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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 9 -- The Press

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Transcribed by Sherry Chestnutt. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.





[pg. 75]

The first newspaper established in the county was the Butler Palladium and Republican Star. The initial number of this pioneer venture in journalism appeared August 17, 1818, and bore at the column head of its editorial page the name of John GALBRAITH as editor and publisher. He afterward became prominent as Judge GALBRAITH, of Erie, but the paper which he founded did not have so long, prosperous, useful and honorable career as he led. It was, in fact, short-lived, and, within a period of a little over two years from the time of is establishment was merged in another journal. This was the Butler Centinel, a Federalist paper, brought out in October, 1820, by Moses and John SULLIVAN. For its motto, the editors adopted the words of WASHINGTON: “Watching with zealous anxiety for the preservation of your National Union, and discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned.” The SULLIVANs were prominent and able men. Moses was elected to the State Senate for three terms in succession, and afterward retired to his farm, called “Solitude,” a mile northeast of Butler, from which, however, he came forth to serve as a Canal Commissioner, being appointed by Gov. RITNER.

John SULLIVAN, besides assisting in the publication of the Centinel, followed, for a number of years, the mercantile business, and was Prothonotary from 1836 to 1839. In 1824, Moses and John SULLIVAN sold the paper which they had established four years earlier, to William STEWART and Joseph BUFFINGTON, the former of whom (a brother-in-law of the SULLIVANS) is still living in Birmingham. BUFFINGTON came to Butler from the vicinity of Pittsburgh, and, prior to his connection with the press, had studied law with William AYRES, Esq. He removed from Butler to Kittanning; was elected to Congress, and, at the time of his death, was President Judge of the Armstrong Court. While STEWART & BUFFINGTON were the proprietors of the Centinel (which, by the way, they changed to the Sentinel), they produced a fairly good paper for the times, but, judging from an advertisement which appeared in 1825, did not receive very liberal reward for their labors. They were willing to take almost anything in payment for subscriptions, and kept the following novel reminder to delinquents standing in their columns:

                  THE PRINTERS WANT
In payment of subscriptions a little of each of the following
                Pork,               Cheese,
                Beef,               Flour,
                Butter,             Wool,
                Honey,              Flax,
and "rather than miss," they would take a little - you know
what - CASH.

William STEWART became sole proprietor and editor of the Sentinel April 22, 1826. He was appointed Prothonotary in 1829, and, soon after, transferred the paper to Parker C. PURVIANCE and George W. SMITH, who continued its publication for quite a term of years. It was edited by them during the heated campaign of 1840, and was an energetic and able champion of the Whig cause, and also of the Anti-Masonic.

Five years after the Sentinel was first posted (no play on words intended), in the year 1825, there came [pg. 76] forth a journalistic guard of the opposite party -- the Democratic Republican, as it was called. This was the Repository, the progenitor of the present Democratic Herald.

Leaving the narration of the Repository's history for the present, we will take up those journals which may be called the lineal descendants of the Sentinel. Although this paper passed from existence in the early forties, its spirit survived in the Butler County Whig, which was founded by William HASLETT, and first issued on the 24th of June, 1846. This journal was ably edited, and presented a fine appearance, being both in size and typographical neatness, an improvement upon its predecessor. Its motto was: "Whig and Anti-Masonic Principles, and men who will faithfully sustain them." In the early issues, it was announced that the Butler County Whig would "ardently advocate and faithfully labor for the supremacy of the principles upon which the organization of the Democratic Whig party is based, believing that the establishment of these principles will secure the greatest good to the greatest number." HALETT took J. L. BRADEN into partnership October 10, 1850, and the relation was continued until August 25, 1852, but the greater part of the time he was sole editor and proprietor. The name of the paper was changed to the Butler American in 1855, and its publication was suspended in 1865. In August, 1867, Mr. HASLETT started the Butler County Press, a Republican paper, which he conducted until the spring of 1869, when the publication of this journal ceased. Mr. HASLETT had been for twenty years an editor in Butler. He was a prominent and useful man in the town and county otherwise than as a journalist. He was elected to the State Senate in 1849, to the House of Representatives in 1863, and was for several years in the employ of the General Government. A glance at the early railroad history of Butler (chapter on internal improvements) will reveal the fact that the people of the county are largely indebted to him for the measures which brought about the building of the Butler Branch road. In his early life, he had studied law and been admitted to the bar, but he never engaged in practice to any extent. His death occurred in Butler December 10, 1872, about three years after the close of his services as an editor.

