Behind the Bars
By Byron Kerman stlmag.com January 11, 2013
It only costs a dollar. Surely, that is among the reasons for the success of Behind the Bars, the biweekly tabloid chock full of the freshest local mug shots, distributed at some 300 area locations.
What’s a dollar in 2013? A third of a gallon of gas? Less than a cup of coffee, to be sure. Behind the Bars is available at convenience stores and gas stations throughout the area, often right near the cash register. So when you’re buying gas or picking up a donut or a lottery ticket, the publication is an easy impulse buy.
And what entertainment you’ll get: stealing, domestic disturbance, possession of a controlled substance, assault, probation violation, identity theft—these are a few of our favorite things. Behind the Bars offers page after page of mug shots of St. Louis–area arrestees, many divided into sub-groupings by their alleged crimes, for us to look at, all in the name of fun. You can stare into the faces of three guys, all accused of, say, forgery, and begin to wonder if this is what a forger looks like.
But, isn’t that judging a book by its cover? The magazine wants to make this sort of thing crystal-clear, for legal reasons and what not, so on no less than every other page, you will find this disclaimer: “All are innocent until proven guilty.” (It’s essentially the same disclaimer you’ll see on the screen at the beginning of each episode of COPS.)
But that’s not exactly what we readers and fans of BtB are thinking, is it? For those who haven’t picked up a copy, most every page of the magazine is tiled with mug shots, with an occasional short article in a box, or an ad for a law firm, bail bondsman, or the like. Looking at the grid of faces, one does not think that the accused could be anyone; they don't look like peers or neighbors. That’s because nearly every face wears that morose “caught” expression (and a number of them have the facial blemishes and pits suggestive of experienced drug abuse.) They look, for lack of a better term, guilty.
A little armchair psychology makes it clear: You don’t read Behind the Bars thinking that a good lawyer will be able to get these wrongfully accused saints out of the pokey. No, you read it with a presumption that’s pretty much the opposite—and that glimpse of crime and punishment, of darkness, of ugly immorality meeting with a deserved public shaming, is what got you to cough up that extra buck at the gas station in the first place.
BtB has evolved in the three years it’s been around, and now it boasts features like Jailhouse Café, in which prisoners offer simple jail-cell recipes that other incarcerated readers of the mag can try, like “Twinkie and pineapple pie,” which requires no baking or refrigeration. The Matching Game challenges readers to “Match the Arrestee with the Item They (sic) Allegedly Stole.” Recent items have included an American flag, a doll, bacon, condoms, a tent, a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors, Vaseline, a copy of the Trading Places DVD, and a dog. A section devoted to terrible haircuts, weaves, and wigs is printed in glorious full-color.
Short articles are designed to titillate—and they do. A father concerned that his son might be gay bought him a night with a prostitute at a motel. The demimondaine turned out to be a dude; the son was sufficiently horrified that he stabbed dear old dad.
The thieves who prey on the Saint Louis Galleria get their own special police blotter. One ran from the cops and hid in a tree. Another shoplifted items and stashed them under a doll in a stroller. A third woman squeezed into 19 pairs of underwear in a department-store dressing room before strolling forth into the arms of security.
In an account of a local lawyer getting collared for hiring what he thought was a prostitute (it turned out to be a cop), BtB made a lame and awkward pun: “The stigma of being arrested for soliciting a prostitute can be very damaging to your reputation and in this case he will not be able to get himself off. Maybe he should have done that then initially.”
The police blotter has always been a popular part of news coverage. AOL’s Patch newsletters have arrest info in nearly every daily issue. Then there’s the local Evening Whirl newspaper, with more text and a lot more cutesy sermonizing than BtB. Salacious crime reporting is not a new idea, just a dependably popular one. And Behind the Bars reduces it to the most essential visual element: the mug shot, with a small amount of window dressing, all for a dollar.
It’s all sort of kicking a man when he’s down, isn’t it? It’s about that superior feeling we get from examining the faces of the wretched and pilloried in print. Our natural presumption—despite the disclaimer—of guilt, and the guilty pleasures thereby conveyed.
I like to look for the mug shots where the arrestees are smiling. It almost seems that they know where these photos are going to wind up, and with all the shame they’ve got headed their way anyway, they don’t need the additional shame that Behind the Bars promises. Being gawked at is supposed to make you feel ashamed, but if someone wants to make you look like a slimeball—and make money in the bargain—you might as well mess with their intentions. Don’t look guilty—look like a star, baby.
Behind the Bars
• BY JOE HOLLEMAN • firstname.lastname@example.org Jul 29, 2012
Want to know something cool about St. Louis? We have two crime newspapers.
Many readers are aware of the Evening Whirl, founded by the legendary Ben Thomas back in 1938 and still publishing today as the Metro Evening Whirl. So when a neighbor asked whether I’d seen a crime newspaper, I assumed that is what he meant as he described a paper with salacious stories and mugshot galleries of dope dealers, prostitutes and gun thugs.
Then he fetched a recent copy of Behind the Bars, a 16-page bimonthly publication whose basic layout belies some clever prose and creative thinking.
As a newspaperman, let me tell you I’m all for more papers. I love when P-D bashers tell me, “I wish the Globe was still around.”
Guess what? So do I. And I hope the Star-Times makes a comeback. The more newspapers, the more newspaper jobs. Simple.
Also, I’m like a lot of other guys who find crime fascinating.
Sure, we’re concerned about modern mayhem, but there’s also that dark little part of our Y-chromosome that finds it absolutely hilarious when Marvin gets shot in the face in “Pulp Fiction.”
And some of the most memorable times I’ve ever had as a reporter were covering police beats and listening to cops, especially homicide detectives, talk about cases. It has all the elements of great drama: passion, violence and mystery. If it happens to have a funny twist, so much the better.
Apparently, Eddy Tauk agrees. He is the Parkway West graduate who started Behind the Bars in 2010.
Tauk, 31, said he got the notion while attending the University of South Florida, where he discovered that medicine — the chosen field of his father, mother and both siblings — wasn’t for him.
“There was a paper called Cellmates. It was just a bunch of mugshots,” said Tauk, who lives in south St. Louis. “But I liked it. And I remembered the Whirl.”
But before heading into the crime tabloid profession, Tauk also took a stab at the movie industry and wrote three screenplays.
“I decided that wasn’t for me, either, and I didn’t want to live in LA,” he said.
In 2009, he began his preparations for the paper, and the first edition came out in April 2010.
“I printed 1,000 copies, and I sold 900. Now, I print 7,500 every two weeks,” said Tauk, who has about 320 stands at gas stations and convenience stores in St. Louis and inner suburbs. “I’d like to get farther out in the county.”
And why not? Even if you live in the Enclave at the Lake of Whispering Glens Estates, you know you can’t resist headlines like “East Side Stripper Tells All” or “Fried Chicken & Cocaine.”
Say what you want about high-brow, serious community journalism, but there’s no way I’m not reading those stories.
And it is Tauk’s sense of humor that makes it work.
In a story about two heroin addicts who steal a medical-supply van carrying laboratory mice, Tauk notes that “the mice were recovered unharmed.” Nice touch.
He also has a weekly feature in which readers match mugshots with items that were stolen.
“Some guys where I sell the paper actually have a pool going. The one with the most right gets the money,” Tauk said with the perverse pride reporters love.
Then there’s my fave feature, “Jailhouse Cafe,” which prints inmate recipes suitable for cooking on the cellblock.
“I have about 400 subscriptions from inmates, and they love this feature,” Tauk said. “I think it might be the only time they get their picture in the paper NOT related to something bad.”
It was worth my $1 to find a recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Pork Rinds. The dish came from a female Illinois inmate, who starts the piece with: “I shared a cell with a Mexican woman ...”
Again, go ahead and try to stop reading.
Later, the recipe instructs: “Using clean hands, if possible ... ”
Who else is writing that? Certainly not Martha Stewart, though she could someday provide Tauk with a recipe from her time doing time.
The publishers of The Universe take pleasure in acknowledging the many expressions of kindness and commendation with which the preceding numbers of this Magazine have been received, and beg to say that it is their determination to earn the continued approval of a constantly increasing circle of readers by making The Universe a thoroughly valuable, instructive and entertaining publication. No effort will be spared to maintain the high order of merit which has marked the contents of each number of the Magazine thus far. New and Interesting Features will be added from time to time. Illustrations have been added, and in future The Universe will be permanently issued as an llustrated Magazine. Original stories and poems, choice selections, essays on topics of general interest, well-written articles in various branches of human knowledge, and Special Departtments under the titles, Our Thinking Cap, The Home Corner, Science and Progress, Study and Reflection, Literature, Occasional Smiles and Better Thoughts, will combine to make this Magazine the equal of any similar publication at the same price.
The character of its contents and its moderate price - $1.50 a year - make The Universe specially desirable for intelligent people of limited means; while as a Portfolio of Choice and Refined Literature, it commends itself to all.
We Offer No Chromos or cheap catch-penny rewards for subscriptions, but in response to a very general desire to know what we can do for those who kindly aid us in increasing our circulation, we will say that anyone who sends us two or more cash subscriptions at the rate of $1.50 each may retain one-fourth, or 37 1/2 cents on each subscription, remitting to us the remaining three-fourths, or $1.12 1/2 each; and, in addition, we will send an extra copy of the Magazine for every club of ten new names.
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(Published Nov. 1884)
Buildings of the Post-Dispatch
1878. The paper's first home was at 111 N. Broadway.
In 1882 the business moved to 515-17 Market Street.
Within six years, in 1888, the Post was at 513 Olive.
Around 1902, the building at 210-12 N. Broadway housed the paper.
In 1917 The Post-Dispatch building was at 1139 Olive, the northeast corner of 12th and Olive.
In 1959, the Post-Dispatch purchased the building at 900 N. 12th from the Globe-Democrat and moved its operations.
I present to the public the Sentinel, a weekly Religious and Secular Newspaper, the regular publication of which will commence about the 20th of April.
It will be, for the present, the size of this sheet - quarto form, eight pages - four devoted exclusively to Religious and four to Secular and Miscellaneous matter.
It is not the organ of any party, or of any denomination of Christians, nor will it be under its present management.
It is a private enterprise, owned and controlled by myself alone, and is undertaken from a conviction of the great need of such a paper, and because no one else has undertaken to supply that need.
I most cordially and earnestly invite the ministers and members of all denominations, as well as the friends of good order and sound morals, to give us their aid in sustaining a paper which, while it will give weekly a full summary of the progress of general events in all departments which ought to interest a Christian community, will, at the same time, inculcate and seek to illustrate and enforce a pure Catholic Christianity, free from, and ignoring all partizan (sic) isms, either Political or Religious.
Terms, $2.00 a year, invariably in advance.
Any one sending ten subscriptions, with the money, will be entitled to an additional copy.
Subscribers in the city, when served by Carrier, $2.50.
P.M. Pinckard, Editor and Proprietor
(Originally published in a speciman of the Sentinel, 3/26/1864).
Inside the Newsroom at the Republican
George Brown was the highest-salaried newspaper reporter in St. Louis about 1875. He came here with some experiences on an English paper, but wholly unacquainted with this country. Yet he stepped into a good position within a week and advanced rapidly to star place on the local staff. One day the door of Mr. [William] Hyde’s room at the Republican office opened. A stout young man entered just far enough to expose his presence and without a word of introduction, asked:
“Want a reporter?”
“Not today,” said Mr. Hyde, without looking up from his paper.
The visitor began to back out and was just about to close the door when the editor called after him:
“Hold on! If you want to show what you can do, you may go up to Dr. Finney’s church tomorrow morning and make a report of his sermon.”
“How much do you want?” asked Brown in the matter of fact manner which was his striking characteristic.
“Half a column,” replied the editor. Not another word was said. The door closed. The editor told his city editor, Mr. MacAdam, of the occurrence.
On Monday morning Mr. Hyde, looking over the paper, saw the sermon story occupying exactly half a column to the line. In a little while George Brown came in. Mr. Hyde nodded to him and said:
“I told you to give us half a column on Dr. Finney, didn’t I?”
“Yes sir, I did,” said Brown
“I see you did,” continued Mr. Hyde. “But tell me; how did you happen to make just half a column, no more, no less?”
With not a smile or suggestion in tone that he had done anything more than what was ordinary, Brown replied: “I took a copy of your paper and folded it once so as to make a half column. I counted the lines in the half column. I counted the words in enough lines to strike an average. I multiplied the number of lines by that average, and then I wrote just that number of words about the sermon.”
Mr. Hyde was a man of few words and of quick action. He employed Brown.
Reporter, city editor, manager, Frank R. O’Neil was a figure in the newspaper life of St. Louis. The quality of his work was far above the ordinary. His associates first discovered his talent and then came the public appreciation. What Frank O’Neil wrote could be identified by the daily reader. The man enjoyed his work. He was wonderfully accurate in statements and rigidly faithful in portrayal. More than this he had a capacity for turning out “good copy” which was the envy of his fellows. The revelations of life to the newspaper man sometimes beget cynicism and hardness. Frank R. O’Neil never lost his inborn kindness of heart. Weaknesses of human nature strengthened his feeling of charity. He never glossed wrong doing in his writing. Perhaps a more politic man would have won greater personal renown with those who did not know him so well, but he would not have won to such a degree the confidence, the admiration, the love of those with whom he worked day by day. In 1883, after the death of Jesse James, when Frank James had a price of $10,000 on his head and was being hunted by detectives, O’Neil met with the noted bandit, through arrangement of a mutual friend, remaining with him for two days, and, under a promise not to reveal his whereabouts, returned to St. Louis and wrote a graphic interview with him, which he held for release, faithful to his promise, until James surrendered, when it was published.
In 1878, during the yellow fever epidemic in the South, Quarantine Station, below Jefferson Barracks, full of refugees, became infected, scores of deaths being reported daily. The people of the city were panic stricken. Health Commissioner Francis invited the newspapers to send reporters to the station to investigate conditions. O’Neil and two other reporters accepted the dangerous assignment, spending an entire day there. On their return O’Neil wrote a vivid description of the prevailing conditions, which was widely copied. Just as he finished this story, O’Neil was sent to cover an assignment at the Insane Asylum, where several patients had been mysteriously poisoned. He returned in time to write a graphic two-column account of this for the regular edition, thus in one day having accomplished a task that ordinarily would tax the capacity of several men.
When Frank R. O’Neil and Clarence N. Howell were the central figures of the Republican local staff, a kid reporter was taken on. He was a slender boy, laughing-eyed, interrogation-faced. He was at the age and of the temperament to absorb knowledge. He had adopted mankind for his study and the newspaper office for his school room. The boy looked up to O’Neil and Howell with all the admiration and confidence the youthful collegian gives to favorite professors. His daily assignment was the school board offices in the old Polytechnic building at Seventh and Locust streets. A cultured woman, a lady of breeding, Mrs. Bernoudy, who had charge of the office of the superintendent of schools saw what the boy needed. She talked books to him. She opened to his mind the opportunities for reading. In time knew more of what the public library contained than any other one person except the librarian, himself, Mr. Crunden. The faculty to self-educate runs strong in the Irish blood. The boy reporter gained from his reading, first, information of wide range, then style of expression and finally, ideas which put him on the road to become the writer of more than local fame. The evolution of William Marion Reedy belongs to the history of St. Louis journalism.
(Originally published in St. Louis, the Fourth City by Walter Barlow Stevens, 1911).
The Sentinel: Republican or Democrat?
By Charles K. Poole
The St. Louis Metro Sentinel, the youngest of the three black St. Louis weeklies after nearly 21 years of publication, has somewhat of an identity problem. As a self-described “independent newspaper,” the Sentinel has frequently been the odd man out with readers who think of black newspapers as Democratic vehicles. And the newspaper’s recent endorsements of Republicans have added to the confusion.
But both the newspaper’s editor and publisher contend the Sentinel has no intention of trading its bipartisan philosophy for Republican status. And they said after explaining the newspaper’s position so many times in the past, the identity question has become the proverbial thorn in the newspaper’s side.
The Sentinel was founded in 1968 by the late Howard B. Woods, a journalist and civic leader. Woods was a former executive editor of the St. Louis Argus and associate director of the United States Information Agency. He served as editor-in-chief of the Sengstacke newspapers, which included the Chicago Defender and 13 other black newspapers across the nation, before returning to St. Louis to found the Sentinel.
Woods, who was also president of the St. Louis Urban League, said he founded the newspaper with the hope it would be “independent and work actively toward the establishment of the effective two-party system.”
When Howard Woods died in 1976, his widow, Jane, took over as president and publisher of the newspaper. Michael Williams, the Woods’ son-in-law, became the Sentinel’s editor and associate publisher. Williams said the newspaper’s pledge to “entertain, agitate and provoke readers to constructive thought” is as important today as when Howard Woods founded the newspaper. But, he says, community service is its main concern.
Williams said he wanted to set the record straight for those who still question the newspaper’s political philosophy: “The Sentinel is not a Republican newspaper,” he said. “The Sentinel is more of an independent newspaper.”
Williams said the Sentinel’s history is proof of that fact. “When you look at the history of the Sentinel,” he said, ‘it has always had a tendency to endorse candidates that it thinks most benefit the black community, whether they be Democrat or Republican.”
As editor, Williams oversees the day-to-day operations of the newspaper, although he said Jane Woods also “makes some of the most important decisions for the paper.” Williams said the Sentinel’s readership consists primarily of upper-income blacks, but that “black newspapers (including the Sentinel) don’t make a lot of money.” Because of that fact he said, Jane Woods could not afford to oversee the newspaper’s operations on a full-time basis. Instead, she works for Barnes Hospital.
Having opted for free distribution in 1971, the newspaper relies on advertising for its revenue. The Sentinel prints four promotional issues yearly to increase subscriptions and offset production and administrative costs. Williams said the Sentinel is doing well financially. “We’ve come a long way. It’s been tough at times – I don’t kid you about that – but we’re holding our own.” Williams said the newspaper made a profit in 1988, but would not release actual figures.
The newspaper is published every Thursday, as are the St. Louis American and Argus. Both the Sentinel’s and American’s typesetting operations are handled in house. Another similarity between the two newspapers is that each uses the free distribution system. The Argus charges 25-cents a copy.
Politics Make the Paper
The Sentinel has a strong political influence in the black community. One of the most-read features of the newspaper is “Big City Shop Talk,” a column by Al “Big City” Wallace, the Sentinel’s city editor and a political insider who works for St. Louis City Treasurer Larry Williams. Wallace worked for the Argus prior to joining the Sentinel.
In his column, Wallace predicts political appointments, discusses battles between Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl, Jr., and various aldermen, and offers up some of the hottest political gossip in the city. Wallace’s column is so well-read, Williams claims, that white reporters with national publications contact him to learn about St. Louis’ political scene.
Williams believes the decision by the other black weeklies to print similar columns is probably a direct result of Wallace’s popularity. He pointed out, however, that Wallace’s success came to him only through continuity He said if newspapers do not focus on politics “on a continuous basis, they might as well get out of the business.”
Republican or Independent?
Last year, the Sentinel’s decision to support several white Republican candidates over black Democrats angered and confused a number of blacks, leading many to label the Sentinel a “black Republican newspaper.” Williams scoffed at the label.
The Sentinel has traditionally endorsed Democratic candidates on a city level, and sometimes at the state level, Williams said. In other cases, he said the newspaper had opted to endorse white Republicans who clearly had the best interests of the black community at heart.
But, Williams’ explanation aside, the newspaper’s recent endorsements of John Ashcroft for governor, Christopher Bond for U.S. senator and George Bush for president were not applauded in the black community.
“When we endorsed George Bush for president,” he said, “we had two people call up and cancel their subscriptions. When we endorsed Kit Bond, we had a couple more cancel…Same thing with Ashcroft.”
Williams says the newspaper’s endorsements need no justification.
“We (the Sentinel) do believe in the two-party system. We think it’s very dangerous for black people to have blind allegiance to one particular party.”
Williams said that the newspaper is currently supporting Michael Roberts in his mayoral race against incumbent Schoemehl, and has supported St. Louis Democrats including U.S. Rep. William Clay, State Sen. J.B. “Jet” Banks and many others in the past. He said he does not understand why the Sentinel’s detractors construe its support of black Democrats – and white Republicans – as being the mark of a Republican newspaper.
According to Williams, the Sentinel operates in a fashion akin to large white newspaper, which “have the prerogative to endorse and support anyone they choose.”
Publisher Jane Woods said the Sentinel is “definitely not Republican. We always endorse those who we think will do best for our people.
“Personally,” she continued, “I’m a Democrat. But a newspaper should not be labeled. A newspaper should be bipartisan. I think we have an excellent newspaper, and at least we’re truthful.” Woods added that she was not implying other newspapers are not truthful.
St. Louis City Alderman JoAnne Wayne (D-1st Ward) is not so sure the Sentinel tells the whole truth, however.
“I have no more of a problem with the Sentinel than any other paper. But I don’t think it always gives people the opportunity to respond,” Wayne said. “They may be truthful according to what they’re told, but they don’t get both sides of the story.”
Wayne added that the newspaper’s support of Republican candidates was of no real concern to her. “I feel if the Sentinel has found Republicans more concerned with black issued, then that’s what they should print.”
St. Louis City Circuit Clerk Freeman Bosley, Jr., agrees. “In my view, the Sentinel makes a contribution to the community. In terms of its political leanings, it’s a non-issue to me.”
The Bush Factor
While some dwell on the newspaper’s politics, others are uncomfortable with its knack for self promotion. For example, in the newspaper’s “Yes I Can” promotional issue last year, a headlines photograph of Williams greeting then-Vice President George Bush read: “Sentinel’s Endorsement Puts Bush Over Top In Missouri.” It was a bold claim coming from so small a newspaper, but Williams said he felt justified in printing it because “Missouri put George Bush over the top. We were one of the few newspapers in the state to endorse him. I’d say we had something to do with it.”
But leaders of both parties disagree with Williams’ claim
Charline Sherrill, vice chairman of the Republican Party for the city and state, laughed as she said, “I think it’s a bit far-fetched that they would take that position. I don’t think any one particular endorsement from a newspaper had that effect on the outcome.”
Sharon Quigley Carpenter, chairman of the city’s Democratic Party said, “The election results speak for themselves. Since the Sentinel is distributed predominately in north city, and the north city went overwhelmingly for Dukakis, I don’t think the endorsement of Bush had any impact among the Sentinel’s readership.
Carpenter added, however, “Given the three papers (Sentinel, American and Argus), I’d say the Sentinel does provide a different point of view. Whether it’s an effective point of view is another thing. But I’d have to say, all things considered, it’s probably a good thing.”
As the Sentinel continues to define its “independent” identity, Williams said he would like to see the newspaper become a semi-weekly publication, and eventually, a daily. “Right now, we’re treated as a stepchild to the white press,” Williams said.
In the immediate future, he does not see the newspaper’s admitted identity problem as a real issue. “We don’t have to prove our allegiance,” he said. “The Sentinel’s an independent newspaper. We’re not just independent; we’re fiercely independent. I think our readers appreciate us for that.”
(From the St. Louis Journalism Review, March 1989).
The History of the St. Louis Republic (Pt.2)
THIRD QUARTER – 1858-1883
Influence Exerted Before and During Civil War – The Republic’s Policy Aligned State Against Secession.
A.B. Chambers had strongly developed in him the theory of journalism which subordinates money-making to the higher purposes. He was public-spirited, and during the period when The Missouri Republican was growing into the leading position among the papers of the Alleghenies, Mr. Chambers and his partners were better pleased with the evidences of The Republican’s influence than with the profit side of the ledger. George Knapp, a very young man when he became associated with Chambers and Harris in 1837, grew into the same newspaper policy. He was naturally a generous man. He let money go freely to accomplish worthy ends, from the public point of view. If he had not been of this character he would not have been so successful in raising large amounts for the public movements in which he was a leading spirit. George Knapp was not a writer. During the life of Mr. Paschall the shaping of the editorial policies, so far as national questions were concerned, was left to him. In local questions George Knapp was not only consulted but his judgment of men and measures was much deferred to. After Mr. Paschall’s death, in 1866, George Knapp gave more attention to the editorial policies. John Knapp was then, as he had been for twelve years, the publisher. The paper prospered greatly. Its circulation and advertising revenues far surpassed any previous newspaper record in St. Louis. They led all other Western papers. The business success of the paper was due to John Knapp’s initiative and executive ability.
The power which the Missouri Republican wielded in politics was well known in the beginning of the third quarter of its century. At Charleston, in 1860, the Democratic party had divided and the adjourned convention at Baltimore had put out a second ticket, headed by Douglas. The Republican, under Paschall and the Knapps, had supported Buchanan in 1856. It was Democratic in politics but anti-secession with all the vigor Paschall could put into the editorial page. Missouri Democrats divided sharply. There were Breckinridge Democrats and Douglas Democrats. Claib, Jackson had been nominated for Governor at a regular convention. The Republican knew his leanings toward secession. Thomas C. Reynolds was the nominee for Lieutenant Governor. To Mr. Reynolds Mr Paschall said:
“Jackson’s course has been unendurable. He should instantly, upon hearing of Douglas’s nomination, have proclaimed his adhesion to the usages of his party and announced his purpose to do everything in his power to carry the Douglas ticket. He hates Douglas, I know. His personal likings in this matter, whether they relate to Douglas or to Douglas’s friends, are a thing of indifference.”
Then followed an intimation that if Jackson did not support the regular nominee he need not expect his own appeals for support on the ground of his regular nomination to avail him. To William Hyde Mr. Paschall gave instructions to go with Mr. Reynolds and ascertain the result of the message to Claib. Jackson.
“Watch those gentlemen,” the editor said to his correspondent, “do not let them get away from us. If they don’t come out publicly for Douglas within three days after they meet – say at Boonville – telegraph immediately and come home.”
The correspondent of The Republican did his work well. He found Claib. Jackson, rode across the country with him, occupied a bed in the same room with him, and heard the stormy interview in the moonlight outside when the messenger of the Breckinridge Democrats in St. Louis arrived with the demand upon Jackson to come out for Breckinridge. At Boonville, Claib. Jackson asked for another day of grace; he wanted to consult Congressman John B. Clark at Fayette. Clark had been one of the leaders of the Missouri delegation at Charleston. Mr. Hyde telegraphed to Mr. Paschall Mr. Jackson’s request for more time, and went on to Fayette with the politicians. While the conference proceeded behind closed doors, Mr. Hyde completed the Fayette end of the arrangements he had begun at Boonville the night before. There was no wire from Fayette. Boonville was the nearest telegraph point. The correspondent stood near the door of the room where the conference was taking place. Outside, around the corner, a negro boy, trusty and light of weight, sat on a saddle horse of Howard County’s best breeding. Thomas C. Reynolds was a St. Louis lawyer and alive to the enterprise of journalism. He had agreed to pass out the word as soon as a decision was reached. He did his part. Hyde folded the sheet of paper, dashed out of the hotel and gave it to the boy. Down the Boonville pike moved a cloud of dust. The politicians came out slowly from the conference and the speaking began. There was much preliminary oratory. When Claib. Jackson finally reached his climax and announced that the Democratic State ticket supported Douglas, the news had arrived by Pike from Fayette to Boonville and by wire from Boonville to St. Louis and was being read on the Missouri Republican bulletin board by the astonished Breckinridge Democrats.
Missouri was carried by a close vote for Douglas. The Missouri Republican’s policy aligned the state in the Presidential election of 1860 against the secession movement. In the three months which followed the election, before the outbreak of hostilities, The Missouri Republican was steadfastly for the Union. It deplored the growing friction between the Republicans and the secessionists; it advocated a course which would have averted the capture of Camp Jackson and the shedding of blood in the streets of St. Louis, but it never wavered in its support of the National Government as against the claimed right to secede. Half a century after Joseph Charless put in his prospectus the creed of this paper was “that next to love of God the love of country should be paramount in the human breast.”
