First published January 11, 1825, by John Douglass and Douglass Maguire after they purchased, enlarged, and changed the name of the Western Censor & Emigrants Guide (1823). The paper was anti-Jacksonian, then pro-Whig, and later a voice for the Republican Party.

The Indiana Journal Building, at 46 Monument Circle, was constructed in 1897 and served as home to the Indianapolis Journal. Credit: City of Indianapolis, Department of Metropolitan Development, Indiana Historical Society View Source

The Journal alternated between tri-weekly, twice-weekly, and daily issues during the early 1840s and produced dailies during legislative sessions after 1842.  In 1845, South Bend newspaperman and Whig politician John Defrees purchased the newspaper. While Defrees was publisher, the Journal became the first paper in Indianapolis to install a steam-driven printing press. On April 21, 1851, it became the Daily Indiana State Journal, signaling its appearance as the first paper in Indianapolis to publish a regular daily issue. The name subsequently changed to Indianapolis Morning Journal (1853) and then to the Indianapolis Morning Journal (1854).

In 1855, Indianapolis journalist Berry Robinson Sulgrove became head of the editorial department of the newspaper. He then acquired controlling interest and transitioned the paper from the support of the Whig to the Republican Party. During this time, the Journal continued to consist mainly of political news but then began to include local items.

On November 8, 1864, the paper, then the Indianapolis Daily Journal, under editor William R. Holloway was the first to carry the news of Sherman’s burning of Atlanta. Other newspapers reprinted the story but mainly discounted it because Indianapolis was not a center for war news. Holloway received a visit from a member of General Grant’s staff wanting to know the source of his information. Holloway refused to name the officers who had given him the information and claimed that the War Department also had plans for a similar investigation, which outranked Grant’s probe. The matter was dropped shortly thereafter.

The Journal purchased many of the early papers in the city, including the Atlas in 1861, the Evening Gazette in 1867, and the Evening Commercial in 1871. Judge E. B. Martindale bought the Journal in 1875.

Martindale, along with the paper’s managing editor Elijah W. Halford, supported Hoosier authors, including poet James Whitcomb Riley. Riley’s poems and humorous stories appeared weekly starting in 1877, and he also worked as a reporter for a time. His relationship with the Journal lasted until 1901. By this time, hundreds of his poems, including “LIttle Orphan Annie” (first published as the “Elf Child” [1885]), had first appeared in the newspaper. Under Martindale’s leadership, the Journal acquired the Daily Times in 1879.

In 1880, Indiana Republican Party chair John Chalfant New, along with his son Harry S. New, bought the paper from Martindale. The younger New had begun working for the newspaper as a reporter in 1878, following his graduation from Butler University. The News acquired the Indianapolis Times in 1886, and the Evening Commercial became a short-lived evening edition of the Journal after its purchase. Other rival newspapers went out of business, making the Indianapolis News and the Indiana State Sentinel its chief competitors.

The elder New advocated for the presidential nomination of Benjamin Harrison as the paper’s publisher in 1888. He wrote Journal editorials to promote Harrison’s candidacy and distributed thousands of issues of the newspaper among delegates at the Republican National Convention, who subsequently nominated Harrison.

In 1903, the News sold the Indianapolis Journal to Charles S. Henry, who owned the paper for less than two years. The Indianapolis Star Company purchased it from him in June 1904. Although published briefly under the name Star and Journal, by October Journal had been dropped from the title.

Revised March 2021

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