Tlie first newspaper published in the county was the "Oquawka Spectator,'' founded by Col. John B. Patterson, in the month of February 1848, at Oquawka, who issued the first number in February of that year. It was neutral in politics, and issued weekly continuously to the present time. Its founder, Col. Patterson, is still its editor and proprietor, and bids fair to continue its management for many years to come. Since the foundation of the paper, E. H. N. Patterson, a son of the present editor, was for many years associated with his father as junior editor. The latter severed his connection with the paper in the year 1859, and with the great army of gold seekers who set their faces westward, left his native state and took up his abode in the then territory of Colorado. Mining was not, to his taste. He was possessed of a fine intellect and was a brilliant writer. These qualities could not long be concealed and he was induced to attach himself to the editorial staff of the "Colorado Miner," one of the leading papers of the state, in which position he gained high rank by the ability he displayed in his editorials. He, in a short time, became one of the proprietors of the paper and its chief editor, in which position he died in the month of April, 1880, at Denver, Colorado. He married, in 1851, Laura Phelps, the daughter of Stephen S. Phelps, one of the founders of the town of Oqnawka. His wife died in the year 1867, leaving three children: Harry K., Mattie, and Norman.
Not only as a newspaper writer did the subject of this sketch exhibit marked ability, but many of his publications in verse, as well as in prose, bore testimony of the peculiarly fine literary cast of his mind. A. specimen is here quoted as illustrating the style of his writings, and the sentiments of its author. It was written nineteen years ago, and is now published for the first time. The original is in the possession of the writer:
THE PATRIOT MOTHER.
Dead ! No, no! surely you do but mock me! He's but sleeping; — Why all these tears, this agony of mourning? Why such weeping? Death has not come to rob me of the lad. 'Tis only gentle sleep — Deadlike perchance, in being dreamless; yet only slumber, wherefore weep? When first the tocsin rung the battle blast, Charlie, brave boy, stepped out, Full panoplied, in triple armor clad ; his voice in the great freedom-shout rising above all others — louder, clearer, filled with grandeur of the Cause For which he fought: his nation's constitution, the supremacy of its laws! Twas but as yesterday I saw him girding his loins for the fight,
Conscious of victory, confident of success, because the Right. Ne'er fell before the opposing hosts of Treason's clan— . '
Ne'er failed because opposed by jaundiced Error's ban !
Then say not he is dead ! He lives— his faith, example, deeds,
Will nerve his patriot-brothers' arms ! Away with funeral weeds;
I will not wear them! Charlie lives —his spirit is away.
In hottest battle — men will feel its power; death cannot mark him for its prey
'Till war shall cease in all the land — 'till peace resume her sway—
And Treason's cloud obscure 110 more the brightness of the Nation's day."
It should be stated that the "Spectator,'- which commenced its career as a neutral, was, in the year 1863, transformed into a democratic organ of its party in the county, and to this time has been an advocate of conservative democratic principles, through the long pilgrimage of defeat to which its party has been subjected. Its venerable editor stands high with his professional brethren and earns the esteem of his political opponents. Few men have wielded the editorial pen for so many consecutive years, as editor and proprietor of one newspaper. All liis acquaintances join in wishing him many happy years of success in the path he has so long and successfully traveled.
The " Oquawka Plaindealer" was the next newspaper enterprise started in the county. This was a weekly publication, commenced July 24:, 1852, by Francis A. Dallain, editor and proprietor, and so continued until March 6, 1855, when Horace Bigelow, Esq., purchased a half interest in the establishment; from that time until May 6, 1850, when Mr. Dallam sold his interest to James H. Reed. The firm of Reed & Bigelow continued the publication of the paper until May 1, 1857, when they sold the whole concern to J. K. Magie and David Mitchell. It was whig in politics at its commencement and after the defeat of Scott, in 1852, it shared the fate of its party, and drifting with the wreck until the formation of the republican party in 1856, when it cast its fortunes with that organization, to which it ever afterward adhered. Magie & Mitchell disposed of their interest and the paper was next under the control of Lewis Leslie ; then of M. H. Jamison, when, under the editorial control of a Mr. Chamberlain, it was removed to Biggsville, in this county. Shortly after Chamberlain retired from the paper and Judson Graves became its editor. Subsequently Graves removed the paper to Kirkwood, in Warren county, when, after a brief period, he again moved, and this time to the city of Galesburg, in this state.
The " Clipper" is a small weekly paper, established in Biggsville by M. M. Rowley, editor and proprietor, about the year 1874. It is republican in politics, and still continues under its first management, and is meeting, as it deserves, with very fair success. Its editor is an excellent writer for such a paper and earns the deserved success he has enjoyed.
The "Raritan Bulletin," a weekly paper, is published in the town of Raritan, in the southeast part of the county, by Robert Barnes, as editor and proprietor. It was established in the year 1875. It is independent in politics and is meeting with deserved success. Its editorials evince marked ability and its circulation is rapidly increasing.
"The Henderson County Journal " was established in Oqnawka by Eugene A. Hail, editor and proprietor, in the month of May, 1872. It was a weekly paper and republican in politics. In June, 1872, Mr. Hail, its editor, removed the establishment to Macomb, in McDonough county, in this state, where he continued its publication until August, 1875, when he returned with his paper to this county and again commenced its publication at the county seat, under the name of the "Henderson County Journal,"a weekly issue, devoted to the interests of the republican party. The paper is ably edited by Mr. Hail, its proprietor, a gentleman of refinement and sterling worth, and is proving for its owner a good investment.
All the papers here named have received not alone from their party friends, but from the general public of the county, a generous support, which bears evidence of the intelligence of the inhabitants.
History of Mercer and Henderson Counties.
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