In supporting Douglas The Republican was compelled to antagonize the Buchanan administration, which it had supported four years before. It also had to oppose Senator Green, of Missouri, who had a strong personal following in the State. With Mr. Paschall writing day after day his trenchant editorials, and William Hyde doing politics – Mr. Hyde had from the days of his Legislative correspondence at Springfield been a zealous admirer of the “Little Giant” – The Missouri Republican carried the state for Douglas.
The Republican was antisecession, but it did not support the Lincoln administration in many measures. The discriminating course of the newspaper did a great deal to bring about the division of the Republican party in Missouri. The Republican advocated for Democrats in Missouri a “passive policy,” as it was called when, in 1870, the Republicans split and put up two candidates for Governor. The result was the election of B. Gratz Brown, the candidate for Governor of the Liberal Republicans. The enfranchisement of the ex-Confederates was part of the political programme. In 1872 an effort was made by The Republican to make national the passive, or “possum policy,” as the opposition nicknamed it, which had operated so advantageously from the party point of view in Missouri in 1870. The Republican started this national movement in this state, having the support of Carl Schurz and the Westliche Post. The movement gained great headway among Liberal Republicans, and especially among the Germans throughout the country. A National Convention was called to meet in Cincinnati. The State Convention in Jefferson City which elected delegates to this Liberal Republican Convention at Cincinnati, was conducted practically by representatives of The Republican and The Westliche Post. Joseph B. McCullagh reported the convention for The Missouri Democrat. He called it the “Bill and Joe Convention.” “Bill” and “Joe” were William Hyde of The Republican and Joseph Pulitzer of the Westliche Post. The Republican started the movement which resulted in the Cincinnati convention and the nominations of Greeley and Brown. A fatal mistake was made by the Democratic National Convention in failing to carry out The Republican’s passive policy. The Baltimore Convention of the Democratic party in 1872 took positive action on the ticket, instead of adopting the passive course, which had been pursued by the Democratic party of Missouri so successfully two years before. The result of the action in Baltimore was to antagonize the Liberal Republicans and many of the German voters. The Greeley and Brown ticket failed of the support expected for it from elements in the Republican party opposed to Grant and the reconstruction measures in the South.
Four years later The Republican succeeded in bringing the Democratic National Convention to St. Louis. The body met in the new Chamber of Commerce. Samuel J. Tilden was nominated.
An incident of the presidential campaign of 1876 illustrates the abiding faith the readers of those days had in their respective newspapers. That was the Tilden-Hayes campaign. The morning after the election both parties claimed everything. The next morning Tilden had the best of the returns. The third morning it looked better for Hayes. The fourth morning there was great doubt. Then, from parts of the paper’s territory, poured in telegrams by scores and by hundreds, asking information as to the result of the election. They came to the desk of Charles W. Knapp, then quite a young man and in charge of the news desk. Mr. Knapp surveyed the growing mountain of yellow telegraph messages. It was absolutely unsafe to make a prediction. The reputation of the paper for reliability would not justify any guessing. So Mr. Knapp, after some hard thinking, wrote out this brief form to cover all inquiries:
“The Lord only knows, and he won’t tell.”
George Knapp, John Knapp and Nathaniel Paschall were admirably adapted to work in triple newspaper harness. Paschall was a born editor. He was a judge of news. He laid out a political policy, which was followed with great force. The Missouri Republican advocated Jefferson’s principles, the Whig creed of Henry Clay. It parted squarely with those who went into the American or Know Nothing movement. It helped elect the Democratic ticket when Buchanan was chosen. It opposed secession. It fathered the passive policy and encouraged the Liberal Republican movement of the early ‘seventies. It has constantly supported the Democratic candidates from Tilden down. Paschall was a wonderfully clear writer. There was no possible mistaking what he meant in an editorial from his pen.
Nathaniel Paschall had some peculiar traits. He was rugged, mentally and physically. His recollection of events and dates was astonishing to his fellow workers. He could not be persuaded, until his health began to fail, to wear an overcoat in winter. He could tell where on the page to look for an article printed months before. He did not use spectacles. For weeks at a time he “wrote all of the editorials, read, paragraphed and punctuated the correspondence, made all of the selections from the exchanges and read the proofs of his own articles.”
When this sturdy, modest old man of St. Louis journalism died, the business men of the city, many of whom had not a speaking acquaintance with him, met on ‘change and paid tribute to him in these words:
“In all that tended to promote the growth and prosperity of his State, in all that tended to enlighten and elevate the character and promote the interests of its people, to inculcate learning, to strengthen the moral and social condition of his fellow-citizens, Nathaniel Paschall was, during the whole of his active life, and earnest, enlightened and faithful worker.”
George Knapp and John Knapp had characters as positive as Nathaniel Paschall’s. Yet these three men built up The Republican until it was of commanding influence and a great paper, without clashing between them. They worked together a lifetime. If Nathaniel Paschall steered, John Knapp kept the machinery running. George Knapp stood between the community and the newspaper. He had a strong and steadfast desire to make the newspaper of practical benefit to the city. He went among people. He got ideas of what St. Louis needed. He made the paper a persistent advocate of local measures calculated for the public good. Mr. Hyde summed up George Knapp’s newspaper policy in a very few words:
“He wanted his paper to be clean and decent,” said Mr. Hyde. “He hated inquisitorial journalism which drags the purlieus for scandal and dirt. His ambition, like Chambers’s and Paschall’s, was to issue a sheet full of legitimate, current news, editorially commented upon, honestly, intelligently, fairly, alike welcome in the family circle as by professional and business men.”
The efforts of George Knapp to accomplish things for the city did not stop with the newspaper. He gave time and energy to public-spirited movements. The Chamber of Commerce building, representing a cost of $2,000,000, and now owned by the Merchants’ Exchange, is the monument of George Knapp more than of any other man. When the movement languished George Knapp continued to push it until he compelled action.
His single-handed campaign to bring to fruition the Chamber of Commerce was only one of George Knapp’s public-spirited efforts in which he enlisted all of The Republican’s influence. State aid to railroads was a policy of the paper. The Eads bridge was aided and encouraged. The Southern Hotel was George Knapp’s suggestion at a time when St. Louis was lacking in first-class hotel accommodations.
After the Civil War St. Louis suffered much from the double county and city government. The separation of the city from the county and the framing of a new Charter by thirteen freeholders were propositions to which the Knapps committed The Republican. They gave their personal influence to the movement, and in the persistent, tenacious way which was characteristic of them, they forced the movement through. St. Louis was then even more conservative than now. That The Republican was able to bring about such a radical change in the form of government of the city is one of the most notable evidences of the influence of the paper and of the Knapps. The City Charter framed and adopted for St. Louis under the inspiration of The Republican was regarded for a generation as a model of municipal organization.
To The Republican St. Louis owes the extinction of the lottery as a legalized institution. The present generation can hardly realize that there was a time when the Legislature of Missouri granted lottery charters. The motive was to raise money for some public purpose. About 1831 the Legislature authorized a lottery to raise about $10,000 toward the building of a hospital in St. Louis for the Sisters of Charity. The Commissioners provided for in the act sold the privilege of conducting the lottery to James S. Thomas. Charges were made in the newspapers that the management of this lottery meant great gains to the purchaser and comparatively small revenue for the hospital. A committee was chosen to look into the methods Mr. Thomas proposed to adopt. On the committee were such well-known citizens as N.H. Ridgely, David H. Hill, Geo. K. McGunnegle, D. Hough, Augustus Kerr, John F. Darby and Bernard Pratte Sr. They made an elaborate report, the conclusion of which was:
“Your committee then, after an attentive review of the subject, are of the opinion that the charge made against this scheme, that it affords the manager an opportunity of realizing a great and unusual proportion of profit, is not sustained.”
Sentiment against the grant of lottery privileges by the Legislature grew so strong that the passage of such acts ceased. But lotteries continued to operate openly under old charters. The business was gradually consolidated into what was known as the Missouri State Lottery. This institution had many offices. Drawings were held regularly in a public hall. The winning numbers were advertised in St. Louis papers.
The business was based on an old act of the Legislature authorizing a lottery to build a plank road from the town of New Franklin to the Missouri River. New Franklin was near Boonville. It had passed almost out of existence. The plank road, a considerable part of it, had slipped into the Missouri River. The Republican opened war on the Missouri State Lottery. It exposed the plank road myth. It kept up the opposition until by legal and by legislative action the end came not only to the Missouri State Lottery but to all open lottery business in this state. The fight was not one of days or weeks, but of years. It required the making of public sentiment, for in 1871 not only lottery offices were conducted as openly as cigar stores are now, but faro and keno houses occupied the most prominent locations on Fourth street and were places of common resort. Perhaps there has not been in all the history of St. Louis a moral movement of such magnitude as this one The Republican inaugurated against lotteries and carried to successful issue. It led to the great supplemental movement successfully conducted by Charles F. Johnson against gambling.
The immediate occasion for The Republican’s movement against lotteries was the passage by the Legislature of a bill authorizing a lottery to build an opera house in St. Louis. This measure became a law. Offices were opened on Third street. Names of very respectable citizens were associated with the movement. The Republican had endeavored to defeat the legislation. Failing at Jefferson City, the paper opened war on the lottery principle; it showed how in practice these charters had been misapplied to enrich individuals; it never relaxed fighting until all lottery offices were closed. This moral reform was made effective at St. Louis through The Republican’s efforts several years before the General Government at Washington took up the movement and made it national by barring all lottery business from the United States mails.
Both Colonel George Knapp and Colonel John Knapp came well by their military titles. They were for the supremacy of this Government, not only in theory but in practice; not only in peace but it war. The year before he became part proprietor of The Republican, when he was 21 years of age, George Knapp entered the St. Louis Grays. He was one of the first St. Louis officers who volunteered for service in the Mexican War. He went out as a Lieutenant in the St. Louis Legion and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after the return of the legion to St. Louis. The legion was equipped largely from funds raised by voluntary contributions of St. Louis citizens and went to the front very early in the war. Soon after the beginning of the Civil War George Knapp recruited a military force in his newspaper office, called the Missouri Republican Guard. This force he drilled and commanded, holding it in readiness for service if an attack was made on St. Louis, as was repeatedly threatened.
John Knapp was in the military service of the State more than twenty-five years. He went to the Mexican War as a Captain in the First Regiment of Missouri Volunteers.
The militia company of which he was one of the Lieutenants had voted not to volunteer for service in the Mexican War. Thereupon Lieutenant Knapp organized a new company, the Boone Infantry. He was elected Captain, and immediately tendered this company for service in the war.
He commanded the First Regiment of Missouri Militia in the Southwest expedition to the Kansas border in the winter of 1861. He was in command of this regiment when Camp Jackson was taken by General Lyon on the 10th of May, 1861. Afterwards he was appointed Colonel of the Eighth Regiment of the Enrolled Missouri Militia, and later Colonel of the Thirteenth Provisional Regiment, and still later was an aid of Governor Hall and went with the brigade of Missouri troops in pursuit of General Sterling Price when the Confederate made the raid in 1864. He continued in the service until after the Civil War. He was the best tactician in the volunteer service of his day. There never was any taint of disloyalty toward the General Government in The Missouri Republican or its proprietors or editors.
From the militia companies composing the First Militia Regiment, of which John Knapp was the commanding officer when hostilities began, the Union Army received many officers. For Governor Gamble, who succeeded Claib. Jackson when the latter left Jefferson City to join the Confederacy, Colonel John Knapp worked out the plan of militia enrollment which protected Missouri and which created a force to deal with guerillas.
Twice in the history of the paper the office of The Missouri Republican was destroyed by fire. The first time was 1849, when the flames swept the business district of St. Louis and destroyed a number of steamboats at the Levee.
The second visitation was in 1879. At that time The Republican occupied a mammoth establishment, which did book and job printing as well as published the newspaper. The loss by the second fire was $170,000. Upon the site, which was on Chestnut street just west of Main street, the proprietors built a low structure to house the publication and editorial offices until a new location could be secured. The publishers felt that the time had come to move westward from Main street. They chose Third and Chestnut streets for the new building, which was of elaborate and fireproof character, one of the most completely equipped newspaper offices in the country at the time.
The temporary building on Chestnut near Main gave up the front portion to the business office. Through this was a passageway to a room of large dimensions. The center of this editorial hall, for such it might be called, was occupied by a fountain, about which grew ferns and palms. In the pool turtles and fish disported themselves. Around the sides of the room were arranged desks for the entire editorial and reportorial force, then numbering about twenty persons. At the end of the editorial hall were the files of the daily papers. Near by were large tables, upon which the office boy heaped the exchanges. This editorial home of The Republican in 1870, and for the year or two following, was very different from the quarters usually provided for editorial and local staffs. Sitting in his chair near the door, William Hyde, then managing editor, could turn and address any member of the staff, from the writer of the leaders to the newest reporter.
William Hyde’s connection with the paper extended through a period of twenty-eight years. It began with the position of legislative correspondent at Jefferson City. Mr. Hyde was successively reporter, staff correspondent, city editor, assistant editor and managing editor. He was a man of splendid physique. When he was a reporter he knocked down a policeman in a police station. In those early days he had a way of purposely mixing metaphors and misusing long words, which made the town laugh. With Wise, Mr. Hyde made a balloon voyage from St. Louis to northern New York over the Great Lakes. The flight was the record for aerial achievement, which remained unbroken nearly fifty years.
When Mr. Hyde became the managing editor he ceased writing humorous sketches. He organized one of the strongest newspaper staffs the journalism of the United States had known up to that time. Mr. Hyde knew good newspaper work. He was a man of liberal education. He came of Revolutionary stock. His father was a Connecticut man who became a member of the faculty of Genesee College. His mother was a Gregory, a highly accomplished member of a widely known New York family. William Hyde was educated at McKendree College and at Transylvania University.
For the writer of his leaders, the strong pen of the editorial page, Mr. Hyde selected Daniel M. Grissom, a product of a Kentucky farm and of Cumberland University. Mr. Grissom was thirty-five years a St. Louis editor. He wrote in the straightforward, vigorous, lucid style in which the readers of the paper had been accustomed in the years of A.B. Chambers and Nathaniel Paschall.
The literary standard of The Republican was committed to the care of Thomas Dimmock. A native of Massachusetts, brought up in Alton, Mr. Dimmock studied at Shurtleff. Alton, in the years before the Civil War, was famed throughout the Mississippi Valley as a place of literary culture. The Shurtleff community was a center of thought and authorship. Mr. Dimmock’s literary tastes were developed where standards were high. After some years of editorial management of the Alton Democrat, Mr. Dimmock, following the Civil War, took the literary editorship at The Republican. His reviews and editorials along artistic and educational lines were features which drew the attention of people everywhere to The Republican.
A graceful writer of special articles for many years, beginning in 1871, was Clarence N. Howell, a graduate of the University of Michigan. A man who served the paper well as city editor was Stanley Waterloo, the author, another University of Michigan man.
Frank R. O’Neil came to The Republican under circumstances paralleling those of William Hyde. Both were from Belleville. Both were legislative correspondents of the paper at Springfield, Ill. As Mr. Hyde’s work attracted the favorable attention of Mr. Paschall, so did Mr. O’Neil’s work impress Mr. Hyde twenty years later. Mr. O’Neil was reporter, city editor and managing editor, reaching the highest position in about the same number of years that Mr. Hyde did.
William Fowler, an Englishman by birth, was for twenty-six years, until his death in 1870, foreman of the composing room of The Republican. He enjoyed the distinction of having “worked at the case” with Horace Greeley.
William Homes, a Presbyterian minister for several years in St. Louis, gave up the pulpit to become an editorial writer on The Republican in 1856. In 1864 he traveled through California, Arizona and Mexico, writing a series of very entertaining letters to The Republican. Ill health compelled him to give up newspaper work in 1868. He ranked as one of the most scholarly writers of his time.
One of the notable members of The Republican staff in the early ‘seventies was William H. Swift. The Republican, in the days of Mr. Paschall, had devoted considerable attention to the financial and commercial news. Mr. Swift, after having filled all of the positions from printer to managing editor on other St. Louis papers, came to The Republican to take charge of the financial and commercial department. He developed the importance of that department, which has ever since been a marked feature of the paper. Mr. Swift was a natural news gatherer. He did more than collect facts. He received impressions of causes as well as of effects. His mind was analytical. Every day after going upon ‘change and making a round of the banks, Mr. Swift came into the editorial hall of The Republican and told in a few words the business news of the day. The others, the editor, Mr. Hyde, the writer of leaders, Mr. Grissom, the city editor, Mr. MacAdam, listened to Mr. Swift with more than ordinary respect. The commercial editor’s suggestions led to frequent assignments for the local reporters.
LAST QUARTER – 1883-1908
Strong Editorial Staffs a Feature of Papers Development – News Beats Which Have Startled Public and Rivals
In the history of American journalism there is no parallel to what is true of the proprietary interests in The St. Louis Republic. Nathaniel Paschall entered the office of the paper when it was four years old, a little weekly. George Knapp entered upon his apprenticeship a few years later. Nathaniel Paschall became proprietor of the paper nearly ninety years ago and over seventy years ago George Knapp obtained an interest. More than half a century the proprietary control of the paper has been in the Knapp and Paschall families. Since 1823 a Knapp or a Paschall has been at the head of either the editorial or the business department, or both.
With the exception of the two years, or somewhat less than two years from 1820 to 1822, when The Missouri Gazette was in the possession of James Cummins, there has been at no time a radical change in ownership. Interests have changed hands; new blood has been brought into the organization, but the virile character, the traditions which made the paper enduring, the policies which gave it vitality when so many other newspaper enterprises failed, have remained with it from the foundation to the end of the century.
It has happened to no other American newspaper that the ownership and conduct in the span or a century have been in so few hands. The names of Charless, Paschall and Knapp make an unbroken chain of continuity from the beginning in 1808 to the century’s close in 1908. As a matter of mere business permanency The Republic is notable among the mercantile institutions of the country, since the controlling ownership and active management rest at the end of a hundred years in the hands of direct or collateral descendants under men who had their training under and became partners of either the founder or his son. The paper was but four years old when Nathaniel Paschall entered its service, and a grandson is today, ninety-six years later, one of the owners and managers. Among them, too, is a nephew of George Knapp, who came to the paper fifteen years after Paschall and eighty-one years ago.
Beginning under the founder, Paschall became the partner of the founder’s son and was an active member of the paper’s staff for forty-seven years. Starting under the younger Charless and the associate of Paschall, George, Knapp, whose connection continued uninterruptedly for fifty-six years, formed partnership relations with both Charless and Paschall. Nathaniel Paschall and George Knapp worked side by side for thirty-two years, and with them as associate for more than a third of that time was John Knapp, whose connection covered altogether a period of thirty-four years. His son, now and for more than twenty years head of the concern, has himself begun his forty-second year of service.
The editor today is Charles W. Knapp; the head of the business office is a Paschall – Walter B. Carr.
In May, 1888, Charles H. Jones of Jacksonville, Fla., purchased an interest in The St. Louis Republic. That year the name of the paper underwent a change from Missouri Republican to St. Louis Republic. Colonel Jones held the editorship of the paper five years under a contract, and retired. During the period, Charles W. Knapp was the publisher. Upon the retirement of Colonel Jones, Mr. Knapp became the editor-in-chief, a position he has held for fifteen years.
Upon the last quarter of its first century, The Republic entered with one of the strongest political organizations of editors, special writers, correspondents and reporters the history of St. Louis journalism had known. The roster as it was in the latter part of 1883 is an interesting reminder of the men who made the paper twenty-five years ago:
President and Publisher – John Knapp
Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor – William Hyde
Editorial Writers – James H.R. Cundiff, Thomas Dimmock, Daniel M. Grissom, Charles W Knapp
City Editor – William A. Kelsoe
Commercial Editor – Joseph Kelley
Telegraph Editor – Henry B. Wandell
River Editor – Shepard W. Knapp
News Editor – Clarence N. Howell
Dramatic Editor – Thomas E. Garrett
Musical Editor – A.R. Rivet
Editor of The Weekly Republican – Charles W. Knapp
Staff Correspondents – Edwin Fleming, Washington; J.C. Hendrix, New York; A.S. Vogdes, Jefferson City; Ed L. Merritt, Springfield, Ill.; together with 460 correspondents in the Western, Southern and Middle States.
Special Writers – Annie R. Noxon, Julia M. Bennett, Fannie Isabelle Sherrick, Josephine Williams, Adele Stevens Cody, “Acanthus” and others.
Reporters – Frank R. O’Neil, John G. Dill, William Fayal, Thomas M. Knapp, Henry E. Campbell, John Fay, John W. Kearney, William M. Reedy, Alex R. Webb and Graham Young.
Foreman Composing Room – Richard Sittig
Number of men employed, eighty-eight
Foreman Pressroom – Murdoch Birnie
Number of men employed (including stereotypers), eighteen
Presses used – Hoe and Walter web perfecting
The Knapps and the Paschalls never forgot the days of small beginnings. Whenever anniversaries or other occasions suggested reminiscences, all honor was given in print to Joseph Charless and his son Edward Charless. The recollection went beyond words. There is of record in the minutes of the directors of the paper an incident which does honor to the newspaper profession. The directors in 1882 were George Knapp, John Knapp and Henry G. Paschall, the last-named a son of Nathaniel Paschall. At a meeting of the board on the 2d of January a resolution was adopted conferring on the only surviving representative of Edward Charless an annuity. The letter, as it appears upon the minutes of the board, is well worth printing. It breathes the old-fashioned, deliberate courtesy which characterized The Republic’s management:
“Dear Respected Madam: Wishing you a happy New Year, we take pleasure in communicating the following preamble and resolution, which, with the cordial appreciation of the stockholders of the corporation of Publishers: George Knapp & Co., have been adopted:
“Whereas Mrs. Jane L. Hoffman is the only surviving representative of the noble and worthy Edward W. Charless, the founder, over sixty years ago, of The Missouri Republican, he the successor of his father, Joseph Charless, who, beginning in 1808, published the paper under the name of Louisiana Gazette and Missouri Gazette,
“Resolved. That an annuity of $200 payable quarterly in advance, from the first of January, 1882, be and is hereby appropriated to the use of Mrs. Jane L. Hoffman during her natural life.
“With the kindest wishes for your continued good health and cheerful, genial disposition, and hoping your life will long be spared, we are devotedly, your friends.”
The Charless interest in the paper had ended forty-five years before the date of this thoughtful action of the board.
Mrs. Hoffman was deeply touched.
“I accept your generous gift,” she wrote, “in the spirit in which it was offered, and, reciprocating all the kind and cordial expressions contained in your letter, tender to each member of your Board of Directors, and to all connected with your great enterprise, my most sincere thanks and warmest wishes for your future prosperity and success.”
George Knapp died in 1883, as the paper was entering upon the fourth quarter of its century. From apprentice to president, his continuous connection with the paper is nearly sixty years, a span not equaled by any other person in the newspaper business of St. Louis.
The public spirit of the paper has not stopped with the use of the columns in support of the movements to benefit St. Louis. The Knapps early committed the owners of The Republican to liberal subscriptions whenever funds for public or semi-public purposes were to be raised. After George Knapp’s death the policy was continued. When the Missouri Pacific, the first railroad west of the Mississippi, was started, in the early ‘fifties, a large sum was subscribed by prominent citizens and organizations. The Missouri Republican was among the leading subscribers. Over $500,000 is the aggregate of the subscriptions made to various local movements by the paper under the continued policy of the Knapps and the Paschalls.
The attitude of The Republic toward other newspapers, even when personal journalism prompted vicious attacks upon it, is well illustrated by a paragraph in the editorial review of the first half century. On the 12th of July, 1858, the editor, presumably Nathaniel Paschall, wrote:
“Since the establishment of The Republican, many journals have come into existence, sprung upon the arena to dispute with it the prize of championship and public patronage, but after a short display of futile efforts have retired from the list and sunk into oblivion. We could mention more than twenty papers which have come into being, and have sickened and died from the want of support which the discriminating public ever accords to a merited journal; but the revelation will neither profit us nor our readers, and we would not probe wounds of disappointment which have probably nearly healed and cicatrized.”
“The faithful and reliable organ of every class of business” was the way Nathaniel Paschall once described The Republic. From the beginning, every editor of the paper has avoided the danger of specializing. He has neglected no class of readers. He has not allowed one class of news to overshadow others. He has preserved the news perspective. He has looked beyond his regular staff for features. When any professional business man or woman of St. Louis had something to write and knew how to write it, the columns of The Republic were open.
“To diversify scenes,” said Joseph Charless in his prospectus in the early summer of 1808, “we shall glean whatever may be most instructive and amusing in the belles lettres, with historical and political extracts. Men of genius are invited to send their productions to The Gazette.”
It its century The Republic has supplied, probably, more material than any other American daily newspaper for books. This bookmaking began with the “Views of Louisiana,” which Brackenridge wrote for Charless before The Gazette was four years old. The letters were collected and published in a volume at the personal request of Thomas Jefferson. When Captain Hiram Martin Crittenden, of the United States Army, a few years ago, assembled the material for his exhaustive three volumes on the American fur trade, he went through the file of The Gazette and The Republican from 1808 to 1850.
“It abounds,” he said, “in valuable data and is the sole authority upon many obscure points.”
John Hogan wrote his carefully considered “Thoughts on St. Louis” for The Republican. The newspaper articles made such an impression upon the community that they were published in book form. His appreciative fellow citizens bestowed upon Mr. Hogan a set of silver plate in recognition of the value of his suggestions. The charming “Recollections” of John F. Darby first appeared in The Republican. Authorship came as a demand upon Major John N. Edwards after some of his wonderfully graphic descriptions of Civil War episodes had been printed as special articles when he was an editorial writer on The Republican. Theophile Papin’s letters from Europe in the early ‘eighties attracted wide interest. Readers found it difficult to believe that the writer was a business man who had followed the prosaic life of an operator in real estate.
The first staff correspondent of a St. Louis newspaper was Henry M. Brackenridge. He wrote for The Gazette descriptive letters as he traveled from Ste. Genevieve to St. Louis and up the Missouri. Thomas Jefferson saw two or three of the articles which were copies from The Gazette into Eastern papers. He sent for the series. Subsequently he urged the publication of them in book form, commending them highly for the information they contained about the new Territory the United States had acquired from Spain. The result of Mr. Jefferson’s interest was the publication of “Views of Louisiana.” Brackenridge was taken up by the Government at Washington. His talent for investigation and for presenting conclusions was utilized. The Government sent Brackenridge to South America on a diplomatic mission. When the report and the recommendations were laid before the administration at Washington the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine followed. That policy had its prompting in the findings of Brackenridge, who had made his first impression on the public by his newspaper work in St. Louis.
The occasional correspondent has enabled The Republic to score repeatedly in news competition. In 1886 the paper startled not only this country, but the Old World, with the announcement that the Panama Canal scheme had collapsed. At the same time were exposed the scandalous practices of officials connected with the canal company. The exposure was made in complete and convincing form; there was no surmise, no indefinite hinting. The facts were given in a straightforward, businesslike style. The occasional correspondent who did the business world a service was Leonard Matthews. Mr. Matthews had years before retired from business in St. Louis. He was traveling abroad. His brother was in command of the Brooklyn, and was cruising in the Caribbean Sea to stop filibusters intending disturbance to Honduras. Leonard Matthews was a guest of his brother on the Brooklyn. He discovered the disgracefully ruinous conditions prevailing on the Isthmus, wrote an account of them and sent it to The Republic. The article appeared in March, 1888.
