The Tioga Pioneer--Its Editors and Publishers--Removal To Tioga--Early
Advertisements--The Phoenix Appears--The Tioga Herald--George Hildreth,
The Old-Time Printer--The Wellsboro Advertiser--The Wellsboro Agitator--The
Daily Record--The Tioga Eagle and Its Successors--The Wellsboro Gazette-The
Tioga Banner--The Hermaic Journal--The Tioga County Leader--The Republican
Advocate--A Noted Correspondent.
The first newspaper published in Tioga county made its appearance in Wellsboro, December 3,1825. It was named The Tioga Pioneer, and its publishers were Rankin Lewis & Company. Rankin Lewis, whose name appears as “printer” in the assessment list of 1826, was in charge of the mechanical department. His uncle, Ellis Lewis, the other member of the partnership, and the editor, was a young attorney who had just located in Wellsboro. He was also a practical printer and had for a short time, while living in Williamsport, been connected with the Lycoming Gazette. The plant of the Tioga Pioneer consisted of a Ramage press-- there were no others in those days-- which had been secured at Sunbury and transported over the State road from Williamsport, together with a small quality of type and other requisite material. The paper itself, which considering the primitive condition of the town and country, was appropriately named, was a folio sheet, with four columns to the page, and bore this expensive motto under its name: “Knowledge is power--is wealth--is happiness.” That it created a sensation among the few inhabitants of the town is not doubted, and they hailed its appearance as a harbinger of better times. Judge Morris, John Norris and other leading men of the village gave the enterprising young publishers their support and encouragement. They now felt that they were on a par with Williamsport, although the Lycoming Gazette had been founded in 1801, twenty-four years before.
That the Tioga Pioneer encountered many difficulties and discouragements at first, and was irregular in making its appearance, there is no doubt. Such was the fate of all enterprises of this kind started on the verge of civilization. The terms of the paper were $1.50 in advance; $2 at the end of six months, and $3 if not paid until the end of the year.
The connection of Ellis Lewis with the Tioga Pioneer appears to have lasted about years. Early in 1827 the plant was removed to Tioga and the publication continued there under the old name and firm, with William Garretson as editor, until 1828,when it was purchased by Rev. Elisha Booth and its name changed to the Northern Banner. The removal to Tioga was brought about by Dr. William Willard and his friends, who were also ambitious of having the county seat removed to their town. After the removal of the paper to Tioga and its purchase by Rev. Elisha Booth, William Garretson became the editor.
During the two years the paper was in Wellsboro, Ellis Lewis was deep in the law, and had little time to devote to newspaper work. It will be seen by reference to his biographical sketch that he was politically ambitious; that he was living in Towanda in 1828 and in 1832 had become a member of the legislature, attorney general of the State in 1833, and before the year was out he was appointed a president judge. He was then only about thirty-five years of age. The time and effort he devoted to founding and editing a newspaper may have been the stepping stone to his political and judicial preferment. He gave aid and comfort to Governor Wolf, who showed his gratitude by rewarding him.
Copies of this old paper are very scarce. A copy before us, No.7, of Vol. II, is dated Wellsboro, Saturday, January 13,1827, from which, figuring back, it appears that the first number of Vol. 1 must have been issued December 3, 1825. Another copy ( No.24, of Vol. II), is dated Saturday, May 19, 1827. Both of these copies may be found among the collection of old papers owned by Arthur M. Roy, one of the editors and publishers of the Agitator.
The following advertisement, signed by Hobart B. Graves, and dated Willardsburg, March 5, 1827, is taken from the issue of Saturday, August 18,1827: The subscriber has established a distillery in the village of Willardsburg, for the purpose of manufacturing whiskey, which he is determined shall not be exceeded, if equalled, in point of quality by any made or offered for sale in this region of country, and will exchange for rye or corn on reasonable terms.
All things are good that he can mash,
But none so good as grain or cash.
There is also a notice signed by the publishers, Rankin, Lewis & Company, to the effect that” Wheat, rye, and oats will be taken in Payment” for the paper, which was then issued at Willardsburg, to which place it was removed in February or March, 1827.
The Phoenix Appears.
The removal of the Tioga Pioneer to Tioga left Wellsboro without a paper until Saturday, August 18, 1827, when the first number of a new paper called the Phoenix made its appearance. The publisher was Benjamin B. Smith, a spirited and versatile writer, who became one of the representative men of the town. The motto of the new paper was: “ The liberty of the press is the palladium of our rights.” The paper was Democratic in politics and ardently supported Jackson and Calhoun for president and vice-president in 1828. Mr. Smith secured the services of John F. Donaldson, a young printer from Danville, through Tunison Coryell, who was then publishing the Lycoming Gazette, in Williamsport, and with his aid in the mechanical department the Phoenix started on its career with considerable spirit and vigor. Smith was a cultured and original writer, quite a humorist, and considerably above mediocrity in intellect.
The people of Wellsboro were greatly elated at again having a newspaper in their midst, as it placed them once more on an equal footing with their active rivals at Willardsburg. Politics , too, was rife in those days, and it is a question whether the political animosities were not more bitter and intense then than they are to-day. The Phoenix ran along quite smoothly for a few years, when it began to meet with reverses and trouble loomed up to retard its progress. Much of Editor Smith’s attention was given up to looking after other business, and Mr. Donaldson was devoting some time to clerking in the prothonotary’s office, and studying the politics of the day. The paper finally languished, grew weaker, and at last suspended. This was a blow to the prospects of the town. A county seat without an organ looked bad for the people, to say nothing of the aspiring politicians. Pressure and promises were brought to bear, and in 1833 Mr. Smith was induced to revive the Phoenix, in partnership with Charles Coolidge. But it did not last long under this management. Smith had tired of newspaper work; and disappointment had something to do with his decreasing interest. Consequently, in 1834, the paper was sold to John F. Donaldson, the old printer, who conducted it for two years. In January, 1836, Mr. Donaldson was appointed prothonotary of Tioga county by Governor Ritner. He had labored hard to secure the office , but when the three years passed away Governor Porter appointed A. S. Brewster. In 1839 the office became elective, when Mr. Donaldson obtained the nomination, and was elected; and through his political sagacity, aided by an exceedingly obliging, he managed to be re-elected at the close of each term until 1872. With but a single break of one term he served altogether for thirty-six years- thirty-three of which were continuous.
With the departure of Mr. Donaldson from the Phoenix it passed into the hands of Josiah Emery and Asa H. Corey, and they continued its publication until the summer of 1838, when it was sold to Mr. Hartman. He seems to have changed the name to Tioga Phoenix and Potter County Gazette. Soon after Emery again appears as publisher, with J. Merry as editor. The number before us giving these facts is dated March 17,1838, whole number 491. This would indicate an existence of nearly ten and a half years. Hartman, who seemed to have a controlling interest, changed the name to the Herald, but it nowhere appears just when this occurred. The paper evidently had a precarious existence. Sometime in 1838 Hartman died and the establishment passed into the hands of Howe & Rumsey. In the meantime the politics of the paper seems to have been changed from Democratic to Whig, thus leaving the Democrats without a party organ.
The Tioga Herald.
This paper, which appears to have been the successor of the Herald mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, began its career November 25,1845, with Henry D. Rumsey as publisher. In December, 1846, George Hildreth took charge of the paper, which soon after came out as the Tioga County Herald. It was Whig in politics, and the plant was the property of a stock company, organized doubtless for the purpose of ,maintaining a party organ at the county seat. Mr. Hildreth was a true type of the old-time printer. He was born in Delmar township, December 3,1818, and in 1827, when but nine years of age, became an apprentice in the office of the Phoenix, soon after it was started by Benjamin B. Smith. The office of the paper was then in a room in the home of Mr. Smith, which stood on the site of the residence of Mrs. Sarah M. Billings, on Main street. In 1836, when Mr. Donaldson sold out, Hildreth went to Philadelphia, where he obtained a situation as compositor on the United States Gazette, which paper was afterwards merged into the North American. He worked there for a year and half and was known as the most rapid typesetter in the office. He was frequently heard commenting upon his record of a daily average of 10,000 ems in composition while he was engaged in that city. This is considered a remarkable record among printers for a single day’s work under pressure; but such an average, covering a long period, attest the faithfulness and untiring industry of the man.
