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Alpena argus. [volume] : (Alpena, Mich.) 1893-1909
Place of publication:
Alpena, Mich.
Geographic coverage:
  • Alpena, Alpena, Michigan  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
J.C. Viall
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 22, no. 26 (Jan. 11, 1893)-v. 39, no. 13 (Sept. 29, 1909) = whole no. 1118-whole no. 1991.
  • English
  • Alpena (Mich.)--Newspapers.
  • Alpena County (Mich.)--Newspapers.
  • Michigan--Alpena County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224418
  • Michigan--Alpena.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01217114
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Merged with: Alpena pioneer, to form: Alpena argus-pioneer.
sn 95077631
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Alpena argus. [volume] January 11, 1893 , Image 1


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Alpena Weekly Argus and Alpena Argus

The Alpena Weekly Argus was founded in 1871, in Alpena on northastern Michigan’s Thunder Bay, in the same year as the city’s incorporation. Alpena was and remains one of the largest towns in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It was also one of the most diverse, as reflected by the 1889 establishment of Temple Beth El by the local Jewish community. The town itself was founded in 1856 and was variously called “Fremont,” “Thunder Bay” and “Alpena” prior to incorporation. Like many northern Michigan settlements, the lumber industry was crucial in its early years. By 1870, the surrounding county had reached a population of around 3,000. Due to the shelter provided by Thunder Bay and Alpena’s location on the northern shore of Lake Huron, shipping also contributed significantly to the town’s growth, and by 1880 the population had risen to almost 6,000. The railroad arrived from Bay City in 1886, and by 1890 the population of Alpena exceeded 10,000. As lumber became scarcer in the 1890s, the city diversified into cement production. Alpena was also the birthplace of Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901), the assassin of President William McKinley.

The founder of the Argus, John C. Viall, was born in Pittsfield, New York, in 1842. His parents settled in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1850. There he was apprenticed in a local printing office. During an 1871 visit to Alpena, he concluded that there was a market for a Democratic paper. Consequently, his Alpena Weekly Argus served as the voice of the Democratic Party in Alpena County. This was reflected in the paper’s motto: “Independent in all Things--Neutral in Nothing. Politically Democratic.” On July 12, 1872, a devastating fire swept through the business district on the north side of the Thunder Bay River, killing at least four people and destroying 65 buildings in Alpena, including the offices of the Weekly Argus. The paper restarted publication on August 29, and Viall authored an editorial titled “Out of the Ashes--Up From the Depths.” He became deeply indebted as a result of his decision to immediately re-launch the paper but ultimately recouped his losses. The Argus was a four-page weekly, whose day of publication remained fluid until it settled on Wednesday in March 1874. By 1879, the cost of an annual subscription was $2 a year, and by 1881 the paper’s circulation was recorded as 600. From the outset, the Alpena Weekly Argus was deeply engaged with international affairs with stories frequently reprinted from leading publications in London (The Times) and Paris (Le Figaro) as well as New York.

Another great fire burned through the third ward of Alpena on July 11, 1888, devouring 200 buildings and leaving 1,500 people homeless, but claiming only one life. This time, however, the business district--and the newspaper--remained unscathed. In January 1893, “Weekly” was dropped from the publication’s title. In 1909, the Alpena Argus merged with Henry C. Hamill’s Alpena Pioneer  to form the Alpena Argus-Pioneer, which survived until around 1918. Viall used his retirement to compile an exhaustive town history, Alpena, Dates of Events, published in 1914.

Provided by: Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library