In a previous post, I featured an example of “text speak” published in the Vincennes Western Sun way back in 1849. Here’s a few more linguistic oddities from early Hoosier newspapers.
If you drink German beer from a bottle, you might have seen a label on the side saying something like “Brewed according to the German purity law of 1516,” a reference to the famous “Reinheitsgebot” that regulated the brewing of beer (i.e., only water, barley and hops could go into it.) But since 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of the German beer law, in the meantime let’s talk about a different kind of “purity.”
Denglish is a term used today in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria to refer to the mixing of “Deutsch” with “English.” Globalization has made English the dominant language on earth, and it’s not at all uncommon in Germany to hear things like ich habe den File downgeloadet (I downloaded the file) or catch someone ordering ein Double Whopper mit Bacon und Cheddar Cheese. Why? German certainly has perfectly good words for bacon and cheese. Maybe since McDonald’s isn’t German and is even an exotic novelty for some Europeans, asking for einDoppelwhopper mit Speck und Cheddar-Käse just sounds too traditional or even too strange. Better to just leave it in English. (And, by the way, we don’t always translate, either: look at sauerkraut, apple strudel, bratwurst. . .)
Though English and German are related, outside the realm of food, not many words have ever come from modern German into modern English. Linguistic purists in Europe, on the other hand, go through “periodic bouts of angst“ (a German word!) about the influx coming from the other direction. (I wonder if this kind of angst exists in Sweden, where Paul Dresser’s On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away became a very popular song when it was translated into Swedish as early as 1919. You can listen to Barndomshemmet — a.k.a., “Childhood Home” — over on YouTube.)
The influx is nothing new. In Indianapolis, Indiana, just after the Civil War, the town had a large German population and several important German-language newspapers — the Täglicher Telegraph (the weekly edition was called the Indiana Volksblatt und wöchentlicher Telegraph) and the Indiana Tribüne.
The Tribüne survived until World War I, when anti-German feeling helped silence it in June 1918. An advertisement in the Indianapolis Star on May 31, 1918, called on American boys to ““Kill Germans – kill them early, late and all the time but kill them sure.” Even Hoosiers with German names joined in the irrational hatred of everything German, like William Leib of Elkhart. Others supported the war against the Kaiser, like Richard Lieber — an immigrant from Düsseldorf, the founder of Indiana’s state park system, and a reporter for the Tribüne.
At one time, the Hoosier State also had a small number of other newspapers published in languages besides English. (The Macedonian Tribune began in Indianapolis in 1927 and is still published today in Fort Wayne. South Bend once had papers in Hungarian and Polish.) Today, La Voz de Indiana, a Spanish-language paper, is printed in the capitol city.
While I haven’t run across any examples of Indiana writers mixing English and German grammar, here are some great examples of Denglish from the early Hoosier newspapers. I culled these from random issues of the Indiana Tribüne and the Täglicher Telegraph between the years 1866 and 1910. Any issue from those days will turn up plenty of Denglish.
The old German Fraktur script can be a challenge to read if you’re not familiar with it, but if you can read any German at all, see if you can figure these out!
If you had Durst in Terre Haute in 1866,you might go to ein Saloon.
Habst du Hunger? (Und by the way, was sind Wahoo Bitters?)
This ad has more English than German in it. Buy ’em by the bushel crate:
While on Georgia St., you might be interested in grabbing some
Like seafood? Your slimy lunch was just delivered fresh all the way from Baltimore, even in the 1860s:
For dessert, treat yourself to something sweet. “All kinds” of this treat are available:
Rauchst du? It’s a bad habit, but if you’ve got to do it, make it a Hoosier Poet, and make sure it’s a real Havana:
Hausjacken on sale right now, $4.75:
Do you give your kids any of these before bed? Probably shouldn’t.
Und was trinken Sie? Before Prohibition, hundreds of breweries, many run by Germans and Czechs, dotted the American landscape. (A lot of these were rural areas, but city folk, of course, drank beer, too. The 1855 Lager Beer Riots in Chicago erupted partly because Mayor Levi Boone, descendant of Daniel Boone, didn’t like Germans boozing on Sundays. But he also he hated their radical politics and wanted to keep them from getting together at their watering-holes, where they talked about socialism and Chicago politics.)
