The Pike Press, Pittsfield, was established in 1842 as the Sucker and Farmer’s Record, edited by Michael J. Noyes. It was succeeded in 1846 by the Free Press, edited by Zachariah N. Garbutt. Garbutt helped raise John G. Nicolay, who succeeded him as editor. Nicolay met Abraham Lincoln in Pittsfield, and when Lincoln ran for president in 1860, John Nicolay became his first paid employee.
It was Nicolay’s recommendation that Lincoln hire John Hay, who also had become acquainted with the future 16th president in Pittsfield. John Hay had lived with his uncle, Milton Hay, and attended the Thomson Academy in Pittsfield. Both Nicolay and Hay had moved to Springfield prior to 1860, and both served as Lincoln’s private secretaries throughout his presidency. Another Pike Countian, from Griggsville, Charles Philbrick, also served as a secretary to Lincoln from 1864 until his assassination.
The name of the newspaper was changed to the Pike County Journal in 1860, edited by Col. Daniel D. Bush II. We have a framed copy of the Feb. 9, 1860 edition of the Pike County Journal hanging in the Pike Press office, in which John G. Nicolay wrote one of the first editorials recommending Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. Lincoln historian and biographer Michael Burlingame has found evidence that other unsigned columns in favor of Lincoln in the Pike County Journal were, in fact, written by Nicolay.
Throughout the years of the Lincoln presidency, Nicolay corresponded with his future wife, Therena Bates of Pittsfield. The two of them were married in Pittsfield in 1865; John Hay was one of the wedding guests. Nicolay and Hay later collaborated on the first multi-volume Lincoln biography.
The Pike County Journal became The Old Flag in 1868, under Robert McKee. The name was changed to Pike County Republican in 1893, edited by Taylor Donohoe. It became the Pike Press under Paul Findley in 1970. The Pike Press is now part of Campbell Publications, owned by James B. Campbell of Hardin, IL.