty one or two years ago lleni'v S. Kees. scarcely nf n'^e,
started a small paper called the Morniiui Star in conned ion with his
small job printing plant, l)iit he soon sold out his plant and the papei' was

This completes, so far as we are able to learn oi' recall, the list of
Battle Creek's newspapers but in addition, the city has been and still
is the center of other publictions, devoted to religion, ])oultr>-, animal
pets and others.

So long ago as 1S&2, Nathaniel Potter started the Albimi and Battle

Online LibraryWashington GardnerHistory of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) → online text (page 42 of 74)