Daniel  Avery

The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday June 23, 1947
Page 3 column 2
          With 54 years of printing behind him, the career of Daniel W. (Prize) Avery reads like a history of Shelby county newspaper business itself, and at a youthful 69, he still sets a wicked galley of type as composing room foreman at The Democrat.
           Oldest employee of The Democrat both in service and summers, he was first “bitten by type lice” in 1893 when he went to work for W. Scott Ray, owner of  The Shelbyville Democrat,  great-grandparents of the current Shelbyville newspapers.  He was a youth of 17 then and served his apprenticeship setting type by hand after being stepped up from a paper route to a composing room job.
           Not until October of 1902 did the  International Typographical Union establish its local here, so an apprenticeship in those days served under the eagle eye of a composing room foreman.  Offices of  The Democrat were located then in the upstairs rooms at the northwest corner of Harrison and Franklin streets.
           Prior to his initial taste of printer’s ink, Avery ventured into the business world as sandpaper boy at Spiegel’s furniture factory.  His father, Herman Avery, was a carpenter from St. Paul, but brought his family to Shelbyville in 1890.  From Spiegel’s,  D. W. worked for a short time as messenger boy for the local  Western Union  office and then began carrying papers.
           After Scott Ray’s death, the task of operating  The Democrat  fell to his four sisters, the  Misses Hattie,  Fannie  and  Mary Ray and  Mrs. Sadie Kamp.  Hopefully they hired a manager from Michigan, a move which met with open disfavor by their employees who quit their jobs in protest.
           “The very day I walked out,” Avery recalled,  “I met  John J. Wingate  and his son who owned  The Republican  paper at that time, and they “signed me up.”  Later, when George M. Ray, Scott’s brother, replaced the out-of-town manager on  The Democrat,  Avery returned to the fold.  George Ray, incidentally, founded in later years what Avery called a “spite sheet” known as  “The Liberal,”  but which survived only a few years.  Avery, himself, was affiliated with the paper for a short time and selected composing room materials for the ill-fated venture.
           After his short hitch with George Ray, he returned to The Republican, lured, he said, by a new linotype machine - Shelbyville’s first.  Harry E. Riggelsberger, regular man then at the Republican, taught him the intricacies of the linotype.  Later he and Avery both went to Charleston, West Virginia, to the  Mose Donley Publishing Company.  He worked there on state printing composition for about a year, returning to Shelbyville in August of 1905.
           In the meantime, John Day DePrez and a few others had bought  The Democrat,  which Avery described as having “gone to pot.”  At that time  The Democrat  was getting all its type composition from  “The Morning News,”  but finding that arrangement highly unsatisfactory, bought their own linotype which Avery took over when he returned from Charleston.  Incidentally, they bought that old-time linotype for around $4,000-present day linotypes sell for around $8,000.
           By that time the  Shelbyville Typographical Union No. 532  was in existence, effecting salary and hour improvements for composing room men. Avery was the local’s first secretary and served almost continuously in that position until about five years ago.  A stock-holder in  The Democrat Publishing Company,  he holds the presidency of the company, which was formed around 1907.
           In June, 1920,  The Democrat  was transplanted from its North Harrison location to its present site - without missing an issue.
           “I had been down here getting the composing room set up,” Avery said.  “We moved on a Saturday after we got the paper out and were ready to roll again Monday.”  The present plant formerly was occupied by  Oscar Hand & Son, undertakers and furniture dealers.
           Mr. Avery joined forced with another linotype operator on June 25, 1932 - matrimonial forces, that is. His bride, was  Miss Emma M. Cook,  who ran a linotype on the Batesville Herald.  Their first home was at 628 Elm Street; the Avery’s live now at 1639 Meridian.  They share a joint hobby in automobile vacation trips, which have been many and distant.
           By why Prize is called “Prize” remains unanswered. He won’t tell, and he claims Mrs. Avery has never been able to find out either.
Contributed by Barb Huff

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