W. W. Aikens
Johnson county has been fortunate in the number and character of its newspapers, those advance agents of civilization and indispensable aids to social and industrial development. The county newspaper is recognized as an institution and no other agency does so much for the development of a community. Some grow tired, others weary of the march and fall out, but county newspapers work all the time. On those industrious and often self-sacrificing instrumentalities of progress, the people rely for news, advice and advocacy; the newspaper is expected to do for nothing what all others charge for doing. It contributes both financially and intellectually far beyond any other agency engaged in developing and upbuilding. Its work is unselfish, as the editor usually profits little, while making fame and fortune for others.
W. W. Aikens was born on October 18, 1860, at Newark, Ohio, and is indebted to the common schools of his native city for his education. At the age of fourteen years he entered the office of the Newark Advocate to learn the printing trade. He was employed there until about 1882, when he started out in life on his own account and through the Western states he was employed in a number of printing offices. In the fall of 1884 Mr. Aikens came to Franklin, and secured employment here as a general printer. On July 14. 1885, believing that this field offered a splendid opportunity for a daily newspaper, he started the Evening Star, which is said to be the oldest one-cent newspaper in Indiana which never changed price. The paper met with instantaneous success and its support was so hearty and continuous that Mr. Aikens has been compelled several times to enlarge its size. He is a natural-born newspaper man, having keen instinct for the right sort of news and a forceful and trenchant pen with which he comments on the current events of the day in an interesting and pleasing style, so that his paper is a welcome guest in every home into which it enters. In the strictest sense of the term Mr. Aikens is a self-made man, and by strict business methods and definite convictions on questions of the day he has made his business pay and his paper an influential factor in the community. Personally. he is a man who makes friends and retains them and enjoys a large following of admiring acquaintances. He erected a substantial brick building as a home for the Star and has equipped his office with a linotype machine and electrical service throughout, owning his own electric plant. In connection with the Star, Mr. Aikens established in 1890 the People’s Paper, which, while still published from his office, is now under different management. The Evening Star is non-partisan in politics and consistently and warmly supports every movement for the upbuilding and progress of the community or the welfare of the people along moral, educational or social lines. Through the columns of his paper Mr. Aikens has through the years wielded a definite influence in the community and is numbered among Johnson county’s public-spirited and progressive men of affairs. Early in his career here it was his fortune to inspire confidence in his honesty and capacity, a confidence which has been abundantly justified by his record becoming identified with this community.
On November 29, 1883, Mr. Aikens was married to Louisa B. Ackerman, of Newark, Ohio, to which union were born three children, of whom Mary and Jamie are deceased, while Esther is a graduate of the Franklin high school and Franklin College and is a member of the Pi Beta Phi fraternity. Mr. Aikens and his family are members of the Presbyterian church, of which Mr. Aikens is a trustee. In fraternal matters he takes a deep interest and in the Masonic fraternity belongs to the blue lodge [sic], the chapter of Royal Arch Masons, the council of Royal and Select Masters, the commandery of Knights Templar of Frankfort, and Murat Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Indianapolis. He also belongs to the Knights of the Maccabees, in which he is keeper of records and finance, the Court of Honor, the Knights of Pythias, the Improved Order of Red Men and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, in which he is trustee. Politically, he is a Democrat, and has served as a member of the school board with efficiency and satisfaction, being a member of the board when the present high school building was erected. He has faithfully performed his part in every avenue of life’s activities, and the honor and esteem in which he is held by all who have come into contact with him, whether in a business, public or social way, is but a just tribute to his worth.