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The Nashville News

In September of 1873, some five years after the village of Nashville was chartered, a young fellow named Mr. Orno Strong came through the town, liked the looks of the village, and, convinced that it was going to grow to a  big city on the banks of the Thornapple, decided to start a newspaper. Strong, as his name indicated, was a strong man, at least strong  in character and he wrote in the salty vernacular of the day, but at the same time with the more or less stilted journalese of the time.

In his original issue, Volume 1, Number 1, dated October 3, 1873, Strong said: "We shall weep with those that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice; in fact, we shall hold ourselves prepared to carry said weeping and rejoicing to any extent required.

"We will talk up the merits of the village until they will not only be known to the people of this vicinity, but will be caught up and reflected, like the light of the morning over the whole land, and will make Nashville so plain and well known to the outside world that a wayfaring man, though a fool, will know her ways and walk therein."

Strong went on to say he selected Nashville as a base of operations because he thought that the inhabitants had the vim and energy to push her ahead and make her a  "flourishing city on the banks of the Thornapple where now 1,000 people call their home. We shall do our share to bring about that desirable result."

Strong then said: "We have set our stakes and hung our banner on the outer walls of the building opposite the post office and there you can find us, both early and late." He ended by saying, "With our best bow after having spoke our little piece, we submit the news to the public."

The paper flourished under Strong. He wrote with a verve and vigor of the times. Nashville, at that time, was growing and growing fast. The people and the town were young. This vigor was reflected in Strong's writing. Orno did not pull punches. He called a spade a spade. He warned the population in his initial issue that he was going to print everything in the way of news that he thought was news. Some of the things he thought newsworthy, others apparently did not. In the issues of the first 15 years of the News under Orno Strong, there is more than one reference to the fact that the editor had been horse-whipped or otherwise treated to physical violence. Strong was not adverse to coming right out in print and calling a man a liar, using names and specific information. On more than one occasion he printed wedding stories with an addendum that the happy couple would be making a birth announcement within a matter of a few days.

For 15 years, Strong held forth in Nashville and then in the year 1888, he sold the paper to Len W. Feighner, an employee of his and he, Strong moved to Oregon.

The paper, under Feighner, remained as salty and humorous as it had under Strong. Feighner, however, tempered his humor with kindness and refrained from some of the out-and-out scandalous remarks that Strong had been inclined to use. If the paper under Strong was somewhat salty, it also did a bit of moving. In 1873 it was started in an office on the west side of Main Street, across from what was then the post office. The office was moved to several locations on Main Street and then sometime before 1888 was moved into a schoolhouse which was the 1969 site of the Nashville News on Maple Street.

Len Feighner's grandson, Leonard Kane, says that his grandfather told him that his first week's pay for working for Orno Strong was a pair of shoes. Len Feighner not only owned the paper for 40 years, the longest period anyone has owned it, he was also without doubt the best-known of the editors and publishers of the Nashville News. Feighner was very active in the Michigan Press Association and was instrumental in its early growth. He served as a Field Secretary for Michigan Press Association and also served as the President of that association. In addition to his newspaper work, Feighner served as the postmaster of Nashville. For several years he served in the Michigan State Legislature; he was often a member of the School Board of Nashville and was the guiding hand in the Len Feighner Agency, a newspaper brokerage that was still flourishing in 1969 under the guidance of Mr. Woodard Smith of Mt. Pleasant.

The News was sold in 1928 to A. B. McClure who operated it for only three years before he sold to Willard St. Clair and Mary Kellogg Gloster. The Gloster's, both newspaper people, owned and operated a newspaper in Levering, Michigan. Mr. Gloster was a printer by trade. Mrs. Gloster had worked with the Adrian Daily Telegram as a reporter. They operated the newspaper through the lean and hungry years of the depression when there was practically no advertising, very little news, a minimum of money and no doubt, heartache galore. The Gloster's edited and published the paper for 10 years, from 1931 to 1941.

In September of 1941 the Nashville News was acquired by Don and Zelna Hinderliter who, with their family, moved to Nashville and became a part of the community. The Hinderliter's guided the paper through the years of the second World War. Their children grew up in Nashville and went to school here.

The one man connected with the News office longer than any other, the one who could be called "Mr. Nashville News" if anyone could was Clarence O. Mason. "Ab" started working for the Nashville News when Len Feighner was the publisher. Ab came with the News in 1909 and worked continuously in various capacities until his death in 1956. Ab, during his tenure on the News, covered every job of the operation. Ab knew the machinery intimately. He knew the subscribers intimately. For pretty close to 47 years, Ab Mason was the backbone of the Nashville News. Don Hinderliter said when Ab Mason died in the fall of 1956, that much of the flavor and the fun of running a newspaper died with him.

The Hinderliter's sold the newspaper in December of 1956 to John and Amy Boughton, who moved here from Adrian, Michigan. The Boughton's converted the newspaper from a letterpress to an offset printing process and added the subscription list of the Vermontville Echo to it and changed the name to the Maple Valley News to include both communities. The Nashville News, only four years younger than the town, celebrated its centennial in 1973.