At one time, the Terre Haute Brewing Company, founded in 1837 by German immigrant Matthias Mogger, was one of the largest beer-producers in the United States. The company’s nationally-famous beer “Champagne Velvet,” begun by Bavarian immigrant Anton Meyer, was recently resurrected by Upland Brewing in Bloomington. Germans enjoyed this and many other local beers on tap over a century ago in the Hoosier State:
Wait, too much drinking for you. Better make a special trip upstairs to see this technological wonder of the nineteenth century:
If you’re ready for another binge, hey, be family-friendly now and take them out on one of these:
Yes. That says “Big Picnic of the German Military Union.” Sound scary? Many German immigrants fought in the Civil War while serving in Hoosier regiments. This 1903 ad announces low rates for a train trip down South to erect the Indiana Monument at the Shiloh Schlachtfeld:
On your stopover in Paducah, grab a bottle of the finest Kentucky whiskey.
Plan on having the family portrait taken? Take the kids to Cadwallader and Fearnaught, Meisterphotographen, at their studio on Ost Washington Strasse in downtown Indy.And “bring the babies”:
Maybe you need a job. If you get an office job, you’ll also need some stationery.
(Office tape! In 1866!)
If you bite down too hard on one of those Star Pencils, or if einPaper Clip gets stuck in your teeth, here’s a German-speaking Zahnärzte at your service:
There was even a female dentist in Indianapolis back in those days, Mary Lloyd, across from Fletcher’s Bank and the New York Store:
Dentists also dealt with problems caused by this stuff:
Got oil in your headlights? This brand is geruchlos (odorless):
ACHTUNG!! Watch out for das Manhole!
Keep your precious treasures safe. Bank with Mr. Fletcher:
Or keep your fortune safe at home with this hefty beast:
You can also protect your money by doing some bargain-shopping. Germans are famous for thrift, aren’t they?
Or skip shopping altogether and just take your kids to see Santa Klaus and let him provide the gift. Hier ist dein Ticket:
If Santa is in the neighborhood, that means it’s getting cold outside. Get a “honey comb quilt” or some serious old-school heating:
If you do get sick this winter, try one of these handy home remedies:
OK, that’s enough Denglish for me. I’m off on the Eisenbahn. And I’ll be traveling in style.
Run across any other great examples of Denglish? Have any personal stories to share? Bitte schicken Sie mir eine E-mail: Stephen Taylor at staylor336 [at] gmail.com
Four years after the end of the Civil War, Indianapolis, Indiana, was the unlikely destination of one of the nineteenth century’s most famous and daring archaeologists. Though he didn’t come here for a dig.
In 1869, just before setting off for Turkey, where he astounded the world by excavating the long-lost city of Troy (so lost that most experts thought it was mythic), Heinrich Schliemann came to Indiana’s capitol city with an unusual goal: to get a divorce from his Russian wife, who lived on the other side of the globe.
On December 28, 1890, two days after he died in Naples, Italy, as other papers were running routine obituaries of the now world-famous man, the Indianapolis Journal put together a unique tribute: “Schliemann in This City: The Distinguished Archaeologist Had His Home for a Time on Noble Street.”
The Journal article was based mostly on interviews with two of Indianapolis’ most prominent Germans, who had known Schliemann during his short stay here. Adolph Seidensticker was the well-respected editor of the Indiana Volksblatt, at a time when probably a quarter of the city’s newspaper readers still got their news auf Deutsch. Herman Lieber was a prosperous frame merchant, art dealer, and soon one of the founders of Das Deutsche Haus, the center of German life here in the 1890s. (When the U.S. went to war against Germany in World War I, the unpatriotically-named building was renamed “The Athenaeum.”) Lieber’s nephew, conservationist Richard Lieber, was a reporter for the German-language Indiana Tribüneand later founded the Indiana state park system, saving Turkey Run and McCormick’s Creek from the lumberman’s axe.
When Heinrich Schliemann — obsessed with dreams of Achilles, Agamemnon and the ten-year siege of Troy — showed up in the Greek-sounding town of Indianapolis in April 1869, the place was remarkably German. Lockerbie Square was often called “Germantown.” In that neighborhood especially, Schliemann would have found a thriving cultural mix of radical German freethinkers, refugees from the failed 1848 revolutions, and “confessional” Lutherans who left Germany to avoid government meddling with their worship.
