History of the Press in Columbia County, NY (Part 2)
From: Columbia County At The End of the Century
Published and edited under the
auspices of the Hudson Gazette
The Record Printing and Publishing Co.
Hudson, New York 1900


Rural Repository. - In 1824 on May 29, William B. Stoddard (son of Ashbel Stoddard, founder of the Gazette) commenced the publication of a semi-monthly literary magazine of eight quarto pages, entitled The Rural Repository, which was continued with marked success for twenty seven years, the last number being issued on the 4th of October, 1851, not from lack of patronage, but because Mr. Stoddard had arrived at the age when he desired to retire from active business, and there was no person "in sight" to whom he was willing to consign his pet publication which had involved his tact and talent for more than a quarter of a century. The Rural Repository of sixty years ago would compare favorably with the most popular literary publications of to-day. It counted among its contributors young authors all over this State and the New England States, many of whom have achieved eminence in the realm of literature. Here we find poems from N. P. Willis, William Cullen Bryant, John G. Whittier, and others of that character. Among the local writers, Clark W. Bryan, then a young man of less than twenty, contributed poems and sketches which would do credit to older heads; in after life he became prominent through his connection with Samuel Bowles and Dr. J. G. Holland in the publication of the Springfield (Mass.) Daily Republican; later as one of the founders of the Springfield Daily Union; and still later as publisher and editor of Good Housekeeping, a popular monthly magazine; and the Paper World, an elaborate and artistic trade journal - all of which form an enduring monument to the talent, skill and enterprise of Mr. Bryan. Another talented and prolific contributor hailed from Chatham, and signed her poems and sketches "Emillie," many of which are worthy of preservation in enduring volumes. The Repository was profusely illustrated with wood engravings, representing local scenes and buildings of general interest, now as well as then, and these engravings are equal in outline and clearness to the best photo engravings of to day. In his last years Mr. Stoddard referred with just pride to his creation, The Repository, and the wide popularity it achieved.

Columbia and Greene County Envoy. - In 1831 Edward G. Linsley, a young and ambitious politician of the Whig persuasion, commenced the publication of a small weekly paper, designed to cover the political demands of the party in the two counties. It was ably conducted, but attempted to cover too large a territory, and had a fitful existence of about two years, being discontinued in 1833.

The Diamond. - In 1833 George F. Stone, a man of experience and ability, attempted to fill the place of the Repository, and started a semi monthly magazine. It proved an unsuccessful venture, and did not survive its first year.

The Magnolia. - In 1834 P. Dean Carrique, of the Gazette, commenced the publication of another semi monthly magazine, but not conning up to the standard of the old Repository, it was as short lived as its immediate predecessor.

The Hudson Mirror. - In 1839, at the beginning of the year, another literary paper was started in Hudson, by P. Dean Carrique, under favorable auspices. It was scholarly in tone, and among its contributors were Mrs. Sigourney of Hartford, Conn., N. P. Willis, of Portland, Me., and others who became celebrated in the world of literature in after years. But The Rural Repository had been firmly established for fifteen years, and the field not being sufficiently broad for two literary papers, The Mirror was discontinued after an existence of less than two years.

CAMPAIGN PAPERS. - The Presidential campaign of 1840 was one of the hottest the country has ever witnessed. It was between the Democrats, led by Martin Van Buren, who was then President, having been elected in 1836; and the Whigs, led by William Henry Harrison, who had been defeated by Van Buren at the election four years previous. The regular party organs were not sufficiently rabid to meet the fiery elements of the leading contestants, and campaign papers were established all over the country. Hudson had its full share, each party being represented by temporary organs, the venomous and personal expressions of which would hardly be tolerated at this period:

The Flail. - The Whig party published The Flail, in the interests of Harrison and Tyler, with the shibboleth of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," "Log Cabin and Hard Cider," with the "Coon-skin," as an emblem, and it executed some heavy flailing during the campaign.

The Thrasher. - Was started as an offset by the Democrats, in the interest of Van Buren and Johnson. The political battle was hotly contested, and while the one "flailed" the other "thrashed" unmercifully, to the amusement and applause of the partisans they respectively represented, and it would be difficult to decide, at this late day in looking over their files, which dealt the hardest blows; but Van Buren carried the county by an immense majority, although badly defeated in the general result.

