Journal-News Oldest Family Owned Rock County Weekly Newspaper

The Stewart family begins their 89th year of association with the community's second oldest business institution - second only to the Farmers & Merchants Bank which celebrates its 103rd Anniversary this year. Hats off to this leader of the Community - in service and longevity.

The Orfordville Journal printed its first issue, Vol. 1, No. 1, December 17, 1908, The paper had a hard time making a go of it -lasting only for a few months when the owner, S. H. Graves left the village to return to his native Illinois.

Mr. Graves came to Orfordville from Bogard, MO, where he was editor of the Bogard Dispatch for two years. The equipment for the newspaper came from Forreston, IL, where Graves brother had combined two papers into one and the extra printing equipment and type was shipped to Orfordville. The first newspaper office was in the building now occupied by Villa Pizza Inn.

The paper struggled for some time, and became indebted to the Farmers & Merchants Bank, which became owner of the equipment and name. Stock was sold under the name of the Orfordville Printing Company for $5.00 a share. Mr. Norval Hendrickson was employed to operate the business as he had been an employee of the printing company since it started. Shares in excess of $1,000 were sold to local business people and residents and the bank loan were paid off.

Mr. Hendrickson managed the paper for a year, purchasing it for $1,000, thereby paying back the stockholders. He was editor and publisher until 1916 when he sold to Ward A. Stewart, a young man of 22 years, from Chicago, IL - hometown Winslow, IL.

Here Ward A. Stewart, with the help of many local women, weekly set the type and published a newspaper. On Tuesdays, young ladies would come to the office to begin setting the type for the weekly paper. Each letter had to be picked our of a case (drawer) and placed in a "stick" where words, lines, sentences, paragraphs, and finally stories took shape. The type was transferred to long metal trays called "galleys" where the type would be inked, paper place on top, and a roller pulled across to form an image.

The galley proofs were read and errors marked and then were sent back to the typesetters who in turn corrected the mistakes.

Later, these galleys of type along with advertisements, also set from handset type, were place together in a metal frame, called a "form". Each form held one page and was "locked into position" with triangular shaped metal pieces called "coins". The pages would be carried to the press where they were placed on the "bed" and made ready for printing.

Two pages could be run at one time. As the first two pages were being run off on the Taylor One Revolution Cylinder Press, the final two pages were being readied by the typesetters. As the first pages were taken off the press at the completion of the run, the second pair replaced them and the sheets of paper were then moved back to the feed board of the press and sent thru the printing process for a second time, completing the four "broadsheet" pages of the newspaper.

While the second set of pages were being printed, the lady typesetters washed down the inked type with lye, took it from the forms and replaced in into the type trays from where they had recently taken it and the type was ready for the next weeks newspaper to begin all over again.

When completed pages came off the press, some of the ladies took the papers and folded them three times, slitting the heads so the paper was ready for mailing while others replaced the final type in the cases.

One of a number of galleys of typeset names was placed in a "Wing Mailer" after being inked with a small brayer (roller). An individual paper was placed into the mailer and a handle lowered, forcing the paper onto the inked type, receiving the name of one subscriber. As the handle was raised, the galley moved forward one name, ready for the next paper to be placed in position to receive it's address. As each galley of names was completed, another replaced it in the "Wing" mailer.

Papers were mailed via the U.S. Postal Service in those days as it continues to be done today. Flat copies of the papers were taken to the local post office where they were sorted into the various boxes. Papers destined for other communities were bundled and placed in mailing bags at the Post Office. They were sent by train to surrounding villages and cities, where they were carried to the addresses on each paper by a postman. Today, all papers are bagged for destination, marked with UPC labels and delivered to the Post Office

Late in July of that first year, a young 19 year old girl by the name of Rose Mani came to Orfordville and became part of the newspaper she would call home for more than 75 years. On Aug. 2nd of 1916, the couple Ward and Rose were married on a Wednesday night in the parsonage of the Orfordville Lutheran Church ... after the Orfordville Journal had been printed and put to bed. Elmer and Iva Burtness were their witnesses. Only a small two paragraph notice on the following week's front page alluded to the wedding. (Elmer was the original owner of the Cozy Corner Restaurant, later to become owner of Burtness Chevrolet Sales.)

