Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
History of Bradford County by H. C. Bradsby, 1891
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Chapter XIX - Newspapers
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History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches

By H. C. Bradsby, 1891

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History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Selections., by H. C. Bradsby. Illustrated. Chicago; S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers, 1891.




The jolly knights of the "stick" and "editorial scissors" of Bradford county, sandwiched with the contingent of reportorial "Fabers," are a crew fit for gods to journey over the troubled sea of journalism with. Our "office cat" purringly remarks, and he is right too, that the country printing office is the greatest institution in the world. The Mecca of spring poets and sweet girl graduates, the best school that has ever taught; the loadstone of budding genius; and the merry trysting ground of as clever a set of fellows as ever went on an annual excursion.

There are thirteen live weekly papers in the county, besides a daily and weekly. They nest in Towanda, four of them—the Daily Review, by the McKee Brothers, all as clever as the day is long; are independent in politics, but quote in full all of "Doug’s" political stump speeches, and thereby have a barrel of fun—"Doug" being a self-appointed independent institution, his "interminable intellectual corruscations"—next?

The Argus reminds one of James’ lone horseman that "might have been seen." Its editor, E. Ashmun Parsons, can boast that in the throng, Democratically, he stands alone, "grand, glittering and peculiar," and confesses he has the best paper in Northern Pennsylvania, and admits that if business keeps improving he will have to get a "Hoe" in place of his hydraulic press. "Ash" is the son of his father, and the two in succession have been in the same printing office more than fifty years, and if old Bradford comes in solidly Democratic, and no other paper is started to disturb his dreams, it may be depended upon he will do his best to live a thousand years; with an "alf and alf" county ticket elected, the boy smiles from ear to ear, and nolens volens is a clever gentleman and a good newspaper man. His father, Judge Parsons, is now retired; is hale, hearty and Democratic.

The Reporter-Journal is the leading paper in the county in age and in the length of its subscription list. Roster: D.M. Turner, business manager; H.F. Marsh, editor, and C.H. Turner, "local." The whole outfit are as clever a set of gentlemen as you ever found, and after a careful search not a single "kicker" could be found. If you want to know all about Republicanism, straight and from the shoulder, ask them—any one of them.

The Republican is presided over by Judge Judson Holcomb, and is owned by this gentleman and Charles L. Tracy, and, except when the Judge was in Washington in attendance upon one of the seven Congresses, in which he was Index Clerk, when his assistant, Edward J. Holcomb, was at the helm, he is busy at the office desk. Owing to the election last fall, the Judge says he will resign (a kind of necessary interregnum) his Washington office, and roll up his sleeves for the whole Republican ticket in 1892. These men make a successful paper of the Republican.

These are the "boys" that "festive" around the county capital—print first-class country papers, attend their respective churches with unflagging regularity, and every one keeps posted on the base-ball contest, and every time one of them misses an annual editorial meeting he is sorry for it all the next winter and summer.

In Athens the oldest printer now there is Charles Hinton, of the Gazette. He is the successor of "Brick" Pomeroy, who learned his trade mostly in that place. Mr. Hinton revived the Gazette after its many vicissitudes and failures, and looks as much like a hard-working case printer as there is in the county. The Gazette was revived into vigorous life in 1871 by Mr. Hinton, a seven-column folio, and enlarged to eight columns, and then changed, in 1890, to its present quarto form. Hinton sold, in 1874, to Spalding and Fraser; and in two months the whole was burned—a total loss. In 1876, Mr. Hinton resolved there should something occur that year worthy our country, and so he again revived the Gazette, and thus it now lives and flourishes. No man in the county knows more about the make-up or business management of a paper than he.

The News is S.W. Alvord’s paper (Independent Republican), and, though comparatively young, is spicy, and he handles a facile pen.

At Troy may be found A.S. Hooker, of the Northern Tier-Gazette, and Frank Loomis, of the Register. Mr. Hooker is a senior Trojan, and their papers are fully spoken of further on.

Charles D. Derrah is a lone Sentinel on the watch-tower.

The Canton Sentinel was established in May, 1871, by C.H. Butts & Son, of Williamsport, a seven-column folio. They ran it till 1879, and then sold out to A.B. Bowman and Charles Bullock, who ran it till January, 1883, when they sold it to C.D. Derrah. In March it was changed to an eight-page quarto, six-column paper. This was the first paper started in Canton. It had no opposition until 1889, when the Herald was started by C.S. Holcomb, but was only run two years.