The Columbia Washingtonian. - In 1842, at the inception of the "Washingtonian" temperance movement, J. R. S. Van Vliet commenced the publication of a paper ardently devoted to the cause of total abstinence, on the "moral suasion" principle. In 1843 the paper was transferred to Warren Rockwell, who in 1847 sold the establishment to Alexander N. Webb, who continued its publication to 1850, when he changed the name to the Hudson Weekly Star; and gave the paper the character of a general independent newspaper.

Spirit of the Age. - In 1844, May 16, William B. Stoddard commenced the publication of another temperance organ, and it was as spirited as its name suggested. In the first issue Mr. Stoddard announced that he would be ably assisted by a number of "Washingtonians." In his salutatory he says, with a vigor and sincerity that must have been impressive at the time:

"Although a deadly enemy to the spirits. (the earthly kind I mean) yet my name is 'Spirit of the Age.' I do not mean to have you understand that I call myself a spirit, that is, an immaterial being, for I make no pretensions to anything unearthly; yet, if I mistake not, I shall be considered sometimes quite spirited or in high spirits. . . Although my name is 'Age.' I am quite young, for this is my natal day - the dawn of my existence. I have just merged from the din, chaos and confusion of a printer's office, and appear in your presence with all my youthful frailties. . . . I will depict the horrors of intemperance in such vivid, plain and striking colors, that the degraded inebriate, as he sees the gloomy picture of his own polluted life, portrayed in all its hideous and revolting frightfulness, will shrink in terror and dismay from the fearful and appalling sight. . . . With simple, cheerful talk, I'll entertain the playful youth; I will supply the lover of a joke with abundance to amuse. The grave and gay, old and young, romantic and sedate, will each in turn be served. Ever diligent in my vocation, it shall always be my pride and delight to serve my benefactors, increase the amount of human happiness, and to exercise a beneficial influence through all the sphere in which I move."

The paper was ably conducted and gained early popularity, but it gradually receded from its "Washingtonian, Moral Suasion" sentiment, to those of the "Ramrod" or radical element, and thereby lost its prestige with the masses, and the publication was suspended after an existence of less than twelve months.

The Daily Star. - In 1848, January 3, Alexander N. Webb commencd the publication of the first daily paper in Hudson. It was a four page, five column sheet, independent in politics, and displayed considerable literary and editorial ability. It had a limited news service "by telegraph," received by way of New York, and shows that its "telegraph service" required from twelve to fifteen hours in transmission, although not over an average of two hundred words were received daily. Foreign news was received by steamer via New York and Boston, and was from eighteen to twenty days from London and Liverpool. In its issues of August 10 and 11 quite full reports are given of the famous "Buffalo Convention," which assembled on the 9th, and nominated Martin Van Buren as the Free Soil candidate for president, in opposition to Lewis Cass, the regular Democratic candidate. On August 18 it gives an account of a great conflagration in Albany which occurred on the day previous, when five hundred buildings were destroyed, including those of the principal hotels, and involving a loss of over two million dollars. It was recorded that "one eighth of the city is in ruins." The Albany fire aroused the citizens of Hudson to the importance of "reorganizing and enlarging" the local fire department, and in the Star of the 19th, is published a call for the members of "The Independent Fire Company" to meet at Roger's Columbia Hotel on that evening to take action in the matter. The organization of the "Volunteer Fire Company" was completed on the 23d, by electing as officers Henry Waldo, foreman; Richard F. Clark, assistant foreman; F. A. Gifford, treasurer; Charles E. Butler, secretary; J. T. Perkins, steward; C. Best, assistant. A committee was appointed consisting of Messrs. John C. Newkirk, Silas W. Tobey and Walter Rogers to draft a constitution and by laws for the company.

In 1873 Alexander N. Webb was succeeded by his son Herbert N. Webb and Louis Goeltz, who changed the character of the paper to an organ of the Republican party. Webb & Goeltz continued the publication until May 1, 1876, when Mr. Webb sold his interest to William Bryan, and the paper was merged in the Republican, under the firm of Bryan & Goeltz. Mr. Goeltz died in October, 1877, leaving Mr. Bryan the sole manager and editor.

