“Double Delight.” I was delighted when editor Charlotte Underwood told me, early that day, that the July 31 Madisonian would have a farewell from her. I was doubly pleased to read it. I knew immediately what I had to find, quickly, and use in this week’s Madisonian. Very long ago, an editorial farewell was known as a Valedictory. It was also common practice. Now, it is rare. The Madisonian was called The Hawkeye Flag during most of the Civil War.
“Valedictory, Dec. 9, 1864.” “My connection with the Hawkeye Flag closes with the present number.
“Nearly two years ago, without any experience in journalism, and as a successor to one of the most popular editors that had ever had charge of a newspaper in Madison county, I assumed the supervision of the Flag. At that time this county was considered good for two hundred Democratic majority; today the Union ticket receives a majority of two hundred and thirty on the home vote. That a portion of the good work which has wrought this change has been performed by the Flag, no one will deny, and so far at least, I feel that I have done my duty. Politically, I came to the Flag a war Democrat; I leave it without a heritage in any party, but in heart a member of any and all organizations whose motto and faith is ‘The Union.’ It has been my aim to support honestly and fearlessly, the administration of Abraham Lincoln–believing as I did that the measures of that administration were conducive to the best interests of the country. That belief I have never yet seen reason to renounce.
“To those of the Union Party who have given the Flag their countenance and support, I tender my thanks; to those who did not, None Are Due, either from me or anybody else. To the Copperhead gentlemen who compose the party claiming the name of Democratic, I leave the heritage of a good political example, and under the table in the sanctum of the Flag, a pair of old boots which I wore when peddling tickets for A. Lincoln Esq. May they heed the former and emulate the example of the latter at the next general election.
“I leave journalism on account of the failure of my eyesight which was so seriously injured while in the army. Henceforth ‘ye Editor’ will engage in practical Bucolics–(which for the benefit of his Co-friends, he would say has reference entirely to agriculture and has nothing to do with Black Republicanism) Surrounded by the sweet ambrosia of ‘lowing kine,’ lulled by the gentle voices of fruitful hens and ‘loud voiced chanticleer,’ soothed by the tones of bleating flocks Etc. Etc. Etc. he will pass his life peacefully away. When gentle spring comes he will vegetate on chickens fried; in the summer reclining on the new-mown hay, he will ponder on the beauties of nature and eat new potatoes; in autumn, he will ‘pluck the green corn,’ roasting ears,’ and when the ‘hoary winter’ comes he will drink the juice of his ‘bending orchards’ and wish it wasn’t so far to the ‘timber.’ Adieu.
“C.S. Wilson.” (As reprinted. Madisonian, Oct. 15, 1931, Diamond Jubilee Edn., sec. 2, p. 1.)
“Valedictory, Sept. 15, 1865.” Our connection with The Hawkeye Flag has closed. A little more than four years ago we made our debut in this office as ‘printer’s devils’; after serving in that capacity for more than two years we became one of the publishers of that paper. About one year since,–with all the inexperience of a youth of nineteen years, we assumed the sole discharge of the combined duties of Editor and Publisher of The Flag; and, considering that our career as such, has been during a period in which the rates of material reached their maximum price, and in which we were altogether unable to procure sufficient office help, we flatter ourselves, that although we may not have published the best county paper in the State, we have by no means published the worst.
“In our position politically, we have ever endeavored to promote the best interests of the Union cause, by publishing only such articles as we deemed well calculated to assist in the accomplishment of that success–ultimately attained as the result of patriotic effort at home as well as in the field. In our capacity as local we have invariably sought to be the faithful chronicler of such ‘Items’ as would reflect to the credit of our town and country at home and abroad.
“Mr. Fuller, our successor, is an experienced and successful editor, having been engaged in the business a number of years. He has thoroughly refitted the office–adding largely to it in a way of printing material, etc. He has also wisely chosen for the paper the old and better name of the Winterset Madisonian. Calling into requisition the advantages enumerated, he will undoubtedly publish a paper of which Madison county may well be proud; therefore we would say to those who have heretofore been so liberal in their favors and to those who have so long waited the ‘good time coming,’ rally around the publishers with your subscriptions; let them be made to feel and known that their efforts to make yours a first class journal are not destined to be altogether unappreciated and unrewarded.
“We go from among you for a time at least–perhaps forever. For the many kindly evidences of good will–for the many words of good cheer and encouragements bestowed upon us during our editorial career we tender our heartfelt thanks,–ever will they be held in grateful remembrance! We bid you adieu–feeling that regret which is akin to sorrow. Vive vale.
“H.M. Ewing.” (As reprinted, Madisonian, Nov. 4, 1926, Seventieth Anniversary Edn., sec. 1, p. 4.)
“A Long Ago Comment.” “EDITOR’S NOTE: Old style journalism was personal and violated all principles of journalism accepted and practiced to this day. Perhaps after all the old-time editor did little violence to the rules of good newspaper writing. The editor in those days was a distinguished personage, even though his financial rewards were meager. His opinions did mould and sway public opinion. He had the field pretty much to himself. There were almost no magazines or daily newspapers available to those who read the Madisonian. Public opinion was moulded by ‘ye editor’ and the campaign speaker. Small wonder then that he took himself seriously and wrote a lengthy valedictory when for financial or other reasons he sold his paper and moved to new fields of endeavor. … .” (Madisonian, October 13, 1931, sec. 9, p. 1.)
“A Comment Today.” But for the reprint of the two valedictories you have just read, YOU and HISTORY would not have them available. The papers in which they appeared were not microfilmed when that was done, and they were not digitalized when our county’s newspapers were put into search-able digital format. That needs to be done NOW, for HISTORY and for the large number of people who would love to see the old, old newspapers that DO exist, but have not been made available for either form of preservation of their content. The collection is not complete. But there are a substantial number of them. It would be far better to make them available for digital photographing – once – despite the incidental damage that would occur, than to continue to deprive historians, genealogists, and the public generally access to their important content.