LIMA — Leroy Spahr Galvin was a newcomer to Lima in 1897 when another newcomer caught his eye.
“At this time I was half of the Republican-Gazette editorial staff, and J.R. ‘Bob’ Finnell was the other and larger half,” Galvin wrote in The Lima News in October 1934. “Nightly we poured over the clean-printed newcomer … Never did two young men want anything more desperately than did Finnell and I crave that newspaper.”
The object of Finnell and Galvin’s desire was the Lima Daily News, founded during Thanksgiving week in 1897 at 316 N. Main St. by the DeArmand brothers of Dayton. Galvin, a 5-foot-five-and-a-half-inch dynamo who already owned the Montpelier (Indiana) Daily Herald, joined Finnell and Finnell’s father-in-law, E.W. “Wheat” Jackson, in buying the Daily News in April 1898.
Galvin would go on to crave more newspapers, eventually consolidating the handful of newspapers that existed in Lima at the turn of the 20th century under The Lima News banner. Along with his daughter, Catharine Richie Galvin, his nephew, Wayne W. Galvin, and brother, W.J. “John” Galvin, he assembled a chain of Ohio newspapers that included the Van Wert Times-Bulletin. The Galvin brothers also at one time owned newspapers in Fort Lauderdale and Winter Haven, Florida. W.J. Galvin, who reported for and managed newspapers in Lima before setting up shop in Wilmington in the early 1920s, became a state agriculture official and was a renowned horse owner.
Leroy Galvin — who started out delivering newspapers, ended up owning them and held almost every position in between — also wrote a widely read column in the News, “Round Lima Hour by Hour,” under the pseudonym “Oh, Oh, Jackenrim.”
“The column contained philosophical observations, comments on the passing scene, names of persons encountered during the day, pats on the back for deserving citizens and officials, and protest comments aimed at national state or local affairs,” the News wrote when Galvin died on March 1, 1952, after more than a half century’s involvement with Lima’s newspapers. “The archaic style and quaint phrasing attracted many readers who didn’t even know that its author was the publisher of the paper.”
Leroy Galvin was born June 2, 1875, at Jamestown in Greene County, the son of William Spahr Galvin and Huldah Anne Fichthorne Galvin. On Nov. 25, 1901, he married Nellie E. Richie, the only child of prominent Lima attorney Walter B. Richie. The Lima Times-Democrat wrote on the occasion of the wedding that Nellie Richie “has been given every advantage an American girl could have, having completed the course of study at Dana Hall, Massachusetts, and later attending Miss Cooper’s school at Riverside, New York, where she had the best social and educational advantages of that city.” She would win acclaim for her photography.
As for Galvin, when he died the News noted that “from the time he became a printer’s devil (an apprentice in a print shop) in the mechanical department of his father’s Greene County Journal … at $1.25 a week, Mr. Galvin cast his future as a newspaperman.
“He added to this early experience by working at the printer’s trade at the Oxford print shop while attending Miami University and came to Lima on St. Patrick’s Day of 1897.” He and Finnell soon had their eyes on the Daily News.
The Daily News in 1898, with a circulation just shy of 500, could not provide a living for both Finnell and Galvin, so Galvin returned to his newspaper in Montpelier, although he retained an interest in the News. The following year would see Galvin sell the Indiana paper, return briefly to Lima, take a job on the Toledo Morning Times and then again return to Lima late in the year for a job on the Republican-Gazette.
Galvin was not done moving — or dealing. According to the 1952 story in the News, “He returned to the Lima Daily News in 1904, leaving six months later to join the Times-Democrat staff. During an illness in 1908, which forced him to leave this paper, he and Mr. Finnell bought the Springfield Times, and in October of that year he traded his interest in the Springfield paper for Mr. Finnell’s interest in The Lima News. Mr. Galvin founded the Lima Sunday News shortly after his return from Springfield.”
And shortly after that, Galvin wrote in 1934, “Mr. Adolph Weixelbaum called me. He wanted to know if the News could be bought and if it could, he had friends who would help him and combine it with Der Lima Courier.”
As 1909 dawned, the News and Der Courier, a German-language newspaper, merged. Weixelbaum became the new corporation’s president, while Galvin became vice-president, publisher and general manager. When Weixelbaum retired in 1929, Galvin acquired his holdings and, in 1930, became president.
Meanwhile, on May 1, 1920, the Lima Daily News announced that the Lima News Publishing Co. “has purchased outright the plant, good will and subscription lists of the Times-Democrat, its evening contemporary. All subscribers of the Times-Democrat will in the future receive the new and bigger Lima Daily News & Times-Democrat.” The News had bought a controlling interest in the Times-Democrat in 1912.
A little more than a week after that announcement, on May 9, 1920, the News was defending the merger in an ad. “We believe by this merger a public service has been accomplished in the face of conditions in the printing and publishing industry which would have meant hardships to merchants not only immediately but in the future.” Besides, the ad stated, recent mergers had left Mansfield and Portsmouth each with only one newspaper.
Lima still had the venerable Republican Gazette and the Morning Star, but not for long. On April 1, 1926, an ad in the Daily News announced that “owing to merging of newspapers, the entire mechanical plant of the Lima Republican Gazette is for sale, with immediate delivery possible … .” May 14, 1926, the News announced the organization of the News-Gazette Printing Co. to take over the job printing plants of both The Lima News and the Republican Gazette. The new company would occupy a part of the Republican Gazette building on East High Street. In 1929, the News acquired a controlling interest in the Morning Star and, in 1933, all its capital stock.
Galvin remained at the helm of the News until December 1945 when failing health forced him to step aside. He was replaced by W.J. Galvin’s son, Wayne W. Galvin, who guided the newspaper until it was sold in February 1956 to Freedom Newspapers Inc.
Reach Greg Hoersten at TLNinfo@civitasmedia.com.