(Source: “As Time Goes By”, Odebolt,
printed by The Odebolt Chronicle May, 1977, pp. 117-118)
Odebolt had a daily newspaper in 1884, but only for a few days. The Reporter was published each day during the district fair, and about 100 copies of each issue were distributed on the fair grounds.
There have been nine newspapers in Odebolt. They are [the] Reporter, Observer, Sac County Herald, New North, Free Press, Clarion, Record, News, and Chronicle, since 1877.
The first newspaper published in Odebolt was the Odebolt Reporter. It was started in Sac City as the Sac County Reporter by W. W. Yarham, in partnership with Frank Kelley. The first issue was published on October 28, 1877, but after five issues had been put out, the paper was discontinued. Soon afterward, Mr. Kelley published The Odebolt Reporter. James Taylor purchased the plant from Mr. Kelley. It was conducted then by A. J. Mann and G. A. Kikok. In 1881, the paper passed into the hands of Frank L. Dennis and [was] edited in the building on the SE corner of 2nd and Maple. In 1882, The Reporter had a weekly circulation of 600 copies. Mr. Dennis sold out to the Bennett Brothers.
Meanwhile, The Odebolt Observer had been started as a weekly Democratic paper in July 1880 by H. T. Martin and Francis R. Bennett and son Ira E. Bennett. In 1882, when Mr. Bennett was sole proprietor, this paper had a circulation of 500 and was published on the second floor of the Schmitz Building on Main Street. Mr. Bennett and his brother, E. A. Bennett, turned Republican now, took over The Reporter, and The Observer went out of existence.
In June 1886, John F. Coy and Company established the Sac County Herald, a Democratic newspaper. This continued until May 1887. During the last couple of months of its existence it was styled The New North. Other editors were C. J. Pitsor and Will H. Kernan. The New North was the only newspaper in Odebolt from March 1887, until May 1887.
However, there were two other short-term newspapers: In the summer of 1891, the Odebolt Free Press was established by C. W. Spence. A Democratic paper, it lasted one year and 17 weeks. In 1898, Lou Starkey started the Odebolt Clarion, later selling it to George Freeman Kane, who gave up after a year and a half. The Clarion office was located over the old Farmers National Bank Building on part of what is now the First National Bank. [Odebolt State Bank,100 S. Main, is on this site in 2004.] The entrance meant climbing an outside staircase, which was fastened to the side of the building with huge iron braces.
Farmer's National Bank on right. The Odebolt Clarion office was located up the staircase.
In 2004, this is the site of the Odebolt State Bank Building.
Children often decide on their vocation early in life, and Ray Graham, a nine-year-old, frequented the Clarion office, and by so doing gained knowledge, and assisted James Smethurst, the foreman, with many jobs. For Christmas, his father gave him a small toy printing press. So he called it the U. S. News. Gradually, he bought better equipment, and subcription price was 25¢ per year. With gifts from Mr. Kane, he chose to have an electro-typed head. So the name was changed to The Record, and the plant was first located in his mother’s dining room; then upstairs in the Hedberg building. The late W. P. Adams loaned him a 14 x 20 power-driven job press, or tabloid. The late Mr. Adams also built a 14’ x 14’ building for Ray’s printshop on property now  owned by Mrs. Drucilla Reuber, and The Record was printed for ten years. Later, the thrill of his life came one day when a breakdown in the Chronicle office made it possible for him to offer Billy Hamilton the use of his press to print his paper.
W. E. Hamilton, the “father” of The Chronicle, was one of the best known weekly newspaper publishers in the middle west from May 1887 until his death in 1910. He owned and edited The Chronicle for 23 years and 11 months. He had come to Odebolt in January 1883 to take charge of the abstract books for Attorneys Zane and Helsell. Previously, he had been engaged in newspaper work at Bloomfield and Des Moines.
Dave R. Carlson, eight-year employee of The Chronicle, pays this tribute to Hamilton: “Public spirited, generous to a fault, loyal to his friends, respected by those who disagreed with him, Odebolt owes much to Mr. Hamilton. Every worthy enterprise received his approval. He was a true friend of the people, always ready to give his utmost support to that which was right and true and to fight anything that savored of sham, fraud or hypocrisy. He was possessed of a keen, analytical mind and could master a political problem with greater accuracy than any man it has ever been my good fortune to know. Quick to make a decision, his findings were uniformly correct. His editorials were written in long-hand (never having learned to operate a typewriter) and there was very seldom an erasure or correction. He was widely read and could discuss intelligently any matter that might be brought to his attention. Mr. Hamilton liked Odeboltians and was buried in the local cemetery on September 15, 1910.”