In one sense Mr. Hildreth was the Nestor of the Agitator, the establishment in which he learned his trade being the progenitor of that paper, and the line being continued unbroken to this day. After retiring from the Herald Mr. Hildreth engaged in farming at Stony Fork and so continued for many years; but during that time if an extra hand was wanted in the Agitator office he was frequently employed until the rush was over. In January, 1870, he was regularly employed in the office and continued with little loss of time until 1890. In announcing his death, which occurred December 11, 1892, the Agitator gave this interesting sketch of his life:
Mr. Hildreth was forced to give up his work here by reason of failing health and declining mental vigor. For many months before he relinquished his place at the “ case” it was noticeable to those around him by
The types decreasing click, click,
As they fell within his “stick,”
That of his life’s clock the tick
Was running down.
He was an accurate compositor, untiring and faithful in the discharge of his duty, and his great fund of general information made him a most valuable helper in the department for which he had been specially trained. Mr. Hildreth was a printer of the old school. He knew comparatively nothing of the art of job printing, and he used to say that when he was young that department of the printing business was a mere cipher, a few posters or an occasional sign-card or legal form being the extent of the demand made on a country printer, and even of such work the jobs were few in a year.
When we come to think of the experiences of Mr. Hildreth in early life, we are forcibly reminded that in no business or practical are has there been greater improvement during the last half century than in the appliances and machinery for printing. When young Hildreth worked for the Phoenix office, that paper was printed on a Ramage handpress, and it is probable that all type and tools of the office were worth less than $300, and if that paper had a circulation of 300 copies it was considered good in those days. The forms were made up and proofs taken and corrections made on the press. The type forms were inked with two balls made of leather and stuffed with cotton; and when the composition rollers came into use , by which the speed of printing the papers on those old hand-lever presses, “the levers of the world,” could be increased to 250 or 300 an hour, those old -time newspaper proprietors felt more pride over the matter than a proprietor does to-day in fitting out his office with stereotyping machinery and a perfecting press capable of turning out in an hour 15,000 completely printed and folded newspapers.
Mr. Hildreth’s paper cutter was a shoe knife and a straight-edge. Besides his crude press, fifty years ago a dozen fonts of type, all told, comprised the outfit, besides a wood stove, a mallet, shooting stick, composing -stick, and perhaps a wooden galley or two. This reminds us that in the Agitator office to-day is an old wooden galley made of pine, the only connecting link left to remind us of the Phoenix of sixty-five years ago, when typesetting at night was done by the light of tallow “dips,” and when to be an editor meant also to be business manager, typesetter, pressman and chore boy-- and it was a precarious living at best Mr. Hildreth was a man of the strictest integrity. His experiences in life had made him something of a pessimist. He was naturally retiring and almost unapproachable by strangers, who were unable to understand the character of a man of such habitual silence and reserve. But those who knew him best had the utmost respect for him because of his many excellent qualities of mind and heart. We doubt if there is another printer in the State who has spent so many years at the “case” as had Mr. Hildreth. The final “proof” of his life has been taken, and we believe that it will be found to contain few errors.
The Herald was continued until 1849, when the plant was sold to William D. Bailey, Mr. Hildreth retiring to Stony Fork, where he engaged in farming.
The Wellsboro Advertiser.
In 1849 the Herald was purchased by William D,. Bailey, who started a new paper, named The Wellsboro Advertiser, the first number of which was issued August 8,1845. This paper was conducted with decided ability and was noted for its neat typo-graphical appearance. It was Whig in politics and gave that party unfaltering support. Like Hildreth, Bailey was a thorough printer of the olden time, and probably learned his trade in the office of the Pioneer or the Phoenix. On September 30,1853, Louis J. Cummings, of Muncy, Pennsylvania, became a partner with Mr. Bailey and assumed editorial charge of the Advertiser, the firm being Louis J. Cummings & Company. In December, 1853, Cummings retired, and Bailey resumed control. He continued to publish the paper until July, 1854, when he sold the plant to M. H. Cobb. The Advertiser then passed out of existence , and its successor, the Wellsboro Agitator, made its appearance.
