1894: Seventy-Six Years of Local Journalism

The birth of the Daily Times makes this a proper occasion to indulge in a historical sketch of journalism in Portsmouth, reaching back to the early years of the century. From an article published in 1836, and from files of old papers and documents we are able to glean many facts concerning local newspaper publications that will prove of interest to our readers.”

“There have been many ups and downs in the newspaper field since the first publication – many ventures that came to naught. Weeklies have been started, have flourished and passed away, leaving little but their names and debts behind them. Dailies have bloomed and flourished and faded away – and the years seem strewn with the wrecks of printing offices that brought neither fame nor fortune to their owners.”

“It is interesting to state that the first newspaper ever published in this city – then village – was known as the Portsmouth Times, and was issued on the first of August, 1818, by Jeremiah Abbott and a Mr. Chaney1. In the prospectus the editors announced their policy and informed their readers that ‘they are friends to Republican institutions and the general government as then administered, and will give their support to the administration (Monroe’s) as long as it adheres to the policy it now pursues.’ In this paper will be found advertisements that revives names that will be readily recalled by an older citizen. There is the ‘Ohio Hotel,’ kept by Henry Case; new goods by Joseph Waddle; sheriff sales by N Wheeler2; drugs and medicines by Dr. Gilesb SB Hempstead3, Thomas Waller, president of the Commercial bank of Scioto; Henry Brush was a candidate for congress. We learn that Haverhill, in this county, was laid out December 12, 1818, by Asa Boynton.”

“On the 17th of March following, 1819 – after seven months existence – the Times was discontinued for want of patronage, the editors stating, however, that they did not attribute their failure to a want of liberality on the part of their fellow citizens, but to ‘the miserable state of our currency and a lack of sufficient number of mail routes in this region.’ One year afterward – March 4, 1820 – Mr. C Hopkins issued the first number of the Scioto Telegraph, and in October of that year the Telegraph was enlarged and issued simultaneously in Portsmouth and Burlington (then the county seat of Lawrence county) and the words, ‘and Lawrence County Gazette,’ were added to its name.”

On the 30th of July, 1825 James and John Carnahan began the publication of the Portsmouth Gazette, the office being on the corner of Market and Front streets, the present site of the Biggs House. The paper announces itself in favor of the ‘American policy and Henry Clay, the Hercules of America.’ March 4, 1825, Ebenezer Corwin took charge of the Portsmouth Gazette and Lawrence Advertiser, and in connection with James Carnahan conducted it until February 24, 1846.”

“The first number of The Western Times was published on the 28th of April, 1826, by E Corwin & Co. It was a small 6-column paper, and its subscription price was announced to be ‘$2 per annum, in advance, $2.50 within the year, and $3 at the expiration of the year.’ The office was located ‘a few doors east of market space -Main street’ – now known as Second street. In May 1827, Corwin disposed of his interest and the publication of the Western Times was continued by JA Bingham.4

At this time William Kendall and Samuel F Vinton were candidates for congress, and Robert Lucas for senate. David Gharky was auditor, John R Turner county clerk and also postmaster; Moses Gregory sheriff, Samuel Tracy recorder of the city council. Mr. Bingham continued the publication of the Times until 1830.

“The publication of the ‘Portsmouth Courier‘ was commenced on the first of January 1831 by Elijah Glover with Edward Hamilton as editor. The paper announces that the official census returns make the population of Portsmouth 1073. The Courier seemed to have a precarious existence. At the end of the first year, Mr. Hamilton retired from the editorial chair and Mr. Glover assumed control. In 1833 Samuel G Glover and William P Camden published it; in 1834 Elijah Glover and William P Camden. In 1835 it passed into the hands of Ed Hamilton and William P Camden and in 1839 Ed Hamilton and Silman Clark became the publishers and changed the name to the Portsmouth Tribune. The paper was published under this name until 1848, when it was united with the Clipper and called the ‘Tribune and Clipper.‘ In the meantime, Mr. Clark had published the Tribune for a time in his own name and WA Hutchins5 had acted as editor for a short time. Captain Ed Hamilton went to the Mexican war in command of a company and was afterward appointed secretary of the territory of Oregon where he still resided two years ago.”