The Democratic Freeman. - In June, 1848, a newspaper plant was removed from Chatham Four Corners to Hudson, and christened the Democratic Freeman. It was conducted by Charles H. Collins, as an organ of the Free Soil wing of the Democratic party, advocating Martin Van Buren for election to the presidency on the "Buffalo Platform," which opposed the regular Democratic nominee, Lewis Cass, and resulted in the election of Zachary Taylor, the Whig candidate. In welcoming the Freeman, the Star of August 16 extended to it this greeting:

"It is a very singular and striking fact that for a year or more, previous to the Democratic Freeman,' (the organ of the Barnburners) removing to this city, we had not had a single fire, not even a Barn or an alarm. And now since its arrival, scarcely two months have elapsed and we have had two fires. What in the world does this mean? Will the Gazette explain? If the Gazette can't explain, we suppose our neighbor of the Republican can, for it is more than whispered that the Whigs and Barnburners are in league."

The Freeman was published until August, 1855, when it was merged in the Gazette.

The Weekly Star. - In 1850, Alexander N. Webb, having previously purchased the Columbia Washingtonian, changed the name to the Weekly Star, and published it in connection with the Daily Star. The weekly issue followed the fortunes of the daily, and in 1876 was merged in The Republican.

The Temperance Palladium. - In 1851 John W. Dutcher commenced the publication of a small weekly paper, devoted to the cause of total abstinence; but for lack of support it survived less than a year.

The Daily News. - In 1855 Richard Van Antwerp commenced the publication of a second daily paper in Hudson. It was then thought that the Star ought to have an opponent, but proving a very weak opponent, it existed only two months.

The American Repository. - In 1856, at the opening of the presidential campaign, Richard Van Antwerp, who had made a failure in attempting to establish a daily paper, commenced the publication of a weekly sheet, devoted to the Native American, or "Know nothing" cause, and advocating the election of Millard Fillmore, the presidential candidate of that faction. The paper was discontinued at the close of the campaign, which resulted in the election of James Buchanan, the Democratic candidate.

Columbia County Democrat. - In 1860, at the opening of the Presidential campaign, R. F. Williams, backed by a number of leading Democrats, including John C. Dormandy, Richard F. Clark, Edwin C. Terry, Dr. Peter P. Rossman, John F. Collin, J. H. Overhiser, and others of like prominence, published a Democratic campaign paper to advocate the candidacy of John C. Breckinridge in opposition to Stephen A. Douglas, (" The Little Giant "). The paper was conducted with ability and vigor through the campaign, and in November, at the close of the memorable contest which resulted in the first election of Abraham Lincoln, the Democrat was merged in the Gazette.

The Family Journal. - In 1861, Frank H. Webb, who had been connected with the Daily and Weekly "Star," commenced the publication of a semi monthly literary paper. It was ably conducted, but had an existence of only six months.

The Columbia County Farmer. - In 1876 Mr. Webb made another journalistic venture in the publication of an agricultural paper; but the field being limited, it was discontinued at the close of its first year.

The Daily Republican. - In 1876, having removed to their new and commodious building, the Daily Star was discontinued and the Daily Republican established as a morning paper, in connection with the weekly Columbia Republican. In 1881, on May 5th, Mr. Bryan admitted to partnership his son, Henry R., and the style of the firm was changed to William Bryan & Son, which continued until the death of the senior partner on September 11, 1897, since which the paper has been under the management of Henry R. Bryan. Both the daily and weekly issues are Republican in politics, and ably advocate the principies of their party and its regular organization. The sheet has been enlarged several times and now carries thirty two columns of well printed matter, with a generous local and general advertising patronage. At this writing Mr. Bryan is postmaster at Hudson under appointment of President McKinley.