After selling out to Mr. Cobb, Bailey worked for him a few years and then went to Williamsport to take charge of the jobbing department of the Bulletin. When the Bulletin and Gazette were consolidated, in November, 1869, he served as foreman of the daily for several years. Sometime in the seventies he went to Bellefonte to take charge of a religious publication, and there he died in the beginning of the eighties. His youngest son , Newton, is now the publisher of a temperance paper in Bellefonte called the Magnet.
The Wellsboro Agitator.
The first number of this paper appeared in July, 1854, the founder being M. H. Cobb. He was a brilliant and captivating writer; his style was clear and his choice of words singularly apt and appropriate. As partners he had Laugher Bache and W.W. McDougall. In 1857 Mr. Cobb purchased the interest of his partners and became sole proprietor and editor. But the brilliancy of his writing had attracted so much attention that, toward the close of 1858, he was solicited to accept a place on the editorial staff of the New York World, A journal then being started as a daily religious paper. The offer was a flattering one and he accepted. He then sold out to Hon. Hugh Young at the slight advance on the original cost of the plant, which was $850. Mr. Cobb retired from the Agitator January 27,1859, and on the same day his successor published his salutatory.
Mr. Young was an accomplished and vigorous writer and under his management the paper prospered. He purchased new type and greatly improved the mechanical appearance, and also gave closer attention to the gathering of local news, which enhanced the value of the paper. During the exciting period preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Young spent six weeks in Washington and wrote a series of letters to the Agitator, which attracted much attention, on account of the valuable information they gave about men and affairs, and the outlook of war.
When was came and the patriotism of the people of Tioga county was raised to the highest pitch, the Agitator was industrious in giving the news to the public, and the correspondence from eye-witnesses in the field and vamp made it much sought after.
Mr. Cobb soon tired of his New York experience, and returning to Wellsboro in January, 1863, repurchased the paper and resumed his old place at the helm. In 1864 he put in a cylinder press. This was a long stride forward in local journalism. In December, 1865, P. C. Van Gelder acquired a half interest, and they straightway enlarged the paper to seven columns. It ran along in this way until January, 1867, when it was again enlarged. On January 1,1870, Mr. Cobb sold his interest to John I. Mitchell (now president judge) and retired to accept a responsible position in the United States mint, Philadelphia. The new firm of Van Gelder & Mitchell lasted a year, when Mr. Mitchell retired and Mr. Van Gelder became sole owner. He employed George W. Sears to edit the paper. Mr. Sears had dabbled in literature considerably, was a poet of no mean order, and a man of extensive travel and keen observation.
On January 1,1872, A. F. Barnes of Bath, New York, bought a half interest in the Agitator, and September 1, of the same year, Mr. Van Gelder sold his remaining interest to Arthur M. Roy, of Wellsboro, and the firm became Barnes & Roy. A new dress of type was soon purchased, and in 1873 a new Potter power press was added to the office equipment. The size of the paper was also increased to nine columns, making it one of the largest weeklies in the State. Under the management of Messrs. Barnes & Roy the Agitator has not only been prosperous and progressive, but it is conceded to be one of the ablest weekly newspapers in the State. In its typographical appearance it is exceedingly neat and clean. It is edited with great care. Mr. Barnes is a close political student and a strong and lucid writer. Mr. Roy edits the local department and gleans the news of the week with care and assiduity. His attention is also given to the mechanical and publishing departments. Excelsior has ever been the word in the Agitator office. As early as November 10,1874, steam was introduced to drive the presses and machinery; and this was the first time that a paper was printed by steam in the county. This was afterwards supplanted by a water motor, which gives better satisfaction. For a weekly paper the Agitator is superbly equipped in every department. In politics it is staunchly Republican.
