THE PRESS OF CHEMUNG COUNTY.*
The First Newspaper of the County –Elmira Republican-Chemung Democrat-Elmira Advertiser- Horseheads Philosopher-Chemung County Republican-Other Publications.
Getting back to the early history of the newspaper-press within the bounds of what is now Chemung County seems like approaching the borders of the dark ages. There is a mist, and there are traditions, but almost literally nothing which can be seized upon as substantial history. The oldest inhabitant was but a small boy in his teens, whose recollections of the early newspapers, if he has any, are not altogether reliable. In Solomon Southwick’s pamphlet, entitled "Views of Elmira," he states that "the first newspaper in this county was established here in 1815, by Brindle & Murphy. The Telegraph was its title, - its political character neutral. The next was The Vedette, established by William Murphy in 1818. These both died. Next came The Tioga Register, established by J.A. Smith, in 1822, for the support of Adams and Clay. In 1828 its title was changed to that of The Elmira Gazette. It is now," continues Mr. Southwick, in the pamphlet from which these extracts are made, and which was published in The Elmira Republican and General Advertiser of April 16, 1836, "in the hands of Mr. B. Paine, as publisher, and Thomas Maxwell, Esq., as editor, and supports the present Federal and State administrations. Four hundred copies at least are printed weekly, and four hands are employed in the printing-office, the work done in which, exclusive of the newspaper, amounts to about $1500 per annum. This may be considered a flourishing establishment for a country village, - a village, however, which bids fair soon to become a city. The Elmira Whig," Mr. Southwick proceeds to say, "was next established, in 1828, by James Durham, and published one year as an opposition paper, when it expired, for what reason we are not informed. The Elmira Republican was established in 1829, by William Murphy, printer, and edited by Chauncey Morgan. Nine months afterwards it passed into the hands of John Duffey, who continued it about nine months. It was then purchased by Birdsall & Huntley. It is an opposition print, supporting the Whig party. On the 1st of this month [March, 1836] Ransom Birdsall, the editor, bought Mr. Huntley’s share, and is now sole proprietor, editor, and publisher. Mr. Birdsall and Mr. Maxwell, his opponent, are both self-educated men, who have relied upon their own skill and industry for their present standing and property. The office of Mr. Birdsall employs two presses, and besides his paper, of which he now publishes about 500 copies weekly, he is engaged in stereotype-printing, - has issued within the last year 10,000 volumes of Cobb’s celebrated school-books, and 200 gross of his first series of toys. He prints and sells blanks, and does job-work to a large amount annually. He has a bookstore and bindery connected with his establishment, and the whole concern is in a flourishing state."
Thus we have copied in his own language all that Mr. Southwick has to say of the early newspapers and their publishers. It is probably the most complete statement that is anywhere on record. We are glad, through the medium of this book and the modern printing-press, to rescue it from the oblivion into which it had practically fallen. Possibly there are other copies extant of Mr. Southwick’s "Views of Elmira," from which those extracts are made, but they are necessarily rare and difficult of access. It will be observed that the Elmira Gazette dates back almost to the beginning of newspaper history in this county. It is antedated only seven years, and by two small sheets whose lives were of short duration. It was started as a Clay and Adams paper, and for several years supported that political interest. Tradition, which is probably well founded, alleges that it became a Jackson paper in the twinkling of an eye, between two issues, and that the reasons which induced the change were not such as would stand the keen criticism of saintly politics. Our fathers were mortal, as their sons are, and were sometimes led into temptation. We are not in possession of the exact date of this change in its political character, but it was not far from 1830. From that date to this it has been consistently Democratic, without variableness or shadow of turning, if we possibly except its course in the campaign of 1848, when the bulk of the Democratic party "went off on old Cass." The Gazette is, therefore, fifty-six years old, and fairly ranks among the oldest papers in the country. Mr. Southwick, in his account from which we have quoted, falls into one error, or rather makes an omission of one fact. The real beginning of the Gazette was in the Investigator, established in 1820, and "printed by Job A. Smith for the proprietor," who was too modest to publish his name. The name of the Investigator was changed in 1824 to Tioga Register, and that again in 1828 to Elmira Gazette. So that the Gazette is really fifty-eight years old, and antedated by any other paper in this county only five years. The files of the Gazette in 1828, when the final change in name was made, and which it has since retained, do not disclose the name of the proprietor, but it was "printed by W. Murphy for the publisher." In 1829, Job A. Smith’s name appeared as proprietor, and he continued as such until 1831, when Brinton Paine became the publisher, with Thomas Maxwell, Esq., as editor and proprietor. It was during this misty time when nobody was publicly responsible for its management that the sudden quickening of its political conscience, to which reference has been made, occurred.