The Drafted Men's Advocate. - In July, 1886, Rev. William Hull, a Lutheran clergyman, commenced the publication of a monthly sheet, under the auspices of "The Association of Drafted Men of the State of New York," of which Mr. Hull was chairman and treasurer. The paper was neatly printed by Frank H. Webb, and was continued until 1891, when it was removed to Cooperstown, N. Y. The object of The Advocate was to facilitate the passage of an Act in the Legislature to enable cities and towns to refund the money expended by the men who were drafted for the Civil War in 1863, and were allowed to commute by the payment of three hundred dollars. The grievance of the drafted men was that while they were compelled then to furnish their own substitutes, subsequent quotas were filled by public taxation in which they were of course included as taxpayers. The provisions of the Act were enabling and not mandatory. For nearly twenty years Mr. Hull devoted himself to this cause with untiring energy and succeeded in practically accomplishing the object, but died in 1899 before his hopes were realized. There were about fifteen thousand men interested in the movement in this State. Among the supporters of the measure were prominent State officers and numerous leading Senators and Assemblymen.

The Hudson Repository - August, 1877, a monthly publication, after the style of the old Rural Repository, was started under the auspices of the Young Men's Christian Associations of Hudson, Catskill, Coxsackie, Athens, and Leeds. It was handsomely printed by Frank H. Webb, ably edited, and a valuable auxiliary to these Christian organizations, and was worthy of substantial support; but it survived a little over a year, and was suspended with the September issue of 1878.

The Sunday Journal. - In 1886, November 13, Charles H. Van Deusen commenced the publication of the first Sunday newspaper in Hudson. It was of the "ready print outside" order of country weeklies; and while professing to be independent in politics, it wielded a sort of "free lance," which made it pungent and attracted attention. Van Deusen continued the paper until March, 1897, when he disposed of it to "The Record Printing and Publishing Company."

The Eastern Lutheran. - In 1888 the Rev. William Hull commenced the publication of a religious monthly, devoted to the Lutheran faith, which was continued in Hudson until 1891, when it was united with the Hartwick Seminary Monthly, in Otsego county, where it is still published.

Hudson Weekly Record. - In 1893, on July 1st, The Weekly Record was started by Rowley & Mambert, as a Democratic journal. Three months later Mr. Mambert withdrew and the paper passed to the control of Edwin C. Rowley, the senior partner. In October, 1895, a joint stock company was incorporated under the title of "The Record Printing and Publishing Company." On February 1, 1896, this company purchased the Weekly Gazette and Daily Register from M. Parker Williams, and the Record merged in the Gazette, as before noticed in the history of the latter.

Transient Newspapers. - Between 1896 and 1899 several transient newspapers were started in Hudson, among them the Weekly Messenger and the Sunday Press, but they had a brief and fitful existence, and left no record worthy of chronicling.

Saturday Herald - In 1900, February 24, Charles H. Van Deusen made another newspaper venture in Hudson, and commenced the publication of the Saturday Herald, of the "ready print outside" order, and of about the same character as his previous Sunday Journal. At this writing the paper still exists and is apparently prosperous.

KINDERHOOK.