When the historians a few years ago began a search for the origin of the name “Oregon” they found in The Missouri Republican what is said to be the earliest explanation. In 1825 there appeared in The Republican a communication signed “A Subscriber,” which stated that Oregon was derived from the Spanish word “oregano,” a plant found in profusion on the banks of the Columbia. Then ensued a newspaper controversy. Some one of the talented contributor who helped to make The Republican interesting and famous in those days wrote an answer to “Subscriber” and signed it “Patrick.” He accused Subscriber of “robbing Oregon of the best part of its name, which, he said, was really Teague O’Regan, given in honor of a well-known family In Ireland. Captain Bonneville, the St. Louis explorer, held to the correctness of the first explanation, and said that Spanish oregano was the sage brush which covered much of Oregon.
During several periods in its century of existence The Republic has issued with success, to meet circumstances, evening editions. In the spring of 1849, when there was extraordinary interest in river news, announcement was made that “on Monday evening and thereafter, so long as the river remains open,” an evening Republican would be issued. In March, 1851, an evening edition was brought out during the navigation season “in time for the packets and other boats leaving for the upper and lower river.”
Beginning in July, 1861, a few days after the Battle of Bull Run, an evening Republican was published to supply the demands for war news. The Evening Republican was published again from October, 1874, to March, 1877. It was one of the handsomest papers, typographically, St. Louis had known. A notable feature was a daily article of local character written by Clarence N. Howell.
A marked quality in The Republic’s organization has been esprit du corps. The spirit of harmony and cooperation which prompted the proprietors to stand together at all times away back in the partnership of Charless & Paschall, has characterized their editorial and business staffs. The newspaper team work has been notable in the history of journalism.
John Knapp established a practice which kept the proprietors in close touch with the writers on the paper. Farley, the assistant foreman of the composing room, knew the handwriting of every man on the staff. After that paper had gone to press he penciled above each article, editorial, local and special, the name of the writer. The paper thus marked was upon the desk of Colonel Knapp when he reached the office in the morning. It was consulted in no hasty or perfunctory manner. The Knapps made it their business to know the kind of work every member of the staff was doing. They gave credit where it was due. Their first inclination, in every controversy which arose over publications, was to stand by the writer. Unless it could be shown that the editor, or the reporter was clearly in the wrong, the proprietors sustained him. This policy has not a little to do with the spirit which held the staff in harmonious relations.
The publication of a Sunday edition, which began in 1848, was more than a local innovation. Many of the larger newspapers in the Eastern cities adhered to the six times a week for twenty years and more after The Missouri Republican began to print a paper every day in the year. The first Sunday Republican was distributed with the compliments of the publishers. In the beginning, The Sunday Republican introduced literary features and humorous sketches and gave place to correspondence. It aimed to supply “light reading.” But in respect to size of sheet and amount of advertising it did not differ much from the weekday issue.
Gradually the Sunday edition grew. More and more features were added to make it attractive. For many years the bright “M.H.B.” letters from New York in The Sunday Republican formed a distinctive attraction. No other paper received these letters. It was characteristic of The Republican to insist upon exclusiveness. When the Sunday papers developed into great advertising carriers, it became necessary to print many pages of reading matter. The syndicating of stories and letters and special articles broke in upon The Republic’s long-maintained policy. But this paper was one of the first to break away from the syndicates and to get back to reading matter for the most part prepared by its own writers.
One of the most notable achievements of The Republic in a national way was its aggressive course toward the Pacific railroads. The campaign which this newspaper carried on single-handed for some time began in 1894. The failure of the Union and Central Pacific to keep the contracts with the Government was exposed. The liability of the stockholders under the California law was shown. Exposure was followed by action. Suits were instituted by the Government against the Central Pacific stockholders. The proposed surrender of the Government’s interest in the roads under the intended renewal of the bonds was averted. Three years later The Republic renewed the fighting, when it appeared that the Union Pacific was to be sold at foreclosure upon a guaranteed bid far below the Government’s claim. The Republic led other papers in the protest until the Government took steps to postpone the sale. Then the guaranteed bid was raised to the full amount of the Government’s claim. The application for postponement was withdrawn. The Government gained more than $10,000,000 as the result of this agitation.
In the Civic League movement which resulted in the present satisfactory school board law, The Republic initiated the fighting. In 1896 this paper began an exposure of the old School-Board practices. It showed that the educational interests of the city were being sacrificed to enrich a coterie of contractors. It revealed the shameless use of positions on the School Board to coerce teachers into patronizing certain stores. The campaign was carried on vigorously until public sentiment was thoroughly aroused. When the reform measure was carried to Jefferson City it encountered a strong lobby. There was a short, sharp fight, led by The Republic. The bill was passed, bringing the School Board under the general election law of the State.
In 1897 The Republic sent two news expeditions to describe the scene of the floods in the Lower Mississippi country in March and April.
That same year the paper raised the funds which enabled the Fresh Air Mission to send eleven steamboat-loads of mothers and children out on the river for the hot days of July and August.
With the record The Republic had for availing itself of extraordinary facilities in news gathering, it was to be expected that the paper would be foremost in utilizing the telegraph. The Republic was one of the first papers in the United States to adopt a leased wire from St. Louis to New York by way of Washington. It secured advantage of this equipment several years before any other St. Louis newspaper was served from its bureaus in Washington and New York directly over its own wire to the St. Louis office.
The Republic was one of the first newspapers in the United States to adopt a stereotyping process which led to the marvelous newspaper development of the last half century. Some of the encyclopedias state that stereotyping was not introduced into the newspaper business until about 1861. The Republic used it at least a year earlier. It began stereotyping in 1860.
The Republic was the first paper west of the Mississippi to apply steam power to newspaper printing presses.
The organization of the Western Associated Press and its successor, The Associated Press, vastly increased the facilities for news gathering. The Republic, however, did not rest on these facilities. It maintained special correspondents in its own great field of the Southwest and at the same time possessed itself of the benefits of an interchange of news through alliances in New York. For many years it has had access to all of the news supplied to The New York Herald.
The readers of today are familiar with what The Republic achieved in the news presentation of the struggle between the Greeks and the Turkish Empire. The present readers are also familiar with the perfection of the news service during the war with Spain.
When the attention of the country was drawn to the gold discoveries in Alaska, The Republic was the first paper east of the Rocky Mountains to enter upon a news campaign with the gold seekers. Its correspondents on the Yukon, at Dawson City and in other parts of Alaska have numbered half a score, among them Joaquin Miller, the Poet of the Sierras.
Always strong in its local department, The Republic has had a remarkable procession of city editors. David H. MacAdam, a Scotchman of no little literary ability, the father of the present Washington correspondent, was followed by George Brown, John McGaffey, John G. Dill, Stanley Waterloo, Clarence N. Howell, Frank Stone, Charles A. Taylor, Frank R. O’Neil, W.A. Kelsoe, Robert M. Yost, M.J. Lowenstein, Harry B. Wandell, Dent G. Robert, D.J. McAuliffe.
For almost a lifetime Thomas E. Garrett maintained a standard for dramatic criticism in The Republic which was of more than local note. He discovered and brought to public notice the genius of Mary Anderson.
A general utility man of The Republic staff for many years was the Reverend James A. Dacus. He seemed to have no specialty. He could write intelligently and readably on almost any topic suggested to him. The fact was Dacus had been an omnivorous reader, with a marvelous memory. Dacus was “the walking encyclopedia” of the paper.
A school of metropolitan journalism The Republic has been to many young men. Its graduates are to be found in newspaper positions of prominence in all parts of the country. Donald G. Fitzmaurice, whose Scottish satire illuminates the editorial page of the Globe-Democrat, won his spurs at The Republic. Like Dimmock, he came from the literary atmosphere of Alton, where he had edited a paper and had been The Republic’s suburban correspondent. To Fitzmaurice there is good humor in everything. As a boy he saw the lights of local politics in Cincinnati, where his father was a man of active influence, a member of the Ohio Legislature. Fitzmaurice was an editorial writer on The Republic for several years, but the work which made him famous as a newspaper writer was his correspondence on the opening of Oklahoma and on other notable events in the Southwest.
It is a singular fact that editorial strength for three other St. Louis newspapers was supplied from The Republic. George S. Johns, the editor of The Post-Dispatch, went from The Republic. When John Schroers and Edward L. Preetorius started The St. Louis Times they drew on The Republic for their chief editorial writer – Homer Bassford.
A native product of St. Louis and a graduate of The Republic school of journalism who has won a national position, is Dent G. Robert, at the head of the San Francisco Examiner. Robert Morris Yost, the Los Angeles editor, was at one time City editor of The Republic; so also was Major J. Lowenstein, now a newspaper manager in New York City. Joseph A. Graham, now a managing editor in Philadelphia, held the same position on The Republic for ten years following the retirement of Charles H. Jones.
When The Republic calls the long role of its alumni, William Marion Reedy looms in the front rank. He was “Billy,” the kid of The Republic local force – a slender, laughing-eyed Irish lad. The newspaper life lured him early. It taught him. Reedy’s lessons were the local assignments. His professors were O’Neil and Howell. His standard of literary expression was Dimmock. The president of his college was William Hyde.
W.F. Saunders, the secretary and manager of the Business Men’s League, was a Republic reporter twenty-odd years ago.
Old newspaper men recall vividly the day when first the skirts of the newspaper women swept the bare floor of the city editor’s room. It was a great innovation that introduced into the profession the refining influence of women. It seemed to mean that the staff must learn to sustain the physical effort of writing without shedding coats. From the day the pen women entered the newspaper field the old order of things was changed. Co-editing or co-reporting, call it what you will, the newspaper woman set the pace in many kinds of newspaper work. She did not like to write about crime, sociologically. If she was sent to report a trial, she told how the defendant was dressed, what mannerisms distinguished the learned counsel. She passed by the evidence as of little, or at least minor, consequence, but she wrote what people liked to read, and they asked for more.
The newspaper woman in St. Louis made her debut through The St. Louis Republic. Her name was Mrs. Inez Stone. Her work was not confined to society news. She was ready to undertake any assignment. She was the pioneer of two score, or more, of newspaper women who have added materially to the credit of St. Louis journalism. There were women who did literary work, who were occasional contributors, before Mrs. Stone, but she was the first woman reporter and she was a good one.
The St. Louis Republic was among the first newspapers in the country to make a feature of illustrations. It was the first St. Louis newspaper to use half-tome cuts. Four men who have made reputations in art or authorship graduated from The Republic’s art department. They were but little more than beginners when they became members of The Republic staff. H.R.H. Heaton, who went from St. Louis to Chicago, was one of the talented quartet. Paul Connoyer, the widely known artist, was another. Augustus Thomas, the playwright, was the third member. A. Russell, whose striking color pictures make the front page feature of the Globe-Democrat Magazine section, was longer, perhaps, with The Republic than Heaton, Connoyer or Thomas.
The St. Louis Republic closes the century with the largest staff in its history. In the division into departments, in the distribution of duties, is shown the evolution of metropolitan journalism. The present staff is given herewith:
President and Editor – Charles W. Knapp.
Editorial Writers – W.V. Byers and J.R. Truehart.
General Manager – Henry N. Cary.
Business Manager – Walter B. Carr.
Advertising Manager – Fred C. Yates.
Foreign Advertising Representatives – I.S. Wallis, Chicago. Wallace G. Brooke, New York. Milt Barrons, Kansas City.
Chief Accountant – W.O. Sommerfield.
Circulation Manager, Daily and Sunday Editions – E.R. Sterbens.
Circulation Manager, Twice-a-Week Republic and Farm Progress – Charles R. Ketchum.
Managing Editor – Daniel J. McAuliffe.
Night Editor – Henry F. Woods.
Telegraph Editor – Harry N. Norman.
City Editor – William V. Brumby.
Night City Editor – Henry F. Woods.
Financial and Railroad Editor – Joseph N. Fining.
Commercial Editor – J. Vion Papin.
Society Editor – Miss Harriet E. Pullis.
Real Estate and Insurance Editor – J.E. Tiedeman.
Copy Editors – C.G. Ross, Robert Clark, Jr., J.C. La Hines, J.L. Edwards, Homer T. Ashbaugh, M.E. Cubbon and L.K. Weber.
Reporters – William F. Smith, T.J. Masterson, Sam Hellman, Burr Price, R.W. Denny, Frank Cleary, W.E. Babb, John N. Beffel, Ida B. Cole, Kathryn Heard, Charles Franks, A.W. Jones, Jr., John D. McAdams, June M. Rhoades, J.W. Cassidy, C.H. Spillman, S.X. Weldner, H.E. Stephens, F.D. Fogle, B.J. Reilly and P.M. Powers.
Staff Correspondent – W.J. Cochran.
Bureaus – D. Hastings MacAdam, chief; F.W. Steckman, assistant, at Washington. John P. Regan, chief, at New York. Charles B. Oldham, chief, at Jefferson City.
Special Features Department – Roslyn D. Whytock, T.O. Warfield.
Sport Department – J.B. Sheridan, E.V. Parrish, R.J. Collins.
Dramatic Editor – Alfred Head.
Editor Twice-a-Week Republic – W.G. Hutton.
Art Department – G.T. Coleman, manager; H.E. Ramsey, E. McBride, Paul Van Tuyl, John Steck.
Staff Photographers – A.A. Coult, George Steck.
Foreman of Photo-Engraving Department – Clyde Neveling.
Foreman Composing Room – Henry Boecke.Number of men, seventy.
Foreman of Pressroom – Charles Schall. Number of men, including stereotypers, 31.
Superintendent of Mechanical Department – Oscar Boecke.
Foreman Mailroom – C.J. Stroh, Number of men employed: Regulars, fifteen; Saturday extras, twenty.
The History of the St. Louis Republic (Pt. 1)
By William Barlow Stevens
A newspaper’s centennial!
One hundred years of journalism, continuous from the first inspiration!
“The vestal fire” Joseph Charless called the Press. He started a tiny flame which flickered in St. Louis on the 12th of July, 1808. Through the century the fire has burned with not one lapse, but with growing strength, with increasing brightness.
“The most pure hands officiating for the whole community should be incessantly employed in keeping it alive,” Joseph Charless wrote, having in mind still his simile of the vestal fire for the Press.
Down the generations, bearing successfully the names of the Missouri Gazette, The Louisiana Gazette, the Missouri Gazette again, The Missouri Republican, The St. Louis Republican, The St. Louis Republic, has come this first newspaper of St. Louis, completing the record of a hundred years of clean-handed journalism.
In the record stand out, like marking monuments, the personalities of Joseph Charless, Edward Charless, Nathaniel Paschall, A.B. Chambers, George Knapp and John Knapp. Almost without radical change of ownership the paper has lived a century. Today possession and conduct are in the hands of descendants of the men who gave their lives to the paper.
Newspapers have come and newspapers have gone – two scores of them – in St. Louis. Some of them were started with much money and with powerful influences to encourage them. They passed into oblivion. This paper, founded by a printer without means, but with ideals, kept alive and developed by men who had been apprentices in its office, reaches the close of its century with a constituency such as few other newspapers in this country can claim. It had stamina.
Money and brains alone cannot make the enduring newspaper. The saving grace, in the vocation as in the man, is moral fiber.
The St. Louis Republic’s century is evidence that a newspaper is more than a commercial proposition. It goes to show that journalism is not to advocate one man’s purposes, not to serve one corporation’s ends, not to be one party’s mouthpiece. The St. Louis Republic has thrived one hundred years because it existed for the good of a community, of a State, of a nation. Undoubtedly it was not always right. To err is as journalistic as it is human. But the motive was good always. The ideal was kept in view as clearly as the light would permit. The effort was well-meant. The expression was sincere.
Three foreign wars, one civil war, two fires, tried the souls of the men who kept the faith of this newspaper. No one personality so dominated the others that when he dropped out the course became erratic. No straddling or wabbling policy marred the editorial page when great issues confronted. The Gazette was for Republicanism – Democratic Republicanism – as Thomas Jefferson defined it. The Missouri Republican stood four-square on Whig principles. It denounced Know-nothingism when Whigs wandered away on that heresy. It supported Democratic doctrine until the parting of the ways came on State Sovereignty, and then it was pronounced against Secession.
The Republic has been, from its beginning, for the settlement, for the town, for the city. It has sustained local government when correct. It has scourged wrong-doing in public officials. It has been consistently for good morals. It is one hundred years old because it deserved to be.
First Quarter – 1808-1833
Joseph Charless Founds Paper – First Issue on Sheet Size of Foolscap – Name Changed to Republican in 1822
In the north room of the Robidoux house, on the 12th of July, 1808, journalism in St. Louis was born. The lever of the old Ramage screw press was pulled, a dampened sheet of paper, only so large as a page of foolscap, was lifted off the type form and held up. The
had come into existence. The beginning was modest. From Lexington, Ky., Mr. Charless brought a limited outfit of a pioneering printing establishment. At Louisville he secured a printer, Jacob Hinkle. He drifted down the Ohio in a keelboat. He was hauled by the cordelle up the Mississippi to St. Louis. The settlement – it had as yet not so much as a town organization – was filling with newcomers from the States. In a single room of a house of posts, built years before by one of the early fur traders, the copy was written, the type was set and the paper was run off.
Joseph Charless was a man of moral and mental force. He had newspaper ideals. The first St. Louis newspaper was born with a character and never lost it.
After twelve years of strenuous editorial life, Joseph Charless sold the Gazette to James Cummins. Eighteen months thereafter, Edward Charless, the son of Joseph, the founder, bought the paper from Cummins. Successively men brought up in its atmosphere, trained in its traditions, have managed and edited the paper. Down through the generations The Republic has come to its present estate with a character. It developed distinctive qualities which gave it enduring quality in periods when the mortality of St. Louis newspaper interprises (sic) was great.
“A newspaper,” wrote Horace White, “which merely inks over a certain amount of white paper each day may be a good collector of news, it may be successful as a business venture, but it can leave no mark upon its time and can have no history.”
The Republic has left its mark continuously in this community. It has a history which cannot be separated from the history of St. Louis.
When the paper was fifty years old, Edwards, the historian, wrote of it:
“The Republican, in the various gradations of its advance, is as sure an index of the growth of St. Louis as is a mathematical calculation.”
A few weeks before the first issue of the Missouri Gazette Mr. Charless passed around a prospectus for the signatures of those who were willing to subscribe. Pierre Chouteau, then a young man just beginning a wonderful career which made him a national character, received a copy of the prospectus. It was a habit of Mr. Chouteau to preserve everything in print or in writing in which he was interested. He carefully put away this prospectus among his papers, where it was found nearly a century afterwards by his grandson and namesake, the Pierre Chouteau of this generation. Printed on good paper, with lettering as distinct as on the day it was sent out from the old Robidoux house to the people of St. Louis in the early summer of 1808, the prospectus was reproduced in fac simile as a feature of the centennial issue of The St. Louis Republic.
Joseph Charless brought from Kentucky the suggestion of the name he bestowed upon his paper. He had worked on the Lexington Gazette at Lexington. There was a brief period in which the acquired Province was divided into two territories by Congress and called Orleans and Louisiana. St. Louis was in Louisiana. Mr. Charless, in 1809, changed the name of the paper to Louisiana Gazette. When Congress created the Missouri Territory, the paper, in 1812, became again The Missouri Gazette. In 1822 Edward Charless changed the name to the Missouri Republican. He wanted to emphasize the paper’s devotion to Jeffersonian principles.
The Republicanism of The Missouri Republican of the [eighteen] twenties was the national Republicanism of that period – not the Republican party principles of today. Joseph Charless came well by his Jeffersonian Republicanism. He risked his neck for the principles in Ireland in 1795, when he was 23 years old. When he went to work in a Philadelphia printing office his fellow compositors did not pronounce his name with the proper Hibernian quota of syllables, and therefore he added the extra “s,” making the name which had been “Charles” in Ireland, “Charless” in America. As a printer, Joseph Charless set type for the first quarto edition of the Bible in this country. He married a widow, Mrs. Sarah McCloud, a devout woman, who was active in the organization of the first Presbyterian Church of St. Louis. Of the twelve years of his life in the United States before he came to St. Louis to start the first newspaper here, Joseph Charless passed six in Kentucky. To his mind his adopted country was the Republic, not a confederated group of States. And so, when he came to declare, in a prospectus, the principles The Missouri Gazette would advocate, he said:
“To extinguish party animosities and foster a cordial union among the people on the basis of toleration and equal government; to impress upon the mind that next to love of God the love of our country should be paramount in the human breast; to advocate that cause which placed Jefferson at the head of the magistracy, and, in tine (sic), to infuse and keep alive those principles which the test of experience has so evidently portrayed the merits – to these ends shall the labors of The Gazette be directed.”
The editors of papers on the Atlantic Coast were not of one mind about the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson’s acquisition of Louisiana. Some of them were very pessimistic. In Boston, the journalistic criticism was espeially (sic) harsh. Before he had been publishing The Gazette a year, Joseph Charless was thundering back at these seaboard scoffers with such editorials as this:
“Big Swamp of Louisiana! What citizen is there, who is in the smallest degree alive to the prosperity of our happy country, who does not feel indignant at the gross falsehoods and ignorant philippics published against the Jefferson administration concerning the purchase of Louisiana? We would recommend these incendiary editors to the study of geography, and they will discover that Louisiana possesses a soil equal to any other State or Territory in the Union. Rich in minerals, numerous navigable rivers and many other advantages place this desirable country far above the calumny of the miserable scribblers. Give us industrious planters and in a short period Louisiana will become the bright star in the Federal constellation.”
The Louisiana of which Charless wrote was not the Louisiana of today. The lower part of the territory acquired from France was called Orleans at that time. The Louisiana of 1805-12 was that which is now Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado and the Dakotas.
When The Gazette was one year old Mr. Charless printed this explanatory assurance:
“He regrets that his paper, under the untoward circumstances under which he labored for the first year, did not come up to his calculations, and perhaps to the expectations of his patrons, but now, having disposed of his office in Lexington, Ky., and brought his family to St. Louis, together with a supply of good paper, trusts that he will henceforth meet the expectations of his friends,”
The first year was a trying one. When Mr. Charless in the early days of July, 1808, looked about the town for paper on which to print his initial issue to 170 subscribers, all he could find was of legal cap size. And so No. 1, Vol. 1, Missouri Gazette, made its appearance on paper twelve inches long by about eight inches wide.
The Gazette appeared in two languages. This was in accordance with the assurance given in the prospectus. That the paper might reach the whole community, Mr. Charless printed news and advertising in French as well as English.
When the Gazette had been running three years, the publisher found his list of delinquents required attention. He printed conspicuously and with italic emphasis on “word of honor” this note:
“Mr. Charless calls upon those of his subscribers who gave their notes or word of honor to pay in flour or corn to bring it in directly. Others who promised to pay in beef or pork, to deliver it as soon as possible, or their accounts will be placed in the magistrate’s hands.”
Indians were among the visitors to the office of the Missouri Gazette. With dignified politeness Mr. Charless would hand to each Indian a newspaper. The Indian received the paper and examined it with as much attention as if he could read and was interested. If there was a white man in The Gazette office reading, the Indians would imitate him, turning the page when he turned it. John Bradbury, the scientist, was one of Mr. Charless’ visitors while he was in St. Louis, between his expeditions into the surrounding country. When he went up the Missouri as the guest of Manuel Lisa, Bradbury was surprised to have two of the Omaha Indians approach and offer to shake hands with him, claiming to have met him in St. Louis. Bradbury had not the slightest recollection of the two Indians. The Indians pointed down the river toward St. Louis, took up a buffalo robe, held it before their faces and then turned the corner and looked at the other side. They imitates the action of a person reading a newspaper so well that Bradbury realized at once they had been visitors to The Gazette office and had seen him there.
The local column of The Gazette on the 14th of June, 1809, contained this item from the Illinois side of the river:
“Some straggling Ioway Indians have been infesting the country on the other side, between Cahokia and Wood River for several weeks, stealing pigs, etc., crawling on all fours and imitating the notes of the mudlark. One poor devil, being more successful than the rest in his imitations, and being obscured by the bushes, was fired upon and killed. This has put a stop for the present to their depredations.”
A few months after the establishment of The Gazette the following appeared:
“Doctor Saugrain gives notice of the first vaccine matter brought to St. Louis. Indigent persons vaccinated gratuitously.”
Nothing in the newspaper business of those days was quite so provoking as the nonarrival of the mails from the East. Here is one of Mr. Charless’ scorchers on the Postmasters of 1813:
“No news!!! We are tantalized with a defalcation in the mail department; the weather is too warm for these tender gentry to travel, and the Postmasters are too good-natured to tell tales at Washington. How the Shawneetown Postmaster can get over his oath is not an easy task to tell – for he swears he will faithfully perform his duties. The Post-Office law says he must employ a rider in case of failure in those who have the contract.”
To the upbuilding of St. Louis, Joseph Charless devoted The Gazette from its beginning. In July, 1816, he made this editorial appeal to his readers:
“In the year 1795 I first passed down the Ohio to the Falls, where a few stores and taverns constituted Louisville, a town. Cincinnati was a village and the residence of the soldiers that defended the Northwest Territory. The country between, to Pittsburg, a wilderness, the haunt of the savages. See it now in 1816; both banks of the Ohio sprinkled with farms, villages and towns, some with a population of 5,000 or more, with banks, steam mills and manufactories of leather, wool, cotton and flax, various metals; schools and seminaries and teachers in every village. The above is noticed as a contract to the opulent town of St. Louis, with a capital of $1,000,000. It has but few manufactories, no respectable seminaries, no place of worship for dissenters, no public edifices, no steam mills, no banks. Mr. Philipson has just established a brewery; Mr. Wilk a white and red lead factory; Mr. Hunt a tanning establishment, and lastly, Mr. Henderson’s soap and candle factory would be of great utility had it received the patronage that it so richly merits. Machinery of every description is needed here, and particularly a man of capital to erect a mill. He would soon realize a fortune. At least 5,000 barrels of whiskey are annually received from the Ohio and sold at 75 cents a gallon, while thousands of bushels of grain are offered at a very low price to any man who will establish a distillery.
“Private character is one of the possessions of civil society which should be held sacred,” Mr. Charless declared in his prospectus. “To follow a man into the circle of private life would be a very unfair and licentious act – therefore, the editor will invariably exclude any and every piece which might lead to disturb our public officers in the honest discharge of their duty or in the peaceful walk of the private citizen.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Charless did not shun wholly personal journalism. He became involved in a controversy with Major Berry. The latter couldn’t get satisfaction in the columns of The Gazette. There was no opposition paper. Major Berry resorted to distribution of a hand bill to set himself right. The hand bill is lost to history. The file of the Missouri Gazette preserves for posterity the editor’s side of the case. That there might be no mistake about the responsibility, Mr. Charless signed his editorial which was as follows:
“In a hand bill published by Major Berry, on Tuesday last, I have been severely censured, and charged with making ‘fallacious and disrespectful remarks’ in publishing an account of his mission to Rock River. The who may have read the last Gazette, and his handbill, will acquit me of fallacy; ‘tis true I did not give his report in full, because I always give preference to merit in the selections for my paper. On the charge of disrespect, I must plead want of information, for until the Major informed me that he ranked as a Major on the line, and was a Deputy Quartermaster General, I was ignorant of the matter. But should my pen of press be employed in recording any of his achievements in future, I will announce him. Major Taylor Berry, Deputy Quartermaster General.
The frank comments of Mr. Charless in The Gazette upon persons and acts gave offense in several directions. In the winter of 1815 a committee of citizens called upon the publisher to tell him another paper would be started if he persisted in a course which was deemed prejudicial to the interests of St. Louis. Mr. Charless was not only defiant in the interview, but he printed his own version of it. He said the gentlemen had notified him “of their subscription of $1,000 to start a new paper, and buy a printer of their own to conduct it as they should dictate.”
