HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY
THE NEWSPAPER PRESS.
Tradition and authorities are a little conflicting as to the first newspaper published in the county. John M. Laird, yet living, at an advanced age, and still engaged in the newspaper business, was one of the early printers and publishers of Perry county. In a letter published in the New Lexington Tribune, of May 14th, 1874, he speaks of the “Scorpion” and “Rattlesnake” as early newspapers published in Somerset previous to his advent there in the spring of 1822. But, at the most these papers must have but fitful and irregular publications, issued by contending factions and cliques, as electioneering or defamatory documents, and hardly entitled to the name of newspapers. It appears pretty well settled, by tradition and otherwise, that the first regular newspaper ever published in Perry county was established by John Lidey and E. P. Alford, at Somerset, the first issue thereof being made March 28th, 1821, and was called “The Western World and Political Tickler.” Evidently the pioneer journal did not lack for a name. The “Tickler” was published about a year, and was a most violent and scurrilous journal, and the virulent and petty contests that had begun in the “Scorpion” and “Rattlesnake” were transferred to the ever ready columns of the “Tickler,” and served to keep the whole reading community in a state of constant uproar. Such were the temper and spirit of the times. In the spring of 1822, the “Tickler” was discontinued, and was succeeded by the Perry Record, printed and published by John M. Laird, though the names of John Lidey and James Patterson were, at one time or another, used in connection with the proprietorship of the paper and it is probable that they furnished most of the printing materials, which, it is scarcely necessary to state, were neither extensive nor costly. The Perry Record was continued about three years, when Mr. Laird, who was the practical printer, returned to the east. The Record, was succeeded by the People's Advocate, published by John Miller, probably with the names of Henry Filler and Henry Crumrine as proprietors. The Advocate was purchased in May, 1831, by William F., and Louis J. Moeller who changed the name to Western Post and Perry Advertiser. They published the paper jointly a few months when Wm. F. Moeller assumed entire control and took off the “And Perry Advertiser,” from the name, leaving it simply “The Western Post.” In January, 1835, Louis J. Moeller purchased the entire office, and changed the title to Western Post and Perry Democratic Advertiser. In April, 1831, Mr. Moeller sold the office to Samuel McAfee and Jonathan W. Ream, both young men who had served their apprenticeship
in the office. The partnership of McAfee & Ream was discontinued in September, 1839, and the paper went in the name of S. H. McAfee, though John H. Shearer had a half interest in the establishment. In August, 1840, Wm. F. Moeller bought the interest of McAfee for a younger brother, Alexander Moeller, who, not liking the profession, gave it up in a few weeks, and his interest was purchased by A. T. M. Filler. In September, 1840, the firm name was changed to J. H. Shearer & Co., and afterward to Shearer & Filler. This partnership continued until the first of February, 1845, when Mr. Shearer purchased the interest of Filler and became sole proprietor. The paper from 1835 to 1845, was published under the name of Western Post and Perry Democratic Advertiser; but, on the 1st of November, l845, Mr. Shearer having purchased a new outfit, changed the title to Western Post. The Post from the time of its first establishment until 1840, was a neutral paper, after which time it espoused the cause of the Whig party. In February, 1847, Mr. Shearer leased the newspaper and office to James W. Shirley and John W. Bugh, for the period of two years. Mr. Bugh retired in November, 1848, whereupon Mr. Shirley filled out the unexpired term of the lease, which closed in February, 1849, at the expiration of which time, J. H. Shearer again assumed control of the office and continued the paper until 1855, when he sold the establishment to E. S. Colborn, who merged the paper in the Perry County American, under the title of the Perry County American and Somerset Post. This was the last of the Post as a distinctive newspaper, though it had lived for more than a quarter of a century, a long existence for a country newspaper, in a small interior county, in those days. In August, 1836, E.J. Ellis, who had been publishing a small sheet at New Baltimore, Fairfield County, Ohio, moved his printing office to Somerset and began the publication of the Perry Democrat. This was the first Democratic paper published in the county, and the first time that a second paper of any kind had been ventured. In 1837, when Samuel Medary bought the Western Hemisphere office, in Columbus, and began his noted career with the Ohio Statesman, he sold to E. J. Ellis a Peter Smith press and some other materials, and the consequence was an enlargement of Ellis’ paper and a partial change in name. It now became the Ohio Courier and Perry Democrat. In 1838 Mr. Ellis sold his printing office to John W. Davis and his brother, Henry M. Davis; John W. had just been elected Clerk of the county, but Henry was the principal editor. Neither of them had any practical knowledge of the printing business. They had not been publishing the Democrat many months when along came a practical printer, Isaac Pepper, who first went into the office as foreman, and in less time than a year the whole concern passed into his control. In 1839 Mr. Pepper modified the title of the paper, and it became the Somerset (Ohio) Advocate and Perry Democrat. Thus the Courier was dropped finally and forever. About the first of April, 1841, Henry M. Davis became sole proprietor of the Democrat and Advertiser (as named by Pepper) until September, 1842, when Robert F. Hickman, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, bought the office and changed the name of the paper to the Flag of Seventy-Six. This paper was published by Mr. Hickman about two years, when he sold
