NewspapersThe history of the pioneer newspapers in Danville is very meager. No files were kept and their very names are almost forgotten. One copy of the Express, dated 1818 is all I could find. It is faded with time and contains little about the local situation at that day. The Columbia Gazette was published by George Sweeny in 1813 and this was no doubt the first newspaper enterprise in Danville. In 1815 Jonathan Lodge established the Express. It was after- wards published by Lodge & Caruthers. Judge Cooper was also among the early editors of this place. The Watchman was estab- lished in 1820 by Mr. Sweeny, on the corner of Market and Ferry streets, now occupied by the residence of Doctor Simington. All these papers were mainly reprints of foreign and domestic news; except when Judge Cooper and George Sweeny pointed their sharp goose quills at each other. This was the introduction of newspaper war in Danville; and that spirit has marked the course of local journalism ever since. It is a war that is not over yet," though it shakes no "bloody shirt."
"The Danville Intelligencer" The Danville Intelligencer was founded by Valentine Best, in 1828, as the organ of the Democratic party. Valentine Best was a man of strong will, ardent passions and in his dealings scrupulously honest. He stood deservedly high in the respect and confidence of the public generally, though his paper was intensely Democratic and one of the most bitter and unrelenting against a political op- ponent. The Intelligencer from its first issue in 1828, to the present time, has been the local organ of the Democratic party. In the days of Mr. Best it was arrayed against the Whigs, and many a thrust he gave that grand old party. And when the Republican party began to manifest its power, his warfare was directed against it with equal ardor and determined hostility. In 1850 Mr. Best was elected to the Senate of Pennsylvania. The contest however was less political than a local one. The issue was the question of creating Montour county. Accordingly he received the votes of those who favored the project and was opposed by those who ob- jected to the measure, without respect to party. In order to carry his bill through the Senate, which without his vote was a tie, po- litically he by his own vote and the sixteen Whig votes became Speaker of the Senate. He was much abused, but he bore it all patiently, believing that the end justified the means. It was the Democratic party especially that denounced him for what was re- garded as a betrayal of the party, more especially as in the distri- bution of the offices in the Senate he by his vote gave one half to the Whigs. But he finally carried his darling project, and he re- turned home, believing that the sacrifice he had made of his party standing for the benefit of his immediate constituents whould be properly estimated. He had almost made himself a political mar- tyr to accomplish the purpose for which he was elected. But he was mistaken. Gratitude is a quality little known in political parties. If a partisan loses caste, even in his own service, the pharisees of the organization curse him, simply because others do. Mr. Best had served his purpose. But the majority of his party ignored his claims when he sought a nomination for Congress in 1856. This is a bit- ter lesson that many earnest politicians have learned. After devot- ing his energies and the best years of his life to a party, he finds that political parties, like corporations, have no souls. After the death of Valentine Best, which occurred in 1858 the Intelligencer was published for some time by Oscar Kepler, in the interest of Mrs. Best. The establishment was then purchased by a number of leading Democrats, dividing the amount into shares, as it still re- mains. The first editor under the company proprietorship was J. S. Sanders. He took charge on the 10th of September, 1858. Mr. Sanders kept up the paper to it old-time standard, and being a first class printer he made many improvements in its mechanical depart- ment. In 1862 he left Danville and assumed control of a paper in Berwick. In the meantime, Thomas Chalfant had succeeded to the editorship of the Intelligencer, in which position he still contines. Mr. Chalfant moved the office from the basement of the Best resi- dence to the second story of Reed's building, by the canal, and afterwards to the room in Assembly building which was formerly occupied by the Montour American; where it is now. The Danville Democrat The Danville Democrat was established by Charles Cook, of whom a sketch will be found in this book. It was commenced in August 1840. He called it the Danville Democrat and Tariff Advocate, though it always opposed the Democratic party. Mr. Cook con- tinued its publication until 1864, when he sold the office to Joel S. Baily as stated elsewhere. He also published a German paper dur- ing the campaign of 1844, which he called Der Tariff Advokat. In its editorial ability the Democrat was far above the average. While located in the Montgomery building, in 1845 the office was burned with that building. The old hand-press fell through the floor to the cellar but was rigged up and did good service for many years afterwards. During the latter years of its existence the Democrat was located on the second story of the building now occupied by W. C. Davis, on Mill street, in the First ward. The Montour American The Montour American was founded by the author of this volume. The first number was published on the 11th day of December, 1855, in the Montgomery building. It was at a time when the Whig and Democratic parties each had a local organ - the one conducted by Charles Cook and the other by Valentine Best. The new paper, as might be inferred, had a hard struggle for existence in the beginning. But in the succeeding spring it joined in the support of Fremont and the paper steadily gained in patronage, and proved a success under the administration of its founder. Indeed, the American was a popular favorite, and it is palmy days had a wide circulation among all parties. In 1859 I sold the American to George B. Ayers, of Harrisburg. During his ephemeral editorship, he called it Montour Herald. After a few months he abandoned it and re- turned to Harrisburg, having lost the greater portion of its patron- age. In