The American Citizen was a rival of the Butler American during the last two years of the latter's existence, and of the Press during the whole of its brief existence. It was brought before the people as a Republican journal in December, 1863, Cyrus E. ANDERSON being its editor and proprietor. Upon April 7, 1869, the paper was purchased by John H. NEGLEY who subsequently changed the name to the more specific and appropriate one, the Butler Citizen. In May of the same year that he became editor of the paper, he bought the subscription list of HASLETT's Press, and also the greater part of the office material. In November, 1872, he took into partnership his son, William C. NEGLEY, since which time there has been no change in proprietorship. The paper has been Republican in politics from the date of its establishment.

The Repository, which has been alluded to as the progenitor of the Democratic newspaper, as the Sentinel was of the Whig and Republican sheets, was started March 14, 1823, by Maurice and John BREDIN. Like the Butler Palladium and the old Centinel, the Repository was a small paper, and contained comparatively little local news. Its size was originally about eleven by seventeen inches, and its pages were divided into four columns. Its subscription price was from the start $2 per annum. The paper was ably edited from the very first, and gained public favor so rapidly that its projectors were soon warranted in enlarging it. Following is the prospectus of the Repository as it appeared in the initial number:

Induced to believe that the establishment of another newspaper in this place would be useful and was desired by a considerable portion of the citizens of this county, the undersigned have undertaken the publication of the Repository.

The editors are Democratic Republicans in principle. In the publication of the Repository they intend to pursue a liberal course of policy, claiming the right of expressing their own opinions of public men and public measures, at the same time allowing the same right to their patrons, its columns shall be opened and free to all without regard to party distinctions or party names.

The object of this paper being to diffuse useful information to their patrons, the editors believe that this object will be best obtained by pursuing this course.

Its columns shall be open to the examination of the public conduct of public officers, and to the examination of public measures.

Personalities and attacks on private character will not be permitted, but will be carefully avoided and excluded.

The Repository will contain a detail of the earliest foreign and domestic intelligence, the progress and improvements in agriculture and manufactures, together with whatever the editors may consider interesting to the lovers of literature, wit, poetry, etc. They will endeavor to make their paper useful and interesting to all classes of the community.

Maurice and John BREDIN.

Maurice and John BREDIN were among the early merchants of Butler, and carried on business in a store which stood fronting the diamonds, west of the ground where is now the residence of Clarence WALKER, Esq. Maurice died in Butler in 1852. John BREDIN occupied the bench from 1831 to 1851, and a biographical sketch of him appears in the chapter upon the bar of the county.

The Repository passed into the hands of James MCGLAUGHLIN (a brother-in-law of the BREDINS) and John MCCLELLAND about the year 1830. They pub- [pg. 77] lished the paper for a number of years, and then transferred it to David SHANNON, Esq., and John LITTLE.

The Democratic Herald was established in May, 1842, under the editorial management of James MCGLAUGHLIN and Jacob ZEIGLER, and the old Repository was merged into the new paper. The founders of the Herald, whom we have named, published it until they disposed of it to a company, of which Samuel G. PURVIS was the head. While it was under the management of this company, Joseph MCMURTIN was the publisher of the paper. A few years afterward, the Herald passed into the possession of James MCGLAUGHLIN and Cornelius COLL, who, in 1852, sold it to Jacob ZEIGLER. He in turn sold, in March, 1855, to Col. Joseph P. PATTERSON. Associated with this gentleman in its editorial management from the time he bought the paper was John H. NEGLEY, Esq., and he became the sole owner in November, Col. PATTERSON's declining health compelling him to abandon business and go South. He died not long afterward in New Orleans. Mr. NEGLEY continued to conduct the Journal until July, 1858, when he sold it to John and Samuel COLL. He soon transferred the property to Clark WILSON, who sold it to John COLL, from whom the present proprietors, Jacob and A. G. ZEIGLER, purchased the Democratic Herald in 1867.

The Butler Eagle was first published in February, 1870, by an association of gentlemen, a majority of whom were soldiers; all were Republicans; the paper was established with a view to assist in maintenance of the Republican party and its principles.

Thomas ROBINSON was selected as political editor; John M. GREER, Esq., as local editor; and Capt. Ed LYON, agricultural editor; with F. M. Eastman, Esq., as business manager.

