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The Staff at a Special Moment in Town and Country History
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2022-03-30

            As the Town and Country newspaper celebrates its' 124th year, we're reminded that it was a scant 108 years ago that the business experienced a pinnacle of a local, storied career.  Moving into a brand new headquarters after just starting 15-years before.

Full-page in the Dec. 26, 1914 edition of the Town and Country

announcing the opening of their new headquarters on the Square in

Pennsburg.

            We shared stories about the classic flatiron style building constructed on the Pennsburg Square.  We also shared the fact that the idea for the triangular design of the building came from the location of the New York Herald, which sat at the crossroads of Broadway and Sixth Avenue on Herald Square in New York City.

            The newly constructed Town and Country building opened in December of 1914.  Today we will meet the people who walked through those doors for their first day of work inside what would be the home of the Town and Country newspaper during World War I, prohibition, the Great Depression, and beyond.  Their passion for the written word over those years, showed that these folks probably had printer's ink in their veins.

            Dr. Charles Q. Hillegass, founder and publisher of the Town and Country newspaper relied on the strength of his employees.  That included his son, Foster Hillegass, who we learned about last week.  Foster was serving as the editor when the new building was opened.

            The associate editor was local clergyman Rev. G. W. Lutz.  The Reverend hailed from Lehigh County and was a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College where he graduated second in his class.  In 1904 he graduated with honors from Eastern Theological Seminary.  Rev. Lutz also was serving as an instructor at the Perkiomen School where he taught History and Civics.

            E. Wayne Weil was the Linotype Operator, the person who put the copy to hot-lead in preparation for a trip to the printing-press.  Weil lived in East Greenville.  He learned his printer's trade at the German language Bauern Freund newspaper (at that time being published in Pennsburg).  After a two-year apprenticeship, he spent a short time at the Daily Register in Norristown before returning to the Bauern Freund and eventually serving as a foreman there.   He joined the Town and Country newspaper team in 1898 when the first copy was published.   

            The Foreman of the jobs department and Pressman was Clarence G. Welker of Pennsburg.  Welker came to work at the newspaper right after graduating high school in 1903.  Starting at the bottom, Welker worked his way up to become an integral part of it.  Welker was also a Pennsburg volunteer firefighter, serving on a three-man committee in 1919 who would investigate, and recommend the purchase of the first motorize firetruck in the Upper Perkiomen Valley.

            William Ziegler of Zieglerville was the Advertising Compositor and make-up man.  If you think his job was easy, take a look at the artwork on this page and remember that this was 1914 – no computers, no specialized software, and no artists, except you.  William worked the Linotype machine as well.  Ziegler started his career with the newspaper shortly after it started and was a stalwart employee.

            While Ziegler was the Advertising Compositor, serving as a Compositor for everything else was Claude Saylor of Pennsburg.  The youngest of the employees, Saylor was with the newspaper for two-years prior to entering the new building.  Claude's ambition was to become a top-notch printer.

             Let's face it, what would a business be without a competent office staff.  That person was Mrs. Calvin Kline, the Stenographer and Bookkeeper from Finland, PA.  When her family moved to Philadelphia she attended the Mary J. Drexel School.  She then attended Temple University.  After working several years in the City of Brotherly Love, she came to work for the Town and Country newspaper in 1912.

            We've often shared information about the founders of the newspaper but this week, on the cusp of beginning its 125th year as well as the upcoming Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce's Staff Appreciation Luncheon, I wanted to introduce you to the staff of the Town and Country at an important time in the history of the newspaper.


 

 

 

 

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