Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


In a recent column I mentioned more than a dozen newspapers that were at one time published in Van Buren County. Simultaneously near the turn of the previous century, the villages of Cantil, Stockport and Birmingham published newspapers, while Bonaparte, Farmington, and Keosauqua each printed two. Each paper rivaled the others for circulation and advertising.

Although I still have not found a record of newspaper publishing in Douds, Leando, or Bentonsport, the town of Vernon printed The Democratic Mirror for a brief time during the early 1850s on locally made newsprint paper.

Thanks to Joe Stump, I now have a copy of The Weekly Selma Star, published on Friday, December 12, 1884. The publication consisted of a simple 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet folded in half to make four pages. Subscriptions cost five cents per month.

According to an article in the paper, Selma had a population of 300 in 1884. There were two general stores, a meat market, lumber yard, sawmill, drug store and blacksmith shop. Two churches, a school and a hotel also served the village.

Editor and publisher A. B. Adams had advertising from each of the town’s stores. Selma also had a depot for the K&DM division of the CRI&P Railroad that passed through town. W. E. Baldwin shipped two car loads of fine cattle to Chicago that week. According to the "Selma Markets" hogs were selling at 3.5 cents per pound, butter was fifteen cents per pound, eggs sold for 20 cents per dozen, corn was 24 cents per bushel and 18 pounds of oats sold for 20 cents.

I don’t know what political party the editor identified with, but it must be noted that the newspaper did not have space to print the new President-elect Grover Cleveland’s message. However, mention was made that President Garfield’s doctor bills and funeral expenses reached a total of $223.65. ( author’s note: Garfield was assassinated in September, 1881. Cleveland was elected in Nov., 1884; Chester A. Arthur was sworn in after Garfield’s death and had been President for the past three years.)

In other news, a total of 44 students were enrolled in a two-month period of school that ended December 5, 1884. H. C. Leach was teacher. The coon hunters somehow got separated last week and were not very successful in their endeavors. Stumps’ Leap Year Ball was a big success, however!

Thanks Joe, for supplying me with a copy of Selma’s interesting little newspaper.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick