Lowell Daily Courier

History of the Courier Newspaper – Lowell Massachusetts

The rapid growth of the Lowell in population and the increasing liveliness of national and local politics in the Jacksonian era made it inevitable that a rival newspaper to the “Democratic Journal” would be started. On January 6, 1835, the first issue of the “Lowell Courier” was printed by Huntress & Knowlton. In their announcement the editors stated: “In politics we are Whigs.” The paper was to be issued three times a week. The subscription price was three dollars. The newspaper thus founded has been issued continuously, and under its present style of “The Lowell Courier-Citizen,” it, of course, takes rank as one of the foremost newspapers of New England.

Leonard Huntress, the first editor of “The Courier,” was a man of notable ability. He was born at Rochester, New Hampshire, November 22, 181 1. He came to Lowell in 1832 and found employment with the “Lowell Mercury.” He established “The Courier” in 1835 and continued to publish it until 1842. On account of poor health he then retired to a farm which he had purchased in Tewksbury and there he lived for forty-three years, during which he was one of the most prominent citizens of the town, holding every honor within the gift of the electors. He died July 19, 1885.

The history of “The Courier,” as the oldest newspaper now published in Lowell, should be traced in outline to the year of its consolidation with “The Citizen.”

After Mr. Huntress gave up the editorship of “The Courier,” Robins Dinsmore, a Vermont lawyer, undertook the work, but, apparently, without great success, for he retired within a year. His rather amusing valedictory is quoted by Chase. The attorney editor had been accused of being long-winded in his preachments. His last editorial was as follows:

As I have been severely accused of writing long and dull editorials, the present paragraph will be brief and will probably be the most satisfactory to the public I have ever written —

I have not loved the world
Nor the world me,
But let us part fair foes.

Mr. Dinsmore was followed, in 1840, by William O. Bartlett. Then, in 1841, Mr. Huntress came back and began issuing “The Courier” as an evening newspaper, which it continued to be down to the time of the combination with “The Citizen” and the adoption of the present plan of issuing both morning and afternoon editions.

Within the year 1841, Mr. Huntress turned “The Courier” over to Daniel S. Richardson, later one of the most distinguished lawyers of Lowell. This owner kept the property but a short time, selling it to William Schouler, afterwards editor of the military records of “The Commonwealth.” On July 1, 1845, Mr. Schouler began to print the paper daily. Another sale took place in 1847, Messrs. Atkinson & Robinson becoming its editors. The latter of these gentlemen was one of the most brilliant of the journalists trained in Lowell. As “Warrington” of the “Boston Journal,” he helped to establish the profession of “Washington correspondent.” During his Lowell editorship he married one of his contributors, Harriet Jane Hanson, of the group of young women who gave celebrity to “The Lowell Offering.” William Schouler, meantime, had inaugurated a liberal scale of expenditures, engaging a Washington correspondent and contracting for regular correspondence from New York and other cities. The financial returns did not justify this policy, and the course of politics disgusted the editor, who was an ardent supporter of Henry Clay. He appears gladly to have retired from the Lowell field. He later edited the “Boston Atlas.” After the war he was engaged as editor of the “Massachusetts War Records.”

Leander Streeter was an interim editor of this period. Then from 1849 to 1853 John H. Warland, afterwards of the brilliant “Boston Journal” coterie, wrote the leading editorials for the paper. He was born at Cambridge, April 20, 1807, and was graduated from Harvard College in 1829. He began the study of law, but in 1834 he went to Claremont New Hampshire, to edit the “National Eagle.” His editorials, printed in this journal, promptly gained national celebrity, so much so that Daniel Webster, possibly in one of his periods of spirituous exaltation, is recalled as greeting the editor thus:

“How are you, old eagle? Give us your claw. I have heard the crack of your rifle at Washington. Let it ring out sharp and clear and true. Let the lubberly smooth-bores fire their pieces as they may.”

In 1842 Warland was in Boston as editor of “The American.” He enlisted for the Mexican War. On his return he edited “The Courier,” and during his editorship he engaged in a wordy war with Benjamin F. Butler, whose epitaph he published, and from whom he drew a celebrated libel suit. This infant terrible of Massachusetts journalism finally went insane. He died July 7, 1872.

