History of Early Amateur Journalism in Illinois


AN ILLINOIS AMATEUR was the first to sense the possibilities in the advent of the amateur printing press, and Illinois amateurs were among the first to organize, and their State association had a longer uninterrupted existence than any other similar organization. The Illinois State A.P.A. was formed in Chicago in July, 1876; George W. Hancock was its first President. In 1877, at Chicago, May 2, Will T. Hall was chosen President; and July 15, 1878 also at Chicago, Will L. Wright was chosen for that office. The next meeting was at Springfield, August 8, 1879, when Henry W. Wilson was made President and H. S. Livingstone, Editor. In Peoria, December 27, 1879, a meeting was held at which no business was transacted, but July 10, 1880, at Mattoon, Wallace Dozier was elected President. In 1881 the Association met at Decatur, but soon afterward ceased its activities.


It was reorganized under the name of the Prairie State A.P.A., at La Harpe, October 24, 1883, Charles O. Kimball, President. He resigned and Lawrence B. Stringer, afterward Lieuteriant-Govemor of Illinois, became President. He was re-elected at Chicago, July 7, 1884, and George W. Hancock was made Editor. At Galesburg, July 8, 1885, Walter E. Mellinger was chosen President and Allen R. Parrish, Editor. Parrish was promoted to the presidency at Chicago, July 2, 1885; and in July, 1887, at Mendota, Edward P. Cook became President and John L. Tomlinson, Editor. Next July Tomlinson became President, but the meeting in Chicago, in July, 1889, was its last. A State organization was formed by mail in 1895, 59 votes being cast, George W. Colburn being chosen President, but it held no meetings. One more organization was effected in 1903, with John S. Burchmore as President, but it held only one meeting.


The amateurs of Chicago organized the Garden City A.P.A. in 1876 with A. N. Demerest as President, and in 1878 E. O. Carroll was President and George W. Hancock, Editor. In 1884 it was reorganized with Guy C. Ledyard, Jr., President and Hancock again Editor, and for the next 25 years Chicago had one or more local clubs, personal and political rivalries at times causing dissensions and new formations. But most of the time weekly or monthly meetings were held in the city. Mattoon had a local club in 1877, and Monmouth one in 1908.


The first amateur journalist of record in Illinois was Fred K. Morrill, “Quill,” who in 1869 issued Our Boys in Chicago. By 1871 it was a four column folio and had absorbed many of the smaller papers. Throughout its career it was regularly published and read by nearly all of amateurdom. It became the official organ for the National Amateur Press Association with its September, 1871, number. With the October, 1871, number the masthead reads, “Chicago and Boston.”


Charles S. Diehl, of Winona, was the first youth to use a Novelty press for printing an amateur paper. He published Our Boys' Intellect in 1870. Afterwards he was associated with Morrill in publishing Our Boys in Chicago. Chicago in 1870 had the Bee, published by George W. Hancock, who had a long career in amateur journalism. The next year Chicago saw the birth of another paper, the Young Messenger, issued by Walter T. Dwight, and in 1872 Edward E. Woodbury published a large paper from that city named Golden Moments. Monmouth in 1870 had a paper called the Juvenile Herald, issued by Clarke and Mills. In 1873, at Upper Alton, Harry S. Barler edited the Amateur Age, but gained greater fame as a poet, one of the most gifted. He died in 1876 at a very early age. In Calesburg, in 1874, Henry S. Livingstone published Our Olio, and Ben Newsome, of Carbondale, began publication of the Young American, which became one of the leading papers of the time. In Rock Island, in 1875, Stanton S. Mills issued Our Compliments, changing its name to the Western Amateur, and later Will T. Hall, of Chicago, became its publisher. Chicago at this time became a flourishing amateur center, among its papers and editors being: Boys' and Girls' Favorite, Guy C. Ledyard, Jr.; Boys’ Press, L. C. Spruance; Amateur Monthly, Frank D. Warner; Brilliant, Mason C. Griggs. A year or two later Carroll's Gazette, published by the three Carroll brothers, was added to Chicago journals, as was Echoes of the Board, Samuel Glover, editor. In 1878 Warner and Ledyard issued 28 numbers of the Daily Amateur. The same year Clarence P. Dresser published the Editor's Eye, a large paper with an engraved heading.


Outside of Chicago, Cairo in 1877 saw the birth of two noted journals, the Egyptian Star, edited by Will L. Wright, and the Knight Errant, Eugene E. Ellis, editor. That year Edward E. Stowell began his amateur life in Mount Carroll, publishing the Amateur Globe, and Frank M. Morris published Duke's Spirit in Pesotum, afterwards moving to Indianapolis. Mattoon had at this time a number of papers, the most creditable being the Amateur Advertiser, Charles E. Dole, editor, and the Prairie Flower, edited by W. J. Erler. In Mattoon in 1879 Wallace Dozier began publishing the Ivory Independent, which he continued for several years. In Carbondale, Elihu Palmer, the poet, in 1877 issued the Bazoo and later the Criterion. In 1879 John C. Nicholls, of Blue Mound, issued Prairie Breezes, and Allen Gray, in Warsaw, the Argus. In 1881 Wells M. Cook issued the Telegram from Mendota, and the next year U. G. Orendorff, in Canton, published the Flea, while in Naperville, Hope R. Cody issued the Ray, and Laurence B. Stringer, in La Harpe, the Argonaut.


In later years Chicago papers and editors included the following: Opinion, J. Herbert Phillips; Commentator, John L. Tomlinson; Boys' Herald, Howard M. Carter; Exchange-Journal, Albert E. Barker; Amateur Writer, Walter E. Mellinger; Clique, Albert E. Barnard; Germania and Pirate, Theodore B. Thiele; Dabbler, H. L. Lindquist; Bohemia, Alfred J. Robinson; Odd One Jennie I. Maloney; Ariel, Amanda E. Frees. In Western Springs Charles L. Detrich issued Spare Time; in Maywood, Allan R. Parish, Our Sanctum; in Pekin, George L. Colburn the Mirror, and in Danville, Ada Parkhurst the Kansas Zephyr.


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