The action had followed a personal attack upon Mr. Charless about a year earlier. The editor had defended himself with a stick – some said it was “a shooting stick,” familiar in those days of hand composition and flat forms.
The group of citizens who disapproved The Gazette’s course bought press and type and imported a printer. The new venture was called The Western Journal. After trying two or three names the opposition settled on The St. Louis Inquirer. Thomas H. Benton took the editorship. That was before he had been elected a United States Senator.
The affair with Congressman John Scott was a newspaper sensation which continued some weeks in St. Louis. The Gazette printed several articles on Scott, who denounced them and demanded the name of the author. Threats were made, to which Mr. Charless replied:
“I may be threatened, but I will continue an independent course. If I am attacked for exercising the honest duties of my profession, I know how to repel injury.”
That was in 1816. Mr. Charless at length gave Mr. Scott the names of the writers of the articles. There were five highly respectable citizens involved. Scott challenged each of them. One of the challenged was Rufus Easton, who replied to the challenge:
I do not want to kill you, and if you were to kill me I would die as the fool dieth.”
No one of the five challenged met Mr. Scott on Bloody Island.
When the fatal duel between Benton and Lucas took place this comment on the result appeared in The Gazette:
“The infernal practice of dueling has taken off this morning one of the first characters in our country, Charles Lucas, Esq., attorney-at-law. His death has left a blank in society not easily filled up.”
At one time Mr. Charless was threatened with incendiatism, as the result of some vigorous editorials in The Gazette. Apparently as a result of the rumors that the editor was to be burned out, in 1819 The Gazette published this paragraph:
“D. Kimball requests the incendiaries of St. Louis to defer burning Mr. Charless’s establishment until his removal, which will be on the 20th of April next.”
While walking in his garden, Mr. Charless was fired upon. but was not hit.
The editor of The Gazette carried on the paper largely as a matter of public spirit and from love of the business. He depended, in large part, upon other sources for livelihood. The following appeared in The Gazette in 1810:
“Joseph Charless informs his friends that he receives boarders by the day, week or month. Travelers can be accommodated with as good fare as the town affords on moderate terms. Stabling for eight or ten horses. Subscribers to the paper are requested to pay up. Pork and flour received.”
Somewhat later the following notice appeared in The Gazette:
Joseph Charless will give out one bit a pound for old copper and brass and take it at that price for debts due the printer.”
Still later, in 1815, the following announcement was made:
“Joseph Charless, at the instance of a number of friends in Kentucky and Ohio, intending to remove to Missouri and Illinois Territories, has opened books for the registry and sale of lands, town lots and slaves. Every exertion will be made to render the institution worthy of patronage.”
In September, 1820, after twelve years of strenuous editorial life in St. Louis, Charles sold The Gazette to James C. Cummins, a recent arrival from Pittsburg. The valedictory of Colonel Charless reviewed the paper’s career.
“The paper was established when the population of the whole Territory, now the State, numbered 12,000 inhabitants; it had been ceded but four years. The original subscription was 170 (now increased to 1,000) and the advertising list small; my means were limited and the establishment supported with difficulty, but by perseverance in a straightforward course, assisted by kind friends and patrons, he is gratified to know that he transfers it to his successor in a prosperous and successful condition, and returns his grateful acknowledgements.”
An experience eighteen months later satisfied Cummins. Edward Charless, the oldest son of the founder, bought out Cummins and changed the name of the paper, in the spring of 1822, to The Missouri Republican.
In 1822 The Gazette attainted the dignity of an editor who did not have to concern himself with the business end of the paper. Joseph Spalding, of Connecticut birth, after graduating from Yale and tutoring at Columbia, came to St. Louis to engage in the practice of law. St. Louis had at the time more lawyers than litigants. Spalding became editor of The Gazette. Thomas H. Benton and his political associates were denounced as “vile excrescences on the community.”
In the first quarter of its century The Republican scored many successes, but the beat of the 15th of December, 1829, was the one most talked about. That day the paper astonished the city and overwhelmed its competitor by printing Andrew Jackson’s first message to Congress. It was enabled to do this, as was explained editorially, “through the unexampled exertion” of the mail contractors. The message had been conveyed from Washington to Cincinnati in fifty hours, and from Louisville to this place in forty-eight hours. The satisfaction of Edward Charless and Nathaniel Paschall over this scoop was not lessened by the fact that it was at the expense of Senator Thomas H. Benton and his organ, The Inquirer.
Two men who were to become impressive personalities in St. Louis journalism began as apprentice boys under the Charlesses. Nathaniel Paschall was a boy of twelve from Knoxville, Tenn., when the elder Charless took him into The Gazette office in 1812. He was regularly indentured a bound boy, as the apprentice was called in those days. Joseph Charless took an interest in the training of the apprentice, feeling that the youth was destined for something more than typesetting. Nathaniel Paschall was sent out to gather items of news. He wrote editorials. Edward Charless encouraged Paschall to remain with the paper when he bought it, and in 1828 took him into partnership and made him the editor.
In 1827 the other apprentice who was to become a striking figure in the newspaper making of St. Louis entered The Republican office. He was George Knapp. The family had come from Orange County, New York, seven years previously. The boy had been under the guardianship of Elihu H. Shepard, the schoolmaster of sterling traits to two generations of St. Louis lads. George Knapp’s beginning into his vocation was the delivery of the paper to subscribers. In the eight years of learning the trade he did everything from taking the proofs to making up the forms. As Nathaniel Paschall had developed the news-handling and the editorial-writing capacity, so George Knapp became an expert in the mechanical and business departments of the newspaper. At 20 years George Knapp graduated from apprenticeship and was given, instead of a diploma, “a Bible and a new suit of clothes.” He had become too valuable to the paper to be allowed to leave the office. Moreover, there had grown up a strong liking between the apprentice editor and the apprentice publisher. George Knapp was employed at a salary of $10 a week. In two years (1834) he was given an interest in the book and job department of the paper.
The first twenty-five years of the Republic’s century established the paper firmly with a character of its own and educated from 12-year-old apprentices the two men who during the half-century following were to make it a great moral and material force.
SECOND QUARTER – 1833-1858
A.B. Chambers Becomes Associated With The Republican – Nathaniel Paschall and George Knapp Also in Firm
Edward Charless and Nathaniel Paschall edited and published The Missouri Republican until 1837. Then two Pike County newspaper men, who had been successful at Bowling Green, came to St. Louis, seeking a larger field. They were A.B. Chambers and Oliver Harris. Their Pike County experience had been The Salt River Journal. Chambers and Harris formed a partnership with George Knapp and bought the paper of Charless and Paschall. Harris dropped out in 1839. Paschall, when he retired from the paper in 1837, believed he had acquired a competency. Unfortunate business relations reduced his estate. After a few years’ retirement Paschall came back to editorial duties as assistant to Chambers. The three men, Knapp, Chambers and Paschall made a strong team.
A.B. Chambers was an older man that Nathaniel Paschoff or George Knapp at the time he was associated with them. He headed the firm and was the responsible editor during a period of twenty years. He came to have great respect for the judgment of both Paschall and Knapp, and was guided often by their views.
Mr. Chambers was of Pennsylvania birth. He had 75 cents – “six bits” – to use the vernacular of the day – when at the age of 21 years he reached Pike County. He had studied law, but before he could practice in Missouri he must take out a license. To obtain a license, it was necessary for him to attend court, which sat at Fayette, in Howard County. One Pike County friend loaned Mr. Chambers a horse. Another advanced the money required for subsistence on the trip and at Fayette. Mr. Chambers made rapid headway. He became a Pike County leader among strong characters. He served in the Black Hawk War. He introduced good stock into Pike County. He was elected to the Legislature. He established a newspaper at Bowling Green. He did all these things in eight years. The he came to St. Louis and with George Knapp and Oliver Harris boldly entered the newspaper field where Charless and Paschall had already made a success of The Republican.
The people of St. Louis had an opportunity to recognize what kind of man A.B. Chambers was when, as a member of the Board of Health, he did duty without flinching in the terrifying cholera epidemic.
Tom Benton, whom the proprietors of The Republican, whether Charless and Paschall or Chambers, Knight and Pascahall, consistently fought, once began a speech something like this:
“A, B, C are not the whole alphabet and A.B. Chambers does not know everything.” This was a concession that the man whose initials stood for the foundation of knowledge did know a great deal. Chambers and Paschall were editors of a wide range of information.
The firm of Chambers, Harris & Knapp showed public spirit and business enterprise from the first. Before these newspapermen had been in possession of The Missouri Republican a year they opened what they called “The Exchange Room.” This was an exchange room in the public sense, not the newspaper sense. The purpose was to supply a gathering place for the business men of St. Louis. The Republican office was on Main street near Pine, then the commercial center of the city. Business men were made welcome in the Exchange Room.
Another feature of the Charless, Harris & Knapp police was “The News Room.” This was established by the new proprietors of the paper about the same time that they brought the Exchange Room into public notice and use. The News Room was for the benefit of subscribers to the paper and out-of-town visitors. It was a reading room. Here the papers received by The Republican were available to those who desired to see them. Both the Exchange Room, which was for conversation and business conference, and the News Room, which was for reading, became at once popular institutions of St. Louis. The city at that time had no institution which supplied such conveniences.
A few months before the proprietors of The Republican opened these rooms, twenty-five of the younger business men had organized the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, with Edward Tracy as president. This was the beginning of the Merchants’ Exchange of today, the oldest organization of its kind in the country. The Chamber of Commerce, as formed in 1837, met once a month and considered subjects suggested by the business interests of St. Louis. The original meeting place was the office of the Missouri Insurance Company. The Exchange Room of The Missouri Republican was offered to the Chamber of Commerce for its sessions, and was accepted. The enterprise of the newspaper management was warmly commended. The Exchange Room was much frequented, being open to the public, except when the Chamber of Commerce was in session. Thirty-five years later George Knapp took up and carried through the movement which gave St. Louis the present $2,000,000 Chamber of Commerce.
In 1840 The Missouri Republican supported Old Tippecanoe – William Henry Harrison. It did so with such effectiveness and zeal that in the midst of that Hard Cider campaign an emblem, a symbol as it were, was bestowed upon the paper by the admiring Whigs. The Republican was called “The Old Coon.” The name was accepted promptly. The emblem, a metallic figure of a coon couchant, was hoisted high above the building. Perched over the towering smokestack the coon was visible from all parts of the city. Thirty years afterwards people coming up from the boats and ferry landings – for there was no bridge at that time – saw still on duty above The Republican building the coon couchant. The emblem had survived two disastrous fires. When the paper was moved to Third and Chestnut streets, occupying a new building which ranked with the best architecture of the city in its day, the coon found a place in the iron arch of the main entrance. The figure was also carried above the building. Through two quarters of The Missouri Republican’s century the device was proudly acknowledged.
Getting the message of the President of the United States before competitors was the occasional test of newspaper enterprise in the first half century of The Republican. In December, 1844, President Tyler’s message was printed seven days after delivery. It reached Cincinnati by special express three days out from Washington and was put into type there. Copies were sent to Louisville by steamboat. From Louisville the precious document was brought by stage coach express to St. Louis, arriving on the sixth day after delivery in Washington.
The printing of President Polk’s message of 1846 by The Missouri Republican broke the record again. The message reached St. Louis in four days. The next year, 1847, The Republican knocked a day off the record and printed the message in three days after delivery. For the first time the telegraph was used in partial transmission. The copy of the message was carried by express from Washington to Philadelphia, thence was wired to Vincennes, Ind. From there it was brought to St. Louis by special arrangement with Eastman’s line of stages. “The most magnificent enterprise of the age,” this newspaper feat was called. The message, immediately on its receipt in St. Louis, was printed as an extra of The Missouri Republican, and was mailed to all parts of Missouri and Illinois.
On the 20th of September, 1836, The Republican became a daily paper, with six issues a week. In 1837 The Republican advertised for a city editor and began to run regularly a local department, distinct from editorial expressions. That was an innovation. One of the first things the local editor did was to publish an elaborate account of the races which were going on at the St. Louis track.
In September, 1848, The Republican startled the conservative elements of the city by publishing a Sunday paper. A protest was promptly circulated for signatures. It expressed regret “that a journal of such deservedly high standing should lend its influence, not by arguments but by something far more powerful, its example, against the proper keeping of that holy day.” The editors replied courteously, expressing their appreciation of the interest taken by the subscribers to the protest, but declined to recede from the publication of a Sunday issue.
The sensible attitude of the Missouri Republican upon Sunday observance was well illustrated by the editorial course it pursued when the question was before the community in two distinct forms. Mayor O.D. Filley was elected by the Free Soil party at a time when The Republican was the leading Democratic paper in the city. In August, 1859, the people of St. Louis voted 7,544 to 5,543 against the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday. The Republican, commenting on the result, said:
“The triumphant vote by which the people of St. Louis declared their opposition to the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday is a matter of sincere congratulation to all our citizens. It was not a party vote; it had nothing to do with party, but was the free declaration of mind by all parties and nationalities against the excesses which have been superinduced by a special law of the Legislature passed two years ago in effect giving unlimited license in the absence of a proper police to these houses being kept open on Sunday. *** Not only the beer gardens in the suburbs, to which men retire as a place of pleasure and relaxation on Sunday, but all the beer saloons and dancehouses and five or six theaters have been opened on Sunday night on every prominent street in the city. This is the evil that is mainly complained about by our citizens.”
In defiance of the vote against the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday, a Common Council on August 9, 1859, passed an ordinance legalizing and keeping open saloons on Sunday until 9 o’clock in the morning and after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The Missouri Republican, commenting editorially on this action, said:
“When it is considered that it is scarcely a week since the people of this city by a majority of 2,000 votes declared their opposition to the very practice which this law seeks to justify and to carry out the effrontery of the Council may well be the subject of special wonder.”
The Whig party in St. Louis went to pieces and the Native American idea became popular about 1846. A Sunday law was passed by the Common Council. The city government was under control of the Native American party. The new law prohibited the running of the omnibuses “on Sunday after the hour of 2 o’clock in the afternoon for the purpose of carrying passengers from point to point.” This ordinance applied to any “omnibus or vehicle capable of containing more than four persons.”
Although the Native American party included a great many Whigs, and although The Republican had been the leading Whig paper, this Sunday ordinance upon omnibus services was denounced editorially. The Republican said:
“The above is a fair specimen of the legislation of the Native American City Council. The distinction drawn between the morning and the evening of Sunday, making an act lawful if done before 2 p.m. and unlawful if done after that hour, the distinction between carriages that hold four and those that will hold five persons, the allowing the rich and prodigal who can own or hire a carriage an unbounded latitude to ride and drive through the streets at all hours, while the laboring and less prodigal must not enjoy a ride, although it only costs a dime, is worthy of the enlightened age and spirit of the board that can sanction it.”
The fire of May 18, 1849, swept fifteen blocks of houses in the business portion of the city and twenty-three steamboats. The loss was in the millions of dollars. The recovery of the city and The Missouri Republican from this disaster was characteristic of the vitality of both. On the ruins of the business district arose more costly and splendid buildings. In a short time the blocks were entirely rebuilt with structures far better than those destroyed.
The Missouri Republican suffered in loss of type, presses and other portions of the plant. The blow was a heavy one, and yet within less than two years, The Missouri Republican was established in a new six-story building. It was also increased to a sheet measuring 31½ inches in width by 52 inches in length.
From 1856, when it supported Buchanan for President, The Missouri Republican was a democratic newspaper. It reserved the right to criticize candidates and platforms, and it exercised that right. From the same year, when it supported Fremont, The Missouri Democrat, predecessor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, was a Republican newspaper. Neither of these great papers was a party organ, but consistently supported, in the main, the measures of the respective parties. Probably the names of no two newspapers in the country have been so extensively commented upon as the Missouri Republican and The Missouri Democrat were in the years when they represented the parties of opposite political faith. When the late John Hay visited the World’s Fair at St. Louis in 1904 he told a Lincoln story on the names of the two St. Louis newspapers as they were in Lincoln’s time. Lincoln said to Mr. Hat, during the campaign before the Civil War, That the Missouri Republican and The Missouri Democrat reminded him of a desperate fight he once witnessed in the Courthouse yard at Springfield. Two men engaged in a rough-and-tumble bout. They clinched and struggled and rolled and tumbled all over the Courthouse yard, Lincoln said. It was such an evenly matched fight that the circle of bystanders could not tell which man was getting the worst of it. Finally the combatants separated when both were completely worn out. The spectators looked them over carefully and tried to determine which one had won the honors. They were unable to decide, but they did make an astonishing discovery that each combatant had on the other’s coat, but was wholly unhurt.
The first two years Joseph Charless ran The Gazette in the old Robidoux house, the entire cost of publication was $20 a week. That included Jacob Hinkle’s stipend. About the end of the second quarter of the newspaper’s century, Hinkle made a visit to St. Louis, coming from his home in Indiana. He found The Republican occupying the six-story building, with a weekly expense account of $4,000 and a payroll of nearly 200 names. That was fifty years ago.
When The Republican celebrated its semi-centennial Mr. Paschall had a staff of nine. Some years later a St. Louis editor walked about the brain department of his paper, reading the signs above the desks. “I see,” he commented, “we have a city editor, a society editor, a sporting editor, a river editor, a night editor, exchange editor, a railroad editor and several other editors. Where are the reporters?”
It was not so before the Civil War. Mr. Paschall had an associate editor, a commercial editor, a monetary editor, a river reporter, several local reporters, one stenographer and two assistants.
The paper had its special correspondents in London, New York, Springfield, Ill., Independence, Mo., and San Francisco. It was the outfitting point for the Santa Fe Trail.
Nathaniel Paschall’s active connection with The Republican was forty-five years. In the fifty-seven years of his association with the paper George Knapp had a proprietary interest during forty-nine of them. John Knapp was in charge of the publication office more than thirty years.
Neither George Knapp nor Nathaniel Paschall supplied that attention to business detail which is essential to success in a metropolitan newspaper. John Knapp came in as a partner in 1854, after the death of Mr. Chambers. He bought a considerable interest for cash and was the publisher.
The association of the brothers Knapp in the management extended over a continuous period of twenty-nine years. It was a more intimate association than is often the case even with brothers, and the paper took distinctive impress from the marked personality of each, both being men of strong character and positive convictions. The firm as reorganized, was “George Knapp & Com,” and that remains the corporate title under which business is now conducted, fifty-three years later.
With two years after John Knapp took charge of the business office the paper was making money at a rate that astonished George Knapp and Nathaniel Paschall, the other partners. The circulation was greatly increased. The advertising patronage was doubled.
The first inclination of Mrs. Chambers, after the death of her husband in 1854, was to retain a one-fourth interest in the paper. After a few months she decided that she preferred to sell that interest. George Knapp bought Mrs. Chambers’s interest and held the paper in trust until the partnership was arranged in such a manner that George Knapp, John Knapp and Nathaniel Paschall each held one-third interest.
Then it was that the paper attained blanket-sheet proportions, larger than any other paper west of the Alleghenies, and larger than any of the Eastern papers, with two exceptions. To the national political influence was added the phenomenal business prosperity of the paper.
How carefully Nathaniel Paschall edited The Republican was illustrated when William Hyde , the city editor, brought in his account of the funeral of Thomas H. Benton in the spring of 1858. The obsequies were attended by an immense number of people. Inspired by the occasion, Mr. Hyde used some adjectives. He wrote of the ex-senator as “eminent.” Mr. Paschall ran his pencil through “eminent” and interlined “distinguished.” Some time afterwards Mr. Hyde asked Mr. Paschall why he made the change. The editor replied:
“Benton was a distinguished, a conspicuous, or a noted man, but not an eminent one, towering above men of his station. He was not learned, not eloquent, not profound.”
Then followed an offhand analysis and review of Benton’s public life as Paschall had known it from the time he was an apprentice under Joseph Charless and receiving his initiation into journalism.
“Yes, sir,” said the editor, as he concluded his analysis. “Benton was a prominent man, a noted man, but not what should be meant when we say ‘eminent.’”
Modesty was a trait of Nathaniel Paschall, so strong that it amounted to diffidence. He was never heard to boast of what he had accomplished. Yet his course in breaking with the Buchanan administration on the Kansas policy, in supporting Douglas with all of his editorial might, in checkmating Claiborne F. Jackson’s secession plan, in overcoming the personal influence of Senator Green, did a great deal more than history has given credit toward holding Missouri in the Union.
When The Missouri Republican reached the half century mark, July 12, 1858, the editor wrote:
“Fifty years ago today this paper came into existence. The cycle of fifty years is a rare event in human life – it is an epoch in the history of the country – it is a miracle in journalism.”
All of this was true. In 1808 the paper was a little sheet about twelve inches one way and fourteen and one-half inches the other. The 170 subscribers represented a community of fewer than 2,000 people. A journey to New Orleans and back was ninety days by keelboat. When Congress created Missouri Territory, in 1813, the news was forty-three days coming from Washington to St. Louis. The mail went from St. Louis to Shawneetown once a week and was carried in a small bag ponyback.
Recalling the beginning in the single room of the Robidoux house and that little sheet about the size of a letter, the editor thought of a community grown to 150,000. He looked at a newspaper the largest in the West, with only two larger sheets in the entire country. He recalled the single printer who helped Editor Charless get out The Gazette, he compared the weekly cost of $20 in 1808 with the weekly expenditure of $4,000 in 1858. Truly he could pen – there was no typewriter – “It is a miracle in journalism.”
While The Republican was growing from fourteen and one-half inches to fifty-six inches and from twelve inches to thirty-three inches, more than twenty other newspapers were started in St. Louis, existed through varying periods and died. Looking backward, the editor wrote, in the semicentennial issue:
“The success of the Republican originated with its constant efforts to promote all departments of business in their diversified channels and to identify itself with the whole interest of St. Louis; it has been the firm friend of the city by being for half a century the faithful and reliable organ of every class of business. The Republican looks to the people for its success by devoting a portion of its columns to all the various ramifications of commerce, trade and professional pursuits which make the life and being of St. Louis. Its destiny is linked with that of the city.”
Public Sale of Morning Times
By W.A. Kelsoe
The evening Dispatch of June 14  contained an announcement, written probably by Stilson Hutchins, the editor and proprietor of the paper, that he had been removed from the position of general manager of the morning Times, run in connection with the Dispatch, and Col. Celus Price put in his place. This action was taken, it was stated, by the board of directors of the Times, President Charles Mantz and Vice-President Estill McHenry (telegraph editor of the paper and son-in-law of James B. Eads) having voted for, and Secretary John Hodnett, against the change. Accompanying this announcement in the Dispatch was a statement giving Mr. Hutchins’ side of the controversy. He had paid off a floating indebtedness in December, when he took charge of the Times, with a new issue of bonds in which he, himself, had invested between $40,000 and $50,000, and in six months had changed a weekly loss of $1,000 in the paper’s business to a profit of $500. It was also claimed that Mr. Hutchins owned 400 shares of Times stock and that he and Mr. Hodnett together owned a majority of the stock. This article in the Dispatch was reprinted by the Globe-Democrat the next day, and both of the morning papers announced that Co. E.H. Jameson had been appointed managing editor of the paper. The Times was advertised to be sold June 30 to satisfy the holders of the paper’s first mortgage bonds, Quintus Price, Col. Price’s brother, being named as one of the bondholders. In the Times of June 18 was a statement by Col. Price on the financial condition of the paper, and calling a meeting of the creditors for June 21 at the office of Hill and Bowman (Frank J. Bowman and Britton A. Hill). June 20 the Times said editorially: “Mr. Stilson Hutchings is no longer connected in any manner with the St. Louis Times.”
The St. Louis Times was sold at public auction, June 30, to Col. John T. Crisp of Independence, Mo. (and later of Kansas City), a Democratic leader in Missouri politics. There were several bidders, one being ex-governor B. Gratz Brown (vice-presidential candidate on the Greeley ticket in 1872 and many years before editorial head of the old Missouri Democrat). The purchase price was $131,250. Col. Crisp paid $1,000 down and the balance at a bank a few hours later. He bought the paper for Mr. Hutchins, and the next morning the Times was issued by the latter as of old, Col. Price and Col. Jameson having disappeared the evening before. The fight for control made little difference to most of the employees. W.B. Stevens continued as city editor of both the morning Times and the Evening Dispatch, if I am not mistaken, and his reporters kept at work on the two papers, as usual. Frank J. Bowman, the attorney, seemed to be running things on the Times as he did on two or three later occasions when he had temporary control of the paper. During one of these newspaper fights, I have forgotten which, some of us were a little uneasy as to the payment of salaries, and Mr. Bowman assured us that, no matter what the outcome was, the “ghost would walk” for the reporters. Some said that Mr. Bowman would never pay us, but he did, and after the trouble was over we got him a silver medal inscribed with these words: “He kept his word,” which so pleased the fighting attorney that he always carried it with him and frequently showed it to his friends. In one of its articles during this June fight the Globe-Democrat gave something of the history of the Times, established in 1866 by Stilson Hutchins, John Hodnett and D.A. Mahoney, who had come here from Dubuque, Ia. Their entire capital, said the article, was $4,500. Their business office was on the north side of Pine west of Third street and their composing room on the other side of Pine street, on an upper floor of a building fronting on Fourth street. Five years later, according to the Globe-Democrat story, Mr. Hutchins sold his third interest for $66,000 to Henry Ewing, the paper then being located on Third street. Charley Mantz bought a third interest in the fall of 1872, when the paper was moved to the old Times building, on the site of the present  Times building, northeast corner of Broadway and Chestnut street, erected for the evening Times, the English daily started in April, 1907, by the owners of the Westliche Post and the Anzeiger des Westens, the oldest German daily papers in St. Louis. (The publication of the Anzeiger was discontinued a few years later.)
(Originally published in the St. Louis Reference Record in 1927).
A Home Enterprise
The St. Louis Times, decidedly the cleanest and newsiest afternoon daily published in St. Louis, reflects an interest and influence in local life and affairs conspicuously absent in its afternoon English contemporaries, and the reason is apparent.
The Times is the property of St. Louis citizens, men whose interests are inseparably connected with the progress and advancement of this city and whose lives are part and parcel of the commercial and social life of this locality. For that reason, their publication reflects St. Louis in every paragraph, and its time, talent and influence are used to promote welfare and prosperity in its chosen field.
The Times is alone in this respect and there are other reasons separate and apart from its genuine worth and merit which make its patronage an act of patriotism upon the part of those who have an abiding interest in this city. Dividends upon its stock are earned, made and spent here instead of New York, France and Ohio as is the case with two other afternoon dailies. Taxes paid in France do not educate children in St. Louis any more than do those paid in Ohio; and a paper whose policies are dictated by men who are far removed from the local sphere and under the influence of distant and possibly adverse conditions can not be a safe criterion of conditions purely local, nor reflect the sentiment of people with whom the promoters are strangers. The Times carries its deposits in St. Louis banking institutions, transacts its business affairs through local channels and its proprietors are taxed to maintain those institutions which are designed for the protection and advancement of the public at large.
It is well enough to look for the legend “Made in St. Louis” on your breakfast food and shoes, and this policy adhered to can but work to the ultimate advantage of the community practicing it; but “Where do you spend the money you make in St. Louis?” is of more importance when we consider that every dollar taken from the local circulation necessitates a dollar’s worth of idle labor. It is right wholly within the consumer to refuse to spend his earnings in practically a foreign market and “Where do you pay your taxes?” is just as legitimate as “Where do you manufacture what you sell us?” If the policy of restricting consumption to articles of home manufacture is sound – and it is advocated by the Post-Dispatch and every other paper in this city – and extension of that policy can not be wrong in principle or application, and the wage earner should see that the money he spends is not placed beyond his reach a second time.
