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The Register

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When Dr. Alvin W. Chase went out of the publishing business in September 1869 through the sale of the Courier and of his interest in the famous Receipt Book, he agreed not to enter the business again in Michigan as long as Rice A. Beal, to whom he sold his business, should own or operate a printing and publishing business. As we have seen, Dr. Chase soon came to the conclusion that his agreement with Mr. Beal was in violation of the common law relative to restraint of trade, and in 1872 he came into contact with several Ann Arbor men who were desirous of establishing a newspaper and a general printing office. The result was the organization of the Ann Arbor Printing and Publishing Company with a capitalization of $50,000. Chase owned half of the stock, and the balance was owned by J. C. Watson, Henry S. Dean, Sedgwick Dean, Zina P. King, and Henry Krause. The company started to publish another edition of Dr. Chase's Receipt Book and began an eight-column weekly called the Ann Arbor Register, of which the first issue appeared on December 6, 1872. The Argus reported that Edwin W. Lawrence was understood to be the editorial director, 1 but this was only an unfounded rumor; nothing in the pages of the Register itself gives any clue to either its ownership or editorship.

The editor of the Argus appeared to be indifferent to the new rival; the attitude of the Courier's editor was decidedly one of interest. On the fourteenth of July 1873, Beal obtained an injunction against the Ann Arbor Printing and Publishing Company on the grounds that the participation of Chase constituted a violation of his agreement. The litigation in the courts which followed, already described, resulted in a decision in favor of the Courier and Beal. 2

The Register continued from December 6, 1872, until August 27, 1873. Beal was granted an injunction on July 17, 1873, but the court permitted the Register to continue until the expiration of the advertising contracts. Chase sold his stock and withdrew early in August 1873, but the newspaper rested under the injunction until the decision of the Supreme Court. After Chase had severed his connection with the Ann Arbor Printing and Publishing Company, there was no longer any cause for conflict, and the Register resumed publication on December 29, 1875.

The leading editorial on the date of resumption was entitled "Redivivus." It announced the revival of the paper and stated that it would be moderate Republican in tone, as before. There was an acrid discussion of the reason for suspension, and for some time the Register grumbled about the unfair way it had been treated. For example, on December 26, 1877, the Register accused the judge who granted the injunction of deliberately holding up the case for Bears benefit. This charge hardly seems warranted in view of the record of the case, and an impartial observer would have to agree entirely with the decision of the judges.

Chase seems to have sold his stock to Dr. James C. Watson, or at least to the remaining stockholders. After Chase's withdrawal, Watson was elected president of the company and Zina P. King, secretary. The editor was generally understood to be Henry S. Dean, although the paper itself gives no indication of the editor's identity.

The Register in 1876 noticed the end of another publication:
The Monday Morning Local News of the fifth ward, has gone to the shades. Its proprietor says of those who paid him 25 cents for a year's subscription, "They got the worth of their money," so he considers the obligation discharged. 3

This Local News was an advertising sheet put out by Dr. Kellogg of the Kellogg Medical Works. It seems to have had some local items in it, and appeared again in 1878, but as a monthly, this time published by Dr. Kellogg's brother, L. B. Kellogg. 4 Nothing else is known of it, and no copies seem to be in existence.

On June 26, 1878, the Register printed the prospectus of a new paper, the Ann Arbor Democrat. It was to have been both a weekly and a daily until after the fall election, but it came out as a weekly only on September 12. It was rumored that James B. Saunders was going to start a greenback newspaper, but this fell through when Saunders backed out of the deal. 5

The death of Ezra C. Seaman, former editor and owner of the Ann Arbor Journal, was announced on July 17, 1879. The following month the first English sparrow was seen in Ann Arbor, and in December Thomas A. Edison was reported to have solved the problem of the electric light. 6 In May it was rumored that Professor Watson was trying to sell out his interest in the Register to Beal. 7 The office of the Democrat was next door to the Courier office, so it certainly was in a position to know. On August 18, 1880, it was noted that Martin Haller, a local jeweller of prominence, had taken out a patent on a new type of ear-piercer. 8

With the September 1 issue of the same year, Colonel Henry S. Dean severed his connection with the paper. The Argus stated that Colonel Dean and his brother owned at this time about $14,000 worth of stock, which was sold to Professor Watson, who thereby gained the controlling financial interest.9 The Democrat said that Col. Dean, Sedgwick Dean, and Henry Krause had retired, leaving only Professor Watson, Zina P. King, and B. J. Conrad as stockholders, with the latter appointed superintendent of the printing plant. 10 This arrangement did not last very long, for Watson died suddenly on November 23, 1880, at a very early age. The Register continued as usual, but where the control lay is not known. In August 1881, H. P. Myrick became editor. 11

