In this chapter we have to consider what has been very appropriately termed the "art of arts" --- "the art preservative." It is to be regretted, however, that the art which has given us so fully the history of other enterprises, is so deficient in that of its own.
In view of the immense influence exerted by the Press, whose power, says Douglas Jerrold, "is as boundless as that of society," it may not be inappropriate to preface its history in this county with the following account of its origin:---
"Among the millions who are in the habit of consulting the columns of a newspaper, doubtless there are few, comparatively, who are acquainted with its origin. According to D' Israel, we are indebted to the Italians for the idea; although in ancient Rome, reports of important events, and the doings of the Senate, were frequently published, under the title of Acta Diurna.1 The periodical press properly commenced at Vienna and Augsburg, Germany, in 1524; these bulletins were, however, not printed. About the year 1563, at the suggestion of the father of the celebrated Montaigne, offices were first established in France, for the purpose of making the wants of individuals known to each other. The advertisements as in the case of the Romans, this ultimately led to a systematic and periodical publication of advertisements in sheets. The epoch of the Spanish Armada, is also the epoch of the first orthodox newspaper; although we are told by Chalmers, and it is often repeated, 'to the wisdom of Elizabeth and the prudence of Burleigh,' we are indebted for the first English newspaper, yet it is also claimed that the first English newspaper was the Liverpool Mercurie, begun May 28, 1576, forty-five years after the Gazetta at Venice. It is also said, on very good authority, that the copies of The English Mercurie in the British Museum are forgeries. The circumstance of their being printed in the modern Roman character, instead of the black letter of that period, (1588,) awakens suspicion of their authenticity. As to their orthodoxy, it is the first time we have seen it alluded to.2 During the reign of James I., newspapers in the quarto form were occasionally issued; but during the thirty years' war, when the exploits of Gustavus Adolphus attracted the eyes of the civilized world, we find a regular weekly paper, edited by Nathaniel Butler, and published under the title of 'The Certain Newes of this Present Week,' which may be regarded as the first regular weekly newspaper.3 During the civil war in England in 1643, there were, however a score of the 'Diurnals' and 'Mercuries' in circulation. So important an auxiliary was the press considered, indeed, that each of the rival armies carried a printer along with it. In the reign of Queen Anne, in 1702, there was but one daily paper published in London, the others being weekly issues. Steele introduced politics as an essential element of the press, and Addison sought to devote it to purely literary purposes; the result has been the establishment of distinct vehicles for both.4 The first journal having the character of a magazine or review, was the Journal des Savants, established in Paris in 1693; in England, the first monthly of this sort appeared in 1749. From these simple elements has grown up an engine whose potency and influence is now felt throughout all classes of the civilized world." 5
The first printing press in America was set up in Mexico in 1536; the second was at Lima, in 1856; and the third, and the first in the United States, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1639. The first American newspaper was issued at Boston, September 25, 1690. It was published by Benjamin Harris and printed by Richard Pierce, and was intended to be published once a month, but was immediately suppressed by the authorities. The only copy known to exist is in the State Paper office in London, and is headed, "Publick Occurrences, both Foreign and Domestick." The "Boston News Letter," published by John Campbell, appeared April 24, 1704, and was continued weekly until 1776. October 16, 1725, William Bradford, who founded the "American Weekly Mercurie" at Philadelphia, December 22, 1719, commenced the "New York Gazette," the first newspaper in the city indicated by its name. Daily newspapers did not make their appearance until the eighteenth century. The first daily morning newspaper was the Daily Courant, in 1709. 6
The press of this country has had a marvelous growth. In 1840, there were in the whole United States but sixteen hundred and thirty-one newspapers of all kinds; now we have over seven thousand. The circulation of all the newspapers in 1840 was one hundred and ninety-five million copies a year; but now it is over two thousand millions, more than ten times greater than in 1840, and an average annual increase for nearly forty years of about 30 per cent. But in the gain in the size of sheets now published, in the amount, quality and variety of matter, in the number and character of the illustrations, in the quality of the paper and the perfection of the letter-press, the progress has been still greater. In the number of newspapers published, the United States are far in advance of any of the older nations. We issue more newspapers than the four principal nations of Europe, viz: Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, notwithstanding one of them exceeds us in population, and a second is inferior in this respect by only an inconsiderable amount, while the other two closely approximate us.7 This fact is important as showing the reading habits of our people as compared with those of Europe.
