The Union Publishers – Through the Years
October 1, 2012
When the newspaper was founded, October 28, 1864, the United States was in the throes of its greatest crisis. The nation was fragmented, and the Civil War was raging.
Publishers Townsend and Blumenthal threw their support behind the Union and the president, Abraham Lincoln, who was struggling for re-election, by naming the newspaper the Grass Valley Daily Morning Union. That courageous act is memorialized in the newspaper’s motto, “Founded in 1864 to preserve the Union–one and inseparable.”
That act took no small measure of courage because, while California remained part of the Union, Confederate sympathesizers abounded in the gold-mining town of Grass Valley. Street fights and gang wars between the two factions were common.
Townsend and Blumenthal’s action proved prophetic. The Union prevailed, and so did The Union newspaper.
Prior to 1910, some 25 other newspapers sprang up in Nevada County. The Union has outlived them all.
The first two years of the paper can only be described as hectic. Ownership changed hands several times, as did the paper’s political orientation.
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Charles H. Mitchell Charles H. Mitchell gained control of the paper in 1866, and stayed in charge until his retirement 25 years later. In 1893, The Union was sold to William F. Prisk, who edited it for the next 53 years. Also in 1893, The Union was the first newspaper in the West to contract with the Associated Press wire service — an association which remains to this day.
Prisk was to be the last single owner of the newspaper. In 1906, the paper was incorporated but the staff remained the same. Incorporating with Prisk were Henry Argall, Jo Snyder, Thomas Ingram and John O’Neill. The families of these men were part of the newspaper until 1975.
In April 1945, The Union made one of its most momentous changes. A morning daily paper for 81 years, the paper swung over to the afternoon or evening field. The Union became a morning publication once again on July 12, 1999.
Prisk’s long tenure ended in 1946 when Robert T. Ingram and Earl Caddy, longtime staffers, bought out his interest. They retained control until 1968 when the Nevada County Publishing Company bought The Union. Ingram’s son, R. Peter, remained as editor and publisher for seven years.
Jack S. Moorhead assumed that title in 1975, and after nineteen years, retired in 1994.
Margaret Wade succeeded Moorhead at his retirement in 1994.
The following year John Walker, joined The Union. John was publisher until March of 1999.
Peter Starren became publisher of The Union in March, 1999. Starren previously worked 10 years with a newspaper group in Portland, Maine, as director of operations, associate publisher and circulation director. Prior to his Maine newspaper experiences, Starren held newspaper management positions in California and North Dakota.
Starren’s tenure as publisher ended in late 2001 when he left to become the publisher of the T-CAN papers (Tahoe-Carson Area Newspapers), headquartered in Carson City, NV.
Mr. Starren was succeeded at The Union by the then-current T-CAN publisher, Jeff Ackerman, who served until Julyof 2012.
Mr. Ackerman turned the reins over to Mr. Dave Schmall, who had been in the news media business more than 25 years and a publisher for the past 14 years for various publications in Marysville, Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis and Sacramento.