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Minonk News-Dispatch

Some of the information for this article was taken from an article in the Minonk News-Dispatch, October, 1977. The text was prepared by Donna Rae Eilts.
C. R. Denson was publisher of the Minonk News-Dispatch for 56 years. He printed over 3,000 editions and about five and a half million separate copies, never having missed a single issue. Mr. Denson had the longest record as a continual sole owner-publisher of the same newspaper in the State of Illinois. Wm. Ryan, publisher of the Metamora Herald, was a close runner up as he started only a week later than Denson. As a coincidence, both were from the same county, of opposite political persuasions and yet close friends all those years.

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When C. R. Denson entered the newspaper field on November 1, 1904, he published the Minonk Register with only 101 paying subscriptions, a junk shop of dilapidated machinery and type and located in the shack, located on the site now occupied by the post office building. He decided to change the name of the paper with his first issue and gave it the name of "Dispatch," the name of a newspaper over in Western Illinois and near his old home.

At the time the Minonk News, published by A. K. Tate, and located in the Pickard building, on the east side, had probably 1,200 subscribers and had about all the business and general support of the community. The first break came in 1906 when Mr. Tate sold the News to George Werkheiser of Flint, Michigan. While the latter was a capable daily newspaper reporter, he knew nothing about the mechanical end and was handicapped in that way as well as being a newcomer, while Denson had been running his paper here a year and a half, had been in the Minonk high school three years and his father had had a drug store in the north block for four years and had made many friends.

      C. R. Denson

On November 1, 1913, when the Dispatch had about 1,700 subscribers and the News only about 1,400, Denson took over the News and consolidated the two papers under the present name of Minonk News-Dispatch. The name "News" was placed first for euphony. It was the "Dispatch" that had won the competition. Since that time the News-Dispatch had by far the largest circulation of any newspaper in Woodford County. Circulation in 1957 averaged 2,255 copies per issue.

The Dispatch office was moved into the Odd Fellows building on the corner to the west on May 1, 1908 and there it remained until the new modern building was erected during the winter of 1922-23, which remained the home of the newspaper and at the time of the completion, was the finest weekly newspaper building in the State of Illinois.

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When Denson started the Dispatch all type was set by hand in both Minonk offices and in fact, in all offices of the county. In 1957 the newspaper used three linotype machines, two cylinder presses, a folding machine, an automatic and two hand-fed jobbers, as well as a power cutter, two electric saws, casting box, perforators, stitchers, punches and numerous other pieces of small equipment as well as hundreds of fonts of type, little of which is used any more. About the only thing that remained of the old Register office, was the chair Mr. Denson had in his private office. It was the same chair that J. M. Fort used when he published the Minonk Blade, predecessor to the Register. Sentimental about the chair, Mr. Denson said that he was going to keep and use it as long as he lives.

      John O. Denson

C. R. Denson died in 1960. The paper continued to be published by his sons. John O. Denson, the oldest son, wrote articles and reported for the newspaper. Sons William (Billy Joe) and Bob also helped in running the newspaper. Bob took over the newspaper after Billy Joe died and after John had left to run a newspaper in Flora, Illinois in 1964.

The newspaper was eventually bought out and is now published in Eureka under the name of The Woodford Journal. The building on Fifth Street was bought and converted into apartments, ending Minonk's preeminence as a publishing giant among smalltown newspapers.

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Joe Kasha runs the linotype machine.

Dean Stalter sets type.