“In 1840 William P Camden began the publication of the Scioto Valley Post, the first Democratic paper published in Scioto County, aside from campaign issues. It appeared under his control until March 1845, when it was sold to Anthony Drouillard, who continued the paper under the name of the ‘Portsmouth Clipper.‘ On the 26th of August, 1845, Stephen P Drake purchased a one-half interest in the Clipper, and in March, 1846, purchased Mr. Drouillard’s interest and published the paper in his own name until March, 1848. On the 7th of that month, Clark and Drake united their two papers and for years it bore the title of the ‘Tribune and Clipper.’ In November 1849, John Hanna appeared upon the scene and purchased the entire paper, published one year, when he resold one-half the office to Stephen P Drake and they continued its publication under the firm name of Drake & Hanna. On the 9th of December, they began the publication of a daily, known as the ‘Daily Tribune and Clipper.’ In June 1852, Mr. Hanna became sole proprietor and continued to publish the daily until September 9th, 1852, when he disposed of the establishment to Albert McFarland, who came to this city from Circleville, and who, in April 1854, associated his brother, Dan McFarland, with him in its publication. The office at this time was in the second story of the Bishop building on Front street, adjoining Stanton & Balmert’s business house.”

“As stated above, Albert McFarland came to Portsmouth in September 1853, (though the printer got it 1852) and took charge of the Tribune and Clipper. The ‘Clipper‘ part of the name was then dropped. Dan McFarland retired from the paper and went west. Albert McFarland continued its publication until 1861 when the daily issue of the Tribune was suspended. In that year, having been appointed to a clerkship in the US senate he sold the office, which had been removed to Market street adjoining Massie Block to his brother Daniel, who published it until 1867, when he sold the same to HRW Smith and David Elick who continued its publication until 1869, the office having been removed to Second street, occupying the second story of the building now occupied by the Adams Express Company. In the last named year Albert McFarland after eight years retirement from the paper purchased the interest of HRW Smith and the paper was published by McFarland & Elick for several years until Dave Elick sold out and moved to Minneapolis where he still resides.

In 1870 McFarland having erected the three-story brick on the corner of Second and Court streets intending the upper rooms for his printing office, moved the Tribune office into the same. The paper absorbed the Republican and for a time it was known as ‘The Tribune and Republican,’ but the latter name was finally dropped. In 1886 Mr. McFarland sold the Tribune to an incorporation known as ‘The Tribune Publishing Company,’ who continued to publish it as a weekly, until last year when in September the paper and good will was purchased by Filmore Musser6 and JF Strayer7, who removed the office to the old post office building on Court street from which it is at present issued. In January last they began the publication of the Daily Tribune having purchased a little daily called the News which had been published a few weeks by HB Hull.”

“It is difficult to weave in a sketch like this all the newspaper changes in Portsmouth, as they occurred, being frequent and confusing, hence we have followed the fortunes of the Tribune direct, from 1850 down to the present time. We will now gather up a vestage of the stray publications that arose, reigned and fell from that period down to the present time. We will then close be presenting a sketch of the Democratic publications that have preceded the present ‘Times‘ from the days of the ‘Inquirer,’ in 1848, down to this year of our Lord, 1894.”

“A number of ephemeral or campaign sheets have been published from time to time, but their existence was so short that they hardly belong to history. For instance, a small sheet called the ‘Rights of Man,’ edited and printed by Samuel G Glover, was published during the presidential campaign of 1836 and supported Martin Van Buren for president. In 1844 another campaign paper, known as the ‘Scioto Simon Pure,’ was issued from the Tribune office, and conducted by the Portsmouth Clay Clubs. It supported Henry Clay for president and was edited by OF Moore8 and others. In the same campaign the ‘Portsmouth Democrat‘ appeared, supporting James K Polk for president, and was edited by James Keyes and others.”

“In 1851, ‘The Life Boat,’ a temperance paper was established by Jacob Miller and was continued by Elijah Glover and NH Parker9, until the fall of 1853, when it was discontinued. It advocated the introduction of the Maine liquor law into Ohio. The Daily News was published from this office for a few weeks.”

“September 1, 1852, the first number of the Scioto Valley Republican appeared under the auspices of Stephen P Drake. He afterward associated with him, in its publication, his brother, Samuel P Drake, and its publication was continued, by the latter, after the war, Harry Doddridge for a time being its publisher. It was sold to Cyrus E Irwin in 1868, who continued its publication for a number of years, when it was sold to Albert McFarland, and subsequently merged into the ‘Tribune,’ by that gentleman.”

