Heritage \ Writings \ Industry: Printing & Publishing

History of Early Newspapers in Bay City (1937)
Published by The Bay City Times.
  • Transcribed (October 2006)
  • The Bay City Times - February 28, 1937 - Michigan Centennial Edition


    William Bryce Was Editor of Publication Known As “Press-Times”

    “The public press! What a wonderful agent for progress in any community and any country where its powers are exerted in the interest of the public good.

    “And in these opening days of the 20th century that power is almost paramount in this country,. Public opinions, the beacon-light of our national life and government has no greater inspiration than the press. Pulpit and forum are no longer the great preeminent molders of opinion they once were, for the spoken word is heard, its echo lingers for a moment and then dies away, but the dictum of pen and type lives on forever.

    “The remotest corners of our land are now reached by the daily press through the rural free delivery routes, and the town-people no longer monopolize this field of information and education. This is practically true in Bay county, where a fine school system has for half a century been busy inculcating a desire for knowledge and information and where a fine road system makes the delivery of the daily newspaper to the remotest settler a comparatively easy matter.

    “Yet it was not always thus!” –-

    Thus does a Bay City historian at the turn of the century mark the swing of modern day journalism from the period of struggling, sketchy weekly newspapers which the citizens of this once-small community studied for news of their neighbors.

    His ebullient panegric was aimed, apparently, at the existing dailies in the local field, but what of the founding of journalism in this city?

    It is recorded that the first newspaper established in Bay City was in 1859, when William Bryce commenced publishing of the “Press and Times.” Some two or three years before that Perry Joslin, of Saginaw, had issued two or three numbers of a newspaper here with the hope of securing the publication of the tax list, a financially beneficial idea, but failing in this hope, he discontinued publishing of his new-born sheetling, “The Bay City Press.” James Birney, later to become a candidate for President of the United States(1) and United States Minister to the Hague, had a hand in this abortive enterprise.

    For three years Bay City was without a newspaper, and then in 1859 Bryce’s paper was started. The publication, through many mutations and mergers, was to be the father of the Bay City Times.

    Bryce continued his editorial reign until 1864 and then John Culbert succeeded him with the “Bay City Journal” and though this continued an attempt in 1871 to make it a daily so weakened it that it finally gave up the ghost in 1873.

    Birney Starts Paper.

    James Birney then established the “Daily and Weekly Chronicle” after suspension of the “Journal,” the daily editorial of the “Chronicle” being issued until 1875 when Birney went to the Hague. The Weekly was continued by Arthur M. Birney, his son, until 1879 when the paper merged with the Bay City Tribune which had been started in 1873 by T. K. Harding, Edward Kroencke, and Griffin Lewis. Harding was Bay City fire chief, so that the fire laddies were always sure of getting their names in the paper.

    In 1875, this paper was purchased by Henry S. Dow, who discontinued the weekly issue at that time.

    Along the route had fallen many other earnest young publications.

    “The Evening Press” which was consolidated with the “Times” in 1891, was started in 1879 by Bert Moran and Thomas Hartwick and was later purchased by Edwin T. Bennett, father of Edwin B. Bennett present city clerk.

    The Lumberman’s Gazette was established in 1872 by Dow in the interests of the lumber industry in this section of the state. It proved a prosperous publication until the industry declined in these parts and then it removed to Chicago in 1887 and was then the oldest lumber journal in the nation.

    The “Bay City Observer” was established as a weekly in 1876 by A. H. McMillan, father of A.H. McMillan, local attorney, and Edward Forsythe. The paper prospered and in December 1877, the publication of a daily was undertaken.

    From Greenville came J. W. Griffith and purchased the paper in 1878, but its decline dates from that time and in 1880 the “Observer” ceased observing.

    German Paper Started.

    The “Freie Presse,” a German independent weekly, began publishing in 1878, G. Reuther being the first owner. August Lankenau and David Kochillater took over the paper but on the death of the former it was discontinued.

    The newpapers were more or less republication in viewpoint and it was only natural that the democrats should have their try and establishing newspapers, too.

    The struggles of men of this faith to maintain a paper started in 1876 with the establishment of the “Signal” which continued until 18?? and then halted. The “Weekly Herald” was started by Dan P. McMullen and E. D. Cowles in 1869 and in 1872 it was moved from West Bay City to Bay City until in 1916 it was purchased by The Times.

    In 1880, when McMillan joined The Times, he purchased a large portion of the stock of the company and together with W. H. Gustin operated the paper successfully for a number of years.

    Before the turn of the century, Frank (Cap) Merrill, had purchased a large part of the stock of the corporation together with Gustin continued the operation of the company until March 1, 1903, when the Booth Publishing Co., purchased controlling interest in the newspaper. It was the first of the string of eight papers now operated by the publishing company which they purchased. The Times today is therefore in the unique position of being the parent newspaper of the group of dailies recognized, not only throughout Michigan, but likewise in the nation, as one of the most successful group of newspapers in the country.

    When the Booth interests purchased the Bay City unit in 1903, Bernard W. Wynkoop, was vice-president of the company and was named general manager of The Times on March 1, 1903. Wynkoop continued in that capacity until 1918 when he was transferred to Jackson to take a similar position with the Jackson Citizen-Patriot. Mr. Wynkoop remained in Jackson until his death in 1934.