But as Herman Lieber recalled, Schliemann wasn’t yet a famous archaeologist. “He was not then recognized as a great person. He was a very entertaining talker and excellent company. If it had been suspected that he would ever be such a lion he would certainly have received greater attention.”
Schliemann’s unusual and rather odd story up to 1869 is worth a quick retelling:
Born in a port town on the Baltic in 1822, the future archaeologist grew up in the duchy of Mecklenburg, which later became part of East Germany. His father was a Lutheran minister. His mother reviewed books, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In his memoirs, Schliemann claimed that his minister father, who was soon chucked out of his church for mishandling funds, read him long passages from Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad as a boy, cultivating a fertile imagination. (Elsewhere he claims that he took an interest in Homer when he heard a drunken man recite part of the Greek epics in a grocer’s store where he worked as a teenager.) If we can trust his memoirs, by age eight Schliemann vowed to find the lost Trojan capital.
But with his family sunk in poverty, the fourteen-year-old was forced to drop out of school. At nineteen, bound for Venezuela as a cabin boy on the German steamer Dorothea, Schliemann was shipwrecked off the Dutch coast. Stranded in Amsterdam, he went to work for an import business, becoming the firm’s agent in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1846. It was then that his renowned aptitude for mastering languages took off.
Adolph Seidensticker, who himself ran a German paper in a mostly English-speaking town and helped found a bilingual school, said of Schliemann: “He spoke when here [in Indianapolis] nine different languages fluently.” (Schliemann claimed to be able to learn a new language in six weeks, eventually learning even Turkish and Arabic.)
Seidensticker also remarked that the man’s amazing linguistic skills helped him rise out of poverty.
His rise to fortune was based to some extent on his knowledge of the Russian language. . . It seems the person having in charge the Russian correspondence of the [merchant house in Holland] having died suddenly, and they were in a quandary as to how to supply his place, Schliemann volunteered his services, but he was looked on with suspicion until he went to work with the correspondence, and showed them that he had really mastered the language.
Hearing of the death of his brother Ludwig, who had struck it rich as a Forty-Niner in the California Gold Rush, he left Russia and sailed for the West Coast. Like his brother, Schliemann made a small fortune speculating in gold dust, enough to open a bank in Sacramento in 1851. Crucially, for the later divorce proceedings that brought him to Indianapolis, Schliemann became an American citizen in California.
Now a wealthy man, in 1852 he abandoned Sacramento and went back to Russia, where he married a woman named Ekaterina Lyschin. The couple eventually had three children. Growing even richer in the indigo and coffee trade, he made enough money to corner the market on ammunition and gunpowder during the Crimean War, selling military goods to the Russian government as it fought against the British, French, and Turks. Schliemann effectively retired from business in 1858, aged only thirty-six.
His trip to Indiana actually begins in Tsarist Russia. His work as a war contractor in the Crimea and a Grand Tour of Asia took him away from his family in St. Petersburg. So did his growing obsession with finding the location of Homer’s Iliad. Ekaterina didn’t share his passion for the Greek epics and refused to uproot her children and move to Paris, where Schliemann was studying at the Sorbonne and speculating in real estate. As Seidensticker told the Journal reporter:
She was a Russian lady. . . He did not, for some reason, feel quite at home in Russia, and endeavored to persuade her to live elsewhere on the continent of Europe, but she would not consent. I think that she had three children by him. She was a devoted member of the Greek Church, and would not leave Russia because she wished to bring them up as orthodox Russians.
The marriage was a failure. Though divorce was occasionally permitted by the Orthodox Church, in Russia it was scandalous and rare. Schliemann, however, had the advantage of being an American citizen. He even took an active role in a bitter debate then raging in the U.S. about legalizing divorce.
Reno, Nevada, is known today as the world capital of the “quickie divorce.” But in 1869, it was Indianapolis. As Glenda Riley writes in her fascinating book Divorce: An American Tradition, Hoosier politicians had unwittingly turned Indiana into a notorious “freewheeling divorce mill” in the 1850s.