In 1910, Frank Stillman came to Odebolt from Riceville and wanted to buy The Chronicle, but would not make a deal unless he could acquire The Record too; so in a few days Mr. Stillman was the owner of the Chronicle and Record. On March 12, 1914, the Odebolt News invaded the newspaper field as a Progressive Party paper with Aug. H. W. Reuber as managing editor for ten years, but he had been an active participant in the life of the community since 1886. The circulation in Sac County was exceeded by only one other paper, the Sac Sun.
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wagner came to Odebolt from Remsen in 1926; he had some newspaper experience there with his brother. In October 1927, Mr. Wagner became the sole owner of The Odebolt Chronicle. So with two newspapers – The Chronicle and News – in the town, a consolidation was effected whereby The Chronicle took over the circulation of the News.
In years gone by, it took much more time to print the newspaper, when type was set by hand. Later, science and machinists produced modern presses and other job machines to enable newspaper employees to have a more presentable edition. Now it is possible for one person to set as much type as four or five men could produce by hand, with less effort and fewer errors.
Mr. Wagner improved his shop with the latest and most modern equipment. One of the most complicated and most expensive pieces of machinery in the Chronicle shop is the typesetting machine, a Model Csm six-magazine Intertype. Besides the job presses, there is a wide variety of type faces; the shop has modern binding, gold stamping and stitching equipment, facilities for perforating and punching, and other machinery which enables it to produce “particular printing”. His equipment has been pronounced the best in northwestern Iowa.
Mr. Wagner purchased the present building on [the] west side of Main Street in 1952, and after extensive remodeling, moved into the modern, well-lighted, air- conditioned building in May 1953. He passed along his knowledge of the printing trade to many young men who have moved on to other communities and high positions. He was the owner of The Chronicle for 32 years.
In 1926 when the Wagners came to Odebolt, there were 90 business and
professional men in business or practice here. In 1951, those who were
still in business were only 18, as follows: Selby Bros., F. W. Libby, P.
J. Gronemeyer, Everett Briggle, John Krahl, Floyd Rex, Lloyd Watts, Dave Larson,
Richard Korneisel, Sr., A. W. Dahlstrom, Chas. Nelson, Ed Potteiger, Merle
Sanders, Dr. K. Bryant, Dr. E. L. White, Dr. P. E. Treman, Dr. James McAllister
and F. W. Mattes.
The Odebolt Chronicle was given state-wide honors in October 1936 when it was awarded a silver trophy as the best Iowa weekly newspaper in towns of less than 1,500 population.
(Source – The Odebolt Chronicle Progress Edition, October 29, 1953, Volume 65, Number 44)
Six different buildings - - two of which were designed especially for a newspaper plant - - have housed The Chronicle during its 67 years of existence.
Its first home was the Belt building at the intersection of Main and Third streets, [later] replaced by the brick Cooperative building. The shop was located on the first floor, and Billy Hamilton sometimes found it necessary to warn children about playing in the room above. The floor was a bit shaky, and he feared that someone might fall through it into the shop.
From the Belt building, The Chronicle was moved a few years later to the frame building on the east side of Main street, later occupied by the E. P. Potteiger [store]. In 1893 it was moved again, this time to the second floor of the old Helsell office building at [the northwest corner of] Main and First streets, where the present Helsell building stands. Here it remained until 1901, when Hamilton moved to the second floor of the Masonic building on [the south side of] Second Street, [subsequently the old post office].
For 19 years, until 1920, The Chronicle was published in that location. C. N. Ambler, owner at that time, then built the building on Third Street, which jointly housed the Chronicle and the plumbing firm of Paul and Larson. Both moved into it in August 1920.
The Chronicle moved into its sixth home May 7, 1953. The new location [at 216 S. Main Street] formerly housed the Selby Brothers Market, which was completely remodeled before occupancy.
(Transcribed by B. Ekse)