Charles Hendryx

 

Charles Hendryx

 

I'm continuing my celebration of the Herald's 140th year with a series of profiles of the pioneer publishers. These old publishers give us a good look at life long ago and what they felt was important to the past and to the future.

Charles F. Hendryx was the Herald's second editor and publisher. He said when he came to town in July 1879, the frontier town was like a child in swaddling clothes and when he left in 1903, it was like a young child running around in knickers.

The city of 750 people was still a wild-west town with trappers bringing furs in from the north, settlers riding in ox carts coming from the east while Indians still camped along Fairy Lake.

The city had two flour mills and one grain elevator, a mile and a half of wooden sidewalks and one rail line with two trains a day. A steamboat hauled passengers and produce down Sauk Lake.

In a 1915 remembrance article Hendryx said there were 30 businesses in town but only six advertised. He remembered, "It wasn't until W. O. P. Hilsdale, W. S. Dean, Mel Blied, and the Jacobi Brothers established themselves here that publicity was deemed essential to business.

His first editions were four-page, eight column broadsheet newspapers with two columns on the front page dedicated to advertising and six columns to national and international news. A box in the lower left corner of the front page gave the train schedules.

Hendryx was born in Cooperstown, New York in 1847 and graduated in the first class to graduate from Cornell University. While his father was a part owner of the Minneapolis Tribune, Hendryx worked as a reporter.

He traveled a full day by train from Minneapolis to Sauk Centre in 1879 when he bought the paper from Joseph and Samuel Simonton. They were still setting individual pieces of type and printed on a single-sheet-fed Washington Hand Press.

He would advance to a hand operated cylinder press and a linotype machine in the 1890s and began publishing more eight page editions.

Hendryx also took over the position of postmaster, which supplemented the meager income from the newspaper that still traded advertising and subscriptions for trade goods and farm produce.

His flag read, "The Sauk Centre Herald, Loyal To Home Interests." Hendryx took pride in fighting for community advancements like extending Third Street to Hoboken Hill and building a bridge at the narrows, bonding for waterworks and a new school despite stiff opposition.

His biggest fight was for the partisanship of Stearns County and the creation of Franklin County by the Minnesota Legislature.

"That such a division is but simple justice to a large and populous territory now unnecessarily oppressed and deprived of privileges and rights to which it is entitled by every consideration of common fairness. The Herald will give its best endeavors to the accomplishment of this purpose," wrote Hendryx.

Hendryx gave Sinclair Lewis his start as a writer of school events for the Herald. Lewis was also sweet on Hendryx' daughter Anne and good friends with his son James who went on to be a popular author of western novels.

Lewis dreamed of being a big city reporter and wrote a series of personality profiles of community leaders which may have found their way into his Nobel Prize-winning series on Main Street and small town life.

At 56 years old, Hendryx sold the newspaper to work as an editor for larger newspapers and eventually became a lay pastor for Episcopalian missionary churches.

Dr. J. A. DuBois wrote upon Hendryx' leaving that while he didn't agree with him politically he considered him a friend and staunch supporter of municipal advancements.

"Though a partisan by nature, he was never vitriolic. He was a generous antagonist and very charitable to the faults of others," wrote DuBois.

 

Profiled next will be the Herald's most colorful editor, Frank Eddy.

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