History of the Press in Steuben County, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896


It is surprising, when searching our libraries, to discover how little has been written of the "Art preservative of all Arts," and the educator of all educators. While printing has been the chronicler of all arts, professions and learning, it has recorded so little of its own history as to leave even the story of its first invention and application wrapped in mystery and doubt; and we only know that from the old "Ramage press," which Faust and Franklin used, capable of producing only a hundred impressions per hour, we have now the ponderous machine which turns out one thousand printed papers per minute.

In glancing over the pages of history we discover the gradual development in the arts and sciences; we notice they go hand in hand, one discovery points to another, one improvement in the arts leads to others continually, and the results of the last few centuries show that observations of no apparent use led to the most important discoveries and developments. The falling of an apple led Newton to unfold the theory of gravitation and its relation to the solar system; the discovery of the polarity of the loadstone led to the construction of the mariner's compass; the observation of the muscular contraction of a frog led to the numerous applications of galvanic electricity; the observation of the expansive force of steam led to the construction and application of the steam engine; the observation of the influence of light on the chloride of silver led to the art of photography; the observation of the communication of sound by the connected rails of a railroad led to the invention of the telephone; the impressions cut in the smooth bark of the beech tree led to the art of printing, the art which transmits to posterity a record to all that is valuable to the world.

Thus is progress discernible in every successive generation of man. Gradually has he advanced from a state of barbarism and ignorance to a degree of perfection which gives him almost absolute dominion over all elements, and in the pride of glorious and enlightened manhood he can exclaim with Cowper:

I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute;
From the center all 'round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.

The printing office has well been called the "Poor Boy's College," and has proven a better school to many; has graduated more intellect and turned it into useful, practical channels, awakened more active, devoted thought, than almost any alma mater. Many a dunce has passed through the universities with no tangible proof of fitness other than his insensible piece of parchment, called the "sheepskin." There is something in the very atmosphere of the printing office calculated to awaken the mind to activity and inspire a thirst for knowledge. Franklin, Stanhope, Beranger, Thiers, Greeley, Taylor, and a host of other names illustrious in the world of letters and science, have been gems in the diadem of typography, and owe their success to the influence of a printing office.

The newspaper has become one of the chief indexes of the intelligence, civilization and progress of the community in which it is published, and its files are the footprints of the advancement and tefinement of the period of its publication; and the printing office is now deemed as essential as the school house or church. In a great measure it has taken the place of the rostrum and the professor's chair, and become the great teacher. No party, organization, enterprise or calling is now considered perfect with its "organ " the newspaper.

The history of the press in Steuben county dates back to the year 1796, the same in which the county itself was created and organized. Charles Williamson furnished the idea and the means by which the Bath Gazette and Genesee Advertiser first proclaimed the attractions of the region to the outside world, and William Kersey and James Edie managed the editorial and mechanical departments of the publication. However, this paper continued publication only about four years, and passed out of existence about the time Captain Williamson closed his relations with the Pulteney associates.

The second newspaper of the county seat was the Steuben and Allegany Patriot, the first number of which appeared in December, 1816, under the control of Capt. Benjamin Smead. "The Patriot," says Mr. Richardson,' "remained in the Smead family up to April 4, 1849, when it passed into the hands of William C. Rhodes, who continued its publication as the Steuben Farmers' Advocate." The office and plant were burned January 30, 1857. Mr. Rhodes sold the good will of the paper to P. S. Donahe, who, on May 31, 1857, resumed publication, Ansel J. McCall filling the editorial chair. However, in the summer of 1860, A. L. Underhill became owner of the Advocate, and the office and paper were subjected to radical changes, resulting in a greatly improved condition. This paper is still owned and published by members of the Underhill family, although on the 16th of September, 1895, it passed into the management of a corporate company, with a capital of $10,000. The Advocate is one of the truest exponents of Democratic principles in Steuben county, and is, as well, one of its strongest papers.

In September. 1819, the Western Republican made its first appearance in Bath, under the editorial control of Erastus Shepard. In November, 1822, the name was changed to Steuben Republican, but after a struggling existence of less than three years (February, 1822) publication was discontinued.