In 1854 John A. Goodwin undertook the editorship. He was born at Sterling, May 21, 1824. He taught as a young man, and was the first superintendent of schools at Lawrence. He came to Lowell to edit “The Courier.” Later he was editor of the “Citizen and News.” He was a member of the Legislature in 1857, 1859, 1860-61, serving as Speaker in the last two years. In April, 1861, he was chosen postmaster of Lowell, a position which he held for thirteen years. In 1878 he resumed newspaper work as editor of “The Vox Populi,” and died while thus engaged, September 21, 1884. He was a careful writer and forceful speaker. Mrs. Jane Austen, of Plymouth, whose novels based on Pilgrim history are familiar, was his sister.

In the editorship of “The Courier,” Mr. Goodwin was succeeded in 1855 by Benjamin W. Ball, a poet of distinction, but not a great editor. He was followed in the same year by Homer A. Cook, and in 1860 by Zina E. Stone, who had founded “The Citizen.” He was born at Bethel, Maine, June 26, 1837. His whole life work was concerned with printing and publishing. He edited and published “The Courier” for seven years. He was at three different times the responsible conductor of the “Vox Populi.” He founded both “The Citizen” and “Lowell Daily Mail.” Down to his death, June 26, 1899, he maintained keen interest in all developments of local journalistic work and he collected invaluable historical data concerning newspaper publications for the archives of the Old Residents’ Historical Association.

Stephen Warwick Huse, Mr. Stone’s associate in publishing both the “Courier” and the “Vox Populi,” was born at Methuen, February 20, 1829, a son of Dr. Stephen Huse. He came to Lowell in 1854 as ticket-seller in the office of the Lowell and Lawrence railroad. Later he became a clerk in “The Courier” office, and married Mr. Varney’s daughter. Throughout his association with Mr. Stone and later with his son Harry Huse, he confined his attention to the business management of the newspapers with which he was connected.

“The Courier” was under the Stone and Huse management through the Civil War. Then, in 1867, the newspaper was sold to George A. Marden and Edward T. Rowell.

Biography of George A. Marden

The senior publisher’s account of the circumstances leading to his settling in Lowell was printed in the “Boston Globe” of January 18, 1893, as follows:

I was reporting and preparing the I. G. (In General) column upon the Boston Daily Advertiser in 1867 at a small salary when some unimportant circumstance sent me one day to Lowell. I dropped into the Courier office and talking with Mr. Huse, of Stone and Huse, who owned the paper, he said, casually, “Marden, I want to dispose of the Courier.” I thought the subject over, and after a short time laid the project I had in mind before my old friend Rowell, who had been in the iron business and wanted to get out of it. We found that $4,000 would buy what we wanted. Rowell had $2,000 cash in hand. I hadn’t $100. We bought the files of the paper and the good will, paying $2,000 down and giving Stone and Huse a mortgage and contracting with them to print the paper for us. They bought some new type, according to agreement, and we began to get out the paper and have run on prosperously to this day.

From the year 1867, when he first came to Lowell, until his death in 1906. Hon. George A. Marden was among the most notable figures in the life of the community, partly because of the unusually able editorial pen which he wielded in the “Lowell Daily Courier,” partly because of his long and prominent connection with the State’s political affairs, and partly because his facility as a speaker, and especially an after-dinner speaker, caused him to be widely sought.

George Augustus Marden was born in Mont Vernon, N. H., August 9, 1839, and was a son of Benjamin F. and Betsy (Buss) Marden. He was one of seven children, and the family was one of narrow means ; but by dint of perseverance and hard work he was able to educate himself at the Appleton Academy at Mont Vernon, and at Dartmouth College, from which latter institution he graduated in 1861. Shoe making (his father’s trade), factory work and intervals of teaching in country schools eked out the slender resources which enabled him to pursue his studies. Leaving college just as the War of the Rebellion broke out, he enlisted at once as a private in Company G, Second Regiment of Berdan’s Sharpshooters, but after transfer to the First Regiment, was rapidly promoted, first to a sergeantcy and later to first lieutenant and acting assistant adjutant-general on Colonel Berdan’s staff, in which capacity he served through the war. The brigade to which he was attached went through the Peninsula campaign, and took part in the battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Wapping Heights.

At the mustering out of the regiment late in 1864, Mr. Marden returned home and began the study of law, with incidental employment in newspaper work on the “Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor.” This incidental labor proved so much to his liking that he determined to make it his regular vocation, and in pursuit of it he became for a time the editor of a weekly paper in West Virginia, the “Kanawha Republican.” The political trammels of this situation turned out to be uncongenial, however, and in 1866 he returned to New England, resuming journalistic work for the “Concord Monitor” and for the “Boston Advertiser,” with incidental employment in editing the histories of various New Hampshire military units engaged in the Civil War. In 1867 he became an assistant editor of the “Boston Advertiser ;” but later in the same year, discovering an opportunity to purchase the publications then known as the “Lowell Daily Courier” and “Lowell Weekly Journal,” he united with his college classmate and fellow-soldier, Major Edward T. Rowell, and bought that property from its then owners, Messrs. Stone and Huse. From September I, 1867, to his death, he continued to be the chief editor of “The Courier,” which subsequently became part of the “Courier-Citizen,” and which was destined to continue under the editorial direction of his sons after his decease.

