Hooper Warren

The early history of the Civil War, the early history of Illinois and introduction of Journalism into the state could not be written without the name of Hooper W. Warren who is now buried out on the hill in Henry cemetery where he has rested 57 years.

 We know Young Hooper and his sister Ella.  We know Ella Litchfield, but little is known of the Elder Hooper Warren, the father of Winslow and Ad as he was familiarly called.

When Illinois was about to become a state, Hooper Warren wrote, advocated, talked and fought against the introduction of slavery and to him even more than Owen Lovejoy must be credited the rejection of slavery when Illinois was admitted to the Union.

In the Illinois Historical Journal 1911-1912, My Stevens gives a very graphic biographical picture of this grand old man.  He contrasts the life of Alexander Pope Field, who was a southerner, a pro-slavery man, outside of this wonderful gift of gab, he was tall, robust and of massive physique; while Warren was slender, delicate, modest, almost diffident man, but he was the only man to fight slavery with the passion that Field, advocated it.  He did it with all the strength that was in him and being a pioneer in Journalism, his influence was great.

In the latter part of 1700's and the early part of the 1800's in the office of the Rutland Herald Vermnt,  Hooper Warren learned the printer's trade with Horace Greeley and the Edwardsville Illinois spectator in which he was connected in 1819, became the strongest paper west of the Alleghany.  To offset its influence there was established in the same town, in 1823 the Illinois Republican by Senator Theophilus W. Smith.  Smith went after Warren "hammer and tongs" and when he found he couldn't do it with his pen what Warren could do, he started in with his fists.  He got so angry at Warren that he cowhided him in the street and then pulled a dirk with the intent to finish him, but Warren was too quick with his gun and Smith took to his heels and ran away.  This incident so weakened the prestige of Smith he had to give up his paper.

When Warren first entered the field of journalism in the west he went to Frankfort, Kentucky, thence to St. Louis, where he worked on the Missouri Gazette.  His plans were interfered with on entering Illinois and we find him down in Cairo which then consisted of a stranded flat boat with a very poor family on it.  Finding it hard to get enough to eat, he turned north and under the tutilage of Governor Edwards, he established the Spectator in Edwardsville in 1819.  This was the third Illinois newspaper, the other two having suspended.  They were the Illinois Intelligencer at Shawneetown and the Shawnee Chief changed to the Illinois Emigrant.

Warren was the most unrelenting foe to slavery extension that ever lived in Illinois.  The Spectator was a five column folio, one-half space occupied by home and foreign advertising and some of the home adds were unique as well as amusing. For instance, a drug store ad stated that a line of "elegant medicines" are carried, amoung them being "caster oil which is a real pleasure to take".  In the absence of campaign matter the paper was dry and uninteresting to the writer.  However, news finally became the dominant feature.  Warren set up his paper much as Marsh Hanna used to do on the Peoria Mirror. A disinction was drawn between Lovejoy's observers by stating Warren was anti-slavery while Lovejoy was an abolitionist.

In 1825 Warren severed his connection with the Spectator, for a year going to Cincinnati and immediately upon his return it was removed form Edwardsville to Springfield (which was then a land office town of 600 inhabitants) and chanced to the Sangamon Spectator, the first number appearing Feb. 21, 1827.  It didn't last long, however, as people got the lead mine craze up around Galena and began to leave for there.

Warren was so conscientious that he refused to leave the paper until Governor Edwards received a safe return for his investment so Sam Meredith bought the paper for a $1,000 and changed the name to Sangamon Journal and Gazette.  "In those days the people were taught to believe that all that appears in a newspaper is a lie of course."

Warren then had his head set on going up to Galenain the newspaper field.  He did this at the behest of Governor Edwards, but the partners he took in had a longing to keep idle and avoid doing anything with the consequence Warren nearly starved, together with all this his family fell sick with malaria. He rented a cottage for $4.00 per month, but expected to be turned out of nonpayment of rent.  For a long time his cow was the main sustenance of the family.  One day the cow died.  The fortunes of Warren now reached the lowest ebb.

But just at this time, Judge Young made him clerk of the Circuit Court for Putnam county and in 1831 he removed to Hennepin.  Peoria was settled in the next year.  Warren was clerk in Hennepin from 1831 to 1836 and during that time he held the office of recorder of deeds.  He removed to Henry Prairie and in 1841 he removed to the site of Henry.

Warren was a singularly quiet man.  He was taciturn to the last degree.  His conversation was almost wholly in monosyllables.  He never tried to speak in public.  He was a good listener and sound in judgment when he made up his mind.  He was kind and tender-hearted and othe peoples pain distressed him greatly, yet no man amoung the well-known men of Illinois suffered anything like the pain that Hooper Warren suffered.  In 1812 he married Mary Damson. His mother's name was Hooper.

While in Chicago in 1864 he was taken ill.  He stopped off to see his son-in-law, Ed Littlefield in Mendota and in a few days he died, August 22, 1864.  His body was removed to Henry where he was buried beside his wife who had gone before him 14 years before.  By keeping his Henry land he died worth considerable property.  He left four children, Matilda, who married a Mr. Clarkson,  Mary Emma, who married Edward Littlefield,  J. Adamson and Winslow  S.

As a writer his style was simple, courteous, direct, chaste, accurate and effective.  His sentences were short and his owrds easily understood.  He spend his last years correcting errors made by Reylords, Ford and other writers.   At Galena he passed through a siege of sickness and poverty that was almost unberable, but died leaving an honored name.  At one time on a sick bed he was so obstenious, when told that a drink of brandy would restore him to health, refused to take it, saying he would rather die first.

By Grant Wright

Taken from the Herny Current News, Henry, IL
April 21, 1921

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