Early Local Newspapers


The County Press

The newspaper is one of the truest evidences of civilized life. It is the chief propose of great enterprises. It is the exponent of the American mind, with very few exceptions, and these occur only where ignorance or viciousness leads the freeman of our soil to become a convert to the savage opinions of theoretical Europeans. Happily the newspaper men of the country do not claim many professors who indulge in nonsensical praise of the slave-holding monarchies of the world. Such stuff takes root only in the minds of the more imbecile of our citizens. The press and people understand their duties to the Republic, and appreciate the blessings which a federal government confers. So long as these indefatigable framers of opinion stand faithfully by the pen and press just so long will liberty trample on all treason from within, all treachery from without.

Kent county entered upon its newspaper era within a year after its organization. Since that time the press has grown in extent and influence, until now it boasts of four daily and eight weekly journals. Looking back over a period of 44 years since the Grand Rapids Times was first published, one must be forcibly reminded of all the newspaper men, past and present, have done in the interest of the county, the State and the Republic. Every evidence points out the journalists of the past as equal to those of our day. Flunkeyism was not the attribute of one of them. They labored late and early in training the minds of their constituents, and in most cases so philosophically that they conferred inestimable good on the district, and won the confidence of the people. They opposed whatever seemed dangerous in proposed innovations, and while supporting law and order, were always among the first denouncers of whatever seemed tyrannical or arbitrary. They stigmatized moral cowardice, and insisted that, from the village council room to the chambers of the National Government, virtue should be doubly cherished and vice subjected to rebuke and punishment. A reader may possibly imagine that the idea is too farfetched; but let him claim the confidence of the newspaper man, or venture to act his part for even a brief space of time, a full realization of his labors and his sacrifices will break upon the mind, he will learn a little of his studies and anxieties, and join in the opinion which must be entertained of the honest journalist.

Proscribe the liberty of the press and the nation suffers just in such proportion as the press suffers. Proscribe the liberty of the

Page 414

press and the cause of human freedom is checked for a time; trade, the health of nations, rolls languidly on; man looks around him in alarm; the safeguard of progress is enchained. Therefore, let us regard, cherish and support the honest journalist, stigmatize what may be really corrupt in the newspaper, and be always ready to co-operate with justice and to applaud her holy work.


The pioneer journal of Kent county was inaugurated under the editorial management of Geo. W. Pattison, assisted by Noble H. Finney, April 18, 1837, when the first number issued from the press. The first impression was taken on a sheet of cotton, and presented to Louis Campau, in presence of many citizens. The succeeding issue of the journal was not struck off until April 29, of the same year. The press on which this paper was printed was drawn up the river from Grand Haven, on the ice, by a team of dogs. It was purchased the winter previous at Buffalo by Judge Almy. At Detroit it was shipped for Grand Haven on the steamer "Don Quixote," which was wrecked off Thunder Bay. After many delays, the precious traveler was placed on board a schooner, taken around the lake in the fall of 1836, landed at Grand Haven, and thence sent to Grand Rapids. On lifting it from the sleigh it fell through the ice to the bottom of the river. On fishing it out some days later, it was cleaned and dried by Jacob Barnes, then a settler here.

The Times subsequently became the property of James H. Morse, who managed it in such a peculiar manner as to insure for it the reputation of through neutrality. The political columns were equally at the disposal of Democrats and Whigs. Charles H. Taylor, C. I. Walker, Simeon M. Johnson and S. Granger were the principal "old party" contributors; while Whig principles were ably expounded by Geo. Martin, E. B. Bostwick, Wm. G. Henry, T. W. Higginson and others. In 1841 Simeon M. Johnson became editor, and with this change in the editorial management the title of the pioneer journal was changed to Grand Rapids Enquirer. From 1841 to 1843 the journal progressed favorably: during this year E. D. Burr purchased an interest, abolished its independent features, and espoused the cause of John C. Calhoun’s Democracy. A year later it adopted for its motto: "James K. Polk and the Union." From this to 1856, when it was resolved into the Daily Enquirer and Herald, it was published by Jacob Barnes and edited by Thomas B. Church. Charles H. Taylor purchased an interest in 1855 with Jacob Barnes, and started the Daily Enquirer, with John P. Thompson as editor. The proprietors disposed of their interests to A. E. Gordon, who inaugurated the first daily paper at Grand Rapids, and henceforth the name of both papers formed the title of Enquirer and Herald, with A.E. Gordon and John P. Thompson publisher and editor respectively.

Page 415

This journal continued in the hands of Mr. Gordon until the property was sold under a mortgage, in the hands of Harvey P. Yale. Subsequently N.D. Titus revived it under its old name, and carried on the old journal successfully, until in Mr. Fordham’s time it adopted a new dress and a new name, The Democrat.

Jacob Barnes, born at Stowe, Vt., April 22, 1825, arrived at Grand Rapids, with his father, in 1836. He, it may be remembered, dried the John Almy printing press after its bath in Grand river, and in after years worked at his very press in the printing office, then controlled by James M. Morse. Mr. Morse died in 1845, when Barnes took charge of the office as an employee of the widow. In 1846 he purchased her interests in the journal, and became publisher of the Enquirer. He married Marilla C. Stevens, of Syracuse, N. Y., Oct. 25, 1847. In 1850 he purchased a one-third interest in the Detroit Free Press, which he sold in 1854 to W. F. Storey, and the same year re-entered the office of the Enquirer. In 1856 he was appointed Registrar of the United States Land Office at Duncan, again at Michilimackinac, and lastly at Traverse City. In 1861 he purchased an interest in the Detroit Free Press, with which paper he was connected until 1866, when he retired to his farm near Grand Rapids. Eleven years ago he bought an interest in the Carey Mill, and thus made the round of printer, journalist, politician, farmer and manufacturer.


Was simply a campaign sheet published in 1844, and issued from the office of the Enquirer. As a campaign paper it was comparatively respectable, and being so, had a share in exerting a beneficent influence on the Democratic teachings and teachers of the period


Originally, the name of this paper was Grand River Eagle; it was changed by substituting "Rapids" for "River" about 1852. It was started as a weekly journal by Aaron B. Turner, Dec. 25, 1844, its first number containing the returns of the election in November previous, when James K. Polk was elected President. In politics it was a supporter of the Whig party. For the first 10 years it had a precarious existence, the country being new and the subscription list small as compared with the present day, and the credit system, with much barter and little cash, was then in vogue. With small means at command the proprietor, and suspensions of a few weeks were not infrequent. In 1848 it supported earnestly and vigorously the Taylor Presidential ticket; and in 1852 the Scott ticket, though in the latter campaign it could not heartily endorse the position taken by the Whig party, in its plat-

Page 416

form in reference to the agitation of the slavery question. Shortly after the election of 1852, and the signal defeat of the Whig party thereat, the Eagle made a "new departure," appearing with the legend, "An Independent Democratic Journal," at its head, and urging that the time had come when there must be a new alignment of parties, when the anti-slavery Whigs must seek other affiliations, and the Democratic party must be opposed by a new organization. When in 1854 the Republican party was organized "under the oaks" at Jackson, Mich., a consummation which it had labored for, the Eagle immediately came to its support and that of its ticket in the State, and had the satisfaction of rejoicing in their success at the fall election. Grand Rapids about this time began to feel a new impulse in growth of population and business. There was a call for daily papers, two of which were started in 1855, and the Eagle was pressed to respond to the demand, though to procure the necessary capital and outfit was no small undertaking for the proprietor.


