Bio: Harvey, Wells Fox (1879 - 1971)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Harvey, Yons, Lauscher, Zank, Mathis, Lux, Hancox, Ender, Knox, Hearst, Vandenberg, Roosevelt, Wilson, Longworth, Wright, Fox, Long, Berkowitz
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 3/04/1971
Harvey, Wells Fox (21 January 1879 - 25 February 1971)
Memorial services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the United Church of Christ in Neillsville for Wells Fox Harvey, who died February 25, 1971, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Mr. Harvey has served for more than 32 years as publisher of The Clark County Press. He was 92.
The Rev. George Yons, pastor o United Church of Christ, will be in charge. Also taking part will be Ivan W. Lauscher, Neillsville School Superintendent; Miss Eileen Zank, organist; and Mrs. Edison Mathis, former staff member of The Press, vocalist.
In St. Petersburg at the time of his death at 4 p.m. in Bayfront Medical Center were four sons and a daughter-in-law; E. William Harvey of Phoenix, Ariz.; Robert W. Harvey, present editor of The Clark County Press, who had been associated with Mr. Harvey in the publication since August, 1938; Mr. and Mrs. John D. Harvey of Rockford, Ill.; and Dr. Wells F. Harvey, Jr., Denver, Colo., internist. Unable because of illness to be present were Mr. Harvey’s daughters, Mrs. Frances Lux of Denver, Colo.; and Mrs. Robert (Margaret) Hancox of Kansas City, Mo.
Mr Harvey had been in failing health since his return from a visit to Neillsville and Rockford, Ill., last summer. He contracted a respiratory infection on his return to Sunny Shores Villa, where he had made his home for the last three years. He was in Bayfront Medical Center for about a week in January, and returned there February 16.
William Ender of the Durand Courier Wedge and son of a former owner of The Clark County Press announced this week that a donation would be made to the association’s scholarship fund in the name of Mr. Harvey, and said that his name will be added to the pylon at the Wisconsin Press Association demonstration forest near Eagle River. The pylon contains names of deceased members, the purpose of which is to pay tribute to men who have had a part of developing Wisconsin Community journalism.
While he was ordained as a Congregational minister on his graduation from Olivet (Mich.) College in 1904, Mr. Harvey spent his active life in the newspaper business. He started as a reporter for Bay View and Petoskey, Michigan, newspapers as summertime jobs while in college, and later went with the Press in Grand Rapids, Mich., as a regular staffer.
In Grand Rapids he worked with the late Frank Knox, who later became secretary of defense during World War II and was at one time general manager of the William Randolph Hearst chain of influential American Daily newspapers. Mr. Knox also was owner and publisher of the Daily News in Chicago.
Also on the newspaper scene at that time in Grand Rapids, and a friend of Mr. Harvey, was the late Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, who, during his last years, became a leader in the United States Senate.
It was while serving as political, court reporter and editorial writer for the Grand Rapids Press that Mr. Harvey was appointed Washington (D.C.) correspondent for the Booth chain of newspapers in Michigan. At the same time he became correspondent for the Nichi Nichi of Tokyo, Japan, and the Manichi Shimbun of Osaka. During that period, also, he served on the Washington staff of the Chicago Tribune.
Mr. Harvey served in Washington from 1905 to 1913, covering the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt and the early part of the administration of President Woodrow Wilson.
His stories concerning this period of his newspaper life were legion. Not the least-remembered of them involved the time when a friend of Pres. Roosevelt remonstrated with the president about the wide swath Alice Roosevelt (later Mrs. Nicholas Longworth) was cutting in Washington society.
“I can either be the president of the United States,” he quoted Mr. Roosevelt as saying, “or I can be the father of Alice Roosevelt. I cannot be both.”
While his life span covered the whole gamut in the field of transportation and communications, Mr. Harvey recalled vividly covering the army’s first test of the Wright Brothers’ airplane. This was a short flight, undertaken some time after their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, N. C., and resulted in the first purchase of airplanes by any military service. He still was actively interested in the conduct of The Clark County Press when the United States made its first manned space flight to the moon.
The son of a physician and surgeon, and the grandson of a physician and surgeon; Mr. Harvey was born January 21, 1879, in Bancroft, Mich. His mother, Belle (Fox) Harvey, came with the family to Neillsville in 1938, and spent more than a year in residence here.
Mr. Harvey’s father, Ezra Wilson Harvey, on two occasions spent a year in medical study in St. Thomas Hospital, London England; and on one occasion took his small son and wife along with him. He also studied medicine in Paris, France, and Edinburg, Scotland.
“Major,” as Mr. Harvey was called in those early years in Bancroft, was the apple of his grandfather’s eye. He told of frequently accompanying his grandfather on buggy trips into the countryside to attend patients; of wrapping up in a big bearskin robe and with heated soap stones on the floorboard to keep their feet warm.
