About The Papers
Virtually all Thumb Area communities had their own newspapers in the past 150 years, as residents have always wanted to know what is going on, both near and far.
Shoreline communities such as Caseville had short-lived papers as early as 1875. And as the area was settled, towns such as Owendale, Ubly and Port Austin had their own weekly publications. Bad Axe had two separate papers until the 1970s. The old-time publishers usually offered job printing of handbills, business cards, wedding announcements, church bulletins and business forms in their one-man shops, to bring in a little more scarce revenue.
Small-town newspaper publishing was not a hugely profitable business. Owners often traded firewood or eggs or other food for subscriptions. Many lived above their newspaper offices, and often worked six or seven days a week in doing all the jobs needed to bring people the local news and advertisements.
The first permanent newspaper in the Western Thumb was The Sebewaing Mining Blade, opened by Silas Egabroad and his sons in 1890. Within 10 years, as the coal mining industry withered, the name became The Sebewaing Blade. Herman Muellerweiss began working as a printer's devil in 1904, later became the owner, and ran The Blade until 1944. Walter Rummel took over the paper in 1951 and was involved in local papers until 2009.
The Sebewaing Blade operated until 1955, when it merged with The Unionville Crescent into The Sebewaing Blade-Crescent, serving its communities until 1992.
Likewise, in nearby Pigeon, George H.A. Shaw opened The Pigeon Progress in 1897. He ran it until 1945, when Elkton's Mayor George Hartman bought it. Hartman was also publisher of The Elkton Advance, and he ran both papers until 1947, when Walt Rummel bought them, and was publisher until 1951, when he finally had a chance to purchase his hometown paper in nearby Sebewaing. They became The Pigeon Progress-Advance in 1954 and published until 1992.
Walt Rummel and his sons, Jim and Mark and families, published local papers from the mid-1970s on. The families merged The Blade-Crescent and The Progress-Advance into The Newsweekly in 1992 and published until 2008, when The Huron County Press took over the duties of local paper of record. It was published until 2011, when The Huron County View began. It survives today.
Great strides graphically and technically have allowed publications today to be published online and instantly updated. Those original publishers would be amazed to see how information is now disseminated worldwide in seconds, with the touch of a button.
In all, local libraries have about 216 years of old publications on microfilm and in other saved formats. Our Thumbpapers.org group wants to digitize all these issues so that they are searchable and available online to anyone interested in local Thumb history.