Charlie Gay
Founder of the Big Rapids Pioneer



The Charlie Gay home located on Linden Street, between the alley and the corner of State Street.

Charlie Gay, founder of the Big Rapids Pioneer and senior member of the firm of Gay & Krouser, its present publishers, was born at Cuyahoga Falls. Summit County, Ohio, November 12, 1837. Mr. Gay secured a substantial elementary education in the common and graded schools previous to his fifteenth year, when he entered a printing office to acquire the details of the profession to which he devoted his life. He came to Newaygo, Michigan, to fill a position in the office of the Republican, where he is occupied six years.

In 1862, in view of the budding prospects of Big Rapids he proceeded hither with the purpose of establishing a county journal. A cursory examination of the field seemed to warrant the enterprise, and on the 17th of April, 1862, the initial number of the Mecosta County Pioneer was issued. The enterprise was established at a momentous period. The country was in the throes of the awful internecine conflact that threatened the dissolution and ruin of the grandest national structure on the records of time, and Mr. Gay fully realized the responsibility of his undertaking at such an era. He established his paper as the organ of demagogiam, but on the inflexible and uncompromising fundamental principle incorporated in the sentiment. "The Union, the Constitution ans enforcement of the Laws." The earnest young editor at once put himselfon rapport with the community in which he established his business, and enterted heartily into the work which, directly and indirectly was uppermost in every man's purposes - the re-establishment of the national unity, and the advancements of the interests of Mecosta County. An examination of the early files of the Pioneer makes an impression which should be placed on record that absolute moral cleanliness pervaded the entire community. The fact is rendered still more patent by the circumstances under which the judiciary of the county is regulated.>br>
The Pioneer was the first paper published in the county, and until August 1, 1867 was issued in a folio of five columns. It was then enlarged by two additional columns, and again, in 1870, increased to the same proportion, becoming a pretentious jornal of nine columns. In July 1874. it took on additional dignity by conversion to a seven column quarto when its style was changed to the Big Rapids Pioneer. August 1, 1881, the paper was issued as a daily, which still continues and, conjointly with the weekly edition is steadily increasing in influence and popularity.

C.C. Fuller was associated with the Pioneer in an editorial capacity from the beginning for several years, but for the first three years it was owned exclusively by Mr. Gay. December 2, 1865 with the beginning of the fourth volume, appeared the announcement that Orrin T. Fuller had been received as a partner. The paper was then published by Charlie Gay & Co., until May, 1873, and then Mr. Gay was alone until November, 1876, when the Magnet was combined with the Pioneer, and the Pioneer-Magnet Printing Company was formed. consisting of Charlie Gay, M.W. Barrows and R.O. Rose. In February 1882, Mr. Barrows purchased Mr. Rose's interest. After Mr. Barrows death in February, 1883, Mr. Gay was once more sole manager, although Mrs. Barrows still retained an interest in the paper. Upon her death this interest passed to her daughter, Mrs. J.J. Krouser, and for two years the business has been conducted by the firm of Gay & Krauser.

The marriage of Mr. Gay to Rosalie Bailey took place at Newaygo May 12, 1860. Mr. and Mrs. Gay have two chilkdren - Fred, born February 21, 1862, and Jessie, now Mrs. W. Holt, born November 6, 1863.

Charlie Gay passed away March 2, 1916 and is buried in Section C of the Highlandview Cemetery. The Barrows are also buried in the Highlandview Cemetery.