Lewis Evan Jones Jr (1825 — 1910) — History of Newspapers of Cedar County Nebraska

The following document is a faithful transcription from a photocopy of a letterpress set pamphlet style publication with colored paper wraps, measuring approximately 8 1/8” x 4 3/8”. The text pages count 20, un-paginated, but complete (all included).. There is no date of publication, but the text is dated Nov. 18, 1901 at the end of the story. The cover bears the following information; handwritten at the top of the wrap in ink (“No. 4.)”, title is indicated as “History of NEWSPAPERS of Cedar County Nebraska”. The author signs “L. E. JONES, SR.”* at the end of the text. There is no printers imprint indicated, and while the typesetting is somewhat different than the other pamphlets in the series, it is likely that the publisher was the Herald Printing House, Hartington, Nebraska, who produced the other documents in the collection.

* Note that Lewis E. Jones Sr. is actually indicated as Lewis Evan Jones Jr. for the sake of this archive, as his father’s name was also Lewis Evan Jones. Once in America, this author had a son, also named Lewis Evan Jones, who for the sake of this archive is denominated as Lewis Evan Jones III.


SteamboatNEWSPAPERS IN Cedar County, Neb.

EDITOR NEWS: Several inquiries have been made to me in regard to early newspapers published in this county. I am not conversant with papers published within the last ten or fifteen years in the southern part of the county, therefore can write only of those printed in the northern part, the first settled.

When living in St. Louis, Mo., I had a small printing office, and when I sold out there on account of ill health I kept enough material to print a small newspaper. After looking over the country for a healthier place to locate, I visited Nebraska in the spring of 1857, taking passage on the steamer TWILIGHT, engaged by the American Fur Company to go as far up as Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone river, the farthest point navigable at the time. We reached what is now St. Helena, in twelve days after leaving St. Louis. Here we found about a dozen men holding down claims, living in one or two shanties. The land had not been surveyed by the government at that time. I left the Twilight at that point. These men did all in their power to have us locate here. After few days viewing the country, I saw there were large possibilities in the fine water powers which could be utilized in the Bow Creeks and the magnificent forests lining the banks of the Missouri river. The drawbacks to locating here were the Indians, who still hovered in the vicinity, and the lack of settlers to cope with the savages, should they make up their minds to become hostile. Dakota, on the opposite side of the Missouri river was still the home of the Yankton Sioux Indians. Nebraska was bought by the government from the Omaha Indians, who were placed on a reservation at the Black Bird Hills, about a hundred miles below on the Missouri river. The only danger to fear was from the Yankton Sioux Indians across the river. In a few days I commenced my journey back to St. Louis, leaving St. Helena with an ox-team, reaching Sioux City (which at that time had about four hundred inhabitants) in two days. The Northwestern Stage Co. ran a four-horse stage coach from here to Council Bluffs, making the trip in two days. From there the same company ran another stage coach to St. Joseph, Mo., also making the trip in two days. Here I found a large trading steamboat plying between there and St. Louis, stopping to load and unload freight and passengers at every landing. It took her eight days to reach her destination. I was very glad to be home once more. One of my children having died during my absence.*

