History of Early Amateur Journalism in Michigan


A MICHIGAN A.P.A. was organized in 1874 with Otto Starck, Jr., as President, and meeting in Jackson in 1875 it chose Will A. Fiske President, but did not meet again. In 1882 a Peninsular A.P.A. was organized at Detroit, with W. M. Hewitt as President and F. H. Bolton as Official Editor. Its existence was brief.


Local clubs were formed in Detroit and Grand Rapids. The Detroit Amateur Journalists Club was organized in 1882 with Bernard Ginsburg as President, R. Ortmann, Treasurer, and G. T. Kast, Official Editor. Later J. J. Ackerman became President and Edwin B. Hill, Secretary. The first Grand Rapids club was formed in 1908 with Walter E. Mellinger as President. It met weekly at the homes of its members. It was reorganized in 1911 with Lynn Pritchard, President, and R. W. Goens, Official Editor. Next year George W. Macauley became President.


Michigan was the home of many prominent editors, and many famous journals were sent out from there. As early as 1867 W. F. Cornell published Young America in Lansing, and Charles K. Farley, better known as "Karl C. Yelraf," sent out the Young Hero from Imlay City. Farley became famous as one of the leading story writers of amateur journalism, his serial "Two Fair Bedouins" being one of its classics. In 1870 from the town of Morenci, Edward D. Stair, years later to be editor and owner of the Detroit Free Press, issued Our Boys and Girls. Allegan in 1869 had the Star issued by W. W. Vosburgh, and the Little Western, C. A. Rounds editor, both having engraved headings. In 1871 Detroit had its first paper, a large sheet called the Venture, published by Ned H. Knight. Another early amateur editor in Michigan was Fred M. Townsend, of Coldwater, who published the Firefly in 1872. Grand Rapids came early into amateur prominence with the Michigan Amateur and the Brilliant, published by William A. Innes in 1874-5, and the Acme, published the same year by John H. Gibbons. Next year F. Franc Bassett, of Flint, began the publication of his Jottings, which he issued at intervals for ten years. That year in Jonesville, D. M. Baker sent forth the Amateur Times.


The next two years saw many journals spring into existence. Ann Arbor sent out the News Boy, edited by G. M. Bigelow, and the Western Amateur, published by J. F. Wallach. East Saginaw had two papers, the Leader, edited by Harry L. Shaw, and the Sponge by D. H. Armstrong, while in South Saginaw, E. W. Gallagher issued the Joker. In Pontiac, C. H. Dean published the Rambler. Ernest A. Stowe gained much prominence in amateur affairs, his Northern Amateur being started in 1876 from Big Rapids, which also had Pod's Odds, Z. H. Howig editor.


Detroit during the next ten years was one of the great amateur centers of the country, and many of its editors and journals became famous. In 1878 Will J. Baker issued Odds and Ends, later changing its name to Youth. The same year Dean brought his Rambler to Detroit, and J. R. Hopper issued the Amateur Friend. In 1879 Jason J. Ackerman published the Wolverine Amateur, John Hanley the Detroiter, Albert J. Stranger the Stranger, and Benjamin B. Pelham the Venture. Pelham, a Negro, shared with Herbert A. Clarke the amateur honors of his race. Pelham later edited a professional paper devoted to the interests of the Negro people. It was edited with marked ability and won high praise. In 1880 Warren J. Niles started a weekly called Our American Youth, publishing it for two years. In 1881 he joined forces with Gustavus T. Kast, who had edited the Patriot in 1880, and the Amaranth was the result. Russell Robb issued the Mentor in 1882, and Rudolph Ortmann the Detroit Amateur. The same year the Newtonian was issued by F. H. Bolton, who later joined with W. M. Hewitt in publishing the Welcome Guest. Will R. Antisdel, a brilliant poet and editor, published the Peninsular Press, and later Qui Vive. In 1882, also, Edwin B. Hill began the publication of the Spectator. Six years later, with Ernest A. Edkins, Hill published a quarterly magazine called the Stylus, which was one of the three or four leading critical and literary journals in amateur history. Hugh O'Connor issued the Entertainer, Walter H. Chamberlain Cream, Bernard Ginsburg the Western Representative, George H. Hudgon Psyche, and Thomas H. Miller the Michigan Mask. Miller later, with George T. Hargreaves, issued the Favorite.


Elsewhere in the State were the News, issued from Dowagiac, by Lewis C. Bigelow who printed many amateur papers. Later Roy Marshall published the Editorial from there. In still later years Elbert M. Moffatt, of St. Joseph, issued Clarus; Chester P. Bradley, of Eaton Rapids, the Perspective Review; and from Grand Rapids have come O-Wash-Ta-Nong, edited by George W. Macauley, Robie Macauley, Pine Needles, and the Distaff, edited by Emma Macauley. In Adrian, Sesta Matheison issued the Mascot, and, in Jackson, Margaret N. Martin the Literary Record. In Wyandotte, Burton J. Smith issued Avocation and Eisegesis.


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