As evidence of the high standard attained by this paper, Newspaperdom, of New York, in November, 1895, reproduced a whole page of the Agitator in miniature, the size being reduced about three by three and three-fourths inches. Every letter is distinctly legible under a strong glass. Referring to the paper Newspaperdom says:
The Wellsboro Agitator is a fine example of the big-page newspaper. We have reproduced the editorial page of this paper, because the many good qualities of the newspaper are here so well combined as to form an object-lesson in newspaper making.
The Daily Record was issued for five mornings in May,1882, from the Agitator office by The Record Publishing Company, composed of Barnes & Roy, of the Agitator, and O. S. Webster and S. E. English, employs in the office. It was a small but neatly printed sheet and was started for the purpose of publishing the proceedings in the trial of Floyd Whitney, of Chatham, who was indicted for homicide. The trial ended in his conviction for manslaughter. The paper then suspended.
The Tioga Eagle And Its Successors.
In 1838 the attitude of the Herald antagonizing the Democratic party in the county, and a recent transfer of the Gazette, of Williamsport, being inimical to the party’s success in this congressional district, five citizens of Wellsboro and one of Tioga, contributed $643 for the establishment of a strictly Democratic organ at the county seat. All the preliminaries having been arranged, James P. Magill was invited to take charge of the new paper which was named The Tioga Eagle, its motto being” Equal Rights and No Monopolies.”
Mr. Magill conducted the paper with marked ability and success until August, 1848, when Alva R. Jones obtained an interest in it, and the firm of Magill & Jones published the Eagle until October 21,1848, when Jones retired. Mr. Magill continued the paper alone until January, 1850, when he was succeeded by J. and W. Kirk. On January 1, 1852, Mr. Magill again assumed control, and the Eagle soon afterwards appeared with the following as its motto: “ That country is the most prosperous where labor commands the greatest reward.” This was an extract from one of the speeches of James Buchanan, who was then a rising politician and exponent of Democratic principles. Mr. Magill continued as editor and proprietor of the Eagle until 1856 or 1857, when he moved to Philadelphia.
Col. James P. Magill was of Irish descent, his parents emigrating from County Antrim about the end of the first decade of the present century. Their Children James, William and Eliza, were educated at the Germantown Academy near which the family had settled. James and William became compositors in the Daily Pennsylvanian office, conducted by John Rice. In 1851 Mr. Magill was elected register and recorder, and served until 1854. He married Sarah Eliza, daughter of James Goodrich, of Tioga , December 4,1845, was elected major general of the Ninth division, Pennsylvania Militia; was vestryman of St. Paul’s Episcopal church, and also a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows societies of Wellsboro. Governor Packer made him an aid-de-camp with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, hence the title by which he was generally addressed. He subsequently appointed him collector of the North Branch canal, with station at Pittston. On his purchase of the Sunday Mercury, of Philadelphia jointly with G. W. Jones, in 1857, Governor Packer commissioned him one of the eleven notaries public of that city, and securing the business of four of the banks, he was retained by them by annual election for thirty-one years as their notary, and until his death, which occurred May 2,1889, in his seventy-seventh year. His wife died March 19, previously, which had much to do in hastening his own death.
The successor of the Tioga Eagle appears to have been The Wellsboro Weekly Democrat, established under that name in 1858. The issue of October 2,1858, was No.3, of Vol.XX, and the publishers claimed that the Democrat was “the oldest Democratic journal in this section of Pennsylvania,” thus showing that, in everything but name, it was practically a continuation of The Tioga Eagle. At this time C. G. Williams was the editor and R. Jenkins the publisher. In December, 1861, the office was destroyed by fire, and for several months no Democratic paper was issued in Wellsboro, and there was some little dissatisfaction among the Democrats on that account.
