GRAND RAPIDS TIMES AND ITS SUCCESSORS
Grand Rapids had a weekly newspaper eleven years after Louis Campau came and four years after the first eastern settlers began to flock in. This was the Grand River Times. George W. Pattison, a native of New York and only 23 years of age, was the editor and publisher. The financial backer was the Kent company, and the Times was established to assist in booming the budding village.
The first copy to come off the press April 18, 1837, at the office on Canal (Monroe) street, south of Lyon, was printed on silk-satin and given to Louis Campau. Of course, everybody in the village was there to see the old hand press slowly do its work. The Times was sold to Charles I. Walker in 1838, and by him sold the next year to James H. Morse. Although it passed through many trying days it was continued as a weekly until 1841, when the Grand Rapids Enquirer, another weekly, succeeded it. The Enquirer was started by James H. Morse & Co., Simeon M. Johnson being the editor. It became a daily November 19, 1855, Charles H. Taylor, editor.
The Grand Rapids Herald, another daily, had meantime been ushered into a brief existence on March 19, 1855, by Alphonso E. Gordon, who had come from Brunswick, New Jersey. May 1, 1857, Mr. Gordon and Jonathan P. Thompson purchased the Daily Enquirer and consolidated it with the Herald, under the name of the Daily Enquirer and Herald. A chattel mortgage soon put an end to this enterprise, but the undaunted Alphonso Gordon somehow procured enough type and a printing press and the Enquirer and Herald continued until April, 1860, when an unfeeling mortgagor seized the establishment. But, as there is always someone eager to get out a newspaper, this particular one found editors and backers and continued, although a trifle lamely, sometimes as a weekly and sometimes as a semi-weekly, until Merrills H. Clark got control of the property in August, 1865. But the persistent creditors kept on the newspaper's trail and, Mr. Clark assuming, as it were, a disguise to put the minions of the law off the scent, changed the name of the paper to the Grand Rapids Democrat.
Mr. Clark, needing financial assistance, sold an interest in the Democrat to several others from time to time, and in 1877 he disposed of what interest he had left to I. E. Messmore and A. A. Stevens, who published the paper until 1881, when Mr. Messmore became the sole owner. In 1882 he transferred the property to Frank W. Ball.
For thirty-seven years the Democrat came out as a morning daily under different owners and editors. Then, in 1902, it began publication as an evening daily, changing its name to the Post. In 1904 John W. Hunter of Chicago, bought the controlling interest in the Post from William F. McKnight and in 1908 changed its name to the Daily News. But he never made any money out of the enterprise and in 1910 ownership passed to the others, Andrew Fyfe becoming the publisher and George A. Murphy the business manager. Under this management the paper became the Grand Rapids News.
January 1, 1912, A. P. Johnson, until that date general manager of the Chicago Record-Herald, secured the controlling interest and became the publisher of the News. The Grand Rapids News continued as an evening daily under this management until December 19, 1922, when the last issue of this direct successor to the Grand River Times came off the press.
GRAND RAPIDS EAGLE
The Grand River Eagle, a weekly established by Aaron B. Turner, published its first issue December 25, 1844. The "River" was soon dropped and "Rapids" substituted. Mr. Turner often found it difficult to procure the paper for his publication. The Eagle was a weekly until May 26, 1856, when it came out as a morning daily. But in September of the same year it became an evening daily, continuing as such until it went out of existence in 1894.
GRAND RAPIDS DAILY TIMES
The Grand Rapids Daily Times was established on April 17, 1870, by Clark C. Sexton. It was purchased July 21, 1886, by Frank W. Ball, who merged it with the Democrat.
THE EVENING LEADER
The Evening Leader, owned by the Leader Publishing company, of which about ten prominent citizens were stockholders, started publication February 14, 1879. In 1888 W. B. Weston was managing editor. Lewis G. Stuart city editor and Henry M. Rose reporter. In 1891 it was purchased by the Press Publishing company. William B. Weston was proprietor of the Leader during the last years of its existence.
GRAND RAPIDS HERALD AND ITS PREDECESSORS
The Morning Telegram was first issued September 30, 1884, by Harford & McDowell--W. M. Harford and Hugh McDowell. The Telegram Publishing company, organized January 21, 1885, continued its publication until April 17, 1886, when the controlling interest of Harford & McDowell was sold to Lloyd Brezee and Fred G. Berger and the paper merged with Brezee's Herald, which had begun publication May 20, 1885. After the consolidation the Telegram-Herald came into being, with a Sunday edition devoted to social news, as Brezee's Herald had been.
August 3, 1888, C. C. Swensberg and Eugene D. Conger purchased the stock holdings of Lloyd Brezee and Fred G. Berger and in the reorganization of the company Mr. Swensberg became president and Mr. Conger secretary and manager.
The name of the paper was changed from Telegram-Herald to the Grand Rapids Herald, Sunday, January 3, 1892. On the death of Mr. Swensberg, October 5, 1897, Mr. Conger obtained a controlling interest and he was the publisher until the majority of the stock was purchased April 2, 1905, by Ralph Booth. March 17, 1906, Mr. Booth sold his holdings to William Alden Smith, who soon transferred the property to the Herald Publishing company, its present owner.
Arthur H. Vanderberg, who had been a reporter on the Herald, became publisher in 1906 and is now president of the company.
GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
The Morning Press was founded by William J. Sproat and appeared on the first Monday of September, 1890, the city's first penny newspaper. Mr. Sproat was its proprietor until November 5, 1891, when control passed to the Press Publishing company, the stockholders being D. R. Waters, William J. Sproat, Clark K. Gibson, E. F. Doty, E. L. Briggs, Charles A. Emerson, A. A. Weeks and A. A. Ellis. Soon after the controlling interest in the company was purchased by George G. Booth, who in 1892 bought the Eagle and merged it with the Press. January 1, 1893, the Press went into the evening daily field, which it has since occupied.
This newspaper at first was published at 63 Pearl street. Then for a number of years it occupied a building on the river at the southeast end of the Pearl street bridge. In 1906 it removed to its splendid home at Fulton street and Sheldon avenue, one of the best-equipped newspaper plants in the country.
Willis Hall Turner was manager of the Press for many years and until he went to Chicago to become manager of the Journal, which Mr. Booth had purchased. He was succeeded by Charles S. Burch. Edmund W. Booth has been editor and manager of the Press since 1906.
Harry B. Stitt, now managing editor, has been connected with the editorial end of the Press since 1892, serving as reporter, editorial writer and associate editor. Arthur W. Stace was managing editor from 1911 to 1924.