History: Neillsville - New Name of Press (6 Oct. 1938)

Contact:  Crystal Wendt

Surnames: Hoffman, Manley, Tompkins, Dickinson, Dore, Brown, Merritt, Rand, Ring, Withee, O’Neill, Ferguson, Doolittle, Crothers, Williamson, Baer, Ender

----Sources: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 6 Oct. 1938

Pioneer Days Recalled By New Name of Press

The name The Clark County Press, now adopted by his publication, is an historic name in Neillsville and Clark County. It was the name born by one of the very early newspapers of the county, a paper established in June, 1873, by H. J. Hoffman.

The use of the phrase "Clark County" was accepted during all the early publishing history of Clark County, having been carried by all but one of the first five papers published at Neillsville, Wis.

The first five papers of Clark County, all published at Neillsville, were the Clark County Advocate, the Union and Flag, the Clark County Journal (first of that name), the Clark County Republican and the Clark County Press.

The Clark County Press lost its distinctive name when a merger took place in April, 1876. At that time H. J. Hoffman, owner of The Press, bought the Clark County Republican and merged the two, both papers had "Clark County" in their names. Evidently it was through cumbersome to adopt the name "The Clark County Republican-Press." So the phrase "Clark County" was dropped, the resulting publication became known as The Republican and Press.

The name "Neillsville" found its way in front of "Press" when a merger was brought about in 1921. At that time Neillsville had two papers, "The Republican and Press" and the "The Neillsville Times." In attempting to save part of the name of each, the publisher joined "Neillsville" to "Press" and thus came into existence "The Neillsville Press."

In running down the names of papers published at Neillsville, the editor found historical information of no little interest.


The pioneer publication was the Clark County Advocate, established March 7, 1857. Its editor was William C. Tompkins. He came to Neillsville at the request of Beriah Brown, chairman of the Democratic state central committee, and he ran an outright Democratic paper. The publication continued through the Civil War, and it is a fair surmise that a Democratic paper published in Wisconsin in those days of secession and strife had its troubles.

A suggestion of the difficulties comes out in connection with a proposed sale of the publication. Mr. Tompkins agreed to sell to J. S. Dore and S. N. Dickinson, who later established the Union and Flag. But Mr. Tompkins was not completely a free agent. He owned Andrew J. Manley for services and Manley refused to be sold down the river. He took possession, refused to turn the business over to the prospective purchasers, and continued the publication with Mr. Tompkins still as editor.


Messrs. Dore and Dickinson, balked in their plans, secured used equipment which had gone under the hammer, and started the Union and Flag at Neillsville, Wis. This publication of patriotic name could not drape the flag around the cash register and succumbed in 1854, with the Civil War still raging.

After a lapse of three years Mr. Dore, formerly of the Union and Flag, started the first Clark County Journal. With him was associated Edward E. Merritt. The Journal and the Advocate had a hard battle, as a result of which the old Advocate folded up and disappeared from the scene. Meanwhile Mr. Merritt left Neillsville and went to St. Louis. He was away only a few months, and returned in the fall of 1867. He forthwith started the Clark County Republican. In the election of 1872 the friends of the Republican won, and in those days that meant a sinking ship for the defeated paper. So the Clark County Journal folded its tent like the Arab.


The Republican had a clear field for about one year. Then H. J. Hoffman established the Clark County Press, in June, 1873. He also bought the Republican in about three years, and merged the two under the name of the Republican and Press. This publication continued under the name from 1873 to 1921, forty-eight years a long stretch, especially in view of the spotted records of earlier papers in the field.

The Republican and Press had the field along for about six years. Then, in 1879, L. B. Ring established the True Republican. Two years later a number of prominent citizens established the Neillsville Times. Among these was N. H. Withee, James O’Neill, J. W. Ferguson and L. A. Doolittle. For eight years Neillsville had three papers. Then the owners of the Neillsville Times bough the True Republican, and dropped all of its name, continuing publication as the Neillsville Times.

The Republican and Press and the Neillsville Times continued until 1921, when they were merged, together with the Granton Herald, under the name the Neillsville Press. The merger was made by George E. Crothers of the Republican and Press, L. Williamson of the Times and F. J. Baer of the Granton Herald.

In 1935 Mr. Baer promoted the Clark County Journal, which in 1937 was sold to A. F. Ender and merged with The Neillsville Press, which had been bought previously by Mr. Ender. In the process of merging the entire name of Clark County Journal was dropped.



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