Family Connection Through Printing

April 14th, 2023

By Becky Chapin, Archivist

It’s always interesting to hear about people’s odd and interesting connections with Geneva. I often hear stories about people being out of town and finding someone who knew about Geneva. In that vein, I knew my grandfather owned several printing businesses, but just a few years ago I found out he had owned one in Geneva too.

Man at printing press making sympathy cards

Roger Chapin at printing press making thermograved sympathy cards in Willson Press, 1966

My grandfather Roger Chapin opened his own print shop in Savannah in 1961, buying up Willson Press in 1965 which printed the Seneca Falls Reveille. In 1968, he was named co-publisher with Howard VanKirk Jr., who was editor. Eventually Roger became President of the Reveille Publishing Co., later selling his stocks in 1975.

With my grandmother Carolyn, they purchased Vanderbrook Press Inc. in 1971 and continued to run both businesses. Willson, of Phelps, and Vanderbrook, of Newark, were both decades old printing companies that specialized in offset newspapers, thermography, and letter-press printing among other services. Roger moved Willson Press to Savannah, where he and Carolyn lived, around the time he purchased the company.

In 1975, William Carpenter, of Carpenter’s He-Prints in Geneva, a 50-year old business, closed up his printing services, selling the printing presses and client lists to Vanderbrook Press. Vanderbrook would open a satellite office at 156 Castle Street and continued to employ Helen Baroody of He-Prints, while maintaining Newark as headquarters. In 1975, the satellite office was briefly opened under the name boPrint, also affiliated with K-Mar Press of Waterloo, but appears in the phone book as Vanderbrook Press shortly thereafter.

Woman sitting at a table outside Willson Press

Carolyn Chapin at Willson Press table, c. 1960s

Vanderbrook Press printed several historical booklets including a Newark history, Butler history booklet, and the Town of Geneva’s 1976 Bicentennial publication “The Country Cousin” by Lucile Harford, the town historian. This is how I found out that my grandpa had a connection to Geneva! I found the book a few years ago while going through his collections and my dad pointed out that he owned Vanderbrook Press at the time.

Roger sold his printing businesses around 1979 and went to work for Furman Produce in Savannah and both he and Carolyn worked part-time for K-Mar Press in Waterloo; K-Mar also kept the office at 156 Castle St in Geneva. He couldn’t stay away for long. Roger started SEECO printing services in the early 1980s. He purchased K-Mar Press in the early-1980s, moving the printing presses in 1986 to his own property where he was running SEECO.

Man moving a large printing press

Moving the Solna press from K-Mar in Waterloo to Savannah, 1986

In 1984, the Newark building on North Main St where Vanderbrook Press had its home was the victim of arson and was later torn down. The building had originally been home to the Arcadia Glass Co. in 1906, then housing Arcadia Advertising Specialties. Vanderbook moved in in 1919.

While this isn’t a strictly Geneva story, it’s always fun to see our connections to the towns around us and to hear about yours.

For more about Geneva’s printing history see also, WF Humphrey Press.

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One response to “Family Connection Through Printing”

  1. Charlie Bauder says:

    Becky Nice Article. One never knows all the connections. Nice research.

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