Those are reasons why the St. Louis Times is destined to lead every daily paper published in St. Louis, and those who have an abiding interest in the city and her people should look for the boy with the “Times” on his sack when they want an afternoon paper, and patronize the merchant who carries an ad in its columns. That is your privilege, and you won’t exceed your rights if you tell him why you practice it.
(From Truth ca 1896)
Keemle Starts Another Paper
The Commercial Bulletin was established in 1836 by Colonel Charles Keemle, formerly of the Beacon, William Preston Clark and Samuel B. “Steamboat” Churchill. The following prospectus marked its appearance in this city:
“C. Keemle again presents himself to his friends and fellow citizens in the character of Editor and Publisher of a paper.
“The Commercial Bulletin and Missouri Literary Register, as the style imports, will be exclusively devoted to the cause of Commerce and Literature. The growing importance of Missouri, and the City of St. Louis, renders such a paper peculiarly necessary, and he trusts that, in its columns, something will be found to amuse or interest every reader of the community…Ever grateful for the liberal patronage of his many friends, and of a generous and magnanimous community, among which he has so long lived and labored, he requests their future indulgence, and submits to their consideration the first member of the Bulletin.
“Whilst the Editors take no part in the party politics of the State, or General Government, their columns shall faithfully and impartially publish upon both sides of the great question. Yet, let it not be supposed, that the neutral ground which they occupy has been selected from any apathy or indifference to the interests of the public. For the prosperity of their country, they will always feel the liveliest solicitude, and will be ever ready to sacrifice every selfish consideration to its welfare, but they are no partisans, and their motto must be, Our Country,--Our whole Country, and Nothing but our Country.” (Commercial Bulletin 5/18/1835)
The paper at its commencement was a tri-weekly published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at a cost of five dollars a year. Containing twenty columns, it measured about 13 x 21 ½ inches. Two months later it was enlarged to twenty-four columns measuring 15 ½ x 22 inches.
Three of the four pages of the Bulletin were exclusively devoted to commercial news, current prices, advertisements, and river and harbor news. The fourth contained the literature of the paper in the form of stories, poems, and editorials.
On November 16, 1835, the firm of C. Keemle and Company was dissolved by the withdrawal of Keemle and Churchill. The publication of the paper was continued by W.P. Clark, “with due regard to the principles on which it was established.” In August of the following year the paper was converted into a daily; the first number of the Daily Bulletin appeared on August 23, 1836.
(From the dissertation Early St. Louis Newspapers, 1808 – 1850 by Dorothy Grace Brown, Washington University, 1931).
Keemle's Beacon Lasted Three Years
Charles Keemle returned to journalistic work in St. Louis on March 3, 1829, at which time he resuscitated the Enquirer, publishing it under a new title – the St. Louis Beacon. Its inauguration received a more favorable comment from the Republican than might have been expected: “The first number of The Beacon, published by C. Keemle, was delivered to its city subscribers yesterday. It is very neatly executed, and bids fair to become an interesting journal. The editor has our best wishes for success in an enterprise at all times arduous and often profitless.”
The Beacon, a twenty column paper, measuring approximately 14 ½ x 19 ½ inches, was published every Monday at a subscription price of three dollars a year. Keemle early associated with him a man by the name of Brooks, as illustrated by the fact that after June 27, 1829, the paper bore the names of Keemle and Brooks as co-editors. This partnership lasted until January 9, 1830, when it was dissolved by “mutual consent;” Charles Keemle continued as sole editor of the paper until its expiration.
On September 5, 1829, the paper was inaugurated as a semi-weekly, issued on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the increased price of five dollars a year. It continued to be published twice a week until March, 1830, when the Beacon again became a weekly. The editor explained his action in the following notice:
“Reflection and experience now induce us to return to our original plan – and for reason which we will endeavor briefly to state. In the first place, the labor consequent in the publication of a semi-weekly paper of such ponderous columns, and on the smallest kind of type that newspapers are ever printed, has, even for the brief period of time during which it has been published, made serious inroads on our health, and would, we are painfully convinced, in six months longer undermine and totally destroy that most inestimable of human blessings.
“…But in coming to the determination to discontinue the semi-weekly paper, we have also resolved to issue the Beacon on a larger sheet, as soon as we can cause a corresponding enlargement of the press to be made. By this means we will be enabled to lay before our readers nearly the same quantity of original and selected matter that the semi-weekly paper has heretofore afforded…We have thought it proper to reduce the terms to two dollars and fifty cents per year, as will be perceived by reference to the head of the first column.” (St. Louis Beacon 3/4/1830)
…On November 3,  the establishment was offered for sale. From then until the following September the history of the paper is obscure…On November 19, 1832, Charles Keemle left the firm…and shortly afterwards the Beacon’s light went out.
(From the dissertation Early St. Louis Newspapers, 1808 – 1850 by Dorothy Grace Brown, Washington University, 1931).
The Missouri Gazette's Demise
It was under favorable circumstances that Joseph Charless sold his paper and retired from editorial life in St. Louis. Under his skillful guardianship the Missouri Gazette had grown from a twelve-column paper printed on a sheet of foolscap, to twice that size printed on an imperial sheet. The number of subscribers consistently increased, from 174 at its beginning in 1808, to 1,000 by 1820. It was due to his tenacity of purpose, his untiring industry, ability and tact, and a strength of will which no disasters or threats could overcome, that Joseph Charless became a recognized influence in St. Louis during his lifetime, and his paper a living testimony to his energy and ability long after his death.
Upon the retirement of Charless, James C. Cummins became the new proprietor and editor of the Gazette. His first change was to substitute for the former motto of the paper another, “Principles Not Persons,” which he considered “more generally applicable to the duties of a newspaper editor.” The following year the office of the Gazette was moved from the southeast corner of Fifth and Market, where it had been since early in 1820, to a house on Main Street, “nearly opposite the Copper and Tinware Manufactory of Messrs. Neal and Liggett. Another removal took place in December, when the Gazette “set up shop” in the “large house on Main St. owned by Detier, directly opposite the [establishment] of James Clemens & Co. and formerly occupied as the St. Louis [Enquirer} office.”
Cummins closed his account with the Missouri Gazette on March 6, 1822, just eighteen months after his purchase of the paper from Joseph Charless. On that day Edward Charless, son of the founder, became its new proprietor and editor, and a few weeks later changed its name to the Missouri Republican.
(From the dissertation Early St. Louis Newspapers, 1808 – 1850 by Dorothy Grace Brown, Washington University, 1931).
Objects Proposed by the Editors
The combination of knowledge with labor, may be regarded as the only means of securing to the industrial classes their legitimate position in the ranks of civilization.
It is not sufficient that these classes should be acquainted with the details of the arts in which they are employed. They must advance a step further, and enlighten their minds with a knowledge of the science connected with their several pursuits; and they should, also, understand the relation which exists between the producers and the consumers of all the leading articles of human comfort.
Owing to the diversity and variety of human wants, a large portion of mankind must necessarily be employed in producing articles for the use and consumption of others; and hence arises the necessity of an exchange of products: the means of making these exchanges, so as to promote the interest of all classes, constitutes one of the great problems of political economy, and is alike interesting to both producer and consumer. The nearer these two classes can be brought together – other things being equal – the greater will be the advantage of each; for, it must be borne in mind that the labor and capital employed in these exchanges add nothing to the quantity or quality of the article, therefore if we analyze the subject, we shall discover that the merchant and the carrier derive all their support and profit from the labor of the producers; and hence it follows as an inevitable result, that the greater the distance and cost of making the exchanges, the greater will be the burthen imposed upon the producing classes. For, although the merchant and carrier are necessary agents, yet viewed abstractly, they may be considered as constituting a priviledged (sic) class.
Impressed with the truth, as well as the importance of these propositions, the Editors of the Western Journal have entered upon its publication, with the design collecting and laying before the people of the Mississippi Valley, that class of facts and information which relate to the varied pursuits of the People. And, to enable them to do justice to the work which they have undertaken, the respectfully invite the agriculturist, the merchant, the manufacturer and the miner, to furnish the Journal with such facts and information as may be deemed useful and interesting to the public.
The Western Journal will contain an account of all valuable discoveries and improvements in agriculture, manufactures and the mechanic arts.
The leading and more important statistics of the agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, mining &c., of not only the Mississippi valley, but of the whole country, will be collected with care and fidelity, and laid before our readers in as concise and clear a form as their nature will admit.
It is our wish to collect at as early a period as practicable, a full and complete account of all the manufacturing establishments of whatsoever kind in the Mississippi valley; to the end, that we may be enabled to note the increase from year to year, so long as our Journal shall be continued.
Considering internal improvements as one of the great social agents of the age, we shall collect and publish such facts and information touching this subject as may be deemed useful to our readers.
Believing that our Republican form of government can only be sustained by the virtue and the intelligence of the people, we shall advocate the importance of establishing an efficient system of Education in the State of Missouri; one that shall secure sufficient instruction to every free white child within our limits, to enable it to read the Holy Scriptures and the Constitution of the State, and also, that each elector may be able to write his own ticket at the polls of an election. To enable us to better promote this important object, we shall be pleased to receive and publish the plans and suggestions of such patriotic individuals as may be willing to connect their names with this subject.
In the absence of more important and interesting matter, we shall endeavor to furnish our patrons with original essays upon the various subjects connected with the objects of our Journal; but we entertain a hope that the intelligence and public spirit of the people of the West will in due season relieve us from much of this labor by furnishing matter more interesting than our own productions.
We shall neither write nor publish any article which has reference merely to the politics of the State or general government; but in treating every subject which comes properly within the range of the objects proposed by this Journal, we shall seek for truth, and endeavor to establish it by the aid of reason, without reference to the private or political opinions of others. Unfortunately, political opinions have reference mainly to expedients, and change with the causes which give rise to them; - we aspire to an object more permanent – we aim to direct the mind of all classes to what we esteem their true interest, and to afford all the light in our power to direct them in its pursuit. We wish to see the almost boundless resources of this great valley developed, and to connect our humble names to its history.
(From the Western Journal, January, 1848).
Growing Pains and A Tribute
On the 20th of September, 1836, the Republican became a daily paper, with six issues a week. In 1837 the Republican advertised for a city editor and began to run regularly a local department, distinct from editorial expressions. That was an innovation. One of the first things the local editor did was to publish an elaborate account of the races which were going on at the St. Louis track. In September, 1848, the Republican startled the conservative elements of the city by publishing a Sunday paper. A protest was promptly circulated for signatures. It expressed regret “that a journal of such deservedly high standing should lend its influence, not by arguments but by something far more powerful, its example, against the proper keeping of that holy day.” The editors replied courteously, expressing their appreciation of the interest taken by the subscribers of the protest, but declined to recede from the publication of a Sunday issue.
In 1840 the Republican supported Old Tippecanoe – William Henry Harrison. It did so with such effectiveness and zeal that in the midst of that hard cider campaign an emblem, a symbol as it were, was bestowed upon the paper by the admiring Whigs. The Republican was called “the Old Coon.” The name was accepted promptly. The emblem, a metallic figure of a coon couchant, was hoisted high above the building. Perched over the smoke stack the coon was visible from all parts of the city. Thirty years afterward people coming up from the boats and the ferry landings – for there was no bridge at the time – saw still on duty above the Republican building, the coon couchant. The emblem survived two disastrous fires. When the paper was moved to Third and Chestnut streets, occupying a new building which ranked with the imposing architecture of the city in its day, the coon found a place in the iron arch of the main entrance. The figure was also carried above the building.
(From St. Louis, the Fourth City by Walter Barlow Stevens, 1911)
The Missouri Republican in 1824
Here we have a copy of the “Missouri Republican, dated November 7, 1824, published by Edward Charless & Co. at the white house below the Catholic Church.”
On the first page we read various advertisements, “For Sale, 262 acres of first rate farming land lying about 8 miles north of St. Louis. It is mostly prairie with plenty of water and 20 acres in cultivation. Robert Wash.”
John O’Fallon publishes a notice of final settlement of the estates of William Stokes and Jeremiah Connor.
The United States Government inserted the following notice: “Citizens of the United States having claims under the Treaty of Ghent for slaves and other private property taken from them during the late war between the United States and Great Britain are notified to exhibit their claims.”
The St. Louis Agricultural Society sets forth a resolution to offer premiums for the best species of corn, wheat, tobacco and potatoes, and for the greatest number of wolf scalps killed by any one person or family, $20.00 in loan office money. The above premiums will be awarded at the house of Wm. C. Carr on his farm adjoining the City of St. Louis.
Then follows a “Proclamation by the Governor of the State of Missouri” offering a reward for the capture of an escaped convict. “Done at St. Charles the eighteenth day of October, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and twenty four and of the Independence of the United States the forty ninth. A. McNair. By the Governor, Wm. G. Pettus, Secretary of State.”
Another interesting advertisement says, “For Sale at Madame Landreville’s 25 yards of Rag Carpeting, manufactured by the Poor under the superintendence of the Female Charitable Society. It is wide and of good quality. Agnes P. Spaulding, Secretary.”
“Female Academy. Mrs. Mary L. Elliott would respectfully inform the public that the term for which she was engaged as an instructress by the Rev. Mr. Giddings having expired, she intends opening a school in the room under the Baptist Church. Her terms for tuition will be $5.00 per quarter and for the small Misses $3.00.”
Here follows a page of “Late News from Europe” several months old, telling of the successes of Greece in its war with Turkey. Then there is a bit of local news. “Homicide. Mr. William Smith, a native of Germany and a peaceable and good mechanic of this town, being a white smith by trade, was struck with a brickbat on Saturday evening last and died the next day. The person who committed this murderous deed has since absconded.”
That we had, even at that early date, “Letters from the People” is shown by the following, “I would suggest to the General Assembly the propriety of providing by law for the printing of the decisions of the Supreme Court of this State. Even lawyers and judges are unacquainted with them. One of the People.”
Here follows a copy of “An Ordinance to widen Market Street, East of Fourth Street, to fifty English feet in width.”
“Hugh Richards begs to inform the public that he will continue the manufacture of Tobacco, Segars and Snuff at the old stand on Main Street. Wanted two good hands for the making of segars.”
“Strayed or Stolen from Isaac Walker, an Indian of the Delaware tribe, at his encampment west of Chouteau’s Mill Pond, a black mare” etc. describing her.
“Cash will be paid by the subscriber for a negro boy between fourteen and twenty years of age, accustomed to farm work. Charles Chambers, near Florissant.”
“District of Missouri , City of St. Louis, District Court of the United States, September term 1824, ordered that the court will hold a special session on the Fourth Monday in November next under the authority of an Act of Congress entitled, An Act enabling the claimants to lands to institute proceedings to try the validity of their claims.”
Then there is a woodcut of a whiskey still with this announcement “Joseph Liggett has on hand a good assortment of Stills and Stew and Tea Kettles.”
1849 An interesting news item in the Missouri Republican of Jan. 15, 1849 is the following:
“Tea Party – To view the capacious room over the State Tobacco Warehouse, one would suppose it sufficient to accommodate as large a company as would participate in any public festival. Capacious as it is, however, the test made Saturday evening at evening at the German Ladies’ festival, given to raise funds to aid in the struggle for freedom now going on in the Fatherland, proved it insufficient. The room was beautifully decorated with paintings, banners and flags, the music (by the Laclede Band and Polyhymnia Society,) most excellent, the provision ample, and the order and general arrangements complete.”
(From The St. Louis Story by McCune Gill, 1952.)
Top Man At the Globe Got Things Done
About 1880, St. Louis entered upon a crisis. The fire of 1849, the cholera epidemics, the Civil war, none of these so tried St. Louis as did the ten or twelve years’ period beginning about the year mentioned. The decade of greatest danger that time might be called. Chicago boomed with the prodigious development of the northwest. Kansas City and Omaha suffered from the exaggerated methods of Chicago. Wichita and a dozen other places in the west went wild with the fever of real estate speculation. St. Louis almost stood still. Cities west and south confidently expected to outstrip her before the end of the century. The period was one of revolution in material conditions. Railroads were usurping the waterways. The community, which had grown strong and wealthy, which had defied the panic of 1873, which had shown more population than Chicago in 1870 – to some extent a fiction – was turning slowly to the new channels of commerce. St. Louis was advancing a little, backing almost as much as the gain, using first one paddle wheel and then the other, like an immense, unwieldy steamboat getting ready to go ahead after having made a landing. The opportunity was [Joseph] McCullagh’s. One day, in 1881, he came into the local room and said to the city editor: “We will have a railroad department. Make all you can of it.” He gave explicit and detailed instructions. Up to that time the railroad news of the Globe-Democrat, as with other papers, had been a matter of a half-column, more or less, as the notes of daily incidents and accidents seemed to justify. “The Railroads” of the Globe-Democrat became at once a dominant feature, - three, four, five columns, a page if so much space could be well filled. Not for a week or for a month, but for years. McCullagh taught a lesson of commercial salvation for St. Louis.
But this innovation was only one element of his broad policy to build up St. Louis. A moving conviction in his mind was that St. Louis must grow with the Globe-Democrat. “The towline” as he called the paper’s influence was never coiled. He sent a correspondent to Philadelphia to make a study of the building associations and he stimulated the idea in St. Louis by giving a great deal of space to these institutions here. He sent correspondents and artists south, west and north to write and to sketch, paying their way and dealing with whatever they conceived to be interesting…
When the Gould railway system was tied up with a strike which seemed to McCullagh to be unjustifiable and the result of dictatorial willfulness on the part of the leaders rather than of just grievances, he attacked the situation vigorously. After the trouble was over, Jay Gould met McCullagh in the rotunda of the Southern hotel. He wanted to express appreciation of the course of the Globe-Democrat. McCullagh said the Globe-Democrat had done only what seemed to be right for a newspaper having the interests of the community and the southwest at heart. Gould replied he believed that, but the railroad would like to show its good will in some tangible way. McCullagh suggested that St. Louis business men had been trying to get a fast mail service on the Missouri Pacific westward. If the railroad felt like showing its good will toward the city and the Globe-Democrat, that might be the opportunity. Gould turned to one of the officers of the road and asked that preparations be commenced at once to install the service. This was the first of the fast mail trains started out of St. Louis.
(From St. Louis, the Fourth City by Walter Barlow Stevens, 1911).
Charless' Many Challenges
Missouri Governor Meriwether Lewis, in 1808, offered financial backing of $225 to Joseph Charless if he would come to St. Louis and establish a press...The offer made to Charless to come from Louisville and establish in St. Louis was motivated by the fact that Governor Lewis was anxious to have the printer available when the new Territory Legislature met in June 1808. Charless arrived in St. Louis in the summer of 1808 bringing with him his 24-year-old printer, Jacob Hinkle. Establishing himself in the north room of the Robidoux house on the east side of Main, between Elm and Myrtle, Charless ordered a Ramage press brought from Pennsylvania by keelboat and type from Louisville. Presumably the latter was second-hand since there was no type foundry there.
Charless’ Ramage Press was wooden with a stone bed and iron frame tympan. The ink was applied by patting the printing surface with inked balls. Printing was a slow process requiring a half day to print a small edition containing two inside pages. A printer was probably able to set one and one-half or two columns a day. A scarcity of paper made it necessary to print the first two issues of the Missouri Gazette on 8 ¼ X 12 ½ inch foolscap paper procured locally. It first appeared on July 12, 1808, and bears the name of Joseph Charless, “Printer to the Territory.” It was issued weekly but the arrival of mail determined the day of publication. During sessions of Congress, proceedings, if interesting, were published as a supplement.
The first page was dedicated to national and territorial news, and military orders. There were general headings such as “Foreign Intelligence,” “London,” and “Boston.” Obvious news such as war, pestilence, famines, and earthquakes received attention. News items were clipped from Eastern journals and used as “filler” for the paper. Local news pertained to unclaimed mail, or a runaway horse or slave. Like all pioneer editors, Charless conceived of news as politics, as novelty, and as belles lettres…
In the Missouri Gazette October 12, 1816, [Charless] wrote that the editor, unlike the soldier, the mechanic, or the merchant, was a sentinel of the public rights who never sleeps. He, therefore, included in his paper long orations and letters of politicians and statesmen with the object of keeping the enlightened electorate alert. He also promised to entertain his readers with the best offerings of literature using extracts from the contemporary literati as “fillers” for his columns when news was scarce.
The paper, costing $20 a week to print, had 170 subscribers who paid “Three Dollars a year in advance or Four Dollars in Country Produce.” Advertisements not exceeding a one column square cost $1 a week with each continuation costing 50 cents. The paper changed in page size, and as advertisements became more important the front page was used for that purpose. Pages three and four carried editorial and literary contributions and subscribers’ communications…
Charless was not without his problems. He was accused of being partisan. Subscribers were slow in paying, and he had to resort to begging for his money through his paper. In addition to printing he kept a boarding and lodging house and a livery stable, worked in a drug store, sold printing ink, and for a while was the registrar of the sale of lands and slaves. All of these enterprises were undertaken to supplement the meager income he earned as a printer.
(Excerpted from Books, Newspapers, and Libraries in Pioneer St. Louis, 1808-1842 by Eleanor A. Baer in the Missouri Historical Review)
St. Louis Star Fosters Civic Spirit by Poster Advertising
St. Louis has advertised to the world that it is a good city to live in, work in and play in. The Chamber of Commerce, Advertising Club, Convention Bureau and other business and civic organizations are exerting every effort to sell St. Louis to the universe. A local newspaper has conceived the idea of assisting the bodies that are elevating the city to a higher plane, by intensifying the civic interest of the local population.
The plan which is being executed by the St. Louis Star is intended to create not a passive, but an aggressive spirit of loyalty in St. Louisans. The most potent known power – advertising – is being used on a large scale to bring about the desired results. The slogan that The Star has adopted is “punchy” and brief – “If it helps St. Louis, BOOST it. If it doesn’t – FIGHT.”
Between forty and fifty bulletin boards and wall signs, located in well-traveled parts of the city, carry this message; it appears daily in the columns of The Star; banners posted on this newspaper’s fleet of trucks flaunt it before the eyes of thousands of people daily. Cards containing a colored reproduction of the design will be mailed to more than a thousand business firms, with the request that they be displayed where employees may easily see them.
If “charity begins at home,” then certainly the appreciation of St. Louis must originate in the same place. It is not to be doubted that St. Louisans realize the privilege and prestige of being identified with a city that has demonstrated progressiveness and enterprise as has this city in the past few years. But the fact that St. Louis must constantly be exploited in order to maintain its reputation and strength as a “live wire” cannot be over-emphasized to its people. It should become the individual determination of every man and woman who is proud of his and her home in the city, to broadcast that fact at every opportunity. If that determination can be instilled in at least a large percentage of St. Louis; if, likewise, a fighting spirit will be evidenced when malicious or hastily-uttered “knocks” are heard, then this city has accomplished something which is priceless and which constitutes the very essence unlimited success.
“If it helps St. Louis, BOOST it. If it doesn’t – FIGHT.” These few words strike the keynote of the ideal civic attitude. The St. Louis Star is to be commended for creating the slogan and the plan of giving it such effective publicity.
(Originally published in Greater St. Louis October 1923).
Prospectus of the St. Louis Evening Post
In politics, the Evening Post will be wholly independent of parties and politicians; it will favor honest money, a revenue tariff and a closed union of the States; it will recognize that the prosperity of the country can not be complete until the ample resources of the South are developed, and it will advocate the restoration of Southern prosperity through the exertion of the Southern people, and according to their wishes. It will defend honesty, solvency and property against the assaults of demagogues, and will not be disturbed in its defense of the vested interests of the country by any appeal to passion, prejudice or ignorance.
Its chief aim will be to give the news of the day in full up to the hour of going to press; it will make unsparing use of the telegraph, receiving the latest dispatches through the National Associated Press, and having its special agents in all prominent news centers.
Special attention will be paid to the Local News of St. Louis; and one of the objects of the paper will be to furnish a full Commercial Report of the day's business. The markets will be reported in full, with all transactions, quotations and flutuations on 'Change, giving all the news that has hitherto appeared only in the next day's morning papers. The special attention of country merchants, buyers and shippers, and business men generally, is called to this feature of the Evening Post.
The Court proceedings will also be made a special feature of the daily news, and will be reported in full up to the last moment.
Theatrical, Musical and Literary items will receive proper recognition, and the departments of Fashion and Society will be in the hands of competent specialists. No improper matter of any kind will be admitted in its columns.
Chinese American News Serves Community
By Chris Chi
Sandy Tsai, local entrepreneur and restaurant owner, started the St. Louis Chinese American News with the goal of helping to bridge the gap between the mainstream community of St. Louis with ethnic Chinese residents – and to help Chinese-Americans better connect with each other.
“We started this paper as a public service and to let everyone know what’s happening in our community – to let everyone know that we have a voice,” said Tsai, careful not to take too much credit as publisher. After we started it, our staff did all the work.”
The newspaper’s office is at 8041 Olive Blvd. in University City. Run mostly by volunteers, the newspaper is a free weekly, around 28-32 pages, printed in Chinese and English. It covers the big news of the Chinese community and, on occasion, news from China and Taiwan.
The newspaper is divided into four sections. The first covers Chinese news. The second focuses on education, health, travel and cooking. The third is printed in English for second generation Chinese Americans, as well as for the greater mainstream residents who speak English. The fourth section contains an immigration page that provides helpful information for people hoping to obtain citizenship.
The newspaper is valuable because it allows “Chinese people to know what’s going on around them in the language they know best,” says Francis Yeuh, who volunteers as an editor. His wife, Mary, is the full-time editor.
The Chinese American is especially helpful for new immigrants, Chinese students studying in St. Louis and senior citizens. It is chock full of ads for goods and services.
“The paper is owned by the community symbolically,” said Tsai. “And it shows that we (the Chinese community) don’t just sit around and watch. The newspaper likes to help educate.”
Already in its 17th year of publication with a circulation of about 6,000, the Chinese American is a “mouth for the community, a bridge for the community, promotes the Chinese culture, and assesses the community’s awareness,” Tsai said.
The paper was presented the 2003 Missouri Media Award by Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell. It is distributed in news racks at local Chinese restaurants and grocery stores in the St. Louis area. The news content is also sent free to email subscribers and can be read through the paper’s web site.
(Printed with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 8/2007).
First Chalk-Plate Drawings in Post-Dispatch
By William Kelsoe
The Chalk-plate process of illustrating papers, discovered and perfected in 1885 by Joseph W. Hoke, a St. Louis engraver, revolutionized the picture printing part of the newspaper business. In his book of reminiscences published in 1922, Augustus Thomas describes the process and tells of the use he made of it in his newspaper work on the Missouri Republican in the [eighteen] eighties. In her “Notable Women of St. Louis,” Mrs. Charles P. Johnson credits Miss Martha H. Hoke, Joseph’s daughter and a local artist, with having made the first chalk-plate drawing published in a newspaper. It was the first of many pictures printed with our newspaper reports of the crime known in local history as the Maxwell-Preller murder…
Miss Lillian M. Brown, daughter of one of Missouri’s great public men B. Gratz Brown, was a young artist connected with the Hoke Engraving Plate Company in 1885. One day she visited the Post-Dispatch office with the elder Hoke (J.W., the head of the engraving company) to show what could be done on and with chalk-plates. Miss Brown copied on a prepared plate, using a pointed stylus for a pencil, the picture of a “snake charmer,” a woman caressing a snake. A cast or cut from the engraved chalk-plate was made by placing the latter like a matrix in a stereotyping box and filling the latter with molten type metal. A proof taken of the cut showed that the test had been a success. The printed picture was like the original from which the drawing was made, and true, of course, to the sketch itself. The managing editor, city editor and reporters all seemed pleased with the result. An opportunity for another more practical test came a few days later and was promptly accepted by the Post-Dispatch. At the Southern Hotel the body of one of the guests had been found in a trunk in his room, and the Hoke Engraving Company was asked to make for the paper, as soon as possible, a chalk-plate drawing of the open trunk, showing the body doubled up inside.
