Thursday will be the first edition of the 147th volume of The Newton Kansan — meaning that edition one was published 146 years ago — Aug. 22, 1872.
“Our mission among you is a plain one in terms, and hope that we shall be found equal to the demands,” wrote editor Henry C. Ashbaugh. “The Kansan will in all respects be the people's paper, for Newton, For Harvey county, For Kansas and for general information. No pains which we can give will be spared to make it at least a first-class county newspaper.”
The very first edition printed with no photos. The front page was dedicated to introducing the newspaper to the community and covering elections either just completed or coming up. The right two columns of the first front page were dedicated to advertising — a tinware shop, hardware store, baker, drug store, lumber yard and grocery store were among the businesses to appear on page one.
Ashbaugh was born in Worthington, Ohio, Aug. 27, 1844, the oldest son of a physician and Methodist Episcopal minister. At the age of 11, Ashbaugh started his first job in printing ‑ serving as a “print devil” in East Union, Iowa.
At 17, he enlisted as a private solider in Company H of the 45th Illinois Regiment, Illinois Infantry. Ashbaugh fought in the Civil War — participating at battles of Fort Henry, Donelson and Shiloh. After the capture of Vicksburg, Ashbaugh was placed in charge of the “wall paper” printing office and later transferred to the printing department of the Department of the Army of the Tennessee at Chattanooga, Atlanta and Louisville.
Following his discharge from the army he purchased an interest in newspaper in New Boston, Illinois. In 1872, he launched The Newton Kansan, and was editor of the paper for 15 years. After his time at the Kansan he moved to Lawrence, where he passed away in 1916.
His words from that first edition live on, republished in The Newton Kansan Fiftieth Anniversary edition published in 1922.
“The local paper organizes the people, unites them, rallies them to a common effort in all desirable directions as nothing else can,” Ashbaugh wrote. “It tells you of new projects and designs, and numerous local necessities and transactions gathered together from thousands of sources all centered at one point — your home paper.”