John F. Mitchell, the editor and publisher of the Hancock Democrat, the oldest and one of the strongest and most popular weekly newspapers in central Indiana, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 11, 1853, the son of William and Calasty (Long) Mitchell, and came to Greenfield, Indiana, in 1856. His education was acquired in the Greenfield schools, then kept in the old Masonic hall, and in the seminary that afterwards became the home of Reuben A. Riley, the father of the Hoosier poet. At an early age, however, and when it required the aid of a chair to reach the "case," he made a regular "hand" in his fathers printing office, and under the watchful eye of his father received a most valuable education in both the business and printing departments. From that time Mr. Mitchell has been identified with the Democrat. He grew with its growth and his fine business qualities early became manifest in the added importance of the paper and the increased amount of patronage. Before reaching his majority he assumed the greater portion of the management of the office, which developed entirely upon him when his father lost his sight. Through his careful attention and skillful financiering an indebtedness that encumbered it was soon liquidated, and at his fathers death a valuable estate was left to the heirs. In 1899 Mr. Mitchell purchased all the interests of the other heirs in the printing office and has since developed a remarkable business for a little country town. In addition to the Democrat, which never had a greater prosperity than at present, ably maintaining the high standard set by its previous owner, Mr. Mitchell, as the Wm. Mitchell Printing Company, conducts one of the finest book and job printing offices of the state. It is fitted with Mergenthaler type-casting machines, the latest and best improved presses, and other machinery and material of an up-to-date office, the power being furnished by a forty horse-power gas engine. The large building in which it is housed is lighted by electricity, furnished by a dynamo located on the place. Over twenty employees are laboring here and the finest of work in the printing line is turned out. Mr. Mitchell is successfully and satisfactorily handling large and important contracts, printing for extensive publishing houses in Chicago and other cities, and has just finished a splendid quarto volume of nearly 2,000 pages for a Montana publisher, one of the largest books ever printed in the state, and this volume is also the work of this office.
Mr. Mitchell inherits many of the admirable qualities of his father, is fully as democratic in his ways and is known throughout the country side as "Johnnie" Mitchell, the sobriquet indicating his great popularity. By his marriage with Miss Minnie B. Alexander on December 23, 1879, a cultured and artistic element was introduced into his home life, that finds congenial occupation in the embellishment of their pleasant home. Their only child, John F. Mitchell, Jr., a student of Butler College, is developing rare talents for journalism. He is now a valued contributor to the Ladies Home Journal and other periodicals.
In Mr. Mitchell the county recognizes not only a sterling Democrat but one of its brightest men and a representative citizen, whose interest in the public welfare has ever been of such a character as to win for him public confidence and esteem.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 269-270.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 13, 2002.
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