He worked too hard, and died too young, at age 33, but in the process he created one of the most remarkable Pennsylvania printing companies of his era.
Stuart was a star. Everyone loved him, especially the "bindery girls" in his bookbinding department ...and his buddies at the firehall, who draped their hall in black for 30 days, after Stuart's unexpected death.
Stuart was a Scots-Irish school teacher who left his classroom to learn the printer's trade. He started his career as a type setter for Lancaster's Independent Whig newspaper. Within a few months he moved into the editorial office and, soon began to acquire newspaper companies.
In 1868 Stuart created the largest printing company ever seen in Lancaster, the Inquirer Printing House, on the first block of North Queen Street. His mammoth company employed an average of 160 employees, and printed nine weekly newspapers and 20 monthly periodicals, plus countless books and pamphlets, for clients across the U.S.
But it all was cut short in 1873, when Stuart died from a brief, unknown illness after a trip to Philadelphia. His Inquirer printing company would never fully recover.
Stuart's Inquirer newspaper company was competing with the local newspapers that eventually evolved into today's Lancaster Newspapers. Had he not died young, we might well be reading his family's newspapers today.
1883: Inquirer Printing: A Yearbook for Bikers at F&M College
Above: After Stuart Wylie died in 1873, his Inquirer Printing Company would never be the same. A few years later, the company was purchased by Stuart's former editor, Ellwood Griest, who owned and operated this company until his death in 1900.
Ellwood printed a full range of typically-tedious, late 19th century books. Fortunately, he also decided to print what must be the zaniest publication of his printing career, the 1883 student year book of Lancaster's Franklin and Marshall College.
This 1883 yearbook, titled Oriflamme, was the school's first student yearbook.
Above: F&M College's 1883 Oriflamme Yearbook. Printed by Inquirer Printing.
A favorite extracurricular activity at F&M College in 1883 was riding high-wheel "Boneshaker" bicycles. In this yearbook, Martin Rudy advertises his bicycle-riding school, which was located at the same Queen Street address as the Inquirer Printing building. (Were they riding these bikes inside Stuart Wylie's Knights of Pythias Hall, located here at this Inquirer address?)
Also this year, the 21-year-old printer / biker D. B. Landis was working for this Inquirer Printing Company. D. B. Landis was an enthusiastic member of the Lancaster Cycling Club and the League of American Wheelmen. He probably purchased his bicycle from Martin Rudy.
Above: In the 1833 F&M College yearbook, the Oriflamme, the bicycle dealer Martin Rudy advertised that his bicycle-riding school was located at the same address as the Inquirer Printing Company, at 55 North Queen Street, Lancaster. (Why was his bike-riding school located at the Inquirer print shop? I don't know.) It was close to his bike shop, nearby on King Street, according to his trade card.