The next venture in the journalistic field was the Steuben Whig, a campaign paper published in 1828, by William M. Swaine, who afterward published the Philadelphia Ledger. In the same year David Rumsey issued the first number of the Steuben Messenger, but in 183o sold out to S. M. Eddy, and the latter, in turn, disposed of the paper to W. P. Angel. He changed the name to Constitutionalist, and continued it until 1834, when Charles Adams became proprietor. In 1841 Adams sold to R. L. Underhill, but still later owners or persons interested were M. F. Whittemore & Co., R. B. Van Valkenburgh, and George B. Richardson and John Dowe, the latter in 1843, and by whom the name was changed to Steuben Democrat. In 1844 publication was suspended, but the paper was revived in 1848 by L. J. Brush, who, in 1849, sold to George H. Bidwell, and he continued it till 1852. Next came the Primitive Christian, a religious paper, edited by Rev. Jabez Chadwick and printed by Richardson & Dowel, and issued monthly. The Rose, a literary monthly, also made its appearance in 1844. J. C. Vincent, editor, and Richardson & Dowe, printers. Mr. Vincent enlisted as a soldier in the Mexican war, upon which publication ceased.

The present Steuten Courier, the leading Republican organ of Northern Steuben county, had its origin in a newspaper founded under Whig influences, and for the special purpose of promoling the political aspirations of Henry Clay. For its conduct Henry H. Hull was called to Bath, and he associated with him M. F. Whittemore of the defunct Constitutionalist. After two years Mr. Whittemore retired, and Mr. Hull conducted the paper alone until 1856, when Charles G. Fairman took an interest and remained nine months. In 1854, when the Re. publican party was organized, the Courier advocated its principles and became its chief organ in the county. This standing it has ever since maintained, although frequent changes in ownership have been made during its subsequent history. However, in 1890, the Courier Company, Limited, was formed and has since owned and conducted the paper, employing a competent editor and a full corps of assistants.

In 1854, Jennie and Caroline Rumsey founded and edited the Temperance Gem, procuring the assistance of the Advocate office in composition and press work. This paper was afterward moved to Elmira. About two years afterward, on January 1, 1856, the Steuben American was issued by A. L. Underhill. P. S. Donahe became its owner in 1857 and merged the paper in the Farmers' Advocate. The Saturday News was established by Enos W. Barnes, who issued the first number April 25, 1868. It lived less than six months. The Triweekly Conservative made its first appearance in August, 1868, under the editorial management of Charles Clute. It was a spicy little sheet, yet short lived, about equal to its cotemporary, the News. The Bath Echo was the undertaking of Clute & McCall, and was published four or five months during the year 1874. The same may also be said of the Bath Sunday News, which was published about six months, of the year 1881, by L. R. Smith & Co., the editor being A. Ellas McCall.

The Bath Plaindealer, recognized today as one of the best weekly family newspapers published in Steuben county, was founded in 1883, the first number being issued May 5. Its owners were A. Elias McCall, Orson L. Drew and William Black. The Flaindealer soon found its way into popular favor, yet it never courted notoriety in any respect. It is conservatively yet liberally conducted and has a large circulation. Of the original firm, Drew and Black both withdrew in 1884, since which time Mr. McCall has been sole proprietor.

The Savona Review, a bright, interesting and newsy weekly paper published at Savona by T. C. Wall was established in 1888 (May 19) by S. L. Ward, and then known as the Savona Rustler.

Having referred at some length to the newspapers, past and present, of the county town, we may with propriety mention those which have had an existence in the other towns of the county. In the village and town of Addison are two good representative newspaper publications, known respectively, as the Advertiser and the Record, advocates of the two great political parties of the nation, and withal interesting and instructive family journals. In March, 1858, after several previous ineffectual attempts, the Addison Advertiser was brought into permanent existence, and while it freely discussed all political questions, it did so from a distinctly independent standpoint. However, before a year had passed the paper became as earnestly Democratic as it was previously independent During the war the Advertiser was perfectly loyal, and so zealous was it in support of the administration that it became essentially Republican. In 1872 it favored the Greeley movement, and four years later supported Tilden. Again, in 1881, it returned to the Republican fold under the management of Amos Roberts, its present owner. Many indeed have been the changes in ownership of the Advertiser, and we may note them about as follows: Henry M. Johnson, founder, assisted by Cob Henry Baldwin; Johnson, Dow & Bates, July, 1865, to January 1, 1866; Johnson & Roberts; George H. Hollis, January 30, 1873; Amos Roberts, 1881. The Addison Record was founded December 3, 1881, by O. B. Ireland, who was succeeded by F. B. Orser and George Jones, and the latter in turn by M. Kinne. On the 11th of June, 1886, C. B. Mowers, the present owner, purchased and has since conducted the paper; and has made it the organ of the Democratic party in this part of the county.