When legislators began writing a new state constitution in 1850, Indiana began its quick “rise to notoriety.” As Riley put it, “the state’s divorce laws reportedly attracted huge numbers of migratory divorce seekers. Public alarm became evident as dramatic reports described the Hoosier State as a divorce mecca, churning out easy divorces to people from stricter states with little regard for long-term consequences to spouses and children.”
Though generally treated as anathema by most Americans, divorce had long been permissible under Indiana law, but only in cases of “bigamy, impotency, and adultery” and if a spouse had shown “extreme cruelty.” Yet only about a hundred divorces were prosecuted in Indiana from 1807-1840. The laws of the 1850s caused a drastic spike in the divorce rate, mostly due to out-of-staters coming here to take advantage of the courts.
An 1858 editorial in the Indianapolis Daily Journal lamented that every railroad depot in the state was crowded with “divorce hunting men and women.” A District Recorder wrote to a New Yorker that he feared the new Indiana laws “shall exhaust the marriages of New York and Massachusetts.” William Dean Howells, a bestselling American novelist in the 1870s, spun the plot of his novel A Modern Instance around an out-of-state case rammed through Hoosier divorce court. The villain was a lecherous husband.
In November 1858, the Terre Haute Daily Unionlambasted the divorce reformers. “The members of the Legislature who passed the odious and contemptible divorce law that now stands recorded on our Statute, have certainly procured their divorces long since (for, no doubt, it was intended to especially meet their cases,) and we hope and trust the coming session will blot it out. We do not wish to see Indiana made the rendezvous for libertines from all parts of the Union.”
As proof that Indiana was being made a mockery of, the Daily Union reprinted a clip from the Albany Argus in upstate New York.
New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley fulminated against the reforms in several open letters exchanged with social reformer and Hoosier statesman Robert Dale Owen. Greeley, a liberal and Universalist, opposed divorce on the grounds of protecting women’s rights and Biblical teachings. He called Indiana “a paradise of free-lovers” and published the following anecdote:
The paradise of free-lovers is the State of Indiana, where the lax principles of Robert Dale Owen, and the utter want of principle of John Pettit (leading revisers of the laws), combined to establish, some years since, a state of law which enables men and women to get unmarried nearly at pleasure. A legal friend in that State recently remarked to us, that, at one County Court, he obtained eleven divorces one day before dinner; “and it wasn’t a good morning for divorces either.” In one case within his knowledge, a prominent citizen of an Eastern manufacturing city came to Indiana, went through the usual routine, obtained his divorce about dinner-time, and, in the course of the evening was married to his new inamorata, who had come on for the purpose, and was staying at the same hotel with him. They soon started for home, having no more use for the State of Indiana; and, on arriving, he introduced his new wife to her astonished predecessor, whom he notified that she must pack up and go, as there was no room for her in that house any longer. So she went.
Robert Dale Owen, too, had women’s rights in mind when he advocated for legalizing divorce, arguing the immorality of binding a woman to a “habitual drunkard,” a “miserable loafer and sot,” or a wife-beater merely because of the “vows and promises of a scoundrel.” Of bad husbands, Owen wrote frankly: “He has the command of torments, legally permitted, far beyond those of the lash. That bedchamber is his, and the bed is the beast’s own lair,” presumably a reference to spousal rape. “God forgive you, Horace Greeley, the inhuman sentiment!”
Several big reasons probably drove the “Dr.” here. Ekaterina — called “Catherine” in Indiana documents — was still in Russia and wasn’t likely to show up in Indiana to stop him. His American citizenship, acquired in 1851, required that he go to an American court. And he believed, probably rightly, that his work at Troy in the Ottoman Empire (traditional enemy of Russia) would be easier if he wasn’t married to a Russian.
Schliemann checked into an Indianapolis hotel and filed a divorce petition in the Marion County Common Pleas Court, hiring three lawyers. One of his lawyers was Adolph Seidensticker, editor of the Indiana Volksblatt. To convince Judge Solomon Blair of his honorable intention to stay in town, the wealthy Schliemann bought an interest in the Union Starch Company and a small house at 22 N. Noble Street. (Today, this is roughly the site of Harrison College, just west of the railroad bridge that crosses East Washington Street.) The Indianapolis Journal also claims that Schliemann owned a plot of land “on the west side of South Illinois Street, just north of Ray Street.” (Incredibly, this is directly behind the Greek Islands Restaurant on S. Meridian, and may have included the parking lot of Shapiro’s Deli. The naturalist John Muir was temporarily blinded in an accident at a carriage factory two blocks north of here in 1866.)
