THE HISTORY OF CLARK COUNTY
Chapter XXIII, 4 November 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin
Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.
THE NEWSPAPERS OF CLARK COUNTY
OLD-TIME EDITORS. PUBLISHERS AND PRINTERS
"Beneath the rule of men entirely great" The pen is mightier then the sword."
There were thirteen weekly newspapers published in Clark county in 1909. The Republican and Press, Crothers & Tift publishers, the Neillsville Times, Williamson and Grow, publishers, and the Deutsch Amerikaner, Carl Rabenstein, publisher; these named papers are all published at Neillsville.
Outside of the county seat the remaining ten papers are The Thorp Courier published at Thorp by William Wagner, The Phonograph at Colby, Joel J. Shafer, publisher, the Withee Sentinel at Withee, published by Mrs. J. A. Barager, the Owen Enterprise, at Owen, published by J. T. Flint, and Calrion at Abbotsford, published by Fred A. Pier, the Herald at Dorchester, published by Wm. Mannes, The Tribune at Loyal, G. O. Roesler, publisher, the Greenwood Gleaner, at Greenwood, published by H. H. Hartson, the Granton News, published by F. J. Bear, at Granton, and the Humbird Enterprise published at Humbird by Horrell and Bennett.
All of the papers named are published in the English language, with the exception of the Deutsch Americkaner, which is published in German.
The Withee Sentinel is unique among the county papers, from the fact that it is published by a woman, and it many be said to its credit also, that it is the only county paper printer entirely at home, using neither patent insides, or outsides.
The oldest of the newspapers is the Republican and Press, now in its forty-third year, it is the successor to the Clark County Republican established in October, 1867, as well as the successor to the Clark County Press, established in 1873, both papers having been consolidated in 1876.
One of the earliest of the county papers to be published outside of Neillsville was the Colby Enterprise, published for a short time, commencing in the late seventies, by James A. Parkhurst at Colby. It ceased to exist about the year 1875.
The Colby Phonograph, Shafer Bros. (Sam J. and Joel J.) publishers was established in 1878, and The Thorp Courier by William Wagner in the year 1883.
The Colby Phonograph and The Thorp Courier have been continuously published by their present proprietors, ever since they were established, and in that respect lead all the other publications in the county.
For some years Geo. W. Meacham published at Loyal a weekly paper called the Clark County Chronicle, but after a few years the paper was discontinued.
There was also published at Neillsville, in 1880 a weekly newspaper called The Courier. This paper ceased publication after a brief existence. It was published by M. W. Parker & Co. The Neillsville News was published in 1902, but suspended publication in a year or two. The A. O. of U. W., a fraternal order, had its official organ the Badger Workman, published for a few years at Neillsville, by Carl Rabenstein.
The first paper printed in Clark county was the Clark County Advocate, established in 1857 by W. C. Tompkins, who continued to be the publisher until 1863 when it passed into the hands of C. W. Carpenter and afterwards in 1865 to the hands of Andrew J. Manley, who edited and published it until it suspended publication in 1867. The Union Flag was an opposition paper, to the Advocate published by John D. Dore, and N. S. Dickinson in the year 1863 and 1864, and in the latter year in ceased to exist.
The election for county officers in the fall of 1866 was the cause of the suspension of the Advocate, and in march, 1867, the Clark County Journal was ushered into existence, the publisher being John S. Dore, and who had for an assistant Edward E. Merritt who came to Neillsville from St. Louis, Missouri. Merritt remained for some mounts, and then left Neillsville, returning in October 1867, when he and H. H. Hand, began the publication of the Clark County Republication.
The county election in 1868 reversed the judgment given at the polls two years before, and the Republican thereafter secured all the county printing. The Journal continued its existence until in 1870, when Dore sold the press and type to a party who started a paper at Reedsburg in Sauk County. During its existence the Clark County Journal had several young men, who were not only good printers, but writers of more then ordinary ability, prominent among them was Joseph Benedict, a son of "Squire" Benedict of Alma Center, Jackson County.
Benedict died on New Years Day, 1870, and was buried at Alma Center, a large number of Neillsville people attended his funeral.
Charles Reppey who came from La Crosse, was another young man of good promise, who for some time was with the Journal.