On the 17th day of May, 1879, W. T. Coggswell issued the first number of the Avoca Advance, the first and only newspaper published in the town. It has continued to the present time and always received a fair share of the public patronage. Its successive owners have been W. T. Coggeshall, Martin A. Hoadley, Alvin Wood, Fred C. Dean, Coggeshall & Silsbee, and George C. Silsbee, the latter becoming sole owner in March, 1888.

The Canisteo Times was established January 25, 1877, in the enterprising village of Canisteo by S. H. Jennings, and almost at once met with popular favor and generous support. On April 1, 1886, the plant was sold to F. B. Smith, who in turn disposed of it Frank A. Fay, the present editor and publisher.

The Canisteo Tidings was originally a paper of Troupsburg, established in 1890, as Farmers' Weekly, by Elmer E. Reynolds. The paper was removed to Canisteo in 1894. Potter, Muihollen & Co. were former proprietors, but it is now owned and successfully managed by James N. Osincup and Clarence C. Proctor.

Away back in 1859 William Waite Warner started a little paper in Cohocton, the first venture of its kind in the town. It was called the Cohocton Journal, and was a good though short lived paper. No further attempt at starting a paper was made until 1872, when H. B. Newell brought the Cohocton Herald, but he soon sold out to James C. Hewitt and the latter changed the name of the paper to Cohocton Tribune. The next owner was William A. Carpenter (in 1875) by whom the name was changed to Cohocton Valley Times, as now known. In 1878 Edward A. Higgins became owner, and was, in November, 1889, succeeded by S. D. Shattuck. The Times, under the careful and energetic management of editor Shattuck, is known as one of the best and most widely circulating weekly papers in the upper Conhocton region, and is in all respects an interesting family newspaper.

The Cohocton Index was moved to Cohocton village from Atlanta in 1893, but previous to that time had been published in the latter village under the name of Atlanta News. Hyatt C. Hatch was its founder and owner until 1892. when the present management was established. V. L. and R. M. Tripp are competent newspaper men., and under their united efforts the Index has taken a favorable position among the weekly publications of the county.

The Corning and Blossburg Advocate was the first venture in journalism in Corning, and was established in 1840, soon after the operations of the "Corning Company" had become an assured success. However, the Advocate had but a brief life it this locality, as in 1841 it passed into the hands of Henry H. Hull, and by him was united with the Steuben Courier, a newspaper of the county seat.

After the removal of the Advocate to Bath, in 1843, there was no newspaper published in Corning until 1847, when Thomas Messenger founded the Corning Journal, a paper which has been in continuous and active existence from that until the present time, and one which, throughout the long period of its history, has recorded as many public changes and events, and yet has experienced as few in its own management and personnel, as any paper in the southern tier. Furthermore, the Journal has been productive of as much good to every worthy interest as any newspaper of the region, and has ever been devoted to the advocacy of purity in home and public life. In July, 1851, A. W. McDowell and Dr. George W. Pratt purchased the Journal, and since April, 1853, the person last mentioned has had sole and almost constant charge of its conduct and management, and being practically relieved only within the present year. This experience and record in journalism has few equals; and today the newspaper guide and directory retains the old pioneer named-" Corning Journal, George W. Pratt, editor and publisher." The daily edition of the Journal was begun in 1891. From July, 1869, to November. 1874, T. S. De Wolf was interested in the paper, and Harry H. Pratt soon afterward became associate editor. The Journal, in both daily and weekly editions, is a Republican paper, representing and advocating true party principles; and is the recognized organ of the party in the county and State.