About the year 1837, Cyrus Pratt became interested as one of the publishers, the firm being Paine & Pratt. In 1838, Paine sold to Irad Beardsley, and the firm became Pratt & Beardsley. In 1839, Cyrus Pratt alone succeeded Pratt & Beardsley. In the fall of 1840 he made an assignment to Thomas Maxwell, Whittington Sayre, and Henry Johnson. These gentlemen continued the paper, under the editorial management of Horace E. Purdy, until the fall of 1841, when it was sold to George W. Mason and William C. Rhodes, two young practical printers, who came here from Danville, Pa. The firm of Mason & Rhodes continued until 1853, a period of thirteen years, during which time the paper enjoyed unusual business prosperity. Mr. Rhodes was remarkable for his taste in job printing, and he secured for the office almost a monopoly of that branch of business. The columns of the paper were also filled for continuous years with rich placers of legal advertising in the way of sheriff and mortgage sales, which in those days paid four times as much as any other class of work. The county was overwhelmingly Democratic, and all the patronage of the party officials was given it. It also during this time passed through one of the most stormy and exciting political periods of its existence.
From 1842 to 1849 the Hunker and Barnburner dissensions in the Democratic party raged continuously. The Gazette was a Barnburner paper, in earnest and without mercy. Its editorials were not distinguished for beauty of rhetoric, and sometimes the President’s English was horribly mangled. But its blows were forcible, and the old Hunkers felt them. In the spring of 1846 there was an open split in the party of the county. The Barnburners went into the north part of the State, and nominated Samuel Young, a distinguished citizen of Saratoga, for delegate to the Constitutional Convention, than about to assemble. The Barnburners in this county were called upon to make this nomination, because it was supposed to be the safest locality in which Mr. Young could run, and he was wanted by the leaders in the convention. The Hunkers refused to obey the command, and bolted. They placed in nomination William Maxwell, Esq., a lawyer and business man of high character and much personal strength. The Whigs, seeing the opportunity, made no nomination but joined their forces with the Hunkers, and gave their support to Mr. Maxwell. The contest was exciting. Never anything like it was known in the county before. The Gazette performed prodigies of valor. It was scattered by the thousands free as water over every town and in every hamlet. But the combination was too strong. The Barnburners were beaten. Mr. Maxwell was elected. "Cruel Chemung kilt Sam Young." The Gazette was disconsolate, and would not be comforted. The Hunkers were jubilant, and in the excess of their joy determined to establish an opposition paper. This was done in the fall of 1846, to which reference will be made elsewhere.