The Wyalusing Rocket is presided over by J.S. Hamaker, who learned his trade in Towanda and graduated like a house-a-fire. The Rocket was started in May, 1887, by C.A. Stowell, and at one time was conducted by S.W. Alvord, and purchased by Mr. Hamaker in 1888, who has boomed it with great success; he is a man of ability and unflagging energy.

It is proper to say here that the Wyalusing Star, independent, a seven-column folio, struggled six months and quit.

Monogram, LeRoy, a new paper in that village, hardly more than on its own feet yet, was started by Mr. Holcomb.

Sayre Times, a very modest, neat paper of Sayre, was started in the early part of 1891. C.L. Francisco is the proprietor. The first venture in that place in this line, it gives evidence of success.

The LeRaysville Advertiser.—The first newspaper published at LeRaysville was called "LeRaysville Union," founded August 25, 1865, by S.F. Lathrop. The next was founded May 2, 1879 called "The LeRaysville Advertiser," and was published by P.C. Van Gelder & Son. January 1, 1887, it was purchased by E. H. Codding, and August 1, 1887, F.M. Wheaton was admitted as partner, and the paper is now published by Codding & Wheaton.

Thomas Simpson, in 1813, published the Bradford Gazette, the first newspaper printed in the county—the office being located at "Meansville," near the Episcopal church, opposite Jesse Woodruff’s tailor shop. He continued to publish the Gazette about one year, when he sold his interest in the paper to Burr Ridgeway, who continued to print it for a little more than three years. During that time, and while the editor was on the days of appeals as county commissioner, Octavius A. Holden, who had charge of the paper in his absence, issued six numbers of a paper styled "The Times," the object of which was to advertise the unseated lands, a majority of the commissioners being Federals and opposed to patronizing the Gazette, and took this opportunity and paid Holden to print six numbers of the "Times," under the direction of Simon Kinney, county treasurer, and issued the same as their dates matured. The scheme did not succeed, as the treasurer did not think it prudent to sell upon such notice, and thus ended the "Times."

The Washingtonian, the first Federal paper in the county, was edited by Lewis C. Franks, who continued its publication for about one year, 1817, when it was turned over to Octavius A. Holden, who discontinued its publication after a short time. Its motto was—"I claim as large a charter as the winds, to blow on whom I please.

The Bradford Gazette, which was Democratic-Republican in politics, was purchased by Streeter & Benjamin in 1818, and its name changed to Bradford Settler.

The Bradford Settler, was purchased in 1821 by George Scott, who remained the editor and publisher for two years, when he was succeeded by James P. Bull, who conducted the paper in the interest of the company representing the McKean interest in politics, being Democratic. In 1830 Mr. Bull sold the Settler to Hamlet A. Kerr, who edited it for a short time. In 1833 Dr. Hiram Rice succeeded to the office and material, and changed the name of the paper to the Northern Banner. He continued the publication of the paper for two years, its politics remaining unchanged, being ardently Jacksonian.

The Towanda Republican was published in 1826-27 by Warren Jenkins as an opposition paper (National Republican) to the Jacksonian Democracy. In 1828-29 Burr Ridgeway succeeded to it, and continued its publication for two or three years when it ceased to appear.

The Northern Banner was purchased by E.S. Goodrich in 1835, and continued for about two years, when it was sold to J.C. Cantine and others who combined it with the Democrat under the title of the Banner and Democrat.

The Bradford Democrat was established as the organ of the McKean wing (the Banner having ceased to support it) of the Democratic party in 1836-37. It was published by Cantine & Hogan for a time. Mr. Cantine was succeeded by H.A. Beebe, subsequently of the Owego Gazette, who continued its publication till 1841, when it was discontinued.