The Corning Democrat has its origin in the Corning Semi Weekly Sun, a paper established and published by M. M. Pomeroy and P. C. Van Gelder, beginning in 1853. Mr. Pomeroy, both in Corning and elsewhere, became a noted writer, and was for many years familiarly known as "Brick" Pomeroy. However, in 1854 the Sun passed into the hands of Rev. Ira Brown, who published it weekly as The Southern Tier Farmer. At later periods the paper was managed by C. T. Huson and Frank B. Brown, as partners, under whom the name Corning Democrat was adopted. From November, 1859, to June, 1885, the paper was owned by Mr. Brown, but since that time the firm name of F. B. Brown & Son as appeared as editors and publishers. The daily edition of the Democrat was first published in 1884. Both daily and weekly editions are Democratic in politics, emphatic, perhaps, in utterances, yet consistent and representing the best interests of the party in county, State and Nation.

The Corning Independent made its appearance in local journalism in Corning in December, 1874, under control of P. S. De Wolf, but in 1876 was sold to Dr. A. J. Ingersoll who continued it as a Greenback paper, though under the editorial management of Uri Mulford. The paper suspended publication in 1879.

The Evening Chronicle, a daily newspaper, independent in politics, was started in Corning on May 4, 1891, by Edward Mott, and enjoyed a brief season of public attention.

Among the other temporary newspapers of the vicinity of Corning, we may mention the Painted Post Gazette, established in 1846, by Mr. Fairchild and continued a few months, The Painted Post Herald was founded by Ransom Bennett and B. M. Hawley in 1848, and continued a single year. The Painted Post Times was begun in October, 1870, by Wm, C. Bronson, H. C. Higman and S. H. Ferenbaugh, and was continued with indifferent success until 1877.

The first attempt to start a newspaper in Horneilsville was successful, and the paper then founded has been in continuous and successful operation to the present time. On the 3d of November, 1851, Edwin Hough established the Hornellsville Tribune, and it was, as Mr. Tuttle says "the faithful chronicler of the progress of the vicinity. At first an independent paper, it became Democratic for about two years, but espoused the Republican cause with the organization of that party and remained so until its sale in 1869 to D. R. Shafer." From that until the present time the Tribune has been Democratic in politics, firm and undoubted in its utterances, yet consistent throughout, and today the paper, both daily and weekly, is regarded as the organ of the party in the county, and one of its strongest exponents in the southern tier. Says Mr. Tuttle: "The Tribune has been published, successively, by Edwin Hough, Hough & Kinney, Hough & Baker, E. Hough & Son, Hough & Beecher, E. H. Hough, D. R. Shafer, Greenliow & Son, and W. H. Greenhow, he now being sole owner and publisher." In 1870 John and W. H. Greenhow purchased the paper, and in 188o the first mentioned sold his interest to Charles F. Peck. W. H. Greenhow became owner of the Tribune in December, 1884. The daily edition of the Tribune was first issued February 4, 1878, as an afternoon paper.

The National American was established February 13, 1856, by D. C. Pruner and C. M. Harmon, but in September, 1858, passed into the hands of Charles A. Kinney who changed its name to The Canisteo Valley Journal. Three years later, January, 1861, the paper was sold to R. S. Lewis, and he made it Republican in politics. However, in 1862 its publication was discontinued.

The Democratic Vidette was formed by Burdick Bros., September 28, 1865, and was thereafter published successively by Burdick & Cooper, John M. Riley & Co., A. J. Riley & Co., and William H Baldwin. The owner last mentioned, who was a writer of more than ordinary force and ability, sold the paper to Thacher & Tuttle, who changed its name to The Canisteo Valley Times, and made it Republican in politics from January 10, 1867. Concerning its subsequent history, Mr. Tuttle says, "Others connected with the editorial management of the Times were Johnson Brigham, H. S. Tomer, and John W. Mack." Following the retirement of Mr. Thacher, in 1877, the Times has been published, in turn, by R. M. Tuttle, Tuttle & Brigham, Johnson Brigham, Tomer, Dolson & Jackman, Dolson & Mack, J. S. Dolson, and the Times Association, the latter now owners and publishers, with Russeil M. Tuttle as editor, and A. H. Bunnell as business manager." The Times is the organ of the Republican party of the county at large, and not of any faction of the party; holding firmly to Republican principles and not easily swayed by party prejudices and contentions. In all departments the paper, in both editions, is well edited and managed, and is received favorably throughout the southern tier. The daily edition began with the Daily News, published first by Benzinger & Osincup, October 22, 1877. Tuttle & Brigham purchased it February 25, 1878, enlarged and materially improved it, and changed the name to Daily Times. Originally this was an evening daily, but became a morning paper in September, 1883.