The mechanical facilities for the neat and rapid production of press work have kept even pace with, if they have not led, the other departments of mechanical progress. The contrast between the rude presses of even seventy years ago and the marvelous perfection of those of to-day is surprising. The former would print a few hundred small sheets, by the severe toil of two strong men; the latter, twenty thousand mammoth sheets in a single hour, and fold and direct them ready for the mails, all by mechanism, aided only by the slender fingers of delicate girls.
There are ten weekly newspapers at present published in the county, and one monthly publication, a scientific journal devoted to the interest of entomology. These are the Chenango Telegraph and the Chenango Union, published in Norwich; The Oxford Times; The Chenango American, published in Greene; The Bainbridge Republican; The Home Sentinel, published in Afton; The Sherburne News; The New Berlin Gazette; The Guilford Wave; The Quill and Press, published in North Pharsalia; and The Entomologist's Exchange, published at New Berlin.
Chenango County, though the seat of one of the earliest library institutions in the State, was not as early distinguished for its newspaper enterprise as some of its more westerly neighbors;8 but in the number of its publications, though many of these had but an ephemeral existence, it made up in a measure for this.
The first newspaper published in Chenango county was the Western Oracle, which was established at Sherburne Four Corners in 1803, by Abraham Romeyn, from Johnstown, assisted by his brother Nicholas, and was printed in the front part of the building now occupied by Milton Bently. It was a single octavo sheet, at first bluish paper, and contained very few advertisements and but little local news. This latter feature, indeed, was one which peculiarly characterized all our early newspaper publications, and one which is abundantly regretted at the present day. A newspaper of that early day, as rich in local details, as are our present newspapers, would be invaluable to the present generation. Its pages were chiefly occupied by foreign intelligence, and largely by public documents relating to our affairs with France. It was probably discontinued as early as 1806.9 Damon Merrill, of Sherburne Four Corners, has a copy of this paper.
The Oracle was followed in May, 1806, by The Olive Branch, which was established on "West Hill," in the town of Sherburne, by Phinney & Fairchild. In 1808, John F. Fairchild became sole proprietor. ____ Miller, Lot Clark, and John B. Johnson were successively interested in its publication until 1812 or '13, when Mr. Johnson changed its name to The Volunteer. In 1816, John F. Hubbard purchased the press and commenced the publication of The Norwich Journal, which he sold in October, 1847, to LaFayette Leal and J.H. Sinclair, who merged with it the Oxford Republican, and continued the publication at Norwich under the name of THE CHENANGO UNION. January 1, 1854, Mr. Leal sold his interest in September, 1859, and continued its publication till his death, September 14, 1862. January 1, 1863, John F. Hubbard, Jr., became the proprietor, and continued such till July 1, 1868, when he sold to G. H. Manning, who has since published it. It has undergone several changes in size, having been reduced during the war and again enlarged at its close. The last enlargement was made in October, 1873. Its present size is twenty-eight by forty-six inches; and its circulation twenty-seven hundred. It has been ever since its establishment devoted to the advocacy of the principles of the Democracy.
The Chenango Patriot was commenced at Oxford in 1807, by John B. Johnson, who continued its publication three or four years.
The President was published in 1808 by Theophelus Eaton.
The Republican Messenger was started at Sherburne Village in 1810, by Jonathan Pettit and James Percival.
The Oxford Gazette was established in 1814, by Chauncey Morgan, who published in 1814, by Chauncey Morgan, who published it several years. It was afterwards sold to George Hunt and subsequently to Hunt & Noyes. In 1826, Mr. Noyes again became its proprietor, and a few years later it was discontinued.
The Republican Agriculturalist was commenced December 10, 1818, by Thurlow Weed. It soon passed into the hands of ______ Curtis, who continued it but a short time.
The People's Advocate was started at Norwich, in 1824, by H.P. Brainard. It subsequently passed into the hands of William G. Hyer, and after a short time was discontinued.
The Chenango Republican was started at Oxford, in 1826, by Benjamin Corey. In 1828, it was purchased by Mack & Chapman. March 31, 1831, William E. Chapman and T. T. Flagler commenced a new series and soon after changed its name to The Oxford Republican. In 1838, Mr. Chapman became sole proprietor. During the next few years it was successively published by J. Taylor Bradt, Benjamin Welch, Jr., R. A. Leal, C. E. Chamberlin and LaFayette Leal. In October, 1847, it was merged with the Norwich Journal and published as The Chenango Union.
