History of Hamilton County, Illinois
The first printing done in Hamilton County was by James P.
Stelle, who made a wooden press and whittled out a font or two of type.
A regular printing press was brought to the county in 1855, by
James D. Moody, who in a few days after the arrival of the press,
started the Hamilton News. The
paper was 22x32 inches. In
a short time A. J. Alden became the proprietor and changed the name to
the Hamilton Sucker. Mr.
Alden continued the publication of the Sucker until elected
circuit court clerk in 1860, when he sold it to J. W. Meador, who
changed the name to the Hamilton Express. It was not long before C. C. Carpenter became the proprietor,
who published it under the name of the Hamilton Democrat.
After a few months a tramp printer named Martin rented the
establishment and gave the paper a classical name, The Vox Populi,
but after a few issues it was suspended. After a short period of hibernation the office outfit was
purchased, in 1864, by T. L. Lockhart & co., and John P. Stelle
became editor. Heretofore
the paper had been Democratic, but under the editorial management of Mr.
Stelle it became a Republican paper, under the name of the Union
Eagle. The circulation
of the Eagle became larger than any of its predecessors, but,
notwithstanding this, it was destined to be short lived, and in the
spring of 1865 it was purchased by Judge Lorenzo Goodridge, and T. T.
Wilson of Mount Vernon became the editor and business manager, and the
paper again became Democratic, the name becoming the Hamilton
Democrat. Mr. Wilson soon retired, and Judge Goodridge continued the
publication of the paper on his own responsibility with the aid of
journeymen printers until his death.
Shortly after this event T. B. Stelle became the proprietor, and
then in about 1869 R. L. Brown, who changed the name to the McLeansboro
Times. In 1872 George
K. and John C. Edwards bought the Times, and ran it in the
interest of Horace Greeley for the presidency.
In the spring of 1873 M. B. Friend purchased the establishment,
and continued its publication until it was burned up in the
conflagration which destroyed the buildings north of the public square,
in the spring of 1874. During
the following summer Mr. Friend, aided by donations, purchased the
material of the Mount Vernon Statesman, published ever since with a few
changes of proprietors: Mr. Friend sold it to J. R. & C. Campbell,
October 10, 1878, and in May, 1883, C. Campbell sold his interest to J.
R. Campbell, who has since been and is the sole proprietor.
In December 1870, John Coker purchased the Shawneetown Mercury,
and moved the material to McLeansboro.
The new paper started by him and John P. Stelle, under the firm
name of Coker & Stelle, was named the Golden Era, the first
number appearing January 13, 1872.
The Golden Era was Republican in politics, and at once
reached a circulation of 500. In 1873 the proprietors were John P. Stelle and Mrs.
Catharine Coker, and the firm name became Stelle & Coker. On January 15, 1874, W. W. Davisson bought an interest in the
Era, and it was published under the firm name of Davisson &
Stelle until March, 1878, when Stelle ceased to be known as a partner,
and Davisson continued to manage it until 1884, when it was purchased by
J. R. Campbell, proprietor of the Times, and ceased to exist January 3,
The Christian Instructor was published in McLeansboro for
a few months, commencing in January, 1872.
It was edited by George P. Slade, a minister of the Christian
Church, and C. E. Wolfe was one of the publishers.
Its circulation reached 900, but it was soon moved to
Jeffersonville, Wayne County.
The Progressive Farmer, a monthly paper published from the
office of the Golden Era, was issued for about a year.
Its circulation reached about 2,000 copies.
It was edited by James P. Stelle of Mobile, Ala., but was moved
to Evansville, Ind.
The Leader, was started in the fall of 1882, by Dr. C. M.
Lyon and John Irvin, the first issue appearing November 9.
Messrs. Lyon & Irvin purchased a new press in St. Louis.
The Leader is Republican in politics, and is still
published by Lyon & Irvin.
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