The publication of the Daily Eagle was commenced May 26, 1856, as a morning paper. At that time there was neither railroad nor telegraph running into Grand Rapids. But it was the year of the Fremont campaign, and arrangements were made by which duplicates of telegraphic dispatches were brought by mail-stage from Kalamazoo every evening and printed the next morning. Some time afterward the Eagle was changed to and has since been an evening journal. It has been a successful paper from the start, though for the first few years working against many discouragement, keeping pace with the times, and the developments of this part of Michigan, as a disseminator of news, an advocate of the principles of the Republican party, and of law and order, and doing its full share in promoting the progress and the best interests of the country, local and general.

From the beginning the Eagle has remained under the control, as principal proprietor, of its founder, Aaron B. Turner, though associated with him, from time to time have been many others: In business: 1848, James Scribner; in 1849, A. H. Proctor; in 1851-‘2, Isaac Turner; and since 1865 (most of the time) Eli F. Harrington; also for a short time Frank Godfrey. On the editorial staff (weekly), between 1845 and 1848, George Martin and Haley F. Barstow. In 1855 Albert Baxter entered the office, and after the establishment of the daily paper acted as assistant editor and business manager till the summer of 1860. In the latter year Lewis J. Bates became political editor, remaining until 1865, when Mr. Baxter returned and took the position of political writer and manager of editorial staff, which he has occupied ever since. About 1857 C.C. Sexton took the place of local or city editor, which he filled till 1865. Following him successively were Robert Wilson,

Page 417

G. Wickwire Smith (a brilliant young man who fell victim to consumption), J. D. Dillenback, Frank Godfrey and Ernest B. Fisher. Mr. Fisher at this writing still fills the post of city editor; Jonathan P. Thompson for some years prior to 1872 assisted in the department of news and miscellany. He was succeeded by Alpha Child, who remained with the paper till June, 1881, when he resigned his post and was succeeded by Homer Horsford.

It may with truth be said that the Eagle has been ably conducted, and has been and is an important factor in the education, the molding of sentiment, and the building up the material interests of this portion of Michigan. The real value of the earnest, enterprising, dignified newspaper press is scarcely half appreciated; so resistless, so constant and continuous, are its workings and influences, it is a power in the land as potent as it is persistent and unremitting. Among the agencies of modern progress and development, the family newspaper holds a chief place, and the Eagle has well earned its position in the front rank of the interior press of Michigan.

Aaron B. Turner, born at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., N. Y., Aug. 27, 1822, arrived at Grand Rapids in April, 1836, with his father, Isaac Turner, brother of Eliphalet Turner, the latter a pioneer of 1833. Mr. Turner entered the office of the Grand Rapids Times, in the winter of 1837-‘8, and served at the case in that office until 1844. He married Miss Sibley, daughter of Capt. W. Sibley, an old settler of the village, in 1843. The year following he severed his connection with the Times, purchased a hand press and type, with the intention of inaugurating a Whig journal. This material arrived in time to enable him to strike off election tickets for the Clay campaign of that year. The first number of the Eagle was issued Dec. 25, 1844, under the title, Grand River Eagle. He subsequently changed the word River to Rapids, and thus the Eagle has been brought down to the present time under his proprietorship. Mr. Turner was the first to place the claims of Zachary Taylor for the presidency before the people. On the defeat of the Whig ticket in the Scott-Pierce campaign of 1852, he declared the Eagle "an independent Democratic journal," On the formation of the Republican party at Jackson in 1854, he endorsed the platform as adopted, and was among the first and ablest supporters of Kinsley S. Bingham for Governor. In May, 1856, the prosperity of the office justified him in issuing the first number of the Daily Eagle, which has been printed continuously, save for a few days succeeding the burning of the office in 1863.

This veteran journalist and old settler filled the position of City Clerk in 1850-‘1; Journal Clerk of the State Legislature in 1855; Official Reporter for the Senate in 1857, and Secretary of the Senate for the two terms of 1859-’61. He was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue for the 4th Michigan District in 1862, which service he organized in this section of the State. Owing to his expressed disapproval of Andrew Johnson’s reconstruction scheme,

Page 418

he was removed from that office in 1866. In 1869 the Grant administration gave him the postmastership at Grand Rapids, and again in 1873 President Grant re-appointed him to that important position. He is associated in proprietorship of the Eagle with Mr. Harrington, but at present does not take an active part in the labor of managing that journal, though exercising over it has constant supervision and control. Beginning his career as publisher in establishing the Eagle, he has controlled and managed the paper which he founded, continuously, since 1844; he may well congratulate himself, with pardonable pride, upon being the only publisher in the State enjoying such a distinction, entitling him to the designation of "the veteran editor of Michigan."

Eli F. Harrington, son of Rufus and Mary (Forbes) Harrington, was born at East Bradfield, Mass., January, 1839. In 1856 he first entered on newspaper work, and has since that period been closely identified with journalism. Emigrating westward in 1858, he arrived at Grand Rapids the same year. In 1865 Mr. Harrington purchased an interest in the Eagle, and has continued the duties of active partnership from that year to the present time.

Albert Baxter was born at Moretown, Vt., Aug. 3, 1823. His youth was spent upon a Green Mountain farm, when labor was no play-spell. His education was such as could be gained in the rural district school of those days, supplemented by two terms at a village academy. He had a little experience at school-teaching, including "boarding round," first in Vermont, afterward in Wisconsin Territory, whither he went in 1845. In 1846 he came to Grand Rapids, read law for a year, and relinquished it on account of poor health. From 1847 to 1854 was engaged in carriage-making and painting. Feb. 22, 1849, married Elvira E., daughter of Joel Guild, a pioneer settler at Grand Rapids. One daughter, who died young, was the fruit of this union. In 1854 threw up business and went east with his wife, who died in Vermont, June 5, 1855, when he returned to Grand Rapids much broken in health and discouraged peculiarly, Mr. Baxter had from boyhood taken much interest in politics, and early joined the Abolitionist or Liberty party, as it was then called, with which he cast his first vote. He took an active part in the efforts of that party name of "Free Democracy," from 1848 onward, as much as he could spare of his time and his limited means. In 1854, Feb. 22, he was a delegate to the Free Democratic State Convention at Jackson, which nominated Kinsley S. Bingham for Governor, and worked ardently and actively in the movement to bring about the great mass convention "under the oaks," which organized the felicity of sharing in a political victory in accordance with his principles. In 1855 he began writing occasionally for the press, and entered the office of the Grand Rapids Eagle, assisting in the editorship of that paper till the summer of 1860. Leaving that he

Page 421

went to Detroit, working for a short time on the Tribune staff. Losing his health, he was obliged to abandon the editorial profession, and for two years was on the invalid list. Gradually regaining strength, he engaged in out door life, and spent about two years thus, part of the time in the lumber woods. In 1865 he again entered the Eagle office as political and managing editor, which position he has since filled, with such measure of ability as is shown in the columns of that journal, and by its success and influence during the past 16 years.

