Albion Recorder & Calhoun/Jackson Morning Star Columns

Historical Notebook: THE RECORDER—A SHORT HISTORY

By Frank Passic
Albion Historian

In the 1860s, political alliances were strong, and newspapers were major avenues of espousing
the political views of the Democrat or Republican parties. In Albion, the Albion Mirror newspaper, founded in 1855, espoused the views of the Democratic Party. To counter that, the Albion Union-
Herald was founded in 1861 to reflect the views of the Union and the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Union-Herald building, located in the Hannahs’ Block (present site of today’s Mariott Hotel), was destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1867 and the paper was discontinued.

Shortly thereafter, the Albion Recorder began publishing on the third floor of Brockway’s Block
on May 28, 1868, replacing the Union-Herald. The Recorder was begun by William C. Harrison.
Its motto was “A Government Established in the Hearts of the People; Founded Upon the Rights
of All Men of Whatever Condition or Maturity.” The Recorder was originally a four-page weekly
publication, published on Fridays. The Recorder also did job printing as part of its business plan
throughout its history.

The Recorder went through several ownerships in its early years, which included: William C.
Harrison (1868), William G. Reed and Benjamin Baxter Bissell (1869, published on Saturdays),
Reed and Sargent (1872, published on Fridays again), H. E. Benjamin (1879), R. L. Warren
(1880s), Verner J. Tefft (1890) and others.

The Recorder became a daily publication on Jan. 15, 1904, and several years later the name
was changed to the Albion Evening Recorder. The weekly version was continued, however, and
consisted of a compilation of weekly local news from previous daily news. This was discontinued
on Nov. 16, 1916.

Brothers Walter S. and Rex B. Kennedy (Rex is the father of the famous food writer M.F.K
Fisher who was born in Albion) purchased the Recorder on July 30, 1904. At the time the paper
was located at 107 W. Porter St. The Kennedys moved the headquarters to 106-108 W. Erie St.
in the Murdock Block in 1908. Rex left a few years later for California. The Recorder’s
headquarters at 111 W. Center St. was constructed in 1924-25 and opened on Saturday, Feb.
18, 1925, with a big gala open-house event. It was in use through April 18, 2003.

Walter stayed on and published the Recorder until 1939 when he sold it to Jack Bedient. Jack’s
son, Blair Bedient, joined the team in 1950, and the Bedients owned and operated the Recorder
for many years in the late 20th century. The Recorder switched from an evening to a morning
paper on Feb. 21, 1985, and the word Evening was dropped from its name. Concurrently, the
paper discontinued its individual carrier routes and turned to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver
the daily paper.

Dirk Milliman/Calhoun Communications purchased the Recorder from Blair Bedient in 1989. On
Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001, the Recorder reverted to a weekly publication due to a lack of
advertising. With that, the word “Albion” was dropped from the title and the masthead then
declared itself “The Recorder.”

Bettie Watson purchased the Recorder in 2003 from the Milliman family and published it for 20
years. The Recorder moved to its final Albion location at 125 E. Cass St. on April 21, 2003. This
site was already housing the Morning Star shopper which had been purchased by Watson a
decade earlier. This office remained open to service local advertisers and customers. Much of
the production work however was eventually transferred to The Salesman shopper (also owned
by Watson) office at 102 N. Main St. in Concord as a cost-saving move, where all three
publications could be prepared and coordinated.

The Recorder and Morning Star were sold on Dec. 31, 2023, to Wilcox Newspapers, with owner
Mike Wilcox becoming the new Recorder editor and publisher. The Salesman publication was
discontinued, and the Recorder’s Albion office was closed on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. Both the
Recorder and the Morning Star now operate fully in the former Salesman office in Concord. With the sale, the Recorder is now published on Fridays again, the same day of the week as when it
began 155 years ago in 1868!

From our Historical Notebook this week we present the Albion Evening Recorder building (1925-
2003) on W. Center St. That structure was demolished Jan. 21-26, 2011, and is presently the
site of the parking lot of the Mariott Hotel. Next is the final location of The Recorder in Albion
(2003-2024) in the old Albion Lumber Company complex. Finally, we present an 1869
advertisement of the original Albion Recorder newspaper. How many of our readers are now
subscribing to the Recorder by mail? Check elsewhere in this publication for the latest rates and
subscription options, including by internet.

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