H. H. Hand of the old Clark County Republican remained with Merritt a few months only, returning to St. Louis early in 1868. He came again in 1870 and remained for about two years. He was breezy, and somewhat brilliant writer, but was extremely aggressive and abusive, in his political and personal items; he was discarded by those controlling the paper, and he once again returned to St. Louis.
Merritt published the paper until early in 1873, when it was sold to Charles J. Cooper, who with D. T. Lindley as foreman and associate editor, published it until the year 1876, at which time it was consolidated with the Clark County Press, a newspaper that had been established at Neillsville by Horace J. Hoffman, in the year 1873, the consolidated paper being named the Republican and Press.
Both Merritt and Cooper, afterwards became connected with the U. S. Railway Mail Service as postal clerks. The latter is still engaged in the service having his home at Eau Claire, Wis.
The True Republican was established at Neillsville by L. B. Ring in July, 1879, and the paper was published until December, 1888, when it became consolidated with the Neillsville Times, a newspaper that had been started a few years before as an opposition Republican paper to the True Republican by James O’Neill, J. W. Fergnson, L. A. Doolittle, N. H. Withee, and others who were then prominent in Republican party politics.
The consolidated paper was thereafter known as the Neillsville Times, under which name it still flourishes.
The Deutsch Amerikaner began publication in October, 1880, with N. Schulz as editor, the paper was owned by H. J. Hoffman, afterwards was published by Herman Schuster, and is now the property of Carl Rabenstein, sole owner, publisher and editor, as well as the owner of the handsome brick block on Hewett Street, where the paper has its home. It has a large circulation among the Germans both in and out of Clark county. For quite a number of years prior to 1908, Rudolph Rabenstein a nephew of the present proprietor had the editorial management and publication of the paper.
E. L. Hoffman of the Republican and Press, was in his day perhaps the best newspaper writer, then in the county. He had a faculty of obtaining local news of interest, and putting them in readable shape.
In very recent years, the Neillsville Times, had for its editor V. R. McGilvary, who perhaps excelled Hoffman, as a news gather and as a brilliant writer. He was also an energetic publisher, and instilled new life into his paper during the time he had charge of its affairs.
The two men last named both reside out of the state, and the mention of their good qualities as writers, is intended in no sense, to disparage, or invite comparison, with the gentlemen now in charge of the several newspapers in the county.
There has also been published in Clark county, a few papers, that had an existence ranging from one day to about six months.
The one day publican was called the "Searchlight." It was published a few days before the November election in 1902 by George A. Austin, in the interests of the Democratic party. It was a red hot sizzling sheet, devoted entirely to politics, and mainly county politics. It was a good sized newspaper, and was duly entered as second class matter at the post office, and it had for one day, more circulation that all the newspapers in Neillsville combined. It is only fair to state that it had no subscribers, but nearly ever voter in the county received a copy through the mail. The copies were "sample copies," but as none who received them ever subscribed for the new paper it died a speedy natural death after being in existence about twenty-four hours.
The Good Citizen was a paper published for some six months in the year 1909, at Neillsville, by L. B. Ring. It was a small quarto paper containing no advertisements and was well printed on good paper. It was devoted to the cause of temperance, and good citizenship, and advocated county opinion. The paper suspended publication in the autumn of 1909, its subscription list being turned over to a newspaper at Beloit, Wis., advocating the same principles.
The most unique paper ever published in the county was the "Owl" edited and published by Milton Satterless, at one time associated with J. H. Tift, as publishers of the Republican and Press. Satterle was known and called by everybody as "Old Sat." The "Owl" was a small sheet of four pages, printed on yellow paper, and it was devoted to "Sat" and to whatever came into his head. It was full of witty articles and items of a local and personal color, and obtained quite a circulation during the period of its publication.
Sat was a peculiar character, combining all the characteristics of a tramp printer, with the genius and brilliancy of an able writer. He wrote a series of letters from Neillsville to the Colby Phonograph, under the signature of "Belle," the correspondent assuming to be a north side Neillsville girl. All his articles were full of wit, humor and wisdom, at not time every bordering on the vulgar or profane. In 1909 he was living on the Pacific slope, publishing a paper, said to be as original us himself.
Among others who in earlier days were connected with the press of the county either as editors or publishers was Isaac T. Carr chief clerk of the Assembly in 1883, and afterwards postmaster at Neillsville, who published the Republican and Press for several years, and George A. Ure, chairman of the county board of supervisors, who with J. D. Brothers published the Neillsville Times.
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