The Anti-Masonic Telegraph was commenced at Norwich, in November, 1829, by Elias P. Pellett. In 1831, B. T. Cook became associated in its publication, and its name was subsequently changed to The Chenango Telegraph. On the death of Elias P. Pellett, January 8, 1840, it passed into the hands of his brother, Nelson Pellett; and upon his death in 1851, it was conducted for the estate by E. Max Leal and F. P. Fisher. In September, 1855, it was purchased by Rice & Martin. B. Gage Berry acquired a half interest in 1861 and the remaining in 1864. November 10, 1865, it was united with The Chenango Chronicle, started August 10, 1864, by Rice & Prindle, and the united papers published as the Telegraph and Chronicle.
The Chenango Patriot was commenced at Greene, in 1830, by Nathan Randall. It subsequently passed into the hands of Joseph M. Farr, who changed its name to The Chenango Democrat, and in a short time it was discontinued.
The New Berlin Herald was commenced in 1831, by Samuel L. Hatch. In 1834, it was published by Randall & Hatch. It soon after passed into the hands of Isaac C. Sheldon, and subsequently into those of Hiram Ostrander, who changed its name to The New Berlin Sentinel. It was discontinued about 1840.
The Chenango Whig was published in Oxford a short time, in 1835. The Miniature, a small monthly, was issued from the same office.
The Sherburne Palladium was commenced at Sherburne village, in 1836, by J. Worden Marble, who was afterwards interested in the publication of the Broome County Courier, at Binghamton, to which place the Palladium was removed in 1839.
THE OXFORD TIMES was commenced in 1836, by a joint stock company, and was conducted for some time by H. H. Cook. In 1841, it passed into the hands of E. H. Purdy and C. D. Brigham. In 1844, it was published by Waldo M. Potter; in 1845, by Potter & Galpin; and in 1848, Judson B. Galpin became the sole proprietor. He has continued its publication to the present time, as an advocate of republican principles. In size it is twenty-four by thirty-nine inches.
The Bainbridge Eagle was started in 1843, by J. Hunt, Jr. In 1846, its name changed to The Bainbridge Freeman; and in 1849, it was merged in The Chenango Free Democrat, which was commenced at Norwich, January 1, 1849, by Alfred G. Lawyer. J. D. Lawyer became associated in its publication, and it was in a short time removed to Cobleskill, Schoharie County.
The New Berlin Gazette was established in 1850, by Joseph K. Fox and Moses E. Dunham, who published it in company a little less than a year, when Mr. Fox bought his partner's interest and changed the name to The Saturday Visitor. It was continued under that name two or three years, when it was changed to The New Berlin Pioneer, and in February, 1871, it was again changed to THE NEW BERLIN GAZETTE, under which name it has since been published by Mr. Fox. It is an eight column paper published every Saturday, is independent in politics, and has a circulation of eight hundred and thirty.
The Chenango News was commenced at Greene in 1850, by A. T. Boynton. J. M. Haight soon after became interested in its publication and subsequently its dole proprietor. He removed the press to Norwich and, in connections with A. P. Nixon, commenced the publication of The Temperance Advocate in 1855, discontinuing it on the expiration of a year.
The Spirit of the Age was commenced at New Berlin in 1852, by J. K. Fox, with J. D. Lawyer as editor. It was published only a short time. The Social Visitor was an ephemeral publication of this period.
The Oxford Transcript was commenced in 1853, by G. N. Carhart, and was published about six months.
The Sherburne Transcript was commenced in 1855, by James M. Scarritt, and published about two years.
THE CHENANGO AMERICAN was started at Greene, September 20, 1855, by J. D. Denison and Francis B. Fisher, who published it till 1868, when Mr. Denison bought his partner's interest, and in 1869, became associated with George C. Roberts, with whom he has since continued it publication. It is a seven-column paper, and has not undergone any change in that respect since its establishment. Originally conducted in the interest of the American party, when that was disbanded it espoused the cause of the Democratic party and advocated its principles till 1860, when it became and has since continued a supporter of Republicanism.
The Daily Reporter was commenced at Norwich in 1857, by G. H. Smith. In 1858 it was purchased by Rice & Martin, and was soon after discontinued.
The Literary Independent was commenced at Norwich in 1858, by a company of gentlemen connected with the Academy, and was published about four months.
The Chenango Ledger was started at Bainbridge August 23, 1867, by G. A. Dodge, and its name was changed the following week to The Bainbridge Ledger, at the request of many of the citizens of Bainbridge, who were desirous of seeing the name of the village at its head. The name was afterwards (as early as January 24, 1872) changed to The Saturday Review. It was sold to Harvey Ireland, who, September 4, 1875, merged it in the Bainbridge Republican, which was started as the Monday Review, July 10, 1871, by E. H. Orwen and Henry A. Clark, who sold about a year afterwards to the present proprietor, Harvey Ireland, who changed the name to the BAINBRIDGE REPUBLICAN, under which it is still published. Its size is twenty-four by thirty-two inches, the same as when started; and its circulation between thirteen and fourteen hundred. It was originally a Republican paper, but on its consolidation with the Saturday Review it became independent.