In 1920, the building housing the newspaper was needed by its owner and the paper went looking for new headquarters. The only empty building in the community was at the far end of the business area and had been a bakery, restaurant, and Tailor shop for a number of years, but was vacant at the time.

The owner of the building thought he had Mr. Stewart over a barrel and asked tremendous sum, more than it was worth. The man who owned the lot the building was on, gave the buildin owner 24 hours to sell it to Mr. Stewart at a proper price or "get it the "hell off" his land the next day". The deal went thru and the paper moved to its present quarters.

For the next 45 years, the newspaper grew and expanded its territory. With the addition of the Footville News section in 1925, the purchase of a new Model 8 Linotype became necessary, the typesetting monstrosity was purchased for $6,000 and brought the newspaper current with other local papers. Corrections were made easier by the insertion of a complete line of metal rather than just one letter, which had to be justified by hand to keep the right and left margins equal. The mechanical marvel allowed one person to do the typesetting of three or four, setting the type into neat lines called "slugs", each holding a complete line of words that made up the sentences and paragraphs of stories.

In 1926, an addition was built to the building to house a new press and an office. A second story gave additional room to the apartment above, where Ward and Rose Stewart made their home.

Rose Stewart, ran the Linotype much of the time, but at this time the family was about to be joined by a "printer's devil" in 1927. During this time Gertrude Hanson, a local housewife became a typesetter for the Orfordville Journal and Footville News. The second section of the paper The Footville News added to the paper with advertisements and news of the neighboring village.

When Rose returned to her Linotype, she brought with her a crib in which son, George, spent his first year, learning the printing trade at the knee of his mother and father.

A new two-revolution Whitlock press was added at this time, to replace the older Taylor press, so more pages could be printed at one time and the paper finished with less effort and in quicker time.

Ward and Rose Stewart printed the Orfordville Journal and Footville News every week, until World War II when they took six weeks off to help farmers in the fields during harvest when help was scarce. This was the only time the Orfordville Journal and Footville News missed publication on Wednesday for more than one week.

The first generation - Ward and Rose Stewart - have since passed on - the paper is now published by their son George and his wife, Betty Lou Dansin Stewart. For a number of years, the third generation of Stewart offspring were involved in the publication of the Journal/News - but finally leaving to pursue highter education and other forms of employment - one within the printing industry and others in various occupations.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Journal/News suffered along will all other businesses and times were tough.

On a poster found in the Footville State Bank when it moved into its new quarters on Century Lane in that village, a subscription drive was described.

Premiums were offered as an incentive for pre-payment of the subscription price $1.50. Some of the premiums offered were a jack knife, 13-piece glass & pitcher set, paper toweling with holder (a new item at this time), a hammer, and a broom. Any of these items could be gotten from Satrang Hardware with proof of the paid subscription.

The drive which ended on April 1, 1937 had the following paragraph at the bottom of the poster:

"We will accept fresh eggs and poultry at market price on your subscription."

We didn't go hungry in those days, but we ate a lot of eggs and chicken.

Today the Orfordville Journal and Footville News is put together with the help of computers, laser printers, the internet, scanners, and digital cameras. The paper is prepared in paste up form, and taken to the Independent-Register in Brodhead, where third generation Publisher Kim Markham, with the help of Brian Snell, prepare the negatives and plates for the printing press. In less than one hour from leaving Orfordville, the paper is pre-pressed, printed, folded, bundled and returned to the Journal/News office on East Spring Street in Orfordville. Here with the help of Lori (Mrs. Lyle) Stall, the papers are addressed, bundled and sacked, ready to be taken to the Orfordville Post Office. There, the Postmaster completes the paper work and the papers travel to Madison via a "Star Route" carrier to be redistributed all across the Nation and sometimes across the seas.

Pages One, Four, Five, and Eight of  "Orfordville Journal", dated December 17, 1908 were composed in the newspaper office, the other four pages were pre-printed and purchased from Western Newspaper Union of Kentucky.