    Upon his transfer, Stanley J. Armstrong, who had risen through the ranks of the Times, was appointed manager of the newspaper.

    New Equipment Added.

    Within a year after the newspaper had come under the control of the Booth interests, new mechanical equipment was added. On July 1, 1904, a one-deck press three plates wide was installed, capable of turning our 12 pages. Less than two years later, as the newspaper progressed in leaps and bounds, a double-deck press was put into operation and this unit was capable of printing 16 pages and was one of the largest presses in the state at the time. Eight years later a four-deck press was installed here with a 32-page capacity, and at the time was the largest press outside of Detroit and Grand Rapids.

    At the present time, a press of similar capacity is in operation, and plans are now under way and construction started on a new addition to The Times in which will be placed a modern four unit press capable of producing 64 pages.

    Mr. Griffin continued as managing editor of The Times until 1927 when he was taken by death after a long illness. He was succeeded by Charles S. Thomas, who served until he was stricken by an illness that invalidated him until the time of his death. Mr. Thomas suffered a paralytic stroke while at his desk in the editorial office in August 1928, and being taken home was never able to return to his post.

    Duncan Named Editor.

    In January, 1929, Kenneth Duncan a metropolitan newspaperman of wide experience succeeded to the managing editor’s post and retained that capacity until the time of his sudden death, Sept. 12, 1934. Mr. Duncan was the victim of a heart attack. He had worked all night on Sept. 11, the day of the state primary election, and left the office early in the afternoon of Sept. 12. He was fatally stricken about 8 o’clock that evening.

    On Dec. 31, 1934, Glenn MacDonald, for a number of years sports editor of The Times, was named to succeed Duncan. Mr. MacDonald is the incumbent editor.

    Mr. Armstrong who succeeded Mr. Wynkoop as manager of the newspaper in 1918 continued in that capacity until the time of his death, March 26, 1936. He had been ill for some months previous to his death, and shortly afterward, Andrew J. Simpson had been manager of the advertising department of the Times, was named as his successor. He is the incumbent manager of the newspaper.

    So from the small beginning that it had in 1873, through a series of consolidations and mergers, The Times has grown today into one of the leading newspapers of the state.

  • Note - The James Birney mentioned did not run for president, it was his father, James G. Birney. The senior Birney did own a newspaper, but it was in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Additional Notes.

      Currey, Daniel R.

    • Born in News Brunwick, NY, in 1838, started the newspaper Bay City Growler in 1869, then in 1871 it was changed to the Saginaw Valley Growler.

      Lewis, George F.

    • Born Jun. 7, 1828, in Harvard, Worcestor Co., Mass. In 1880 he owned the Daily Morning Call, in Bay City, and in April, 1888 he purchased the Democratic Daily newspaper in Bay City. Prior to the later, he owned another Democratic paper, the The Saginawian, in Saginaw, MI. [History of Saginaw Co., Mich., 1881]

      McMullen, Daniel P.

    • Born Sep. 8, 1852, in Kent Co., Canada, was another Bay City newspaper man, coming here in 1868, where he learned his trade as a printer. In 1871 he purchased the Wenona Herald newspaper, located in the village of Wenona (later West Bay City). A year later he relocated in Bay City, and that same year gave up the paper and entered into job printing for a number of years, before leaving Bay City, and utlimately, settling in Cheboygan, where he was manager of the Cheboygan Tribune. [History of Saginaw Co., Mich., 1881]
  • Subject Notes

    Related Pages:
    History Bay City Times
    Newspaper Database
    Gray, James
    People Referenced
    Armstrong, Stanley J.
    Bennett, Edwin B.
    Bennett, Edwin T.
    Birney, Arthur M.
    {Birney, James}
    Bryce, William A.
    {Cowles, Edwin D.}
    Culbert, John
    {Currey, Daniel R.}
    Dow, Henry S.
    Duncan, Kenneth
    Forsythe, Edward
    Griffith, J.W.
    Gustin, W.H.
    {Harding, Thomas K.}
    Hartwick, Thomas
    Joslin, Perry
    Kochillater, David
    Kroencke, Edward
    Lankenau, August
    Lewis, Geo. F.
    {Lewis, Griffin}
    MacDonald, Glenn
    McMillan, A.H.
    McMullen, Daniel P.
    {Merrill, Frank C.)
    Moran, Bert
    Reuther, G.
    Simpson, Andrew J.
    Thomas, Charles S.
    Wynkoop, Bernard W.
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City Journal
    Bay City, MI
    Bay City Growler
    Bay City Observer
    Bay City Tribune
    Booth Publishinig Co.
    Cheboygan, MI
    Cheboygan Tribune
    Chicago, IL
    Daily and Weekly Chronicle
    Daily Morning Call
    Democratic Daily
    Detroit, MI
    Freie Press (German)
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Harvard, MA
    Jackson Citizen-Patriot
    Jackson, MI
    Kent Co., Canada
    Lumberman's Gazette
    Minister to the Hague
    Presidential candidate
    Press and Times
    Saginaw, MI
    Saginaw Valley Growler
    The Bay City Times
    The Evening Press
    The Bay City Press
    The Saginawian
    Weekly Herald
    Wenona Vilage, MI
    Wenona Herald
    West Bay City, MI
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.