After the retirement of Mr. Rhodes in 1853, Mr. Mason continued the publication alone. In the Presidential campaign of 1852 the Gazette had supported Franklin Pierce with great earnestness, but in the divisions which subsequently grew out of the Kansas-Nebraska excitement. Mr. Mason entered warmly into a defense of free institutions for the State. In 1855 his health had broken down, and in the latter part of that year he went West in hopes of regaining it. But it was too late, and in the spring of 1856 he died. The Gazette was thus, at the opening of an important Presidential campaign, offered for sale. A lively contest for possession of the property ensued between the different political interests. Lucius Robinson, Ariel S. Thurston, Alexander S. Diven, and other Barnburner Democrats who had given in their adhesion to Fremont were desirous of getting its control to make it a Republican paper. But they failed, and it was bought by Stephen McDonald, Daniel Stephens, and William R. Judson, in the interest of Buchanan and the Democracy. These gentlemen sold it to William C. Rhodes, who resumed control of its editorial management on the 1st of July, 1856, and the paper continued to do battle for the Democratic party. In August of the same year Mr. Rhodes began the publication of a daily edition, which was discontinued at the end of a year. In the fall of 1857, Mr. Rhodes having been elected inspector of State prisons, the paper passed into the hands of Samuel C. Taber and Philo B. Dailey. In 1858, Mr. Taber was succeeded by Colonel Frederick A. Devoe. On the 30th of April, 1860, the daily edition was resumed, and since that time the paper has been regularly issued daily and weekly. In 1864, Archibald N. Devoe was associated with his father in the business department, and in July of the same year Charles Hazard purchased an interest, and became the editor. In this arrangement was included the purchase of the daily Press, which was soon afterwards merged with the Gazette. In July, 1866, Colonel Devoe sold his interest, and the paper became the property of Louis A. and Charles Hazard, under the firm-name of L.A. & C. Hazard, who continued its publication as editors and proprietors until September, 1870, when it was sold to a stock company, by which it has since been and is now published; the officers and organization being as follows: David B. Hill, President; R. R. Soper, Business Manager and Treasurer; H.S. Brooks, Secretary; Louis A. and Charles Hazard, Editors. The Hazard Boys, and they are familiarly called, are both practical printers, having begun as apprentices and learned their trades in the office of the paper to which they early succeeded as editors and proprietors. It is no wrong to say, even in staid history, that they are worthy of the success which has attended their efforts.
Next in order in any historical account of the newspaper press of Chemung County stands the old Elmira Republican. In the brief notice of this paper made by Mr. Southwick in his "Views of Elmira," it will be seen that he dates its commencement in 1829, and gives as its first publisher the name of William Murphy, and its first editor Chauncey Morgan. Its second publisher was John Duffey. About two years after its establishment, or some time in 1831, it was purchased by Ransom Birdsall and Elias S. Huntley, and published by them for a long time under the firm-name of Birdsall & Huntley. It was a Whig paper, in opposition to the administrations of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. In March, 1836, Mr. Huntley sold his interest to his partner, Mr. Birdsall, and retired. The publication was continued by Ransom Birdsall until after the election of President Harrison in 1840, when, having been appointed postmaster, he transferred the paper to Polleys & Carter, the firm being William Polleys and Alvah S. Carter, two young men who had served their time as apprentices in the office, and then in the employ of Mr. Birdsall. Polleys & Carter continued the publication until the fall of 1842, when Mr. Carter retired, and D.M. Cook took his place and became editor of the paper. Some time in the fall of 1843, Mr. Cook died, and his interest in the paper sold to E.S. Huntley, and under the firm-name of William Polleys & Co. the paper was continued until Nov. 15, 1845. In those early days the editorials of most country newspapers were furnished by some village politician, generally an ambitious and managing lawyer. In this way the Hon. James Dunn, then a young man and the unquestioned leader of the Whig party in this county, was a liberal contributor to the columns of the Republican. Stephen T. Covell, Esq., a brilliant young lawyer, who died early in life, was also an editor. During the time that Polleys & Carter were publishing the paper, articles frequently appeared manifestly from a new hand, and which attracted much attention. They were clearly and vigorously written, of much logical force, and effective in argument. It was eventually ascertained that they came from the pen of a journeyman tailor, than working at his trade in one of the shops of the village. His name was Randall W. Wells. The Whigs were so well pleased with his work that they took him off the bench and place him on the editorial tripod, and with his name at the masthead as editor, the paper was published through the Presidential campaign of 1844. On the 15th of November, 1845, the paper was purchased by S.B. & C.G. Fairman. This was just in time to fall upon the fight between the Barnburners and the Hunkers, and the contest between William Maxwell and Samuel Young. The paper went with the Whig party for Maxwell and against Young, and had the satisfaction of standing with the victors for the first time in the local political contests in the county. In the fall of 1846, Mr. Maxwell was nominated by the Hunkers for member of Assembly, and, pursuing the same policy as before, the Whigs made no nomination, but gave their votes to Mr. Maxwell, and he was elected, defeating the Barnburner candidate, Solomon L. Smith, of Southport, by a majority of about one hundred votes. The Whig share in the spoils of this victory was the election of William T. Lawrence to Congress, who was voted for by the Hunkers, defeating John W. Wisner, the leader and candidate of the Barnburners. The first daily paper ever published in Elmira was the Elmira Daily Republican, commenced by S.B. & C.G. Fairman, June 1, 1846, and discontinued August 5, of the same year. It was a five-column paper, sold at $3.50 a year, and had a list of one hundred and twenty-five subscribers. It was the outgrowth of a mania which existed in those days for daily papers in country villages, arising from the recent invention and establishment of the telegraph. The Mexican war had just commenced, and there was great anxiety for news. There was no telegraph to Elmira, the nearest point of such communication being Geneva or Rochester.