Miss Martha Hoke was the artist selected for the undertaking. She first made a pencil sketch of the horrible scene before her and then from that picture made a chalk-plate drawing with a pointed stylus, the pointed end being so curved as to meet the plate at right angles. The second drawing, however, was not made near the trunk, where the odor was something never to be forgotten, but at the Post-Dispatch office, then on Market street, not far away. The chalk-plate drawing was soon in the stereotyping box, the hot metal poured in and a few seconds later the cut with the picture was ready for the composing room. Mr. Hoke thinks his sister began work about one o’clock and the picture was printed in the regular afternoon edition of the Post-Dispatch a couple hours later – the first publication of a chalk-plate picture. Before the end of 1886 thousands of such pictures were printed every day. Probably no other newspaper picture was ever written about so much as the one made by Miss Hoke and published by the Post-Dispatch that day, Tuesday, April 14, 1885, with a five-column report of the crime, three of the columns being on the front page. Conspicuous at the top of the reading matter on that front page were the chalk-plate picture two columns wide and (alongside of it) the customary head, in this case a six-line head with the word “Horrible” (not very sensational) at the top and fifty or more words…in nine lines at the bottom, comprising the “sixth line” of the big head. To Miss Hoke’s first picture of the open trunk showing the body of Preller inside had been added an underlining: “The Trunk When Opened, Showing Portion of Body, Sketched by Post-Dispatch Artist,” and below that a reproduction of what Maxwell had written on a piece of paper and places at the side of Preller’s head in the trunk: “So Perish All Traitors to the Great Cause,” the words being divided so as to make three short lines. The underlining for this was: “Facsimile of the Inscription in the Trunk, from Tracing Made by Post-Dispatch Artist.”
Then, below the chalk-plate work, in what might now be called a two-column “box” was this explanatory statement, probably written by the city editor, John F. Magner: “The above cuts give the exact appearance of the trunk when opened and its contents, and the facsimile of the sensational inscription upon the inside of the trunk. In the cut of the trunk the position of the inscription was shown to the left of the corpse’s head. The inscription is a perfect facsimile of the original, having been obtained by the Post-Dispatch Artist, who, in spite of the overpowering stench, copied it by means of a piece of tracing paper.”
Miss Hoke’s name is not given in the drawing or elsewhere in the paper, and if the Post-Dispatch did any boasting about that really great and memorable historic feat, it remains undiscovered.
(Originally published in the St. Louis Reference Record 1927).
By Amir Kurtovic
A new Bosnian-language newspaper in St. Louis, the Sehara Tribune, is concerned mainly with the loss of religious and cultural identification of an immigrant populace that is quickly assimilating to life in the United States.
The 32-page tabloid, printed in full color, began publication in July . “Sehara” is a Bosnian word for an antique chest often used for storing valuable possessions. For the first two issues it was published as a weekly, but then switched to a bi-weekly. It is distributed through Bosnian grocery stores at $1.50 a copy in St. Louis, where an estimated 50,000 Bosnians live.
The paper reached about 7,500 Bosnians in St. Louis after its first two issues, according to Amir Kurtovic, the paper’s 36-year-old founder. It is supported through sales, subscriptions and advertising – though ads at the outset have been slim; those of a lawyer, a real estate agent, an Islamic bookstore and a bridal store. An effort is being made to attract businesses that want to reach the Bosnian community.
National distribution of the Sehara Tribune is organized around a network of Bosnian mosques throughout the country. The paper is printed in St. Louis, shipped by mail and distributed by mosque volunteers to ethnic grocery stores in cities with significant Bosnian communities, such as Grand Rapids, Mich., Atlanta, Ga., and Salt Lake City, Utah. Subscribers can get the paper by mail.
Kundalic lives in Ballwin, Mo., with his wife Belma and their two young children. He came to the U.S. in 1996 from the Bosnian town of Zenica, about 40 miles north of Sarajevo. There he got a start learning English while working for U.S. humanitarian organizations. He was one of the first Bosnians to attend Forest Park Community College and eventually earned a Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Webster University in 1999, and an MBA from Phoenix University in 2008. He and Belma, also a Bosnian immigrant, met here; she is a 2009 fine arts graduate from Webster University.
The first two issues of the Sehara Tribune included coverage of the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serbian forces in what was described as the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II. The second issue contained over 14 pages of coverage about the massacre, including a two-page spread with a list of the 534 names of Srebrenica victims identified in 2009. The message is “Don’t Forget.” Other articles deal with the history of Islam, the role of the religion in the lives of young people, and Bosnian cultural traditions.
The Sehara Tribune is clearly advocacy journalism with harsh critiques of the current state of politics and culture. “We want to stay connected to our history, our culture, our religion, so that they are not forgotten. Bosnians are the only ethnic group that has assimilated in the first generation,” said Kundalic.
Some Bosnian youths, perhaps too young to remember the war, roll their eyes and take refuge in their rooms, too busy with Facebook or TV to be bothered with the same old stories from their elders about the war or the motherland. Most youths speak English better than Bosnian. And some in the Bosnian community are not happy with this quick cultural adaptation.
Kundalic feels there has been a lack of coverage devoted to religious and cultural issues in other Bosnian publications such as SabaH and Bosnjacka Dijaspora. The Sehara Tribune is trying a different approach. Its articles are longer, more opinionated and analytical. The plan is to make each issue of the newspaper dedicated to a specific theme, according to Kundalic.
“We found a niche market in the ethnic media where there was an opportunity. There are a lot of people looking for this,” Kundalic said about his paper’s narrower focus on cultural and religious topics. The commercial success of this new paper will largely depend on its popularity in the St. Louis market. Grocery store owners report that the paper is selling well, partly because people are seeing the newspaper for the first time and want to check it out.
One person who knows about the hardships of running a Bosnian newspaper is Amir Hotich. He was the owner of the now-defunct newspaper 5ta Strana Svijeta (The Fifth Side of the World) and is host of a popular Bosnian radio show on WGNU radio which airs Sundays between 6 and 6 p.m. Hotich said the costs of printing and shipping the newspaper, which was given away for free, and paying a small staff of reporters, made it almost impossible to turn a profit.
The Sehara Tribune has no office and is produced in the Kundalics’ home. Articles and photos are contributed by freelancers and volunteers. Some articles are reprints from other publications and some photos are pulled from online sources. The production and layout are handled by Kundalic and his wife Belma using computers, publishing programs and emails.
A digital edition of the paper is not yet available. Kundalic said he is trying to figure out how to publish online and make money doing it. He and his wife are considering publishing a monthly magazine but no firm date has been set for the first issue.
(Reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 7/2009).
A Cub's First Day at the Post-Dispatch
My first day on the Post-Dispatch was almost my last.
The city editor was completely charming. He told me in a fatherly manner that nothing much would be expected of me for a time, that I was just to sit quietly and study the paper and the style.
He cautioned me against hurt feelings in the event that he might find constructive criticism necessary. It would be in my best interest – nothing personal, he assured me.
He kept his word. No one noticed me, but after about six hours, I began to feel hunger pains.
I approached the desk to find out about eating arrangements. I didn’t find out at once.
The assistant city editor was addressing one of the staff. “Mr. Dresser,” he was saying, “it is a cardinal principle that our reporters read the Post-Dispatch, and I hope you will, you may observe that when we refer to a man as a Corporal, we spell it out. When we refer to his rank before his name, we abbreviate it with Cpl.”
There was much more. Mr. Dresser was trying to say something, but rank had him whipped. He sounded as futile as Jack Benny trying to interrupt his sponsor.
Finally brass ran out of brass, and more important, out of wind.
Mr. Dresser had his chance. He said, “but sir, I did not write that story.”
This information left the editor quite cold.
He removed his glasses, wiped them, and then in measured tones said, “I think it is a damned good thing for you to keep in mind anyway.”
Mr. Dresser left and I almost did.
My First Volunteer
The city editor summoned me to the desk and told me that there was a volunteer in the hall. He advised me to handle the situation with great acumen. Some of our biggest stories came in that way, he warned me.
I was a trifle nervous. This was a new and tremendous responsibility.
It turned out that the volunteer was more nervous than I. He peered over my left shoulder, then my right shoulder. I decided to follow suit. To the astonished persons in the hall waiting for the elevator, we must have looked like the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll.
He told me his trouble. Every time he walked in the streets in south St. Louis, people called him bad names.
I asked him for a few samples. They were bad.
I suggested that he move to north St. Louis.
He told me he had tried that, but they called him even worse names. I asked for a few samples. They were much worse.
I was worried. I could tell from his clothing that it would not be wise to offer the advice of Greeley, and it would not be seemly to tell him to jump into the river.
I compromised. I told him that the Post-Dispatch would keep him in mind and that no one would call him such horrible names again, unless justified.
He was extremely grateful, shook hands with me and wept a bit. He started for the elevator, and then it dawned on me that he had asked me for my name.
I rushed back to him. “How,” I asked, “did you happen to ask for me?”
He said it had been quite simple. He had been in the day before and was told that Mr. Everett, the man in charge of the “Bad Name Department,” would be in on the following day.
The Strike That Failed
I was a full-fledged reporter now. I had been there one week and called the assistant city editor by his first name.
He told me to meet a photographer in the lobby and to be careful. He said there was information that eight meat packers were to cross a picket line at a cold storage firm in north St. Louis.
He warned me that heads could fall and blood flow in the streets.
It was a hot August morning, and I was scared. The photographer didn’t do much to reassure me.
He advised me that strikes could be nasty. He said we should look the situation over. We did.
Finally, after driving in the area for 20 minutes, we saw one picket with an umbrella,and he was about 75 years old.
We gathered courage and approached. Soon we were joined at the one-man picket line by a young Irish cop who had a pencil, a crossword puzzle and a gripe.
The cop said he had only four words to go to finish the puzzle, that he had never finished one and that his wife always made fun of him because he couldn’t finish one.
I interrupted to ask the picket what would happen if the packers crossed his line.
He pointed to some men entering the storage company. “Them fellers have already crossed, now how about the puzzle?” he asked.
I went to the nearest telephone and called the desk. It was too early for a beer, but the phone was in a tavern.
I told the editor that the only controversy was with a young cop, a picket and our photographer over a crossword puzzle.
“Stay there,” Sam said.
I went back. They were down to two words and were becoming very excited.
I went back to the tavern. I reported that they were down to two words. I was told, grimly, to stay there.
I went back to the trio. They were wildly excited. They needed only one word to complete the puzzle.
I went back to the friendly tavern and telephone. “Sam,” I said, “all they need is a three-letter word for the Queen of Fairies.”
There was a silence for the matter of a few seconds. A deep intake of breath, and then: “It is M for moron, A for addle-brained, B for bastard, MAB, and you, you SOB, you come on in, and now!”
(Originally published in Page One, 1958. Bill Everett began working as a general assignment reporter at the Post-Dispatch in 1944.)
Sale of Sporting News Sparks Memories
(Condensed from original article)
In the spring of 1948, as a pre-journalism would-be sportswriter freshman at Mizzou, I wrote a term paper on the Sporting News for an English composition and rhetoric class. I sent a letter to John George Taylor Spink, owner, publisher and editor, informing him of my project. In return, I received a torrent of material, including books, a subscription and an invitation to a baseball game. The letter was signed in the unreadable scrawl that was one of Spink’s many trademarks.
The term paper is long gone; even a packrat such as I can’t keep everything. But the memories are strong, from the first time I rode the rackety elevator to the seventh floor of 2018 Washington Ave. and crossed the old , creaky, rutted wooden floor to visit the jowly, gnarled, gravel-voiced, profane, cigar-chewing little man in the corner office.
I saw him a few times a year, even introduced him to my father, a baseball fan from the days before World War I. The two men got along famously, swapping old stories. When my father retired, Spink was shocked. He was of the old school, where people worked forever. But dad sent him postcards from Tokyo, and from Paris and Rome, and Spink would send them along to me, with a carbon of the thank-you note he had sent to dad. My folks traveled a lot by ship in those days, and I remember a letter Spink sent to the president of United States Lines, a man he somehow knew. Spink said he didn’t understand Samuel Pollack, because he sailed on small ships, but he wanted all courtesies extended to his friend.
Dad often recommended retirement and travel to Spink, but it fell on deaf ears; Spink was a man so dedicated to his work that when he took a rare evening off and went to the Muny Opera, it was a real event when he stayed beyond intermission. Sometimes he left at the overture, recalling a phone call he had to make. The portable phone was invented too late for him.
Spink was one of the last of the personal journalists. He inherited the Sporting News from his father and uncle, who founded it in 1886. He left it to his son, Charles C. Johnson Spink, named for an elder Spink and for Ban Johnson, a sportswriter who founded the American League.
Now the Sporting News is leaving. It’s being sold by the Times Mirror Corporation, which bought it from Johnson Spink in 1978.
The Sporting News, known as “the Bible of baseball” for its massive coverage of professional baseball teams, with complete statistics and weekly “letters” from a group of correspondents across the country, came to accept other sports the way baseball came to accept African-Americans – very slowly. Of course, the paper was subsidized by major league baseball for many years, including the purchase of thousands of copies to distribute to soldiers during World War II. For a while, it had a special section, The Quarterback, dealing with football but printed as a pull-out so that baseball fans could pitch it without having to see even a mention of other sports.
Taylor Spink read practically every word that went into the paper. I remember piles of proofs on his desk, towering over the short man. He didn’t write, even though he had a column in which baseball players often were quoted as addressing him by name. “I was born, Mr. Spink, in a log cabin (or on a farm)…” was a favorite parody. Hard-working editors like Lowell Reidenbaugh, Oscar Kahan, Oscar Ruhl, Edgar Brands, Ray Gillespie and others who did the work, bolstered by local sportswriters who worked one or two days a week as copy editors. Writers from across the country filed stories on the teams they covered, and the greatest sports artist of all, Willard Mullin of the New York World-Telegram, provided covers. It was Mullin who devised the “Brooklyn Bum” and the “St. Louis Swifty,” a lean riverboat gambler type to represent the speedy, and winning Birds of the early 1940s.
Bill Fleischman, long-time chief sports copy editor (the slot man) at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, was one of them, and the favor was returned by many Sporting News people who filled in on one of the dailies’ sports copy desks on a regular basis.
Spink was a legendary character in sports journalism. Though he rarely attended a game and probably never saw more than a couple to their conclusion, he always was one of the official scorers at the World Series. Spink had a habit of strolling through the office after the edition was printed, often tossing 5- or 10-dollar bills to people, an instant bonus for a clever headline or just for fun. At one point, his son Johnson told him this was messy bookkeeping, confusing to the accountants. Why didn’t he just give everyone a raise? Spink thought it was a good idea and did so. A few weeks later, he was back at the old habit, dropping paper money here and there.
He was violently opposed to unions, too, but I recall an incident in the late 1950s. As a bit of harassment of the Newspaper Guild and its members, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Globe managements decided to forbid staffers from outside employment, a long-time practice guaranteed in the contract. It didn’t last, of course, but a friend at the Sporting News chuckled over a Spink call to Rollin Everett, the Guild’s executive secretary, that began, “Rollin, you’ve got to help me…”
Before the 20th and Washington site, the weekly was at 10th and Pine Streets, catty-corner from the Scruggs, Vandervoort, Barney department store. As the mercantile calendar shortened the period between holidays, the store began playing recorded Christmas music right after Thanksgiving, and it floated across the street to Spink’s office. Spink asked his secretary, the cherubic-looking, always smiling, long-suffering, asbestos-eared Frances, to call Walter Head at the department store and ask to have the music volume lowered. She did, and she reported, “Mr. Head told me to tell you he won’t give you advice on how to run the Sporting News and you don’t have to give him advice on how to run a department store.”
Spink’s response was unprintable, and he then took action, hiring a brass band to perform continuous renditions of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” An hour or two later, the phone rang, and Frances asked Spink to look out the window.
Walter Head was outside, waving a white flag.
Bob Broeg, sports editor and columnist emeritus at the Post, also shared a story that Spink used to tell on himself. He was, as everyone knew, an expert on tracking down people he wished to talk to (with the help of Frances and the legendary long-distance operators of the time) and his language, which could blister the paint on a door jamb, was more styled for ship’s boiler room than a tea party.
Anyway, Spink was in New York in a cab when he noticed the driver’s name was Tommy Holmes, also the name of a Brooklyn Eagle sportswriter and Spink’s long-time Dodger correspondent. Spink knew the difference but he innocently asked the driver if he was related to the Tommy Holmes of Brooklyn.
“I’m not,” said the driver, “but some silly son of a bitch in St. Louis thinks I am. He calls me at all hours of the day and night asking for information on the Dodgers.”
By Joe Pollack
(Printed with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 10/1999).
Sporting News Exits
What has St. Louis lost with the passing of The Sporting News?
For one thing, “The” was dropped from the title a decade ago when the publication switched from its traditional newsprint appearance to a glossy look.
Sporting News is now  based in Charlotte, NC., where on July 23, a free, online daily – that’s seven days a week – called Sporting News Today made its debut. Starting in September, officials said, the Sporting News in its magazine form will be published only twice a month, instead of weekly.
American City Business Journals of Charlotte, which purchased Sporting News is 2006, moved most of the archives a month ago from the Chesterfield office that was its last outpost here. An online staff that had been in St. Louis as part of sportingnews.com moved to Charlotte a year ago. In the latest migration, 17 staffers accepted relocation to North Carolina. Dennis Dillon and Stan McNeal were retained as St. Louis correspondents. Others faced retirement or career change.
“I am looking for work,” said Steve Gietschier, who was an archivist for the State of South Carolina before moving in 1986 to TSN in St. Louis to bring order to the mountain of books, photographs and sports memorabilia that had accumulated in TSN’s first 100 years. He created the Sporting News Research Center.
As if job worries weren’t enough, Gietschier and wife Donna had to forgo a scheduled trip to New York this summer to watch their beloved Mets in the final season of Shea Stadium.
“I guess I’m retired,” said John Rawlings, who in late July was writing a final article for The Sporting News. Rawlings moved from the San Jose Mercury-News in 1990 to become managing editor. He left as editorial director/senior vice president – after working for Times Mirror Corp., the Paul Allen-founded Vulcan Media, and then American City.
In his sports media column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dan Caesar quoted Rawlings as saying, “It’s hard to see friends leave. But I’m excited for people who are going to working on two new products…I wish we could have changed faster. I felt like we were close a couple of times. We never got over the hump.
During its 122 years here, The Sporting News was called the “Bible of Baseball” by sports devotees. It helped put St. Louis on the map similar to the way Anheuser-Busch has. For at least 60 years, it had operated closely with organized baseball in publishing news of the game in its weekly reports and supplemented that with yearly guides, registers, record books, the National League Green Book and the American League Red Book. The absence of these materials this spring created a minor panic among sportswriters, broadcasters and collectors who had grown accustomed to having that vital information at their fingertips.
Under the Times Mirror ownership and the leadership of CEO Richard Waters, who arrived in 1982, TSN reached a weekly circulation record of one million copies during the week of March 17, 1986 – the publication’s 100th birthday. Times Mirror president Robert Erburu and his wife flew in from Los Angeles for the centennial dinner at the St. Louis Club, and Ernie Hayes was at the organ, making a million sounds. Circulation had been 750,000 before the TSN anniversary, so perhaps newsstand sales were enough to hit seven figures.
The sports highlights of that decade were more than enough to keep TSN afloat – the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, NY., the ’84 Summer Games in Los Angeles, Pete Rose surpassing Stan Musial’s National League record for most career hits (in ’81) and then Ty Cobb’s major league career high (on Sept. 11, 1985). In 1989, there was Rose’s lifetime suspension from baseball on charges of betting on games while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.
Ty Cobb’s Record
In 1981, The Sporting News was at the center of another baseball storm after publishing a story that Paul Mac Farlane, then TSN’s historian, said he would “blow the cover off baseball.” Mac Farlane, who was compiling the seventh edition of Daguerreotypes, the complete records of major league stars and executives, found that Ty Cobb’s career numbers needed a slight adjustment because of a bookkeeping error that had been made in 1910.
Record books credited Cobb with winning 12 American League batting titles, nine in succession (1907-15), on his way to a career average of .367 and a total of 4,191 hits. Every baseball fan knew those last two figures by heart.
But whoa! TSN had acquired a collection of notebooks used by Leonard Gettelson, who edited baseball record books, including such annuals as “The Little Red Book of Major League Baseball” and “One for the Book.” A daily log book used in production of the official averages for the AL lay idle until Mac Farlane discovered an extra entry for Cobb in a late-season Detroit Tigers’ game in 1910. Cobb had gone 2 for 3 in an incomplete game that should have been erased from the records. With those numbers counted, the Georgia Peach finished the season with 196 hits in 509 at-bats, a .385 average. Without that entry, he would have been 194 for 506, a .383 mark.
Does it matter much? Well, no, except that Napoleon (Nap) Lajoie of the Cleveland Indians wound up with a .384 average, going 227 for 591, and should have been the batting champion. Well, no, except that Cobb’s career hits total should have been 4,189 instead of 4,191. So Pete Rose could have gone into the 1985 season, in which he seemed sure to top Cobb’s career total, with 4,190 stamped across his forehead instead of 4,192 (Rose had a total of 4,256 hits when he finished as a player in 1986).
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and baseball’s Records Committee refused to make a change in Cobb’s totals, declaring that this was water over the dam. Nonetheless, Mac Farlane went ahead with the new edition of Daguerreotypes. Since that time, record books compiled by members of the Society of Baseball Research (with much help from computers) and others have recognized the 1910 glitch and accepted Mac’s revelation. Ironically, an eighth edition of Daguerreotypes, published in 1990, after Mac’s retirement, restored Cobb’s glory.
Players Would Drop In
The Sporting News had a handful of downtown St. Louis addresses before it moved to rented space at 2018 Washington Ave. in 1948.
Often, big-name players who arrived by train at Union Station to play the Cardinals or the Browns would walk in off the street to visit TSN staffers or to grab the latest issue of baseball’s “Bible.”
J.G. Taylor Spink was publisher for 48 years before his death in 1962, and he built strong ties with baseball’s establishment. His dad, Charles Spink, was co-founder of The Sporting News along with his brother, Al Spink.
The Spink family hosted dinner parties at their Clayton home for league officials, umpires and retired players. Ty Cobb exchanged correspondence with Taylor Spink, advising him to buy Coca-Cola stock. Those letters remain in the archives that were relocated to Charlotte, NC.
C.C. Johnson Spink, who became publisher after his father’s death, moved the company in 19969 from 2018 Washington to 1212 North Lindbergh Blvd., a half-hour drive from downtown. Johnson commissioned a new, low building with open-air courtyards – from a phot he’d taken on a trip to Spain.
Johnson Spink spent 43 years with TSN, which he sold to the Times Mirror Co. on Jan. 11, 1977. He remained as editor-publisher for five years and as a consultant thereafter. Richard Waters, who had been a Readers’ Digest vice-president, became president and CEO in March 1982. There were no Spink heirs to continue publication.
The new building and plant improved the production facilities, but the distance from downtown reduced the number of walk-in visits by celebrities. Among the notables in the 1980s was W.H. Kinsella, author of “Shoeless Joe,” a baseball fantasy that was adapted for the movie “Field of Dreams.”
Kinsella wanted to look through TSN’s index card file, hping to confirm that a relative from western Canada had been involved in pro baseball. He found “Sinister Dick” Kinsella, who had been an umpire, a scout for the New York Giants and operator of the Springfield, IL., club in the Three-I League.
The Illinois Kinsella recommended Earl Obenshain of Decatur, who was hired as TSN editor after Ring Lardner quit the job in 1911. Lardner went to the East Coast, and his series of stories about a dimwit first baseman named Jack Keefe was compiled and published in 1916 as “You Know Me, Al.” And that wasn’t Al Spink, co-founder of TSN in 1886 and great uncle of Johnson Spink.
Basketball’s Karl Malone, whose flight had a layover at Lambert St. Louis Airport on NBA draft day in 1985, took a cab from the airport to TSN to find out where he’d been picked. (The Louisiana Tech star was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 13th selection.) Malone became known as the game’s consummate power forward and finished his career as the league’s No. 2 all-time scorer. He earned more than $100 million in salary – putting him in the limousine league.
Managing Editor Dick Kaegel, in the early 1980s, hired Larry King as a columnist. King had been tossing bouquets to TSN as host of Mutual radio’s all-night talk show based in Washington, DC. King’s telegrams arrived each Tuesday, sans punctuation, capitalization and, often, with no clue about which item was to be the lede. There were plugs for some author’s “good summer read” and for a restaurant in DC.
Every King column contained a quip or reaction from a celebrity, and this required careful editing. If it was an A-list person speaking – Frank Sinatra, for instance – the quote would begin, “Well, Larry…” or “You know, Larry…” This same kind of salutation later seemed to develop on the “Larry King Live” television show. If a guest preceded each answer with “Mr. King,” the man in the suspenders responded, “You may call me Larry.”
By Bob McCoy
(Reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 9/2008).
Sporting News Leaves Town
After being based in St. Louis for 122 years, the Sporting News has ceased publication here.
It was moved July 5  to Charlotte, NC., the home of its owner since 2006, American City Business Journals.
The venerable sports newspaper, founded in 1886 by Alfred H. Spink, had only about 30 employees left in its Chesterfield office at the end. More than half agreed to make the move but others decided to leave the company; three staffers were to stay here, working out of their homes.
The Spink family had run Sporting News for many decades with a wide readership that gave St. Louis national attention. It was called “The Bible of Baseball” because of the statistics it ran of the games, teams and players. It covered other sports as well, mainly football, hockey, horse racing and boxing. The print version will be reduced in September from a weekly to every two weeks.
American City publishes the St. Louis Business Journal and a variety of other business and sports publications. Last summer, it merged its online New York and St. Louis operations of SportingNews.com to Charlotte.
The company said it was set to launch a new format on July 23 which would be the first free digital daily sports paper, called SportingNewsToday. This follows a trend of other publications to concentrate on their online communications in the face of increased competition from ESPN, Sports Illustrated and other web sites.
By Roy Malone
(Printed with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 7/2008).
Backlash to Sporting News Revamp
When Tom Barnidge left St. Louis a few weeks ago to take a position in Los Angeles with NFL Properties, a division of the National Football League, a chapter closed on the history of St. Louis sports writing. Barnidge has played a major role in what gets written about the St. Louis sports scene for more than two decades. He started off as a sports reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1970 and jumped to The Sporting News (TSN) in 1982, where he first served as managing editor and then as editor-in-chief, until dramatic restructuring of The News resulted in his leaving the publication in 1990.
Some veteran sports observers would say that Barnidge’s departure also closes a chapter in the history of The Sporting News, the oldest national news tabloid in the United States. Barnidge was one of a number of TSN veterans who were effectively let go because they did not fit into the plans to revamp and relaunch the publication, which began in 1990. That’s when Times-Mirror Co., which has owned the publication since 1970, brought aboard Tom Osenton as publisher and John Rawlings as the new editor.
The official “relaunch” of the publication came in march of this year , when The Sporting News went to press with wholesale changes, including dramatically altered content, new columns and a new printing process. The paper shifted its focus from sports results and information to opinion, analysis and interpretation. Perhaps more important, TSN turned to rely more on contributing writers and a considerably reduced and less-seasoned regular staff. With the exit of Barnidge, pro basketball writer Mike Douchant, pro football writer Howard Balzer, and editors John Hadley and Mike Douchant – The Sporting News lost almost five decades of combined service to the publication.
