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Publication Name:

Belleville Weekly Democrat

Years in print:

1858- 1883


          The Rev. Williamson Franklin Boyakin, a Baptist preacher who came to Belleville in the 1840s, first published the Belleville Weekly Democrat on Jan. 16, 1858. His political paper advocated allowing new states joining the union to decide themselves whether to be slave or free.Boyakin left in the early 1860s. Eventually known as the “fighting parson” for his valor in the Civil War, he knew personally every president from Thomas Jefferson to Ulysses S. Grant.

          The paper scrapped on for the next 30 years under a succession of publishers until Frederick John Kern arrived. 

          Fred Kern quit school to work on the family farm. A hunting accident nearly ripped off his left hand and led him back to school. 

          At age 27 he took a chance and joined his friend, Fred Kraft, in Belleville just before Christmas 1891. They bought the Belleville News-Democrat and Kern bought out his partner four years later.

          (Reprinted with permission of the Belleville News-Democrat)

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