On Jan. 16, 1858, the first edition of the Belleville Weekly Democrat was published. The Belleville News-Democrat traces its roots to that publication, so this is our 160th anniversary.
That partisan, four-page weekly evolved into a nearly 24-hour digital news operation. What has remained for 160 years is a mission to gather and distribute local news. What has grown is the dedication to being fair, truthful and relevant.
As technology grows and communication becomes ever more instantaneous, our nation and local communities become more vulnerable to misinformation, incomplete details and biased or unreliable sources. It is important to consider the source, and for the source to be independent, trustworthy and transparent.
The BND is committed to being that reliable source in print and online through its website, social media, e-editions and more.
This news organization has a long history of award-winning investigative journalism, most recently explaining how a baby suffocated in a trash-filled house and exposing East St. Louis Township’s corrupt former supervisor. It also shared the stories of a repo man helping an elderly couple and of a heart surgeon getting to an operation in time because a poor community helped when his car broke down.
Bringing you the challenges and triumphs of people in Southern Illinois is not possible without our community members and their willingness to trust us with their stories, images and thoughts.
We thank you for 160 years of allowing us to do so. We hope to retain and re-earn that trust with every story and image we present, in whatever manner you chose to receive it.
- Jan. 16, 1858: First edition of the Belleville Weekly Democrat published by the Rev. Williamson F. Boyakin.
- 1859-1891: A succession of owners, including Edward Stuart and William Shoupe, George A. Harvey, Alex Russell and William Dunlinger.
- Oct. 2, 1883: First edition of the Belleville News-Democrat after News Publishing Co. buys Belleville Democrat.
- December 1891: Fred Kern and Fred Kraft buys Belleville Democrat.
- Dec. 24, 1898: Fire destroys News-Democrat building on Public Square. It moves to 120 S. Illinois St.
- Feb. 4, 1926: City editor Alfred Kern, Fred J.’s eldest son, dies of a brain tumor.
- 1930: The Kerns build an addition between their home and the office to house a new press.
- Nov. 9, 1931: Fred J. Kern dies at 67. Son Robert becomes publisher and editor; son Richard becomes associate editor.
- Nov. 3, 1958: First edition of Belleville News-Democrat and Daily Advocate after Advocate owners sell.
- 1962: The Kerns remodel the News-Democrat’s downtown office, adding the current neoclassic exterior of pink brick. A cupola houses a 24-inch bronze bell, cast in 1865 for the original Washington School in Belleville.
- April-May 1972: Capital Cities Broadcasting buys News-Democrat from Kern family.
- July 10,1972: John Shuff Jr. becomes publisher.
- Sept. 12, 1976: First Sunday edition.
- March 21, 1977: Darwin Wile becomes president and publisher.
- March 21, 1983: Paper dedicates new printing plant on Illinois 177.
- Jan. 1, 1984: Belleville News-Democrat begins publishing 365 days a year, becoming a morning paper.
- March 19, 1985: Capital Cities buys ABC.
- Jan. 1, 1987: Gary Berkley becomes president and publisher of the News-Democrat.
- July 31, 1995: Walt Disney Co. buys Capital Cities/ABC Inc. for $19 billion.
- April 4, 1997: Knight-Ridder Inc. buys Belleville News-Democrat and three other papers from Disney for $1.65 billion.
- April 1, 2004: Jay Tebbe becomes president and publisher.
- March 12, 2006: McClatchy buys Knight-Ridder for $4.5 billion in cash and stock.
- Jan. 16, 2008: The Belleville News-Democrat marks 150th anniversary.
- Dec. 31, 2017: Jay Tebbe retires after a career of 41 years at the News-Democrat.
Timeline by Roger Schlueter, Heidi Wiechert.