Mirror newspaper reflects on county’s citizens
It is the oldest established business in Tonganoxie and one of the city's most influential. The Tonganoxie Mirror has had seven owners and occupied six buildings in history that stretches across nearly 120 years.
The Mirror has witnessed and reported it all: the births, the deaths and the lives of Tonganoxians. It has been a major player in the community for a long time. The Mirror has always covered the growth and development of the city and the surrounding area.
The first newspaper was cast in lead type and published May 4, 1882. George Broadbere was the founder. He was an Englishman and ex-British sailor. A one-year subscription for the paper was 50 cents at that time.
The first printing office was located at Fourth and Green streets.
In 1884, William Heynen took over the paper, becoming its second publisher.
Heynen retired in 1919 and B.A.C. Williams bought the paper and became its third publisher.
The Mirror moved in 1924 to a two-story brick building at 613 E. Fourth, where it would remain for the next 75 years.
The fifth publisher took over in 1929 when Walt Neibarger bought the paper from Williams. Neibarger ran the paper until he handed it over to his son JE. Neibarger in 1956.
In Walt Neibarger's reign, he had the luxury of celebrating the Mirror's 50th anniversary on May 4, 1932. In his celebration he used the statement, "each week, each month, each year, through the course of 50 years, The Mirror has come out regularly to furnish the people the local news."
During the years, the newspaper became something of a local fixture, according to local historian John Cass Lenahan Sr.
"The paper has been here so long that not many people remember when the town didn't have it," Lenahan said. "It has always been the function of a newspaper to cover every movement for community progress."
The newspaper traced the community's development.
"The Mirror had a hand in practically every accomplishment," Lenahan said. "It is now a part of Tonganoxie. All the people who've had the paper were great boosters of the community. When anything would grow, the paper was reporting it."
Lenahan said that the Neibargers were progressive. They covered the building of Kansas Highway 16 and Tonganoxie State Lake.
Though the Neibarger family ran the newspaper for a long time, it was time for it to change hands once again.
Don and Mary Waterman became the sixth publishers in March 1991.
The Watermans witnessed The Mirror's first steps into more of a technological medium.
The Watermans installed new computers. The newspaper office was remodeled, and new heating and cooling systems were added.
The basement was created into office space. And lastly, a fax line and four regular phone lines were installed.
In August 1999, the Mirror went online. The Website, www.tonganoxiemirror.com, was created.
The latest generation came to power Sept. 2, 1999, when WorldWest Limited Liability Company, based in Lawrence, purchased the newspaper from the Waterman family.
The Mirror's offices were moved to a fifth location, 520 E. Fourth. On Nov. 17, 1999, Caroline Trowbridge, was named editor and publisher of The Mirror.
"We are very proud of The Mirror's long history in Tonganoxie," Trowbridge said recently. "It is that history that we here at The Mirror feel a deep connection to. It gives us our roots in the community, and we think that is important.
"Each Wednesday, we try to put out the best newspaper possible for the citizens of Tonganoxie and all of Southern Leavenworth County."
Trowbridge said that leading the newspaper at a time of growth for the area is exciting. Tonganoxie and the entire U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor are poised for tremendous growth, she said.
"None of us really knows what direction this part of the county will take," she said. "But many of us believe that Tonganoxie and southern Leavenworth County are on the cusp of some really great things. I'm truly gratified to be in a position to document and support those really great things."