The Rough Notes. - The first location in Columbia county, outside of Hudson, to aspire to newspaper representation was the village of Kinderhook, in 1825. Although the venerable town has really had but one newspaper, its name has been changed seven times, and is now known as The Rough Notes. Early in 1825, Peter Van Schaack, a young man of education and prominent family, established a small weekly paper, christened The Kinderhook Herald, which he continued until 1832, when Elias Pitts became the proprietor, and changed the name to The Columbia Sentinel. In 1834 he was succeeded by John V. A. Hoes, a nephew of Martin Van Buren. He conducted it for two years, and in 1836 Mr. Van Schaack, the original founder, resumed control of the paper, and continued in charge until 1854, when the plant was sold to Peter H. Van Vleck. The latter dropped the name "Sentinel" and christened it The Kinderhook Rough Notes. Van Vleck developed a vein of paragraphic wit and humor which made the paper popular with the masses throughout the northern section of the county and surrounding region. He was a practical printer, "with brains in his fingers," and seldom wrote out his copy, but with composing stick in hand stood at the case and set up his ideas in cold type, ready for the "form," whether a three line witty item or a half column sarcastic "editorial." Many a good natured "tilt with types" did he have with his more prominent contemporaries, but it is safe to record that Peter came off at the best end of the controversy more than half the time, In 1864 Van Vleck passed in his last copy and final joke, and his remains quietly repose in the old Kinderhook cemetery, along with Martin Van Buren, Jesse Merwin ("Ichabod Crane," whom Washington Irving made famous in his "Legends of Sleepy Hollow"), and other celebrities. Van Vleck was succeeded by James R. Arrowsmith, who in 1867 disposed of the paper to Willard Pond, an eccentric journeyman printer, who changed the name to The Columbia County Advertiser. He was succeeded by James H. Woolhiser, who conducted it until 1871, when William B. Howland assumed control. The new proprietor again changed the name, and called it The Advertiser. Mr. Howland conducted the paper until May, 1875, when he sold the plant to Charles W. Davis. Mr. Davis enlarged the sheet and restored the title of Kinderhook Rough Notes. A few years later the plant was removed from Kinderhook village to Valatie, the name "Kinderhook" was dropped from the title, and the paper became The Rough Notes. The publisher further enlarged the sheet, discarded its independent character, and it became an advocate of the Democratic party, which principles it still maintains. At this time it very creditably represents the political, as well as the industrial and social interests of the northern district of the county and southern Rensselaer.

Valatie Weekly Times. - In 1853 Henry N. Hopkins commenced the publication of a weekly paper in the village of Valatie. It continued until 1855, when it was merged in the Hudson Gazette.

Kinderhook Courier. - In 1898, J. W. Darrow, of the Chatham Courier, commenced the issue of an edition for Kinderhook which has a considerable circulation in that locality, and advocates the interests of its enterprising constituency.

CHATHAM.

Equal Rights Advocate. - In 1846 the Anti Rent Association commenced the publication of an organ, as the anti rent excitement in Columbia county, under the lead of "Big Thunder," was then at its height, and much ill feeling prevailed between the proprietors of the manor of Livingston and their farmer tenants. The paper was continued until 1848, when the plant was purchased by the Free Soil Democrats, removed to Hudson, and the Democratic Freeman established. (See Hudson Democratic Freeman.)

Columbia Democrat. - In 1847 a paper advocating the interests of the "hunkers" or "hard shell" Democrats, was established by the antifree soil element of the party, but it had a brief existence, and its subscription list was passed over to the Hudson Gazette.

Columbia County Journal. - In 1850 Philip H. Ostrander started the publication of an independent family journal, but it did not prove a success and was short lived.

Chatham Courier. - In 1862 Frank O. Sayles, from South Adams, Mass., established The Courier. It was a modest country weekly, of four pages, six columns to the page. Mr. Sayles possessed good newspaper qualities, and his paper soon gained a local popularity. He sold the paper to Delos Sutherland, a practical printer, who continued the publication until 1868, when Charles B. Canfield became his successor, who still further improved the paper. In 1871 Mr. Canfield admitted James H. Woolhiser as associate, but the partnership only existed two years, when Woolhiser withdrew, and Canfield continued the publication until June, 1875, when he sold to William B. Howland, who had conducted a paper at Kinderhook. Howland was a bright, progressive newspaper man, enlarged the paper, and added to its circulation. He established a monthly magazine called Outing, which became popular with the large class for which it catered. But Chatham village was not broad enough for Howland, and his magazine was transferred to Boston, and subsequently to New York city, where it is now published, and a simultaneous edition issued in London, England.

In 1883, on the 1st of April, J. W. Darrow purchased the Courier, and made still further improvements, enlarging it to eight pages, with frequent supplements, neatly printed and every department systematically arranged. New and modern presses were introduced, and later typesetting machines, and other like improvements. In 1893 the proprietor of the Courier erected a commodious building, which is wholly devoted to the business of the concern, and is a credit to his enterprise and public spirit. The Courier is a model rural newspaper in every feature, well conducted, handsomely printed, and influential in the broad field it covers. The Courier issues regular special editions for Rensselaer county and Kinderhook. - (See Kinderhook Courier.)

The Chatham Press. - In 1877, April 11, George Woolhiser and Frank Burrows commenced the publication of The Press. It never reached beyond a limited local circulation, and expired in 1878.

