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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 Valley.

     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 venture.

     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 designation.

     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 department.

     The business management of the JOURNAL is confined to Mr. Frank Hudson, and Wm. C. Baird has charge of its city circulation.

     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 Valley.

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