The History of The Knowles Press, Inc.
and The Hartville News from 1925 to 2011
In 1923 and 1924, Alton Knowles was a senior at Hartville High School and editor for the school newspaper. It was
part of his job to take the paper to North Canton to be printed at The North Canton Sun. From observing the mechanics
of the trade, he developed an interest in printing. Mr. Sell, owner of The Sun, gave Alton a
catalog and in the spring of 1924 he sent away for a small hand operated Kelsey press and book of printing
instructions. After graduating from high school, he took a full-time job at The Monarch Rubber Company but began to
handset forms and print them as a hobby in his parents’ basement at 306 East Maple St. He printed business cards,
letterheads, envelopes, and invoices.
In 1925, Alton quit at Monarch and took a printing job at Klingstedt Bros. in Canton, Ohio as a printing apprentice
learning to operate larger presses. Later, he moved to Carvan Cutlery Co. to manage the printing department.
Meanwhile, his part-time business grew and he traded in the Kelsey for an electrically operated hand-fed platen press.
In 1928, he accepted a job at Wagner Motor Co. in Hartville, at 118 N. Prospect, so he would not have to drive so
far to work and could oversee the construction of his new house at 312 East Maple St. since he was planning to marry.
He wed Helen Cannon on October 20, 1929. The stock market crashed the following week and what was to become
known as The Great Depression began. In 1930, Alton, having been the last person hired at Wagner Motors, lost his job.
Since jobs were nearly impossible to find and his printing was growing he decided, with his wife’s help, to start a
weekly newspaper. While Alton approached local merchants for advertising, Helen called towns people for local news
and went door-to-door selling subscriptions for 75õ a year or 50õ for six months. Because of the hard economic times,
several persons were hesitant and asked to be reimbursed if the newspaper should fold. One hundred copies were
printed the first four weeks and were distributed free. In that time, 300 subscribers were acquired and a second class
mailing permit was issued by the U.S. Postal Service on October 17, 1930. Thus began The Hartville News as a weekly
In 1935, Alton’s younger brother, Dale, joined the enterprise as the commercial printing and newspaper had grown
and Alton and Helen were expecting their first child. At this time, the printing equipment was housed in Alton’s basement
at 312 East Maple. In 1936, Dale was engaged to be married to Marjorie Shields, so he
decided to build a print shop behind Alton’s home with an apartment above where he and his family could live. After
completion of the 1200 square foot building, a second linotype and more printing presses were purchased. In the early
1960’s an addition doubled the size of the building.
As the business grew, Marge and Helen worked with their husbands as did Alton and Dale’s widowed mother, Ida,
and Alton’s three daughters, Jacquelin (Jackie), Lindalee (Linny) and Rosalee (Rogue), and Dale’s children, Keith, Kim
and Kris. Because there was much hand folding, collating, and electric stitching done in the 1940-1950’s plus
handwritten names and addresses each week in mailing the newspaper, all were kept busy, but worked without pay.
In 1962, The Hartville News switched from hot type to offset printing. In 1972, the varityper was replaced with a
Compugraphic typesetter which was much more sophisticated. The business also became incorporated that year. In
1975, it was found to be less costly to send the newspaper out to be printed on a web press that used rolls of paper
rather than flat sheets.
In 1974, Jackie, Linny and Rogue all began working full-time after Helen fell down the basement stairs in her home
and crushed her knee, thus disabling her from May through December of that year.
In 1981, Alton and Dale were ready to retire and so on March 1st, Jackie, Linny and Rogue, after discussing the
situation with their husbands, decided to purchase the business to keep it in the family. They paid the business off in
1986 and later purchased the building from Dale.
From 1981 to 2000, many changes had to be made. Their first purchase was a small copier for copying proofs to be
shown customers. A new vertical camera, film processor, metal plate processor, fax machine, two-color printing press,
newer electric folder, and a safety equipped electric paper cutter soon followed. By the late 1980’s, the first Tandy
personal computer was purchased for printing subscribers’ labels. Since then, it has been constant updating of
computer equipment as technology changes quickly. In 1993, a new one color Ryobi offset press was purchased. It was
such an improvement over other presses that in 1998 a new two-color Ryobi was also acquired.
In 1994, our newspaper was chosen by the Ohio Historical Society to be of enough historical significance to
preserve the issues for future generations. The first issue, beginning September 12, 1930, through December 1990
were microfilmed by the Ohio Newspaper Project and are on file in the Columbus Ohio Historial Society library.
We purchased a Duplo DBM-100 bookletmaker in September of 2000, replaced the electric punch for plastic comb
binding in 2002, and the platemaker in 2003. Also in 2003, we added a Strate Flo envelope feeder with a 3 foot delivery
conveyor, making printing envelopes easier.
Also, in 2002, we began updating our graphic design abilities by purchasing the newest in computer equipment with
Dell PCs and our first MacIntosh. We added software, including Quark Express, Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, Photoshop
and later, In Design.
Our newspaper circulation is now approximately 2500, serving Hartville and the surrounding areas of Uniontown,
Marlboro, Greentown, Mogadore, and parts of Alliance, Louisville and North Canton.
Newspapers are mailed to many states including California, Florida, and Maine, and even to Canada. The
newspaper comprises about 55% of the business while commercial printing makes up the other 45%. Business cards,
letterheads, envelopes, invoices, work orders, flyers, brochures, posters, rubber stamps, announcements and
invitations, and organization yearbooks are some of the items printed. In the last several years, the business has added
leased equipment to make posters up to 18” x 24”, colored copies of photos as well as black and white copies, a
laminator and equipment to reproduce engineering copies for the builders and architects in the area.