The Echo. - In 1879 George Woolhiser commenced the publication of a small paper, devoted to advertising and bright local items, circulation free. Its success was such that within a few months Woolhiser took in as partner Frank H. Kenworthy, and enlarged the paper to a regular publication. Although a bright local sheet, it did not develop into a financial success, and in the spring of 1880 Frank Burrows succeeded Woolhiser. Soon afterward Kenworthy dropped out. Then Burrows and P. B. Blain, jr., ran it for about a year. They dropped out in October, 1881, and the paper was conducted by Charles H. Starks until February, 1882, when it finally passed to that bourne from which a large number of Columbia county newspapers have never returned.

Chatham Republican. - In 1886, October 15, a weekly paper, of the Republican faith, was established by a stock company in which Messrs. Blunck & Leaning, a newspaper firm then located at Johnstown and Gloversville, N. Y., held the controlling interest. Hon. Louis F. Payn was also a considerable owner of stock, and subsequently he became the holder of practically the whole number of shares. The new paper was fortunate in securing the services of John Streeter, a gentleman of wide newspaper experience, as its editor. Mr. Streeter did all the preliminary work in establishing the paper; he still remains its editor, and the present business manager is Hugh McC. Potter, a grandson of the late Hon. Hugh W. McClellan. The Republican has kept good faith with its pledges at the start to be "stalwart in its advocacy of the principles of its party, vigorously aggressive against honest political opponents, and merciless in its warfare against political shams and frauds, in whatever guise they might appear."

The Republican became popular and influential from the outset, and its political utterances command attention far beyond the boundaries of this county. The paper was made the official party organ by the Board of Supervisors when it was only a year old, and it so remains at this time. The Republican is a neatly printed quarto sheet of six columns to the page, and aside from its political feature contains well conducted departments of local, literary, social and domestic interests.

Fancier's Review. - In 1887, J W. Darrow, proprietor of the Courier, established a monthly poultry journal, which at once attracted attention as an authority with poultry raisers and farmers generally. It is still published with apparent financial success.

The Practical Dairyman. - In 1892 Mr. Darrow established a journal especially devoted to the interests of dairymen and kindred industries. It gained such wide popularity among the class for whose interests it was designed, that in 1898 Mr. Darrow accepted a liberal proposition to sell the publication to the Agricultural Epitomist, of Indianapolis, Ind., where it is now published.

HILLSDALE.

The Herald. - In 1879, January 23, E. J. Beardsley commenced publication of the first newspaper in the village of Hillsdale. It was a small sheet at first, but gradually grew in size and circulation. In the spring of 1880 H. S. Johnson, a school teacher, purchased the paper, and Beardsley started a paper in Philmont. Johnson continued the Herald a few years, when he sold to Charles Eyre. In the Fall of 1884 Beardsley again took charge of the paper, running his Philmont sheet at the same time, until January, 1887, when he sold the Herald to Joseph W. Prentiss, of Hudson, who ran the paper for a few months, when it was discontinued,

Hillsdale Enterprise. - In the Spring of 1887, Prentiss started another paper, called the Enterprise, but it did not prove a paying enterprise, and lived only three months.

Hillsdale Harbinger. - In 1887, Oct. 20, H. D. Harvey commenced the publication of the Harbinger, an eight page paper of the "ready print outside" order, which is still continued, and creditably represents the pretty little village and surrounding country.

PHILMONT.

The Sentinel. - In 1880, January 1, E. J. Beardsley, of Hillsdale, conceived the idea that the growing and enterprising manufacturing village of Philmont ought to support a local newspaper, and the leading citizens were in full accord with the project. The result was the birth of the Sentinel, and Beardsley again became a pioneer in local journalism. The paper has proved a valuable incentive and auxiliary to the progress of the thrifty village, and apparently is well supported by those for whose benefit it was established.

Philmont News. - In 1900, January 6, Charles H. Van Deusen, of Hudson, commenced the publication of a rival sheet, but it survived only two weeks, the older paper evidently covering the whole local field.

[Return to the Press of Columbia County Part 1.]


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