History of Webster City Freeman
"The first European settlers arrived in what would become Webster City, Iowa in 1854. The town was originally named Newcastle and was located in Webster County until 1855, when the county was divided in two. Newcastle became the seat of the new Hamilton County, and its name was changed to Webster City.
The Webster City Freeman has been published from 1857 to the present. It was established by Charles Aldrich as the Hamilton Freeman, and the first issue was published on June 26, 1857. In 1862, publication was suspended when Aldrich enlisted to serve in the Civil War. The Freeman resumed publication in 1864, under the editorship of Vivaldo A. Ballou. John D. Hunter purchased the paper on December 7, 1866. When Hunter was elected to the state legislature in 1867, he retained ownership of the paper but left its daily operations in the hands of Judge Samuel L. Rose and Will F. Smith. For a short time from 1870 to 1871, the paper was published under the name Webster City Freeman, but in 1872 it was changed back to the Hamilton Freeman. In 1874, Hunter sold the Freeman to Thomas E. McCracken, but Hunter bought it back one year later. In 1884, the name was again changed to the Webster City Freeman.
In 1894, Hunter began publishing a daily edition as well as the weekly. In 1899, the Daily Freeman was consolidated with the Webster City Evening Tribune and became the Daily Freeman-Tribune, owned by Hunter’s sons, Dwight L. and William F. Hunter. The paper expanded again in 1917, merging with the Evening Journal to become the Daily Freeman-Journal. It continued to publish alongside the weekly Webster City Freeman until 1946, when the weekly edition ceased publication. The Daily Freeman-Journal still publishes to the present.
The Webster City Freeman was a Republican publication focusing on politics and legislation. It thoroughly covered the development of Webster City and its surrounding area, focusing on local connections to state, national, and international news. The Freeman reported on significant events that impacted Webster City, including disease outbreaks and new companies moving into the city; statewide events like the development of a highway from Dubuque to Sioux City and the arrival of wireless telegraph stations in northwest Iowa; and news of national interest like the continuing development of the intercontinental railroad.
Aside from the news reports, the Freeman usually included a full-page editorial, obituaries, marriage announcements, and descriptions of local social events. Occasional columns were directed toward specific audiences or interests, such as a women’s column, Children’s Corner, the Weekly Historian, Farm Talk, and Library Corner. Through the early 1920s, the Freeman often published serialized fiction and included correspondence from other Iowa towns or reprints from their newspapers."