Vol. II No. 16 8/15/2021
A Local, Very Local, Newspaper
In 1854 Marcus Rogers started a small village newspaper. In 1854, Rogers could not press "send", he needed three dimensional objects to produce a hard copy.
He needed paper, ink, a printing press, and type. Letterpress printing used a press with movable type or plates. A reversed, raised surface of one letter or a group of letters was inked and pressed onto a sheet of paper.
Rogers had none of the things he needed; he also had no money. He set about collecting them. He was given type — enough to fill a match box — and used paper — with one side still clean; he commandeered his mother's cheese press. With that amalgam, that pile of oddments, he set to work. He converted the cheese press into a printing press and started his village newspaper.
He named the paper The Rising Sun. It was for and about Mill River, Massachusetts. When the print was dried on his newspapers, he folded them, and delivered door to door.
Rogers was careful to have something in The Sun for every family member, old and young. Rogers was also careful to have nothing in the newspaper offensive to any family member, old or young. He must have been a clever young fellow because he grew into a rich and respected man.
One thing though, one thing the Mill River historians never reported: how big was the match box? They preserved the cheese press in the Mill River Library, but where is that match box? How many letters fit into it and which ones? Was he gifted all 26 letters? Did he have any doubles? With the letters he had, how many words could Rogers spell out and which ones were they? Could he write the words zigzag, fellow, follow, or willow?
Writers are limited by many things: imagination, vocabulary, syntax, even context. Rogers may have been limited by the size of a match box. Nonetheless...
He began as owner and sole proprietor of the Mill River Rising Sun and inventor of the cheese press cum printing press. He ended as inventor of a machine for folding newspapers and owner of the Rising Sun, the Berkshire Courrier and the Berkshire County Eagle. He traveled widely, gave generously, and was remembered fondly as the Managing Editor of The Rising Sun.
Carole Owens, Managing Editor
Photo: Lee Sheldon