Niobrara County was really hopping this past weekend. It was nice to see so many gathering at our businesses, on our streets and at the various activities provided. While I’m not exactly a social butterfly I did make a promise to catch up with one local woman. And I kept that promise.
I had spoke to this lady several times throughout the year. Sometimes she would call the office to thank me for an article printed. Occasionally she would drop a note with a tidbit of local history. The last time we spoke she told me that she would really like to meet me. We agreed on a location and to be honest, I was a little nervous. She wrote for the school paper. “George Flint wrote the sports section and I did everything else”, she told me with a twinkle in her eye. She also wrote for the Lusk Free Lance and the Lusk Herald.
The following is an article from the archives by Gloria Johnson, July 9, 1986.
The Van Tassell Booster was started in August 1920 at Van Tassell by John Pendray, who was a banker at the time and another man named Martin (we’re not sure whether that was his first name or last name).
There are no files of the early years of the paper but it is known that the paper was bought by James E. Mayes in the early ‘20’s and later moved to the town of Lusk by Mayes into the building well known by all as Old Ironsides or the Iron Clad building. It was the only building to be moved to Lusk from the tent town of Silver cliff in 1886.
It housed the paper which was renamed the Lusk Free Lance when Mayes moved the equipment up from Van Tassell, and remained the home of the Free Lance until the paper was sold to the Lusk Herald in January 1957.
James E. Mayes was a veteran newspaper man having spent 40 years in the newspaper game when he decided to call it quits and retire. He sold the Lusk Free Lance to Arthur F. Vogel in April 1930 with the change effective with the April 17th issue.
Vogel was no newcomer to the newspaper business having worked on the Illinois State Register-Journal in Springfield, Illinois before coming to Wyoming.
Like his contemporaries in the newspaper field, Vogel started by learning the printer’s trade at the “cases.” After working in Des Moines, IAS, Omaha, NE, and Denver, CO, he came to Lusk and became a printer for the Lusk Herald until 1920, after which, he was connected with the Casper Herald and the Casper Daily Tribune.
He returned to Lusk and was acting manager until 1926 when he became stockholder in the Lusk Herald Company. Vogel bought the Free Lance with the belief that the town needed two papers. The paper contributed much to the Democratic party under his guidance.
Many youngsters learned the newspaper trade under Vogel and there are many still living in the community that worked at the paper one time or another. Still others went on to larger papers over the country. A daughter, Yvonne, helped with the paper while in high school.
Vogel was editor and publisher of the Free Lance until his death March 22, 1956. From that time, his wife Ada and daughter Gloria continued to publish the paper until it was sold to the Lusk Herald effective with the January 24, 1957 issue. Both women had been associated with the newspaper for a number of years, 20 for Mrs. Vogel and six for Gloria (now Johnson). The price of a subscription had never been raised during the 37 years of publication. Vogel had two younger children, Chuck and Linda, who also grew up with the newspaper.
After the paper was sold to the Herald, the building stood empty for several years, then became the thrift shop for the Episcopal church. The building was razed in the 1970’s and the front of the building moved to the back of the Stagecoach Museum to be preserved for history.
I felt as though I was in the presence of Niobrara County newspaper royalty. We spoke about our mutual friend, George Flint and she gave me a short history of her vast experience of newspapers. I enjoyed every minute.
When Monday’s mail arrived, there was a note from my friend George Flint. I feel very fortunate to have these two watching over me and the Lusk Herald.