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Horace E. Purdy

Horace Ethelbert Purdy

Horace Ethelbert Purdy was born in the town of Canisteo, Steuben county, in 1815.  His parents early removed to what is now the town of Hartsville, being the first settlers therein.  Horace had no school advantages, the nearest schoolhouse being a mile and a half distant, and obtained all of his primary education from other members of the family.  After working on the farm until the spring of 1831 he entered the office of the Angelica Republican to learn the printer's trade.  Finding his education insufficient for the successful prosecution of the business, he studied hard in leisure hours, and recited to an accommodating and capable associate, Joseph Boughten.  After two years in the Republican office young Purdy pursued his trade successively in the offices of the Dansville Chronicle, Angelica Reporter, Bath Constitutionalist, Mayville Sentinel, Buffalo Commercial, Geneseo Register, and Elmira Gazette, keeping up his studies as opportunity was afforded.  In March 1837, he went west, going by stage to Cuba and thence voyaging down Oil creek and the Allegheny river to Pittsburgh on a raft, and by steamboat to Cincinnati and Madison.  He made a tour of nearly all the important western towns, working at his trade in a number of them.  It was at a time when Chicago had streets of almost unbroken mud, and “Long John” Wentworth was publishing the Democrat and Mr. Wilson the Journal.  Mr. Purdy spent a few weeks at Toledo, in charge of the mechanical department of the editor of the Sentinel.  Leaving in June, 1839, he worked for several months in Geneseo, Columbus, Ohio, and Cuba, where I. C. Sheldon was publishing a neutral paper, which was not so very neutral after the new printer began to get up its editorials without writing them out.  He next entered the Elmira Gazette office, of which he was in charge until September, 1841.  In the next month he bought the Angelica Reporter , which he published for the three years in company with Charles Horton, commencing December 8th, 1841. Selling out to his partner, he purchased the Orleans Republican, and published it a year.   During the year (1845) he married Miss Emily Foote Gardiner, of Nunda, Livingston county.  In the spring of 1846 he again found himself out of business, and one day accidently brought up in the village of Rushford, then the most thriving business town in Allegany county.  Here he was induced to start the Republican Era, $500 being raised toward the enterprise by A. P. Laning, then a practicing lawyer in Rushford.  Mr. Oramel Griffin becoming responsible for a part of the sum.  The paper at De Ruyter, Madison county, was purchased, and the Era successfully launched.  In 1848 it supported Cass for the presidency, and two weeks before the election was removed to Angelica, where there were but thirteen Cass votes.  Its successful publication in that village was continued nearly three years.

In 1851, Oramel Griffin procured the removal, October 1st, of the Era to Oramel, which village he had founded on a large tract purchased by him.  In the spring of 1862 Mrs. Purdy died of consumption.  Mr. Purdy was appointed postmaster at Oramel by President Pierce, and was elected supervisor of Caneadea.  He resigned the post-office under Buchanan.  In 1855 he was married to Miss Phebe G. Hammond, near Wellsburg, N.Y.  In the spring of 1857 he removed to Bellaire, Ohio, where the hard times of that disastrous year compelled him to close his office.  In the spring of 1859 he removed to Minneapolis, Minn. to improve his health, but soon after arriving there began the publication of the Plain Dealer.  He remained in Minnesota three years.  Then, removing to Belmont, Allegany county, he connected himself with the Southern Tier, and in the fall of 1862, at that place, received the Era, which he sold a year later.  In 1865 he went to Michigan and took charge of the Port Huron Michigan Commercial, which he relinquished on the 1st of January, 1867, having been offered and accepted an editorial position on the Detroit Free Press, which he held until the spring of 1872, when he took the management of the Albany Times.  A change of ownership, caused by the issues of the Greeley campaign, threw him out of this position. On the 8th of May, 1873, he issued the first number of the Free Press, at Horseheads, and on the 4th of January, 1873, removed the paper to Elmira. He has since been the managing editor.  After an editorial career of forty-two years of rare ability and influence, he is able to make the honorable boast that money never controlled an article he wrote, a word he uttered, or a vote he cast.

[Source: History of Allegany County, New York, New York: F. W. Beers & Co., 1879, pp 3633-364 (Wellsville)]



Horace E. Purdy was born in Canisteo in 1815, and had little school education.  In 1831 he entered the Angelica Republican office, thus commencing his long and important newspaper career in our county.  After ten years passed in various offices east and west, in December, 1841, he purchased the Angelica Reporter which he published in company with Charles Horton for three years.  In '46 he established the Rushford Era, a Democratic paper, which, in '48, was removed to Angelica and published until '51 when it was removed to Oramel.  Here Mr. Purdy was postmaster under Franklin Pierce and supervisor of Caneadea.  In '57 he removed to Ohio, and in '59 to Minneapolis where he founded the Plain Dealer.  Three years later he came to Belmont, connected himself with the Southern Tier, and, in '62, revived the Era at Belmont. In '65 he took charge of the Port Huron (Mich.) Commercial, and in '67, joined the editorial staff of the Detroit Free Press.  In '72 he became managing editor of the Albany Times, and in '73 founded the Free Press at Horseheads which he soon removed to Elmira, and was its managing editor until his death, when it was merged with the Elmira Gazette.  A plain man of the people, possessing rare integrity and great ability with much kindness of heart, his memory is cherished.  Democratic always, “money never controlled an article he wrote, a word he uttered, or a vote he cast,” and had he been a fixed star of journalism instead of a wandering planet honors of high value would have lightly settled down and rested gracefully upon him.

John S. Minard, Allegany County and its People. A Centennial Memorial History of Allegany County, New York, W. A. Fergusson & Co., Alfred, N.Y., 1896, p.384



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