The wholesale changes at TSN have not had the desired effect of re-positioning the publication to compete more successfully with the proliferation of sports media in the United States. Circulation of TSN is reportedly down from a 1980s high of 740,000. Advertising revenue has also dropped significantly in the admittedly soft market of the recent recession. Perhaps more important, the new direction of TSN has alienated the genuine sports addicts whose loyalty to The Sporting News has been legendary.
“In my estimation, the new management has tried to take what was the corner grocery store and turn it into Schnucks,” said Barnidge, a few days prior to his Dec. 2 departure from St. Louis. “Basically Osenton wanted to give The Sporting News a new look and his position was that to improve the product, you have to drastically change the product. The trouble is that he’s lost the traditional following, while he hasn’t drawn the audience that might be more interested in glitz.”
Rumors in the sports publishing world hold that Times-Mirror has given an ultimatum that advertising and circulation must grow for TSN or the publication will face sale or closure. According to Barnidge, the writing was on the wall for The Sporting News when two “editorially oriented executives” retired from Times-Mirror in the period of a year.
“They were replaced by bottom-line guys who took over Times-Mirror,” said Barnidge. “When my boss, publisher Dick Waters, retired, Times-Mirror made the decision to replace him with Osenton and shortly thereafter, I handed over the baton as editor to John Rawlings. Osenton is a real USA Today guy. In fact, I think he has Al Neuharth’s ‘Confessions of an SOB’ displayed prominently on his office bookshelf.
“You can see the USA Today philosophy now in The Sporting News in the short articles, the snippets, pie charts and graphics. I don’t think that’s a bad formula,” added Barnidge. “It’s all to make for easier reading and to be easy on the eyes. But you can’t change the basic personality of a publication and keep the loyal readers.”
TSN editor Rawlings, however, defends the changes and contends that the disaffection of die-hard readers of The Sporting News had been minimal.
“When you make changes as drastic as we have, you’re inevitably going to alienate some long-term readers,” said Rawlings. “I’ve talked to a lot of them on the phone and answered their letters. I asked them to give us six months to evaluate what we were doing, and if they still weren’t happy, they could have a money-back, six-month refund. Very few have taken me up on that offer six months later.
“It’s true that our circulation is not as high as it was 18 months ago,” added Rawlings. “We’ve done some extensive circulation studies and what we found was that we had a number of readers that cost us a lot to attract, and who are difficult to keep. So our revenues are going to be better in the long run by letting those readers go.
“Our advertising is down about nine percent, but we really feel that is almost entirely due to the recession,” continued Rawlings. “I’ve seen some numbers that show the publishing industry, across the board, is down much more than nine percent. We have, in fact, attracted a lot of advertisers to the magazine who would have never come to us before, but who now find our new look attractive.”
In Barnidge’s view, the new look of The Sporting News involves more than just cosmetics. He said the editorial thrust of TSN also has been redirected, and he credits Osenton with this.
“Rawlings is editor, but I attribute the major change to Osenton,” noted Barnidge. “The general conceptual change is his. The editorial thrust of the publication is now quite different. We did a lot of behind-the-scenes profiles of major sports figures. Now they’re doing a lot of theme issues – ‘gambling in sports,’ for example, or ‘the fiscal responsibility of pro sports expansion.’ I think these are stories for business journals. I think the average sports fan wants to know if St. Louis is going to get a team; I don’t think he cares, if it’s fiscally responsible for the NFL to do.”
Sporting News History
In a 1984 profile of The Sporting News just a couple years shy of the publication’s centennial, Newsweek magazine described TSN as for diehards who “aren’t ‘sunshine soldiers’ who follow the local team only if it’s winning. The readers of The Sporting News are the sort who know that a midget named Eddie Gaedel batted for the St. Louis Browns in 1951 and wore the number 1/8, who know that a team can get six hits in an inning and still not score.”
Newsweek noted that Ty Cobb paid 25 bucks, in two installments for a lifetime subscription to The News; that a vice president named Richard Nixon offered to write an article for it, only to have Ike scotch the idea; and that an ayatollah in Iran let American hostages read The Sporting News while in captivity – and very little else.
Newsweek also noted that TSN fans are very resistant to change. They love “the old-fashioned disorderliness” that in the past has been a hallmark of the publication. Purists were shocked in the 1940s when a special football section was added to the exclusive coverage of The Game - baseball. In an effort to stave off criticism, TSN advised that the section was “easily removable” for the offended hard-core baseball fans.
The Sporting News was founded by St. Louis sportswriter Alfred Spink, who happily cranked out the first issue on St. Patrick’s Day of 1886. Al Spink left the paper to his brother Charlie, after writing and producing a play called “The Derby Winner,” which featured six live horses galloping on a treadmill. The play flopped miserably, and when Al realized he had a better thing going with TSN, Charlie let his prodigal playwright brother know that he was now holding tight to the reins of the fledgling publication.
When Charlie died in 1914, his son, J.G. Taylor Spink took over, but not before the twosome had had some knock-down, drag-out fights over such issues as whether baseball should have an American League, an idea that did not sit well with the older National League. By World War II, The Sporting News had a respectable circulation of 80,000. Aggressive marketing and expanded editorial content by Taylor Spink toward the end of the war brought the publication many more readers.
Taylor became ill in 1961, and the publishing responsibilities fell to his son, C.C. Johnson Spink, who was named after his grandfather’s good buddy Ban Johnson, founder of the American League. Johnson expanded coverage into other fields, including more than just the major sport in TSN’s repertoire. However, the biggest change for TSN came in 1978 when Johnson sold the sports tabloid to Times-Mirror for $18 million.
Aside from owning The Sporting News, Times-Mirror owns several other St. Louis properties including KTVI-TV and the medical publishing house, C.V. Mosby. Shortly after the purchase, Times-Mirror brought in Richard Waters, a former top editor at the Readers’ Digest, to “bring The Sporting News into the 20th Century,” as Waters told Newsweek.
Under Waters, circulation more than doubled from an initial figure of 325,000. The growing sports tab automated its plant operations and shed its “blue collar” image with a more-literate editorial content. Revenues soared to the $50-million range. Waters served as chief executive and president of the publication from 1981-1989, when he was replaced by Osenton.
The Reign of Osenton
“The ironic thing about the changes at The Sporting News is that when Osenton came in, he said he wasn’t going to make any changes until the readers were studied,” noted Howard Balzer, one of the refugees from TSN’s “re-launch.” A pro football writer for The Sporting News, Balzer now writes a column for The Riverfront Times and articles for Pro Football Weekly. He also has a popular sports talk show on weekday evenings on KXOK radio.
“Osenton said we would study the readers, and so there were focus groups conducted in Jacksonville, Florida, and Chicago. What they found out was that readers in these two places had totally different needs. Jacksonville readers wanted the sports statistics; Chicago readers said they could get all the stats that they needed elsewhere, that they were looking for something else,” Balzer explained.
Balzer said the Chicago readers “won out,” although he said he feels the changes at TSN were pre-ordained. He said he feels the focus groups were just window dressing to justify a decision to change TSN – a decision that had already been made at corporate headquarters, a decision to pare stats, research and experienced staffers while adding computer graphics and gimmicky layouts.
“I’ll never forget when Rawlings came into a meeting and said we were dropping the football statistics,” recalled Balzer. “I disagreed with him. Rawlings argued that readers can get their stats in the Monday newspapers. I argued that The Sporting News is delivered to readers at the end of the week, when people are ready to look at them as they start thinking about Sunday’s game. The irony is that Rawlings eventually had to put those stats back in after the readers wrote all kinds of angry letters.
“The same thing happened with the box scores on the baseball games,” continued Balzer. “I’ll never forget that meeting, when they put together the prototype for the new Sporting News. There were no box scores or statistics. I emphatically pointed out that those were missing.”
Once again, reaction from readers, who learned of the impending change, was vigorous. Rawlings expressed surprise at the outpouring of unhappiness. In the meantime, USA Today’s baseball edition was established, in part, because TSN was dropping baseball box scores in its new format.
“I would have bet my bottom dollar that’s one of the things we would drop,” Rawlings told John Sonderegger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “In my mind, I figured people were relying on other sources for box scores.” Rawlings made the comment to Sonderegger in an article entitled: “By Mistake, Sporting News Created Own Competition.” The headline referred to the USA Today baseball edition.
“Despite that new, improved prototype the box scores were kept,” said Balzer. “The editorial management made a lot of these moves without really knowing what’s been in the paper for years.”
Another of the famous meetings that Balzer remembers involved the announcement of the elimination of reporting on transactions – all kinds of personnel changes taking place between clubs and on teams. Once again, reader protest brought the reporting on the minutiae of transactions back into The Sporting News.
“The irony of what happened with the transactions is that they were brought back after all the people who were experts in the area had their jobs eliminated,” said Balzer.
“Most of us did not disagree with the need to make some changes at The News,” added Balzer. “But you have to strike a balance. You can’t throw out everything that the traditional readers want. It was almost as if someone came in and decided to put together a competitor to The Sporting News and brought in all these graphics and short pieces, while not worrying about all the nuts and bolts.”
Balzer is still bitter about the manner in which he and some of the other stalwarts of The Sporting News were let go. He does not mince words.
“I would just say that we were treated like dirt,” said Balzer. “There was never any respect for what we did or what we had done at The News. We were marked for departure. Rawlings is the type of manager who has to have control over everyone. Free spirits and different ideas are not tolerated.
“When all the changes were going on, I put in Sundays from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday morning, and one of those weeks I was called in by Rawlings and told that if I didn’t drastically improve by the end of the football season, there were going to be problems. I knew I was being set up to be fired once football season was over, and I wasn’t needed anymore.
“The same thing happened to Mike Douchant. He was used all through basketball season, and then, on the morning it was over, he was fired,” noted Balzer. “Rawlings said that The Sporting News didn’t need experts on sports, we just needed good editors. I think it was that he didn’t want anybody around who knew more about the individual sports than he does.”
For his part, Rawlings said he would not comment on the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of employees. He said he regarded these as personnel matters “and it would be inappropriate and less than professional for me to comment.”
Rawlings said he was familiar with trade gossip which suggested that Times-Mirror might be interested in unloading the publication, and that the continued existence of TSN might even be in the balance.
“There are a ton of rumors that go around,” said Rawlings. “I think it is accurate to say that Times-Mirror felt it was time to take a hard look at The Sporting News and do a serious evaluation, and we have. And we’re making changes. And I would put Tom Osenton at the top of the list as a creative manager who knows the direction he wants to take this product. We’ve got a new look. We’re attracting major new advertisers like Nike and Anheuser-Busch. That’s why I think our future is bright.”
Balzer says he’s aware of the stories in the sports community that suggest the survival of The Sporting News could be in jeopardy. There is bound to be a day of reckoning when the “Baseball Bible” is tampered with. But Balzer doubts such a fate awaits the venerable, old institution of The Sporting News.
“I think The Sporting News is going to remain with us for a while,” said Balzer. “I don’t know that it’s going to be considered the paper of record in sports that it once was. I don’t think that it’s going to be counted on, as it once was. It’s gone Yuppie. It’s just another one of those things that’s out there. It’s nice and flashy, without a lot of substance.”
By Don Corrigan
(Originally published in the St. Louis Journalism Review 12/1991).
The Paper In 1825
We see a copy of the “Missouri Advocate and St. Louis Public Advertiser.” The first two pages are taken up with a verbatim copy of an Address by Henry Clay in Kentucky. He ends his address thus, “That I have often misconceived your true interests is highly probable. That I have sacrificed them to the object of personal aggrandizement I utterly deny. And for the purity of my motives, however in other respects I may be unworthy to approach the Throne of Grace and Mercy, I appeal to the justice of my God with all the confidence which can flow from a consciousness of perfect rectitude.”
On page three the news begins. “With feelings which could only be created by a similar occasion we announce today the arrival of General Lafayette on the steamboat Natchez. Thrice welcome thou Son of Liberty and Companion of Washington to the Home of the Free.”
Here is another news item, “Our readers will see that the Allies have become tired of waiting for the death of King Ferdinand of Spain and have resolved to take out letters of administration and divide the old man’s estate while living. This is a novel proceeding and may be filled with many advantages unknown to the old method of settling affairs.”
Then there is an article urging that St. Louis be made a port of entry. “Seeing no possible objection to the measure, but on the contrary everything urging the adoption of it, we trust that our Government will not hesitate to grant a request so reasonable and necessary to our immediate welfare and prosperity.”
And then, “The Proprietor of the Mansion House Livery Stable respectfully informs the citizens of St. Louis that he is now prepared to accommodate then with Carriages, Barouches, Dearborns, Gigs and Saddle Horses.”
Next follows a “St. Louis Wholesale Prices Current.” Here we read that ham was 5 to 8 cents a pound, corn 18 to 20 cents a bushel, lard 6 to 8 cents a pound and whiskey 25 to 28 cents per gallon.
Then there were quotations of “Exchange.” United States “paper” was from 1 to 2 per cent premium. Drafts on Philadelphia and New York, par. Illinois State Bank, 68 per cent discount. Missouri Loan Office, 25 per cent discount. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 50 percent discount.
“Valuable Real Estate for Sale. The late residence of Col. Elias Rector near the mounds, containing Eight Arpens of Land, situate immediately north of the City of St. Louis. A good dwelling house, barn, stable, carriage house, ice house, garden, and an excellent well of water.”
(From The St. Louis Story by McCune Gill, 1952.)
Missouri Gazette Sold
Joseph Charless sold his paper [Gazette] and retired from editorial life in St. Louis. Under his skillful guardianship, the Missouri Gazette had grown from a twelve-column paper printed on a sheet of foolscap to twice that size printed on an imperial sheet. The number of subscribers consistently increased, from 174 at its beginning in 1808, to 1,000 by 1820. It was due to his tenacity of purpose, his untiring industry, ability and tact, and a strength of will which no disasters or threats could overcome, that Joseph Charless became a recognized influence in St. Louis during his lifetime, and his paper a living testimony to his energy and ability long after his death.
Upon the retirement of Charless, James C. Cummins became the new proprietor and editor of the Gazette. His first change was to substitute for the former motto of the paper another, "Principles Not Persons", which he considered "more generally applicable to the duties of a newspaper editor." The following year the office of the Gazette was moved from the southeast corner of Fifth and Market, where it had been since early in 1820, to a house on Main Street, "nearly opposite the Copper and Tinware Manufactory of Messrs. Neal and Liggett"...
Cummins closed his account with the Missouri Gazette on March 6, 1822, just eighteen months after his purchase of the paper from Joseph Charless. On that day Edward Charless, son of the founder, became its new proprietor and editor, and a few weeks later [he] changed its name to the Missouri Republican.
(Exerpted from Early St. Louis Newspapers, 1808-1850 by Dorothy Grace Brown, June 1931).
One ever-present problem was the frequent scarcity of news because of the irregularity and non-appearance of the mail from the East. At such times the editor was compelled to search for material to fill the columns of the Gazette. Another was the question of money and the pressing need of subscribers who would be willing to offer more than merely their names to the subscription list of the Gazette. The columns of the paper frequently bore notices such as this:
"The editor begs leave to inform those subscribers to the Gazette who are in arrears almost two years that he is made of flesh and blood, that Cameleon like he does not live on air, but endeavors to subsist like other folks, for this indulgence he is indebted to those who subscribed with an intention of keeping the ribs of the press oiled, and wished him to keep up that antique custom, eating and drinking." (Missouri Gazette 4/19/1810)
(Excerpted from Early St. Louis Newspapers, 1808-1950, by Dorothy Grace Brown 6/1931).
Missouri Gazette Expands
The patrons of the Missouri Gazette are respectfully informed that after the present week, the paper will be considerably enlarged, and every exertion made to render its appearance respectable and its contents interesting.
At the commencement of a publication of this kind in a part of the country so remote from the theatres of commerce and foreign intercourse, numerous impediments oppose the procuration of the latest and most important intelligence, owing to the impracticability of obtaining an immediate exchange of papers with the printers in different parts of the Union: These difficulties are now removed, and the present editor pledges himself that, hereafter, the Gazette shall appear in as handsome a form, and as well stored, with the passing tidings of the times, as his utmost care and unremitted attention can make it.
(Originally published in the Missouri Gazette 9/14/1808).
From the Editor
With this number we begin the issue of a new monthly magazine, "The Herald of Music," which we hope will be heartily welcome in the music world. We shall use every effort to make it not only interesting and popular, but also of such a character that it will further the cause of musical progress, especially in the West.
Among the leading and more attractive features to which we expect to add from time to time, if the success of our enterprise warrants, is, in the first place:
The publication each issue of twelve to sixteen pages of vocal and instrumental music, which will be mainly of a light, melodious and popular character, and yet will contain nothing trashy or vulgar. We shall endeavor to show by these publications that music of a higher class is not necessarily heavy or uninteresting. We feel certain that not only the general public but musicians, amateur and professional, will find much to interest them in this department.
Besides this strictly musical section we shall present discussions by prominent composers and eminent teachers upon such topics as are of general interest to the musical public.
There will also be reviews and criticisms of new compositions of note, written by thoroughly competent musicians and critics, which will be of great service to those who are on the lookout for new music.
Special care will be taken in the collection and editing of both general and local musical news, including correspondence from the different music centers of the United States and Europe, so that our readers will be kept informed of all important events in the musical world.
Another department which we expect to make of general use as well as interest is one which will contain practical hints and instructions to students of both instrumental and vocal music. This will be contributed to by teachers of known capability and experience.
In conclusion we would say that our aim is to bring before our readers everything which is good in musical science, theory, history, biography and literature, and if we succeed it is our expectation that the musical public will give us the support that our enterprise may deserve.
(Originally published in The Herald of Music, 7/1897).
New Magazine in Globe-Democrat
The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, beginning on March 12 , will include in its Sunday editions, besides "This Week," a new type, "local," color roto magazine to be called "Tempo." Several reader preference studies have shown that this type of roto magazine section reaches 90% to 95% of the readers of a Sunday newspaper.
"Tempo," according to its publishers, will concentrate its editorial and pictorial content on local subjects, with local people, local scenes and backgrounds being used to illuminate articles on a wide variety of topics from gardening to fashions; sports to interior decorations; personalities to home-building; beauty and health to food.
A special department has been organized at the Globe-Democrat with a staff of local writers, artists and photographers available for gathering local "slant" articles, stories and illustrations.
It is the consensus of manufacturers, advertisers and agencies who had a preview of the first edition of "Tempo" that this type of roto magazine section keeps the reader's interest and attention much longer than the straight news "picture" roto section, and that many more metropolitan Sunday newspapers will develop local type magazines as a means of giving their readers more nearly what they want. The Globe-Democrat's initial issue of "Tempo" will contain forty pages.
(Originally published in the St. Louis Advertising Club Weekly 3/6/1950).
Theodore Dreiser-Globe Reporter
One [January 21, 1893] afternoon [Theodore Dreiser] was idling at the Globe-Democrat office when a man burst in and told him excitedly that a passenger train had run through an open switch and crashed into some tanker
cars filled with oil on a spur track three miles from Alton, Illinois. None of the editors were in at the time, so Theodore hurried to the scene on his own initiative, planning to telegraph his copy from the station. Shortly after he
arrived there was a tremendous explosion. Flames burning around the tanks had caused two unruptured tanks to heat up, turning them into huge bombs which hurled a fiendish shrapnel – jagged chunks of white-hot metal
and scalding goblets of oil – onto the crowd of bystanders: “Many forms were instantly transformed into blazing, screaming, running, rolling bodies, crying loudly for mercy and aid. These tortured souls threw themselves to the
ground and rolled about on the earth. They threw their burning hands to tortured, flame-lit faces…They clawed and bit the earth, and then, with an agonizing gasp, sunk, faint and dying, into a deadly stillness.”
Goyaesque scenes of horror passed before his eyes; he tore off his coat and tried to beat out the flames on one shrieking human torch, to no avail.
All the while his mind was recording the carnage, thinking how to describe it. When a train bringing doctors and nurses arrived from Alton, he hurried to the depot where the dead and dying were taken. He watched physicians bend briefly over the charred figures on the litters. Most of them were beyond help. He automatically recorded the name of each doctor and other details. An “accommodation” (local) train was commandeered and the victims were placed aboard. Theodore came along and rode to Alton, where waiting wagons carried the sufferers to St. Joseph’s Hospital. He saw dirty, oil-soaked rags being cut away from bodies, laying bare scorched skin, swollen lips and noses, and “eyes that were either burned out or were flame-eaten and encrusted with blood and dust.”
A throng of relatives wandered about vainly seeking a recognizable face among the seared masks, whispering comforting words in their ears when they found a loved one. A group of parents, whose children had gone to the site of the wreck, milled in the hall asking for information. Theodore decided to act. He went from stretcher to stretcher, asking the occupant his or her name and address, telling those who protested, “Someone will want to know about you.”
“To those inquiring the list was read, and as the last name was spoken, and ‘that’s all’ ejaculated a score of sighs were heard, for many an anxious heart knew that a loved one was not in the list.”
Later in the afternoon a train arrived bearing more victims. Some begged the doctors to kill them. “I’m blind,” moaned one. “Oh, to be without eyes, to have the light shut out forever, that is too much. I want to die! I want to die!” Then, “a loving mother bowed low over the moaning form and buried her tear-stained face and misery-convulsed form in the clothing that shielded her son.”
By then Dick Wood had arrived to sketch the scene, but he was in a state of shock and kept muttering, “It’s hell, I tell you.” Theodore sent him to gather additional details and returned to the explosion site to interview eyewitnesses, who told of narrow escapes or of futility trying to assist agonized victims. A man aiding one human torch cut away the man’s clothes; in pulling off the sleeve of his coat, the skin of the victim’s hand stuck to it and came off like a glove. “I tried …to console him in his awful plight…He recognized my voice, and, with his burned and sightless eyes turned toward me, he managed to inform me that he was my old friend, James Murray.”
Finally, the city desk ordered Theodore to return and write up his story. When he arrived at the newsroom, reporters who had already read his brief telegraphed dispatches were talking excitedly. He went straight to his desk; as he finished each page, a boy would snatch it away and run to the copy desk. A knot of reporters gathered around him. At last it was done, and the next day’s front-page headlines proclaimed:
The next day Theodore went out again to compile further grisly details and to cover the coroner’s investigation, which was in progress. The two accounts add up to a remarkable job of reporting – long, vivid, gruesome (in the style of the times), yet ballasted with facts. Such was Theodore’s lack of confidence in himself, however, that in the aftermath he was seized by a fear that he had been wrong to chase after the story without getting permission. Mitchell (his boss in the city room), who disliked him, might think he had a swelled head; perhaps he would be fired. He was so late returning from his second trip that he missed his daily assignment, so when Mitchell told him that McCullagh wanted to see him right away, his heart sank.
“You called for me, Mr. McCullagh?” Theodore asked timidly.
“Mmm, yuss, yuss!” the editor replied, not looking at him. “I wanted to say that I liked that story you wrote, very much indeed. A fine piece of work, a fine piece of work!” He reached into his pocket, extracted a thick roll, and peeled off a twenty dollar bill. “I like to recognize a good piece of work when I see it. I have raised your salary five dollars, and I would like to give you this.”
Theodore took the bill, muttered his thanks, and stumbled out the door a reporter.
(From Theodore Dreiser – At the Gates of the City Volume 1 by Robert Lingeman, Putnam, 1986)
(Following is the account published in the Globe-Democrat Sunday, January 22, 1893. The only editing done was the removal of the list of the names of those killed and injured.)
One of the most appalling and disastrous wrecks that has occurred in years followed the negligence of a switchman on the Big Four road at Wann, Ill., yesterday morning. Passenger engine 109, drawing the Southwestern limited express of four coaches, headed east for New York, , crashed into an open switch a half mile north of Wann, a joint station of the Chicago and Alton and the Big Four roads, where seven oil tanks stood in line on the side track. The result was a fire, and later an explosion in which life and property were destroyed. The dead number six and the wounded twenty-two.
The crashing of the engine into the side-tracked oil tanks was not disastrous in itself. The consequent explosion and fire that occurred two hours later caused the terrible havoc, but not among the passengers. It was the sightseers from Alton, Ill., who suffered the loss of life and limb. The Southwestern limited train that leaves St. Louis in the morning for New York and arrives at Wann at 8:48 a.m., was thirteen minutes late. At Wann, which is a flag station, there is no side track, but a half-mile further on, opposite the little cluster of houses known as Alton Junction, several tracks are laid side-by-side with the main line to permit switching and the taking on of cattle from a stock yard which is there. On one of these tracks several oil tanks filled with refined lubricating oil and consigned to the Waters-Pierce oil company of this city, were left standing by the switch engine of the Vandalia Line, which brought them there from Beardstown, Ill. The switchman who has charge of this section is R. Gratten who, it is said, is both a switchman and a barber, managing to eke out a precarious existence by combining the salaries of the two. To this gentleman’s door is laid the entire blame by more than one employee of the Big Four. Last evening, it is said, he left Alton Junction, his home, for parts unknown.
The Fatal Crash
When the limited arrived the switch was still open, Rushing along at a speed of fully forty miles per hour the limited rushed into the switch and on, fairly over the tanks, splitting two of them in twain and throwing the rest crushed right and left. The engineer, Webb Ross, and the fireman, Dick White, both saw the danger. White swung himself from the side of the flying train and ran out across the fields. Webb Ross stood manfully to his post, reversed the lever and threw on the air brakes, but to no avail. The velocity overpowered all opposition. Ross stood the shock and still found time to leap from the cab. Almost instantly, however, the burning oil had spread about the engine and the ground was a seething sea of flames. Into this he plunged – a break for life. The flames burned away his garments and scorched his body into a blackened mass. He emerged from the flames only to fall dead at the top of the bank that led from the track. Next to the engine was the baggage car and café car, the occupants of which were badly shaken up and thrown to the floor. The same condition affected the passengers of the three remaining palace cars, but further than that no one of the thirty passengers was injured. They rushed to the doors on realizing the catastrophe and made good their escape. The flames soon spread from the tank to the cars, and for several hours they burned fiercely in the morning breeze. In the baggage end of the first car were the mails, eleven pieces of baggage, and a corpse, which was being forwarded from the Southwest to Boston. The body was that of Mrs. Morrison.
The Second Explosion
The passengers gathered about the blazing wreck and began looking for anyone who might need assistance. The villagers from the little town of Alton Junction rushed to the scene; word was telegraphed to St. Louis, Alton and neighboring points, and the company ordered a wrecking train with a score of physicians to the scene. The news of the burning wreck brought hundreds of sightseers from Alton, which is only three miles north of the wreck. They gathered about viewing the flames and chatting idly. At 11 o'clock the horrible addition to the already shocking story was made. Two of the remaining tanks, apparently not yet affected, reached the climax of self-containing heat. An explosion followed that shook the ground for miles about. Seething, blazing oil was showered upon the onlookers, thrown high in the air and over onto the comfortable cottages of villagers who lived by the roadside. The scene that followed beggars description. Many forms were instantly transformed into blazing, screaming, running, rolling bodies. crying loudly for mercy and aid. These tortured souls threw themselves to the ground and rolled about on the earth. They threw their burning hands to tortured, flame-lit faces, from which all semblance to humanity had already departed. They clawed and bit the earth, and then, with an agonizing gasp, sunk, faint and dying, into a deathly stillness. The horrible holocaust had been accomplished. Five souls had been burned into eternity and twenty-two had been maimed, blinded, burned into an unsightly condition that made every face blanch and every heart shudder. In all this awful holocaust distraction and frantic fear held away.
