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Wood County reporter. [volume] : (Grand Rapids [i.e. Wisconsin Rapids], Wis.) 1857-1923
Alternative Titles:
  • Semi-weekly reporter
Place of publication:
Grand Rapids [i.e. Wisconsin Rapids], Wis.
Geographic coverage:
  • Wisconsin Rapids, Wood, Wisconsin  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
[J.N. Brundage]
Dates of publication:
  • Began Nov. 28, 1857; ceased in Nov. 1923. Cf. Oehlerts, d. Guide to Wis. newspapers.
  • English
  • Wisconsin Rapids (Wis.)--Newspapers.
  • Wisconsin--Wisconsin Rapids.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224880
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 11 (Feb. 17, 1858).
  • Publisher varies.
sn 85033078
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Wood County reporter. [volume] February 17, 1858 , Image 1


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Wood County Reporter

The first Europeans arrived in Wood County, Wisconsin, in the late 1820s. Many of its early residents were French-Canadians, although other nationalities, ethnicities, and American born-settlers were present too. Lumber and wood pulp mills were the primary industry, as well as dairy, livestock, and farming, particularly of cranberries. The region was predominantly Democrat prior to the establishment of the Republican Party in 1854, although settlers who had been Whigs and later Republicans arrived and gradually tipped the political balance.

The Wood County Reporter had the distinction of being the first newspaper published in modern day Wisconsin Rapids, the seat of centrally located Wood County. Native American tribes had called the area Ah-dahwah-gam, meaning Two-sided Rapids, because of the large boulder that divided the river in that location. Wisconsin Rapids represents the consolidation of two early settlements, one on the west side of the Wisconsin river known as Centralia and the other on east side known as Grand Rapids. In 1900, the two communities merged and were simply known as Grand Rapids. (However, due to mail frequently being wrongly delivered to Grand Rapids, Michigan, the name of the town was changed to Wisconsin Rapids in 1920.)

The Wood County Reporter was established in Grand Rapids on November 28, 1857. At first, the paper was published on Wednesday but switched to Saturday from 1859 until 1863. Thereafter it was published on Thursday, a schedule which continued until it ceased operations on November 1, 1923. Issues were initially four pages in length, but expanded to eight pages by the 1870s. During the early years, the cost of an annual subscription was $2.00 but dropped to $1.50 by 1885. Circulation was around 500 until the early 1900s when the Reporter reached a peak of more than 1,000, although that number later dropped dramatically.

During the Wood County Reporter's 66-year run, five men served as editors. John N. Brundage ran the paper from 1857 until September 1864, when he enlisted in the Army. James E. Ingraham and Hart Benton Philleo followed, editing the Reporter until February 1880. Ingraham then sold the paper to Philleo who edited it alone through April. Brothers Paul and Albert L. Fontaine managed the paper together from April 1880 to April 1886, when Paul sold his share to Albert, leaving him sole editor until 1923.

With the emergence of the Republican Party in the region, the Reporter soon became known as a Republican newspaper. It covered local, national, and international news. Early features included a business directory, and news from the telegraph wire appeared on pages one and two, while local news and advertisements could be found on pages three and four. Over time, local news items would find a more prominent location on the front page. Later issues of the Reporter included regular columns on Nekoosa, a nearby community, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, "Housewife's Corner," serialized literature, and news from Grand Rapids High School and Wood County Normal School.

Provided by: Wisconsin Historical Society