Besides the Elmira Daily Republican, daily papers were thus established in the villages of Auburn, Geneva, Lockport, Ithaca, and many other places. The Auburn Daily Advertiser was the only one which maintained an existence and became an established institution. In the spring of 1846, S.B. Fairman sold his interest in the Republican to C.G. Fairman, by whom it was continued until Jan. 1, 1850, when Lathrop Baldwin, Jr., became a partner with him. The firm of Fairman & Baldwin continued until Jan. 1, 1853, when Mr. Fairman retired, and was succeeded by R.R.R. Dumars, the firm being Baldwin & Dumars. In September, 1851, the daily edition was resumed, and was maintained until the paper ceased to exist, somewhere about the year 1857. In 1855, during the Know-Nothing epidemic, the Republican broke loose from its Whig moorings and espoused the doctrines of the Know-Nothing organization. Mr. Dumars retired and Hovey E. Lowman bought his interest. For some time the firm was Baldwin & Lowman, and afterwards Hovey E. Lowman alone. In the decline of the Know-Nothing party the paper was bought by Andrew H. Calhoun & Son, but the once powerful Know-Nothing party, which had promised to do so much for it, had brought it to the door of death. Its political mistake was a fatal one, and it could not recover the ground it had lost. And thus when the Know-Nothing party died, this once powerful and popular political organ died with it. It was upon this paper, in the years 1853 and 1854, that the brilliant but erratic young journalist O.R. Burdick, familiarly known as Sparks, flourished most largely in Elmira. He was connected with the press here at brief periods and sundry other times, but never with any special success. Elias S. Huntley, one of the early proprietors of the Republican, is yet living in Elmira, and has been for some time in the employ of the Daily Advertiser as city collector. Alvah S. Carter is also still resident here, but has not been engaged in the newspaper trade since he severed his connection with the Republican, in 1843, except as he may have occasionally worked at the case in different offices. William Polleys, since some time in 1852, has been the publisher of the Waverly Advocate. Randall W. Wells is engaged in farming in Vermont. Florus B. Plimpton, who was at one time engaged in editorial work on the Republican, has been for some time an editor on the Cincinnati Commercial. Lathrop Baldwin, Jr., was killed while bravely fighting the battles of his country during the Rebellion. Hovey E. Lowman died many years ago at Chemung.
In January, 1847, a paper was established called the Chemung Democrat, by L.J. Bush. Mr. Bush had been a clerk in a dry goods store, and his predilections for Hunker politics led him to do a little scribbling for the Republican in opposition to the Barnburners. So when the Hunker leaders came to establish this paper in opposition to the Gazette, they installed Mr. Bush as managing man and editor. The paper had a hard row to hoe during its somewhat brief existence, though it was the representative of a powerful political faction, embracing among its leaders such men as Lyman Covell, Timothy S. Satterlee, and Samuel G. Hathaway. Mr. Bush remained with the paper perhaps a year, when David Fairchild took it, and it was for some time in the hands of that gentleman and his son, F. Orville Fairchild. It then became the property of Julius Taylor, who, in 1851, issued a daily edition. About that time the Burrs – C. Chauncey Burr, Herman Burr, and Celia M. Burr – shot athwart the literary and newspaper sky of Elmira, and lit down on the Daily Democrat bag and baggage. They gave out that great things were about to happen. They were to introduce steam-power presses. They were to print a newspaper which would rival the metropolitan dailies in ability and value. There had never been anything to equal the Burrs in Elmira before. Well, they took Mr. Taylor in and tucked him under the table. They put themselves at the front. They changed the name of the paper to the Daily Karlon, which, since nobody understood what it was, or what it meant, was accepted as an evidence that the Burrs were really wiser than anybody else. But somehow the public stubbornly refused to buy the Karlon any more freely than they had bought the Democrat, and the fortune which the Burrs saw in their great reputations on a daily paper in Elmira vanished from sight. In a short time the whole thing played out, and about December, 1851, the Karlon died, and the Burrs have not stuck to anything in Elmira since.