I had fully made up my mind to leave St. Louis for a more healthy location, and found Nebraska offered good inducement to ambitious young men with but little capital at their command, recollecting the advice of Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, gave to a young man making inquiries to him what best to do in order to make a start in life, the old editor wrote him this reply – “go west young man and grow up with the country.” This advice I accepted as if directed to myself. After reasoning with my wife and friends, pro and con, we came to the conclusion to make the sacrifice of a comfortable home in the heart of a refined city, for the distant prairies of the far west. After this a steam saw-mill, the first requisite of a new country, was the first thing to look for, then a practical and competent sawyer and engineer was found in the person of Jacob Branch, who worked in a machine shop in the city, who with his family were anxious to go to a new country. The steamboat OMAHA was then loading for upper river; the captain promising they were destined for Ft. Randal, and would take my freight to St. Helena. Mr. Branch left his position in the machine shop to go with his family. In the mean time a young printer named Augustus Nette, who had worked at my office in St. Louis, also wished to grow up with the country, offered to purchase a press if I would furnish the material I had already on hand, to print a paper. It seemed a wild vision to print a paper in an Indian country such as this was at that time. However, the office went on board, together with sufficient amount of provisions for a saw-mill hands and wood-choppers during the winter. I left my family in St. Louis, while Nette and I, and Branch and his family went up the Missouri river on the steamer OMAHA, loaded down to the guards with freight and passengers, destined to various points on the river. When we arrived at Sioux City, the captain informed us he was not going further. Here our stuff was dumped along the leves. After finding an empty house in the neighborhood for Branch and his family, Nette staying with them to care for the printing material, I walked six miles to Dakota City, where a ferry-boat that had been plying between Dakota City and Sergeant Bluffs was lying idle, to try and hire her to take us up the river, 150 miles by water. The owners of the boat would not consent to hire her for that purpose, so that enterprise failed. I next hired a dilapidated old buggy with an ancient horse, at Dakota City, and wended my way to St. Helena, which place I found second night after leaving the boat at Sioux City. I found everyone in bed here. I had hoped I could find a sufficient number of teams here to haul our stuff up. To my utter disappointment I could find but two ox teams there. Early next morning we started back with these two teams for Sioux City, which took two days to reach. Finding teams at Sioux City and vicinity but no one would let them go unless they went with them. In this way I had 17 teams (oxen, of course) and 17 teamsters) loaded up and crossed on the steam ferry to Nebraska. Here I found that oxen were the right thing to have, for if I had horses they would get out of sight of the mud. The weather had been very wet for some time previous and no road made through the thick timber at Covington worthy to be called such. We had terrible times all the way to St. John, a Catholic settlement a mile or two north of Jackson. We brought axes and shovels with us to make roads and build bridges as we went. In six days, after hard work, we reached St. Helena, not without breaking down wagons several times. The boiler (a large two flue, twenty feet long) was the most troublesome, for we ruined two truck wagons in its transportation. The first thing after a day of rest was to cut down oak trees and hew them for foundations for the mill and build shanties for the men, Nette and myself having found one end of a log cabin to use as a printing office.

After four weeks labor, we had the mill and printing office ready to work. After having sawed a few thousand feet of lumber and printing one issue of the St. Helena Gazette, of Nebraska production, (some six or seven numbers having been printed in St. Louis) I turned my face again towards home, dirty and ragged. Following the old road as before until reaching St. Joseph, Mo., where the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad was building from both ends, the eastern end from Hannibal, Mo., on the Mississippi river, I took this route this time and was sorry for it, for there was a gap of about one hundred miles to be traveled in open lumber wagons for this distance, with rain pouring down in torrents the whole time. Arriving at Hannibal we found a steamer for St. Louis.

To tell the truth, after reaching home once more and finding everything cozy and comfortable, I wished the name Nebraska had never been mentioned to me, but now since I had my foot in it would be cowardly to back out.

The following spring (1858) found me and my family, Henry Felber, and Peter Jenal, with their families, on board the fine steamboat FLORENCE, loaded for Ft. Randall, by Frost, Todd & Co., who were settlers at that point, and also held several posts, trading with the Indians in Dakota. We had a pleasant trip up the river and landed at St. Helena in ten days. Finding the men left there anxiously awaiting our arrival, for their larder was getting very low and their clothing ragged.