“The Daily Herald was launched into the world in March, 1855, by Phelps & Dumas, two well-known printers. It was printed upon the material used in the publication of the Daily Nonpareil, of Cincinnati, and for a short time it cut quite a swell in the newspaper arena. But the funds of Phelps & Dumas soon disappeared and John Hanna, formerly of the Tribune and Clipper, purchased it in June and continued its publication until February, 1856, when he sold the office to Shannon & company. The Herald office was in the third story of the Brunner building, on the corner of Second and Market streets, and was reached by an outside stairway on the Second street side. The paper had been American in politics, and supported Allen Trimble for governor in 1855. From this office was issued, on June 2, 1856, by Shannon, Hoy & Co.,’The Portsmouth Daily Times,’ but their bank account was not very large, and the daily soon perished.”

“An old Portsmouth typo, DDW Davis, made two attempts to establish a paper in Portsmouth–the Herald–but in a short time his ventures failed.”

“In 1885 WG Cooper started the ‘Free Lance,’ in an office on Market street, and for a time its columns were filled with red-hot language and the vigor of words that were startling. But in October, 1886, Cooper, having suddenly retired, the ‘Free Lance’ was put to rest.”

“In 1888 a paper called ‘The Leader‘ appeared, as a Portsmouth publication, having been transferred here from Wellston, Ohio. It was an organ of the labor party. JB Carter was afterward its editor, but in 1889, it was sold to a company, who moved the office to Spry’s building, corner of Second and Market streets, and started the press. It is Republican in politics. Leslie Mann was chosen editor, and it still continues under his editorial control.”

“The ‘Wachter-Am-Ohio‘ was the first German paper published in the city, appearing in 1856, and edited by JM Broome10. It was discontinued in 1861. Edward Rain began the publication of ‘The Correspondent‘ in 1860, which he continued to publish for about fourteen years. He was succeeded by Julius Bock but the paper was in 1875 purchased by John T Miller, who presided over its columns for about two years, when he sold it to Feuchtinger & Son. They afterword disposed of it to Carl Huber and RP Rifenberrick11, and for the past twelve years the former has continued as its editor and publisher.”

“We now go back to 1848 and will endeavor to give a connected though brief outline of the Democratic publications which have flourished in Portsmouth, and which might be considered as forerunners of our own Times.”

“‘The Portsmouth Inquirer‘ appeared as a Democratic journal April 6, 1848, With Edward Jordan and James M Ashley as editors. There was evidently too much brains in charge and after issuing two numbers they dissolved. Both of these men afterward became prominent in office and both changed their politics. Jordan became solicitor of the treasury under Lincoln, and Jim Ashley became the well-known Congressman from the Toledo, Ohio district. The ‘Democratic Inquirer‘ was published by Francis Cleveland (uncle of President Cleveland) for many years a prominent figure in Portsmouth-and Jacob Miller; then by Cleveland and Pearce; then by Alexander Pearce, and then by George W Nelson, who continued its publication up to June 1855.”

“In the meantime the first number of the ‘Daily Portsmouth Dispatch‘ was issued by Cleveland and Miller on 21 November 1849, from the office of the Inquirer, in his publication was continued up to October 1855, by the same parties who publish the Inquirer, as given above. The office was in the second story of the brick building on Market Street south of Second, now occupied by James A Maxwell, dealer in grain.”

“The Inquirer and Daily Dispatch were discontinued in 1855, and the Ohio Pennant was substituted for them by George W Nelson and Edward Horrell, the latter soon retiring from the tripod. It was afterward published by Bickley and Nelson, and on 10 February 1856, these gentlemen ushered into the world the ‘Daily Democratic Pennant,’ with GWL Bickley12 as editor. Bickley was a dashing fellow and afterward figured as a leader and organizer of the Knights of the Golden Circle throughout the South but the ‘Pennant‘ was not able to catch the popular breeze, and on the 30th day of May 1856 it was hauled down and laid away.”

“The Presidential campaign of 1856 was then on in the Democracy of Scioto County were without an organ. To supply the deficiency the central committee and a number of leading Democrats, with William Newman as manager and treasurer, hired Edward M Horrell to publish a campaign tri-weekly until the presidential election, and the ‘Tri-weekly Plain Dealer,‘ was issued in support of Buchanan and Breckenridge. It suspended when the election was over.”13

“At that time Walter C Hood was publishing the spirit of ‘The Spirit of the Times‘ at Ironton. Lawrence county in those days was a poor and unprofitable field for a Democratic paper, and several Democrats advised Mr. Hood to remove his office to Portsmouth, which he, after canvassing the situation, decided to do. In January 1857, he removed the office to the city, and continued its publication for short time under the name mentioned, but afterward changed it to the Portsmouth Times,’ which name it still proudly bears. Mr. Hood was a vigorous writer and met with success in the publication of the paper, but a factional fight in the party (the outcropping of the Douglas and Breckenridge wings of the organization) and the annoyances of petty politicians grieved his soul, and in a petulant moment he suspended its publication in May 1860.”

