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A "Bounty-full" Beginning:
The Quincy Herald-Whig

Britni Townsend
Unity Point School, Carbondale

"The Quincy Herald-Whig is the sole living heir to a long line of publications in Quincy's century and a half of newspaper history," stated writers in a special sesquicentennial edition published in 1985. In researching this paper from the hometown of my parents and grandparents, I found a history dating back to 1835 when the Herald-Whig, known then as the Bounty Land Register, was one of the only four newspapers in the state of Illinois. The other three publications were the Springfield Journal, the Jacksonville Journal, and the Galena Gazette.

One of Illinois' most populous cities in the late 1800s, Quincy has a rich journalistic heritage.


Between 1835 and 1985, the Quincy Herald-Whig changed hands numerous times. Purchased by John H. Pettit in 1836, the publication was renamed the Quincy Argus & Illinois Bounty Land Register. Two years later the name was simplified to the Quincy Argus. In 1841, upon its name change to the Herald, the paper changed from weekly to daily publication. Other newspapers throughout the country often quoted the most famous editor of the Herald, Austin Brooks.

Another Quincy publication, the Whig, was established in 1838. Owners Major H.V. Sullivan and attorneys N. Bushnell and A. Johnson published a weekly edition that became a daily fourteen years later. The Whig consolidated with the Republican in 1858, and upon its sale to Bailache and Phillips in 1868, changed from an evening to a morning newspaper.

Up to the turn of the century, the Whig changed hands several more times. In 1869 it was transferred to the Quinry Whig and was next purchased in 1873 by Porter Smith. On January 1, 1874, it was sold to Daniel Wilcox, a former publisher and his sons. Finally, in 1903 it was inherited by Mrs. Anna Ellis, widow of Perry C. Ellis, who had bought the paper in 1899.

Yet another publication, the Quincy Journal, was founded by Hiram Wheeler in 1883. In 1889 owners of the Journal purchased the Quincy News, which had been established several years prior. On June 1,1920, the Whig Company bought out the Journal and moved to the Whig Building. In September of the same year, it was renamed the Quincy Whig-Journal.

On June 1, 1926, the Whig-Journal, representing the succession of the Whig, the Republican, the News, the Journal, the Herald, the Illinois Bounty Land Register, the Argus and the Herald, were consolidated to become the Quincy Herald-Whig and Quincy Journal, known generally as the Quincy Herald-Whig.

From 1935 to the present, the Quincy Herald-Whig has advanced tremendously despite difficulties during the Great Depression and World War II. The Quincy Herald-Whig formed its own publishing corporation, Quincy Newspapers, Inc., and expanded into radio in 1947 and television in 1953.

In 1966 the newspaper still used linotype machines that required melted lead and printing plates. Auto-typesetters were introduced in February 1964. New technology revolutionized the newspaper by changing from "hot type," or type formed from molten lead, to "cold type," or photocomposition, in March 1974. Computers were introduced in 1977, and by 1979 all editing and typesetting of news and advertising was completely computerized. Stories were no longer typed, disassembled, and taped back together. The computerization of the news, display and classified advertising, billing, subscriptions, and carrier operations followed technology and further advanced in May 1981 with the installation of a satellite dish allowing news to be transmitted more efficiently.

The Quincy Herald-Whig considers its newspaper a people business even though modern technology involves computers, satellite operation, and photographic equipment. Computers cannot interview for a news story, nor can a machine create an effective advertisement. People are required to service the presses and deliver the paper to each doorstep. The Quincy Herald-Whig's full-time and part-time employees who produce the paper and staff the many departments are dedicated to serving their customers.

Today, Thomas A. Oakley directs the Quincy Herald-Whig. Scott T. Ruff is the publisher. The General Manager is Michael B. Hilfrink. Donald E. Crim is Managing Editor. Holdings of Quincy Newspapers, Inc. consist of the Quincy Herald-Whig, WGEM TV/AM/FM and C-Gem TV (Fox), all of Quincy, Illinois. Out-of-state interests include the New Jersey Herald, Newton, New Jersey; WSJV-TV, Elkhart, Indiana; KTTC-TV, Rochester, Minnesota; WVV-TV, Bluefield, West Virginia; WKOW of Madison/LaCrosse/LaClair, Wisconsin; WAOW, Wasako, Wisconsin; and WWYO, Eagle River, Wisconsin. The men who formed The Herald and the Whig-Journal in 1926 could not have envisioned that nearly seventy-five years later Quincy Newspapers, Inc., would be the parent company of newspapers and television and radio stations throughout the country.

The Quincy Herald-Whig is a very strong paper to have survived so many years of publication and change. It has grown into a popular and well-known paper and thrives in the modern world just as it did many years ago. What does the future hold for the organization?—[From Quincy Herald-Whig, December 16, 1985 and August 29, 2001.]


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