As an editorial writer, Mr. Marden probably had no superior in the country. Possessed of a vigorous style, lightened and enlivened by an unquenchable humor and made trenchant by the keenest of wit, he made “The Courier” widely known and became an important factor in up-building the fortunes of the Republican party. In those days, editors were almost universally political figures also, and Mr.

Marden early became identified with public affairs, in which he remained actively engaged to the close of his life. He became a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1872, but failed of reelection the succeeding year. He was chosen clerk of the House in 1874, and remained in that position until 1882, when, on becoming once again a member of the House, he was chosen its speaker in 1883-84. In 1885 he was elected to the Senate, but served only a single term.

In 1888 he became treasurer of the Commonwealth and served as such for the five successive terms permitted by the State Constitution. In J895 he was made vice-president of the Hancock National Bank in Boston, but found the situation uncongenial after a year of trying experiences. He was sought in 1896, because of his well-known ability as a speaker, to go on a picturesque campaigning tour of the Middle West with other well-known Civil War veterans in the interest of Mr. McKinley, the Republican candidate for the presidency ; and as a result of his endeavors he was honored by selection as Assistant Treasurer of the United States, with headquarters in the sub-treasury at Boston, which position he still held at the time of his death, December 19, 1906.

Among other incidents in his long political career, Mr. Marden was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1880, and was one of the determined “306” who stood out in vain for the nomination of General Grant. He also served for a time, under appointment of Governor Ames, as a trustee of the Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Constantly engrossed either in the routine work of a daily newspaper or in the exacting demands of political employ, Mr. Marden found no time for literary labor of any other sort and published no books ; but he was constantly in request as a maker of addresses, and he regarded as the most conspicuous of his honors in this direction invitations to speak before the New England Society of New York on Forefathers’ Day, on two separate occasions — those dinners having won fame as calling out the most brilliant talent of the country. He also spoke before, or wrote verses for, many reunions of the Phi Beta Kappa, the Dartmouth Alumni, and numerous organizations of veterans on Memorial Day and other occasions. He was the first commander of Post 42, Grand Army of the Republic, in Lowell, was a member of the Loyal Legion, and of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, but had never united with any other secret organization.

He married, December 10, 1867, Mary Porter Fiske, daughter of David Fiske, then living in Nashua, New Hampshire, but formerly of Amherst, New Hampshire. Their two sons, Philip Sanford and Robert Fiske Marden, have since Mr. Marden’s death been respectively the chief editor and an associate editor of the “Lowell Courier-Citizen.”

Mr. Marden made his home for the last thirty-five years of his life at 84 Fairmount street, but spent by far the greater part of the year in the town of his birth, Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, for which he had an ever-increasing affection, and for the welfare of which he constantly exerted himself.

Biography of Major Edward T. Rowell

Mr. Marden’s Dartmouth College classmate. Major Edward T. Rowell, his partner for many years, was a source of strength to “The Courier” in the years in which its importance as an afternoon paper was established. He was born at Concord, New Hampshire. August 1, 1836. After his graduation in 1861, he enlisted in the Fifth New Hampshire Regiment of Volunteers. His military career was exceptionally honorable. Through proved efficiency he was promoted to be captain and then major. He was also commissioned lieutenant-colonel, but on account of a technicality he never claimed the title. He was wounded at Gettysburg and again severely at Petersburg, where he was in command of his regiment.

In 1866 Mr. Rowell engaged in the iron business at Portland, Maine. He was discontented with his undertaking, as already noted, and readily joined with Mr. Marden in buying “The Courier.” While serving the newspaper, Mr. Rowell found time to give much of his organizing ability to public work. In 1874 he was appointed postmaster of Lowell by President Grant, a position which he held through President Arthur’s term. In 1885 he was appointed gas commissioner by Governor George D. Robinson. This office he held for five years. In 1890 he was elected president of the Railroad National Bank. When “The Courier” was merged with “The Citizen” in 1893, Major Rowell was made president of the new company, of which Mr. Marden was editor-in-chief.

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