Scripps: Once, They Bought Ink by the Barrel

The Scripps family’s ties to Cincinnati can be traced all the way back to 1883, when family patriarch Edward Willis bought the Penny Post (The Cincinnati Post’s predecessor) from his brother, James. Two years later, the scotch-guzzling, cigar-smoking, womanizing E.W. (above left, with brother George and fellow newspaper staffer Robert Ross)  fell in love with a local preacher’s daughter, Nackie Holtsinger, and married. E.W., Nackie, and their subsequent six children eventually moved to Miramar, California, but their descendants have maintained a presence in Cincinnati for 131 years.

Many Scrippses have lived here for brief stints while learning the family business, but E.W.’s grandson Charles put down roots. He came in 1948 to chair the Edward W. Scripps Trust, and in 1953, was named Chairman of the E.W. Scripps Company’s board, too. At one point during Charles’s tenure, the company owned WCPO-TV and every daily paper in the city, including the Enquirer (which it later sold when federal rules regarding media ownership were tightened). Charles moved Scripps’s HQ here from New York, steered it into broadcasting and cable TV, and transformed it into a publicly traded company. Charles died in 2007, and the family’s association with print journalism will end in 2015, when the E.W. Scripps Company spins off the last of its newspaper businesses. But the Scripps entrepreneurial gene pool is still shaping the city: Charles’s daughter Marilyn Scripps Wade, with her husband Martin, has invested in heart-of-the-city restaurants and in that revered Queen City icon, Rookwood Pottery.

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