Ernest B. Fisher was born at Binghamton, N. Y., Dec. 5, 1847. From 1850 to 1861 lived at or near Oshkosh, Wis. From 1861 to 1863 at Binghamton again, living with his grandfather on a farm, and working with his father at the carpenter’s trade. Education, that of the common school which he attended part of each year. In 1868-’71, he taught school winters in Oakland and Kent counties, and worked at his trade the rest of the year. In June, 1871, he entered the office of the Daily Eagle in the local department, and has since retained that position, with credit to himself and all concerned.

Alpha Child was born in Boston, Mass., in 1836. Family moved to Wisconsin when he was 12 years old. In 1854 went to New York, shipped before the mast and sailed about two years. Then went upon the stage in the old Broadway Theater, playing there at the Bowery for about eight months. Then went to sea again as storekeeper on the steamship "Baltie," of the Collins line. Went back to Wisconsin about 1868, and began soon after work on the Milwaukee Sentinel. In 1861 went into the volunteer navy and served on a gunboat, about two and half years, first as yeoman, then as Master’s mate; was afterward reporter on the N. Y. Times. In 1869, as special agent of the Post Office Department visited all the treaty ports of China and Japan. Returned to the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1869, and in the two following years was on the city staff of the Milwaukee Wisconsin; came to Grand Rapids in April, 1872, and took the news department on the Eagle editorial staff, which he retained, with two brief vacations, till June, 1881, leaving it to take the office of clerk of the Grand Rapids Board of Police and Fire Commissioners. Being offered an advantageous business connection at East, in the latter part of August, 1881, he moved to Boston, Mass.


Is the successor of the first daily paper published in the city, being the offspring of the Daily Enquirer and the Daily Herald. It is descended from the Weekly Enquirer, which was first published in 1840 by J. H. Morse & Co. Mr. Morse died Saturday, April 19, 1845, and its publication was continued by Mrs. M. E. Morse & Co., Jacob Barnes being the printer. In November the Enguirer was purchased by D. C. Lawrence & Co., who were its proprietors until June, 1846, when the establishment was purchased by Jacob Barnes and C. H. Taylor, and its publication was con-

Page 422

tinued by the above gentleman under the firm name of Jacob Barnes & Co., who commenced the publication of the Daily Enquirer Nov. 19, 1853. In May, 1857, the Daily Enquirer was merged with the Daily Herald and published by Gordon & Thompson under the title of the Enquirer and Herald. By these gentlemen, either in partnership or by A. E. Gordon alone, it was continued until April, 1860.

From April, 1860, to September, 1865, the paper was owned by several parties, among whom were E. D. Burr, N. D. Titus, Fordham & Co. In September, 1865, M. A. Clark & Co. became the owners of the material, and its name was changed to The Democrat. From this time till July 29, 1877, Mr. Clark, either alone or in connection with partners, owned and published it. The following gentlemen were associated with Mr. Clark at various times, in the ownership of the paper: Richard Burt, C.C. Sexton, Robert Wilson, J. N. Davis, H. P. Churchill, C. B. Smith, John L. E. Kelly and A. A. Stevens. On July 29, 1877, Col. I. E. Messmore and Gen. Ambrose A. Stevens purchased the establishment and continued the publication of The Democrat until May 26, 1881, when Col. Messmore purchased the interest of Gen Stevens and became its sole proprietor.

The present staff employed on The Democrat comprises Col. I. E. Messmore, editor and proprietor; Wm. M. Hathaway, assistant editor; Wm. S. Hull, city editor; Wm. R. Maze, telegraph and news editor; James N. Davis, superintendent of composing and press departments; Charles L. Messmore and William H. Reynolds conduct the business departments; George S. Foote, foreman of news room. In the following pages the sketches of the principal men connected with this journal are given.

Merrils H. Clark, one of the founders of the Democrat, was born in North Almond, Allegany Co., N. Y., Sept. 2, 1826. In 1835 he removed with his father’s family to La Grange, Ind., where he remained until he was 13 years old, when he went to White Pigeon, Mich., for the purpose of attending school at the branch of the Michigan University located there. He remained there three years pursuing his studies, at the expiration of which time he entered the office of the White Pigeon Republican for the purpose of learning the printing business. At the end of his apprenticeship there he went to Ann Arbor, intending to complete his studies at the University, but changing his mind he entered a printing office for the purpose of perfecting his knowledge of the art of printing, laboring for eight years. An opportunity offering for establishing a paper at Owosso, Shiawassee Co., Mr. Clark seized it, bought a press and material and stated the Owosso Argus. The county seat of Shiawassee county being established at Corunna, soon afterward Mr. Clark removed his paper to that place, where he remained until 1857, when he sold out his paper and removed to Omaha, Nebraska Territory, and began and continued the publication of the Daily and Weekly Nebraskian. During his seven

Page 423

years’ residence in Nebraska Mr. Clark was elected Representative to the State Legislature for Douglas county, which office he held two terms. In 1864 he returned to Michigan, and after a short time prospecting, he settled in Grand Rapids, purchased the establishment of the Enquirer and Herald, and in connection with N. D. Titus began the publication of the Daily Democrat, which he continued with various partners until 1877. He is now editor and publisher of the Barry Co. Democrat.

Mr. Clark is a veteran journalist and has labored continuously at the printing business since 16 years of age, and in all probability will die in the harness.

Richard Burt, a practical printer, was connected with The Democrat but a short time. Preferring a residence in the West, he sold his interest in the paper and returned to Omaha, Neb. (his former residence), where he now lives.

John L. E. Kelly was a business man, and purchased The Democrat as a business investment; but his health failing, he removed in 1872 to San Jose, Cal., and is now engaged in mining.

N. D. Titus, who in connection with M. H. Clark established The Democrat on the ruins of the Enquirer and Herald, becoming impatient at the slow progress of the revivification of the newspaper, sold his interest in The Democrat, removed to Detroit and accepted a position on the Free Press, which he now holds.

Clark C. Sexton’s first newspaper experience was as business man on the Grand Rapids Eagle, which situation he held for a number of years. As local editor of that and other papers he was noted for his success in finding news items, no matter how great the dearth of "accidents by flood and field." He purchased an interest in The Democrat and held it until he founded the Daily Times of Grand Rapids. He has seen his banner grow until it has become one of the institutions of the city.

