Read all about it - November 2013

"Extra-Extra Read All About It"
History of Newspapers, Printing and Publishing Company's

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In writing these articles I rely heavily on resource information. One of the best resources that we have is old newspapers. I spend a countless amount of time at the public library combing the pages of the old newspapers which they have on microfilm. You can quickly lose track of time reading all the old articles.

So in all the time that I've spent looking at these old newspapers I thought it was time to investigate their history.

Newspapers can be traced all the way back to Colonial times. At first, most newspaper didn't really carry news worthy articles put together by journalists, they were more just an advertisement piece with various items for sale or business ads.

It was Benjamin Franklin's younger brother, James who published the first "newspaper", the New England Courant in August 7, 1721. Franklin believed that the press had a public-service duty. He saw the printing press as a device to instruct colonial Americans in moral virtue.

The Virginia Gazetter, edited by William Parks began publication in 1736. More and more papers began their publication as more and more cities grew. Papers shifted from the virtuous articles, poems and miscellaneous advertisements to eventually cover more current affairs and politics. Front page newspaper headlines have plastered Americans with historical news events which makes them a valuable historical resource.

When settlers first came to this area there was really no immediate need for newspapers. But over time as the area grew more and more people found the need to know or have information. The first such publication was called The Coon Skin. It was a Democrat sheet published in Greenfield by Joseph Chapman. It was established around 1844. It was published up until Chapman enlisted in the Mexican War.

The Greenfield Reveille, published in January 1, 1845. It was published by Jonathan H. Hunt and edited by James H. Hunt. It was a Whig publication and published weekly. No records indicate a clear time as to when it closed publication.

The Greenfield Spectator, published September 1, 1848. It was published by John Meyers and edited by John D. Doughty. The policy of the paper was expressed in prominent letters across the top of its front page, "Neutral in politics, devoted to literature, science, arts, agriculture, miscellany, markets, general intelligence, etc, etc." A large part of the paper was given to stories and poetry.

The Family Friend – Not much information is available about this print but when the court house was offered for sale in 1854 the county auditor was ordered by the county commissioners to advertise the sale in the Family Friend. It seems to have been similar to the Greenfield Spectator.

The American Patriot was published in March, 1854, by J.P. Hinshaw. It was a four-page sheet, "independent in all things, neutral in none." It was devoted to "pure literature, morals, temperance in all things, agriculture, commercial and general intelligence." Its publication was suspended after a year or two.

The Greenfield Sentinel was a weekly newspaper published in 1855 by Thomas D. Walpole, and was later edited for a time by William Mitchell.

The Hancock Democrat was published in 1859 by a stock company composed of Noble Warrum, D.S. Gooding, William R. West and George Y. Atkison. Judge Gooding was editor-in-chief for several years, and William Mitchell, local editor. Before the close of the Civil War William Mitchell assumed full control of the paper. John F. Mitchell took charge in 1876. John F. Mitchell Jr., entered the firm in 1907. The paper was always a Democratic newspaper except during the Civil War, when it became the county organ of the Union party. It later was published entirely by the William Mitchell Printing Company.

The Constitution and Union was published in January, 1861 by Lee O. Harris. Publication was suspended after about two months. Issued in the cause of preserving the National Union.

The Family Visitor was published in 1864 by a man named Wright. It later transferred to a Mr. Hinshaw. This paper was similar to the Greenfield Spectator.

The Greenfield Commercial was a Republican newspaper, published in 1867 by Amos Beeson; later by L.E. Rumrill. It was published for several years.

The Greenfield News was a weekly Republican newspaper published during the 1870's by William Walker and Walter Hartpence.

The Greenfield Republican was a Republican newspaper, published a short time during the 1870's by D. B. Deem. No time was given when it ceased publication the first time but in 1880 Robison & Cooper began publishing a newspaper under this name. It was later owned by Nixon, Henry Marsh and Robert Lynn. It was purchased in 1888 by W. S. Montgomery. It was sold by Mr. Montgomery to Newton R. Spencer in February, 1910. Spencer Publishing Company ran the newspaper until 1973 after the business was purchased by Home News.

The Jeffersonian was published in June, 1878, by R. G. Strickland. It was a Democratic newspaper. It was bought in 1890 by Gus Morton and Charles Teel. It was bought again by Eugene Lewis in 1892 and the named changed to The Greenfield Herald. It was again purchased in 1893 by S.S. Boots and shortly thereafter taken over by the Herald Publishing Company. Publications suspended about 1906.

2013-11-2The Tooth Pick was published for "forty days and forty nights" in 1885 by Harry G. Stickland, Noble Warrum and R.E. Bragg. It was a humorous sheet printed on paper of various colors. It was delivered by pony daily and it was published in the Jeffersonian office.

