History of


Daniel H. Weiskotten
November 1984
last revised February 1, 2004

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(click on the links to see clips from the original paper)


The first newspaper published in Cazenovia, The Pilot, was planned to begin in the early summer of 1808.  Publication of the first issue was delayed when Normand Rust, one of the proposed editors became ill and died July 1, 1808.  Oran E. Baker, Rust's partner, then became associated with George Newton, and The Pilot made it's appearance on August 10, 1808 (see image of clip). (see Footnote #1)

The content of the paper throughout its existence was hardly local in nature.  The bulk of the work consisted of political reports from national and foreign sources.  Baker was among the leading Republicans of the region and the papers are full of reports of the party platforms.  A light scattering of local data such as birth, death and marriage announcements, foreclosures, advertising and occasional editorials and news are found within.  Numerous advertisements for Post Riders give clues as to how the papers were delivered to the rural population of the region.  Several routes sent riders to the east, north, south and west in search of subscribers and to deliver papers.  Only a few months after its introduction the publishers printed over 800 copies a week for distribution.  Prices for subscription in the village ranged from $1.75 for those who paid in advance to $2.00 for those who paid quarterly (see image of clip).

Baker and Newton continued their partnership until December 20, 1809 (see image of clip).  Baker continued alone until the publication ceased in 1823.  The subsequent career of Newton is not known.

Where The Pilot office was first located is not clear.  Baker was part owner of a two story brick building on the northeast corner of the Public Square, where the wooden half of the Merchants Bank is now (1994).  Baker and Ralph P. Day, the other owner, sold the two story brick building to Jabish N.M. Hurd and Perry G. Childs in October 1811.  A little more than a month earlier, in the August 7, 1811 issue, being the first number of Volume 4, it was first advertised that the paper was:



In view of this information, it is most likely that the office had been situated on the Public Square, although how many years it operated there previous to Baker and Day selling the building is unclear.

Where on Albany Street The Pilot office was then located is also unclear, as the notice that the office was to be found at the "Sign of Franklin's Head, Albany-Street" ran off and on for several years without mention as to where on Albany Street it was located.  Then, on January 14, 1818, it was advertised that the office had moved to a wooden building on Albany Street, one door below what is now Center Street.  Apparently the office remained here for the rest of it existence, as this lot was owned by Mrs. Baker as late as 1853 (she is # 20 in the index).

It seems that The Pilot ceased publication with the issue dated August 7, 1823.  There are no notices that Baker was closing shop or selling out, but within a week Lucien L. Rice, who had begun the Madison Observer in Cazenovia in 1821, and removed it to Morrisville in 1822, quit that paper and returned to Cazenovia, where he began to publish the Republican Monitor.

The details of Baker’s family life and later career are not known.  Oran E. Baker had married Matilda Winne, appears to be the daughter of the prominent Albany and Utica merchant, and later Cazenovia resident, Killian Winne (see Footnote #2).  One of the Baker’s children, Edward Isham Baker, died December 14, 1814, and a daughter, Sarah, married a man named Henry, who may be Sylvanus Henry who was later a publisher of school books in Cazenovia.  Oran E. Baker died April 26, 1839 at the age of 54 years, and his wife Matilda died September 14, 1867, age 71.  All are buried in Cazenovia Village’s Evergreen Cemetery, along with father-in-law Killian Winne. Other Bakers are known in Cazenovia history but their connection to Oran E. Baker, the publisher, is not known.


Footnotes:

#1   The Pilot was the second paper to be published in Madison county, The Freeholder having been published in Peterboro since about January 26, 1807.

#2   Killian Winne’s second wife, Sarah, was the sister of Philip and John Hooker, architects.  Philip was a prominent Albany architect, and designer the Cazenovia Presbyterian Church, and brother John Hooker designed the first Madison County Courthouse (now college) and perhaps designed Lorenzo.


END of the History of THE PILOT