ESTHER B. MacGUGIN.
The value of the local newspaper in the upbuilding of the best interests of any community is universally conceded.
The press has not only recorded the history of advancement, but has also ever been the leader in the work of progress
and improvement. In molding public opinion the power of the newspaper cannot be estimated but, at all events, its
influence is greater than that of any other single agency. Poweshiek county has every reason to be proud of the
character of its press, for it has many enterprising and progressive journals, and prominent among these is the
Montezuma Republican, one of the oldest newspapers of the county. Esther B. MacGugin, who was in April, 1910, appointed
managing editor of this journal, has rightly been accorded a foremost place among the leading newspaper women of
Iowa, her native state.
Her birth occurred in Washington, Washington county, on the 23d of August, 1881, and she. is the eldest daughter
of Robert Lyle and Minnie (Dickson) MacGugin: Her father came to Iowa from Washington county, Pennsylvania, in
the year 1875, and for a time was located at Davenport. Being of a mechanical turn of mind he accepted a position
with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company. His connection with this institution has continued
for thirty seven years, and at present he is one of the oldest men in its employ. Her mother, who attended the
public schools of Washington, and later studied in the academy, was engaged in teaching school prior to her marriage.
Representatives of the name in Pennsylvania have long been identified with agricultural pursuits, in the conduct
of which they have proven uniformly successful. Inheriting a fondness for the free, independent life of the country,
they have as a rule become well to do farmers, well improved farms, large families and a competency, with contentment,
being characteristic of a large portion of them. A goodly number, however, have sought fortune in other channels,
entering the commercial field and the various professions, in which they have attained success and prosperity.
Among the distant relatives of our subject is numbered Hon. Joseph R. Reed, who for many years served on the supreme
court bench of Iowa.
Esther B. MacGugin was reared in the town of her nativity, and at the usual age was sent as a student to the public
school. Upon completing the course therein taught she entered Washington high school, from which she was graduated
in 1898, and later received the benefit of a year's work in Parsons College. With a strong literary inclination
and a ready aptitude for writing, she turned toward the journalistic field as a life work, and for more than twelve
years has been identified with newspaper work, her uninterrupted rise therein in the meantime being rapid and well
She began her career as a correspondent from Valley Junction for a Des Moines paper, was later given A position
as reporter on the staff of one of the papers of the capital and subsequently became connected with the Washington
(Iowa) Journal. She resigned the latter position, however, to enter the University of California, where she pursued
a special course in journalism.
Being thus well equipped for further advancement in her chosen vocation she accepted a position with the Joplin
(Missouri) Daily Globe, a large publication in the south, and succeeded Mrs. Baker, one of the best known newspaper
women in the United States, who has written for over a quarter of a century under the nom de plume of "Becky
Sharp." Miss MacGugin edited the woman's department of this large daily for two years, and also contributed
stories to the magazine section.
She also at that time wrote some very original, logical and impressive articles under the pen name of Esther Belle.
About four years ago she became identified with the Needham syndicate of newspapers, and since her connection therewith
her career has been unusually successful. Her excellent journalistic ability won well merited recognition when,
about a year ago, she was appointed to the office of managing editor of the Montezuma Republican, to succeed J.
R. Williams. This paper, which belongs to the syndicate, is one of the oldest and best known journals of the locality,
and is the oldest republican newspaper in the county. At its best, or at its worst, a newspaper is the expression
of the personality of the single individual at its head, and thus the present flourishing condition of the Republican
is a logical indication of the rare business acumen and excellent executive ability of its managing editor. She
is also a writer of considerable ability, and in the columns of her paper appear many evidences of her attractive
and pleasing style.
Miss MacGugin is a member of the Northern Press syndicate and of the Burrell Newspaper syndicate of New York, and
she has contributed largely to various metropolitan papers of Iowa. One paper, the Davenport Democrat and Leader,
states of her: "Her experiences have been sufficiently varied to enable her to be among the premiers of journalism."
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Poweshiek County, IA
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