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John W. Surran

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John W. Surran

Posted: 1185930611000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Surran, Haney, Irwin, Martin
From Biographical memoirs of Huntington County, Indiana, 1901, pages 678-680

It is impossible to estimate the value and influence of a well-conducted newspaper in shaping and advancing the cause of education, religion or morality of a neighborhood, and he who searches for the greatest means of the material and moral growth of the thriving village of Warren has his attention soon drawn to the columns of the Republican, which has ever exerted a potent though modest effort to upbuild all those elements of progress and civilization. John W. Surran was born in Carroll county, Indiana, February 19, 1849, and is a son of Rev. John Surran, who was a prominent minister of the United Brethren church, standing high as one of the pioneers of the St. Joseph conference. John's mother was Elizabeth Haney, whose early training was such as would tend to mold the pliant ideas of the boy toward that which was noble and elevating. The boyhood of young Surran was mainly passed in Berrien county, Michigan, where his parents had removed in 1856, though at the age of nineteen he was entered in the Western College of Iowa, from which he graduated in the scientific course as a member of the class of 1873. Before graduating he decided to take up the study of law, and attended a course of lectures in the law school of the University of Michigan in 1874-75. Coming to Huntington county, he became a teacher in the Roanoke Academy, continuing the reading of law in the office of Sayler & Kenner until the spring of 1877, supplementing that with a brief course in the office of Judge Everett in Elkhart, Indiana, though in the meantime he had entered upon that course of work which later became his chosen profession. His first editorial experience came as local writer upon the Huntington Democrat, while studying law, where he grew to have such a liking for that line of work that he deemed it wise to make some changes in his plans, transferring his energies to the new field rather than to continue the pursuit of Blackstone. Accordingly we find him associated with Ed. Curtis in founding and maturing the Elkhart Daily News, which was no sooner placed upon a paying basis than it was sold to others; and in September, 1878, Mr. Surran became a resident of Warren, his first effort being what was called the News, an independent, four-page, seven-column folio, the first issue of which was dated December 6, 1878. Twenty years ago the demand for a local newspaper was not as keenly felt as at the present, and the growth was of a slow and tedious character, requiring the display of those proverbial traits of fortitude and privation so often found in connection with the establishment of a successful plant. Success finally came to the diligent proprietor; but the accumulation of many years of hard labor was consumed within a few moments, the plant being destroyed December 19, 1880. It soon rose from the ashes, however, donning a dress more in keeping with the advancing ideas of journalism. In 1900 the name of the Republican was adopted, and the paper became a partisan though broad-minded sheet. The paper is an entirely home production, the office being well fitted with gas engine, Taylor press, Peerless jobbers, and presenting a substantial and prosperous condition. No movement having for its object the betterment and advancement of Warren and vicinity but has found an ardent champion in the columns of the paper, the heart of the editor being in the development of the great resources of this section of the country and the making of a more advanced civilization. While he is not obnoxious in his political relations, he is generally found in the councils of the party, either as a member of the various conventions, serving on the central committee or chairman of the township committee. As an editor, in the use of language his columns are not noted for elegance as much as for the straightforward and vigorous phrasing, the meaning of which none may misconstrue. His own personality is displayed in his writings, there being what might be termed a lack of polish, made up for in terse and expressive sentences, each fraught with a peculiar meaning tending to emphasize the force and power of the ideas presented.

September 4, 1886, Mr. Surran was united in matrimony to Miss Sarah A. Irwin, a native of Huntington county, and who was permitted to be his helpmate and companion for but a few years, that dread of this state, consumption, carrying her from him in 1893, after an extended illness. While attending the Atlanta exposition in the fall of 1895, as a member of the Indiana Editorial Association, he met a cultured southern lady, Miss Elizabeth Martin, of Georgia, who, like himself, was seeking enjoyment in the sights of the exposition, and such a friendship was formed that two months later he again went south, returning with her as his bride. This lady, with her southern birth and breeding, has become an important factor in the life of Warren, her pleasing personality drawing to her the best afforded by the social side of the community. She became almost a mother in reality to the three little ones, Harry H., Arnis C. and Helen A., and is shaping their lives in accordance to the teachings of the Master that she professes. She is identified with the Ladies of the Maccabees, her good offices assisting materially in the progress of the local tent.

It is impossible in a brief article to do full justice to a man whose efforts toward the advancement of a community, in season and out of season, over a period of nearly a quarter of a century have been constantly impressed upon the citizens, as in the case of Mr. Surran. Every effort at the material or moral growth of Warren has been championed in the face, at times, of strenuous opposition, his realization of the future of the town being clear that it depended upon the securing of those things that ever tended to a broader and clearer understanding of the relations that should be borne by the members of a community to each other. Warren stands to-day a model young city, the indications of thrift and of a high moral tone being pronounced upon every hand, and when its position among the cities of the state is considered, due weight must be accorded the influence of the paper and the man of whom we have been speaking.

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