the office to Daniel Kelley. Mr. Kelley had control of the paper about a year, when it passed into the hands of Hiram Shaw, who run it a year or so, when he disposed of the concern to James Sheward, who had charge of the paper for two or three years, when, in 1849, he sold the establishment to E. J. Ellis, who ten years before had been editor and proprietor, and, as before stated, the founder of the first Democratic paper in the county. Ellis now bought new type and some other materials, enlarged the paper slightly, and gave it a very good appearance. He also changed the title to Perry County Democrat. Mr. Ellis was a good practical printer and successful business man, but he was not much of an editor, and made no pretentious to being a writer. But, at this time. Walter C. Hood, a talented and marvelously well informed young man, was much about the office, ostensibly as a compositor or foreman, but also in the capacity of editor and writer. Hood had abundant resources just where Ellis lacked, and the latter was shrewd enough to avail himself of the splendid talents of the former. Ellis was printing a good and fine looking paper, and making money, too, just as the mutterings of the county seat removal thunder developed into a fearful storm and threatened political parties and newspapers, and seriously disturbed for a time many of the industries and enterprises of the county. Early in June, 1851, E. J. Ellis sold the Perry County Democrat office to Vanatta, Forquer & Co., of New Lexington, with E. S. Colborn as editor and business manager. The first issue was made by the new firm June 12th, 1851. The paper was continued by Vanatta, Forquer & Co. for something over a year, when the office was sold to E. S. Colborn and W. C. Hickman; the latter continued only a few months, and then E. S. Colborn became sole proprietor. Mr. Colborn continued the publication of the Democrat until November, 1853, when the paper was discontinued. During all these years, since the establishment of the paper in 1836, it and its legitimate successors, down to the last issue of the Democrat in 1853, were the Democratic organs (so called) of the county, except for a few months in 1853, when the Perry County True Democrat disputed the claims of the Democrat to be so considered. In fact, the founding of the True Democrat, and party divisions and disaffections from various causes, were the principal reasons for the discontinuance of the Democrat. In the foregoing, a history is given of the original Neutral, then the old Whig, and of the old Democratic paper of the county. Attention will now be given to newspapers of a less extended character, confining what is said, for the sake of convenience, and classification, to Journals published in Somerset. Those published in New Lexington, will be considered in a body by themselves, as they are principally of a later date, and will naturally come in after the account of those in Somerset is completed. Later yet those of other towns will receive attention. In December, 1854, the old Perry County Democrat office, was set up by E. S. Colborn, in a new building, in the town of Somerset, and the first issue of the Perry County American was made January 3rd. 1855, and the paper was published by Colborn for precisely two years
when, the 1st of January, 1857, the American was discontinued, and the office materials removed to New Lexington. E. S. Colborn, who had been a Democrat, united, in 1854, with the new Republican party, and the Perry County American newspaper, was consequently Republican in politics, and supported Salmon P. Chase for Governor, in 1855, and John C. Fremont for President, in 1856. The Perry County True Democrat was established May, 1853, printed on a new press, and with new type. A. McElwee & Co., appeared as proprietors, and John H. O’Neill and Walter C. Hood as editors. The True Democrat was bought and started in the Somerset interest, was intensely Democratic and claimed to be the true organ the of party in the county. It flourished for one campaign; but as soon as the election was over, there was a great reaction, and the paper sickened and dwindled. It was, for a few months run by Dr. Martin Adams, but, early in 1854, the Perry County True Democrat died, quickly following its old antagonist, The Perry County Democrat, to the grave of newspapers. In 1855, the materials of the old True Democrat office came into the possession of James Sheward, and he commenced publishing a paper under the title of Democratic Union. A few months afterwards, he became associated with Dr. Martin Kagay, in the publication of the same paper, which partnership continued until the close of the Presidential campaign of 1856. The Democratic Union was continued with slight intermissions, during the years 1857 and 1858. Soon after the October elections of 1858, George M. Dittoe purchased the office. Mr. Dittoe published the Democratic Union regularly, until the spring of 1864, when he sold it to Charles E. Magruder. Mr. Magruder run the paper about a year, and then sold it to Charles D. Elder, who continued its publication in Somerset, until May, 1866, when he removed the office and paper to New Lexington. About