Next in point of historical order comes the Elmira Advertiser. The third day of November, 1853, saw the first small beginnings of this now widely-circulated and influential newspaper. It was purely a business venture, having no reference either to politics or other controverted questions. Its projectors and publishers, the Fairman Brothers – Seymour B. and Charles G. Fairman – were quietly and modestly doing a little job-printing in a little room over the shoe-store of Stephen McDonald, on Water Street, and they conceived the idea that they might advertise their own business, and at the same time make it pay by advertising the business of others. On that day they issued the little sheet of four pages, -- three narrow columns to the page, the whole considerably smaller than the pages of "Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary." It had no subscription price, but was circulated free, its revenues being derived from its advertisements. One thousand copies, honest measure, were printed and circulated every day. Everybody in those days came to town in wagons, and the streets were literally full of all manner of vehicles. Water Street and Lake Street were lined with teams from one end to the other, and these, like the old Dutch houses in Albany, had their gable ends away from the sidewalks, so that when one undertook to drive another team through the center of the street great care was necessary to keep from raking the hind wheels of whole regiments of wagons. To go along this line of double-breasted vehicles, and through their agency to secure the introduction of this little advertising sheet into families all over the county and beyond, was the mission of those faithful first carriers, Elihu Carter and George Ells. The paper was called Fairman’s Daily Advertiser, and that was precisely what it was, neither more nor less. It had editorials, and it had opinion, but it belonged to no party or faction. It was in theory and in fact thoroughly independent. It accomplished its purpose. It advertised the business of the publishers, and gave them the leading position as job printers. On the 8th of February, 1854, the name of the paper was changed to Elmira Daily Advertiser, enlarged to five columns on a page, with corresponding increase in length, and offered to the public at the price of $4 a year. At the end of that year, Dec. 31, 1854, the edition in that form was discontinued, and the original plan of a free advertising sheet resumed, there being also a weekly edition at $1 a year. In about six weeks, or Feb. 19, 1855, the regular daily paper was again issued, and as been continued without interruption since. In June, 1855, the paper was enlarged to six columns. In subsequent years it was enlarged, first to seven, then to eight, and finally to nine columns, its present size. In 1865, as soon as the Western Union Telegraph extended its lines to Elmira, it became a member of the Associated Press, and from that date began its large circulation over the adjoining counties of Steuben, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Schuyler, Yates, Tompkins, and Tioga, in New York, and Bradford, Tioga, Potter, and Lycoming, in Pennsylvania. In December, 1855, Colonel F.A. DeVoe became interested in the business affairs of the office, and continued in such connection until 1864, when Luther Caldwell, with C.G. Fairman, became the proprietors. In 1868, following the death of S.B. Fairman, James S. Thurston became a partner in the concern, and remained such until the organization of the Advertiser Association, in October, 1870, by which it has since been published. The officers of the Association are as follows: President, Charles G. Fairman; Superintendent and Treasurer, R.R.R. Dumars; Secretary, Ausburn Towner. Trustees: C.G. Fairman, R.R.R. Dumars, J.T. Rathbun, E.N. Frisbie, J.I. Nicks, G.L. Smith, I.F. Hart, Ausburn Towner, H.D.V. Pratt. Editor, C.G. Fairman; Associate Editor, I.F. Hart; City Editor, Seymour Copeland; News Editor, J.K. Fairman. The opportunity which gave Advertiser its original position and influence was the organization of the Republican Party. Its beginning was contemporaneous with that event, the decline of the Know-Nothing party, and the abandonment of the Whig party. It became naturally the successor of the old Elmira Republican as the representative of the opposition to the Democratic party. It promptly espoused the Republican cause, and has been the recognized representative of that party continuously since. In the historical sketch of Elmira and Chemung Valley, published in the city directory for 1868, is the following reference to the Daily Advertiser, from which we quote: "Like all newspapers, the Advertiser has seen its dark, anxious, financial days, but happily, by the timely interposition of some good, live genius, it was able to weather the most desperate emergencies; and now, established on a firm basis, it is the best-paying paper in the Southern Tier. The Advertiser is a living illustration of the growth and progress of the city. Dating its existence only to 1853, since then it has advanced by equal strides with the city prosperity, favored as that has been favored, or momentarily depressed as that has been depressed. The war developed a new necessity, which has since become the marked feature of the paper, namely, the daily publishing of news by