Cairo Historian Gives details on Town Newspapers

By Grace Story Webber, Cairo Township Historian
Published in the Catskill Daily Mail May 21, 1953


Newspaper article courtesy of Linda Larsen. Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


This is the 18th in a series of articles published by the Daily Mail about the history of the town of Cairo.

Every town should have a newspaper, and Cairo has been blessed, for this need has been met for the last 75 years.

People take printing of a newspaper for granted but it has taken years of development and industry to bring this business to the perfection that exists today. Let us review some of the highlights.

Early Inventor

William A. Bullock, who was born in Greenville in 1813, was trained as a machinist. He was an experimenter and inventor, toying with the printing press. At the age of 36, he began publishing a newspaper in Philadelphia. He was not satisfied with the press, so in 1850 he "removed to Prattsville," where he made a wooden press which was turned by a crank.

The next year, he devised a self-feeder. He then went to New York City, where he constructed a fast press for Frank Leslie’s "Illustrated Weekly." He continued his work until he perfected and automatic feeding rotary web press, printing on both sides, revolutionizing the art. So at a very early date Greene County was noted for its newspapers and newspapermen.

Greene Co. Advertiser

As early as 1886, The Greene County Advertiser was started in Cairo by Griswald Harte, who was the son of the famous poet, Bert Harte. The late Andrew Freese was one of the "Printer’s helper’s" on this paper. The plant was located in one of the buildings belonging to Leroy Jacobs, now a part of the Clicquot Club bottling Co., West Main Street.

This publication continued a little more than a year.

The Cairo Herald

The next editor to publish a paper in Cairo was A. J. Payne, who tells the following facts: "I was born in Edmeston, August 13, 1867, and entered the newspaper work while in that town. At the time of my marriage, June 1890, I owned a half interest in the Edmeston Local. In that same year, I sold my interest to my partner, Mr. B. I. Sherwood, and commenced looking for a town to engage in the printing business.

"I wrote to the postmaster, Mr. John Lennon, to find out about the business in Cairo and he wrote me a very nice letter, telling me to come and see for myself. Arriving in Cairo, I interviewed the businessmen and concluded to cast my lot in Cairo. I rented the vacant room over John Case Store on Main Street." (That was where the Lester H. Story’s Souvenirs-Dry and Sporting-goods store is today.)

Mr. Payne continues; "when Mr. Case concluded to build a new store, I bought a small house near the railroad of Mrs. Alice Reed, built an addition and moved there. I was printing a neutral paper at that time. Henry Duncan, the Democratic Chairman, induced me to change to a Democratic paper by promising 10 subscribers for every one I lost. This was in October, 1896."

The Cairo Leader

In 1897, a stock company was formed, which consisted of J. Lemay Jacobs, County Republican Chairman; Frank G. Walters; Solon W. Stevens, Richard A. Austin, Reuben Greene, Ira Tolley and A. V. Decker. A young printer by the name of George W. Squires came from Roxbury, Delaware County, and took charge of what they decided to call "The Cairo Leader," which was printed elsewhere.

The Merger

In July, 1889, the Herald Building on Railroad Avenue was destroyed by fire and the business moved to a store where the Oneida is now.

The Stock Company, not wishing to continue in the publishing business, sold the subscription list and good will to Mr. Squires, who also purchased the plant of The Cairo Herald, combining the two papers, and retaining the name The Cairo Herald.

He rented a store of Mrs. Achsah Story on Main St., now the vacant lot between the residence of George Holdridge and Richard Wenderkin, which he later purchased.

Mr. Squires continued as proprietor and editor of the Cairo Herald for 40 years, and then sold the paper to Frederick E. Bleezarde of Ravena. Mr. Squires retained the job printing and presses which he sold in 1944, and the building was dismantled.

Mr. Bleezarde, the owner of a chain of newspapers which were printed at his main office in Ravena, moved his office to the present Wm. Staker’s residence, Main St., with Mrs. Margaret Curran as Special Representative.

