The Argus

The first issue of the paper which afterward became The Argus was printed in a rear room on the second floor of what was then the Whittaker and Everts building, located just east of the present Argus building, October 18, 1851. Although it was issued as the Rock Island Republican, it was Democratic in politics then. as now. The adoption of the present name w as brought about in 1855 by the formation of an opposing political party, which took the one the paper bore. At the time it was established, as in the case with the publication for the most part since, the Republican was the only Democratic paper within a radius of one hundred miles. Its publication was begun by Fred S. Nichols and John W. Dunham. The outfit they used was a second hand one, purchased in St. Louis. Both partners had considerable experience in newspaper work previous to their coming here, and their acquaintance was formed while working together on the St. Louis Intelligencer. Nichols was a Northern man and Dunham a Southerner. The latter soon became tired of the undertaking and after six weeks he sold out to his partner. Nichols continued alone until November, 1852, when he sold a half interest to J. B. Danforth, junior, whose connection with the paper continued to a more or less extent till 1869. Having acquired the interest of Nichols, in the Spring of 1853, Mr. Danforth continued as sole proprietor three years, when a share was purchased by Robert V. Shurley. The Buford Block, at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventeenth Street, the first four-story building in the City, was completed in 1854, and the Republican took up quarters there which it retained seventeen years. July 13th of that year the first daily was issued. At that time there was no other daily nearer than Dubuque. September 16, 1857, Pershing and Connelly (the latter Major H. C. Connelly), then publishers of the Rock Islander, bought the interest not owned by Mr. Shurley, and the title of the paper was changed to the Rock Islander and Argus. A week after this transaction, Mr. Shurley sold out to Milton Jones, who remained on the paper until 1881. September 16, 1859, J. B. Danforth again secured an interest, buying out Purshing and Connelly, and the paper once more became The Argus. In the meantime, July 18, 1859, the daily was suspended and a tri-weekly begun. This was continued until September 1, 1861, when the daily was resumed. In 1869 Robert F. McNeal bought out Mr. Danforth; but January 1, 1870, he, in turn, parted with his interests to J. S. Drake. Three years later The Argus Company was formed and incorporated with a capital stock of $32,000. In 1871 the Buford heirs erected the Argus Block next the alley on the, east side of East Seventeenth Street, and the paper went into its first exclusive quarters. Ten years later Richardson and Powers acquired the controlling interest in the company. For a brief year they waged a struggle against adversity. At the end of that time, in 1881, financial reverses necessitated a suspension of the paper. J. W. Potter, publisher of the Freeport Bulletin, came upon the scene and bought the newspaper, sending his son, the late J. W. Potter, junior, here to manage it. (See biography of J. W. Potter, as per index). The first issue under the new management appeared August 2, 1882. In May, 1885, the elder Mr. Potter died, and the son became sole owner. When Mr. Potter took charge of The Argus there was little but the name left. For a time the paper was issued in abbreviated form. As it made a place for itself in the community it was enlarged till it became an eight and even a nine-column folio. The size was reduced to the standard seven column quarto upon the installation of a Cox perfecting press in 1894. Since that time the regular issue has been of six and eight pages, but special editions of twelve, sixteen and even more pages have been issued from time to time. In 1888 the old quarters on East Seventeenth Street were outgrown. During that season the building now occupied was purchased by Mr. Potter and became the paper’s home. The first Daily Argus, which was issued July 13, 1854, was an evening paper. December 17, 1855, it was changed to a morning paper and published as such till November 18, 1861, when evening publication was again resumed, and has been continued up to the present. A weekly has been published continuously since the founding of the paper in 1851. During the years since The Argils was revived by Mr. Potter, it has earned rank among the first papers of its class in the state, and has maintained that position. Besides being the oldest paper in the County, it has been published under its present name longer than any other paper in the three cities. It was the first paper in the three cities to use a steam power press, the first to substitute therefor an electric motor, and the first to abandon the old cylinder press for one of. the perfecting variety. Upon the death of J. W. Potter, January 11, 1898, the management of The Argus became known as the J. W. Potter Publishing Company, by which the paper is now issued. The officers are : President, Mrs. J. W. Potter; vice-president, H. P. Simpson; secretary, and treasurer James J. LaVelle. Mr. Simpson is editor and Mr. LaVelle manager of the paper.

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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