The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 8.


Englebert Zimmerman, Founder of Messenger, An Able Journalist

ACKNOWLEDGMENT -- To Englebert Zimmerman goes credit for the herculean task of writing the major portion of articles contained in The VIDETTE-MESSENGER's Centennial edition. Endless research gathering historical facts needed for countless stories appearing in this edition did not phase the City Editor of The VIDETTE-MESSENGER. His limitless knowledge of Porter county's history joined with capable authorship has resulted in crowning achievement to a life spent in the field of journalism. Zimmerman inherits his flare for writing from a father whose first name he bears and who operated one of the first newspapers in Valparaiso. It is truly said that Zimmerman has probably the most complete store of knowledge of the city and county's history of any living man. This will serve him in good stead should he ever decide to follow in Arthur J. Bowser's footsteps as conductor of a similar column. The latter's writing appeared in The VIDETTE-MESSENGER daily under the title "Siftings," and was widely read and quoted.

Englebert Zimmerman, journalist, and founder, of the Valparaiso Messenger, later merged with the Vidette, was one of the pioneer newspaper men of northern Indiana. Along with Billy Bean, of the Goshen Democrat, Harry Francis of the Michigan City Dispatch, John B. Stoll, of the South Bend Tribune, Henry Wadsworth of the LaPorte Argus, and S. E. Swain of the Hammond News, the sextet formed one of the mightiest newspaper groups in democratic ranks in this section of the state.

Born in Germany on December 10, 1839, Mr. Zimmerman came to the United States with his parents in 1845, settling at Fort Wayne, Ind. Jan. 8, 1854, he entered the office of Thomas Tigar, editor and publisher of the Fort Wayne Sentinel, and served an apprenticeship of six years in the printing business.

On February 17, 1860, he accepted the formanship of the Columbia City News, then published by I. B. McDonald, which position he held, together with that of local editor, until November 14 of the same year, when he bought the office for $500. He continued the publication until the spring of 1864, when he was compelled to suspend the publication because of ill health.

In June of the same year, 1864, having fully recovered, he started the Columbia City Post, and continued its publication until December, 1865, when he sold the business to his brother, Frank J. Zimmerman, who had learned the "art preservative" under him./ On January 14, 1866, he connected the publication of the Fort Wayne Democrat, a morning newspaper, and on November 14, 1868, sold the office. He then purchased the Wyandot Democrat Union at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, which he operated for nearly two years.

Valparaiso in the early seventies had no democratic newspaper, and a number of the democratic leaders, including Emmett Woodhull, Nathaniel Rose Strong, John C. Ball, T. A. Hogan and John M. Felton, met in the Strong shop over the old Urbahns building and discussed the need of a newspaper to represent their party.

William C. Tallcott, then located in the northwest corner of the Academy of Music block, was publishing the Vidette, a republican organ.

The democratic leaders made up a subscription list and got in touch with Mr. Zimmerman at Upper Sandusky, O. The upshot of the negotiations was that he moved his plant, consisting of a Washington hand press, a 10 x 12 Gordon and other equipment here, occupying a frame building on the east side of the court house square where the present Lowenstine store now stands. On March 9, 1871, he issued the first edition of the Valparaiso Democratic Messenger.

The first democratic victory in Porter county after his coming was the election of James R. Malone for sheriff. On the day following the election the big rooster graced the front page of the Messenger, signaling the triumph. Later he built the building where the Quality Press is now located at the corner of Washington and Jefferson street, and installed a Campbell cylinder press, steam boiler and steam engine.

In 1878, Zimmerman became involved in his famous war with Harry Francis, of the Michigan City News, and the battle became so heated that large bundles of the Messenger were sent to Michigan City and sold on the streets so great was the interest created by the embroglio. The war lasted for several months.

Because of considerable competition in the newspaper field, there being he Vidette, the Republican, published by Putnam and Dorland, with Mark L. DeMotte as editor; the Herald, published by McAuliffe Brothers and P. O. Sullivan, the Advertiser, and the Star, Publisher Zimmerman introduced subscription drives by giving premiums. Several thousand dollars in articles were distributed at these give-aways.

In 1884, the Democratic rooster appeared again on the front page when Cleveland was elected president. As a result of the democratic success, Editor Zimmerman was named postmaster.

Job printing was a big factor in newspaper revenues in the early days and the Messenger maintained a high class job printing plant. All the printing for the Northern Indiana Normal school, now Valparaiso university, was done in the office of the Messenger. The additional facilities called for more capital and in 1881, H. B. Brown purchased a half-interest in the Messenger. Later he sold his interest to Mr. Zimmerman.

In 1888, when St. Paul's Catholic church was dedicated, the Messenger issued a special edition. For many years the Messenger maintained an editorial column on events of the city.

Mr. Zimmerman maintained charge of the paper until his death in 1906, when his son, Arthur F. Zimmerman, took charge. Following his death the paper was sold to H. P. Strother, of Pittsfield, Ill.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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