The Chenango County Democrat was started at Oxford, November 26, 1863, by LaFayette Briggs, and was published at short intervals during political campaigns, about four years, by Briggs and others, among whom where _________ Burtis and E. S. Watson. It was revived as the Chenango Democrat June 4, 1868, by E. S. Watson, and continued its fitful existence for a short time. Both were weekly papers, printed from the same material, in the interest of the Democratic party.
The Home News was started at Sherburne, Wednesday, March 2, 1864, by S. B. Marsh. The first three editions were printed on a single sheet, about nine inches long and three inches wide, "designed to be increasingly enlarged as Patronage demands." The price was ten cents per month. The first edition solicited patronage, and requested that since "Home Interests have their place and importance in every community, scribblers will please keep the compositor posted on these topics." It also contained a notice of a grand concert at White's Hall that evening by the Sherburne Musical Association, Mr. L. N. Beers, conductor, and Miss Ellen Wickham, pianist; also of an exhibition under the auspices of the Union School, of Sherburne, under the direction of Mr. W. L. Race. The second edition contained a list of letters remaining in the post-office at Sherburne, March 1, 1864, signed by L. N. Smith, P. M.; and a telegram from Utica of the same date, stating the result of the charter election in that city. The third edition contained a notice of an election to be held at White's Hall, March 8, 1864, "for the purpose of deciding the right of soldiers in the field to vote." We venture the assertion that to Sherburne belongs the honor of printing of not only the first paper in the county, but also the most diminutive one. The second issue, dated March 9, 1864, was increased to twice the size, printed in two columns, the first having only one. The third issue, dated March 16, 1864 was increased to about seven by eleven inches, and was printed on both sides; while the first and second numbers were printed on one side only. The fifth number was increased to a four-page paper, making it just twice the size on number three, which it retained till February 26, 1865. The increase with the third number made room for an addition to the name of the word "The". With No. I, Vol II., April 20, 1865, the name was changed to the Sherburne Home News, and it became "an independent journal of home interests and general intelligence"; it was changed also to a two-page paper, with about the same amount of matter, but with the third number the size the size was doubled by making it a four-page paper.
LaMonte Gardiner Raymond became its publisher October 18, 1866. He reduced it from six to five columns April 25, 1867; and April 23, 1868, increased it to its former size, and changed it to THE SHERBURNE NEWS. It passed successively into the hands of Matteson Brothers, October 14, 1869; Frank D. Matteson, April 21, 1870; Matteson & Peters, September 28, 1871; Frank D. Matteson, January 11, 1872; and Thomas Randall, February 3, 1872.10 February 1, 1874, Mr. Randall, enlarged it, by the addition of four columns, to its present size, twenty-four by thirty-six inches. It is still published by Mr. Randall, as an independent journal, every Saturday, and has a circulation of eight hundred.
The Otselic Valley Register was established at Pitcher April 8, 1874 by J. Edwards Lyons, who published it about four months, when he was succeeded in its publication by Eneas Fenton, who continued it a like period, and sold it to J. H. Graves, who continued it some two years, when he removed it to Cincinnatus, where he sold it to D. V. Joyner, who still continues its publication under the same name. It was a six column paper published weekly, and neutral in politics.
The Sunday Times was published at Norwich, a few months in 1874, by W. L. Griffing.
The Smyrna Citizen was established December 4, 1875, by George A. Munson, son of Albert Munson, and continued by him till November 25, 1876, when the outfit was sold and removed to Earlville. It was devoted to literature, news and home interests, and was neutral in politics. It was edited by George A. Munson, who had then just attained his majority.
The Afton Eagle was started in February, 1875, by G. E. Bradt, who published it till November of that year, when he sold it to Jacob B. Kirkhuff, who issued one number and abandoned it. It was an independent paper.
THE HOME SENTINEL was commenced at Afton, April 8, 1876, by John F. Seaman, who has since been its editor and publisher. It was originally an independent paper, but was changed in 1878, becoming an exponent of the principles of the Greenback party; though it is still conducted with an independence which makes it free from slavish subserviency to party. In size it is twenty-four by thirty-six inches; and has a circulation of about twelve hundred.
The Norwich Sentinel was established in the spring of 1878, by a company, of whom William W. Peters and Jasper L. Griffing were the principal ones, and was published in the interests of the Greenback party till the fall of that year, when it was discontinued.