telegraph from all parts of the world. At first an arrangement was made with the Erie Railway Company to get the most important night dispatches sent to the New York Assocated Press. This was imperfectly accomplished, according to the state or use of the wires and the varying intelligence of operators, but the idea was a great advance on the old style of no news at all, except that which was stale or two days old. This accomplished, only whetted the appetite for something better. It was an uncertainty, but the proprietors of the paper dared to risk the venturesome undertaking, - to enlarge to greater dimensions and join the New York Associated Press. After some opposition on the part of newspapers whose circulation would thereby suffer some interference, the privilege was granted by the payment of the usual initiation fee for a morning daily paper, $3500."…
Speaking of Mr. S.B. Fairman, this account says, "To him the Advertiser owed most for a wise foresight and economical management during its later years. His organization and financial system in conducting a daily paper has been almost reduced to perfection. It was his delight to study out improved methods and put them in actual application. By his enterprise the Advertiser was enlarged to its present dimensions (1868), since which it has taken on a new life and vigor, and has largely increased its circulation, although at an unpropitious season for trade and business. It never attained so high a position of influence as now, - never did it have an equal number of paying subscribers, and a list showing constant daily additions."
Mr. S.B. Fairman, one of the founders of the Daily Advertiser, died in1868, from the effects of injuries received at the Carr’s Rock disaster on the Erie Railway. Colonel F.A. DeVoe, for many years connected with the paper in a business capacity, as also with the Elmira Gazette, is still a resident of the city, a dignified gentleman of the olden school, respected for his virtues, and honored for his life of patriotism and usefulness. Mr. M. Ells, now of Watkins, in the early days of the Advertiser, was connected for some time with its editorial department, doing vigorous and effective work. Samuel C. Taber, Esq., was city editor from 1868 to 1872, in which capacity he acquired a wide reputation as a paragraphist, and for the possession of those peculiar and popular newspaper qualities which are intuitive and not taught in the schools. We have known a great many heavy writers who were trained in the colleges, but the bright paragraphs and the sparkling humor of the Press come only of early contact with the ink-tub and the lye-brush. Mr. Horton Tidd, who for many years was an editorial writer on the Gazette, is now, we believe, at Monticello, Sullivan Co., which was his place of residence before coming to Elmira. William C. Rhodes removed to New York, but died at Clinton Prison, of which he was agent and warden, a few years since. Irad Beardsley went to Cleveland, O., over thirty years ago, and was for many years connected with the Cleveland Plaindealer. If living, he is probably still in that establishment. Horace E. Purdy is now the editor and publisher of the Free Press in this city. Since his brief connection with the Gazette in 1840-41, he has had a varied and extensive experience in the newspaper line. In large towns and small, in strong papers and in weak ones, in the East and in the West, he has been thoroughly through the mill. His knowledge of the newspapers, and of the prominent men of the country, local as well as State and national, is hardly surpassed. His memory is tenacious, and his opportunities have been great. He is regarded as the printer’s encyclopaedia. He seems now to have adopted his starting-place as his final home. Cyrus Pratt was in Elmira some fifteen or eighteen years ago, employed in the mechanical department of the Daily Advertiser. Brinton Paine, after his retirement from the Gazette, for a long time conducted a drug-store in this city. He died some twenty-five years ago. Thomas Maxwell, full of honors and of years, has also long since passed away. Of the two chief pioneers in Elmira jounalism, - Ransom Birdsall and Job A. Smith, - little beyond the fact that they lived and printed newspapers is known. They both sleep beneath the clods of the valley. If these old veterans, who printed "at least four hundred copies weekly," were, like Rip Van Winkle, to wake up and come back again, they would find much to surprise them. We have a dream that in the "sweet bye and bye" other men are yet to live who will look back upon the present, of which we boast so much, with the same feeling that it was the day of small things as we now peer into the past, and speak of the puny efforts of our pioneer predecessors. If what is here put upon record shall furnish the men of the future with the evidence that there was progress among the ancients, and that according to the light they had they did as well as they could, it is quite as much justice and consideration as can reasonably be expected from a people who never saw us and who will only know us through the mist of history. Let us hope they will give us the credit, which always belongs to the fathers, of having lived in a pure age. It will be the only consolation for us, as it is for our fathers, as an offset for the misfortune that they didn’t know much.