the 1st of January, 1857, John H. Shearer repurchased from E. S. Colborn, the materials of the Somerset Post office, with the exception of the news type. Mr. Shearer purchased new news type for his office, and began the publication of the Somerset Review, a neutral paper, in 1858, Shearer sold the Review office, to W. C. Hickman, who run the paper a few months, and then discontinued it. The Semi-Weekly Flag, a War Democratic paper, so termed, was published in Somerset, for a few months, during the summer of 1861, by Martin Kagay. The Somerset Advocate, a neutral paper, was established in the fall of 1866, and was published about two years, by Martin Kagay. The Advocate was specially devoted to the development of mineral and railroad interests. The Somerset Tribune was founded by J. F. McMahon, in the fall of 1871. It was the first nine column paper in the county. It continued to be published in Somerset, until March, 1873, when it was removed to New Lexington, and became a Republican paper. The Somerset Press, purchased by an incorporated company, with M. J. Mains as editor and publisher, was established in the spring of the year 1873. In the spring of 1879, the ownership passed into the hands of W. P. Magruder, as editor and proprietor, under which arrangement
the Press is still running. For the last few years, the Press has advocated the principles of the Greenback National party. In 1848, James Taylor bought an office in New Lexington, and commenced the publication of the New Lexington Visitor. The press was an old Ramage, and the materials much worn. The Visitor was published a year, and then discontinued. The later numbers were printed at the office of the Somerset Post. The Visitor was an independent Journal. The Democratic Organ was established in New Lexington, December, 1853, by M. A. Boling. It was democratic in politics, as indicated by its name. The Organ was published about one year, and then discontinued. The New Lexington Locomotive, with P. Bastian, proprietor, and James Taylor, editor, succeeded the Democratic Organ. The Locomotive was independent, with an undisguised preference for the Republican side. The paper had an existence of about two years. The Democratic Sentinel began its existence in May, 1859, and was published, with some slight interruptions, about eighteen months. P. J. Ankeny, John R. Meloy, Robert G. Mossgrove, at different times proprietors. The Sentinel was a Democratic paper. The New Lexington Ambrotype, by E. S. Colborn, began publication, early in 1857. It was continued two years, when the office passed into the hands of P.J. Ankeny, who started the Democratic Sentinel. In October, l859, E. S. Colborn came into possession of the old Ambrotype office, and, having purchased a new outfit of news type, started the Perry County Weekly. This paper was published by E.. S. Colborn, under the above name. about ten years. It had one or two short suspensions, and, for a few months in the summer of 1868, was leased to and run by Dr. Jerome Oatley. In the spring of 1870, the name of the paper was changed to Mineral Region News. E. S. Colborn continued to publish the paper under this name until August, 1872, when he sold the office to the New Lexington Publishing Company. The Perry County Weekly, Mineral Region News, and Ambrotype, were Republican in politics. The Mineral Region News, for a few months previous to its sale, advocated the election of Horace Greely, founder of the N.Y. Tribune, to the Presidency. The company who purchased the office, at once began the publication of the Perry County Republican, with Robert F. Hickman as editor and business manager. The Perry County Republican was printed seven months and then discontinued, or merged in the New Lexington Tribune. The Democratic Union was brought from Somerset to New Lexington, by Charles D. Elder, in May, 1866, and continued by him until December, 1867, when he sold the office to Butler, Duffy & Meloy, who changed the name to Democratic Herald. Butler sold his interest in a few weeks, to Lewis Green, and the paper was published by Duffy, Green and Meloy, until the spring of 1870, when the establishment was sold to George Henricks. After a few months, Henricks sold to the old firm, Duffy, Green & Meloy. The Herald was continued by this firm until in 1872, Duffy purchased Green's interest. The paper was then published by Duffy & Meloy, until December 1st,
1876, when Lewis Green and J. R. Meloy bought out Duffy. Since that time the Herald has been published by Green & Meloy. The Herald is Democratic in politics, and, with the exception of a year or two has been the only Democratic paper in the county. The New Lexington Tribune, by J. F. McMahon, commenced in March, 1873, having at that time united with the Perry County Republican, and become the Republican organ of the county. It has been continued from that time until the present, without change of name or proprietor. The Perry County Democrat was commenced on September 11th, 1879, by John H. Marlow & Co. It was published by this company ten weeks, and then sold to E. S. Colborn & Co., being E. S. Colborn & Sons. E. S. Colborn had been the editor from the commencement. The Democrat was published by E. S. Colborn & Co., and E. S. Colborn, until March, 1881, when it was discontinued. A number of campaign and otherwise transient sheets, were published at different periods. The Plain Dealer, in Somerset, by John Donavan, about the time of the war with Mexico; the Perry County Republican, by Taylor, McMahan & Co., in New Lexington, in 1857; and the Democratic Union, by Martin Kagay, in New Lexington, in the winter of 1857, are among the most notable of