October of the same year I repurchased the material, and resumed its publication. The old name was restored and its former patrons returned to its support. It was now located in the second story of Gross' building. The American was prosperous and now was firmly reestablished, enjoying its old-time popularity. But as there were now two Republican papers in Danville, it was deemed best by politicians, that they should be united, as there was naturally always some trouble about a division of the party patronage. Ac- cordingly in January, 1864, I sold the American to Joel S. Baily, of Chester county, Pennsylvania. Charles Cook also sold the Demo- crat to the same purchaser, who united the offices and located in the Assembly building. But in the Autumn of the same year, Mr. Baily, tired of the business, sold it, and I once more assumed its control, and once more gathered its scattered patronage. After some time I moved the office into the Montgomery building, entrance on Bloom street. Here I greatly improved the material of the office and enlarged the paper, and here I brought the first power press, as I had previously brought the first jobbing press to Danville, and sub- sequently I also brought the first steam power to a newspaper office, as well as piloting the way in many other improvements. In 1871 the office was sold to William H. Bradley and Lewis Gordon for $5,000 cash. The American office having originally cost $600, it will be seen that my efforts increased its value $4,400. Some few years later Mr. Gordon sold his interest to Joel Bradley, and subse- quently William H. Bradley sold his interest to Edward Baldy, who afterwards sold to his brother, and it is now published by Bradley & Baldy on Mill street, having removed it from Moyer Lyon's building which had been expressly built for the office. There is no vanity or egotism in appending the fact that the American to-day has lost popularity but it still supported as the local organ of the Republican party. The Medium After the sale of the Montour American to Messrs. Bradley and Gordon, in 1871 I established The Medium in a second story of Moyer Lyon's block. This was a semi-weekly and is known as the gem of all the Danville newspapers. Many of its files were bound and are carefully preserved; and although it was published less than a year, yet as much as twenty dollars has been refused for a bound copy of its file. To the Medium office I brought the second, as I had also brought the first, newspaper power press to Danville. The printer boys in the Medium office, H. L. Gould, R. W. Eggert, N. C. Prentiss and Clarke Umstead, well remember that model press as the most complete and beautiful machine they ever saw in a country printing office. Richard W. Eggert had charge of the newspaper department, and took especial pride in making it a thing of beauty. In fact he is proud of it yet. In the spring of 1872, very unfortunately, I sold the Medium office to a company called the "Danville Publishing Company." This was done with a view to establish a large printing house in Danville. They changed the name to The Independent and moved the office to the basement of Thompson's hall. The Independent The Danville Publishing Company was organized under a chance granted by the Legislature. Mr. William J. Reed was chosen presi- dent, Mr. William Keiner treasurer and D. H. B. Brower secretary. I was also employed as editor. The company then bought a new chromatic jobbing press on credit and also incurred a debt of seven hundred dollars in New York. All this time not a cent of the stock was paid in, and in less than nine months the establishment was seized for the debts referred to; it was sold by the sheriff and I never received a penny for the Medium office. My loss was over $2,000. The loss of the company was nothing as they never paid anything. By some mystery to me unknown, the office fell into the hands of S. P. Kase. This loss to me, with the loss met in adjust- ing the complicated interests involved in the sale of the American swept away the fruits of all my toil for many years and left me with- out means to pursue my favorite profession. The Mentor In the autumn of 1873 as the material of The Independent was lying idle, I joined a party consisting of Richard W. Eggert, John Lesher, William H. McCarty and myself in publishing The Mentor. A printing house was built in the rear of the Mansion House, now occupied by the National Record, and the printing material was leased from Simon P. Kase. But it was not a success, and it was abandoned the following year. The Danville Record In the spring of 1876 Mrs. A. P. Fowler purchased the printing material of S. P. Kase and employed me to conduct and independent paper for "The Danville Printing Company, limited," to be styled The Danville Record. The first number was issued on the 16th day of March, 1876. It at once received a large circulation and was patron- ized very liberally by the business men of Danville. And here it is proper for me to say, that of all the devoted friends I ever had, and I have had many, there is none more richly entitle to my grateful remembrance than Mr. A. P. Fowler, of Scranton. He is true as steel to every promise, generous and faithful, a friend in whom there is no guile. Ah! would the world had more like him! In my charge the Record flourished for two years when circumstances ren- dered it necessary that the material should be sold. I was not n condition to buy, and as the hard times gave little encouragement for business in this locality the office was transferred to the new owners in March, 1878. The National Record The National Record is a continuance of the Danville Record, commencing in the spring of 1878, the material of the Danville Record having been purchased by James Foster, Harry Vincent and Victor A. Lotier. After some time Foster and Vincent sold their interest to Victor A. Lotier, by whom the paper in now published. It has been enlarged and is a vigorous Greenback organ. Among the people it is valued mainly for its local department which is under the charge of Richard W. Eggert, who is an excellent compositor as well as a lively localizer. The Record is now the largest paper in Danville and has a fair share of patronage. It is published every Saturday.
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