The Horseheads Philosopher was established April 5, 1855, by Samuel C. Taber. It was one of the most sprightly and charming weekly papers ever published in the county. It was independent in politics and religion, with a strong squinting toward Hindooism, as the Know-Nothings were then called. In 1856 it became an adherent of the Democratic party, supporting James Buchanan for President. In 1857, when William C. Rhodes was elected inspector of State prisons, it was consolidated with Elmira Gazette, of which paper Mr. Taber then assumed the management.
The Chemung County Republican was established at Horseheads in 1856, by William T. Hastings. It was under the editorial management of Mr. A.M. Wightman. It was afterwards under the editorial conduct of Florus B. Plimpton, also for some time of William Dowling. About 1858 it was discontinued and consolidated with the Elmira Weekly Advertiser.
The Elmira Daily Press was established on the 30th day of May, 1859, by R.R.R. Dumars, P.C. VanGelder, and James H. Paine. It was independent in politics, and was established strictly as a business venture. It met with indifferent success under different publishers, and was finally, some time in 1874, merged with the Daily Gazette.
The Saturday Evening Review was issued by Wheeler & Watts, March 13, 1869. It was non-political, with literary ambitions. R.M. Watts, Managing Editor; Ira F. Hart, Associate. It was an eight-page paper, about the size of the New York Ledger. It was printed on fine paper, with clean new type, and presented a very elegant appearance. It was the idea of R.M. Watts. The paper was quite popular with the people, and was accorded a liberal support in Elmira. But it was an expensive paper, and being devoted to literary purposes, it failed to receive a patronage which made its continuance desirable. At the end of a year Mr. Watts retired, and Mr. Wheeler continued the publication for six months, and then the enterprise was abandoned. In reference to it, after its discontinuance, Mr. T.K. Beecher said, "Sweet literary sister, thou art too fair for this rude city; too costly in thy apparel for our small finances."
The Husbandman was established August 19, 1874, by an association of farmers connected with the Elmira Farmers’ Club. Charles Heller, Esq., is the president of the association, and William A. Armstrong and Jonas S. VanDuzer are the editors. The paper is in the interest of the farming community, is ably managed, and has met with gratifying success as a business venture. Its circulation is general, and extends into various States of the Union. One of its chief features is the weekly publication of the discussions of the Elmira Farmers’ Club. These are regularly reported, very fully and completely, by William A. Armstrong, the secretary of the Club, whose work in that respect has not only been remarkably well done, but of great benefit both to the Club and the farming community everywhere.
The Horseheads Journal was first issued April 16, 1858, by W.E. & H.A. Giles, and by them published about a year. It was re-started by Clizbe & Hinton some time in 1866. Mr. Clizbe left in a few weeks, and the paper was continued irregularly for about three years. It was first an independent paper, but afterwards became Republican. It was purchased by Thomas J. Taylor, Sept. 15, 1869, and has been regularly published by him since that time. Under Mr. Taylor’s management it was until last fall a Republican paper. Since then it has been published as an organ of the Greenback party. In August of the present year it was removed to Elmira, and its name changed to Chemung County Greenbacker. Mr. Taylor is a veteran in the newspaper business, having published a paper at Havana, in what is now Schuyler County, as far back as 1840.
The Horseheads Free Press was established May 9, 1873, by Horace E. Purdy. It is a Democratic sheet. January 1, 1878, it was removed to Elmira, and is now printed here, retaining a habitation also at Horseheads. The large experience of Mr. Purdy as a newspaper man has been elsewhere referred to.