The Bradford Argus, the oldest paper in the county, was originally founded as the Anti-Masonic Democrat, started at Troy in or about 1830, by O.P. Ballard. Dr. E. R. Utter bought the Democrat in 1832-33, removed it to Towanda and changed its name to the Bradford Argus, and its politics to that of the Whig party. Mr. Utter continued the Argus until 1834, when he associated George Wayne Kinney and Dummer Lilley, practical printers, in the publication of the paper, the firm being known as Utter, Kinney & Lilley. This arrangement was short-lived, Mr. Utter regaining the sole control again. In 1836 he sold the concern to Dummer Lilley, who continued the paper until November 1839, when he sold it to Col. Elhanan Smith, B.F. Powell and E. A. Parsons, who, under the name of Smith, Powell & Parsons, continued the publication till 1841, when Col. Smith, who had been the editor, sold his interest to Parsons & Powell, and Powell to Parsons in 1851, whereupon the latter became the sole proprietor of the paper. In November of the same year the establishment was burned to the ground, it being a total loss, but was re-established by Mr. Parsons in the short space of five weeks. Mr. Parsons continued to conduct the Argus in the interests of the Whig party till that organization went out of existence, then as a Republican paper till 1862, when it withdrew from the Republican cause and supported the "People’s ticket." It became a Democratic organ in 1864, and was edited by Jacob DeWitt till 1866, when Mr. Parsons placed his son, E. Ashmun, in charge of the paper, who enlarged it; put in hydraulic power and otherwise improved it. The junior Parsons is still the editor of the Argus.

The Bradford Porter.—The first number of this paper was issued in June, 1840, by E.S. Goodrich, in the interest of Gov. Porter, of Pennsylvania, and continued so to do for a time; but the Governor’s policy becoming distasteful to the editor, he added a prefix to the name in December, 1843, and christened it The Bradford Reporter, which remained unchanged till January, 1885. In 1841, the Democrat having been discontinued, the Reporter became the organ of the Democratic party in the county, and so remained until the Free-Soil controversy arose, when it espoused the cause of "Free-Soil," and battled vigorously against the extension of the "peculiar institution," being a zealous supporter of David Wilmot, and an efficient advocate of his measures to prevent the spread of slavery. In 1845 Mr. Goodrich retired from the paper, and for a short time E.O. and H.P. Goodrich conducted it; but in 1846 the former became the sole proprietor, and published the paper till 1863. He then surrendered it to S.W. Alvord, for one year, and again assumed control and continued to edit and publish it until 1869, at which date Mr. Alvord again succeeded to its control and management, and so continued until 1879 when he quit the paper. From 1879 to 1881 C.H. Allen was the local editor of the paper, and Mr. Goodrich the editor and proprietor, only having before leased to Mr. Alvord.

From 1881 to 1882 C.H. Allen was editor of the paper, which was owned by the Goodrich estate, till February, 1882, when it was sold to H.F. Marsh and J.E. Hitchcock, the former being the editor-in-chief. Marsh & Hitchcock continued the publication of the Reporter till 1885, when it was consolidated with the Towanda Journal, under the name of Reporter-Journal, the first issue being dated January 8th. The politics of the paper is Republican. The proprietors are: H.F. Marsh, J.E. Hitchcock, D.M. Turner, C.H. Turner; H.F. Marsh, editor; C.H. Turner, local editor. Upon the formation of the Republican party the Reporter became its organ in the county, and has ever since been immutable in its politics.

The Pennsylvania Backwoodsman was issued in 1845-46, as a literary periodical, by Henry Booth and C.L. Ward.

The North Branch Democrat was published a short time in 1850 as an anti-Wilmot organ, Wien Forney, of Philadelphia, being nominally the editor and publisher.

The Bradford Times was established and supported by the Democratic State Central Committee, under the direction of C.L. Ward, J.F. Means and V.E. Piollet, and first issued in June, 1856, by D. McKinley Mason, who was the editor in charge. Mason remained in charge of the paper until after the close of the Buchanan campaign, when it was leased to John G. Fries, of Bloomsburg, Pa., who continued its publication till some time in 1857. In 1858 the material of the office was leased to Chase & Keeler who founded The Bradford Herald.

The Bradford Herald was also closely devoted to the interests of the Democratic party. In 1859 O.D. Goodenough bought out Mr. Keeler, and the paper was continued for about a year by Chase & Goodenough, who sold to Ferguson & Payne. The new proprietors published the paper till about the beginning of the year, when it went out of existence.

The Daily Argus, the first daily newspaper published in Towanda, made its appearance in 1863, and was continued for two weeks. It was issued by E.A. Parsons in conjunction with the Bradford Argus.

