Newspapers and A. G. Ellis

From the Stevens Point Journal May 19, 1992
by
AMY BALLESTAD
of the Journal

When the land was new, news was hard to come by. Reports of happenings near and far traveled by mail or word of mouth across the frontier. The advent of Journalism in Portage County came in 1853, when Gen. Albert G. Ellis began the first area newspaper, The Wisconsin Pinery.Albert Ellis

Ellis was also responsible for Wisconsin’s first newspaper, the Green Bay Intelligencer, which began there in 1833.

In the writings Ellis left behind, he speaks of his commitment to opening up the lines of communication in Wisconsin. “In all my connections with the press, I never had any idea but the development of the frontier country and the support of old-fashioned Democratic principals,” he said. “In both these I have spent large sums of money derived from other sources. I never made a dollar by publishing a newspaper, but I have spent thousands.”

In the 1800s, many presses opened up. The costs of beginning a newspaper where fairly minimal, but keeping the paper alive seems to have been a challenge. More than a dozen papers began and ended their lives in Stevens Point’s early years. By the turn of the century, only two English-language newspapers remained, the Journal and the Gazette. The Journal Printing Co. of today is a product of a merger between these two papers in 1919.

For early presses, money was scarce. Sometimes subscribers paid their bills with produce or firewood. Sheets of paper with national news already printed on one side would be shipped into the county and area presses would print local news on the other side.

On July 5, 1855, the Pinery was published in a tiny, handbill size. That week’s paper shipment, explained the editor, hadn’t arrived. The first attempt at daily publications undertaken by the Journal October of 1895.

“The Journal has the honor and also the pleasure of being the first in the field,” said a front-page story. “It is entirely experimental, for the undertaking is no small one and the assurances of the success are the good wishes of many friends and their faith that local pride will not allow the enterprise to fall. “The Journal is willing to make the experiment if the people of Stevens Point are.” Subscription price then went up to 10 cents per week.

(Also read his "Handbook of Stevens Point", 1857.)