In 1835, a fifteen-year-old named Wilbur Cherry ran away from home in upstate New York. He made his way to Texas, traveling over 1,600 miles. The same year, he volunteered to fight for against Mexico. After Texas won her independence, he remained in the army for five years, transferring to Company A, which was stationed in Galveston. At age twenty, he resigned and worked as a printer in Austin before returning to the island city.
At age twenty three, he formed a partnership with Michael Cronican that would define his career. Together, they published a weekly newspaper that became the Galveston Daily News, today’s oldest newspaper in Texas. They set up a small office on Tremont Street and rented printing equipment. The advertisements for their new periodical echoed the sentiment Cherry fought for in the army, “in politics the News will be independent—pledged to none—open to all.”
After a few years, he sold his interest in the News to try and start two other papers, none of which were successful. In 1847, he married Catherine French, widow of a fellow Galveston newspaper editor, and they had four children. Cherry built the house at 1602 Church Street for his growing family around 1853. The house miraculously escaped the 1885 fire that destroyed over forty city blocks surrounding it unscathed. Catherine lived in the house for fifty-five years.
After the Civil War, Cherry worked on and off for the Galveston Daily News as a printer and foreman, such that when he died, the editor wrote a heartfelt obituary mourning the loss of their founding member of the News family.