these, and were, for the time being, influential Journals. The Morning Call, by Otto Colborn, at New Lexington, was a sprightly little daily, published during the Perry County Teachers’ Institute, in August, 1877. Also the Daily Tribune, by J. F. McMahon, during week of county fair, in 1878. The Perry County Vidette was commenced in Junction City in 1880, by James Haynes, published about one year, then discontinued. The Shawnee Journal was commenced in 1878, by Cook & Davy, was published about one year, and then discontinued. The Shawnee Banner was commenced early in 1880, and is still published. The Thornville News was commenced in 1881, by George Kalb, and is still published. The Somerset Visitor was commenced in 1881, by William Mains, published about six months, and then discontinued. The Independent was commenced in New Lexington in 1881, by Duzenberry & Moore. After a few months Moore sold out to Duzenberry, who still publishes the paper. The Corning Times has been published about one year by Sopher & Weaver. A weekly newspaper, printed in another place, has been for a short time published in Junction City. A Mr. Cullinan, of Zanesville, bought Lewis Green's interest in the New Lexington Herald in 1881, and the paper has since that time been published by Cullinan & Meloy. It is believed the foregoing includes all the Journals which may be fairly classed as newspapers. The Collegian, a monthly periodical, was, for a year or two, about 1854 and ‘55, published at St. Joseph's College. The Collegian was not
devoted to politics or news. but discussed, chiefly, educational and religious topics. Perry county was not a very promising field for newspapers, and but little money was made in the business, until within the last few years. In the first place, the county was small, and only the northern and central portions partially settled. Yet later, for various causes, the newspaper business was not prosperous. But within the last ten years, some of the papers have been very well sustained. Every person who is conversant with all the facts will readily admit that no county is more indebted to newspapers for improvement and advancement than is the county of Perry. The newspapers, as a class, have labored for her interests, in season and out of season, with an assiduity and faithfulness well deserving mention, and not without a high degree of success. The early papers were small, contained little or nothing of local news, and had no mail facilities to amount to anything. They were delivered by carriers, commonly called “post-boys,” who rode through the country on horseback and blew loud blasts from a bugle to announce their coming. Foreign news was considered a greater feature than local news, and they were usually much devoted to political literature. The first page matter did not differ much from the first page of the county paper of to-day. There was the inevitable story and poem, and short miscellaneous articles; the fair sex and small boys had to be placated, and there was a suspicion among old-time editors that even men sometimes read those things behind the door or in a corner. The “New Year's Carrier's Address” was a feature of the early newspapers. The office “Devil” negotiated with the “home poet” to furnish the material, and the address was printed and sold for the benefit of his Satanic Majesty aforesaid, who was ever an accommodating little chap, and would cheerfully sell for either a dime or a dollar. The first newspaper (The Western World and Political Tickler) was very much of a curiosity. It was a dingy sheet, bitterly personal, and a part of the reading matter was set in large poster type. After a year or two there was a new outfit, in part, and the paper presented a more artistic appearance, and the overwhelming, pretentious title was dispensed with. One of the most remarkable things connected with the newspapers of Perry is the fact that John M. Laird, one of the early printers, who published a paper in Somerset in 1822, is still living (or was a short time since), and is editor and proprietor of the Greensburg Argus, at Greensburg, Pa. Alford, the original printer of 1821, was in Somerset a few years ago and searched diligently for a few old friends that he knew and loved so long ago. The history of the newspaper press of a county is in many ways a fair index to the county itself. The newspaper history of Perry is an eventful one, as any person will concede who gives it anything like a careful perusal. The newspaper world may be likened to a stage, and the various journals have their entrances and their exits, like the characters in a play; and all---good, bad, or indifferent---strut their brief hour, and sooner or later bow and retire. Very few of all the newspapers named are in the play or battle of life to-day; and what is a
more serious thought, many of those who wielded the pen or scissors have passed on to the unseen land, and know newspaper wars no more. The newspapers which hold the stage to-day are, indeed, few in number compared with the many which have been, but are not, and only appear as spectres or shadows behind the scenes, while the real play or fight of newspapers goes on. The time will come of course, however remote, when the journals so active on the stage now will make their several exits, and, “gathering their drapery about them, lie down to pleasant dreams,” or join the spectral column of worthies marshaled by the senior---Western World and Political Tickler---and, unknown and unseen, flit through the halls and corridors of the active newspaper stage, gazing in silence upon the ways and works of editors and newspapers’ to the present era unnamed and unborn.