Wednesday, May 18, 2022

W.B. Powell Tells of Coming to Bunker Hill, Buying Paper

Pictured: Bunker Hill Gazette-News on NW corner of E. Warren and N. Pine St.
Was the former Chas. Folkerts Grocery Store  

    In the September 13, 1940 issue of the Gazette news, the 75th anniversary issue, a letter from W.B. Powell tells about the beginning of the Gazette news.  Mr. Powell, former editor of the paper, then the Bunker Hill News, is the man responsible for merging that paper with the rival Gazette.

    "One bright Sunday, sometime in 1903 or 1904," Mr. Powell began, "I went to Bunker Hill on an excursion that ran out of St. Louis.  I bought some of Louie Bartels' peanut candy.  If it hadn't been for that candy, Bunker Hill would never have had the distinction of my presence."

    "I resigned from the managership of Nugents' mail order department, a St. Louis concern doing a two million dollar a year business, and with a few manipulations with a newspaper broker, with offices in Litchfield, I found myself owner of the Bunker Hill News, located in a two-story brick building back of Sessel's Store, and over Barth's Harness Shop."

    From the building, Mr. Powell could smell Louis Bartels' candy cooking, but there was little else to recommend the plant he had purchased sight unseen.

    "The presses and make up stones were in the rear of the loft and the type cases in front and between the two there was space for a basketball court."

    The paper also had 125 subscribers and a broken job press.  Full page ads were sold for $5 an issue.  Mr. Powell bought new equipment, rented another building, hired a staff, and two weeks later published an issue of the Bunker Hill News.

    Within a few weeks, Mr. Powell bought out his competitor, the Gazette for $1,000.  This was the beginning of the Bunker Hill Gazette-News.

    From 100 subscribers, the number rose to 1,600.  Mr. Powell bought the Dorchester Hustler and merged it with the Gazette-News.

    It wasn't all quite that smooth going.  Once, as a result of a religious war in Bunker Hill, women cancelled their subscriptions and made the husbands cancel their advertising.  However, Powell's faithful friends, the German dairymaen of the area, ordered two subscriptions for every one that was cancelled and forced out of business, a man who cancelled his advertisement, the whole thing blew over and the Gazette-news came out on top.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, May 19, 2022.