He didn’t propose to be dictated to. He sold the office to WC Appler14 and JF Rate, who immediately began the publication of ‘The Union and the Times‘. It was an organ of the union party in that year and supported the Presidential ticket of Bell and Everett. After the election of U and T got wabbly, and fell into ‘innocuous desuetude’ and suspended in February 1861. In April following the veteran publisher, Samuel Pike, who published more papers at more places than any man in America, brought his own printing office to Portsmouth and issued to the world the Portsmouth Patriot from an office on Market street. The war was on and Pike was bitter. His sympathy seemed to lean across the river, and, after a fight of nineteen weeks, during which he had issued nineteen startling numbers, he gave up the patriotic ghost and the Patriot slept with its fathers.”

“He shortly after removed the office to Hillsboro, Ohio, and published the Gazette. The press and material of the old Times office, which had been owned by Mr. Hood and was used by Appler & Rate, were still at the old office on Market street, over Krautz Lebins’ (now Amman’s) drugstore. In November 1861, the material was removed to the Massie block, and on the 23rd day of that month the Times was revived, and after a sleep of eighteen months, carrying the old motto which Hood had placed there and which still it carries: ‘Choose ever that which has the fewest faults and those least dangerous.’ It was published by James W and JR Newman15. The latter retired in 1864. James W Newman continued as the sole editor and publisher until December 1, 1891, thus covering a period of continuous editorial management of 30 years from November 23, 1861, to December 1, 1891. The office remained in the Massie block until the big fire of March 6, 1871, destroyed the whole block, including the Biggs House and Massie block and the presses and nearly all the material of the times when up in flame and smoke. The office was immediately re-furnished and located in the Bishop building on Front street until Massic block could be rebuilt.”

“The building was completed that year, and in December 1871 the Times return to the old quarters. There it remained until August 1899 when it was removed to its present quarters, which were built especially for its accommodation. On October 1, 1891, Mr. Newman sold 1/2 interest in the paper to Vallee Harold16 and retired from its editorial management. Mr. Harold continued in charge a little over a year, when he disposed of most of his interest to JL Patterson17 in January 1893. In December last Mr. Newman disposed of the remainder of his interest to RE Dodge, and the paper has been published by Patterson and Dodge up to last month, when the office, paper, and good will became the property of an incorporated company and began the publication of a daily. This is in brief the history of the Times and it has made a record of which its friends may feel proud. Its weekly can boast the largest circulation of any paper published in Portsmouth and the daily will soon be able to make the same boast.”

“We might add that it was the Democratic predecessor of the Times, the Inquirer, that in 1849 issued the first daily, the Dispatch, that was ever printed in Portsmouth. It was the Times that brought the first power press to the city; it was the Times that brought the first gas engine to the city to run its presses; it was the Times that first purchased and used a folder, paster and trimmer-and these kind of improvements will continue to happen in the future as in the past because ‘THE TIMES LEADS THEM ALL.”

“In more than thirty-three years of its existence it has pushed steadily along, and grown from a small seven column folio to a sheet just double that size. In all that time-notwithstanding fires and floods-it has never omitted an issue or put out a ‘half-sheet.’ THE DAILY TIMES following the example of its WEEKLY issue, will continue to grow in size and popular favor until it covers the whole field and is welcomed in the homes of all our people.”18Portsmouth Prints. (1894, July 14). Portsmouth Times, p. 7.19

  1. JW Chaney
  2. Nathan Wheeler Jr.
  3. Giles Samuel Booth Hempstead
  4. Julius A Bingham
  5. Wells Andrews Hutchins
  6. Millard Filmore Musser
  7. John Franklin Strayer
  8. Oscar Fitzallen Moore
  9. Nathan Howe Parker
  10. John Martin Broome
  11. Richard P Rifenberick
  12. George Washington Lafayette Bickley
  13. Portsmouth Prints. (1894, July 7). Portsmouth Times, p. 14.
  14. Washington C Appler
  15. John Rigdon Newman
  16. Louis Vallee Harold
  17. James L Patterson