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  • Fairbury News staff

The Blade now a memory

(A Blade newspaper from the 1980s shows tornado damage on the Terry Casson farm in rural Chenoa.)

It’s the end of the newspaper era for Fairbury as The Blade is no more.

The news came this week that the previous March 22 edition was the last for the paper that has roots going all the way back to the late 1800s.

“It is very unfortunate to see the elimination of publications in general and, in particular very saddening to see The Blade come to an end,” said Daily Leader managing editor and former Blade editor Erich Murphy. “Making it more unfortunate is that it was a news source for the Fairbury area for more than 150 years.”

Many area natives and current Fairbury residents took to social media upon receiving word The Blade was stopping. Several comments on the “Fairbury, Illinois – Today, Long Ago and Somewhere in Between” Facebook page were filled with memories of reading or working at the newspaper.

Previous information from local historian Dale Maley in a September 2021 history article indicated the Chicago Tribune chronicled the creation of Fairbury’s first newspaper in its August 1865 issue. This new publication was known as the Intelligencer but only lasted about a year. Two brothers started a new paper called the Independent in 1871 and Charles B. Holmes started The Blade in 1876.

In the wake of a feud, J.S. Scibird of Bloomington bought out both The Blade and the Independent and merged them into the Independent Blade. C.E. Carter then purchased the paper and changed the name to The Blade. Newt Fulton bought into The Blade and J. Sutton became a partner in 1899.

James Patterson then worked his way up to buy Fulton’s half of the newspaper when Fulton retired. Patterson worked 53 years and became editor and handled management with Sutton remaining as a partner. Upon Sutton’s retirement, Frank Phelps, Cora Evans and L.L. Harris purchased his share of the paper. This proprietorship continued until the sale of the paper in 1954 to Donovan Kramer.

Kramer sold the paper to James Roberts in 1962 and under his management, The Blade won many awards. Roberts sold the newspaper and retired in 1990. He passed away at the age of 84 in 2006.

Maley’s history article from 2021 indicates The Blade had many different owners since 1990, including GateHouse Media which acquired the Gannett company which publishes USA Today. The name of the merged firm is Gannett.

“It’s a very sad time for the community,” added Murphy.

(The final edition of The Blade dated March 22, from last week.)

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