Biography of Alfred Quincy Wooster
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Alfred Quincy Wooster. At some time in the life of almost every normal American boy there comes a longing for a “printing outfit.” It is a temporary phase of youth. Sometimes it is satisfied by an indulgent parent who buys a toy press and font of type and the production of a few ink smeared cards is about as far as the son usually gets in mastering the printing trade. Other boys satisfy themselves with work around a real printing office, as a devil, and from this class is recruited some of the real editors and printers of the country.
In the case of Alfred Quincy Wooster, now editor and proprietor of the Erie Sentinel, his youthful experience in mastering the printing trade at home turned him to a permanent career. He had spent his early life on an Iowa stock farm. He was well educated, and taught school for a few terms. Then in 1883 he secured the equipment of a job press and some type and other appliances, and at his father’s home in the country, he issued his first three-column folio newspaper, the first copy being dated October 18, 1883. Jannary 16, 1884, his paper was enlarged to a six-column quarto and in October, 1887, the size was increased to a seven-column paper. By 1889 there was a circulation of 2,500. Quoting from an old history of Monona County, Iowa, “it was an ably edited, cleanly printed and tastily dressed journal, a credit to the owner and the town.”
All this early experience of Mr. Wooster as a newspaper man was in or near the Town of Mapleton, Iowa. From Mapleton he removed to Sioux City, Iowa, in 1890, and there had something approaching a metropolitan exchange in the newspaper field. There he published the Liberty Bell, a union labor paper, for two years. The Liberty Bell was then consolidated with the old Tribune at Des Moines, and given the new name, The Farmers’ Tribune. Mr. Wooster was its managing editor for two years, during the campaign of 1892. April 1, 1894, he took an interest in The Farmer and Miner at Oskaloosa, Iowa, and one year later bought the paper and changed the name to the Oskaloosa Journal, with a weekly issue. In 1897 he started the Oskaloosa Daily Journal. Mr. Wooster was proprietor of both the Daily and Weekly until December 1, 1904.
In the meantime he had studied law and was admitted to the Iowa bar January 17, 1900. He had carried on his law studies over a period of a number of years. After 1904 he gave his entire time to his practice and to the real estate business. It was failing health that caused him to leave his profession and for two years he lived as much as possible out of doors, engaged in mechanical employment and in the building trades.
In June, 1907, having recovered his health, Mr. Wooster came to Kansas and bought the Erie Sentinel. He is its proprietor and editor today, having as partner his son, Lester A. The Erie Sentinel was established in 1883 as the Neosho County Democrat. Its first home was at Osage Mission, now St. Paul. When Erie was made the county seat of Neosho County the paper was moved to Erie and subsequently changed its name to the present form. It is a paper supporting the democratic policies and is issued both daily and weekly, the daily having been established July 1, 1909. It is one of the leading papers of Southeastern Kansas, and circulates all over Neosho and surrounding counties.
While Mr. Wooster has had a very successful career he undoubtedly owes much to the influences that surrounded him as a boy and especially to the fine character of his father. His father, Quincy A. Wooster, was born September 4, 1839, in West Burke, Caledonia County, Vermont, a son of John and Fanny R. (Stebbins) Wooster. His grandparents were natives of Vermont and Connecticut respectively. John Wooster was a Congregational minister, though in the intervals of that occupation followed farming. He made his home largely in Vermont and New Hampshire until his death. His wife died at West Burke, Vermont, February 26, 1888, at the age of eighty-four.
Third in a family of four children, Quincy A. Wooster had an excellent education, both in the common schools and in an academy. From early boyhood he was a student of books and newspapers, and always kept well posted on the topics of the day and was an original thinker as well. He could form his own conclusions and his career throughout shows an independence and sense of responsibility which make him a type of American citizenship to be admired. At the age of eighteen, after the custom of the time, he was “given his time” by his father, and the following three or four years were spent in the lumber woods of the State of Maine. There he applied himself to the heavy task of the old-time lumbering industry. In the summer of 1860 he started for the Far West. Minnesota at that time was on the frontier of civilization, and locating in Fillmore County he helped make a farm out of the bare prairie. He was living there during the period of the Civil war. In the Indian uprisings that began in 1862 and culminated in one of the greatest massacres that have stained the annals of the West, Quincy A. Wooster volunteered his service and was a member of a volunteer company gathered from Winnebago City, Madelia, Sonth Bend and Mankato and did his part in defending the settlements.
In the spring of 1865 he removed to Iowa, locating in Monona County and taking up a claim on section 6 of Maple Township. He was a rugged pioneer, accustomed to hardships, and in his early years he could perform the heaviest tasks of physical labor. By his own labor he opened up three farms from the wild prairie, and his later years were spent in the cultivation and the care of some fine livestock on his beautiful farm of some 446 acres in Maple Township of Monona County. On his first claim in that county he broke up about thirty acres and built a home, but in 1867 he sold that and bought and improved a farm now in the south half of section 12 in the same township. In 1892 he removed from Iowa and went to the Gulf coast country of Southern Texas. His place of settlement, five miles due north of LaPorte, not far from Houston, Texas, is called Wooster, the postoffice having been named in his honor. In that locality he spent his last years and died in the spring of 1908. Quincy A. Wooster was a remarkable man not only for his material achievements but for his mental vigor and his civic leadership. For many years he was affiliated with the republican party. In 1872, the year that Horace Greeley was a candidate for president and during the liberal republican movement, he followed the fortunes of the great editor, and in 1876 and in 1880 he was a prominent supporter of the greenback party, working earnestly for the election of both Peter Cooper and James B. Weaver. In 1884 he was a delegate to the Chicago Convention that nominated Benjamin F. Butler for president. He became closely identified with the union labor movement in Monona County, Iowa, and was a delegate to various state conventions at different times. In the fall of 1879 he received the nomination of the greenback convention for member of the Legislature, and though defeated, he had the satisfaction of reducing by at least 50 per cent the normal majority against the ticket. In his home county he held the office of county supervisor, and was chairman of the board for two years and filled nearly all the offices in Maple Township. For a time he was connected with the People’s Press at Mapleton. Fraternally he was affiliated with Amicable Lodge No. 289, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Smithland, Iowa; with Gem City Assembly No. 10,029, Knights of Labor at Mapleton.