In May, 1944, Mrs. Grace Webber became Local Editor and the office was located in her residence, where it remained until Dec. 1950, when Miss Inez Chadderdon became Local Editor with the office in her residence in Acra.

Mrs. Samuel Cozine has a copy of the first paper published by Griswald Harte in Cairo in 1886 and it is with interest that we note the following: "Selden Hines, of the Hines House, has nearly completed his bowling alley. It will front on Prospect Avenue. The Hines House was a large summer hotel located west of the present school. This hotel was burned in 1925. Again we read in the Advertiser: "Schermerhorn is building a new house on the corner of Grove and Prospect Ave." We draw the conclusion that Bross Street in 1896 was called Prospect Ave. When was the name changed and why?

Mill Street

Again from the same issue: "Mrs. Story is refitting the house known as the Day property Corner of Main and Mill Street." Mrs. Story was Mrs. Lydia Story, the sister of Ambrose and Frank Walters, and lived where Mrs. Henry Rasmussen now lives. In 1886, there was a small building where the drive to the Rasmussen garage now is which was used by Albert Patrie for a feed store. When was Mill Street changed to Jerome Avenue?

The Jerome Family

By items gleaned from here and there the following facts come to light: Alexander purchased the Raeder House about 1892 and named it Millside. In Beer’s History we read; "The grist-mill owned and run by Paul Raeder was built by a Mr. Crooker about 1790. About 1824, the building was taken down by Samson Crooker and moved to its present location."

This mill, which has been converted into sleeping rooms, is across from the present Rexcroft House which is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wenk, who purchased the property in 1929.

Again we read: "The boarding house was partially destroyed by fire about 1887 and rebuilt by Mr. Raeder."

About 1885, David Jerome sold the Tolly farm on Route 145, now owned by Arthur Edwards, to his cousin, Josephine Jerome Andrews, and purchased of Solon White the Daniel Sayre house (now owned by Mrs. Grace Butler) on Mill St.

Again we ask, when was Mill Street changed to Jerome Ave. and did either of these families have any influence in it being so named?

Herald’s 50th Birthday

"The Herald has seen many changes in the life of the town during the early half century. It has noted the passing of many of its prominent citizens, namely Ambrose and Francis Walters, owners of Walter’s Hotel; William E. Greene of the Greene Farm; John E. Greene and Ruben Greene Meat Market; J. Leroy Jacobs of Jacob’s Bottling Works; Solon W. Stevens, carriage repository and livery stable; Attorney August Hill and Charles Porter; John S Alden, merchant; Dr. George Noble and Dr. Nelson H. Griffins, John K. Palen; H. B. Whitcomb of Winter Clove; C. E. Whitcomb, merchant at Purling; S. M. Jones, Harrison Jones, Walter Schoomaker, John Titus, James b. Edgerly of Round Top."

Other Changes

Other changes to take place during the long period was the burning of Jennings’ Hotel in 1913 (and the erection of its site of the large Cairo Garage and the Hines House in 1925. The large frame barn near the bridge was removed to make room for the Francel Garage in 1928.

During the year the saloon at the corner of Main St., and Mountain Ave. was torn down and on its site came Cozine’s Corner Service Station. On April 1, 1925, the First National Bank of Cairo opened its doors, and in 1930 the old frame Walters’ Hotel was torn down by J. D. Schad, and the present fine hostelry was erected.

Of the business here in 1890 not one remains in business, the Herald states. The oldest continuous business in existence here today (1940) is the Olmsted Hardware business. H. S. Olmsted purchased it of Weed and Stanley in 1893. (The store today is owned by Howard L. Bingel.)

"The Herald has published the birth of many of its present citizens and the birth and marriage of their children, "it continues." A most complete history of the town could be written from its files."

"May the Herald continue for another half century." The people of the town of Cairo concur with this sentiment and hope that the town will always have as fine a newspaper in the future as they have had in the past.

(Note: If any one is able to answer the questions which have been asked, or throw any light on any history or facts of the town I would be very glad to receive this information.)


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