It's History from 1854
to the Present Day.
Published in the Kansas City
Journal of Commerce
March 15, 1870
The history of the Journal is, in a
measure, the history of our city. Both have struggled upward
together, and the progress of one has been the success of the other.
It is the oldest newspaper that our city can boast of, and while it
has the ripe experience of age, it still retains the vigor of youth
and strength. Its years have only added to its experience, and
its career will still be onward and upward, to keep pace with the
needs and growth of this, the growing metropolis of the Missouri
Twenty years have not yet elapsed since
the wandering printer set up his booth in Kansas City, and gave its
few inhabitants their first newspaper. A man named Kennedy was the
venturesome individual, and through his efforts in the Spring of
1851, the "Kansas City Ledger" gladdened the hearts of our
early citizens. It did not, however, seem to thrive, and after
a brief existence, to use a favorite expression of Jim Fiske's "went
where the woodbine twineth." Its material was sold and used in
the publication of the "Independence Reporter." And
thus ingloriously ended Kansas City's first newspaper venture.
For some time the "rude forefathers of
the hamlet" did without a newspaper; for eighteen months they missed
its weekly visits, and then, they determined, very wisely that they
would stand it no longer, and M. J. Payne, since Mayor of this city,
was dispatched to St. Louis as their agent to purchase the material
for a newspaper. He filled his commission successfully, and on
his return, the "Kansas City Enterprise," the parent of the
present JOURNAL, made its appearance, September 23d, 1854.
W. A. Strong had charge as its editor, and D. K. Abeel, our present
popular assistant U. S. Assessor, was business manager of the new
The Enterprise prospered and continued
under the same management until the spring of 1855, when A. J.
Martin became associate editor. These gentlemen continued to
edit the Enterprise until August, 1855, when R. T. Van Horn,
Esq., at present member of Congress from this district, became its
editor and proprietor. A contemporary writer says, "Up to the
time that Mr. Van Horn assumed charge of the paper, it had a most
precarious existence. The town was new, population small, and
business limited, and the support that a paper derives from business
was of course meagre. In 1854 business began to be
systematized, and from Mr. Van Horn's connection with the paper,
dates the eminent success which it has attained."
"It at once took a position in the
political and business world that commanded general attention, and
has ever since been conducted with an energy, industry, and
commanding ability, that has placed it indisputably at the head of
the Missouri Valley Press." This, which was true in 1857, we
believe will equally apply to the paper to-day.
On the first of January, 1857, Mr. D. K.
Abeel, who had had charge of the publishing of the paper from its
first issue, purchased of Mr. Van Horn one-half of the establishment
--and on first of October following, thee was enlarged and its name
was changed to the "WESTERN JOURNAL OF COMMERCE."
In June, 1858, the present DAILY JOURNAL
OF COMMERCE made its first appearance in Kansas City.
In the spring of 1859 Mr. Abeel bought
Mr. Van Horn's interest and ran the paper alone until May, 1863,
when he sold it to T. Dwight Thacher, at present proprietor of the
Lawrence Republican. Mr. Thacher conducted the paper
for some tie m, and in 1865 sold the paper to Foster & Wilder.
He subsequently went to St. Joseph where he connected himself with
the Herald and still remains. On the first of February, 1868,
Mr. Smith Baker become one of the proprietors of the JOURNAL, and
the firm name was changed to Foster, Wilder & Co., the present
From the above it will be seen that the
JOURNAL is the oldest paper now printed in this city. It has
grown with the city's growth and it has always faithfully aided in
advancing the best interests of the city.
At present the editorial department of
the JOURNAL is managed as follows: Col. Hicks is
temporarily filling the vacancy caused by the
murder of Col. Wilder. The city columns are edited by E.
B. Haines, and Mr. A. C. Jones has charge of the commercial
The business management of the JOURNAL
is confined to Mr. Frank Hudson, and Wm. C. Baird has charge of its
The JOURNAL Job Rooms, which are the
most extensive in the city, employ ten men, and are supplied with
six presses of the latest and most approved construction. The
quality of work turned out cannot be equaled, and the prices can
successfully compete with Eastern figures. this department is
under the charge of Mr. C. J. Smith, a gentleman of great experience
in the "art preservative."
The JOURNAL News Room employs fourteen
hands, under the supervision of W. J. Lee, an experienced printer.
The paper is printed on a Hoe Railway
Press, which is capable of producing 1,600 impressions per hour.
The press is managed by Mr. F. A. Olney and assistants.
From the above it will be seen that the
JOURNAL establishment is one of the most complete in the west.
All the complicated machinery necessary to run a modern newspaper
successfully has been liberally provided, and to-day the Journal,
clothed with new beauty, takes up its on ward course to its destined
position as the leading paper of the leading city of the Missouri