The Towanda Business Item was established in 1871, the first number being issued August 5th, by O.D. Goodenough and E.J. Clauson, and was a live, spicy, independent local paper, though a small one. It was enlarged during the second year to a twenty-four-column paper. Mr. Goodenough retired from the Item, January 1, 1873, Mr. Clauson continuing its publication till the time of his death in December, 1874. The paper then went into the hands of Gen. H. J. Madill, of whom Judson Holcomb and T.A. Angus purchased the stock and material, and June 1, 1875, founded The Bradford Republican, merging the Item in the new publication, being Independent-Republican in politics. With Mr. Holcomb, editor-in-chief, the Republican was continued by Holcomb & Angus till 1879, when C.L. Tracy purchased Mr. Angus’s interest, the paper having since been published by Holcomb & Tracy. In 1882 C.H. Allen became associate editor with Mr. Holcomb, a short time.

The Towanda Journal was established by D.M. Turner, editor and proprietor, in May, 1873, the first number appearing on the 14th day of that month. In January, 1882, C.H. Turner purchased an interest in the paper, and was its local editor thenceforward till its combination with the Reporter. The Journal was a wide-awake, newsy paper, independent in politics.

The Towanda Daily Journal was edited and published by D.M. and C.H. Turner from October, 1882, till October, 1883.

The Towanda Gazette was published as a Greenback organ in 1879, by S.C. Clizbe, who continued its publication for almost one year. At the same time he issued the Towanda Daily Gazette.

The Towanda Daily Review was founded by Alvord & Son, and the first number of the paper issued August 1, 1879, being Independent-Republican in politics. S.W. Alvord was the editor. April 1, 1883, W.H. Webb bought an interest in the paper, and on the 10th of that month the Daily Review was enlarged from a four to five-column folio, and The Towanda Weekly Review, an eight-column folio, was established. November 8, 1883, W.H. Webb became the sole proprietor and editor of both papers. In March, 1884, he enlarged the Daily Review to a six-column folio; and in April following changed the Weekly Review to The Towanda Semi-Weekly Review, of the same size as the enlarged Daily. On the 9th of July, 1884, S.W. Alford again became the editor of the paper, and shortly thereafter re-established the Weekly Review, and in October reduced the size of the Daily Review to a five-column folio, in which size it is still published. On January 1, 1885, O.D. Goodenough and E.R. Thompson leased it, changed the politics to Conservative-Democratic, with Mr. Goodenough, editor. June 15, 1885, E.B. and F C. McKee purchased the paper conditionally, and since January 1, 1886, have been the owners and associated editors. The politics of the Review are independent, and it is the only daily paper now published in Bradford county.

The True Greenbacker was published by the Greenback County Committee in 1878-79, under the editorial management of Frank G. Johnson.

The Missionary, a religious journal, was edited by the Rev. G.J. Porter, and published in 1878-79, in the interest of the Universalist Church.

The Knights of Honor Advocate was founded in 1878, by J.R. Kittredge, and represented the interests of the society which its name suggests. In 1882 the paper was sold to a Boston party. In 1882 Mr. Kittredge also founded the Knights and Ladies of Honor Record, which was continued here till 1883, when the paper was removed to St. Louis, Mo., where it is still being published by Mrs. J.R. Kittredge.

The Bradford County School Journal was founded in October, 1879, through the efforts of the leading teachers of the county; was edited by them, and devoted to educational interests. Its publication was discontinued after a year and a half.

The Towanda Record, originally established as the Dushore Record, was issued by J.W. Gould in November, 1882, and continued as an Independent paper for about three months.

The Nestor of the Press of western Bradford has kindly furnished an account of these papers that have come to Troy as follows:

During the Anti-Masonic excitement that lasted for several years following the abduction of Capt. Morgan, from Canandaigua, N.Y., in 1827, and the formation of the Anti-Masonic party, Orrin P. Ballard, a merchant of Troy, brought in a press and types, and established the first paper in western Bradford. It was started in 1830, and was named the Anti-Masonic Democrat. It was edited by E.R. Utter, and was finally sold at the end of two years to Mr. Utter. The Anti-Masonic excitement having subsided, Dummer Lilley, a young Whig, associated himself with Utter, and they changed the name of the paper to the Troy Argus in 1832, and after running it for a year or so, moved it to Towanda, where it became the present Bradford Argus.

Bradford Argus.—On one occasion the letters of the heading became transposed and the paper came out as the "Tory Argus," a fact that caused endless laughter, as the word "Tory" was a name of the bitterest reproach. Troy had a taste of newspaper convenience and did not long abide the moving of the Argus to Towanda.

The Analyzer was established in 1840, and was so vigorous, politically, that it procured the name of "The Scandalizer." It was edited first by Francis Smith, Esq., and, later, by James P. Ballard, was a Democratic sheet, and lasted but about two years.