Efforts were finally made to found another paper. In April, 1862, R. Jenkins was pursuaded to procure new material and start a paper, under the promise of liberal support. He did so and called it the Tioga County Banner. But it only appeared for a few months, when he sold it to a company at Tioga and it was removed there. The faction at Wellsboro was greatly chagrined over the triumph of the faction down the river, and some boisterous talk was indulged in. The results was that the paper did not long remain at Tioga. A spirited contest for Congress was going on between Stephen F. Wilson, of Wellsboro, and Theodore Wright, of Lock Haven. Mr. Wright had been the editor of the Gazette, at Williamsport, in the early fifties; then of the Democrat, at Lock Haven. On the discovery of oil at Titusville he was among the early speculators; was lucky, and soon accumulated a handsome fortune. The Democrats nominated him for Congress in 1863, and being possessed of ample means he at once entered on a vigorous campaign. Finding no Democratic paper at the county seat of Tioga, Mr. Wright purchased the Banner, brought it back from the village of Tioga to Wellsboro and handed it over to the Democratic county committee. The committee then employed Prof. M. N. Allen to edit and publish a Democratic paper. The campaign was animated and bitter, being conducted at the most exciting period of the war. Notwith-standing Mr. Wright’s generosity, he was defeated by Mr. Wilson. The paper was only continued about a year, when it was suspended. In the meantime Mr. Wright, having lost his fortune, returned to journalism. For twenty years or more he has been the accomplished and able managing editor of the Philadelphia Record, one of the brightest, ablest and most progressive dailies in Quaker City.
After this last suspension the Democrats were without a paper for a year or more, when in 1866, C.H. Keeler purchased the material of the Tioga County Banner, changed the title and began the publication of the Herald of the Union. In 1867he sold the paper to the Democratic county committee, Charles G. Williams was appointed editor, and the name was changed back to Democrat .Mr. Williams published the paper until the fall of 1869, when Mr. Jenkins again became the publisher and so continued until July, 1873, when the plant passed into the hands of Messrs. Ferguson & Schlick. The connection of Mr. Schlick with the paper was of short duration, and Mr. Ferguson assumed control and continued its publication about a year.
The Wellsboro Gazette
Another effort was now made by the county committee to found a permanent Democratic paper. In November, 1874, F. G. Churchill, of Elmira, was persuaded to come to Wellsboro and take charge of the new paper. He was an active, enterprising man, and had some training in journalism on the Gazette of that city. Liberal support was promised him. The material of the old Democrat was consolidated with the job office of Dr. Robert Roy, and a new paper entitled the Wellsboro Gazette was issued. Under the vigorous management of Mr. Churchill it started off well.
During the exciting trial of the First National Bank robbers he published a bright little daily, commencing December 2,1874, and ending December 12, which gave the proceedings in full every morning. It was highly prized during the progress of that exciting event. A bound copy is now preserved among the county archives in the commissioners’ office.
Early in 1877 Mr. Churchill associated with him S. N. Havens. On August 1,1877, Frank Conevery bought Mr. Churchill’s interest, and the latter accepted an appointment in the auditor general’s office, at Harrisburg, the Democrats having elected William P. Schell to the head of that department. The firm then became Haven & Conevery. They at once put in a steam power press and a full line of jobbing and other material. In November, 1881, Mr. Havens sold his interest to Herbert Huntington, who, in November, 1885, sold to F. K. Wright On January 1,1895, Mr. Wright disposed of his interest to Mr. Conevery, who has since been the editor and publisher.
The Gazette, like all the papers of Wellsboro, is noted for its neat typographical appearance and close attention to the publication of local news. It has a large circulation; is thoroughly Democratic in principle and sturdily maintains the doctrines of its party. The office is well equipped with material for job printing. After the introduction of the water works system, steam was discarded and a water motor substituted.
The Tioga Banner.
This paper, the original name of which was The Troy Banner, made its appearance in Troy, Bradford county, May 24,1846, with W. C Webb, “printer, proprietor and editor.” The issue of November 12,1846, and it contained the following:
Our friends in Tioga are determined to have a regular Democratic press in their county, and they have proposed that we remove our establishment to their county seat.
The invitation to locate in Wellsboro was accepted and the plant removed. The first issue bearing a Wellsboro date was that of November 26,1846, and it contained the following editorial announcement:
It will be our purpose to support and advocate the true principles of Jeffersonian Democracy, honestly believing that the true policy of our government is founded upon them.