Dr. George O. Frothingham, prominent Ann Arbor surgeon, purchased the Register sometime early in 1882. Whether he retained Mr. Myrick as editor is not clear, but he certainly was too busy to do his own editing. Dr. Frothingham's control of the Register was not particularly eventful except for a brush with Beal of the Courier in April 1882 and for the libel or threatened libel suit of Dr. Peter Gilmartin in November of the same year. 12

Frothingham sold the paper to Kendall Kittredge in August 1883, and therewith his greatest difficulty began. Negotiations for the sale continued for some time between him and Kittredge. The latter had some property in Minneapolis which he wanted Frothingham to take in trade. Frothingham wrote to a colleague there who, upon investigation, reported that the property was not worth as much as Kittredge asked for it.
I have concluded not to trade for the property at the price he asks, i. e. $8,500. I can sell my presses and machinery piece by piece better. I am going to get rid of it as soon as possible for I have to stay by to keep my eye on it & it spoils my vacation & adds largely to my work during term time. 13

Thus he wrote to his investigator in Minneapolis. But the sale was concluded later on in the month after Kittredge had reduced the price on his property.

During part of these negotiations an Ann Arbor real estate broker by the name of Joel Hamilton was acting as agent for Frothingham. It was Hamilton who put Frothingham in contact with Kittredge, and it was verbally agreed that Hamilton was to receive as a commission the entire amount of the sale beyond $8,000. At that point, sometime about the middle of July 1883, the negotiations broke down, and Frothingham told Hamilton that if he didn't sell the property within a week or ten days, he (Frothingham) would attempt to sell it himself. The negotiations started again late in July and this time came to a successful conclusion. The sale price was $9,000. Hamilton claimed $1,000 as his fee, but Frothingham refused to pay. Hamilton then brought suit, which was first heard by Judge Joslin. Frothingham lost and appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which quashed the verdict and ordered a retrial. The persistence of both carried them through two more circuit court trials and another Supreme Court hearing. On the occasion of the last circuit court trial, Hamilton's attorneys decided that it was hopeless to expect a favorable decision, and it seems that the case was dropped. 14

At any rate, Kittredge controlled the Register for seven interesting years. The paper reported on December 19, 1884, that Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, wife of the former President, spent two days in Ann Arbor and delighted everyone with her quiet charm. The gum-chewing craze, which owed its origin to the inventive genius of Mr. Wrigley, struck Ann Arbor in March 1885. 15 This habit, with which we are so familiar, must have seemed strange to a generation familiar only with the masticating habits of tobacco 'chewers and cows. In April, Ann Arbor voted money to build a waterworks system in place of the inadequate cisterns, hitherto the only supply of water for fires. 16 On May 7 the Register noted that boys were now wearing knickers in place of long pants. On June 26, 1885, occurred the death of Edwin Lawrence, editor of the State ]our1Ull nearly fifty years before. 17 The agitation for a grade separation over the Michigan Central Railroad at Detroit Street resulted in the voting of a small sum of money to build a bridge, the first of its kind in the county and probably in southern Michigan.18 On April 15, 1886, the Register recorded the occurrence of a strike (already noted on page 88). And on June 24, 1886, it was making fun of the current exaggerated style in women's hats.

Howard Holmes of Lansing bought a half interest in the Register in October 1887, which he apparently held until September 1888. Kittredge was sole proprietor of the paper again until May 1889, when W. W. Watts became associated with him. This association lasted only until July, at which time Kittredge sold the Register to Selby A. Moran. 19 Kittredge survived the sale by a little over a year, for he died in August 1890. 20 In December 1890, the death of Lorenzo Davis, former editor of the Ann Arbor ]our1Ull, was noted. 21

Selby A. Moran was a staunch churchman and a firm believer in personal and public morality. He was genuinely offended at current political deals, although they were probably no worse than those of previous and later politicians. At any rate, Moran was an honest man and he could not compromise with his conscience. One anecdote illustrates his point of view. Sometime before the passage of the Michigan Prohibition Act in 1917, Moran had come into possession of a quantity of valuable liquor through a trade. He stored it in his basement and upon passage of the act poured the contents of every last bottle down the drain.

On October 20, 1890, articles of association were filed for the incorporation of the Register Publishing Company. 22 There was to be a capitalization of $25,000 with shares at $10 each. The paid-in capital was $7,000, or 700 shares, of which Selby A. Moran held 660, and W. W. Harrington and John Moore held 20 each. This company took over the Register on January 1, 1891. 23 Nothing more is heard of the latter two stockholders. In March 1893, we are told that at the annual meeting of the stockholders, Alonzo Stevens was elected president, N. D. Corbin, vice-president, and Selby A. Moran, secretary-treasurer. 24 There is no doubt that the latter had the majority interest and therefore controlled the company. Moran and his junior partners apparently did not get along very well together for the next six months, as there was a quarrel and subsequent lawsuit between Moran on the one hand and Stevens and Corbin on the other. The substance of it was that the two junior partners accused the senior partner of embezzling the company's funds. Moran answered by charging that one of the partners had removed letters by which his innocence could be proved. 25 In all probability, the difficulty was not unconnected with the severe panic of 1893. At any rate, Moran made the next move himself by petitioning for receivership. W. P. Phillips was appointed. 26 This was, in effect, a gain for Moran, as he warded off receivership by the junior partners and secured the appointment of his own choice, for Phillips was the foreman of the job printing department and a friend of Moran. How long the receivership lasted is impossible to determine. The lawsuit between the partners was postponed from time to time for the next two years; it finally came up for trial in January 1896 but was actually settled out of court in May. 27

