In Elder's own words:
"Early in World War II I found I owed letters to about nine of my friends in the service. I wrote a long newsy letter, had it duplicated,and mailed a copy to each. The response was so favorable I found myself writing a kind of newsletter each week and mailing it to service men and women.
"The mailing list grew and grew; the operation became more formalized. The letter was called Scuttlebutt , was on two sides of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, was mailed (US) mail in the U.S. and airmail overseas.
"The word got around, the mailing list grew into the hundreds. Townsfolk donated the postage money, I did the writing and printing, a crew of service mothers came each week for folding, stuffing and stamping.
"The format, too, got settled in. The front was news from home -- including word of deaths in action which some parents hated to write about themselves. The reverse side was entirely quotes from letters I received from Scuttlebutt readers -- scattered in the armed forces from all over the world."
(Letter from David Elder to Bob McCown, January 10, 1976)
Elder was the publisher of the Washington Evening Journal in Washington, Iowa. He was related by marriage to David Palmer, a prominent Washington resident and veteran of the Civil War and Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.