There was a paper printed in Horseheads for a short time, about the year 1836, by J. Taylor Brodt. It was called the Chemung County Patriot and Central Advocate. At that time, when the old county of Tioga was divided and Chemung County was erected, there was a sharp rivalry between Elmira and Horseheads for the honor of the county-seat. At this distance of time it may seem to have been an unequal contest. But it was not. Elmira was then but a rural village at one side of the county, while Horseheads was almost the geographical center. There were no railroads, and a difference of a few miles was of essential consequence. This paper was established to advance the interests of Horseheads in that contest, which having finally decided against that village, the paper was discontinued.
There was also for a short time, and at spasmodic intervals, some half-dozen years ago, a little paper printed at Van Ettenville. It hardly, however, got sufficient standing to be accorded a place in history.
The American’s Own was the title of a large nine-column weekly issued for a short time in Elmira during the Know-Nothing epidemic. It was published by the then proprietors of the Elmira Republican, and was edited by "One of ‘Em." Its career was brief, not exceeding three or four months. It was a great deal easier for that party, during its brilliant and conquering existence, to get votes than it was to sustain newspapers.
The Daily Bazoo was issued in the fall of 1877, by E. C. George. It was the advocate of the Labor Reform movement, succeeding the great strikes of that year. It was a very small sheet, and sold for a penny. In the spring of the present year it was considerably enlarged, and the name changed to Evening Herald. It was unable, however, to get a paying patronage, and was continued only a few weeks.
The Sunday Times is the title of a paper established near the beginning of 1878, by Mr. D.T. Daly, and is still issued by him. There had been two or three previous attempts to issue Sunday papers, but none seemed to get a foothold until the appearance of the Times.
The Leader was a weekly paper, issued in February, 1874, by an association of which James S. Thurston was the principal manager. It was the impulse of a political interest in the Republican party antagonistic to the Daily Advertiser. It did not meet with success, and something over a year ago was discontinued.
The Chemung County Journal, a weekly newspaper, was established March 2, 1875, by Frederick Wagner. It has recently been discontinued. It was printed in the German language, and its circulation confined, of course, almost exclusively to citizens of that nationality.
The Elmira Enterprise, monthly, printed and published by Miss Libbie Adams, a young lady of fifteen summers, belongs probably to the class of amateur journals, but is worthy of mention here. It was first issued in January, 1874. The young lady sets the type, prints the paper, edits and distributes it herself. Her cheery voice and greeting as she leaves it at the doors of her numerous and kind subscribers make her many warm friends throughout the city. With quite remarkable energy, judgment, and ambition, she has sustained this worthy enterprise for several years.
Aqua Gloria is the name of a little sheet published six times a year by Dr. Wales, of the Water-Cure. It is devoted to the purposes of that institution. It has a large and general circulation throughout the country. Its first issue was made Feb. 1, 1874.
The Sybil is a paper issued quarterly by the young ladies of the Elmira Female College. It is similar in character to collegiate papers issued by the under-graduates of other institutions of learning.
The Bistoury is a quarterly, issued in magazine form, published by Dr. T.S. UpDeGraff. It has a large circulation throughout the country generally. At one time it mounted up to 22,000. It is devoted to purposes of health and medical topics generally, with special reference to surgery and diseases of the eye and ear. Its several departments are made useful and interesting by the careful and intelligent supervision of its accomplished editor, Dr. UpDeGraff. It was established in November , 1863.
The Daily Evenng Lepidotus was not printed in Elmira, - indeed, it was not printed anywhere. But it was an Elmira institution. It was issued in manuscript form, and was never read except by the editors. The subscribers, if they might be so called, took it "on the fly," as they were ranged round in double rows on the floor of the cabin of the steamer "Pacific" on Lakes Erie, Huron, and Superior. It was one of the methods of diversion adopted by the annual excursion party from Elmira Female College in June, 1869. It lived a week, which was as long as the excursion lasted. But though its actual days were limited to fix, its memory yet lingers, and its good things will not be forgotten. It is preserved among the archives of the college.
*By C.G. Fairman