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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Printing Trials In Early Warren County

Dallas Bogan on 14 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
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With all the modern newspaper techniques, such as computer controlled newspaper presses, one would have to stop and think what the early printing pioneers had to go through in order to print the news.
Equipment for these presses was very limited. One once said that all the paraphernalia, the types, eases and stands involved in the early presses, could be hauled in a wheelbarrow.
The first printing press in Lebanon, the old wooden Ramage press, started production in 1806 in the City of Cedars and continued until about 1865. It too could have been effortlessly hauled in a wheelbarrow. A large sheet could not be printed on this primitive press. It was extremely hard work for two persons to print one side of a few hundred copies of a small-sized, four-paged newspaper in a day. But books and pamphlets of substantial dimensions were printed on the small presses at Lebanon and Cincinnati. A single room, or most any type arrangement in a facility, was all that was needed to utilize the operation of a successful press.
Since this was a new field of business, The Western Spy, a Cincinnati newspaper established in the latter part of the 18th Century, announced the following on July 16, 1799:
"Advertisement for an apprentice. There is a vacancy at present in the Spy office for an apprentice to learn the printing business that has been the most beneficial to mankind since its discovery would do well to embrace the present opportunity. A lad from fourteen to fifteen would meet with generous terms. One from the country would be preferred."
Difficulty getting the newspapers delivered to country subscribers was an effort. Post offices at this time were few-and- far between. Post-boys were periodically employed to carry the paper on horseback. One such instance was Harry D. Stout (as late as 1822) became an apprentice for The Western Star office at Lebanon and delivered the paper twice a week on horseback. He shouldered a horn that he blew to notify the off-the-road subscribers of his arrival. He also collected rags on his route that he carried to the paper mill at Millgrove. He ultimately returned on horseback to the printing office with a ream or two of printing paper.
Newspapers as late as the 1830's had their "rag rooms." The highest prices available were offered for clean cotton rags. Scales were very much an essential piece of equipment at the newspaper office for the purpose of weighing this highly prized possession.
A common cause for the late delivery of the newspaper was the shortage of the precious product, paper. Cincinnati's early newspaper offices bought their printing paper from Pennsylvania. The first paper mill in the area was built along the Little Miami near Cincinnati in 1803.
William H.D. Denny was connected with the Star as an apprentice, printer, editor and publisher longer than any other man, his time journeying back to 1820. He mentions that the cold, severe winters sometimes suspended work for quite a spell. Paper could not be obtained during these cold spells, which made work impossible. The primary reason was that many times the millraces would be jammed with ice.
Early newspaper owners were more often printers rather than editors or writers. The early settlements of Cincinnati and Lebanon had few writers of articles, the consequence being, no editorials, no preservation of local history (which at that time had no importance), or simply to say, no news of significance to the subscribers.
The editors expressly relied on news from the eastern states for their own publication. Subscribers who paid $2.50 per year, also had to be content with news from abroad, which in most cases was several months old.
Sometimes the first page of the local paper contained long and important local documents, or some form of address given by a local resident. Advertisements were of no general interest and contained no useful news in relationship to the community.
The Warren County Museum has on microfilm one of the first, if not the first, publication of The Western Star. It is dated February 13, 1807. Congressional reports as well as eastern news are highlighted in this issue. Also in this edition, a saddlery shop business, operated by Henry H. Dill, was placed in an advertisement, along with John Grigg's boot and shoe manufactory.
Marriages were also inserted. On February 3, 1807, Mr. William McBride was united in marriage to Miss Deborah Mills. Joseph Fox and Mary Ann Kesling were married on February 5. John Stover was married to Polly Fronce on February 9.
The death of Mrs. Patsy Low, February 7, 1807, consort of Isaac D. Low, was placed in this edition of the paper.

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This page created 14 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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