Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


May 24, 2007

Local newspapers in the early days


While Appanoose County has been a veritable graveyard for newspapers, few obituaries have been written on their demise. Centerville, prior to 1860, was scarcely more than a wide place in the road, and the newspaper business was considered a joke. The subscriptions were generally paid in stove wood, little potatoes and spare ribs at hog killing time. Those who advertised in them sometimes did so just to keep the paper going.

These papers generally did not last and usually left those who had backed the enterprise to hold the bag.

Yet there was always someone who thought he had a message for the world and wanted a newspaper to convey that message. David L Strickler purchased all that was left of the Chieftain plant in 1864 to champion the cause of the Union and the republican party in the Civil War. He renamed the paper the Loyal Citizen.

Not being anxious for either immortality or wealth, Strickler sold the paper to Matthew M. Walden in 1865. Walden had just returned from his duties as Captain of Co. D of the 6th Infantry in the Civil War and came home early to get into business. The Union of the States, having been preserved by the war, the word “Loyal” was dropped. With the Citizen, M.M. Walden acquired a Washington hand press, job press, type and material to set up a four-page paper.

The paper was built up in revenue and became justly regarded as a leading Republican paper. George Merritt was general manager, a boy, Ike Payton, inked the forms and two girls, Salina Dye and Hattie McCreary, set the type. If they worked fast enough, they could run off two hundred papers an hour on the old press.

While connected with the Citizen, Walden was elected lieutenant governor of the state in 1869. A few years later, he was elected to Congress, where he served one term. Washington life was little to his taste, and he gladly retired to the editor’s desk. The Citizen was much improved and in new quarters. New machinery was added, run by steam power. A power press was added to the office in 1872 and an engine two years later. The Citizen had been turned into a first class plant, none better in that part of the state.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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