The first Dalby Herald office.
The first Dalby Herald office.

Celebrating the early days of the Dalby Herald

WHEN the first Dalby Town Council elections were held in 1863 there was no Dalby Herald around to record the details. One of the few reports of that historic event was found in later years under the foundation stone of old St John’s Church.

This report was found in No. 21 of the Dalby Herald which had been printed a couple of years later.

As all council records were destroyed by fire, this information seemed to shed light on those who were not successful at the poll.

Henry Charles Geisel, great-grandfather of Dalby Town Council’s final mayor spent most of his life in and around this town.

He remembered Michael Jordan and Alfred Robertson establishing the “Herald” in 1865. He spoke highly old Michael Jordon and did many gardening jobs for him.

“I used to be working at his place and when he came home at 6pm and found me working about the place, he would say ‘Geisel, this is no place for you at this time of day. You get home and have your tea,” he said.
I used to argue that 6 o’clock was the best time to work, in the cool of the day. Then he would bring out a tumbler of gin and say, ‘Take that Geisel, and clear off home’. A fine old man was Michael Jordan, and he made money too.”

Long-time resident of Dalby, William Chambers, backed Geisel’s opinion of the newspaper man. He proudly remarked, “Our old newspaper, the ‘Dalby Herald’ held its own through the years … against such as the Bulletin, the Record and then the Leader.”

“He was a grand old gentleman and married Miss Kenny, who was much younger than he was. His brother-in-law helped him but being a cripple had some difficulty in getting to the office. He nevertheless did all the writing for the paper and did it well.”

According to a letter from John Watts of New South Wales, he was the first apprentice they took into the office and afterwards came Fred Eastaughffe, James Young, Robert Buchanan, John Dexter son of the Town Clerk and John Sweeney. (who later went to the Government printing office).

Fred Eastaughffe was well educated and afterwards learned the printing business and journalistic profession. Probably it was at the departure of Robertson that he took over as joint proprietor with Jordan of the Dalby Herald. He took a deep interest in town affairs, sporting clubs and was an alderman on the council for several year. He married and raised a family of five sons.

Henry Pegg worked at the Herald during the 1890s and recalled some interesting events that took place. There was the time the paper was printed on brown paper gathered from the various grocer shops. Pegg attributed this to the exhaustion of the paper’s credit but others didn’t agree on this. He remembered fires and floods and a shocking suicide in the hotel in town.

Henry remembered the flood of 1901. He and a fellow printer were asleep in a room of the Queen Arms Hotel when everyone else left the building and were yelling for them to come out. They woke and found the water had entered their bedroom. They dressed standing on their beds and escaped through a window.

However it was the flood of 1942 that put the pressure on management and staff as it occurred on the morning the paper was to be printed The composing room was inundated with 15 – 20cm of water and there were fears of the big electric motors would be affected.

By mid-morning the water began to go down and though up to this time it had suffered devastation in the past by fire, with the help of dedicated staff the weekly edition came out that day.

Fire and flood impacted on the Dalby Herald over the years but modernisation changed the nature of the business. In 1911 J Shaw Thompson bought into the business and until 1990 when it was sold his daughter Hazel and son-in-law Bill Flower and their staff kept the paper in fine condition. Time and change affect all things and finally the Dalby Herald has come to a time of change.

The Dalby Herald and dedicated local journalists will continue to serve and inform the Western Downs community into the future at www.dalbyherald.com.au.


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