One of the biggest characters in Clinton at the turn of the 20th Century was a journalist by the name of Dan Winget. Winget was an outgoing fellow, well-known about town as a fun-loving individual who’d had an extremely interesting life, even though he had lived in quiet Clinton, Iowa. He was historically most famous for being a close friend of Buffalo Bill Cody. Winget wrote several books and worked for many of our local newspapers. At one time, there were seven! Besides the Clinton Herald, founded in 1860 by Lillian Russell’s father, Charles Leonard, there were: The Pungent Bee, a gossip paper; The Age; and Winget’s paper, The Merry War, the Mirror, and the Advertiser across from the Herald. Later, it is said that he wrote for the Clinton Herald.
The last competitor of the Clinton Herald was the Advertiser, and we’ll read more about that paper in future columns. These were the newspaper days Mark Twain wrote about in his short story, “Journalism in Tennessee.” It was a time when competing newspaper editors called each other nasty names and argued back and forth through the pages of their newspapers. Truth and facts had little bearing on journalism of the 1800’s! The culmination of Twain’s story even had the editors and adversaries of the two newspapers having a gun fight in the press room of one of the papers!
But such was not the case in the romantic escapades of D.H. “Dan” Winget, who lived circa 1875 to 1933. He wrote Love and a Limousine in 1911. a copy of which was recently loaned to me by Bob Dierks of Albany. It’s Dan’s own quaint story about a group of young people going on an overland trip in an Apperson electric automobile, hauling a broken-down gasoline-powered auto along with it. Yes, electric automobiles were quite popular back then. A Clinton priest, Father McLaughlin, received a gift of an electric car from his parishioners about that same time. However, as more powerful gas engines became available, the electrics were lost to history until making a rather recent resurgence with the “hybrids” now being developed.