My friend Nette had suspended publication of the GAZETTE, because, he said, the country was yet too green. After a short time helping us to build houses to live in, and build fences, etc., the best he knew how, he sold his interest in the office to me and left for St. Louis. It was money thrown away to think of reviving the publication of the paper. I stored the material away and took the white paper and ink, enough to civilize the whole North American Indians, to Sioux City, where friend Zeibach, now of Yankton, was there publishing a small weekly paper. I think it was called REGISTER, but do not exactly know the present SIOUX CITY REGISTER was built on its foundation or not. However, friend Zeibach wanted the ink and paper, but did not have the spondulix to pay for the same at that time, so I left it with L.D. Parmer, who kept a store there, to be sold as fast as the REGISTER could use it. You understand that printing supplies had to be got from St. Louis and freight was high. This was before the advent of railroads.

In 1891** the treaty with the Yankton Sioux Indians having been ratified, Dakota was opened for settlement. The territory filled up slowly and politicians began to loom up. Vermillion and Yankton became rivals for government power but Yankton got the lead and became the territorial capital.

A Mr. Clark, hailing from Sergeant Bluffs, Iowa, anxious for some important office, so as to grow up with the country, as it were, came over to see me in regard to purchasing my printing outfit for the purpose of starting a newspaper at Sergeant’s Bluffs. After considerable dickering, I traded him my material for a span of $500 mules. Instead of going to Iowa, as he promised, he took the plant over to Vermillion and started the Vermillion Republican, to oppose the friends I was backing at Yankton, but the trade was made, and I was not going to cry over spilled milk. I think the old press (a Washington) is at that place still, but the type must have been renewed. Such is the history and fate of the first attempt at publishing a newspaper in Northern Nebraska, then fresh from the hands of the Indians.

St. James, Neb., Nov. 11, 1901.

EDITOR NEWS: In my last letter to you I promised to give you the history of newspapers published in this county, from its formation to the present time. In that letter I deviated from my original purpose in order to get at the birth and demise of the first urchin, its burial and last resting place together with the trouble its founders had to give it nourishment in an uncongenial soil. Peace to its ashes as the forerunner of greater masculines.

Cedar County for some years after this had to depend for the world’s news through the medium of a horse-back mail once a month. Grasshoppers and civil war affected greatly to retard its growth, but not much greater than the surrounding communities similarly situated, continued to grow slowly, and in June, 1874, a young man from near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made the venture of giving us our second paper, which he christened “Cedar County Advocate”. The county at this time could not give sufficient patronage for such ably conducted and neat workmanship as was given on this paper, printed at St. Helena, the county seat. If it had not been for the liberal advertising patronage from Yankton and Vermillion business houses, for these two towns were booming up all the surrounding country from the start, the paper could not have lived a day. These young newspaper men had not come here for their health, and soon got tired of working and spent their time in order to build up other enterprises, with what ability they possessed. W.L. Chandler, editor and proprietor having had better inducements from the people of Vermillion, discontinued the publication of the ADVOCATE and moved with his office to that enterprising little city. Thus Cedar County became the bereft of making herself known, for the second time, to the outside world. This catastrophe happening sometime in the fall of 1876.

On the 4th day of April, 1877, a young man of the name J.W. Sheppard, also from some part of Iowa, commenced publishing a paper at St. Helena, called CEDAR COUNTY BULLETIN. This as well as the ADVOCATE was well printed and edited, but the patronage was too small to justify Mr. Sheppard to continue publishing the paper there.

In order to keep a printing office in the county, I was induced to purchase the office from him on the 19th day of September, 1877. The paper was not suspended this time, but went on as usual. The paper not paying expenses and my time otherwise occupied, as soon as opportunity was offered, I sold the material and subscription list to Mr. P.C. Nissen, then county clerk, and he also disposed of the whole outfit to S.J. Johnson (a printer who had worked on the ADVOCATE and BULLETIN) and Nelson Teauto, who published it until Nov. 16th, 1879.

This company had on the 1st day of Jan., 1879, changed the name from the CEDAR COUNTY BULLETIN to CEDAR COUNTY NONPAREIL, at the solicitation of E.P. Drake, then living at St. Helena, who had formerly lived at Council Bluffs, Ia., and got his political education from that staid old Republican sheet.