On October 5, 1862, Quincy A. Wooster married Miss Catherine M. Monroe, who was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, July 1, 1839. She was the daughter of John M. and Roxy (Willis) Monroe, who were both natives of New York State and were married July 28, 1833. From New York the Monroe family removed to Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and in the spring of 1852 settled in Fillmore County, Minnesota, where John M. Monroe and his wife died.
The children of Quincy A. Wooster and wife were: Alfred Quincy, the first in age. Fremont M., born May 26, 1866, is still living at Mapleton, Iowa. Nellie M., born October 7, 1867, twice a widow and now resides at Long Beach, California; her first husband was Grant Gallup, a farmer, and her second was Dr. Charles Wheeler, a physician of Blencoe, Iowa. Levi F., born June 5, 1869, is proprietor of a transfer business at Corvallis, Oregon. George C., born May 9, 1871, is a farmer at Molalla, Oregon. Ida J., born August 31, 1872, is the wife of W. J. Shreckengaust, a carpenter at Houston, Texas. Fanny R., born April 2, 1874, is the wife of Steve Steinman, a farmer living at Erie, Kansas. John L., born February 6, 1876, is a farmer at Molalla, Oregon. Dora E., born April 14, 1878, died at Houston, Texas, in 1906, the wife of George E. Richmond, who lives at Houston, and is an all around mechanic, machinist, electrician and inventor. Martin E., born February 11, 1884, died in 1896. Ellen M., born May 1, 1889, died July 24, 1889.
Alfred Quincy Wooster was born while his parents were living in Fillmore County, Minnesota, on June 14, 1863. He was still an infant when they moved to Iowa in the summer of 1865 and his youth was spent on his father’s pioneer farm in Maple Township. He learned a great deal about farming as a boy and that knowledge has never entirely left him. He attended the common schools, and before reaching the age of eighteen had taught several terms. In the fall of 1882 he entered the Southern Iowa Normal School and Business College at Bloomfield, and was graduated in the commercial course March 22, 1883. Then followed a brief term of teaching, after which he got into the newspaper business in the manner already described.
Mr. Wooster is an active democrat, was his party nominee for the Legislature in Neosho County in 1914, and in 1916 was nominated for the State Senate to represent Neosho and Wilson counties. He was chairman of the democratic county central committee from 1908 until the fall of 1914 and in 1912 was presidential elector for Wilson. While living at Mapleton, Iowa, he served as town clerk. Mr. Wooster owns the building at the corner of First and Main streets in Elrie, where his newspaper plant is located, and also his residence on North Main Street. Fraternally he is a member of Erie Lodge No. 109, Knights of Pythias; and Mapleton Division No. 33 of the Uniform. Rank Knights of Pythias. He is past noble grand of Erie Lodge No. 44, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, past consul of Erie Camp No. 1101, Modern Woodmen of America, and belongs to the Kansas Fraternal Citizens, the Anti-Horse Thief Association and to the Printers’ Union.
On December 9, 1883, only a few weeks after he had made his pioneer adventure as a journalist, Mr. Wooster was married at the residence of J. W. Hall in Monroe County, Iowa, to Miss Lucy Cox. Mrs. Wooster was born in Putnam County, Missouri, February 19, 1860, a daughter of S. G. and Clarissa (Coffern) Cox. Her parents were both natives of Kentucky, were married in Missouri in the spring of 1857, moved to Monroe County in 1864, and five years later went to Appanoose County, Iowa, living at Moravia. Mrs. Wooster’s mother died in Appanoose County and her father at Bentonville, Arkansas.
Mrs. Wooster, who was the youngest in a family of seven children, laid the foundation of her education in the common schools of Appanoose County and finished with two terms in the Southern Iowa Normal School and Business College, where her husband also completed his education. Prior to her marriage she taught several terms of district school. Mr. and Mrs. Wooster have five children. The first child died unnamed a few days after its birth, September 19, 1885. Vera Anna, born January 1, 1888, is the wife of P. A. Rettig, superintendent of an oil company at Chanute, Kansas. Lester A. was born November 26, 1890. He attended the public schools, also the high school at Oskaloosa, Iowa, and was graduated from the Erie High School in Kansas in 1909. Since leaving school he has been in business with his father and assists in bringing out the Erie Sentinel every day and week. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Order of Praetorians, the O. M. B. A., and the Mystic Workers. Lester Wooster married Anna M. Gardner, who comes of a family of Crawford County, Kansas, pioneers, but she was living at Erie prior to her marriage. Her parents were Henry and Sarah E. (Crosby) Gardner, her father having come to Crawford County, Kansas, when the Indians were still there, and he preempted a farm of Government land. Both her parents are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Lester Wooster have four children: Alfred Eugene, born September 5, 1909; Homor Loo, born November 27, 1911; Anita Ellen, born January 8, 1913; and Lester Arnold, born November 29, 1916.
The two youngest children of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Q. Wooster are: Bernice, who died in infancy in 1896; and Gladys June, who was born June 28, 1898, and is still in school.