THE VAN BUREN COUNTY PRESSfrom the 1878 History of Van Buren County pages 464 - 467
The first paper. ever published in Van Buren County was at Keosauqua. It was called the Iowa Democratic and Des Moines River Intelligencer.
In July, 1843, James Shepherd started from Springfield, Ill., for the West, and on his way to Iowa was met by Cyrus Walker, who recommended Keosauqua as a good point to start a newspaper. Mr. Shepherd arriving at this place. a meeting was called, and the prospectus left with William Steele, a merchant. old citizen and Democrat of Keosauqua, to procure subscribers. It was the intention of Mr. Shepherd to have the paper advocate the Democratic principles of the day, and run it under the name of the Democratic Union.
On his return to Springfield, he sent the material and printing press West by means of an ox-team and wagon, in care of his son, Jesse M. Shepherd, and J. L. T. Mitchell, a young man who was to receive one-half the profits of the concern to compensate for his labor. Mr. Shepherd instructed his son not to allow any person the control or dictation whatever over the policy of the paper. This, Mr. Steele did not like, and threw the prospectus into the fire.
Mitchell being a Whig and young Shepherd a Democrat, they, upon the action of Steele, agreed to balance their political opinions and run the paper as a neutral sheet.
A copy of the paper was sent to Springfield, and this was the first notice that Mr. Shepherd had received of the neutral policy.
In the spring of 1844, he came out again, and immediately made arrangements to purchase Mitchell's share, for which he (Shepherd) was to pay $25, and Mitchell to step out at the end of one year. This sum was given, and a horse in the bargain.
There was a valedictory written by Mitchell and published in the last number of the paper of which he was partner that is worth preserving. It ran as follows: "We (Shepherd, Jr., & Mitchell) both knew, by observation, that there was a certain set who would take the lead in acting for the people, and, when opportunity offered, cut from the loaf the largest slice for themselves. To these we gave our decided opposition, no matter what their faith or belief. Herein, then, consists our neutrality - determined opposition to demagogues; a set that may be found in every community and in every party. and who deserve the contempt of every honorable and high-minded man."
Upon Mitchell's withdrawal from the Intelligencer, he established a Whig paper, known as the Border Pioneer. It was run but a short time.
At the expiration of one year, party spirit began to manifest itself among the people, and party lines were drawn at the approaching Presidential canvass between Henry Clay and James Polk. Besides this, what was denominated the American system bank tariff and other measures were put into issue before the people, and they began to choose sides. The Intelligencer was then changed to a political paper, advocating Democratic principles. James and Jesse M. Shepherd assumed the editorship. They continued it until 1850, when they sold to Ezra M. Jones. James Shepherd says upon this subject :
During the next ten years, the office of the Democrat changed owners several times, the proprietors being the father of S. M. Mills, Seth Millington, Daniel Morris (who changed it to a Whig paper), J. M. Estes (who changed it back to the Democratic side); then Oliver J. Taylor run it into the Des Moines News, and in 1860, James and Jesse M. Shepherd purchased it and continued the publication under the name Des Moines News, on the same press and fixtures. It was Democratic in politics up to 1865, when they sold to G. S. Bailey, and he moved the press and fixtures to Albia, Monroe Co., Iowa, and published a paper there. In 1843. when the publication of the Democrat was commenced, it was the sixth in the Territory of Iowa. I recollect very well the notice given of its advent by J. Russell, who published a paper at Bloomington (now Muscatine). Iowa. It was as follows: 'Two more candidates for the Poorhouse.'"
In 1845-46, the Des Moines Valley Whig was published at Keosauqua, by Howell & Cowles. No files exist from which to gain any correct information concerning this paper, and from the fact that it had passed out of mind, until revived through the research of the writer, it is safe to say that it did not long survive the shocks of adversity.
Beginning with the year 1850, the newspapers of the county have appeared as follows :
Keosauqua Jeffersonian April 29, 1850. by Arlando E. Jones, to May 26, 1851.
Western American, by L. D. and H. Morris, July 5, 1851, to July 3, 1852. Motto, "Distinct, like the billows - one, like the sea." Introductory: "Our watchword is Union now and forever, one and inseparable."
Democratic Union (purchased of H. and L. D. Morris). H. and S. M. Mills. Issued July 17, 1852; run to January 15, 1853. Motto: "A jealous care of the rights of the people. Absolute acquiescence in the decision of the majority."
Seth Millington, editor, and Rufus Summerlin, publisher, came into possession of the Union, January 29, 1853. Their first issue was No. 27 of Vol. I.
Democratic Union, Vol. III, No. 1, R. Summerlin, editor and proprietor, was the next step. This continued until August 5, 1854.
November 25, 1854, James Shepherd became editor of the Union and Summerlin, publisher. This until Vol. III, No. 17.