Frank Godfrey is a practical printer, excelling in the book and job business, and during his administration the job department of The Democrat first assumed its present fine shape. He is now part owner of one of the best job offices in Detroit.

Robert Wilson was a native of the "land o’ cakes," but moved to Michigan in his early years, locating at Newaygo. He removed to this city about 1860, taking a position on the Daily Eagle. He filled the position of ‘local" on both Democrat and Eagle, was an erratic, humorous writer, and could see nothing but the humorous side of even a suicide or murder. He enlisted as a private in the 21st Mich., Inf. In 1862, and served till the close of the war, getting his discharge as First Lieutenant. He died in 1879.

Dr. Charles B. Smith became one of the owners of The Democrat in 1869 and continued five years. He graduated at Yale College in 1837, and entered the ministry, attaching himself to the Baptist Church. The degree of doctor of divinity was conferred upon him by the College at Wabash, Ind., in 1859. Until 1858 he was a strong Republican in politics, and no member of his party

Page 424

was more bitter in his denunciation of the opposition. He is a man of strong convictions, and if not radical he is nothing.

He went to Florida with an invalid son, and being stricken down himself he barely escaped with his life, but so enfeebled that it was found necessary to retire the active work of the ministry. At the same time his political views were changed; but being so constituted that he must have something to occupy his mind, he purchased an interest in The Democrat and assumed editorial control of the political department of the paper. In this position his peculiarity manifested itself, and in a short time the vials of wrath were poured upon his devoted head by his former political associates. This was life to the Doctor, and he was in his element, when repelling an attack upon his political position, and particularly so when he could retaliate and "carry the war into Africa," which his knowledge of the weak points of the attacking forces enabled him to do. During his ownership of the paper its subscription largely increased, owing largely to the vigor and ability with which his department was conducted. He is a close observer of political events, and a departure from what he considers the principles of good government is sure to receive a scathing rebuke from his trenchant pen.

Gen. Ambrose A. Stevens became one of the proprietors of The Democrat in July, 1877, and retained his interest until May, 1881. He is a genial gentleman, and has hosts of strong personal friends wherever he has resided. He was Lieutenant-Colonel of the Third Michigan Infantry at the breaking out of the Rebellion, and participated in the first battle of Bull Run. He was a stranger to fear, and could be counted on to take any position, however great the danger. He was wounded during the war, and on his recovery, was promoted to the Colonel of the 21st Mich. Inf., at its formation in 1862. He participated in many of the terrific battles of that trying time, holding his command until, owing to ill health, he was compelled to reign. He now holds the rank of Brevet Brigadier-General, in testimony of his service upon the field.

James N. Davis came to Grand Rapids with his father’s family in August, 1836. In May, 1847, he entered the office of the Grand River Eagle, to learn the trade of printing, and has ever since that time, with short periods of intermission, been engaged in some capacity, either on the Eagle or Democrat and its predecessor. He has filled every station in newspaper life from "devil" to proprietor, and is conversant with every branch of the printing business. In 1862 he accepted a position on the Detroit Free Press, occupying it till June, 1863, when he returned to Grand Rapids. In January, 1864, he emlisted as a private in Co. B., 2nd Mich. Inf., with which regiment he remained till its discharge in July, 1865, and was mustered out as Orderly Sergeant of Co. H.

With the brief exceptions mentioned he has resided in Grand

Page 425

Rapids since 1836. He has seen the city grow from a township of a few dozen families to a populous city of about 35,000 souls He is one of the few remaining :early settlers," and from his almost unbroken residence in Kent county can give as authentic account of the early scenes and incidents of the history of Grand Rapids as any of its present residents, and is now seeing his fourteenth term as Supervisor of the ward in which he resides.

Isaac E. Messmore, sole proprietor and editor-in-chief of the Daily and Weekly Democrat, is 55 years of age, and claims to be an early settler of Michigan, his father being born in the city of Detroit, and residing in that city over 40 years. The years preceding his majority were a continual struggle for the wherewith to maintain life and obtain an education, one portion of the time working at the most laborious occupations to obtain mans with which to support him self while pursuing studies, the other portion of the magnitude of such a struggle no one can judge but hose who have undergone it; but success crowned his effort. Having decided to be a lawyer, he turned his attention to that profession, went through the usual studies, and graduated at the Richmond (Va,) Law School. In 1850 he settled in Wisconsin, where he resided until 1862.

Originally, in politics, Col. M. was a Whig, and acted with that party as long as it maintained a distinctive organization; but upon its dissolution he abandoned politics, for a time. In 1861 he allied himself with the Republicans, and was elected to the Wisconsin Legislature that year. This year he was also appointed Circuit Judge of the 5th Judicial District of Wisconsin. At the breaking out of the Rebellion he went from the bench into the 14th Wisconsin Regiment as Lieut.-Col., and served in that capacity until the battle of Shiloh. He then resigned and returned to that State, when he was immediately appointed Colonel of the 31st Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers. Becoming disabled on the field, he was sent to the New York City hospital, remaining six months, where he underwent a surgical operation.

He resumed his command just before the close of the war and went to Washington, where, upon the recommendation of General Grant, Postmaster-General Randall and Gen. John A. Rawlins (afterward Secretary of War), he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Department, discharging, in addition, the duties of Solicitor of Departments. He was, during that time, appointed by President Johnson one (and executive member) of the celebrated Metropolitan Board of the City of New York, which post he held 18 months, when the board expired by limitation, and he came to Grand Rapids.

In 1876, becoming dissatisfied with the course of the Republican party, he joined the Democracy, and took an active part in the Presidential campaign of that year, and also in 1880. In July, 1877, in connection with Gen. A. A. Stevens, he purchased The Democrat establishment, and continued the publication of the paper

Page 426

with his partner until May 26, 1881, when he purchased the interest of Gen. Stevens and became sole proprietor and editor-in-chief.

Perhaps none of the various proprietors or editors of The Democrat have been so widely known as Col. Messmore. Having resided in various States and taken an active interest in whatever tended to promote the progress of the locality in which he resided, he of necessity has become well known throughout the United States. As a writer he is sharp and incisive, and attacks what he considers wrong in any section or individual; and in the discharge of his duty he neither gives nor asks quarter. No paper in the State has had more prominence, or its opinions oftener quoted by friends and foes than The Democrat. His knowledge of every topic that has in the past agitated the public or is now before the people, and his masterly handling of the subject, give him a respectful hearing from every class of the reading public. He courts opposition, not for the sake of controversy, but that through argument the right may prevail. During his administration The Democrat has steadily advanced until as a news and political journal it is second to none in the State.


This was the pioneer daily journal of Grand Rapids. Its first issue was struck off March 19, 1855, by A. E. Gordon. After running a year, the publisher purchased the Enquirer, and thenceforth the paper was known as the Enguirer and Herald.


