Work Brings Success To Milford Publisher


In this age of lavish leisure, soft security and fat early pensions it's hard to persuade youngsters that success is still compounded of two old-fashioned ingredients-- spelled R-I-S-K and W-O-R-K.

But it's true, and Arch Baumgartner is a convincing case in point.

Life put Arch behind a large eight-ball early. He was 12 when his farmer father, Emil, died in bleak 1930, after siring 15 children--11 of whom still lived. With help from the older kids, Mom Baumgartner saw Arch, her youngest, through high school, then said, "Now you're on your own."

Ambitious, Arch wanted college. He got in a year at Ohio's Western Reserve by living with a teacher brother in Cleveland, and two more at University of Michigan by coaxing a $1,500 personal loan from Jake Neff, Milford banker.

In July 1939-- not yet 22, deeply in debt and driving an ice truck for his brother, Wilbur--Arch heard that Milford's weekly paper, the Mail, was for sale.

The Mail wasn't much--a hand-set relic with 600 subscribers and antique machinery. Moreover, Arch knew utterly nothing about printing or newspapering. But the price--$1,800--was low, and a tiny town like Milford doesn't offer many opportunities to young men eager to be on their own.

Too deeply in hock to get more bank money, Arch called a family conference. Would his older brothers and sisters finance him? Some were dubious, but all chipped in loans.

More accurately, he was reporter, circulation seller, ad man, printer, pressman, janitor and flunky.

Every word in the Mail had to be hand-set, letter by laborious letter. The Mail's old owner tarried scarcely long enough to teach typesetting to Arch and his sister, Edith, who joined him.

Luckily, Arch found a tramp printer at $15 a week. Somehow they got the paper out. After two no-profit months, Arch said: "We've got to get a Linotype. Hand-setting is killing me."

He found a $900 used lino he could buy for $15 a month. It shook, rattled and groaned, but miraculously spewed out type lines--until a rainy night and leaky roof rusted its innards. Arch complained to the landlord, who raised eyebrows and said: "Your rent is $12 a month. For that you expect a new roof?"

Down the street at 206 Main was an old, vacant building. Arch bought it for $500, at $15 a month. Getting materials on credit (another $15 per month!) Arch remodeled and moved in. Repaired, the old lino grumbled anew and the Mail kept appearing.

The paper paid Arch little for his 16-hour days--but it did nibble away at its obligations and by late 1941, with circulation and ad volume slowly growing, the eager young publisher began to see daylight.

Then war's roof fell on Arch's head. Drafted, he was tempted to sell out and salvage what he could. But Arch is stubborn, and his sister, Edith, said, "We'll get out the Mail."

So off went Pvt. Baumgartner to the Air Force, vowing he'd apply part of his piddling military pay to debts at home.

Within a year, Arch won a commission and married Della Frauhiger, a Warsaw girl, who worked so they could pay $50 a month on old debts.

Their Ronnie arrived late in '43 and Arch soon went overseas. When she could, Della got a job back home so the $50 payments could continue.

As a result of these sacrifices, Arch and Della were almost debt free at war's end. Now they poured their energies into the Mail and Milford.

As they built up the paper, Arch was able to buy a new press, a second lino, three job presses, new type and better tools. Della worked at his side, taking timeout to have Janie in 1948.

In 1950, some people at Pierceton, east of Warsaw, approached Arch. Their weekly paper had folded. Would Arch launch one?

Arch did. In six weeks, he had 400 subscribers. Today circulation tops 1,000.

Even with two papers, Arch and Della found time for worthwhile civic projects. They were leaders in a campaign that created a fine park at Waubee Lake, a project that won top Indiana honors in a Kroger "Build a Better Community" contest. Arch became PTA president, Lions club secretary, an active Chamber of Commerce booster.

"Anything that's good for Milford is worth doing--no matter how busy you are," he'd often say.

A scant 14 years ago, when he was whisked off to war, Arch was $4,000 in hock. Today he and Della have a spacious, comfortable home, an ample income.

Lucky? Nuts: Arch earned it--every hard-won bit of it.

And in America, even in a tiny town, it's an example of the success that can be won by any young man with a zest to learn, the guts to gamble and will to W-O-R-K.

Warsaw Times-Union Thursday, October 11, 1956

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