by Tom Tock
With all the attention being placed this year on one anniversary or another – the 200th of our State of Illinois being the most notable – it slipped this writer’s attention that it has been 150 years since Editor/Publisher Charlie Palmer printed the first edition of a weekly newspaper in Dwight, “The Star,” on May 5, 1868.
Mr. Palmer could not keyboard his thoughts in 1868 – instead he would open a typecase and assemble words, letter by letter, to compose the text of his first 6”x9” 4-page newspaper.
There are no words to adequately describe the rapture that must have existed in the printing world when Ottmar Merganthaler invented the Linotype in 1885. The Linotype could assemble a line of type in brass matrices, then cast a complete line from molten lead. Look it up.
This writer was introduced to the Linotype/letterpress era in about 1946, when it was determined I was old enough to be a “printer’s devil.” A “printer’s devil” did such important things as wipe, with gas-soaked rags, the ink off rollers from the presses, and remove lead plates from their wooden bases.
But I digress.
Charlie Palmer was editor of The Star 1868-1888. C. A. Stuck became owner in 1888, and changed the name to the North Star.
In 1889, C. D. Plummer was asked to change the name of his competing Dwight Herald to Dwight Star & Herald, assuming the original volume and number of the Dwight Star. This was done.
Other publishers followed:
Wm. Dustin, Allan Holbrook, and Arthur Tock, who had worked his way from printer to sole publisher shortly before he died in 1953. The business transferred ownership to Mrs. Tock and son Tom.
Mrs. Tock died in 1968. Pat Cleary, who had become a partner in 1961, died in 1980.
The Dwight Star & Herald completed a move from 112 West St. to 204 E. Chippewa St. and converted from letterpress to the offset printing process and electronic typesetting.
The business became Star Newspapers after acquiring several area weekly papers, and was sold in 1994 to Scott McGraw of Michigan. Subsequently, McGraw sold Star Newspapers to Liberty Publishing in 1998. Liberty terminated publication of the papers in 2002.
Charlie Palmer must have cried. Along with others.
Mary Tock Boma and her husband, Mark, began publishing a free weekly newspaper, The Paper, in 1999, and eventually moved that operation into the vacated building at 204 E. Chippewa.
The 100th anniversary of the Dwight Star & Herald was observed in a May 2, 1968, edition of the paper, which included copies of Charlie Palmer’s first edition.
That 100th edition contained the following paragraph that was reprinted from the paper’s 75th anniversary edition:
“The history of the past teaches us that our fathers had faith in their God, their country, and their fellowmen. They have handed down and entrusted to our stewardship such a country and with such blessings as were known in no other land, but with the admonition that we in turn are to pass it on to the coming generation and with greatly improved conditions and privileges. If we are true to ourselves and to our heritage, we will continue in our efforts to improve and build up our communities, morally, spiritually, and in every other way, to the benefit of those who follow.”
Happy Anniversary, Charlie Palmer.