Was established as a bi-weekly newspaper by J. P. Thompson, in 1857, after he ceased his connection with the Enquirer and Hearld. He was associated in the enterprise with Chas. B. Benedict. Mr. Thompson subsequently became thoroughly engaged in the cause of horticulture, and held the highest office in the State Horticultural Society. About four years ago he took charge of the agricultural department of a Detroit paper, and has since died.


Was established in 1857 by C. W. Eaton and W. S. Leffingwell.


Was established as a weekly newspaper in 1867, by Thomas D. Worrall, but has long since ceased to exist.

Uri J. Baxter, at one time connected with the above journal and other papers at Grand Rapids, was born in Fayston, Vt., Jan. 20, 1833. Had a district-school education, which he supplemented by study of the higher mathematics. Came to Kent county in 1851, and soon began school-teaching, which he followed for several

Page 427

years. Between 1858 and the breaking out of the war he was engaged in newspaper work, on The Great Western Journal and Valley City Advertiser, at Grand Rapids. He enlisted in the regiment of mechanics and engineers for the war, but was taken prisoner and paroled before reaching its headquarters in Tennessee, and was discharged by reason of disability. Subsequently he was engaged for a time on the Grand Haven Herald. About 1866 he went to Washington and engaged in Government service. Studied law and graduated with honor at the Columbia Law School. Has since been in the General Land Office, having occupied all grades of positions, from the lowest, in which he started, to the highest.


The Grand Rapids Daily Times was established by C. C. Sexton in 1870, and the first number issued from the press April 17 of that year. Nathan Church purchased a half interest in the journal in 1871. Three years later Don. Henderson and Geo. W. Gage acquired a proprietary interest, and subsequently Messrs. Tarbox & Harris entered into partnership, and were the publishers of the paper until 1876, when Mr. Church returned to the city, after an absence of two years, and resumed its management. Since that period the Times has been published under his immediate direction save during the term of his recent trans-Atlantic travels, when Theodore R. Carpenter, the news editor, assumed its management and published the journal in accord with policy dictated by Mr. Church. The staff of the journal, at the present time, comprises: Nathan Church, editor; Theodore R. Carpenter, news editor; J. F. Hobbs, city editor; J. S. Macard, cashier, and A. B. Tozer, business manager.

The Times is independent in politics, its news columns are replete, and its general selections instructive and appropriate. For a time in its earlier history is was exposed to varied and trying vicissitudes, but its career during the last five years has shown it superior to every obstacle, and won for it a high place among the first-class daily newspapers of the State, as well as a most important place in the estimation of the people of Kent county.

The Weekly Times is published in connection with the Daily Times, and, like the latter, claims a wide circulation. Both papers are very creditable to the city of Grand Rapids, and fully merit the extensive patronage extended to them.

Nathan Church, editor and proprietor of these journals, was born Feb. 20, 1847. His parents, Henry A. and Helen (Robinson) Church, were natives of Boston, Mass. Mr. Church received his theoretical teaching in the schools of his native State, and on the completion of such an education, strengthened it with the practical lessons which only travel around the world can teach. From 1864 to 1867 he visited Europe, Africa and Asia, and returning to the United States in the latter year, entered mercantile business in

Page 428

Chicago. In 1869 he came westward, and settled at Grand Haven, Ottawa Co., where he was senior member of the firm of Nathan Church & Co.. merchants, as well as proprietor of the newspaper known as the Grand Haven Union. In 1871 he sold the Union office, and moved to Grand Rapids, where he purchased an interest in the Times, of which he is now editor and proprietor. Mr. Church is correspondent of the New York Sun, Cincinnati Enquirer, and of the Boston daily journals. His experiences as a journalist and traveler during the last 10 years qualify him fully to fill the important position he occupies on the daily press.


Was established in 1873 by D. N. Foster, and the first number issued Oct. 4, 1873. W. M. Hathaway was assistant editor. The features of the journal were independence in politics, and well selected literary column, it fought nobly for woman suffrage. In February, 1879, the interest in this journal was purchased by Cresswell & Felker. P. H. Felker disposed of his interest to Chas. A. French, in March, 1880. John A. Cresswell

and Mr. French are present proprietors.

The Post is a 48 column quarto journal, the mechanical work is good, and the articles and selections prepared with great care.

John A. Cresswell, born in Beaver Co., Pa., July 11, 1850, came to Albion, Mich., in April, 1866, where he pursued his studies at the college. He graduated there in 1876. In 1872 he was editor of the Albion Recorder. In 1873 he was on the editorial staff of the Tribune. In December, 1874, he arrived at Grand Rapids and took a position on the staff of The Democrat as city editor. In July, 1875, he returned to Detrooit, re-entering the Tribune office as news editor. In December, 1875, he returned to Albion, resumed his studies there, and graduated in June, 1876. In March 1877, he returned to Detroit, where he received an appointment as managing editor of the Detroit Evening News and subsequently special correspondent. This position he occupied until Jan. 1, 1879, when he came to Grand Rapids, where one month later he purchased an interest in the Post, of which journal he continues the editor.

Chasles A. French, born in New York, came West with his parents, who settled in Jackson about 1853. In March, 1880, he arrived at Grand Rapids and purchased P. H. Felker’s interest in the Post. Previous to his connection with: this journal he was always engaged in mercantile pursuits, nor has he lost his identity in this respect, as he devotes his attention to the business departments of that newspaper.


Was established Feb. 13, 1879, by the Leader Publishing Company, comprising among the principal stockholders, Henry Smith, C. C. Comstock, W. H. Powers, John C. Blanchard, L. V. Moulton,

Page 429

W. P. Innes, John L. Curtiss, P. S. Hulburt and W. A. Berkey. The Leader was issued as an independent evening journal, national in politics, and now the exponent of the National Greenback party in State. The first political editor was Wm. B. McCracken, with James H. Maze and W. B. Weston news and city editors, respectively. Mr. McCracken retired a few months after the inauguration of the Leader, and took a position on a journal, then about being established at Lansing, when J. H. Maze succeeded him as political editor. Mr. Maze retired from journalistic life June 19, 1880, when he was succeeded by Dr. Arnold. The Doctor edited the journal until Jan. 1, 1881, when J. H. Maze again entered upon the duties of that position. D. R. Waters was appointed political editor Feb 19, 1881. Mr. Weston continues to occupy the position which he held at the inauguration of the Leader. W. R. Maze succeeded his father as news editor in March, 1879, and continued on the staff of the paper until early part of 1881.

The Weeky Leader was established simultaneously with the Daily, and has been conducted by the same editorial staff. The circulation of the Weekly averages about 3,000, with good advertising patronage. The Daily has reached a circulation of 1,600 copies. Both papers have proven financially successful since their establishment. The editorial staff comprises D. R. Waters, editor; W. B. Weston, city editor; T. W. Fletcher, reporter. Miss H. A. Monlton is bookkeeper and cashier; Amos D. Green, circulating agent; E. A. Stone, advertising solicitor, and Walter Ryness, foreman of composing room.