THE GUILFORD WAVE was commenced at Guilford village, February 13, 1879, by Brown Bros., (C.C. and C. O. Brown,) by whom it is still published. It is edited by C. O. Brown. It is a six column paper, twenty-two by thirty inches; devoted to home interests; and independent in politics. It has a circulation of three hundred. It is the first paper published in Guilford.
THE ENTOMOLOGISTS' EXCHANGE was established at New Berlin in March 1879, by Addison Ellsworth, who still continues it. It is the only paper in the two counties which comes within the purview of this work that is devoted to scientific subjects, and the only one in the State devoted exclusively to entomology. It is an ably-edited monthly, and counts among its two hundred subscribers some of the most advanced Entomologists in the country. It is an enterprise which richly deserves the hearty encouragement of Chenango's citizens, and a liberal patronage from those interested in it specialty. Its author claims to have the best collection of lepidoptera in Central New York. It is a four-page, octavo sheet printed at the Gazette office in New Berlin. The subscription price is twenty-five cents. It bears an excellent motto---Vestigia nulla retrorsum.
THE QUILL AND PRESS was established in June, 1878, at North Pharsalia, by Joseph C. White, its present editor and proprietor, as The Juniper, an amateur weekly; with No. 10 of Vol. II the name was changed to White's American Greenbacker, advocating the principles and doctrine of that party. It is at present as the QUILL AND PRESS---"and independent weekly paper"---and is a four page quarto sheet.
THE CHENANGO TELEGRAPH.---The Telegraph is the lineal descendant of The American Agriculturalist, published by Thurlow Weed in 1818-19, although an interregnum of two years intervened between the suspension of that and the starting of the TELEGRAPH. The Telegraph was first issued on the eighth of April 1829, Elias P. Pellett and B. T. Cook editors and publishers. It then bore the title of The Anti-Masonic Telegraph, and its birth was immediately brought about by the excitement growing out of the now historical Morgan affair, and the aggressive movement of Masonry, which was supposed to have some connection with the "Federal" party in the county which was then largely in the ascendancy. The vigorous fights of Editor Pellett, revolutionized the county at the second election and carried the county for Frank Granger for Governor over Throop, by over twelve hundred majority, and unprecedented majority for those primitive days.
The paper continued to carry the name of Anti-Masonic Telegraph until April, 1835, when it was changed to the Chenango Telegraph, and enlarged to a five column paper. Elias P. Pellett continued to publish it until his death, when he was succeeded by his brother, Nelson Pellett, who conducted it until his death, a period of about fifteen years. Soon after that, in 1835, it was purchased by Messrs. Leal & Fisher, who published it until 1855, when it was purchased by Rice & Martin. They remained its publishers until 1861, when Mr. Martin retired, B. Gage Berry taking his interest, the firm being Rice & Berry, under which style it continued until the spring of 1864, when Mr. Berry purchased Rice's interest, and became its sole editor and proprietor. Soon after, Hon. Lewis Kingsley, a lawyer of prominence, purchased a half interest, and continued in partnership until 1870, when he was succeeded by Hon. Samuel P. Allen, who remained for four years, when he assumed control of the Livingston Republican. Mr. Berry continued sole publisher until Jan 1, 1876, when John R. Blair, of Cambridge, N. Y., purchased an interest, the firm being B. Gage Berry & Co., which still continues.
The Telegraph had reached the large circulation of upwards of three thousand copies and the dimensions of nine long columns, when its publishers found a pressure upon them for oftener publication. With considerable hesitation they commenced the publication of a semi-weekly in place of the weekly on January 1, 1877. After one year's experience they were obliged to increase its size from seven to eight columns, and they still continue to publish it as such. Since they embarked upon the semi-weekly quite a number of others have tried it, but continued for only a short time. The Semi-Weekly Telegraph has now a circulation of upwards of thirty-one hundred, twice in every week, an advertising patronage which often drives the publishers to supplements to meet the demand upon their columns, and an influence, politically and socially, second to no paper in Central New York. It politics is Republican.
7 - The population of Germany in 1867 was …………… 40,186,139 " " " France in 1866 was ……………… 36,528,291 " " " Great Britain in 1871 was 31,187,108 " " " Italy in 1862 was ………………… 25,906,937 " " " United States in 1870 was 38,555,9838 - The first newspaper published in the State, west of Whitestown, was the Ontario Gazette, established in 1792, at Geneva; the second was the "Levanna Gazette; or Onondaga Advertiser," established at Levanna, July 20, 1793, by John Delano.