The Saturday Herald, one of Horneilsville's best weekly newspapers, had its origin in an advertising sheet issued by several prominent merchants of the then village, conspicuous among whom was M. A. Tuttle. The paper was called the Economist, and was published every week for about a year, being then purchased by Graham & Dawson and changed n name at least, to the Hornetlsville Herald. It soon espoused the cause of Prohibition and was ably edited by Mr. Graham. However, in 1876, E. H. Hough purchased the paper, who, with his son, under the style of Herald Publishing Company, now conduct it. The change in name to Saturday Herald was made in March, 1893.

The Reveille, a paper devoted to the interests of the Greenback party, began publication in Hornellsville on January 19, 1878, under the management of J. Willett Smith, the press work, however, being done in the Tribune office. After two weeks James D. Adams bought the Reveille, brought a printing equipment from Andover, and continued the paper under the name of the Greenback Champion for a year when publication was suspended. Soon afterward Daniel Healey purchased the material and produced the Invincible, and the latter gave way in June, 1881, to The Daily Independent, an evening paper under the management of Tolan Bros. & Shattuck. It suspended December 25, 1881.

The Steuben Signal, a Prohibition newspaper, was established April 4, 1883, under the direction the "Signal Publishing Company," and was published five years before suspension.

The Era, a Labor party paper, was established in 1887, by S. H. Jennings, and continued one year.

The Daily Press, another and in fact the last new venture in Hornellsville journalism, was established March 9, 1889, by the Press Publishing Company, consisting of John Tolan and Leon Hough. The paper was printed on the Herald press. In February, 1890, Mr. Tolan purchased a printing outfit and continued the Press as sole proprietor. It was an independent evening paper, and remained in existence, though with many vicissitudes, until 1894 when publication ceased.

The Prattsburgh News, a bright, lively and interesting weekly newspaper published by P. C. Howe's Sons, was established December 12, 1872, by P. C. Howe & Sons, and was successor to the still older local paper known as the Prattsburgh Advertiser, which Caleb B. Hoke founded several years before. The News is an exceilent family paper, devoted especially to the interests of the north part of the county. Its directory feature is valuable, while its market reports give it a large and deserved circulation.

The Hammondsport Herald was established May 1, 1874, by Mrs. Benjamin Bennitt and Mrs. E. B. Fairchild, ladies weil known in local literary circles, and both interested in the welfare of the Pleasant Valley region. After a year of successful management Mrs. Bennitt retired from the paper, and at the end of another year (in December, 1876,) Liewelyn H. Brown purchased a half interest in the Herald. In 1876 Mr. Brown became and has since been sole owner and publisher of the paper. It is issued weekly and is an independent family journal, enjoying a good circulation and advertising patronage.

The Union Advertiser, published at Wayland by H. B. Newell, was established in the fall of 1863 by its present proprietor, although for a time the paper was owned by Neweil Brothers. It is an independent family newspaper, devoted to general news and a thorough representation of Wayland interests.

The Wayland Register made its initial appearance in Wayland village on the 1st of May, 1889, under the editorial management of C. F. Dean. This, too, has been a successful venture in local affairs and received generous support. It is now edited and published by Bert Goodno.

The Southern Steuben Republican was founded in 1879 by R. C. Park under the name of Steuben Sentinel, having its office at Troupsburg, but in 1880 removed to Woodhull. It was formerly an independent paper, but now, as the name implies, advocates Republican principles.

The writer acknowledges access to the compilations of George W. Richardson, of Bath, in preparing the history of the local press. Mr. Richardson is regarded as undoubted authority on the subject, and has corrected many errors made by earlier historians.

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