In a letter to his cousin Adolph, Schliemann wrote on April 11, “I have a black servant and a black cook, half of Indian and half of Negro blood…”
In another letter to his family also dated April 11, he writes: “The cook reads 3 large newspapers daily and is completely versed in the politics, history and geography of the country and may this give you an idea of the education of the people here, when you consider that in the entire state of Indiana there is not yet a single school for colored people (descendants of Negroes)…” About his female cook, though, he complained: “[she] gave away my fine cigars to her lovers and wasted the money I gave her for the little household in the most wanton way.”
Schliemann was impressed with the Indianapolis Germans:
As everywhere in America, so here, too, Germans are greatly respected for their industry and assiduity as well as their solidity, and I cannot think back without alarm of Russia where the foreigner, and the German in particular, is despised because he is not a Russian.
One aspect of life in the city didn’t find favor with him, though. His diary entry for June 1, 1869, reads: “The most disagreeable thing here is the Sabbath-law, by which it is prohibited to grocers, barbers and even to bakers to open their shops on Sundays.”
Probably looked at as an odd character, Schliemann took his early morning baths in the White River: “I have been bathing here in the river for more than a month but it appears there is no other amateur but me for early bathing.” Then he added: “There are no Coffeehouses here.”
He mentioned the effects of the Civil War everywhere: “One meets here at every step men with only one arm or one leg and sometimes even such whose both legs are amputated. I saw even one whose both legs were amputated close to the abdomen. The disabled soldiers of this State come here to the Capital to receive their pensions and this accounts for the numberless lame men.”
Schliemann gave a speech in English at the Indiana Statehouse in support of divorce. Later on, he described the legislature in his diary, “After all I am very glad to have got an insight into the doings of these people’s legislative assemblies, which present Democracy in all its roughness and nudity, with all its party spirit and facility to yield to lateral influences, with all its licentiousness. I often saw them throwing paper-balls at each other and even at the speaker.”
The Marion County court received perjured testimony that Schliemann was a resident of the United States. He also presented letters from his wife, written in Russian, with his divorce petition.
In one letter, Ekaterina wrote from St. Petersburg, “The sole and only reason of all our disagreement is that you desire I should leave Russia and join you in America. But this I most decidedly decline and refuse to do and I assure you with an oath, that for nothing in the world I shall ever leave Russia and that I would sooner die than live together with you in a foreign country.”
In another, dated December 31, 1868, she asserted: “Infinitely better is it that Sergius should finish his education in St. Petersburg. At the age of 13 one cannot send him from one country to the other without doing injury to his whole being; he would thus never get accustomed to one country. Irrevocably he would lose the love for his mother country.”
And on February 16, 1869, she wrote this: “You demand that I should prevail upon my children to [leave my mother country] and that I should deprive them of the great blessing to be educated in the orthodox religion . . . I have [not] sought for pleasure, being always contented with my family circle. Whether my children will be rich heirs or not, that only God knows.”
On June 30, 1869, once Judge Blair was convinced that the petitioner’s wife and young children in Russia were provided for, the marriage of “Henry and Catherine Schliemann” was annulled. Schliemann had tricked the court. Like almost everybody who came out for an “Indiana divorce,” he abandoned the state a few weeks later. (Seidensticker remembered: “He did not seem to be much impressed with Indianapolis.”)
Surprisingly, the case quickly returned to Indiana courts. Ekaterina Schliemann sued from St. Petersburg and tried to nullify the Indiana judge’s ruling. Seidensticker and Schliemann’s other attorneys had a hard time validating their client’s Indiana residency, since he had abandoned the state and moved to Athens, Greece, where he had already taken out a newspaper ad for a new bride. (Schliemann wanted a wife who could serve as an archaeological assistant. He found 17-year-old Sophia Engastromenos, a niece of the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens. Despite a 30-year age difference, the couple were quickly married in September 1869, two months after Schliemann sped away from Indianapolis. They had two children together, Andromache and Agamemnon. Agamemnon Schliemann, who was baptized while his father read from a copy of the Iliad over his head, became the Greek ambassador to the U.S. in 1914.)