Paralyzed With Fear
People perfectly safe and unharmed stood wringing their hands, crying out in useless fear or rushing madly to and fro in almost an agony of despair. The explosion gathered together all those who had previously left the wreck, or had as yet not heard of it. They gathered in throngs, but their presence was ineffective and entirely useless. Water would not quench the hissing, flaming oil, and more than that, water was not to be had. The little village of Alton Junction has no water supply except a few wells. The explosion drove the shattered mass of iron with fearful velocity far across the fields. Some of it fell close at hand, however, and pinioned the bystanders beneath its weight of molten heat. The wires overhead leading to St. Louis were melted, fell to the earth, severing all direct connection with the city. The only alternative was to bring aid from Alton, Ill., three miles away. At 11:30 a.m., the train arrived bearing the medical staff of St. Joseph's Hospital, with the exception of Drs. W.R. Haskell and T.P.P Yerkes, who had left in the early morning in response to the first call for aid. The second call brought Drs. W.H. Haliburton, E. Guelick, Figenbaum, Scheussler and Fisher, of Alton; also Drs. Gross and Thomas of Gillespie. They hurried from the wrecking train to the scene and superintended the removal of the bodies. Shutters and cots were brought from various little homes and the moaning victims were wrapped in blankets and cloths and carried to the Big Four station at Alton Junction. The scene at the little frame depot was exciting. A great crowd stood about and blocked the entrance way to the various rooms. One by one the litters came, borne by strong, willing citizens who drove back the morbidly curious and filed into the little depot waiting room.
Caring for the Injured.
Here the couches were arranged side by side, and over each one a physician bowed for a few minutes to see just how serious the wounds were. Nothing could be done, for no lint or ointment could be applied that would ease the blackened flesh and bones of the half-charred frames. Every now and then the cover was slightly raised to see if life still remained. The gents' waiting room would only hold five bodies, and when that number had been laid side by side the north room was cleared of benches and the coming litters arranged in this also. There were still others, and out on the platform they were tenderly cared for by the self-appointed nurses. The others were carried across the fields to the little cottages, where the families ministered all that could possibly ease their suffering. By 12 o'clock the Mattoon accommodation train was ready to depart for Alton. In the four coaches and baggage car the dead and the dying were deposited. The work of loading the dead and dying was another appalling spectacle. Out from the waiting room were borne the litters and gently lifted into the cars. From out of the little cottages the wounded were again borne, followed by all the villagers, talking and gesticulating, but in a mournful, subdued manner. When the train had been filled the signal was given and the hospital train was off. Notice was telegraphed to the Alton Police and Fire Departments, who prepared to assist in removing the bodies from the train to St. Joseph's Hospital, which stands on a hill overlooking the city. The accommodation stopped some seven blocks south of the regular station to permit a short cut to the hospital. At this point were gathered a score of wagons, prepared to do duty as ambulances. Here, too, had gathered hundreds of the local residents who had heard of the awful wreck. It was with difficulty that the crowd was forced back from the cars and the bodies lowered. Then started the succession of wagon journeys to and from the hospital that in no time lined the way with thousands of people gaping and talking in an anxious, nervous manner. From every window and doorway, in back and front yards, on the stoops and hanging on the fences that lined the way the people looked out and down on the procession.
At the Hospital
From the railroad track to the hospital gate is three straight blocks, ascending very rapidly to the crest of the hill, where St. Joseph's stands. The ascent was necessarily slow and gave ample time for the crowd to satisfy its curiosity. Before the hospital door another immense throng was gathered, anxious and almost determined to view the unrecognizable faces that passed on litters through the entrance-way. Inside all was confusion and hurry. Dr. Haskell, the physician in charge, returned with the train and hurried to and fro, gathering about him his staff and urging his assistants to great speed. The sick of the hospital are attended by the Sisters of Charity, and they busied themselves in taking the suffering to the respective rooms. In a little while three rooms on the main floor were filled with the wounded. The sick that had occupied them were borne out into the hall or carried into other rooms less crowded. The work was lovingly, anxiously done. Each sign and groan of pain found an echoing response in the heart of the self-sacrificing attendants. One room was cleared for surgical purposes, but was not used until all of the first train had been cared for. The scenes in the rooms where the wounded had been removed from the rough temporary litters into the snowy couches were heart-rending. The removal was necessary, however, and much as the victims shrieked and groaned, the work went on. Lying on the couches, the dirty, oil-soaked rags were cut away from the bodies and laid bare the horrible work of the burning oil. The hands and faces of all were scorched, torn and bleeding. The lips and noses were swollen and distorted, and the eyes were either burned out or were flame-eaten and encrusted with blood and dust. The hands of many were burned to a crust, fingers were missing and arms broken. Several of the victims when uncovered were found to be without cuticle, the flames having cooked it and burned it until it either clung to the clothing on removal or fell away of its own accord.
The Search For Lost Ones
When all arrangements were made the public was admitted. An eager throng of mothers, fathers, wives and daughters hurried along the aisle and into the chambers of suffering. Here they viewed each face, but in many cases without avail, for the forms and faces were unrecognizable. By dint of questioning, many of the sufferers were induced to reveal their names. These were taken down by the Mother Superior, Mary Joseph, who preserved the list to guide the inquirers. Soon by each bed, with anxious, tear-stained faces and disheveled appearance, stood the relatives and friends whispering words of comfort into the dying ears, sobbing words of cheer that were half-choked in the utterance. Many of the patients recognized the voices of friends and friends and moaned appeals for aid, for to be spoken to, cheered, lifted up and the like. In the main hall stood a throng of anxious parents whose boys had gone down to the wreck in the early morning and had not yet returned. They appealed to the physicians, the Little Sisters and the attendants generally for information concerning their missing children. A Globe-Democrat reporter entered the chamber of suffering and went from couch to couch inquiring from the distorted occupant his name, age and address. After and long period of waiting and general questioning, the list was completed and he returned to the hall. To those inquiring the list was read, and as the last name was spoken and "that's all" ejaculated, a score of sighs were heard, for many an anxious heart knew that the loved one was not on the list.
A Second Hospital Train
At 3:30 p.m. a second hospital train that had been sent to Wann by the railroad company returned to Alton. At Wann the same scenes were re-enacted, and at Alton the same crowd lined the way to watch the progress of the painfully thrilling work. This train brought four bodies from the scene of the disaster. They were those that had since been prepared for the journey, having missed the first train. The progress up the hill was none the less interesting. The throng at the gate, though having watched without food and drink during the long hours of the morning, were none the less eager in their looks nor none the less backward in pressing forward to look at the bodies. The work of the noon hour had nerved the attendants and practiced their ability in taking care of the unfortunates. So they were received and placed with rapidity and ease. In the temporary department of surgery the unfortunates were borne one by one. In this three surgeons stood ready with knives, cotton and lint bandages and plenty of ointment. The victims were stretched out, their clothes cut away, and their wounds dressed and bandaged. Most of them were horrible burned all over, instead of in splotches, and every breath of air seemed to give them the most intense pain. The majority were fully conscious of their awful condition and asked to be handled carefully. Some were stronger than others and wanted to move about.
Begged to Be Killed
Several begged to be killed, that they might be free from their pain. “Oh, I’m blind,” moaned one; “I feel that my eyes are gone. Oh, I could stand all, everything. I could be burned with satisfaction; I could be crippled or deformed forever, but to be without eyes, to have the light shut out forever, that is too much. I want to die! I want to die!” and then a loving mother bent low over the moaning form and buried her tear-stained face and misery-convulsed form in the clothing that shielded her son. Several little boys were among the victims, their moanings were the source of much distress to all the others. Still others were only slightly injured and deeply congratulated themselves upon their luck in escaping at all. One of these, Charles Hammond, a track-walker for the Big Four, had escaped with the loss of his hair, several severe scalp wounds and a burned hand. He sat in the corridor of the hospital, solemnly viewing the proceedings. In reply to questions from a Globe-Democrat reporter Mr. Hammond said: “I am a track-walker for the Big Four, traveling between Venice and Alton at night time, and my home is al Alton Junction. My work was all done, of course, and I was sleeping soundly when my wife woke me up to tell me of the horrible wreck. I jumped up and ran over to the place. There was nothing that I could do. Water would do no good, and so I stood looking on. I had started to stroll away when the explosion occurred. I intended going north to the Junction Station, but I had not run 70 feet away before I was knocked to my knees by the crash of the tank. I felt the hot oil light on my head and hands and felt the fearful burning sensation. To relieve myself I buried my head in the earth and threw dirt over my hands. Then I ran away. I don’t know how fast. Here at the junction I met a physician who bandaged my head and hand. Then they put me on my wrecking train and I came here. The sound wasn’t so loud as it was stunning. I didn’t look back much. All I wanted was to get away. The man that had charge of the switch at that place was a fellow by the name of R. Gratten. He kept a barber shop and attended the switch at the same time. The company hired him simply because he was cheap. I know that he has gone out of the country already, and they won’t find him soon. It’s a shame that a railroad company should be allowed hire men to do work in that manner, risking the lives of passengers, simply because it is cheap.”
Scenes at the Wreck
The scene at the wreck late in the afternoon was one of vast destruction. The burning oil had been thrown for a distance of 800 feet or more, and had set fire to two little cottages that stood facing the track. The little dwellings belong one to a man by the name of Jones and the other to Car Inspector Emery, of the Big Four. They could not be found, however, as they had gone to Alton with the hospital trains. On the track where the seven oil tanks had stood a line of melted, rusted car trucks and piles of ashes lay. Lying in a molten heap among them were the gnarled remnants of engine 109, and back of it the ashes of the four coaches with bars of twisted, protruding iron completed the side-track picture. To the east a wrecking train brought from East St. Louis lay, and to this the gang of wreckers carried whatever they saw fit to remove. The work of clearing the debris from the main track was soon accomplished, and trains plied to and fro at will. A small crowd of sightseers was gathered about the place, but always at a discreet distance from an oil tank that had not yet exploded, and which was credited with being perfectly empty. They plodded to and fro, each one bent upon gathering some little stick or piece of iron as a souvenir or memento of the great disaster. A little north of the station the bodies of the six dead lay in order awaiting the coming of the Coroner. One of these was identified by a watch upon his person which bore his name – Edward Miller. A singular feature of his death was that his watch stopped at 11:10, supposedly the time of the great explosion which buried him beneath a mass of heated iron. The telegraph operators and station employees generally were very cautious about their remarks. They professed ignorance of the number and names of the dead and the extent of the damage. Their orders, they said, were to keep still, and that if they talked, they were liable to lose their positions. The porter of the Wagner sleeping car that was attached to the train was found sitting morosely alone on a box near the station at Alton Junction. He refused to give his name, but the badge on his coat read “Wagner 474.” He said that the first knowledge he received of the calamity was when he was tossed over the back of a reclining chair and lay flat on the floor. He said the jolt was fearful and every body in the car was more or less tossed about. When the occupants recovered their feet and wits they hurried to the door. The oil from the tanks was already flowing toward the cars, a regular wave of flame, which gave little time for any one to leave in. Many of the passengers hurried away towards the station, fearing further trouble. “I did not stay long,” said the gentleman. “I knew there was goin’ to be more trouble, an’ so I just pulled off. I came down here and I didn’t go back nuther, nor I ain’t goin’. I’ve been in wrecks before, an’ I know enough to git out an’ away jist as far as the Lord’ull let me,” and with that, the porter lapsed into silence and refused to be disturbed by further questions. The station agent at Wann said that he thought the company had lost something like $300,000 by the fire. “The company won’t pay anything to all these sightseers who gathered about here to view the ruins. They have no business here, and, of course, if they come to grief, it is no fault of the company’s.”
In the City of Alton the news of the wreck was the topic of the hour. The streets there had the appearance of a county seat upon the arrival of some big circus. Everybody was out of doors. The streets were promenaded by the inhabitants; the store fronts were occupied by crowds of gossiping residents who collected together for the sole purpose of recounting the enormity of it and of recalling the great wrecks of the past. The depot station was the resort of another class who vaguely imagined that each incoming train would bear peculiar intelligence relative to the matter that might not be had elsewhere in the city. The offices of the local newspapers were scenes of vast activity, and the floors of the same were strewn with paper on which were scribbled more than a dozen introductions to the wreck. Sister Mary Joseph, the Mother Superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital, was one of the calm central figures around which a dozen excited assistants revolved with more or less rapidity, according to her directions. The sight of mutilated forms, while it stirred her heart into expressions of sincerest pity, failed to upset the goodly common sense and directing ability that characterized her every word. To a Globe-Democrat reporter, Mother Mary said: “We have dealt with the victims of wrecks before. They come to us very frequently, and we try to do all that human charity can do. This is not the first time that I have watched the incoming of wounded souls by scores. Two years ago there was a wreck, eight miles north of here, in which three were killed and some fifteen of the wounded were brought here. No. I have had experience and I give with all my heart to the suffering souls about me. I only trust that their pain will be less now than before.”
Some of the Witnesses
Among those who were witnesses to the explosion were J.L. Maupin and Robert Curdy, real estate men of Alton. Mr. Maupin, in company of J.H. McPike, was advancing toward the scene and was about 200 feet distant when the explosion occurred. The force of the shock for an instant turned them back and separated them. Mr. Maupin in relating his experience says:
“For a short while I made Nancy Hanks time in the opposite direction, but quick as I was, the flames overtook me and burned these holes you see in the back of my coat. As soon as the heat subsided sufficiently to admit it, I hurried to the scene and did all in my power to alleviate the sufferings of the victims. I saw a man running toward me in a sheet of flame. Just as he got to me he fell. Pulling out my knife I cut, as best I could, the blazing garments from off his body. When I had succeeded in extinguishing the flames, I stopped only long enough to ascertain that his name was Richardson, and then hurried on to assist the other unfortunates. In the meantime Robert Curdy and others were engaged at different points in their heroic efforts.”
Mr. Curdy said: “I think the force of the explosion must have spent itself in my direction. Although I was 600 feet distant when it occurred, the flames swept by me and passed in a sheet over my horse and rig, which were standing near. I can hardly describe the noise. It was not like a cannon, nor like thunder, but more like the rushing of a mighty force of air. Looking around me I saw boys and men running all directions through the fields.
Relieving His Sightless Friend
“One man headed toward me. I did not recognize him, but I called to him to stop, which he did. I had my knife in hand, and as he halted, I rushed up to him and cut and slashed away through a sheet of flame until there remained not a vestige of his original habillments. I tried with my voice to console him in his awful plight as with my hands I did what I could to alleviate his pain. He recognized my voice, and with his burned and sightless eyes turned toward me, he managed to inform me that he was my old friend, James Murray. In pulling off the sleeve of his coat, the skin of his hand stuck to it and came off like a glove, the nails with it. I threw dust over him and rolled him in the dirt. When I had extinguished the flames, little was there in that charred but breathing mass having any resemblance to James Murray. Others hurrying up took him in charge and, bundling him into a wagon, bore him to his home in Alton, where, I hear, he still lives.
“Over near the house, on the embankment and to the west of the scene of horror,” continued Mr. Curdy, “lay the smouldering remains of a boy of 14 or 15 years of age. It is supposed his name was Hagerman. I shouted to the fleeing ones to walk, not run, as running but fanned the flames. Hurrying on I overtook Willie McCarthy, a lad of 13. After I had done all I could for him, and with scarcely a bit of clothing left on him, he lay down and in his agony rolled over and over in the snow and ice. By this time the crowd of helpers had swelled considerably, and finding Mr. Maupin we jumped in the rig and whipped up toward Alton to secure increased medical attendance. To everyone we met we hastily communicated the sad intelligence of the second disaster and the dreadful plight of the victims. Houses were stripped of bed clothes, pillows and the like, and a multitude of tender and sympathetic care-takers was soon in attendance. On the road we met several doctors urging their steeds to the limit of endurance. In a short time after our arrival at Alton, every available physician was speeding on his errand of mercy.”
The News in St. Louis
General Western Agent W.F. Snyder, of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, whose headquarters are in Hurst’s Hotel, St. Louis, had but little information to give out concerning the holocaust near Alton. As soon as the collision took place the operator at Wann placed himself in communication with the main office of the Big Four system at Cincinnati, and the St. Louis office was “cut out” for a time. At 5 o’clock Mr. Snyder’s advices were that Engineer Webb had been killed and that in the subsequent explosion five men and a boy had lost their lives.
“The Big Four has been rather unfortunate of late,” said he, “though I can hardly see how the company can be blamed for the awful sequel to the collision. This morning I understood that the Southwestern Limited had stopped at the water tank opposite Wann Station, and that hot ashes and embers falling on a rivulet of oil that trickled from a single tank car on a siding had caused an explosion. Wann is a great transfer point, and five cars of oil are seldom left long in one spot. The station is about four miles back from the Mississippi River and gets its name from the Wanns, who were heavily interested in the old Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad. Some three months ago two freight trains crashed together on a bridge near Terre Haute, Ind., pulling down a pier and costing the company about $85,000. I know of no St. Louis people hurt, and inasmuch as no passengers were injured, I have made no preparations for the reception of the wounded. The Southwestern Limited is a New York through train and our best one, though at this season traffic is not very heavy.”
Chief Dispatcher’s Advices
H.M. Stubblefield, Chief Train Dispatcher of the Big Four road in this city, was busy all day in the operating rooms at the Knapp building in St. Louis. When asked for a statement regarding the wreck he said, briefly: “Train No. 18, leaving the St. Louis Union Depot at 8:05 a.m., ran into an open switch at the west end of the Wann yards and collided with a number of oil tank cars. Engineer Webb Ross was killed and Fireman Dick White jumped and escaped. The engine and café car were destroyed. We do not know who left the switch open. About 11:40 o’clock some of the fire reached the tank cars, and five men and a boy who were standing by were killed. A wrecking train was sent at 9:30 o’clock.”
A Wreck in War Times
Two other memorable wrecks have occurred at Alton Junction, but in neither of the former were any deaths reported. The junction is built on the upper end of the great Sand Ridge and is the nearest point of the main line of the Big Four to Alton. A plug train from Alton joins the track at right angles, and the main line passes over Wood River and on up through the bluffs just above the town. In 1963 or 1864 the plug train had passed around a Y preparatory to proceeding on to Alton. It was supposed that the two trains could easily pass, but wrong signals caused a collision. The smaller train was turned over, but it is said only a few of the passengers sustained any bruises at all. Mike Bartlett, the conductor, escaped with a black eye.
A Serious Wreck in 1866
Later, however, in 1866, a more serious jump off occurred and the passengers were pretty badly shaken up generally. The engineer, fireman and baggagemaster, who resided in St. Louis, were badly injured, and the company lost considerable broken cars. Just below the junction where the tracks leave the Sand Ridge, the Big Four and Chicago and Alton Railways meet and run parallel to St. Louis. In those days, it is said, the trainmen of both roads took great delight in racing from the meeting point to the first stopping place, Long Lake. The Indianapolis and St. Louis of that date had been delayed for a few seconds at the water tank, and as the engineer neared the opening he heard the defiant whistle of the Chicago and Alton engine rounding the curve at Milton bridge. He probably put on all steam and started up a high speed, as he knew the lead of a few yards meant success in the race to Long Lake seven or eight miles below. In his hurry he no doubt failed to notice the open switch, which had been thrown to admit a gravel train to a sand pit on the left. The engine and train plunged on through the open switch and down through Hon. Z.B. Job’s meadow, a distance of at least 300 feet, before it was stopped by the soft ground. The engine and baggage car careened, but the occupants had jumped before the ditch was reached. The passenger cars and the occupants were badly shaken up, but none of the passengers, it seems, were badly hurt. John J. Snowball, the Assistant Roadmaster, conveyed the injured men to Alton, and other employees hauled the passenger cars back on the track. The baggage car was burned and the engine was a total loss, and remained many months in the place where it fell. The news of the accident then, as now, caused the people of Alton, Bethalto, and the farmers of the surrounding country to flock to the scene in great numbers. Even long after the wreck had been cleared away the old settlers would spend long hours in relating the great story of how an engine and a train had crossed Job’s pasture from the Indianapolis and St. Louis and finally jumped on the other track.
A Conductor on the Explosion.
The reports that reached the Union Depot last night of the horrible wreck were very confusing. Some placed the loss at fifty lives, with almost 100 injured, while others placed the loss at only one killed and about six injured. James H. McClintock, a conductor on the Big Four, was an eye-witness of the explosion. When seen at the depot last night by a Globe-Democrat reporter, he said:
“We arrived at Wann Junction on our westward trip about 11:30 o’clock. We then heard of the wreck, which had occurred about 9 o’clock. Webb Ross, the engineer, was the only one reported killed. The cars and oil tanks were then burning only a few blocks away. I was standing on the platform viewing the destruction, when all of a sudden an explosion shook the very ground beneath my feet and rattled the windows in the station. There were hundreds of people standing near, and as a sheet of flame shot into the air over 100 feet high, the crowd attempted to escape. Before they had moved any distance to speak of the burning mass of oil came down on them. Shrieks of agony, groans and stifled cries met our ears with a sickening effect. Pell mell scattered the human beings, bereft of all feelings, only endeavoring to get out of reach of a fiery death. Those caught in the burning mass must have perished immediately. People came running in all directions without a shred of clothing on their persons, the fiery liquid having done its work only too well. Their hair singed to a crisp and their bodies a mass of blisters, the wretches presented a heart-rending sight. Taken all together, it was the most awful sight that was ever pictured. It was a scene impossible to describe. I remember one little boy 13 years old who ran into the depot utterly naked and crawled under the benches frantic with fear. All blistered as he was, he unhesitatingly asked an anxious gazer to bring a priest. There was none around, and the boy half smiled, closed his eyes and lapsed into unconsciousness. In a spectacular sense the explosion was one of the grandest sights man ever witnessed. Fireworks were never invented which cast such a pretty reflection in the sky as did the burning oil on this disastrous occasion.”
Grief at East St. Louis
When the news of the frightful accident at Alton Junction reached East St. Louis yesterday hundreds of people flocked to the Relay Depot, telephone and telegraph offices to learn if any of their relatives or friends were among the dead or wounded. Many mothers and wives whose husbands were employees of the Big Four ran from place to place wringing their hands and giving vent to their great distress, as during the great excitement no definite information could be obtained. Scores of the immediate friends of ex-Alderman Patrick Vaughan, who, next to poor Ross, is the oldest engineer on the road, haunted the Big Four years. Mr. Vaughan, however, it was learned, had just passed Wann, and the train following had met with the mishap. Then again it was rumored that George Kirby, another engineer of the road and highly respected citizen of East St. Louis, was at the throttle of the ill-fated engine. Finally, when the facts were wired, the friends of all engineers but Ross and those of Timothy Houlihan, the fireman who was injured, returned to their usual business.
Ross was well known in East St. Louis. He had a regular run on the Cairo Short Line, the southern division of the Indianapolis and St. Louis, which now forms a part of the Big Four, and resided for many years in the southern part of the city. As he spent more time at Bloomington than in East St. Louis he removed to that city several years ago. The scene at the depot was one which will be remembered by all who witnessed it. Seldom has such a demonstration of grief on the part of the people been noticed. From some cause only meager news from the place could be obtained, and the lack of information seemed to play upon those present. Many imagined that friends were purposely withholding the facts of a death, and pleaded with everyone about the Relay Depot for the names of those who had met their death.
Westliche Post Turns 75
Ad Club Honors Westliche Post
75th Anniversary Celebrated.
Rife with comedy and replete with historical reference, the revelry which marked the celebration of Deutscher Tag by the Advertising Club last Tuesday did not drown certain significant sayings from the speakers’ table.
Among those who rose to honor the 75th anniversary of the Westliche Post was Honorable Richard Bartholdt, who has been spokesman for the Congress delegation to twelve Interparliamentary Conferences in Europe. Mr. Bartholdt, previous to introducing the speaker of the day, told of an incident when he was a candidate for the House of Representatives from St. Louis.
He listened to an opponent curry the favor of voters of German descent by frequent reference to sauerkraut, pretzels and lager. Bartholdt bided his time, then demanded the floor. He told of his deep admiration for Schiller, Kant, Wagner, Mozart and others of illustrious name. “I think every one of the fellows who heard me voted for me,” Bartholdt said. Probably they did; he was in the House for 22 years.
The crowd last Tuesday found Schwartz’ German Band a great treat. With many things offered in the name of music in this day, it’s a relief to hear numbers admittedly trying to be funny, and succeeding in that.
But give the crowd credit for thrilling also to the address of A.F. Gerecke, general manager of the Westliche Post. He spoke on “Both Sides of the Desk.”
Executives on the publishers’ side, he said, sometimes turn down a chance to get valuable information from the other side. Circulation alone is not the key to whether a publication is liked, read, needed and wanted. A buyer, confronted with the mass, may miss the situation of local importance which contact with a salesman can give.
American Through and Through
In promotion calculated to appeal to readers of the German language paper, Mr. Gerecke said it has been found characteristic that they are seeking the American point of view, that they want to be, and to be known as, Americans.
(Originally published in the St. Louis Advertising Club Weekly 3/14/1932).
Pulitzer's Work at the Westliche Post
Of Joseph Pulitzer's advent as a reporter in St. Louis, the late William Fayel had this recollection:
"In those days the alley back of the old post office on Third and Olive streets was a lively thoroughfare. One sultry day most of the reporters of the city were in that alley, attracted by some incident which promised news. Suddenly there appeared among us the new reporter. He apparently had dashed out of the office upon receiving the first intimation of whatever was happening without stopping to put on his coat or his collar. In one hand he held a pad of paper and in the other a pencil. He did not wait for information but announced that he was the reporter for the Westliche Post and began to ask questions of everybody in sight. I remember to have remarked to my companions that, for a beginner, he was exasperatingly inquisitive. Pulitzer was so industrious that he became a positive annoyance to others who felt less inclined to work. As it was considered quite fitting in those days to guy the reporters on the German papers, the English reporters undertook to curb Pulitzer's eagerness for news. On more than one occasion the new reporter was sent out from the coroner's office on a wild goose chase. But it was then observed that while taking this banter in good part, Pulitzer never relaxed his efforts. The consequence was that the city editors of the English papers soon discovered that the Westliche Post often contained news which they missed. Major George W. Gilson, city editor of the Missouri Democrat, posted an order on the bulletin board directing reporters to give less time to attempts to delude the German reporters and more time to work in competing with them. We soon learned to appreciate Pulitzer's extraordinary capacity for news-gathering. Of all his qualities, the most notable was his determination to accomplish whatever he set out to do. I recall an incident. Pulitzer was at Jefferson City as the correspondent of the Westliche Post. I was the correspondent of the Republican. One night there was a secret Democratic caucus to which only representatives of the Democratic papers were admitted. Early in the session there was a noise in the corridor. Suddently the doors were burst open. The doorkeeper was sent sprawling. The correspondent of the Westliche Post walked down the aisle to the press table, laid down his pad of paper, took his seat. No one raised question or objection. The next day the Westliche Post was the only Republican paper which had a report of the caucus."
(Quoted in St. Louis,the Fourth City by Walter Barlow Stevens, 1909) .
Prom Makes Debut as New Teenage Publication
Julian H. Miller II, formerly account executive of Olian Advertising Company, has resigned to become head of a new firm, Miller Publications, Inc. The company will, among other things, publish a monthly 52-page magazine, "Prom," exclusively for the high school teenagers of Greater St. Louis and vicinity.
The magazine, which has the approval of school officials, the Associated Retailers of St. Louis, and civic leaders, will feature photographs of the dances, parties, sports and fashions at the public, private and parochial schools of this area, with a special column from each school written by a student of that school. General interest youth features covering fashions, fads, sports, records, entertainment and merchandise will be slanted particularly toward the local market.
Prom will be on sale at all news stands on the first of every month at 15 cents per copy beginning March 1. Advertisers include both local retailers and national manufacturers. No cigarette or alcoholic beverage advertising is accepted.
(Originally published in the St. Louis Advertising Club Weekly 2/3/1947).