Looking Back Column

FRED B. BARDON Birth of the Madison Eagle

      Fred Bardon was born in Madison on June 2, 1858. He was educated at Madison Academy then attended high school in Newark. After graduation he held a position in New York City with C.H. & E.S. Goldburg, dealers in willow-ware. His employment lasted only 2 years when he developed inflammatory rheumatism. The disease was so severe that he became debilitated for the next 6 years. In April of 1877, his health finally improved enough that he was able to establish the first newspaper published in Madison, a monthly which he called the Madison Eye Opener. The monthly continued for three more editions after which Bardon, working from early morning until late at night on presses operated by foot power, decided to change it to a weekly publication called the Madison Journal. Bardon had complete control of the paper until 1879 when, due to illness, he sold it to Lorenzo Abbey of South Orange. The Journal brought the outside world to Madison, telling such stories as Frank Woolworth opening the first “five cent” store in Utica, N.Y. and, for a little humor, the exploits of H.R. Burnet’s one-legged chicken. ​   
   Bardon repurchased the paper in 1882, taking on John W. Clift as partner, and renamed it the Madison Weekly Eagle. The partnership flourished for the next ten years giving not only editorials, local and national news, but occasionally medical advice. In January 1883, the instant cure for an earache read, “Take a pinch of black pepper, put it on a piece of cotton batting dipped in sweet oil, and place it in the ear, then tie a bandage around the head.” The paper was sold in July 1894 to the Eagle Publishing Company. 
​    Bardon didn’t sit back and relax after selling the paper. Being a man of many talents, he was bookkeeper and cashier of the First National Bank of Madison, town postmaster, Grace Church organist, member of the Board of Education, vice president of the Building and Loan Association, president of Madison Fire Department and instrumental in its organization, chief ranger in the Independent Order of Foresters, and treasurer of the Madison Athletic League. In May of 1885 he married Ella Mary Baldwin. They were blessed with two children; Fred W. born July 26, 1887 and Pearl born February 9, 1889. The family lived on the east side Greenwood Avenue between Main Street and Brittin Street. Fred’s father George owned and operated a successful grocery store at 54-58 Main Street. Fred B. Bardon died in 1910. The newspaper he founded became recognized as one of the leading papers in the county and continues to be successful to this day as the Madison Eagle. The building on the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue was occupied on the left by the First National Bank and the Madison Eagle office on the right. Today it is Madison Pharmacy.