The management of the paper was at first under a Board of Directors, viz., W. L. GRAHAM, President; F. M. EASTMAN, Hugh MORRISON, J. B. STORY and C. E. ANDERSON. Some differences in regard to the management having occurred, the editorial staff was changed, and Hugh MORRISON, Esq., and J. B. CLARK, were severally chosen editors. Some legal differences followed, which resulted in Thomas ROBINSON becoming the proprietor, publisher and editor. This occurred in 1871. The paper continued in this ownership up to the 1st of January, 1879, when it was purchased by his son, Eli D. ROBINSON. Subsequently, he disposed of one-fourth of the concern to James M. CARSON. The paper is now published by ROBINSON & CARSON. It is in a healthy condition financially, and has a large subscription list. It is Republican in politics, and is a good local and general newspaper.

A creditable amateur journal, the Semi-Monthly, started in September, 1881, is publishes by C. M. & W. J. HINEMAN.


The history of journalism in Prospect is not a record of brilliant successes. The first newspaper in the place was the Prospect Record, established in 1852 by Dr. D. H. B. BROWER. It was a good sized paper, all printed at home and ably edited. After an existence of one year, the Record expired, not from a lack of patronage, but for want of good management.

In 1854, SPEAR & FAIRMAN began the publication of the Mirror and News, a six-column folio. They made a good local newspaper, but its prosperity was not sufficient to keep it alive, and the Mirror and News was published only about one year. Two years later, a small sheet called the Trump was run for three months.

In December, 1879, the Prospect Leader was started by S. B. MARTINCOURT. The Leader was a four-column, eight-page sheet. After four months, it was discontinued for lack of support. The town is now without a newspaper, but it has a good job printing office, started in 1877, by S. B. MARTINCOURT.


The Petrolia Record was established in 1877, by its present editor and proprietor, Charles E. HERR. The first issue appeared October 27. The Record was then a folio of twenty columns. In April, 1878, it was enlarged to its present size, a twenty-eight-column folio, with pages 24x36 inches. The Record is all printed at home, and, typographically, it is one of the neatest local papers published. It is well conducted and prosperous.

LERCH & MAPES started the Advertiser a short time before the Record appeared. Only a few numbers were ever issued. In 1878, the same firm began the publication of the Producers' Free Press, a journal devoted to the oil interests. The Free Press was edited by P. C. BOYLE, and had an existence of about one year.


The Connoquenessing Valley News, of Zelienople, was started in 1879, by Samuel and John R. YOUNG. Col. Samuel YOUNG is now the editor and sole proprietor. He is a veteran newspaper man, and makes the News a live local paper. The News is a good-sized sheet, and is all printed at home. Its list of subscribers is constantly increasing, and its advertising patronage is large. The experiment of establishing a paper at Zelienople was regarded by many as a hazardous undertaking, but the success of the News is no longer a matter for speculation.

[pg. 78]


The first paper in Millerstown was established by O. P. JACKSON in 1874. It was a diminutive sheet, about eight by ten inches, rejoicing in the name of the Sand Pump. It was short-lived as it was small sized. The Millerstown Review, a six-column paper, established by Rev. A. S. THORN, made its appearance in 1875. In 1879, the proprietor discontinued publication and removed to Atwood, Kan., where he established the Atwood Pioneer.

The Weekly Herald was started in September, 1876, by S. J. SMALL, who carried it on until May 19, 1877, when it was purchased by the present proprietor, P. A. RATTIGAN, who brought to his new field of enterprise the results of years of experience, and was successful in building the paper up to a prosperous condition. He was a practical printer, and had also been business manager of the Oil City Times (afterward the Republican, and now the Derrick), and of the Oil City Daily and Weekly Herald. Mr. RATTIGAN has succeeded in securing for the Millerstown Herald a large circulation. In politics, it is independently Democratic.


This place no longer sustains a newspaper. The first paper published here was the Karns City Item, which had an existence of about one year. At first, it was printed at Millerstown, but afterward the office was established here. The Item was a small paper. Rev. A.S. THORN was the editor.

In 1878, the Karns City Telephone was started by J. BORLAND. The Telephone had a fairly successful career of about four years. In the spring of 1882, Mr. BORLAND moved his office to Pine Grove, Mercer County, where the paper is still published.


The only attempt to start a newspaper in this place was made in 1872, when the Fairview Reporter made its appearance. Col. Samuel YOUNG was proprietor, and R. W. CRISWELL, now engaged with the Cincinnati Enquirer Company, editor. The Reporter survived about one year.

[End of Chapter 9--The Press: History of Butler County, Pennsylvania. With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Waterman, Watkins, & Co., Chicago, 1883.]

Chapter 08--The Bar of Butler County
Chapter 10--The Medical Profession
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 01 Dec 1999, 19:06