David R. Waters was born in Lycoming Co., Pa., Dec. 3, 1837. In addition to a common school education he prosecuted a year’s study at the West Branch High School. He read law with C. M. Harris at Oquawka, Ill., from October 1856, to the spring of 1858, when he was admitted to the Bar, and to a partnership with his principal in the summer of 1861, then occupying the position of chairman of the Democratic County Committee of Henderson Co., Ill., and member of the Democratic Congressional Committee. He was offered commission by Gov. Yates, then in the hands of Capt. F. A. Dallam, to recruit a company for the 13th Ill. Inf. He entered upon recruiting service, and with a squad of men joined his regiment at Mound City, Ill., in November 1861. He rose to the rank of Captain in that regiment and participated with it in the campaigns of Gens. Pope, Rosecrans and Grant. At the battle of Mission Ridge he was acting as aid for Gen. Davis, and at the request of Gen. Sherman was sent by Davis to Gen. Grant at Chattanooga with a report of the operations on our left Tunnel Hill the first day of the battle.

He resigned his commission in April, 1864, on account of disability. On his return to Illinois he resumed the practice of law, and incidentally, as the secretary of a stock company, owning the Mercer County Press at Aledo, Ill., he had some experience in editorial work. On account of disease in the eyes contracted in

Page 430

the service he quit office work in the spring of 1869, and took up his residence at Spring Lake, Mich., where he has opened up a fruit farm. In the summer of 1872 he was editor of the Spring Lake Independent. In the fall of 1875 he was editorially connected with the Grand Rapids Democrat, until July, 1876, when he resigned, intending to avoid politics for that year. He was afterward induced to accept the management and editorship of the Allegan County Democrat, where he remained until Dec. 31, 1879. Jan. 7, 1880, he entered upon the editorial charge of the Allegan Democrat, under the proprietorship of George Scales. In February, 1881, he became connected with the Grand Rapids Leader as news and political editor.

Mr. Waters never held and civil office save that of Assessor of the town of Spring Lake two years and Supervisor one year. In politics he was always a Democrat until 1878, when he became a Greenbacker, having previously been for years in favor of the doctrines of that party.

William B. Weston, son of Harry and Celinda (Wilson) Weston, was born at Warsaw, Lenawee Co., Mich., Sept. 20, 1848. In 1853 the family moved to Clinton county, where they resided until 1859. Mr. Weston attended the DeWitt School, of Clinton and subsequently the Northern Indiana College at South Bend. Mr. Weston served in the 135th Ind. Vol., a 100 days Regt., mustered in in 1863. He entered this command at the age of 15 years and marched with the regiment into Georgia as Sherman’s Reserve Corps. Its principal service consisted in picket duty and prisoners’ guard; yet it was exposed to all the hardships of the campaign. At the expiration of the term of enlistment he returned to his home and joined Co. A., 154th Ind. Vol. one year men, with which command he served until the close of the war, under Gen. Hancock, commander of the Army of the Shenandoah. After one month’s service with the 154th, Mr. Weston was promoted a non-commissioned officer, in which position he served as officer in charge of detail duty. He concluded his studies at South Bend in 1867 and moved to Grand Rapids early 1868. Here he entered the factory of C. C. Comstock, in whose employ he continued as a mechanic nine years. His first journalistic experience was on the Daily National, published by R. M. Slocum in April, 1878. This journal continued only three weeks. On the fall of the National Mr. Weston took a position as reporter on the Daily Enquirer, then published by Clark & Sweetland. In this office he continued until Nov. 18, 1878, when the Leader Publishing Company was formed, and Mr. Weston was appointed city editor of the new paper.


Was first published in the interest of the German citizens, but was discontinued after the lapse of a few months.

Page 431


This important German newspaper was first issued Dec. 5, 1874, by William Eichelsdorfer. Its history points out a series of successes in this branch of the American press. From its inception the great majority of the Germans tended to the enterprise a hearty support, and during the six years which have clasped since its establishment have continued to extend to the journalist and his paper a full measure of patronage. Within a few weeks after the Zeitung was inaugurated the sheet was enlarged to a four page paper, 33x44, well printed, newsy, and in every way a representative German weekly paper.

The Grand Rapids, Sonntagsblatt was established by the editor of the Zeitung in 1877. Its columns are devoted to subjects for Sunday reading and literary selections, rendering it a very acceptable weekly journal. This enterprise, like that which brought forth the Zeitung, was very favorably received, and now meets with a full support. It is a four page journal, 24x36 inches, and neatly printed.

The publisher is fully aware of what is due to his countrymen in Kent county; he appreciates all the kindnesses tendered to him by them; and, if his defense of German interests in the United States may be taken as a point from which to judge, he merits their confidence and esteem. The circulation of the Zeitung is 3,200 copies and of the Sonntagsblatt, 1,900 copies weekly.

William Eichelsdorfer was born at Manheim, Baden, Feb. 20. 1850. During the troubles of 1870, his father, who is editor and proprietor of the tri-daily journal Neue Badische Landes Zeitung, was subjected to that persecution so common in Europe. He is a man of well set principles, a warm advocate of the Republic, and on account of his Republican ideas is imprisoned at intervals in the garrison. Mr. Eichelsdorfer, Sr., is now over 50 years of age and hopes to witness the establishment of a republican form of government in his too much governed country. The editor of the Zeitung did not escape the iron rod of the oppressor, as he too was subjected to imprisonment and fine. He came to the United States in 1870 and made New York his temporary home. There he entered the office of the New York Abend Zeitung, where he served until the close of 1872, when he left for Fort Wayne, Ind. There he inaugurated the Fort Wayne Zeitung, in the interest of the German Democrats. This journal he continued as a tri-weekly paper for 14 months. The enterprise, however, did not prove successful, owing to the field being full. In November, 1874, on Thanksgiving day, he arrived at Grand Rapids, bringing with him his printing office. Here he learned that three German papers were inaugurated, and failure waited on each. Not discouraged, he started the Michigan Staats Zeitung, carried the enterprise through to success, and brought it to be one of the leading German newspapers in the country.

Page 432

Mr. Eichelsdorfer studied at the institute Krebs and at the Lyceum of Manheim. His marriage with Miss Lilly Rosenthal, a native of Louisville, Ky., was celebrated at Fort Wayne, Ind., May 31, 1874.


Was established Jan. 28, 1875, by Van Streen & Schram, in the interest of the Hollanders. The political features were thoroughly Democratic. The partnership dissolved in 1877, when the journal became the sole property of Mr. Van Streen. He conducted the Standaard until August, 1880, when Mr. Van Streen died; subsequently it was conducted by James Van Streen.

