One of the youngest successful journalists of Illinois is the gentleman whose name heads this article, the publisher of the Weekly Enterprise, of Grand Ridge, LaSalle county. From his boyhood he has been deeply interested in newspaper work, and, under the judicious tutelage of his father, the late lamented James E. McMullan, himself a very enterprising journalist, he mastered the details of the business when he was a mere youth, and has steadilv and ambitiously striven to attain higher things in his chosen profession.
The birth of James Espey McMullan occurred in a farm-house in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1840. He not only learned agriculture in its various branches but also became an expert carpenter, following that calling for a number of years. He was married in the Keystone state, June 2, 1870, his bride being Miss Arabelle Bute. Three children blessed their union, of whom the eldest, Minnie, is the wife of W. J. Dearth, of Chicago; Frank E. is the subject of this sketch, and Arthur G. is a student in the Grand Ridge schools. In 1875 the family removed to Grand Ridge, with which place the interests of James E. McMullan were thenceforth to be associated. In 1882 he purchased the hardware business of E. Finley, to whom he sold out at the end of three years. Then for a few years he gave his attention to the buying and selling of livestock, and to the realestate business. At one time he owned a large section of the land in the south end of town, where some of the finest residences here have been built within the past few years, owing to his liberality and enterprise. In 1891 the Grand Ridge Building & Improvement Company was organized, w4th Mr. McMullan as president, and the same year he was placed in charge of the newspaper known as the Herald, which was published by the Building & Improvement Company under the name of the Herald Publishing Company. After two years of practical experience as manager of the journal the paper was sold to Mr. C. R. Bruer, who carried it on until the plant was destroyed by fire, November 17. 1893, and even then endeavored to continue the business by having the press work done at Streator. This was unprofitable, and, believing that the time was ripe for another venture. Mr. McMullan purchased a new and complete printing outfit, and on January 4, 1894, the first issue of the Weekly Enterprise was published by the firm of J. E. McMullan & Son. From that day until his death the senior partner lost no opportunity to build up the paper, which was essentially devoted to the promotion of the local welfare. Among the numerous industries and organizations with which he was prominently connected were the Grand Ridge Electric Light, Power & Creamery Company, and Cigar Factory No. 793. The first mentioned company, organized in 1892, erected the first power-house and introduced the fine electric-light system in this place. Unfortunately, the plant was burned to the ground July 19, 1892, though it has since been rebuilt. The creamery plant suffered the same fate, and it, too, has been re-established. Until his death Mr. McMullan was a stockholder in the new electric-light concern and in the cigar factory, both of which commanded a liberal patronage. He was an ardent Democrat, but though frequently urged to accept public office, he firmly declined, with one notable exception, when, yielding to the earnest wishes of some of his nearest friends, he acted as supervisor for one term, refusing a renomination. In his domestic life his most lovable traits of character were shown, for, while he was extremely popular with his business associates and the public in general, he reserved for the dear ones of his home circle the noblest and richest side of his nature. A thousand hearts, probably, were deeply saddened and touched when the news came of his sudden demise, March 6, 1896, in the fifty-seventh year of his age, and his memory is tenderly cherished in the hearts of a host of sincere friends.
Frank E. McMullan, who is ably carrying on the newspaper work inaugurated by his father, is, as stated previously, a young man, as he was born barely twenty-three years ago. He grew to manhood here and received his preliminary education in the public schools of Grand Ridge, subsequently attending the Ottawa Business College. When about seventeen years of age he entered the printing office, and since that time has steadily risen in the journalistic world. Under his systematic business policy the Enterprise is rapidly progressing, and now commands the respect of the public. It aims to present the news, local and general, in a concise, readable manner, and as it is independent in its political attitude it can offend no one on that score. The office is well equipped with modern machinery and printing supplies, a fine press and engine and job-printing presses. The regular subscribers number about one thousand and the circulation is, of course, considerably larger. Though still publishing the Enterprise, Mr. McMullan has again entered Knox College, at Galesburg, for the purpose of finishing his education.
In his personal political views Mr. McMullan is a Democrat, and has taken a very active part in local campaign work. He is at present serving on the county central committee and is now a village trustee. Possessing musical talent, he has been the leader of the Grand Ridge Cornet Band for some time. Socially he is held in high esteem, and is connected with the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America. He was married recently, on the 25th of January, 1899, Miss Carrie B. Leighton, one of the most popular young ladies of this place, becoming his bride. She is a daughter of L. K. Leighton, a well-known citizen, and is accomplished and justly admired for her numerous sterling qualities.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 58-60.