The Butler Eagle, whose headquarters are situated at 114 Diamond Street in Butler, Pennsylvania, is the county’s oldest running newspaper. Tracing its roots as far back as 1869, the paper remains at the forefront of technological innovation. Thomas D. Robinson, an Irish immigrant and member of the state legislature, along with six veterans of the Civil War, and prominent Butler citizens, established the Eagle “with the object of providing the county with a newspaper which would expound the ideas of the solider and military element of the Republican party and inculcate lessons of patriotism from their point of view.” Together the men created the Franklin Printing Association, but after only two years, disputes arose due to conflicting opinions and consequently, Robinson took over as the sole editor of the newspaper in 1871. He held this position until 1879 when he sold the rights to his son, Eli. During this decade, the Eagle moved its headquarters to East Cunningham Street, now the site of the Butler Water Company. In 1902, Eli Robinson entered into a partnership with an attorney named Levi M. Wise, during which time the Eagle became a daily edition newspaper.
Levi Wise’s initial involvement in the newspaper industry was a result of a default of payment for legal services by the owner of the Butler County Observer, whom he was representing. By selling oil leases that he owned, Wise bought Robinson out of the partnership and merged the Eagle with the Observer, moving his company from Evans County to Butler. It was under Levi Wise that the Eagle moved to its current place of residence, though the building that stands today was not constructed until 1924. Under the ownership of the Wise family, the Butler Eagle adapted itself to changing technology and innovation. Even in the early twentieth century, the Eagle was a herald of different standards in the business world. Bertha Wise, Levi’s wife, played a pivotal role in the Wise family’s early management of the paper. During a time when women were not granted significant roles in the workforce, Bertha served as managing editor from 1912-1916, and as manager and president after her husband’s death.
What has been referred to as a “newspaper dynasty,” the Wise family’s ownership of the Eagle has kept the newspaper at the forefront of expanding technology. In the 1960’s the Eagle implemented a new printing press which made the process of creating lightweight printing plates much easier. In 1971, the Eagle’s newsroom was the first in the United States to replace typewriters with computer terminals and installed one of the first computer-based typesetting devices.
The Butler Eagle burst into the twenty-first century as the first newspaper in the United States to implement a Goss Uniliner double-wide press. Standing three to four stories high, and able to print up to 70,000 copies per hour, the Eagle built an 82,100 square-foot production center on West Wayne Street which housed the new printing press, distribution center and circulation department. The paper continues to be a faithful reporter of local affairs, recording births and deaths, sporting events, natural disasters, fires, crimes, politics, social events, and “the full gamut of human experiences, from joy to tragedy.”