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The Dispatch

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

Fortunately for The Moline Daily Dispatch, our good neighbor city has always assigned a high moral virtue to climbing the ladder of success. Had it not been for an almost endless supply of Horatio Algers this attitude produced, the Dispatch would several times have lived up to its name and been "dispatched."

The first issue of the Moline Dispatch rolled off the presses on July 31st, 1878. Its publishers were Oliver and Louise White, who had noticed that Moline had everything needed for an up-and-coming city except a newspaper.

Their first editorial was a smug one. "Unheralded—without invitation and without advice—we have located in your beautiful city to commence the publication of a small, neat daily paper," they wrote. "Risky, do you say? Not very."

There turned out to be some risk after all. In 1882, they sold the Dispatch to Fred Dean, who sold it again two years later. By 1885 the newspaper was deeply in debt. To save the paper, its principle creditors, Walter Johnson and Charles Deere, turned to Horatio Alger number one, Patterson McGlynn.

McGlynn's father was a railroad sub-contractor who had died a broken man as a result of a Davenport bank failure. Young McGlynn struck out on his own, first as a printer's devil for an Iowa paper, then working his way up through a series of newspapers until he had become a successful reporter for The Rock Island Union.

McGlynn brought the Dispatch out of debt by 1891 and made it a thriving paper. By the time he retired he had worked his way from printer's devil to jet-setting publisher. He was followed at the helm of the Dispatch by two former Dispatch newsboys, John and August Sundine, and by Lee Blackman, who also had begun as a paper boy before moving up to reporter, then editor, and finally publisher.

Another Horatio Alger stood ready to take over. Harry Sward had worked his way up from Dispatch carrier to assistant circulation manager, then bookkeeper, and treasurer before becoming co-publisher in 1934.

By 1969, however, either the Moline Dispatch had run out of former newsboys or Moline had run out of Horatio Algers. That year, the Dispatch was sold to the Small Newspaper Group, a syndicate with papers in cities around the Midwest, and that marks the beginning of a different story.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by the Scott County Regional Authority, with additional funding from the Illinois Arts Council and Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.