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

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

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Gazette has Roots in Staunton and Gillespie

Pictured: Bunker Hill Gazette-News on SW corner of N. Washington and W. Fayette St.

    The Staunton Banner first appeared March 8, 1858, owned and edited by Parsons Percy, who bought the office from Monroe County.  He continued publication until 1860 when it was purchased and removed to Gillespie by A.W. Edwards, and in November of 1860 the first issued appeared in Gillespie as the Union and Gazette.  This paper continued under Edwards until 1863 when Edwards enlisted in the Union Army.  The publication continued for sometime afterwards by Alonzo James, but when he enlisted, the publication was suspended.

    The first Newspaper printed in Bunker Hill was the Bunker Hill Journal, five column paper with E.J. Bronson as editor and publisher.  The first issue was December 8, 1859 and the last in May 1860.

    When Edwards returned from the war in 1865, he moved the printing office from Gillespie to Bunker Hill, and resumed the publication as the Union-Gazette, with the first issue being published January 19, 1866.

Edwards continued publication until January 31, 1867 when he sold to Dr. A.R. Sawyer and F.Y. Hedley.  Dr. Sawyer died in May 1867.  In 1871, the name of the paper was changed with the word Union dropping out.

    Hedley continued as editor and proprietor until January 1, 1878, when W.S. Silence became editor.  This arrangement continued until January 24, 1879 when it was leased to Mr. Said and Mr. Poorran of Charleston, who published until July 1879.  At that time, Hedley, then the postmaster, resumed the editorship.

...Read this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, May 12, 2022.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The "Not So Warm" Welcome of President Andrew Johnson

Pictured: Big Four Depot

A reprint of our blog from Oct., 9, 2014...

From the Bunker Hill Union Gazette September 14, 1866

President Andrew Johnson Hooted During Train Stop in Bunker Hill

    Quite a large collection of people were at the depot on the arrival of the special train at 9:40 on Monday morning.  Bunker Hill, true to her instincts and past record, offered no insult to President Johnson and only showing their abhorrence of him by their prolonged cheers for General Grant and Admiral Farragut (with Lincoln's assassination, Vice President Andrew Johnson became President).

    The President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was introduced by John Hogan; three cheers were given which he acknowledge [Sic] by taking off his hat and was about to leave with us the Constitution and the Stars and Stripes, when a gentleman proposed three cheers for General Grant, three cheers for Admiral Farragut, and three cheers for the Congress.  President Johnson again attempted to speak, but the cries for Grant compelled him to forgo.

Mr. Hogan proposed three cheers for the Thirty-Six States, which were given and then someone fired a pistol in the crowd, which disturbed the nerves of the party.  The train moved off and, as far as the eye could reach, the humble individual with hat in hand was bowing to the right and left, poor President Johnson.  We sympathize with Grant and Farragut in their forced company.

Pictured: The Big Four Depot (circa 1939)

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, May 5, 2022.  

Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, p. 35. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.