Editorial: Remembering Hosea Paddock, the founding father of the Daily Herald
On the Tuesday before he died, Hosea C. Paddock, then 83, put in a day at work as he always had.
On the Wednesday, he again made his way toward the office, but was turned back, his health in obvious and serious decline.
With his heart failing, he took to his bed, but pined for the time he would be well enough to ride out to the farms to visit with his subscribers and friends.
Doctors made home visits then and when one did to Hosea's house in Arlington Heights on that Thursday, he alerted family members that it was time to bid their goodbyes,
On that Friday, the great man died, hundreds of miles from the rural county in upstate New York where he'd been born. And with a legacy at this paper that we who never met him cherish still.
That Friday was 80 years ago today, Nov. 8, 1935.
Let us tell you a little about Hosea. Let us tell you a little about our roots.
This is admittedly a personal story, a bit of self-indulgence we cannot resist. But the spirit of the Paddock family is reflected on the pages of the newspaper, both print and digital. And in many ways, the Paddocks' story is a story of the suburbs too.
So today, and in the next several weeks, let us tell you about the ideals instilled in us by four generations of the Paddock family that have served both the newspaper and the community. Let us provide a little flavor of who we and the suburbs are.
Born in 1852, Hosea grew up on a farm and aimed to be a teacher, studied to become one, and initially was. But along the way, the romance of newspaper ink turned his head.
As a teenager, he picked up side jobs corresponding for downstate newspapers in Fulton, Morrison, Prophetstown and Sterling. Those jobs taught him the skills but also the power of the press in an explosive 19th century era in which newspapers dominated public discourse.
He went on to teach, but he never got newspapers out of his heart. He was drawn to the electricity and the social interaction and the gaping opportunity of them.
So while teaching in Plainfield, he began doing side work for one of the local papers. By 1880, he had joined the Plainfield Enterprise full time as its editor. He was 27, and he never looked back from newspapers again.
Three years later, he bought his first paper, the Wheaton Illinoisan. It was there that he first declared his colorful newspaper aim: "To fear God, tell the truth and make money."
Hosea was a pious man, rail thin when he was young and tall. He walked with a limp, the result of a congenital foot ailment, but didn't let it slow him down. By all accounts, he was principled, outgoing, relentless, kind. We should add: fearless too.
Early on as a newspaper owner, he failed a bit. He bought and sold newspapers seemingly every other year. He owned them in Wheaton, then Rochelle, then Waukegan, then Libertyville, but margins were always thin and resources always tight.
The revenue dried up in Wheaton when his paper battled with local politicians. In Rochelle, an argument on the street with a competitor turned to blows. In Libertyville, a fire destroyed his ambitions for success with the Lake County Independent.
But he was not stymied by the setbacks. He went back to teaching after the fire, but he did so to pay the bills not to fulfill his dreams. His dreams, and what he'd learned from his setbacks, eventually led him to Palatine and a 28-year-old weekly newspaper called the Enterprise.
He bought it in 1898 and soon added others in Arlington Heights, Bensenville, Itasca and elsewhere.
"His energy," longtime colleague Thomas C. Hart once wrote, "seemed unbounded. Hours meant nothing to him."
On his horse Bonnie, or by carriage, he traveled the countryside, trolling for news and subscribers, sometimes offering papers and advertising for oats, apples, chickens and other produce.
Later, with the introduction of the automobile, he made the same rounds, only in his beloved Dodge. How he loved his Dodge cars.
When subscribers didn't pay their bills, he published their delinquencies on the front page.
As an editorial writer, he worked from a cluttered desk, exerting influence on the rural outskirts of Chicago and gaining a reputation as an editor who was tough but fair.
He "was deeply interested in the problems and activities of the people not merely because they made news, but from a personal viewpoint and the true friendliness of his nature," said George Stile, a farmers association secretary of that era.
He was a man, said publishing contemporary William W. Loomis, of "high ideals."
We're proud to be his newspaper descendants. We're proud to uphold his standard of perseverance and integrity.
We honor his memory today. And always.