Converse, Asa Finch

September 11, 1875 - November 13, 1942

Asa F. Converse graduated from Ottawa University in June of 1898 at age 22.  By September he had raised $1000 in borrowed funds and arranged another loan to purchase (on time) the weekly Globe from owners and publishers, G.R. Hickock and Clark Wilkinson.  The paper was located on the second floor of the building at 418 Main, the old Purina Building.  The purchase included subscription lists, moveable type, typecases, a 6 column quarter Vaughn press, a Washington hand press, many pounds of slugs and leads, and most important of all “Good will.”  Also inventoried was “One Water Bucket,” the state of the art fire extinguisher of the day!

Asa was born September 11, 1875 in Louisburg, Kansas, the son of John Melvin and Cynthia Caroline (Finch) Converse.  His father, a Civil War veteran and survivor of Andersonville Prison, died when Asa was 7; his sister Hope, only five.  His mother received a Civil War veteran widow’s pension of $6 a month.  To subsidize this meager income, she sold milk from the family cow to the neighbors.  Asa began work at age 12 at the Louisburg Herald and he was bitten by the printing bug.

In 1892, the family moved to Ottawa so that Asa and Hope would have access to a college education.  During college, Asa worked for the Ottawa Republican, which later merged with the Ottawa Herald.  This background in newspaper work encouraged Asa to change his choice of careers from “professor” to “newspaper editor,” a title he carried proudly for 44 years.

May Frink was born May 12, 1877, one of a pair of twin sisters, daughters of Asa Adelbert and Laura (Belts) Frink of Frinkville, Kansas.  She had one younger sister and three younger brothers.  The chuildren attended country school in a schoolhouse on the Frink farm and later attended school in the new town of Fairview.  She met Asa while attending the Academy at Ottawa Unversity but returned home to help care for her father when he became ill with tuberculosis.  He died in June 1899.  Her brothers were only 15, 12 and 8 at the time of their father’s death, but the family worked together to keep the farm prospering.

In January of 1900, Asa started construction of a new home at 201 Main in Wellsville.  The Globe was apparently very successful in order for him to take on this additional expense.

Asa and May were the parents of 3 children: Adelbert Frink, Carolyn Maude, and Elizabeth Hope.  The children attended the Wellsville schools and all went on to college.  Adelbert attended West Point and made his career in the Navy, retiring as a Rear Admiral.  He and his wife Betty had two children, John William and Cynthia.  Carolyn attended Stanford University in California, going on to teach several years in China at the University of Shanghai.  She married Henry F. Misslewitz, a journalist and author.  Elizabeth attended Ottawa University until her marriage in 1929 to Clyde Nichols of rural Wellsville.  They made their home in the Denver, Colorado area.  They had five children, Sherman Duane, Carolyn May, Riley Converse, Kay and Julia Hope.

In 1909, a new brick building was built at 513 Main to house the well-established Globe.  the large skylights and massive storage areas for paper stock and cold lead type were important enhancements to the production of the Globe.  The equipment was updated in 1916 with the addition of the large Whitlock press and later the major change to hot lead with the purchase of the Mergenthaler linotype.

May’s influence in the production of the Globe was substantial.  Starting in 1914, her poems appeared as a weekly front page feature for the next 42 years.  She also wrote a weekly “Convers-ation” column, relating the happenings of family and friends.  A vast amount of Wellsville history is recorded in these columns.

In 1935, Asa was elected to the State Legislature as a Representative on the Republican ticket.  While he attended long sessions in Topeka, May kept the presses rolling in Wellsville.  The couple was also very active in community affairs including church work, education, political policies of the small town and both had a natural interest in and concern for others.

Asa died on Friday, November 13, 1942 after “putting the paper to bed” one last time the day before.  True to her dedicated nature, May took over as Editor, and with the help of her daughter Elizabeth, they put an outstanding issue on the streets the following Thursday.  The front page poem was one of Asa’s favorites which May had written years earlier titled “The Country Editor.”

May continued as Editor and Publisher until 1957.  She spent many of the winter months in California where she maintained a home in San Mateo.  Her identical twin, Maude, was an excellent photographer and they owned a framing shop and photography studio aptly called “The Studio.”

Her daughter, Elizabeth, was Managing Editor, having total responsibility for “getting the paper out” much of the time.  May continued to write, having many of her poems published in other publications.  She was honored to be named Poet Laureate of Kansas in 1926.

May died December 5, 1957 at the K.U. Medical Center of a stroke suffered the previous day.

 

 

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