In the meantime, the Register was continuing the normal functioning of a newspaper. On August 23, 1894, the first half-tone cut appeared in the Register. Up to this time newspaper illustrations had been entirely line engravings; the Register, in fact, still used mostly line engravings during the balance of its life. The half-tone was the invention of Stephen H. Horgan, an apprentice photographer of the New York Daily Graphic, which printed the first half-tone on March 4, 1886. 28

It was reported in October 1895 that the Register was to be sold. 29 In the issue of January 3, 1896, it was announced that the Inland Press was running the paper, but judging by later events, Moran still continued to direct its policy. 30

The first issue of a publication called the Students' Register appeared on September 25, 1896. The editorial head stated that it was "published weekly during the college year by Selby A. Moran." Leonidas Hubbard, "Lit. '97," was the paper's editor for 1896-97. It was a six column weekly containing mostly campus news with a few local items taken from the columns of the Ann Arbor Register. The following year, it was under the editorial direction of William Charles, Jr., and was smaller in size, having only five columns. A nearly complete file of these two volumes is preserved in the Michigan Historical Collections; whether it continued after June 1898 is not known.

On March 4, 1897, the Register noted the publication of a sheet called Better Times. It was brought out by the local finn of Bach and Butler, and since it coincided with the advent of a Republican administration, it was the logical title for an advertising sheet. How long it lasted is not known, nor are any copies of it known to exist.

The year 1898 was the most notable one in the Register's career. In March a series of attacks was launched on William Judson, sheriff of Washtenaw County and political boss of the county Republican organization. His methods were such as to arouse the suspicions of the Register's editor. Beginning with the issue of March 3, and continuing through that of May 12, the paper ran large headlines and long articles on the first page attacking Judson and exposing his methods. This is the first time the Register used the double column article on the front page with double column headings.

Moran specifically charged Judson with the following: having some political deal or control over the Ann Arbor city marshall by which Judson made all the arrests in the city and therefore obtained the customary fees; offering to let Howard Stockwell, accused of rape, go free upon payment of a certain sum of money; tampering with the ballot boxes to check on the men he paid to vote; and letting Ann Arbor city prisoners in the county jail come and go as they pleased. 31 Judson denied all these charges and ordered Moran to retract. 32 He made no explanation except in the Stockwell case; he set forth his defence in that matter in a long letter published in the Courier. 33 Judson also brought suit for libel against Moran and had him arrested. While Moran was in the county jail for one hour waiting for bail to be arranged, he had a sign put on the office of the Register: "Editor gone to jail for telling the truth." The libel suit was irregularly brought, so it was quashed at once. Judson brought another, but Moran countered with a suit for false arrest, and the battle was joined. The suits were postponed from time to time until the heat of the conflict had cooled somewhat. By an agreement signed October 11, 1899, both parties dropped the struggle as each was convinced of his own rectitude, and the only thing to be gained by airing the conflict would be the disruption of the county Republican organization. 34 Moran tried to oust Judson from control of the county Republican organization, but in this he was unsuccessful.

Another difficulty troubled the Register during the same period. At this time there was a junior partner by the name of Charles A. Myers who became dissatisfied with the management of the Register, brought suit against Moran, and tried to put the paper into receivership. 35 This dragged on from February 1898 until January 1899. The suit is said to have come up at the latter date, but there is no record of it in the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office, and how the case came out we are not told.

The Register closed its independent career with the issue of December 21, 1899, when it was sold to Junius E. Beal of the Ann Arbor Courier, who consolidated it with his newspaper.

After disposing of his printing business, Moran organized a school for instruction in shorthand. For advertising purposes he began to publish early in 1900 a weekly sheet called the Reporter. Moran seems to have kept strictly to his shorthand for only a brief time, for in the middle of March it was announced that the Reporter was going to criticize public men and measures as it saw fit. 36 Succeeding issues contained a series of attacks on William Judson and Eugene Helber, the latter editor of Die Washtenaw Post. 37 Moran was still trying to get rid of Judson and Helber as bosses of the Republican Party machine. The Reporter suspended for the summer months of 1900, and nothing more is known of it, although it may have continued for some time. No copies of it are known to exist.


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