Colorful Journalism in Fort Wayne was presented before the Fort Wayne Quest Club on January 28, 1966 by Herbert Bredemeir: The German language newspapers in Fort Wayne played a vital role in introducing new immigrants to the ideals of democracy, its institutions and the American way of life. Men like Herman Mackwitz, and his editor Anselm Fuelber, experienced tremendous influence in days when the Fort Wayne population was nearly sixty-percent of German extraction.
Many a newly-arrived German asked Mr. Mackwitz for advice on a variety of subjects from economic to political questions. It was said that Herman Mackwitz carried the German Democratic vote in his vest pocket. He was, however, an independent Democrat. In the election of 1920 he supported the Republican nominee for president, Warren G. Harding. The Democratic nominee, James M. Cox, three-term governor of Ohio, made a special trip to Fort Wayne in his private railroad car to try to get the support of Mr. Mackwitz, but to no avail. Larimer in political cartoons loved to picture Mackwitz with a dachshund and with sausages hanging out of his pockets. Anselm Fuelber’s disheveled hair and beard were also prominent political cartoon subjects.
Mr. Mackwitz was a charter member of the Fort Wayne Turnverein Vorwaerts and his wife a charter member of the Fort Wayne Women’s Club. He and his wife were very much involved in the social and civic affairs of the city. The Red Cross was served by both. Mr. Mackwitz was given special recognition for his post-war relief work among undernourished and starving German children.
He died on September 28, 1946. Frank Roberts’ writing in the Journal Gazette paid special tribute to the beneficial influence of Herman Mackwitz and his Freie-Presse Staats-Zeitung. The successful newspapers combined sound business management with the usual devices for attracting readers: successful editorship, good showmanship, pictures, municipal crusading, respectable reform and sardonic sensationalism in all its variations.
In 1885, the Fort Wayne Sentinel put its mark on journalism history. Its March 4th issue was printed in three colors: red, blue and black. The use of color is the first known in any newspaper, predating by six years a claim by the Milwaukee Journal that it was the first newspaper to use color in its January 5, 1891 issue. The front-page display of color showed the U.S. eagle perched on a plaque of stars and stripes. The inscription “Peace and Good Will Toward All Men” flowed from the eagle’s mouth. The use of color helped to proclaim the inauguration of President Grover Cleveland.
The first woman reporter in Fort Wayne in the seventies was Mrs. Carrie M. Shoaff. Her cards identified her as Correspondent, Fort Wayne Gazette.”
The big city papers had nothing on Fort Wayne when it came to colorful feuding, fussing and fighting between the newspapers, much of it inspired by a love of politics exhibited by many Hoosiers. A Sentinel headline appeared on the front page about the Republican presidential candidate Blaine as follows: A long-winded address perpetrated upon a patient, long suffering people. Meanwhile, a circus is having a great crowd but a short distance away. When mentioning something about the Democrats the headlines said: Democracy sends her greatest and grandest men to select a leader for the party.
Indiana generally has been blessed with a large number of imaginative people who have wished to express themselves in written form. From the earliest days of the Indiana Territory, when writing was somewhat of a status symbol for Hoosiers, down to the present, the state has provided more than its share of great writers of distinction. To be continued.