THE PRESS OF MANISTEE
HISTORY OF MANISTEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of Some of Its Men and Pioneers.
Published 1882 by H.R. Page & Co., Chicago
Soon after the breaking out of the war, a young man who was a native of North Carolina was pressed into the service of the Confederate army. He was but a mere lad, not more than fifteen or sixteen years of age, but of the genuine metal. He remained with his company until taken prisoner by Union soldiers and confined at Fortress Monroe. There he took the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government, and was set at liberty. He came North to Chicago, and there fell in with some men who were coming to Stronach town to work at lumbering. He was a printer by trade, but not choosing to go into an office at that time, he joined the party, and upon arriving at Stronach went to work. His name was Robert R. Rice.
This was in the Summer of 1864, and during that season the subject of starting a local newspaper had been agitated. A stranger came to Manistee, and succeeded in inducing a number of the citizens to club together and buy material for a printing office. The material was purchased in Milwaukee, and consigned to some one of the gentlemen interested in its purchase. About the time the material arrived it was discovered that the party who proposed to take charge of the office was a dissolute adventurer, and he was immediately dropped. Mr. T.J. Ramsdell, who had taken a leading part in the project, learned that there was a printer at Stronach, and at once went there to see him. He found the young man, Robert Rice, and was favorably impressed with his appearance. After a brief consultation it was arranged that Rice should take charge of the material and start a paper.
Those were primitive days. The field was vast but sparsely occupied. The entire population of the whole county was but 1,674, but the newspaper enterprise had gotten good backers, and experience proved their wisdom in their choice of an editor and publisher.
The office was "set up" in a small board shanty, situated at the north side of the sand hill, east of the Canfield mill. From this building, on the 17th of December, 1864, the first number of the Manistee Gazette was issued. It was a modest appearing, five column folio, well arranged and clearly printed. In his salutatory the editor announced his faith in the future prosperity of Manistee, and stated his political creed to be that of the Republican party.
During 1866 Mr. Ramsdell erected a frame building just west of where the Boom Company office now stands, and upon its completion the printing office moved "out of the old house into the new."
About 1867 Mr. Rice found his health failing, and took in a partner, but it soon became evident to him that he had but a little while to live, and on the 1st of January, 1868, he sold the office to S.W. Fowler, then of Jackson, who changed the name of the paper to the Manistee Times, and enlarged it to six columns.
Mr. Rice died at the residence of T.J. Ramsdell, February 12, 1868, at the age of twenty-three years. His life was short, but eventful. The few years in which he was associated with the interests and the people of Manistee, brought many friends to his side who sincerely mourned his death.
In 1869 another paper, called the Tribune, was started, and was edited by George W. Clayton, of Ludington. He was succeeded by John E. Rastell, who continued it for a couple of years, when the paper was suspended, and he left Manistee.
In March, 1871, Mr. Fowler sold the Times to Richard Hoffman. About this time the first Democratic paper was started, and called the Standard. Its publisher was O.H. Godwin. This was burned out in the October fire, and was not again published until April, 1872, when it was re-established and continued until September, 1874, when it was sold to S.W. Fowler. He had previously retaken the material of the Times, and upon his purchase of the Standard, consolidated the two under the name of the Times and Standard, which paper he continues to publish.
Mr. Hoffman continued the publication of the Times until March, 1875, when he sold it to Appleton M. Smith, of Toledo, Ohio, who published it until last Spring, when he sold the office to its present proprietor, F.J. Hilton.
During the political campaign of 1874, a small paper, called the People's Advocate, was started and issued for a short time, and then suspended. In the Spring of 1875, a Democratic paper, called the Advocate, was established by E.J. Cady, who continued its publication until last Spring, when he sold an interest in the office to Mr. V.W. Richardson, of Milwaukee, and subsequently sold his remaining interest to S.C. Thompson, the firm being Richardson and Thompson.
The political complection of the newspapers is as follows: Times, Republican; Democrat, Democratic; Times and Standard, Greenback, or Independent.
These papers have always been conducted with full average, ability and enterprise, and have received liberal support from the people of the city and the county.
1882 History of Manistee County
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