FROM THE WALNUT BUREAU, THURSDAY, JULY 1, 1971,
Walnut Centennial Edition
A. P. Cramer issued the first newspaper ever printed in Walnut, “The Walnut News,” Thursday, May 30, 1878. [His Salutatory in that issue said: “We shall remain independent, conducting the paper at all times in a manner subservient to the general good. We have come to stay, and would ask those who take an interest in the welfare of the paper to tell their friends, and get them to take a copy, if possible. We shall endeavor to treat the individual views of everyone with courtesy and respect, even though of a widely different nature than our own; we promise at all events, never to get mad at anyone so long as we can hold our temper, and even then, as we feel it slipping from our grasp, we will spit on the hands for a new hold, rather than give up.”
“The News has come to stay — to be of all the aid possible to Walnut and of all its numerous enterprises, and until further notice will be published so as to be circulated on Thursdays.”
“It will contain all that the editor can think of, or steal from other papers of all kinds, from the untamed financial editorial to the report of a political caucus, all couched in the most elegant words to be found in the English language.”
“It will stick by its friends like a porous plaster, and slide around like a piece of orange peel and trip up anybody that treads upon it. It will aim to be loved by everybody, and be sought after with as much interest and savageness as is exhibited by a disturbed slumberer after a flea in a nightshirt.”
“The News will flee from vulgarity as rapidly as a blushing school ma’am flees from a billy goat in a ten acre pasture.”]
Over the years the local paper has had its ups and downs, changing hands a number of times.
The first issue was a four-page sheet, seven columns wide, patent inside and with advertisements on the front page. It was “newsy” and chronicled many events that would cause amusement to those of the present generation.
Among the advertisements in the first issue were found such firm names as Lebeck & Johannsen, Avery, Spangler and Son, W. H. Linfor, W. F. Burke, Packard and Spangler, Dr. Frank Hanna, O. M. Bruce, and a host of others.
Mr. Cramer continued to edit the paper under the name of “Walnut News” until Aug. 12, 1880, when his brother, Don Cramer, appeared as editor and continued through May 18, 1883, when it appears from the files that the plant was transferred to Frank T. Sheppard, who changed the name to “The Walnut Bureau,” giving the people of Walnut a bright newsy bureau of information until Aug. 28, 1884 when he in turn relinquished control and started to seek his fortune in the wild and wooly west.
His successor, A. W. McCormack, continued to give the people of Walnut an excellent local paper, assisted by M. B. Darnel, as associate editor. On Oct. 1, 1885, H. V. Battey became owner of the subscription list and good will of “The Bureau” office by purchase. With this change came an entire change in material in the office, Mr. McCormack taking with him all the type, presses, fixtures, etc., and an entire new outfit was put in by Mr. Battey. [The Bureau office was moved to the basement under the Exchange Bank on August 27, 1886. The entrance was on the south side. Walnut Bureau, Aug. 26, 1886]
The office continued under the management for nearly ten years, when on March 1, 1895 Mr. Battey sold out to W. C. DePew who continued to give the people of Walnut a well-edited and well-printed local paper for the next ten years.
Mr. DePew sold “The Bureau” to J. W. Wayne and Son on Nov. 1, 1905. Mr. Wayne came to Walnut from Griswold where he was editor of the Griswold American for five years. For twenty-one years J. W. Wayne was the senior editor of the paper, changing it from an eight-page with a four-page patent inside, to an eight page all home print newspaper, and continued to give the folks in this community a newsy, clean, well-edited local paper.
The junior member of the firm, J. W. Wayne and Son, LeRoy D. Wayne, purchased his father’s interest on Sept. 1, 1926 and endeavored to make the Bureau a local paper which would merit the good will and confidence of its patrons and friends. [Following the death of L. D. Wayne, Henry G. Lord became the editor and publisher on June 19, 1941.]
On May 7, 1942, Mrs. L. D. Wayne sold the “Walnut Bureau” to Dale Merrill; Pauline Wagner was manager. She bought the newspaper on Oct. 15, 1942 and continued until June 1, 1951 when she sold to Delmar Vernia and Warren Reed.] The two gentlemen edited the local newspaper until 1953, when Ed Hogan assumed the responsibility of Editor. Mr. and Mrs. William Chaffee purchased the business in 1955.
The Chaffee’s lived in Walnut until 1968 when they became owners of two newspapers in northern Iowa, the Paullina Times and the Sutherland Courier. They and their two children, Steven and Nancy, moved to Paullina in August of that year. Mrs. Edith (Griffith) Cade, employed as Intertype operator for the Walnut Bureau since 1948, and James Zimmerman were named as co-managers with Mrs. Frank (Betty Cade) Griffith employed as news writer. Mr. Zimmerman resigned his position in February, 1971, and now lives in Denver, Colo. Jerry Ohm, formerly of Park Rapids, Minn., has been employed at the Walnut Bureau since April 1971.
In June, 1915, the first Linotype machine was purchased by the Bureau. The typesetting had all been done by hand prior to this time.
Sept. 26, 1926, marked a conspicuous milestone in the progress of The Walnut Bureau, when a new and modern typesetting machine – an Intertype – was installed, doing away with the old obsolete model that had been used for twelve years. At this time the installation of the new equipment put the paper office in a class with the best equipped country printing shops in the state.
Looking back over the files of the past years, there is much evidence of growth and prosperity of our little city. From a small village of two or three hundred people, surrounded by a sparsely settled country, we now have in our 100-year-old city a population of over 800. At one time it boasted a population of over 1,000 inhabitants, surrounded by one of the best agricultural communities in Iowa. In the early day the farmers, as a rule, were poor young men who had come West to take advantage of the cheap land.
Today there is no part of the state that can boast a better class of farmers than those tributary to Walnut. As with the farmers, so has it been with the business men who came to this settlement before the eighties. They have prospered in a like manner and through it all The Walnut Bureau has been the medium of record of all the events that have transpired.
The pleasures and misfortunes of all have found in its columns a record which will in the future (as well as in the past) be kept in files for information of those who come this way in the next twenty, forty, sixty, eighty or one hundred years hence.
OWNERS SINCE THE ARTICLE IN 1971
Bill and Darlene Chaffee owned the paper until December 1972, selling out to Lloyd and Darlene Helgeland from Illinois.
The Helgelands sold out to Mary Campbell in August 1977. Mrs. Campbell, known lovingly as “Mary Camera”, was one of the first antique dealers in town, in addition to running the paper. She operated the Bureau until March 1989, when Nick and Barb Hoffmann took over.
Steve and Jean Epley took over ownership in September 2004. The Epleys operated the paper until March 2010, when they sold out to Ron and Joan Nelson, who also owned the Danish Villages Voice in Elk Horn.
The final owner of The Walnut Bureau was Cornflower LLC, who took over in September 2013. Marye Bierbaum was editor. The last issue of The Walnut Bureau was on December 25, 2014.
Over the years, the newspaper was a vital part of the town. It boosted the town, provided suggestions for improvement, and was often the hub of communication and the best way to get the word out. In addition, it provided photography and printing services for the entire community.