The Tribune was published daily by Howard Branham in about 1888. Later it was published by Charles Pauley and Austin Boots. At first it was independent of politics but later had Democratic tendencies. It was purchased by W. S. Montgomery, proprietor of The Greenfield Republican and Daily Republican. The two newspapers merged under one name, The Tribune, about 1895.

The Daily Democrat was a daily Democratic paper published by William Mitchell Printing Company during the political campaign of 1900. John Hufford was the editor.

The Evening Star was a non-partisan newspaper. It was published in August, 1906, by Eugene Boyden. It was purchased by Ben Strickland and Newton R. Spencer on December 1, 1906. They later sold a third interest to Eugene E. Davis. It was published at the Globe plant.

The Greenfield Daily Reporter was a non-partisan newspaper that was published by Newton R. Spencer in April 27, 1908. It bought the Evening Star and published both as Greenfield Daily Reporter in February, 1909. It took over The Tribune in February, 1910. It was later published by Spencer Publishing Company.

Greenfield has had three different publishing houses in its time. One of which is still in operation today.

WM. Mitchell Printing Company:

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William Mitchell founded the printing company. He came to Greenfield in 1856. He first became identified with the Greenfield Sentinel and was one of the men who launched the Hancock

Democrat in 1859. Mitchell bought the printing plant outright when David S. Gooding was spending all of his time with politics at the close of the Civil War.

The first home of the Democrat was in the east wing of the first court house on the public square. Soon after the Civil War it was moved to the second floor of the Banks' block, 15 W. Main St. It was printed there until it was moved again to South State Street in 1881, which is the location of the building that currently houses McCleerey's Sporting Goods, LRF Electronics and Sprinkle CPA.

In 1876 John F. Mitchell, the oldest son, was taken in as a partner and assumed full control of the business. At this time the firm began doing business under the name of the Wm. Mitchell Printing Company. In 1890, after the death of his father, John bought the interest of all the other Mitchell heirs, and since that time has been the sole owner of the plant. John F. Mitchell Jr. was brought into the business in 1907.

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In 1901 an addition was made off of the original building to the south due to the expanded business. In 1906, the old Methodist church was purchased and the building expanded again, adding bindery machine, the engine house.

During the Civil War the federal government seized the plant under the right of eminent domain to print the names of men in Indiana subject to draft.

James Whitcomb Riley took interest in the shop in his early days. Mr. Mitchell gave Riley a corner office to write poems which the paper printed many of Riley's first works. They eventually published books under the imprint of "The Old Swimmin' Hole Press," and at one point maintained offices in Chicago and New York.

The company would also produce books for large publishers, including the Bobb-Merrill Company of Indianapolis.

The company always maintained the state of the art printing equipment and quickly became one of the largest printing establishments and book manufacturing plants in the state.

Sam Onstott was one of the employees of the company. When a Linotype machine was purchased Sam was sent to New York City to attend Linotype Machinists' School. He would set more than 180,000 galleys of type and handled 900,000 tons of metal in his years of work there. Sam worked for the company for fifty years.

The property would later house their own gas well and generated their own electric power for their entire plant by two large gas engines. They also had their own electric lights and waterworks.

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By 1902 the firm employed up to twenty people.

Long time employee Darold Fleming, in partnership with James Souder, James Ricks, and Samuel Grant, purchased the Democrat and the William Mitchell Printing Company from John F. Mitchell Jr. John continued with the company operating a stationery business out of the plant. Fleming renamed the company the Mitchell-Fleming Printing Company and in 1956 combined the Democrat with the Hancock Journal to make the new Hancock County Journal Democrat.

In 1959 Darold's son Rodney became editor of the papers. Darold was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1962. His widow sold the combined newspapers in 1962, but the Fleming family retained control of the printing company.

The business did move around a bit. As I mentioned they began at the courthouse in 1861, then occupied the second floor of the AJ Banks block, then was at 15 W. Main St., then 30 South State St, then 108-112 South State St., 13-17 North State Street, then 20 W. South St. and eventually landed at 420 Osage St.

 

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Today the company headquarters operates out of Knightstown, Indiana after another printing company bought out the remaining shares of the company.

This company is of interest to me because upon graduating high school in 1989 I had the opportunity to be employed at their plant for a short time and learned the art of printing and bindery machines. I worked under Rodney Fleming who I would later again work under when he became mayor of the City of Greenfield.

D.H. Goble Printing Company:

In January 1881, Aaron Pope, superintendent of the Hancock County schools, and Capt. Lee O. Harris, a teacher in the schools and one of Indiana's best-known writers, established the Home and School Visitor, designed for the use in schools in our county. A few months after the appearance of this publication, Prof. Pope died and his interests were purchased by the late David H. Goble. Later, Mr. Harris retired from the partnership, and Mr. Goble assumed complete control. Mr. Harris, however retained his editorial connection with the paper to the time of his death on December 23, 1909.

