Montgomery County Illinois History
The Free Press-Gazette found its origin in the consolidation of the Free Press and the Gazette. The Gazette was established in 1871 by Picket & White, who received a bonus of $500 from the citizens at the time. In the fall of 1872, D. H. Zepp and Reverend Smoyer, a then local Presbyterian minister, acquired the plant from James Bone, who had taken possession of it on the foreclosure of a mortgage. In 1873, D. H. Zepp became sole owner and in 1875 he sold it to D. F. White, one of the founders, who shortly afterwards sold out to Hiram Graden. In 1878 E. M. Hulbert began the publication of an advertising sheet, bearing the title of the Free Press. The two publications were shortly afterwards consolidated and published under the name of the Free Press-Gazette by E. M. Hulbert and Hiram Graden. After a short time the firm of Hulbert & Graden agreed to disagree and the Free Press-Gazette was taken over by Mr. Hulbert and published by him until December, 1888, at which time he sold a half interest in the plant, which embraced the Free Press-Gazette and Deutsche Amerikaner, a German publication founded in December, 1880, by Mr. Hulbert, to Joseph W. Wild, who in April, 1881, had accepted a position as printer and editor with Mr. Hulbert of the Deutsche Amerikaner. The Free Press-Gazette office has the distinction of having installed the first power press in the county, in the fall of 1880, a Coventry Campbell. In 1880 Hiram Graden established the Atlas which was consolidated the following year with the Free Press-Gazette, and lost its identity, Adam Rodecker being the editor. In 1893 Mr. Hulbert sold his interest to G. E. Whitten, in 1897 Whitten sold to E. Frank Draper and in July, 1901, Draper sold to G. Henry Webster, who with Mr. Wild, under the firm name of Wild & Webster, are the present publishers. The Free Press-Gazette is a model newspaper for local needs, in a rapidly growing little city, edited and published by energetic men and receiving a creditable support. The Free Press-Gazette for the past thirty-five years has been strictly independent in politics. In April, 1890, J. M. Weber started the Nokomis Journal which, after a battle for existence of a little over four years with various owners, failed to appear and the subscription list was consolidated with that of the Free Press-Gazette and the plant moved to Raymond by Cornelius & Chapman. The Deutsche Amerikaner above spoken of was discontinued by Wild & Webster in September, 1913, and the subscription list merged with that of the Free Press-Gazette.

The Progress was established in April, 1895, by J. B. Cole and A. A. Nail. For several months they conducted the business after which A. J. Eckhoff leased the plant for a short time, withdrawing in .favor of Mr. Cole February 19, 1897. Mr. Cole sold the business to W. P. Hagthrop, who a month later took into partnership F. C. Buck. This partnership continued until February, 1902, when Mr. Hagthrop bought his partner's interest and continued as sole proprietor until March 5, 1908, when the present management, A. K. Vandeveer, A. E. Vandeveer and Lester K. Vandeveer, under the firm name of A. K. Vandeveer and Sons, bought the plant. When the present owners took over the business the Progress was a six column, four page paper. They immediately made it five column, eight page, later six column, eight page and finally seven column, eight page. The plant has gradually been built up by the installation of modern machinery, such as electrically operated presses, linotype, etc., until it is far above the average found in cities the size of Nokomis. The editors are Republican, but above all they endeavor to get out a good, clean, newsy and moral newspaper.
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