A history of the Jasper Weekly Courier

The Jasper Weekly Courier, click to access 3,611 issues between 1858-1922 at Hoosier State Chronicles.
The Jasper Weekly Courier, click to access 3,611 issues between 1858-1922 at Hoosier State Chronicles.

The Jasper Weekly Courier debuted on March 19, 1858 in Jasper, Indiana.  Jasper, the county seat of Dubois County in southern Indiana,was an agricultural trade center near iron and coal deposits.  John Mehringer, Rudolphus Smith, and Clement Doane published the Courier as an organ of the Democratic Party.  The Courier was the first newspaper published in the county since the American Eagle left Jasper in 1848 after a two year publication run.  On November 1, 1859, Doane became sole proprietor of the Courier.  The paper endorsed Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 presidential election.  The Courier drew criticism early in the Civil War for being disunionist.  Doane fired back with an editorial affirming his loyalty, but lamented “a Union which requires bayonets and bullets to keep it together.”  In 1872, Doane expanded the four page [five column] weekly to eight pages [also five columns].  He continued to publish the newspaper until his death in 1904.  His son, Benjamin E., assumed publishing duties until his death in 1922.  Benjamin Doane’s children briefly tried to maintain the Courier, but the newspaper’s publication ceased in July 1922.

For most of its sixty-four year existence, the Courier was the oldest, continuously published, English language newspaper in Dubois County.  Jasper’s population ranged from 1,000 to 2,000 during the Courier’s lifetime, and the newspaper’s reported circulation ranged from 350 in 1869 to 750 in 1920.  Since the county had a large German speaking population, the very first issue of the Courier bore an advertisement in German announcing, “Advertisements in German will always be handled in this office in the best and cheapest manner.”  In 1867, a German language newspaper, the Signal, premeried in nearby Huntingburg to better serve German speaking residents of the county, and eventually boasted a larger circulation than any other nineteenth-century Dubois County newspaper.  The Courier’s first viable English language competitor, the Jasper Times, debuted in 1879 as a Democratic organ.  The Times converted to a Republican newspaper in 1883, and by 1890 reportedly out-circulated the Courier, 700 issues to 572.  Despite this success the Times folded in 1891.  Four years later in 1895, the Jasper Herald premiered.  The Herald was also a Democratic voice, and eventually superseded the Courier with circulations over 1,000 in the 1910s.