The first editor was Isaac Verney, under whom it was issued as a bi-weekly, in 1877. In March, 1880, Garrett Visschers took the position of editor, under whom the journal is now conducted, with James Van Streen, administrator of his brother, proprietor. Size 30x44. Four hands employed in composing room.

Mr. Visschers was born in Elburg, Holland, Aug. 5, 1852; came to the United States in 1871, and settled at Ridgewood, N. J.; and coming West in 1880, took up his residence at Grand Rapids, and the position as editor of the Standaard.


Commenced its career in 1868, under the firm name of Verburg & Van Leewen, and edited by Mr. Van der Haar. It was started by the Republican party as its Holland organ for Kent county. Soon, however, Mr. Wm. Verburg became sole proprietor, and under his management the paper was continued till Nov. 1, 1871, when he sold out to the present proprietor, Mr. Jas. Van der Sluis, who has published it regularly ever since, increasing its circulation daily, till it has now nearly 2,000 subscribers. It is still doing, as it always has, good service for the Republican cause. As proof of this, it might be said, that over three-fourths of the Hollanders, who now have a population of about 9,000 in Grand Rapids, are Republicans. It has had during the last 10 years of its present manager, three editors; namely, Mr. J. Van Loon, who was with the proprietor about one year; then Mr. H. M. Buhrmann, who stayed with him some seven years, and now at present Mr. J. Scheffer.

Its present proprietor, Mr. Jas. Van der Sluis, was born in Arnhem, Netherland, and came to this country at the age of seven years, his parents settling in the Holland colony in 1848, his father building the first saw and grist mill in that newly settled country; but on account of inexperience, his little fortune gave out, and was compelled, after seven years of lumbering, to leave Holland, Ottawa Co., penniless, for Grand Rapids, where he entered a grocery store as book-keeper, and the present proprietor was

Page 433

also engaged as store-boy. After a few years of clerking he retired to learn the sash and door trade, but on account of the dullness of the trade in Grand Rapids in 1854, he gave up that business and commenced to learn the printer’s, in the Eagle office, where he worked, except the three years he was in the army.—having entered it as a private, and come out as a color-bearer,--about 17 years, till an opportunity was offered him to buy out the above named paper, and although it was then very unprofitable affair, he has made it, by his honest and energetic management, a fair paying business. He is now 40 years of age, and has a wife and three children.

John Scheffer, the present editor, was born at Kampen, Netherland, in September, 1853; attended at that place the different common and high schools, acting at the same time as teacher in a private school. In his 19th year he started with his parents to America and settled in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he had to change situations on account of the difference in language, and worked for two years in a brush factory and as a carver. In the meantime he spent his leisure hours in studying the English language. In February. 1874, he was appointed as teacher in a private school, connected with the Holland Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, which position he kept six years, when he changed it in January, 1880, for editing the Vrijheids Banier, in the place of H. M. Buhrmann, who had gone to Europe for a three months’ visit. After the expiration of this time, he acted as solicitor for the agent of the Watertown Fire Insurance Company, which position he held until the latter part of August, 1880, when he returned to accept the position of editor of the Banier, vice Mr. Buhrmann resigned.


Was established by Webster Morris in July, 1865, as a weekly newspaper. In 1868 Captain S. B. Smith, now of Middleville, purchased an interest in the paper, and became its editor for the short period of his connection with it. In 1870 James W. Hine purchased a half interest, ultimately purchased Mr. Morris’ interest, and became proprietor of the office. The paper has always been Republican in politics and well conducted.

James Willson Hine, was born at Mededith, Delaware Co., N. Y., April 23, 1848, son of Miles and Julia F. (Rich) Hine, of Connecticut and New York, respectively, settled in Kent county in 1867. Before reaching his sixteenth year he enlisted in the 144th N. Y. Vol. Inf., in which command he was appointed Corresponding Clerk at the head-quarters of the Southern Department under Gens. Foster and Gilmore,--a position held until mustered out in June, 1865. In September, 1867, he left Meredith for Michigan, and arrived at Lowell the same month. On coming here he entered commercial life as a druggist, carrying on a large business, where J. Q. Look’s drug store in now located, for a period of three

Page 434

years. In December, 1870, he purchased a half-interest in the Lowell Journal, then published and edited by Webster Morris. The new partner took editorial control, which position he occupied until 1878, when he purchased Mr. Morris’ interest, and became sole proprietor and editor. Since that period the Journal has made rapid progress.

Mr. Hine was appointed Recording Secretary of the Senate in January, 1873, and served through the session of that year as well as through the extra session of 1874. In January, 1875, he was re-appointed Recording Secretary and served during the session of that period. In November, 1875, he was appointed Postmaster at Lowell, under the Grant Administration, and re-appointed under the Hayes Administration in December, 1879, which position he now fills. He has been a brilliant contributor to the Post and Tribune for some time, for which journal he wrote under the peculiarly comical title of Jimerax. The character of those contributions was as comical as the non de plume would suggest, and merited for the writer a very general and complimentary notice. The various great journal of the Eastern cities and of Chicago did not fail to notice the pith and versatility of his descriptions, and all were equally earnest in their eulogy of the Lowell editor. Since Mr. Hine entered the field of journalism, he has proven a very able supporter of the Republican party, and made the columns of the Journal replete with a solid and logical review of the true principles of that party. His witticisms on the blunders of the Democracy go the rounds of the Republican press.

In 1879 he became a stockholder in the Lowell National Bank, and in the same year was elected a member of the Board of Directors. He was elected member of the Board of Education in 1875, and re-elected in 1878. During the last five years he has been President of the board.

In this brief review, just sufficient notice has been given to convey an idea of what may be accomplished by a man still young. Here we learn how, as a youth, he served in the war for the Union, a little later entered the commercial life in a Western village, and more recently conducted a political journal with so much decent ability as to win for himself a substantial recognition at the hands of the political party to which his political faith attaches itself. His continued observance of refined and liberal social principles, and a high standard of journalistic ability, will still bring him greater honors in his private and public life.


Was founded in 1869 by L. McKnight Sellers as a weekly journal devoted to news, literature and politics. It has reached a very high position among the Republican weekly papers of the State, and gives promise of still extending its influence. It was established as a 24 column four page newspaper, and was enlarged to a 48-

Page 435

column, eight page journal, Jan. 1, 1876. The office gives employment to four men.

During the last half dozen years, the editor has been the chairman of the township Republican Committee, and member of the District Committee of which he is now Chairman, vice Hon. E. C. Watkins, who has removed from the county. He is a member of the Kent County Republican Committee, and has been a delegate to all county, Congressional and State conventions since 1876. In 1878 he was "delegate at large" from this district to the Congressional convention of that year.