In 1903, the publishing business, which had been carried on under the name of Mr. Goble, was incorporated under the name of the D.H. Goble Printing Company. Mr. Goble occupied the office of president until his death on September 30, 1905. This company was purely a family affair with all of its stock belonging to the members of the Goble family.

James and Isaac Goble took over the company after their father's death.

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In the early days the company published its four page magazine which went to all corners of the state reaching many schools in hopes of advancing youth scholastically. They also began printing legal blanks for township trustees and they quickly became the largest manufacturers in the state for printing records for townships and schools. As members of the Primitive Baptist Church in Greenfield they began publishing the Primitive Baptist Hymn Book, which the company was still publishing in the 1990's.

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Later on the company expanded as it began specializing in the sale of school supplies and equipment.

Eventually Bruce Goble and his son Richard became co-owners of the company. Bruce died in 1976, and Richard sold the school supply division of the company in 1983. Richard continued running the Gobles Stationery Store located in the same building. In the 1990's Ronald DeWeese was president of the company, which employed four workers at the time. In March of 1995 Jim McWhinney bought the company. Gobles eventually changed names to Greenfield Office Supply.

 

Spencer Publishing Company:

 

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Today the company headquarters operates out of Knightstown, Indiana after another printing company bought out the remaining shares of the company.

This company is of interest to me because upon graduating high school in 1989 I had the opportunity to be employed at their plant for a short time and learned the art of printing and bindery machines. I worked under Rodney Fleming who I would later again work under when he became mayor of the City of Greenfield. D.H. Goble Printing Company: In January 1881, Aaron Pope, superintendent of the Hancock County schools, and Capt. Lee O. Harris, a teacher in the schools and one of Indiana’s best-known writers, established the Home and School Visitor, designed for the use in schools in our county. A few months after the appearance of this publication, Prof. Pope died and his interests were purchased by the late David H. Goble. Later, Mr. Harris retired from the partnership, and Mr. Goble assumed complete control. Mr. Harris, however retained his editorial connection with the paper to the time of his death on December 23, 1909.

The Daily Reporter was established on April 27, 1908, by Newton R. Spencer. The office was in the east room of the Ramsey building, on the south side of East Main Street, just west of the alley leading south to Meek Street. The basement of the building was used for a press room and the ground floor for a composing room and office.

At first the paper was a six-column folio. It contained very few advertisements, for the reason that the business men of Greenfield did not feel friendly towards its establishment. They pointed out that two daily papers, the Star and Tribune, and four weeklies, the Democrat, Republican, Herald and Globe, were enough for a small town. The founder though was eager to break into the game and was not discouraged by any of these obstacles and patiently set his sights on taking over the competition.

Within ten months he purchased the subscription list of the Evening Star from the Greenfield Printing and Publishing Company and merged it into the Reporter. At about the same time the Herald and the Globe suspended their newspapers. The newspaper was started in the east room of the Ramsey Building which is now James Riley Emporium Antique Shops on Main Street.

Spencer then purchased the Evening Tribune and Weekly Republican from Walter S. Montgomery.

For one year they operated on North East St. in the Dudding and Moore Block. On March 24, 1911, a fire damaged the machinery and composing room of the printing plant, and its location was changed to N. East and Main St, then it moved to the Acme Building at the corner of South Pennsylvania and Railroad (Depot) Streets. In the fall of 1913, a lot was purchased at 212 East Main St. and construction of a new building took place. This building was completed on July 1, 1914.

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Newton's son Dale was brought into the business beginning as a newsboy and worked his way into the mechanical departments and later took over the entire business at seventeen years of age upon the death of his father who died of cancer. Dale Spencer died in an automobile accident in 1970.

The Spencer Publishing Company was incorporated in 1913. Viola Spencer, Dale's mom, managed the newspaper for twenty years. Viola died of cancer in May 1946. Dale's son, Bruner joined the staff at this time.

The Daily Reporter was purchased by Homes News Enterprises in 1973. At the time of the sale the circulation was 6,000 and they had 23 employees.

Home News purchased the Indy East in 1974 from Harry Smith extending their circulation to the eastern Indianapolis area. They also purchased the Hancock Advertiser from Harry Smith in 1978. Also in 1978 Jim Thomas started the Hancock County Ad News and it also eventually sold to the Daily Reporter.

The Greenfield Daily Reporter continued to be published and printed at the E. Main St. property until a new building was constructed at 22 W. New Road in 1990.

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Newspapers are a great historical time capsule. You can get so much information from. These companies are proof that even if you don't care about the history you are connected to it every day by just simply reading a paper. It also proves that our community time and again shows that it has a deep connection to our past and founding fathers.

So the next time you are bored and looking for something to do go to the public library and comb through the pages of one of the old newspapers on the micro film machines. It will be well worth your time.

 

By Greg Roland

 

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