There is no remaining copy of the March 17, 1870, issue of the Jefferson County Union because founder William Dempster Hoard forgot to save one. But it still is remembered for being the first Union ever to roll off the press.
The tiny four-page weekly began in Lake Mills but moved to Fort Atkinson on May 2, 1883, at the prompting of Fort Atkinson businessmen. Hoard did not have sufficient funds to launch his own printing plant, so he turned to Miss Emma Brown, who was printing The Wisconsin Chief, a temperance newspaper. He bought his own plant about 1883 at the corner of South Main and South Third streets.
Business flourished and, on Jan. 23, 1885, Hoard separated the dairy section into what became Hoard's Dairyman magazine, today recognized worldwide as the "bible" of the dairy industry. Hoard, who served a term as governor and is credited with Wisconsin's transformation from a wheat to a dairy state, continued publishing the newspaper until his death. His sons then operated it until their passings.
The Jefferson County Union expanded to five days a week in 1946, adding "Daily" in front of its name. Today, W.D. Hoard & Sons Co. is owned by the Knox family, with Brian V. Knox serving as company president and Daily Union publisher.
The Daily Union remains one of a handful of independently owned daily newspapers in Wisconsin. Like W.D. Hoard, the news, advertising and production staffs are dedicated to serving residents of the greater Jefferson County area, always mindful of their founder's philosophy that "The next issue will be our best."