Highland News Leader

Pat Spencer, the man who wrote the book on Highland’s history

Roland Harris
Roland Harris

Attention all veterans and veterans’ families, the Highland Home Museum will now have a veterans section.

We have been excepting veteran’s photos and information, but didn’t know how we were going to be able to display them. But mow, Jim Ranken of Family Care Medical has given us another surplus shelved cabinets. (He had previously given us six shelved cabinets for the museum.) This 28-by-28-inch shelved cabinet will be in the center of the Farm Room and will have space and three ringed binders for all Highland area veterans of all U.S. wars, starting with the Revolutionary War and including today’s current conflicts.

We already have information on Revolutionary War veteran Michael Deck of Deck’s Prairie and William McAdams of St. Jacob Township, but if you are a relative or collector and have additional information, call me, Roland, at 618-303-0082. If you have information, but need it typed, this Christmas vacation would be a good time to have your children or grandchildren get the material ready for the Museum. We thank you very much.

Now, Pat Spencer.

Amos Patrick Spencer, called “Pat,” became editor and owner of the Highland Leader in 1913.

After World War I, early in 1920, Stuart M. Drum Sr., Frank A. Winter and Edgar Hoffman formed a company and started the publication of the Highland News, the first copy of which appeared on Feb. 25, 1920. The Highland Leader and Highland Journal were both being published at that time, so Highland could boast of three newspapers.

Edgar Hoffman’s brother, Oscar Hoffman, was working at the Lund-Mauldin Shoe Factory in Highland, and Edgar needed a linotype operator. He convinced his brother, Oscar, to come work for the Highland News, and Oscar did in late 1920. (Thanks, Doris Hoffman Luber, for this information.)

Later in 1921, through a consolidation with the Highland News, the newspaper of Pat Spencer became a partnership with Edgar Hoffman, under the new name of Highland News Leader. Spencer retired in 1946 as editor of the Highland News Leader. What made Spencer well known and respected in Highland was his newspaper work, plus his writing of the 1937 “Centennial History of Highland.” I will quote from this book, starting on Page 274, with “Finis,” as written by Amos Patrick Spencer.

“Dear Folks: I have prepared the copy for the ‘Centennial History of Highland’ at the request of the Highland Centennial Association, without asking for or receiving anything for my work. It is not all that it should be, but it is the best I could do in the limited time. I should have been given two years in which to prepare it, instead of two months. If, in the main, it pleases you, I shall be glad. If there are some who are not pleased, it makes no difference to me. I have no relatives in the community, neither have I tried to favor any of my friends… In preparing the copy, I have made no attempt at literary excellence… Most of the subject matter was originally written in a hurry for newspaper copy and was as hurriedly re-prepared for this book. Four of the articles were written almost entirely by other people.

“The idea of the Highland Centennial Association is to distribute the books throughout the community, at less than cost, so that Highland people can have a handy record for reference, become better informed about the former life of Highland, and perhaps some of our young people will become inspired to emulate the example of some of our past civic leaders. If it accomplishes all or any of these ends, I shall be repaid. Yours truly, Amos Patrick Spencer.”

When Russell Hoffman returned from military service, he purchased Spencer’s interest in the New Leader, becoming the editor. Russ had this to say about Pat in writing his preface for the reprinting of the “Centennial History of Highland” by the Highland Historical Society in 1978: “Pat never pulled any punches, tells it best. The Centennial celebration in Highland in 1937 was, in the memory of those of us who were there, the biggest and most important event ever observed here. It was a total community effort, climaxed by one great week of celebrations held in August of 1937. An added treat for Highlanders was the release of the book, ‘Centennial History of Highland,’ written by A.P. (Pat) Spencer.”

Pat thanked, the Rev. C.E. Miche for his translations of German books; Oscar Hoffman for translating the newspapers, with help from Louis Lory and Mrs. Ed. Pacatte, and acknowledged his indebtedness to each of them.

Russ writes the following: “In the ‘Finis’ of his book, Pat mentioned that copy for it was prepared hurriedly. I can vouch for that it was. The decision to print a history of Highland was made near the tail-end of plans for the Centennial. The fact is that much of the early history appearing in the book was taken from a history appearing in serial form in the Highland News Leader in 1933 and 1934. Getting all the information into book form, in the matter of only a few months, was a huge task. Pat labored long and furiously to meet the Centennial deadline. As he would finish a chapter, he would dispatch Russ, in Pat’s 1936 Chevrolet coupe, to a printing firm in St. Louis, where copy was set and final book-binding done. He seldom had even the privilege of reading galley proofs.”

(Information and quotes from the “Centennial History of Highland” of 1937 and reprint of 1987, Russell Hoffman, Doris Hoffman Luber and my columns.)