Edward A. K. Hackett. — A man of noble character and splendid ability, the late Edward Alexander Kelly Hackett lifted himself to the plane of high and worthy achievement and became one of the prominent and influential figures in Indiana journalism and in the directing of popular sentiment and action. By his forceful individuality and fine intellectuality he became a leader in the newspaper business in the Hoosier state, and from 1880 until his death, which occurred August 28, 1916, he was owner and publisher of the Fort Wayne Sentinel, which under his able supervision was maintained at a high standard and became one of the most influential daily papers of the state.
For a number of years he was also the owner of the Indianapolis Sentinel, which reached its greatest success and influence under his control, and above all this he was dominated by the exalted integrity of purpose and the high ideals that make for enlightened and useful citizenship. He was one of Fort Wayne's most distinguished and honored citizens, and this history would stultify its consistency were there failure to pay within its pages a tribute to his memory and to offer at least a brief review of his career. His final illness was of very brief duration and renal calculus was the immediate cause of his death.
Mr. Hackett was born at Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, June 29, 1851, and was a scion of one of the old and honored families of the historic Keystone state. He made the best possible use of the advantages afforded in the public schools of his native state and in his youth was enabled to supplement this discipline by a course of higher study in Bloomfield Academy, in his home county of Perry. It has consistently been said that the discipline of a newspaper office is tantamount to a liberal education, and this further reinforcement came to Mr. Hackett, for as a young man he learned the printer's trade in the office of the Perry County Democrat, a weekly paper published at New Bloomfield.
After thus gaining working facility in the "art preservative of all arts" he was employed at his trade in leading newspaper offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other eastern cities, and at the age of twenty-three years came to Indiana and established his residence at Bluffton, judicial center of Wells county. There he purchased a half interest in the Bluffton Banner, and within a short time came into sole control as editor and publisher of this paper. Energy and progressiveness characterized his entire career, and thus it may readily be understood that he made of this enterprise a definite success, thus opening the way to broader and more influential activity in connection with the newspaper business in northern Indiana.
In 1880 Mr. Hackett came to Fort Wayne and purchased from William Fleming the plant and business of the Fort Wayne Sentinel, his successful genius finding in this connection adequate scope for productive action, as shown in the fact that he developed the Sentinel into one of the most prosperous and influential daily papers in this section of the state and made the same potent in the fostering and advancing of community interests along both civic and material lines. He continued as owner of the plant and business of the Sentinel until the time of his death and the property is one of the most valuable of its kind in northern Indiana at the present time. As a writer Mr. Hackett was forceful, sure and circumspect, so that his editorial utterances carried weight not only in local affairs but also in exemplifying the best political thought and polity, his allegiance having been given to the Democratic party. From an editorial published at the time of his demise are taken the following extracts, which give supplemental information concerning his specially successful and broad-gauged business career:
"Mr. Hackett started the American Farmer, which for several years was published in the Sentinel office and later sold to a big publishing company. He was also at one time interested in the Indianapolis Sentinel, disposing of his interests several years before it suspended publication. Several years ago he established the Hackett Medical College at Canton, China, placing his eldest daughter, Dr. Martha Hackett, in charge. Mr. Hackett owned the Indianapolis Sentinel at the same time he owned the Fort Wayne Sentinel. The former paper was sold to Belford, Clark & Company, and then Mr. Hackett returned to Fort Wayne and devoted his entire attention to the local publication."
The deep Christian faith of Mr. Hackett guided and gov- erned his course in all of the relations of life and was essentially a faith not only of sentiment but also of service. He was earnest in the support of all moral agencies, including the cause of temperance, and was actively identified with the Winona Assembly and Summer Schools Association, at Winona Lake, Indiana. He was one of the most earnest and honored members of the First Presbyterian church of Fort Wayne, was an elder in the same at the time of his death and had also given characteristically effective service as superintendent of its Sunday school. Concerning him the following appreciative and merited statement has been made: "He took an active part in every movement which tended to the betterment of Fort Wayne, and his death comes as a loss to the entire city."
As a young man Mr. Hackett wedded Miss Mary A. Melsheimer, whose father was a representative physician and surgeon engaged in practice at Bluffton, Wells county, and she passed to eternal rest in April, 1898(sic: 1899). Of the children of this union the first born, Susan, died in infancy; the second child, Martha, is a talented physician and has charge of the hospital that was founded by her father in the city of Canton, China, as previously noted; Helen, the youngest of the children, is the wife of John C. Johnson, of Los Angeles, California, and they have two children — May Alice and John Edward.
On October 16, 1900, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Hackett to Miss Susie Emma Reid, who was born at Greenville, Bond county, Illinois, where she was reared and educated and where she completed a course in Almira College of that city. A woman of culture and gracious personality, she continues to occupy a secure place in connection with the representative social and religious activities of Fort Wayne, where she is a devoted member of the First Presbyterian church. With her in the beautiful home remain her three children — Catherine Reid, Edward A. K., Jr., and Wayne. Mrs. Hackett is a daughter of Colonel John B and Emma T. (Holden) Reid, long numbered among the most honored residents of Greenville, Illinois, her father having gained his military title through gallant service as a soldier and officer on the Union side during the Civil War.
The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Volume II Biographical; by B.J. Griswold, pub. 1917
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