5th generation takes over Nebraska community newspaper

May 4, 2018

By Greg Scellin
The Nebraska Signal
GENEVA, NE—James and Michael Edgecombe are the new owners and publishers of The Nebraska Signal. The sons of John Edgecombe Jr., and JoAnn Edgecombe, become the fifth generation of Edgecombes to publish The Nebraska Signal, which was established in Fairmont in 1881. Frank O. Edgecombe purchased The Nebraska Signal in April of 1896 and brought the operation to Geneva. The Nebraska Signal is the oldest continuous business in Fillmore County.
The ownership change took place earlier this year. A retirement celebration and open house for John was held Wednesday, April 11, at the Signal’s Newspaper Museum in the back of the office on N. 9th Street in Geneva. Jim and Mike grew up in Geneva and are Geneva High School graduates—Jim in ’90 and Mike in ’92.
Both are experienced newspaper publishers. Jim has been the publisher of the Minden Courier for the past 23 years and Mike has been the publisher of the Hebron Journal-Register for 18 years. John retires after nearly 48 years with The Nebraska Signal.
Already an established businessman, F.O. Edgecombe purchased the Geneva Republican and the Geneva Journal in February 1894. In 1896, he purchased The Nebraska Signal, which had been established in 1881 by Dr. J.B. Brazleton and Will R. Gaylord in Fairmont, and moved the plant to Geneva where it was combined with his other two newspapers. F.O. was the publisher of The Nebraska Signal for more than 50 years.
The current day The Nebraska Signal is the result of a combination of 16 newspapers that were published at one time or another in Fillmore County. Newspapers published in Fairmont, Grafton, Exeter, Geneva, Ohiowa, Strang, Shickley and Milligan were incorporated into The Nebraska Signal over the years.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and working at the Beatrice Daily Express, which was also owned by F.O. Edgecombe, as well as newspapers in Falls City, Tyler Edgecombe began working at The Nebraska Signal in 1913. He became the newspaper’s publisher in 1941 because of F.O.’s poor health. John F. Edgecombe Sr., returned from the Air Force after three years of service in World War II in 1947 and became a partner with his father at The Nebraska Signal in 1954. John Sr., became the publisher in 1972 after Tyler died.
John F. Edgecombe Jr., returned after four years of service in the U.S. Navy in 1970 to begin working at The Nebraska Signal. He arrived at his hometown newspaper soon after it had transitioned to offset printing two years earlier. John Jr., helped with the commercial printing spike that came with this change.
In 1977, John Sr., purchased Service Press and devoted his time in Henderson. John Jr., then became the manager at The Nebraska Signal and later became publisher at The Nebraska Signal without much fanfare as the business continued to upgrade its machinery and technology. John Sr., died in September 1995. The newspaper was being printed off-site in York, and later in Hastings and now in Grand Island. John Jr. remembered a major change in the business after the company purchased MacIntosh computers in the early 1980s.