Partly freeloading off the archaeological digs of Frank Calvert, U.S. consul in Turkey and the real discoverer of Troy, Schliemann began his rise to fame in 1871. He later unearthed Mycenae in the Peloponnesus. (The finds at Hissarlik, reputed to be Troy, were both disputed and celebrated in Indiana papers.) Schliemann smuggled a load of ancient Trojan gold out of Turkey in 1874. “Priam’s Gold” was first housed in Berlin, then stolen by the Red Army in 1945. Today it is in Russia. A 1902 article in The Philistine regretted that “His Trojan treasures were presented to Berlin. Had Schliemann given his priceless finds to Indianapolis, it would have made that city a Sacred Mecca.”
In 1889, a year before his death, the archaeologist drew up a will. Called the “Last Testament of a Millionaire savant” by the Indianapolis Journal in September 1891, it was sent to C.E. Coffin & Co. from Odessa, Russia. Written in Greek, an original copy of Schliemann’s certified will is on file at the Marion County Probate Court in the basement of the City-County Building in Indianapolis, where, twenty years after his only known visit to the city, he still claimed legal residency.
A typed translation can be found at the State Library. To his Russian daughter Nadezhda, the archaeologist left property at 161 Buchanan Street. The address no longer exists, but was just north of what is now I-70 and is part of Eli Lilly’s downtown campus near Fountain Square. Nadezhda also got a house at “No. 6 Rue de Calais near Rue Blanche in Paris” and fifty-thousand francs in gold.
Schliemann hurriedly married his second wife, 17-year-old Sophia Engastromenos, in Athens, just months after his divorce was finalized in Indianapolis. Around 1874, she was photographed wearing the “Jewels of Helen,” which her husband claimed to have discovered in the ruins of Troy. Sophia died in 1932.
Hoosier State Chronicles is bringing about 50,000 pages of the South Bend News-Times online. Here’s a short history of one of northern Indiana’s greatest papers.
The News-Times was formed on June 2, 1913, from a merger between the South Bend Times and the short-lived South Bend News. The Times had been in operation under several names since it was founded in 1881 by editor Henry A. Peed (1846-1905). Peed had his start in southern Indiana. A graduate of Franklin College and a major in the Civil War, around 1870 he was editing the Martin County Herald in the small town of Dover Hill near Loogootee. After coming to South Bend to found the pro-Democrat Times, Peed quickly sold out to John B. Stoll and moved to Saline County, Missouri, where he became editor of the Sweet Springs Herald.
John Stoll (1843-1926) was a true “rags to riches” American success story. Born in Württemberg, Germany, Stoll came from a well-off landowning family. His luck changed, however. His father drowned in the Nurg River when Stoll was a child and his mother lost most of their property after her remarriage.
By 1853, Stoll’s mother decided to go to America with her 10-year-old son. The two emigrated to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where they lived in poverty. She died two years later. Stoll barely spoke any English at all. Orphaned in a foreign country at age 12, he struggled to survive by working as a pin boy in a bowling alley and peddling peppermints, pins, and needles on the streets of Harrisburg.
Fortunately, the teenage peddler quickly found a wealthy benefactor who encouraged him to go into the printer’s trade. Stoll’s benefactor was no less than Margaret Brua Cameron, wife of General Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Like John Stoll, Simon Cameron had been orphaned at age nine. He apprenticed to a printer at the Northumberland Gazette in about 1808 and went on to become the State Printer of Pennsylvania in the 1820s. Cameron succeeded in politics, though he was famous mostly for his corruption. After serving as U.S. Senator, he became Lincoln’s first Secretary of War and briefly U.S. Minister to Russia.
Helped by the Camerons, John Stoll managed to buy his first newspaper – the Johnstown Independent Observer – at age 17. That paper failed due to rising prices during the Civil War. Stoll married Mary Snyder and in 1865 moved with her parents to Noble County, Indiana, where he helped establish the Ligonier National Banner, a major Democratic journal in the Midwest.
