Manchester Enterprise

By dhowell - Posted on 28 December 2007

The story of Mat D. Blosser, publisher-editor of the Manchester Enterprise for 72 years, is a colorful one. He was born in Tecumseh, Sept. 3, 1846, and died April 17, 1941. His parents were Peter F. and Sarah Baylis Blosser. They came from Lockport, New York, in the fall of 1844, bringing their 7-week-old infant son, Thomas Baylis.

Thomas and Ann Baylis and their children had preceded the Blossers to Tecumseh. Baylis, a millwright, came to Michigan to oversee the building and maintaining of flouring and grist mills. The Globe Mill was already established in Tecumseh, so Baylis and his son Lyman, and son-in-law Peter Blosser (also a miller) were employed there.

In Sept. 1846, when Mat was a small boy, his parents came to Manchester. He remained in Tecumseh with his grandparents as his mother was a semiinvalid most of her life.

The Tecumseh Herald, a weekly newspaper, employed three young boys, George and Charles Spafford and Mat Blosser. After they learned the printing business George Spafford and Mat Blosser came to Manchester. With the help of others the Manchester Printing Co. was organized and the first weekly paper rolled off the press on October 17, 1867, with Geo. Spafford as editor-publisher.

A year later, Nov. 26, 1868, at the age of 22 years, Mat Blosser purchased the business and assumed entire control of the Manchester Enterprise. He continued to be active until December, 1939. He established a record of one person in the same business for 72 years.

Previous to coming here Mat became interested in a cigar factory in Tecumseh and learned the trade of making cigars. Equipped with two means of earning a livelihood, printing and cigar making, he sought members of their family living in the east and spent time in Buffalo and Lockport, New York and finally New York City, but when the opportunity arose he went into printing.

He married Mary Etta Harris, 19 years, of Grass Lake. She was the daughter of Burlingame and Sarah Harris. They had lived in Manchester for a while after coming from Syracuse, New York. Etta (as she was called) attended the Ward School. Mr. Harris was in ship building in New York State.

Peter Blosser became affiliated with J. D. Van Duyn and Dr. J. A. Lynch in their druggist-grocery business. But in 1875 he joined his son in the printing business where he worked as a pressman, had charge of the mailing list and also the book bindery.

For some years Mat published a German text book. It was printed in Chicago, but the binding was done at the Enterprise office. In those days,magazines were not plentiful and families often had them bound for their libraries. Blossers were no exception and volumes of Century, Cosmopolitan and St. Nicholas were among those they bound for their home along with the files of the Enterprise.

The Blosser children, Fred, Margaret and Maree were associated with the local paper. Fred started at an early age and made this business his life work. He was employed in Jackson, Sioux City, Iowa and Seattle, Wash. He returned to Manchester in 1917, and worked with his father until in October 1928, he went to Tucson, Arizona,because of ill health where he died a short time after his arrival. His father was 82 years at that time.

Mr. Blosser was one of the early members of the Michigan Press Association and very active in it. In those early years, the association arranged some extensive trips both east and west. Reports of Mr. and Mrs. Blosser's trips from Seattle and California to the rugged coast of Maine were always shared with their readers. He took in the world's fair in Philadelphia in 1876 and reported on the novel exhibition.

The Blossers were zealous members of the Masonic fraternity. Peter was a Knight Templar of Adrian Commandery, Fred a member of the Adronriam Council here and Mat a 32nd degree Mason in Detroit.

Mat Blosser made himself a friend to those who lived here and put out a welcoming hand to those who made Manchester their adopted home. He was noted for his willingness to work to promote the best interests of the community.

His daughter Margaret learned to hand set type at the age of 12 and her free time from school was spent helping. After graduating from high school, she was taken into the office as compositor and continued to work until 1900. Daughter Maree also had her duties and on publication day everyone had to help hand fold the papers. It was not uncommon to have villagers tease Mr. Blosser about "his homemade office force."

In the history of the Enterprise written by Margaret Blosser Burtless in 1952, she recalled the early days of the printing office. She remembered visiting it as a small child when it was located in the back room over what is now Brown's TV store. At that time the building was the Wm. Baxter store. Mrs. Burtless remembered seeing her father printing the newspaper on a hand press.

A few years later the equipment was moved to the second floor at the left of the stairway, in what was then the Goodyear building. It was later owned by the Arbeiter Society and is now owned by the American Legion. In 1904 Mr. Blosser purchased the building on the east side of the river on the south side of the street. This is the building which the Blosser family sold to Fred and Ellen Buss for a restaurant. At this time the Manchester Enterprise office has been moved to 111 E. Main St. and is operated by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Macomber.

Two grandchildren of Mat Blosser are living in this community. Mrs. Rolland Grossman and Mrs. LoRen Trolz are both very active in community affairs and have contributed in many ways to the growth and welfare of this area by giving freely of their time and energy to promote many worthwhile ventures. And when they help on Community Chest or a cancer drive they are not following in the path of strangers-long ago grandfather Blosser set the pace.