About 1845 Mr. Ballard established a new paper entitled The New Star, the editors being Julius Sherwood and Elijah A. Rockwell. It ran about three months, when Mr. Rockwell, who was a young and brilliant writer, left, and began what proved a quite remarkable career. Taking ship he went to the Sandwich Islands, and, engaging in the quarrels of the anti-court party, established the Honolulu Times, the first paper on the island, and came near losing his head for attacking the king. He made his escape to a British vessel, and was afterward shipwrecked on the islands of Japan, whence he was rescued by Perry’s Expedition. He went to California, where he founded the San Francisco Morning Call, and became one of the most noted journalists in the State, establishing the Sacramento Bee, and, later, the Sacramento Herald. After Mr. Rockwell’s departure, Francis Smith was associated with Sherwood in running the paper, which was neutral in politics, and finally twinkled for the last time when only a few months old. In 1847-48, William C. Webb, now Judge Webb of Topeka, Kansas, established the Troy Banner.

The Troy Banner, which was Whig in principles, was run for only a few months in Troy, when a more promising opening appeared at Wellsboro, and it was moved there, at first appearing as The Banner and later as the Advertiser, and finally became the present Agitator.

In 1850, Mr. Barclay, a New Yorker, brought in a press and established The Weekly Trojan, associating with him Geo. Messenger at a later period. The firm later became Messenger & Colwell, and continued the paper to 1854, when it died just as the Williamsport and Elmira Railroad was completed, and when a vigorous growth should have been looked for. The material of the old office was gathered up by Moses Gustin, and a small but pretty sheet called

The Temperance Banner was run for about three months in 1854, when it was sold to Dr. P.A. Johnson, now of Waverly, N.Y., who enlarged it and published it as

The Independent Journal for about a year and a half, when, vexed with libel suits, and yielding to the indifference of the public, it died a natural death. The press and types were later carried to Burlington, and used by the eccentric Dr. Daniel Sweeny in publishing, in about 1857-58, a religious paper called The Samaritan Star, which had a not very brilliant existence of two years. About the year 1859, A.C. Lumbard, an Elmira printer, since identified with many enterprises, started The Troy Times, which was independent in politics, and as the troublous times of the war were approaching, it had a rather precarious existence during the high prices and stirring events of 1861. Mr. Lumbard was succeeded by Shephard & Landon, who ran the paper for a short time, and then it suspended. On October 1, 1863, Wm. H. Baldwin, the present owner of the Watkins (N.Y.) Democrat, revived The Troy Times (No.2). As Troy was a provost marshal’s post and mustering place for the soldiers of five counties, the war news and lists of drafted men made the paper, which was Republican, of much interest. In September, 1866, A.S. Hooker bought an interest in the paper, and became its editor, changing its name to the

Northern Tier-Gazette. From the first the paper became an active force in shaping the interests of the region. It began a crusade for a graded school, the result being the present Troy Graded School; it advocated improved agriculture, and originated the Troy Farmers’ Club, and kept up a steady agitation on the subjects of education, temperance and Republicanism. In 1867 Henry Jenkins bought out Mr. Baldwin’s interest, and finally sold out to Mr. Hooker in 1869. In 1870 its office was burned, but the paper, after two weeks’ suspension, was issued as usual. It was enlarged in 1881, and printed on a new cylinder press. The paper has been scholarly and heartily in sympathy with all public improvements as well as with education, temperance and religion. Its editorials have been noted for their independence, clearness and vigor, and the opinions of no local paper are more widely copied.

Athens News was started as a daily by S.W. Alvord and daughter, Emily E. Alvord, the first number being issued Tuesday, February 5, 1889, and the following December was changed to the present Weekly News, a sprightly five-column quarto, and Independent-Republican in politics. Mr. Alvord’s name to a paper in Bradford county, where he has so long prominently been recognized as a leading newspaper man, was a guarantee of a quick success of the News. In the matter of business, circulation and influence his paper today is to be ranked among the foremost in the county.

Troy Register, by Frank Loomis, was started October 18, 1881, as a three-column folio, Republican in politics. First proprietor was Albert Morgan, who ran it one year, and was succeeded by the present proprietor. In the early part of 1882 it was enlarged to a six-column folio, and in 1883 to a nine-column quarto, its present form. The office is well equipped, having a fine Acme cylinder press, steam power, has a stereotyping outfit, and is supplied with a loop from the telegraph line.

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