Rock Island Union

While the Union was first issued in Rock Island, November 5, 1862, the origin of the paper is to be sought in Moline, the daily and weekly Union representing a union of two Moline papers, and the transfer of the office of publication to Rock Island, the county seat, and the political and commercial centre of the county. In August, 1857, Ames Smith, who came west from Lambertville, New Jersey, started the Moline Workman, a weekly which strongly espoused the anti-slavery cause. In February, 1857, he sold the plant to Robert H. Graham and Alfred Webster, who changed the name to the Independent, under which name it was continued by various owners. The ownership of the plant, after several changes, in 1862, finally reverted to Mr. Graham and his brother-in-law, Mr. I. A. Kuck. The latter remained in charge when Mr. Graham entered the military service at the outbreak of the Civil War, in which he rose to the rank of Colonel. His death followed soon after his resignation, in the Fall of 1862. In November, 1862, Mr. Kuck discontinued the publication of the Moline Independent, and moved the plant into the old Mitchell and Lynde Block, in Rock Island, whence, on the fifth of the month, the first number of the Weekly Union was published, as an organ of the Republicans of the county. Mr. Graham died November 11, and the publication of the daily, which had already been launched in the expectation that he would be able to return to take part in the enterprise, was at once stopped. Mr. Kuck continued the publication of the Weekly Union until May, 1863, when he sold the property to Colonel M. S. Barnes, who at once resumed the publication of the Daily Union as an evening paper in addition to the weekly. The publication of the daily as an evening paper was continued until December, 1866, when Colonel Barnes, who had resumed possession after three months control by Major William Caffery, sold the property to Captain L. M. Haverstick, who came here from Maryland. When Captain Haverstick took possession the daily was changed to a morning paper. He subsequently bought the Moline Republican, and, added its job plant as a department of the Union printing business. Captain Haverstick was the editor of the Union until 1874, but in the meantime he had several partners in the business. On July 1, 1867, M. D. Merrill bought a two-fifths interest. At the end of two years he sold it back to Mr. Haverstick. The latter then sold a half interest to Mr. Richard Crampton, and the result was the removal of the office of publication to the block in which Mr. Crampton carried on his book store and blank book manufactory. This combination continued until the Summer of 1872, when Captain Haverstick repurchased Mr. Crampton’s interest and built the block on Eighteenth Street from which the Union, daily and weekly, has since been issued. In the Spring of 1873, Mr. O. A. Barnhart purchased a half interest in the paper, which he held for one year. In March, 1874, the Union Printing Company was organized, to take over the property. The first stock holders and officers were: L. M. Haverstick, president; A. E. Wells, vice-president; Walter Johnson, secretary and treasurer. In September of that year Captain Haverstick sold his stock to Captain H. C. Cleaveland and J. J. Parks, when Mr. Johnson became president and editor, and Mr. Cleaveland business manager. During the succeeding two years, the ownership of the stock held by Messrs. Cleaveland and Parks changed hands several times, Captain Haverstick returning to his old place for a time. In 1876, however, he sold his quarter interest to William Henry Burdett, and Mr. Parks sold his quarter interest to George McKay Luken, who became superintendent of the job room. After this period the ownership of the paper became staple and confined to fewer hands. Mr. Luken after a few years, sold his interest to Messrs. Johnson and Burdett, and a small block of the stock went to George Morgan, but the latter remained with the paper but a short time. In 1888, Mr. Burdett, on account of sickness which caused his death December 1, 1889, sold his interest to Mr. H. C. Ashbaugh. The latter, in 1891, sold it to Mr. Johnson, who thus became the sole owner well as the editor. After his death the as property descended to his widow and daughters, who have retained the ownership of the paper. J. K. Brandenburg, whom Mr. John-son, during the period of invalidism preceding his death, placed in charge of the editorial department, continuing in that capacity, with L. Ben Driffill as business manager, and F. W. Rinck as advertising manager. The Daily Union has returned to the field which it originally occupied as an evening paper, and the change has materially in-creased the prosperity which the paper has enjoyed for a quarter of a century.

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

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