Stoll went on to found the Press Association of Northern Indiana in 1881 and the Times Printing Company of South Bend in 1882, which took over daily printing of the South Bend Daily Times in 1883. The Times took on Stoll’s character as editor. A historian of the Indiana Democratic Party and of St. Joseph County, and one of Indiana’s most prominent Germans, Stoll eventually sold the Times to the News-Times Printing Company in August 1911.
Summers was born in 1857 in New Carlisle, Indiana, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame at age 16. The son of an Irish farmer, he went into farming and sold agricultural implements in South Bend and Walkerton. In the 1890s, Summers entered the pharmaceutical business, eventually heading the Vanderhoof Medicine Company. He served as Indiana state senator and was a prominent South Bend businessman. Reportedly a millionaire from his pharmaceutical investments, he died in August 1920. His son-in-law, 23-year-old Joseph M. Stephenson, took over as owner of the paper.
Editors of the News-Times included John H. Zuver (1913-21), Boyd Gurley (1921-1926), Joseph M. Stephenson (1926-27 and 1933-38), Sidney B. Whipple, McCready Huston, and Fred Mills. Boyd Gurley moved on to The Indianapolis Times. He was that paper’s editor when it received a Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for helping to undermine the Indiana branch of the Ku Klux Klan under its Grand Dragon, D.C. Stephenson. A Progressive, Gurley attended the funeral of labor leader Mother Jones in 1930.
A 1921 advertisement in Printer’s Ink states that the News-Times publishes “morning, evening, and Sunday editions” and “blankets the territory with 17,000 daily and 18,000 Sunday circulation.” (South Bend in 1921 had a population of about 70,000 people.) To increase profit, the paper tried to appeal to merchants, since the city was “the shopping center for Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan.” A 1921 ad in Editor & Publisher announces that the paper carried 8.6 million lines of advertising in 1920.
The News-Times began as a twice-daily publication but became a daily in 1927. Although it reached the peak of its circulation in 1937 during the closing years of the Great Depression, the paper was haunted by financial difficulties and went out of business on December 27, 1938. Its last issue includes a note from Stephenson stating that it had been published at a loss since 1931.
American comedic actor Charles Butterworth (1896-1946) worked as a News-Times reporter after graduating from Notre Dame. Butterworth was allegedly fired for reporting the fictitious death of a prominent South Bend citizen. He went on to work as a journalist in Chicago and New York before heading to Hollywood. (Butterworth’s high-school graduation photo appeared in the News-Times on June 17, 1917.)
The paper and its immediate predecessors also helped launch the career of the great American sports columnist and short-story writer Ring Lardner and author and cartoonist J.P. McEvoy, best known as the creator of the Dixie Dugan comic strip, popular in the 1930s and ‘40s.
Raised in nearby Niles, Michigan, Lardner had one of his first newspaper jobs reporting for the Times. Though he moved on to the Chicago Tribune, in 1921 he reminisced humorously:
When I was one of the best reporters on the Times (the other one was Harvey Peters), my last daily assignment, between baseball seasons, was to call up every doctor in South Bend, find out who was sick and why, and write long or short pieces about same, depending on the prominence of the invalids and the nature of their ailments. If nobody was sick, I was through for the day. So when and if the News-Times runs my obituary and can think of no other laudatory comment on my all too brief South Bend career, it can at least say with truth, ‘He always wished everybody well.’
Ring Lardner, comic sports writer, had one of his first jobs writing for the News-Times.
The News-Times enjoyed a “high-spirited competition” with its rival, the South Bend Tribune, as the two papers tried to outdo each other in local news coverage. The News-Times was popular with South Bend’s large Eastern European community, remarkable considering that the city had numerous papers in Hungarian and Polish for many years. As early as 1914, the News-Times carried a special column, “News of Interest to Polish Citizens.”
Many of South Bend’s Hungarians and Poles had come here to work in the burgeoning auto industry, as the city was home to the Studebaker and Oliver factories. (It was also home to Notre Dame, the greatest Catholic university in America.) Hungarians, like Germans, were under suspicion during World War I, when their homeland still formed part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the closing year of the war, the News-Timesreported on a possible American Hungarian Loyalty League opening up in South Bend.