The Democratic Mirror was named by John M. Estes, editor and proprietor. Jesse M. Shepherd, publisher, December 6, 1855. The paper was purchased from Millington. The motto was "See Ahead."
Oliver O. Taylor, editor and proprietor of the Des Moines News, published the next paper in this line under the motto, "Constitutional Liberty," the change in names being made with No. 18 of Vol. I, on May 7, 1858. His salutatory was "The harmonious blending of freedom and restraint, upon which the whole fabric of our Republic rests, and upon which it must continue to flourish, or perish." He continued it until March 31, 1860, when James Shepherd became editor and Jesse M. Shepherd publisher. The first issue was Saturday, April 7, 1860.
The Shady Side was the title of another paper published at Keosauqua. It was Republican in politics. Vol. I, No. 1, was published Friday morning. October 27, 1871, by Joel Mayne, editor and proprietor. With No. 16 of Vol. I, Mayne withdrew and D. H. Burton became possessed of it. He issued No. 17 on Friday morning, March 8, 1872, and continued until No. 27, the last number being published July 26, 1872.
The Keosauqua Republican was established September 12, 1854, by W. C. Worden and by him sold to L. D. Morris in 1855, the latter transferring to John S. Stidger in 1856. Stidger sold to L. D. Morris in 1858, and Morris sold to Joel Mayne in 1859. In 1868, he sold to George E. Henry, who, on February 12, 1877, sold one-half interest to W. H. Bleakmore, and, on August 30, 1877, the other half to J. M. Strong. Mr. Strong transferred his interest December 27, 1877, to Judge Joshua S. Sloan. The firm is now known as Sloan & Bleakmore.
The Democrat was established at Bonaparte, January 19, 1870, by George F. Smith and R. I. Holcomb. After three months, Holcomb retired. Smith continued the publication until December 1, 1876, when he removed the paper to Keosauqua, where it is still published.
Vernon cradled one of the first papers in the county. It was known as the Democratic Mirror, John M. Estes, being the editor and proprietor, and J. S. Shepherd, publisher. The motto of the paper was "Submission to the will of majorities when constitutionally expressed." The first number was published Friday, December 7, 1855. The paper was continued until No. 42 of Vol. I. Then it was removed to Keosauqua. On October 17, 1856, No. 43 was issued. The paper was run until December 18, 1857, Vol. II. No. 50, and took the name of the Valley Weekly News, and the motto, "Devoted to general intelligence, the best interest of Southern Iowa, the Des Moines Valley, and of Van Buren County." John M. Estes continued as editor and proprietor. The first issue under the new name was January 1, 1858. The publication continued until April 30, 1858.
The Bonaparte Signal was the first newspaper published at Bonaparte. A. C. Bailey was editor and proprietor. The date of the beginning was January 31, 1866. Wednesday was the publication day, but it was subsequently changed to Thursday. The paper was Democratic in politics. The motto was "The affections of the people the only solid cement of union." The last number was issued Thursday, July 30, 1868, No. 27 of Vol. III.
The Des Moines Valley Reporter, Republican in politics, was established January 18, 1872, by H. C. Ashbough. The paper bade the word good-by with Vol. I, No. 27, July 18, 1872.
On April 5, 1877, J. W. and John H. Sherman, started the Bonaparte Journal, a weekly publication, independent in politics. The firm is known as Sherman Brothers. They are the youngest editors in the county.
The Birmingham Enterprise was established in October, 1869, by W. J. Moore. He continued in charge one and one-half years, and sold to J. A. T. Hull, who continued as proprietor eighteen months, and then transferred the paper to J. S. Ragsdale. This arrangement continued one year and a half, when W. R. Parker came into possession of it. He had charge of it six months, when he sold one-half of his interest to C. L. Sheward. The firm is now known as Sheward & Parker. The politics of the paper is Republican.
The history of the press of Farmington, dates back only to the month of February, 1874, when M. L. Mooers started the Gazette. The paper was published under that management until February 18, 1876, Vol. III, No. I, Mr. Mooers then being succeeded by A. Ditson, who published No. 2 of Vol. III, on February 25, 1876. J. M. Elliott came in possession of the Gazette soon after that, but the exact date is not known. He published the paper until the summer of 1878, when it was discontinued.
George W. Baer established the Record, in 1878, the first number being published November 8. Its tone is neutral.
The Milton Headlight was established in October, 1876, by Allen Ditson. He run it three months and sold it to Marsan & Baxter. They continued until October, 1877, when Marsan became sole owner. He run it until March, 1878, and then suspended.
The Milton Herald was started in April, 1878, and is now run by McNeill & Baxter.
Transcribed by Rich Lowe for the Van Buren County IAGenWeb Project - copyright 2008