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St. Louis County Watchman History

Name changed to Watchman-Advocate.

The first issue of the St. Louis County Watchman appeared September 29, 1881. Eck & Rauchenstein were the publishers and proprietors and Thomas B. Miller was the editor. F.W. Rauchenstein purchased Mr. Eck’s interests a year later and was sole owner of the paper up to the time of his death, which occurred in December, 1900. His widow assumed control of the paper after his death and continued same until February 26, 1902, when it was purchased by a firm of St. Louisians (sic) of which a couple of prominent St. Louis brewers and Congressman Richard Bartholdt were at the head. In November, 1903, Frederick Essen, who purchased the old People’s Advocate from R.B. Crossman in February, 1899, changing its policy from an Independent to a Republican newspaper, purchased the Watchman and consolidated the two papers under the name of Watchman-Advocate. Mr. Essen’s leadership grew the paper to become the best county weekly in the State with the largest paid circulation.
The first issue of the Watchman contained four pages, seven columns each, the outside being patent and the inside homeprint. It later came to publish eight, ten and twelve pages as advertising permitted, and it was all homeprint, set in six point on a linotype. The linotype was installed in the office in August, 1902. The Watchman has a corps of sixty correspondents covering every section of the county an d keeps its readers enlightened on everything of interest occurring in their neighborhood. The Watchman-Advocate has a paid circulation bordering on the 10,000 mark, or more than the eight other papers in the county combined. It is Republican in politics and under its present management has never swerved from the principles of Republicanism. It is published in Clayton, the county seat of the county, and is issued every Friday. It has never missed a Friday evening mail and people throughout the entire county have the paper delivered to them on Saturday morning.
The Watchman-Advocate occupies three floors on Meramec avenue, west of the courthouse. On the lower floor is the stereotyping outfit, the Whitlock newspaper press, a pony press and a Mentges latest improved folder, which folds eight, ten and twelve pages, being operated by two feeders when more than eight pages are run. The office is on the main floor and in the rear is the stock room. A large cutter, operated by power, and three Gordon job presses are also on this floor. The composing room is on the third floor, as is also the linotype machine. The office force consists of ten men, all experts in their line of work. The men in the composing room are all members of International Typographical Union No. 8…
“Phillip H. Thomas, editor of the first paper published in St. Louis county after the Separation, was working in a desultory fashion in 1893 on Rauchen-paper, the Watchman. He contributed several articles descriptive of the cemeteries and God’s Acres and family burial grounds and graveyards of the county, beginning with a report of his loiterings therein and the result of his observations with two chapters (April 23 and 28, 1893) on Oak Hill cemetery, the youngest, but probably the most prominently known of the county’s “silent cities.” His introduction of the articles was a beautiful bit of language and reflective of the feelings of veneration of our dead that is a most glorifying characteristic of civilized and Christianized humanity. It follows:
‘The cemeteries of a community possess a tender and melancholy interest, not only to the survivors of the dead, who lie there waiting for the last trump, but also to the visitor, who is attracted by curiosity, simply. St. Louis county has a number of burying grounds, some as old as a century, some modern; others of great natural as well as sepulchral beauty; some given over to the hand of decay; others kept with loving care by bereaved relatives; some threatening to be monotonous, with obelisk after obelisk, commemorating the virtues of those who have gone before; others graceful in tributes carved on imperishable granite and marble to the dear departed; and all affording the stranger who has neither kith nor kin entombed in their inclosures, food for thought, as he reads of this one’s death generations gone, or that one’s entrance into rest, while the flowers were in bloom a few short months ago. From the memorial tablets he can learn much of the local history of the people, whose dead await the great “harvest”; can at the same time compassionate the fortunes or indifference of those whose departed sleep in nameless graves; can, amidst his threnetic surroundings, discover that Fashion has sway in mortuary affairs nearly as she has where Life is at its gayest throb; in fine, can discover, pity and learn much that might never have been dreamed of in his philosophy before his saunterings through the cities of the dead, where, as the poet puts it, ‘The impressive stone, engraved with words, which grief sententious gives to marble pale, teaches the heart.’”
(Reprinted from The History of St. Louis County by William L. Thomas, 1911)