The headlines in the very first edition of the Bangor Daily News, published June 18, 1889, weren’t earth-shattering, in terms of newsworthiness: Comings and goings of ships up and down the Penobscot River. A murder trial in Chicago. Flooding in the Midwest. Horse racing results.
But just as it was 130 years ago, even today, for every significant story or major news event that happens, there are countless other stories about everyday life in Maine, across the country and around the world that fill the pages of the BDN.
One family has owned the BDN for nearly the entirety of its existence: four generations of the family of publisher Richard J. Warren. Since purchasing the BDN in 1895, his family has seen the newspaper change in countless ways over the decades, shepherding it through times both good and lean.
Warren was just 3 years old when his grandfather, publisher Fred Jordan, the second family member to own the paper, died in 1947. That year, Warren’s grandmother, Lillis Towle Jordan, took over the paper, becoming Maine’s first female newspaper publisher.
Warren recalled his grandmother bristling at the suggestion at the time from Bangor’s leading bankers, business owners and other professionals that they — all men — would handle the real work of running the paper.
“She told them she could handle it herself, thank you,” Warren said. “My grandmother had a lot of influence on me growing up. She was a very tough person.”
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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