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Newspapers contain great source of local history

NEWSWORTHY: Walker Street Casino, 1907 where the office of the Casino and Kyogle Courier was situated.
NEWSWORTHY: Walker Street Casino, 1907 where the office of the Casino and Kyogle Courier was situated.

OLD newspapers and other printed materials, especially local newspapers, can be a great source of history.

Many of our newspapers, however, had a very short life and no copies have survived. Some others are incomplete.

Most of the surviving newspapers have been microfilmed so that, hopefully, the information they contain is now preserved.

Most of these publications were started by one person, and some later became family enterprises.

Such a one was the Casino and Kyogle Courier.

The story of this newspaper begins in 1866 with the birth of Alexander Ellis Leece in Uralla.

He was the seventh child of James Danvers and Ellen Leece (nee Thomas).

James Danvers Leece was a Methodist minister and shortly after Alexander was born the family went to New Zealand where his father was placed in charge of the Central Otago District.

When his mother died in 1877 the family returned to Uralla where they had made many friends.

It was here that Alexander completed his schooling.

After serving an apprenticeship with the Uralla Times, Alexander went to work with the Glen Innes Examiner.

Shortly afterwards he met Rose Hutton whom he married in 1889. In 1897 he became editor of the Maclean Advocate.

In 1904 the family moved again and Alexander joined the staff of the Richmond River Express.

However, he wished to produce his own newspaper and on December 1, 1904 the first issue of the Casino and Kyogle Courier rolled off the press in a shed at the back of the old Royal Hotel in Canterbury Street, Casino.

Later the newspaper was moved to premises in Walker Street.

It is said that the owner of the Royal Hotel, a Mr Daley or Daly (possibly a son of John Thomas and Helen Daly) had helped finance the project.

A printing business was also established there with Neil Coleman.

Later two of the Leece sons became partners. On Coleman's death the firm became A.E. Leece and Sons.

Two of the Leece boys, James (Jim) and Leonard (known as Barton) enlisted in the First World War.

James was one of the firm's partners. Barton was killed in France but James returned home in 1918 and resumed work with his father.

Prior to leaving for the War in 1915 James had married Elma Isabel McKerihan in Queensland where he was in camp.

Elma apparently came from Casino though she had been born in Tenterfield.

The young couple had probably wanted to marry before James left for overseas and perhaps their parents had advised otherwise!

During the war Alexander, in Casino, had kept a close eye on the progress of the conflict in general, and on his sons in particular.

In after-years his daughter Jessie recalled her father staying up late each night pasting the latest war reports. He had a special large board for this in the front office with a lantern hanging over it.

His wife supplied him with a large billy of paste and kept him well supplied with refreshments on these nightly vigils.

The newspaper carried on until 1932 when it ceased publication. The firm continued, however, as printers. In 1939 Alexander died in Brisbane. James took over as manager.

A new partnership was established with his brother Leslie and James' own son, Bruce.

During the Second World War James apparently served with the Volunteer Defence Corps. The printing business continued until the 1950s when it was sold to the Richmond River Express.

James and his wife retired to their home in Casino. His wife, Elma, died in 1965 and James died in 1966. They are both buried in Casino.

Topics:  history leece family microfilmed casino and kyogle courier newspapers



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