Chesterton Tribune marks 130 years of publication in Chesterton and
Duneland. Volume 1, No. 1 came off the press 130 years ago this week.
begins Volume 131.
The first edition
of the current Chesterton Tribune, Bowser & Watson publishers, was
dated April 2, 1884.
It was eight pages
including preprinted pages of national news. Newsy columns were headed Local
Items, Hageman Items, Crisman Items, Salt Creek Items, Furnessville Items
and Valparaiso Items.
The editor was
Valparaiso-native Arthur J. Bowser, who packed his wife and new baby in a
wagon for the four-hour trip to Chesterton after being approached by
Chesterton business owners to run a community newspaper.
handpress that was used to print each edition limited the first issues of
the paper to four-page sections.
By the 1890s the
paper was published every Saturday, had seven columns of print and ran to
eight pages in length. Each issue was packed with serious news but also
contained serials, religious material, and reports of social events, such as
dinner visits and travels to distant cities, in the “about the country”
In April 1896 the
Chesterton and Porter editions of the Tribune were merged, and the
combined journal was renamed the Westchester Tribune in hopes that
the name change would reflect townshipwide interest of the paper. Bowser was
forced to change the title back to the Chesterton Tribune in November
1897, however, because the post office would not renew the postal permit
with the new name.
participated in the community. He was born in Valparaiso and graduated from
the Northern Indiana Normal School (later renamed Valparaiso University). He
became the reading clerk for the Indiana senate in 1899, served on the
Porter County Council, and won election to the state senate, serving in 1907
and 1909. He belonged to several local social societies and led the fight
for better roads, zoning regulations, and the incorporation of the town of
Chesterton. He also helped organize the town’s first permanent police force
and fire departments.
entry into the First World War the number of columns shrank by one, and the
price rose from its 1884 price of $1.50 a year to $2.00 a year.
disastrous downtown fire of 1902, Bowser built the brick building on Calumet
Road which is the current location of the Tribune.
Tribune was set by hand one letter at a time by skilled typesetters.
In 1907 Bowser
purchased a linotype which was powered by a Fairbanks Morse gas engine. The
machine allowed type to be cast from molten lead one line at a time. The
lead could be recycled into new type each week as needed.
began to fail during the last year of World War I, and he leased the journal
to John G. Graessle, the head printer of the Tribune since 1894. A little
more than a year later, in December 1919, C. Galen Chaney took over for
Graessle, who was fulfilling the duties of county treasurer.
Four years later
Graessle acquired the Tribune from Bowser, and he continued to
publish the weekly until his death in February 1928. Graessle’s widow, Cora,
sold the paper ten months later to Warren R. Canright.
During the Graessle
and Chaney era the publication day was moved to Thursdays. During the 1920s
the paper’s editors opposed the Ku Klux Klan and argued for various
his newspaper career at the age of 13 as a printer’s devil at the East Troy
(Wis.) News, a job that required keeping the printing area tidy and the
fires for the presses hot.
Lawrence College, working his way through as a reporter for the Appleton
Daily Post and as the editor of his college newspaper.
After receiving his
bachelor’s degree in 1917 he joined the United States Army. After World War
I ended he worked as a Linotype operator for the Chicago Tribune and
married Phyllis Post, an area schoolteacher. Three years after their
marriage, the couple decided to buy a small-town newspaper, and the only one
available in their price range was the Chesterton Tribune.
Once in town,
Canright, like his predecessors, became deeply involved in the community,
becoming president of the park board, a member of the planning commission,
president of the chamber of commerce, and an active member of both the Red
Cross and the local Boy Scouts.
after Canright purchased the weekly the stock market crashed, and America
descended into the Great Depression. Times were tough financially, and the
publisher bartered for products when he needed to and had to cut the hours
of full-time staff. Phyllis Canright worked as a messenger and ran errands
so that Warren could operate the presses. The price for a year’s
subscription remained at $2.00, but the number of columns increased to
During World War II
Canright sent a free copy of the Tribune to all Chesterton and Porter
soldiers. The GIs who read the weekly kept up on who had visited whom and
which neighbors had gotten married. They also read about Sunday sermons as
well as other local and national items. Meanwhile, the folks back home kept
up with the duty assignments of soldiers in the “With the Boys in Uniform”
receiving the paper was Warren’s son, Warren H. Canright, who was serving as
a combat infantryman in Europe.
When the war ended
the weekly grew to sixteen pages and carried syndicated columnists. The
Canrights purchased a newer Linotype machine in 1944 and an automatic job
press a year later.
The town of Porter
continued to have its own page.
In 1950 Canright
purchased a new folder machine, and three years later he bought a
seventy-five-year-old Miehle cylinder press to take the place of a Campbell
press acquired in 1907. At the same time Canright remodeled the basement of
the Tribune building to make it into a pressroom. In 1955 the paper
began using a Goss Duplex eight-page web-feed press that allowed the company
to print and fold four-to-eight-page sections in one operation; the press
continued to be used until 1970.
Warren H. and John E., joined their father in the business after World War
II. Both men had begun to work at the paper from an early age, Warren H.
beginning at age ten and John starting at age eight. Both the Canright sons
graduated from Indiana University’s Department of Journalism.
Tribune tradition of community involvement Warren served on the
Chesterton Park Board, BZA and Porter County Hospital Board while John
served on the Chesterton Plan Commission, BZA and County Park Board.
In April 1961, in
an era when many newspapers were either folding or shortening their
publication schedules, the Chesterton Tribune changed from a weekly
to a daily, a move so out of step with the times it garnered a mention by
Time magazine. Home delivery was started with young carriers in the towns
and motor route drivers in rural areas. The delivery area was eventually
established as the Duneland School district.
local news coverage were Margaret Mabin of Chesterton and her two sons Bill
and John. Margaret served as community editor. Bill worked part-time and
summers and John was the Tribune’s first sports editor.
In 1970 the
Tribune switched to an offset printing process, the first paper in the
county to do so. Six years later the brothers bought a new unit for the Goss
Community Offset Press, which allowed the paper to publish as many as twelve
pages in each section.
After 1976 each
issue contained six columns of print space and ran from eight to fourteen
pages. In 1981 John sold his interest in the family business to his brother
and his sister-in-law, Elizabeth.
In 2014 Warren H.
and Elizabeth Canright publish the Tribune daily, and their oldest
son, David, is the managing editor. His wife Margaret Willis is copy editor
and photo editor.
David began at the
Tribune in 1960 delivering bundles to downtown businesses for single
copy sales. Later he was a newspaper carrier, janitor, printer’s devil,
circulation manager and layout editor. He took time off to graduate from
Indiana University in 1974 with a degree in history.
involvement has included stints on the Save the Dunes and Duneland Chamber
of Commerce boards. He has served on the Porter County Parks and Recreation
Board since 1997.
In 1884 Bowser’s
focus was printing news by, for and about local residents.
In 2014 that
mission remains the same.
Nevers, Paulene Poparad, Jeff Schultz and Sports Editor TR Harlan together
continue the 130 year tradition of covering the news residents need to be
effective citizens and parents.