Leonard McKnight Sellers, editor and publisher of the Clipper, was born in Franklin Co., Pa.,. near St. Thomas, within three miles of the birthplace of James Buchanan, July 2, 1849. His father was Leonard Sellers, who died March 13, 1864, and his mother was Elizabeth C. (Montgomery) Sellers, who is still living. Mr. Sellers whiled away his younger days in the township schools, and later studied at the Fayetteville Academy, near Chambersburg, in Franklin county. In 1865 he enlisted in Co. L., 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry for one year’s service, which command was discharged in June of that year. The following reference to Mr. Sellers is taken from the Public Opinion, of Chambersbiurg, Pa.:

"Although the people of Michigan know him as a Michigander, he is just as well and favorably known in this his native county, where he spent his boyhood days. After learning the printing trade in the office of the Sentinel, Shippensburg, he earned in the harvest field sufficient money to pay his way to Cedar Spring, where, in the fall of 1869, his industrious habits soon gained him the confidence of the community, and where, under great difficulties, he earned sufficient mans to purchased a press and start his paper. His journal has proven a remarkable business success, and it is one of the largest and most influential papers published in the county. He is a writer and politician of the Zach. Chandler school, and the sledge hammer blows of the Clipper have been no insignificant factor in maintaining and achieving the splendid Republican victories of his adopted State. Owing to the misfortune of his father, the late Leonard Sellers, of Fayetteville, and honest and industrious farmer, who lost his all by the rebel invasion of Stuart in 1862 and Lee in 1863, and who died in 1864, L. M. Sellers has been the devoted son and main support of an aged mother. Such sterling characteristics bear excellent testimony to the worth of any man. Notwithstanding Mr. Sellers’ popularity in the county, he has never sought for any office, although his name was placed among the nominees for the Legislature in 1880, when he came within five votes of receiving the nomination. The only reason for his defeat at that time was due to the fact that Mr. Russell, of Cedar Springs, was placed in nomination for the Senate. Cedar Springs, of course, could not govern Kent county.

It may be said with truth, that the young Pennsylvania printer selected the hamlet of Cedar Spring while it was still centered in

Page 436

the wilderness. Even then he saw the place was destined to be a village, and resolved to act his part in hastening its destiny.—to grow up with the country. He came to the small village with a smaller financial capital; but that $5 which brought with him to his new home taught a greater lesson than $5,000 could purchase; taught self-reliance and respect, and with these greater qualities than money, he entered on the life of a settler. His first day’s work in Michigan was that of using the cross cut saw and getting out shingle bolts.—the scene of his labors being what is now known as the William Easton farm in Solon township. The five succeeding days were devoted to similar employment, during which time he almost succeeded in working his experienced friend at the other end of the saw to death.

Subsequently he was engaged in packing shingles at the Slawson Mill, which occupation he followed until December, when he entered upon the preparation of a printing office. In those preparations for the publication of the Clipper, he worked day and night, in a small room in an old building, made tables, type racks, and other furniture for his office. How his perseverance and industry conquered is best explained in the appointment of the office, the size and excellence of the Clipper, and the high esteem in which he held by fellow townsman. As a public man few of his years have, made greater strides toward prosperity. His political friends stand by him like a rampart, and even his political enemies admire him for his honesty and manliness on the public platform and in the columns of his journal. While still a boy he traveled 19 miles, over two mountains, to hear Abraham Lincoln, when he made his great speech on the field of Gettusburg in 1863. This journey was made on a "capital" of 50 cents, a small haversack of provision and a stout heart. Since that time he has been present at the great gatherings of the Republican party; was present at the convention that nominated the late President, and again at his inauguration in 1881. The editor of the Clipper is a self made man in the true sense of the word, is broad in his views and always ready to stand by the right. We give Mr. Sellers’ portrait in this volume as a representative man of the county.


Was established by C. H. Cowdin, Feb. 8, 1871, as a six-column folio, which it con- tinued to be until it had completed its tenth year, Feb. 9, 1881. On entering its eleventh year it was made a six column quarto. It is Independent-Republican in politics, and gives the general and local news.

Charles H. Cowdin was born at Dexter, Washtenaw Co., Mich., May 1, 1833. His father died at Jackson, Mich., March 18, 1840. Attended common school at Jackson, Fort

Wayne, Ind., Piqua and Lima Ohio, the latter place being his residence for nearly 25 years. He married Miss M. H. Underwood at Lima,. Ohio, Feb.

Page 439

24, 1862. Have two children, Charles R. and Henry R. Mr. Cowdin enlisted in Co. I., 34th Ohio Regiment, Sept. 15, 1862, and was in the service about two years and nine months, most of which time was in West Virginia. Was with Gen. Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley during the fall campaign of 1864. Was captured by Gen. Rosser’s cavalry at Beverly, W. Va., Jan. 11, 1865, and taken to Libby prison, where he remained until Feb. 15, following, when he was one of a thousand who were that day paroled and sent to Annapolis, Md., and from that place to Camp Chase, Ohio, where he received a furlough for 30 days. Was discharged at Cumberland, Md., June 27, 1865. Removed to Rockford, Kent county, Mich., in January, 1871.


Was founded by Frank E. Ackerman at Casnovia, March 1, 1878. ON July 2, 1880, the office was moved to Kent City. The journal was first issued as a five column folio, and enlarged to six columns in September, 1880. The office employs two men . The weekly circulation averages 500 copies. The policy of the journal in independence; the local and literary columns are well selected.

Frank E. Ackerman was born at Flint, Mich., Aug. 24, 1852. He entered the Grand Haven News office April 1, 1870, where he passed six years. In 1876 he entered into partnership with Hiram Potts, of the Ottawa Co. Courier, then published at Cooperville. Mr. Ackerman was part proprietor in this newspaper until March, 1878, when he sold his interest to Mr. Potts, and removed to Casnovia, where he inaugurated the Herald. He married Miss Phoebe L. Barker, of Grand Haven, July 4, 1873.


This newspaper was established Oct. 14, 1880, by Austin Reed and ---- Leach. These publishers remained in partnership until May, 1881, when Mr. Leach retired. Since that period the Enterprise has been published by Austin Reed. The paper is a six column folio, possessing a weekly circulation of 300 copies, and devoted to the interests of the Republican party in that district.

Austin Reed, born in Cayuga Co., N. Y., Aug. 30, 1839, son of Moses and Phoebe Reed, natives of Connecticut and Vermont respectively, came to Calhoun Co., Mich., in 1855, and two years later settled on a farm in Allegan Co., where he labored until December, 1878, the period of his settlement at Sand Lake. There he followed the lumber business until 1880, when he became publisher and inauguration of the first newspaper formed there. He married Miss Ruth Tuggy, of Quebec, Dec. 31, 1866. They are the parents of four children, viz: Leonard, Amy, Cyrus and Carrie.

Page 440


Noticed in the history of Sparta township, is published by J. W. Halleck. Its news columns are devoted principally to local happenings. This little journal is well supported and has all the qualities which can tend to its advancement.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 2 July 2007
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/chapman1881/newspapers.html