Previous to its removal to Wellsboro the Banner was issued once in every two weeks. After the removal its name was changed to The Tioga Banner and it appeared weekly. “Brick” Pomeroy learned the rudiments of typesetting in this office. It continued to be published regularly for several years. The issue of June 20,1848, contained an announcement that the paper would be enlarged with the next number. This is the last number in the file examined, but it is presumed the enlargement took place and the publication continued for some time afterward.
The Hermaic Journal.
This paper was started October 3,1871, as the organ of the Hermaic society, Arthur M. Roy publisher. This society was founded May 11,1869, by the young men of Wellsboro as a debating and literary society. During the winter of 1871 such eminent lecturers as Frederick Douglass, Anna Dickinson, “Petroleum V. Nasby,” Mary A. Livermore, and others, lectured before the society. The Journal was a neat and spicy little paper, but its career ended with the eleventh number, which contained a statement of the receipts and expenditures of the society during the lecture season, from, which it appears that the receipts were $1,366.50 and the expenses were $1,308.60, leaving a balance in the treasury of $57.90.
The Tioga County Leader.
This paper was started in 1878 by O. S. Webster, the material used in printing The Idea at Westfield having been brought to Wellsboro for that purpose in a two-horse wagon. It being dark when the party arrived, the team was driven into the barn of the old Coles House for safety during the night. But the load being heavy broke through the floor and sank a foot or two without damage to the horses or wagon. Mr. Webster went into the hotel and said to Mr. Coles:” Well, the team, wagon and whole Idea, have broken through your barn floor, and what shall I do?” The wreck, however, was recovered and the Leader started in due time. It was published until 1881 as the organ if the Greenback party, when it suspended and the material was sold.
The Republican Advocate.
This, the youngest of Wellsboro’s papers, was founded July 16,1884, by Charles G. Fairman and J. Lewis Whittet, his son-in-law. The material was moved from Batavia, New York. Mr. Fairman had been for several years the editor of the Elmira Advertiser, the leading daily newspaper in the southern tier, and was a brilliant and able political writer. While preparing to issue the Republican Advocate, Mr. Fairman was taken ill, and died at the Coles House, Wellsboro, where he was temporarily staying, a few days before the first issue of the paper. His death was a severe loss to his friends and to the enterprise, but it was not abandoned. His son-in-law issued the paper, published it under the firm name of Fairman & Whittet until September 24,1884. The interest of the Fairman heirs was then purchased by James H. Matson, who , in connection with Mr. Whittet, continued the publication of the paper until January 20,1886, when Mr. Whittet retired. November 3,1886, W. L. Shearer purchased an interest, and the firm became Matson & Shearer. On March10,1891, Mr. Matson sold his interest to Mr. Shearer, who has edited and published the paper to the present time. The office is well equipped, the machinery being driven by a water motor. The paper is neatly printed, ably edited, enjoys a large and increasing circulation, and, as its name indicates, is Republican in politics.
A Noted Correspondent.
The noted newspaper correspondent, Henry J. Ramsdell, was foreman in the Agitator office when the war broke out. He was born in Chautauqua county, New York, August 11,1839, and was therefore about twenty-two years of age when the call for troops was made. He was among the first to volunteer from Wellsboro and became a sergeant of Company H, Sixth Pennsylvania Reserve. Mr. Ramsdell saw much service and was wounded at Antietam. When discharged he entered journalism and soon made his mark as a correspondent. In 1865 he became attached to the staff of the Tribune in Washington, and afterwards was correspondent for the Cincinnati Commercial, and the Philadelphia Times and Press. He accompanied the congressional commission to San Domingo and Alaska. President Garfield appointed him register of wills for the District of Columbia, and the last paper signed by the president (July 2,1881,) before he was shot by Guiteau, was Ramsdell’s commission. President Cleveland removed him from office. He was a warm friend and admirer of Blaine and did much to promote the political interests of that eminent statesman. Mr. Ramsdell died at Washington, May 25,1887. His wife was daughter of William Garretson, of Tioga.