Veteran journalist Scoug Scougal apprenticed at the age of 10; was among Iowa's first linotype o


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Alexander Duane Scougal, considered to be one of the most colorful journalistic writers of his era, was the owner, editor and manager of the Shell Rock News, Shell Rock, Iowa, for the two decades preceding his death on May 20, 1937, at the age of 69.

More importantly, he was among the pioneer linotype operators in the state of Iowa while working for the Sioux City Journal in 1894, at the age of 26.

Sioux City Journal, Aug. 16, 1930:

“The Sioux City Journal was the first newspaper in Iowa to install linotypes. This was in September 1894. The Mergenthaler linotype had passed the experimental stage and was a dependable piece of mechanism when The Journal installed its battery of machines. It was still a novelty, and during the first several months of operation The Journal linotypes were marveled over by many visitors. It hardly seemed possible that type could be set (or, to speak more properly, cast) with such accuracy, precision and speed.”

A.D. (Scoug) Scougal was one of those trained to use the linotype machines.

Scougal wrote of his memories of the early days of Sioux City journalism, and they were published in the June 29, 1930 edition of the Sioux City Journal. (newspapers.com) Excerpts follow:

“The Sioux City Tribune (weekly) was on the second floor of the Hedges block over Hansen’s drug store. Frank P. Hollar was foreman, and Will Curtis and Fred Hebert were the typesetters, while Hugh B. Fouke constituted the local editorial force.

“Of the typesetters in those days I yet remember “Red” Hill, Jerry Jenkinson, Joe Rickard, Frank Hall, Tom Read, W.R. Pierson, William Napoleon Emerson, Joe Mikesell, Tommy Newlin, W.H. Duncan, Johnny Hinkle, G. “Wash Bradley, now of St. Louis, Lew Webb, George Coughlan and Tom Boland. There were no typewriters in the newspaper offices, and all copy was in handwriting. A compositor had to have his noodle with him to get Geo. D. Perkins’ and Ed Heizer’s editorial copy into type with any degree of accuracy.

“How well I recall the night that Kingsnorth’s livery stable burned. I yet see myself looking over Geo. D. Perkin’s shoulder as he read proof on the last “take” of the news about that fire. In those days he did many things besides writing editorials.

“Stereotyping was not introduced into the office until 1886 or 1887. Cook and Tom Cross were Sioux City’s first stereotypers. The first night that the forms of The Journal were stereotyped the entire force, including Geo. D., assembled down in the basement to witness the epoch making operation.” (Note: A stereotype is a metal printing plate cast from a matrix molded from a raised printing surface, such as type: The Free Dictionary by Farlex)

A.D. Scougal’s career was summed up by the Sumner (Iowa) Gazette on May 20, 1937, at the time of Scougal’s death:

“He had been editor of the News for 20 years. He began his apprenticeship in the printing trade in Nebraska in 1878, (at the age of 10) and in 1883 he went to Sioux City where he spent 28 years working on the Sioux City Journal and the Sioux City Tribune. When the Sioux City Journal installed five linotyes, the first in the state, Scougal was chosen to learn to operate one of them, and thus became one of the first linotype operators in the state. Later he was proofreader, editorial writer and employed in other capacities on the Journal

“After living at Seattle and Centralia, Wash., for about a year, he returned to Iowa and managed the Alden Times for a while and was editor and manager of the Hardin Co. Ledger at Eldora for 15 months. He bought the Shell Rock News in 1919.”

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