John H. Felber, the next man who took hold of the wheel,, who was doing business at St. Helena, saw as well as others did that its doom was at hand, and purchased the whole outfit, in order that we could advertise out business at home and shape the country’s course from going into the wrong hands. In the course of time Mr. Felber and associated with him one Norman Rapalie, who had always been in the newspaper business at Chicago and elsewhere. About this time it hoisted the Populist flag to its mast-head. All the papers printed heretofore had preferred to be neutral in politics, but I must confess they leaned towards the men who owned them. I must say their columns were always open to all who wished to be heard on any subject.

People at that time were square and upright, not shams as many are at present. Times have changed, and I’m sorry to say not for the best. The dollar has become the political faith of many. You can count on your fingers’ ends many among us who have thrown away their old coats, in order to get a better one gold lined.

Mr. Felber soon after assuming control of the NONPAREIL, removed his business to Hartington, where he still lives, taking the paper with him, together with its printers, from St. Helena.

The NONPAREIL, after many vicissitudes, was sold to Mr. Bordwell, who knew nothing about the business, changed the name to LEADER, and later leased it to Z.M. Baird., sheriff elect of Cedar county. He for some unknown cause, in January 1898, put on his tiger hat and hied away to Chicago. In a couple of weeks he started up in Hartington with a brand new outfit and commenced publishing a new paper called the CEDAR COUNTY NEWS. He having become so popular with his paper saw at a glance the people would give him any office within their gift, sold his newspaper to another sound democrat, A.V. Parker, who is now editor and proprietor of the NEWS. Baird selected the office of Sheriff and the people of Cedar county, at the last election put him through with a rush, 490 majority. How do you do, Mr. Sheriff?

The old office, which was brought to the county to print the Bulletin, an independent paper, then printed the Nonpareil, a populist paper, and later the Leader, also a populist paper, was finally gobbled up by the omnivorous party which now publishes the Hartington Herald. The old outfit was taken to Iowa.

The democratic politicians being without an organ, H.B. Suing and others started a paper called the DEMOCRAT, at Hartington, the first number appearing in September, 1880, and continued to be published until April 1890, at which time it was sold to John H. Felber and consolidated with the NONPAREIL. This was a neat paper and ably edited while A. M. Gooding controlled its editorials. After he cut loose, for some reason unknown only to those interested, Mr. Grimes, a school teacher, undertook the task, but knowing little about writing political editorials, the paper went, as all such papers ought to go – – to oblivion.

The HARTINGTON HERALD was established
Oct. 4, 1883, by Huse, Powers & Co.,;
April 26, 1884, was published by Geo. Herb;
Jan. 9, 1885, by Z.M. Beard;
July 17, 1885, by Beard and Watson;
June 10, 1889, T.B.A. Watson;
June 10, 1889, by Herald Pub. Co;
March 4, 1892, W.F. Sinclair;
April 1, 1892, S.J. Young;
April 1, 1897, P.A. VanDorn;
Feb. 11, 1898, Geo. L. Nelson, the present editor and proprietor, became the chief owner of the very much bought and sold, bright little sheet.

There were other papers published in the country, but for the reason, as I stated to you, I was conversant only with those in the northern part. Coleridge, Laurel, Randolph, and maybe other places, have their full quote of these public necessities.

The Advocate, Bulletin and Nonpareil were all four-page papers, printed on good paper and handsome in appearance. Their sizes were 24×36 inches.

Yours very truly,
L.E. Jones, Senior
St. James, Nebr., Nov. 18, 1901.


* Louisa Cambria Jones, born August 8, 1854, died August 7, 1857. This is the child that died while Lewis was traveling, therefore it can be surmised that his first trip into the Nebraska territory took place between the middle/end of July and middle of August, 1857.

** The treaty with the Yankton Sioux Indians was actually ratified by congress and signed by President Buchanan in February, 1859. “1891” is an obvious typographical error.

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