Missouri Historical Society

Missouri Historical Society: 1020 Lowry Street, Columbia, MO, 65201.

On Saturday November 28, 1903, the newspaper ‘The Republic’ published an article entitled “First Newspaper west of St. Louis” on page 6. William F. Switzler wrote a letter to the editor on November 17, 1903. He states: “On April 23, 1819 (not 1817), Nathanial Patten. Jr., and Benjamin Holliday issued in Franklin, Howard County, Missouri Territory, the first number of the Missouri Intelligencer and Boon’s Sick Advertiser. It was a small four-page weekly about twelve by eighteen inches in size, in large type, and printed on a “Ramage” hand press, manufactured mostly of wood. Many years ago, I presented the press to the Mercantile Library Association in St. Louis, and it can now be seenn at 1600 Locust street in a room of the Historical Society.”

Newspaper ‘Las Vegas Daily Optic’ (March 23, 1911, page 5, column 5 & 6) writes: ‘The press is now owned by the Mercantile Library of St. Louis. It was presented to the Mercantile Library in 1859 by Colonel William F. Ewitzler, of Columbia.’

Website (April 22, 2014): “COLUMBIA — William Switzler, owner of the second printing press used west of the Mississippi River, offered to give it to the St. Louis Mercantile Library for display.

The press, used to publish the Missouri Intelligencer beginning in 1819 at Franklin in Howard County, was in working order in storage in Columbia, Switzler wrote. He made the offer in response to an article in the St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican announcing it had begun printing its newspaper on a new eight-cylinder rotary press.

The article also noted that the Republican traced its lineage to the Missouri Gazette, which in 1808 became the first newspaper published in the territory of Upper Louisiana. The press that published the Gazette no longer existed.

The Intelligencer press was “a small old wooden contrivance, with an iron ‘bed’ worked with a lever instead of the screw of the ‘pioneer,’ ” Switzler wrote. “It is a curiosity in its way, possesses great historical interest as the first printing press now extant ever west of the Mississippi River.”

Switzler wrote that he intended to offer the press to the Missouri Historical Society, “but as this institution has not for years past evidenced any signs of life” he offered it to the library instead.

The press today is in permanent storage in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society. The Mercantile Library owned it until 1902. It is not on display because of its condition and missing parts.”