The Negaunee Iron Herald
NEGAUNEE – Under the heading of the Negaunee Iron Herald, were the words, “The Only Paper That Gives a Darn About Negaunee.”
C. G Griffey, founder of the publication which was the oldest weekly newspaper in Northern Michigan, resided in Rochester, Michigan. His first visit to Negaunee was in 1873. Some friends of his from Ohio had visited Negaunee a few weeks before and reported that Negaunee the largest town in the states was without a newspaper or any kind of printing office. Negaunee had a population of 3,000 people at the time. Business was good, hard ores from the Jackson Mine were selling for $12.00 a ton in Cleveland, with vessels transporting it for $3.75 a ton from Marquette.
The miner was well paid, receiving as high as $4.00 a month. This of course meant a high degree of prosperity for the community. Every citizen seemed happy and prosperous. This is the picture of 1873 with a rosy setting.
With limited financial means, Griffey decided to secure a pledge that would insure the safety of the project of any unforeseen obstacles. He submitted a proposition that provided for the payment $1,000 upon appearance of the initial issue of the paper to be repaid in the form of job printing and advertising as the subscribers might have occasion to use. The full amount was signed in varying forms of $50 and $100 each by citizens interested in the welfare of the town. All obligations were filled before the close of the first year. A short time was spent in looking for a subscription list. Anyone who could read English subscribed.
The first home of the paper faced west on the south side of Iron Street, a structure that was owned by Dr. Cyr and also housed the first drug store and post office. This building is believed to have been on Gold Street. The building at the time was occupied as a residence by a family named Lobb, consisted of parents and six children.
Early in 1873, the worst case of small pox affected the family with the death of two children. The building was strictly quarantined and fenced off to prevent entry by strangers. Finally in June authorities pronounced a cure and the premise was fumigated.
With the preliminaries already in place for the paper and Mr. Griffey having purchased equipment from a defunct Daily Telegram in Pittsburgh, plans were made to ship the equipment, which was hard to handle due to its size. It was shipped by rail to Cleveland, and from there to Marquette, by an ore carrier in a gale of rain and snow. The equipment which was uncovered was covered in ice. However the job was accomplished and the plant was housed in Negaunee three days later. Within three days of the equipment arriving the panic of 1873 hit the area.
Mines were closed and industry was at a standstill. There was no employment. The banks closed their doors. The first issue of the paper was printed on November 13, 1873.
Mr. Griffey operated the business alone until 1885, when Thomas Flynn who had been employed at the plant became a partner. In 1907, Mrs. Flynn purchased property on the north side of Jackson St. between Pioneer Ave. and Kanter St. (next to Hills Garage)The paper was published there for three decades. In the 1930’s the plant was moved to the ground floor of the bank building where it remains today as a print shop operated by Dave Dunstan.
The Griffey Flynn partnership continued until Fred Dougherty purchased Mr. Griffey’s interest. Mr. Dougherty was a veteran newspaper man, coming from Milwaukee where he worked on metropolitan papers. When Mr. Flynn died in 1923, Mr. Dougherty purchased the Flynn family interest and continued as sole publisher of the weekly paper until his death in 1934, at which time his sister Mary Dougherty assumed control of the business.
Miss Dougherty, operated the business until January 1, 1948 when it was purchased by Thomas F. and John Pellow, both members of a third generation local family, Mr. and Mr. Kenneth C. Pellow, and grandsons of Thomas Pellow, who was a mining company superintendent.
The brothers continued their partnership until February of 1952 when John, who was a naval pilot was in World War II was recalled to service during the Korean conflict. His interest was purchased by his brother Richard W. Pellow. In addition to publishing the Herald, the partnership of Tomas and Richard operated a printing business under the name Pellow Printing Co.
Coverage of local news was increased in line with a policy of “Read it First in The Herald.” Special promotions were publicized for local merchants.
Thomas Pellow graduated from Negaunee High school in 1931. He received his journalism degree from theUniversity of Pittsburgh. His career included two metropolitan papers and two Upper Peninsula papers, manager of a firm publishing five weekly papers in Saginaw. He also taught journalism at Webber School in Saginaw for nine years.
Tom married Virginia Greenway from Ludington, who taught in the Gwinn Schools. They had five children.
Richard Pellow, was a 1944 Negaunee graduate where he played varsity football and basketball. He served in the Naval V-12 program in world war II. He played football at DePauw University and basketball at Montana State.
He majored in printing at Ferris Institute in Big Rapids. Dick served as head basketball coach for St Paul High School in Negaunee for six years. Dick married Aileen Erickson, also a1944 graduate from Negaunee and St. Luke’s School Of Nursing in Chicago. They were the parents of two daughters.
The Iron Herald was published weekly for 95 years. When the Pellows retired, all of the copies of the Herald were donated to the Historical Museum. They have been digitized and are available on CDs.