The nickname “Major” was given to him out of respect of the Bancroft area residents to Mr. Harvey’s grandfather, Dr. Wells B. Fox, who had served as a major in the Union medical corps and who was in charge of the union army field hospital at Vicksburg. Back in the early 1930’s, the present editor of The Clark County Press recalls making a visit to the capitol building in Lansing while a student at Olivet College and seeing in the basement museum three pictures of his great-grandfather and the Vicksburg field hospital of which he was in charge. His service with the Eight Michigan Regiment included many battles, including the Wilderness and Petersburg, in addition to Vicksburg.
In 1914, Mr. Harvey left his Washington positions and struck out in search of new fields. He proposed, as he later told the present editor of The Clark County Press, to both find a pulpit and take up the ministry in which he was ordained, or to find a newspaper. He found the newspaper first -- in fact, two of them.
On money borrowed from his widowed mother, and representing her entire legacy following the death of Dr. E. W. Harvey, Mr. Harvey purchased two weekly newspapers in Big Rapids, Mich., the Big Rapids Press and the Mecosta County Herald. He combined the two into the Big Rapids Pioneer-Herald, and made it a daily publication. Later the “Herald” was dropped from the name and the newspaper presently is published as the Big Rapids Pioneer. That was in 1914.
Several years later he purchased the Osceola County Herald, a weekly newspaper published in Reed City, 13 miles north of Big Rapids, and led the fight which moved the county seat from Evart to Reed City.
In 1928, Mr. Harvey sold his interest in these newspapers and, on the invitation of Col. Frank Knox, joined the Hearst newspaper organization, serving a training period of about six months as assistant business manager of the old New York Journal. On completion of that period, he was transferred to Los Angeles, Calif., as business manager of the Times; but the position became involved in intra-organization power struggle and he withdrew to accept the business management of the American Weekly, the magazine section of the Hearst Sunday newspapers. Later “Puck,” the comic weekly, was added to the American Weekly, and Mr. Harvey became business manager of that publication as well. “Puck” still is carried by the Sunday Milwaukee Journal as its comic section.
Mr. Harvey had many duties as business manager of these large Hearst publications. Not the least of them was coordinating production of more than 11 million copies weekly in the organization’s five color pressrooms spread across the nation from Boston to Los Angeles. He became deeply involved not only in production and schedules, but in reproduction as well. He spearheaded studies and research on reproduction of engravings, plates and fast drying inks involved with high speed presses, and with register of colors on these presses.
Perry Long, one of the outstanding graphic arts technicians of that period, commented when Mr. Harvey left the Hearst organization in 1937: “The graphic arts industry owes more to Mr. Harvey than to any other man of this time.”
Probably a high point in Mr. Harvey’s association with the American weekly was his negotiation of the first insurance policy guaranteeing deliver of newspapers. That came in the early 1930’s, when strikes and labor unrest were sweeping the nation as an aftermath of the depression. Advertising in the American Weekly and Puck was sold on the basis of a guaranteed circulation. Should there be failure to deliver because of strike by any one of the newspapers of the vast Hearst organization, or others purchasing these publications, the loss in advertising revenue because of the guarantee could have been substantial, for at that time American Weekly was selling a four-color back page, for instance, at $17,500.
Mr. Harvey negotiated an insurance policy with a New York company guaranteeing full delivery of the American Weekly and Puck. The premium paid for that first policy was $3,000; the face of the policy was $250,000. The ink on the contract signatures was scarcely dry before the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was struck. The Hearst organization collected the full face of the policy, and Mr. Harvey had the pleasure of turning the $1/4 million dollar check over to Mr. Berkowitz, general manager of American Weekly.
Leaving the Hearst organization in 1937, Mr. Harvey searched for a full year for a newspaper to purchase, traveling as far as the west coast. He finally settled on the choice of two; a daily in Union City, Tenn., and the Clark County Press. For various reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the depression had badly depleted his savings of years, he purchased The Press from August Ender, father of the present president of the Wisconsin Press Association. A year earlier, Mr. Ender had combined the Clark County Journal, the Neillsville Press and the Granton Herald. He was joined in the enterprise in Neillsville by three sons: Robert, the present editor; Jack, now living in Rockford, Ill., and Wells F., Jr., who then was newly-graduated from high school. Jack branched off into the daily newspaper field, and then into radio; Wells F., spent a year with The Press, then started his medical education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
While active here, The Press won three National first awards (Community Service, Circulation Promotion and Editorials), and a large number of awards by the Wisconsin Press Association.
Mr. Harvey remained active until 1958, when he relinquished some of his duties and started spending the winters in Florida. In 1965, he sold The Press to his son Robert, who promptly published the newspaper under the title of Wells F. Harvey’s Son,” and listed Mr. Harvey as publisher.
Mr. Harvey continued active connection and interest in the newspaper and the community until his last illness. He remained in charge of the annual New Year Edition of The Clark County Press, which has become a fixture among people of Clark County.
About three years ago, and about a year after the death February 21, 1966, of Mrs. Harvey, Mr. Harvey sold their home in Winter haven, Fla., and moved to Sunny Shores Villa in St. Petersburg. He remained a resident there until his death.
Burial will be made in the Fox-Harvey family plot in Fremont Cemetery at Bancroft, Mich. A graveside Memorial Service is planned there in the spring or early summer.
(Also see Obit for him)
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