Time Machine

Time Machine: The Gazette's founding fathers

Newspaper flourished and grew with the city after its 1883 beginning

Clarence Miller, co-owner and business manager of the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, is pictured around 1900 driving the first gasoline automobile down a Cedar Rapids street. Riding in the fire chief’s buggy were Fire Chief Fred Cook (left) and Fred Faulkes, the newspaper’s co-owner and editor. Faulkes preferred traveling by buggy, and Miller was an early car enthusiast. (Gazette archives)
Clarence Miller, co-owner and business manager of the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, is pictured around 1900 driving the first gasoline automobile down a Cedar Rapids street. Riding in the fire chief’s buggy were Fire Chief Fred Cook (left) and Fred Faulkes, the newspaper’s co-owner and editor. Faulkes preferred traveling by buggy, and Miller was an early car enthusiast. (Gazette archives)
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Clarence L. Miller, who had come to Cedar Rapids from Ohio with his parents in the 1860s, had his own fruit and confectionary business by the 1870s. He had seen the city of more than 1,800 nearly triple in size in 10 years.

When Fred Warren Faulkes arrived in Cedar Rapids in 1876 from Wisconsin, the city had more than 7,000 residents. He had spent most of his working life as a reporter for the State Journal in Madison and as a telegrapher.

It was his work in telegraphy that brought him to the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota Railway office in Cedar Rapids in 1876, but the work offered little challenge for him.

By 1877, Faulkes was city editor of the Cedar Rapids Daily and Weekly Republican.

In June 1878, Faulkes married Alice Miller, daughter of a carriage manufacturer in Cedar Rapids and Clarence Miller’s sister.

He left the Republican in October 1878 and explored starting a morning paper he wanted to call the Advertiser. Instead, he tried his hand at several clerking jobs.

Five years later, when the city’s population at more than 10,000, Faulkes started a new newspaper, The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, on Jan. 10, 1883. The first edition had four pages, with seven columns on each page.

The paper’s publishers, E.L. Otis and L.H. Post, from Illinois. Post, the publisher, wrote in the first issue the new paper would be “a paper for the people — for the mechanic and laborer as well as for the merchant and banker.”

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Otis had difficulty extricating himself from his business interests in Illinois and couldn’t move to Iowa. In a few months, he bowed out, and most of the weight of running the new business fell to Post.

GAZETTE COMPANY

The Gazette Company was formed on March 20, 1884, and became the official owner of the paper. Post was president, Faulkes was vice president, and Miller became secretary/treasurer.

Post and Miller took charge of the business end of the company, and Faulkes managed the editorial and advertising. Faulkes and Miller owned three-fifths of the company’s capital stock.

Two months later, Post left. And on June 10, 1884, Miller became president and treasurer and Faulkes, vice president and secretary, of The Gazette Company.

They were more often identified as co-owners and publishers, with Miller the business manager and Faulkes the editor.

The newspaper company rented offices on First Avenue East, several blocks from the Cedar River.

In 1888, Miller and Faulkes had noticed available land on First Street on both sides of First Avenue. One lot held a hotel and several shanties. The other was a weedy vacant lot. The partners discussed a building on either piece of land, but they had a year to go on their lease.

When work on a new YMCA started on the lot with the hotel, Faulkes and Miller reconsidered their position. They returned to the weedy lot, which had a 50-foot frontage on First Avenue. They bought the property, hired architect J.W. Smith and began building a newspaper office around Sept. 20, 1888.

NEW BUILDING

The new Gazette Company building opened for business Jan. 1, 1889. It cost $12,000 to build the 6,000-plus-square-foot building, the first to be owned by an evening newspaper in Iowa.

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A wide stairway led from the sidewalk to the basement where the press room, the mail room, the steam boilers and a fireproof vault flanked the stairs that led up to the composing room.

The first story had editorial rooms and business offices. In the wall between the composing room and business and editorial rooms were three small sliding doors for passing proofs and copy. Any other access was through a door from the composing room to the basement.

The building was lighted by incandescent electric lights and equipped with “speaking tubes” between departments.

The building’s second floor was leased to a job printing and book binding company. But rapid growth compelled the company to reclaim the space and move the composing room and linotype machines there. Linotype printing machines — imagine huge typewriters — cast blocks of “hot metal” type that were arranged in galleys to print the paper.

REFLECTIONS

With a well-established and successful business, Faulkes and Miller in 1895 organized an association for the publishers of the 40 evening newspapers in Iowa. More than half arrived in Cedar Rapids in January for the inaugural meeting.

By 1899, Cedar Rapids had grown to about 30,000 and the paper had passed its 16th anniversary.

In a special edition that year, Faulkes wrote about his first impressions of Cedar Rapids:

“Though vigorous, prosperous and progressive, with a public-spirited, energetic, wide-awake class of citizens, and charmingly situated in a rich portion of the country, occupying a commanding commercial position, yet it lacked many of the elements and features, which in the intervening period, have combined to place it in the front rank of western cities, and caused it to be known far and wide,” he wrote.

“At that time nearly all its streets were beds of sand. There were few large buildings. Palatial homes, such as now abound, were scarce. There was not a foot of paving; no sewerage system had been inaugurated. There was no electric light, or city steam plant; no paid fire department, no street cars, and the water works were of comparatively small importance. ...

“Indeed, there was no institution, public or private, corporation or individual enterprise in any line that would favorably compare with the magnificent development in all branches of industry that has taken place during those rapidly passing years.”

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Faulkes died March 21, 1905, and Miller died May 19, 1912. The Gazette entered a new era with the passing of its founders, with family ownership continuing into the twenty-first century until the sale of the company to its employees in 2012. The Gazette is marking its 135th year of continuous publication this year.

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