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Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History


Miami County Ohio

Chapter 13


-Early News Conditions -Early Newspapers Destitute of Local News -Their Contents -Presses in Use -The Old Time Compositor-
First Newspaper in Miami County, -The Piqua Gazette-
The Intelligencer -The Miami Reporter -Troy Times -
-The Miami Union -The Troy Sentinel -The Troy Democrat
-The Daily Record -The Buckeye -The Enquirer and Piqua Journal -Miami County Democrat -The Helmet -The Piqua Daily Call
-The Piqua Leader Dispatch -The Miami Post
-The Reflector -The City Item -The Herald
-The Stillwater Valley Gazette -Greenville Advocate
-The Covington Gazette -The Covington Tribune
-The West Milton Record -The West Milton Buckeye
-Local Literature and Authors

"The Press! all lands shall sing,
The press, the press we bring
All lands to bless,
O pallid Want, O Labor stark!
Behold, we bring the second ark,
The press, the press, the press!"

Prior to 1820 no newspaper was printed in Miami County; mail facilities were poor; the mails were carried on horseback and by the time the few newspapers taken by the people reached their several destinations the news was stale. It took a month at least to get the latest news from Europe, and local items were then unknown, Cincinnati, Columbus, and a few eastern newspapers were about the only ones that entered the county. These were filled with the doings of Congress, the quarrels of the political patties, and foreign affairs. Very few original communications appeared in the newspapers of that day. Now and then some would-be philosopher descanted on some favorite hobby to the extent of a column and more, and at the close left the reader as much in the dark as when he started. I have looked over the files of the old papers in the county during the first years of their existence and found no local news of any kind. The comiugs and goings of the people were not mentioned. The daily then was not dreamed of, and it did not make its appearance until many years after.

The first newspapers were printed on the old hand press, the famous "Washington," which is still to be found in some offices, especially in the South. Working this press required the strength of a giant and of course but one page of the paper could be printed at a time. There were few editorials those days; the editor, if such he may be called, used the scissors and the paste-pot and never troubled himself about "leaders" and the like. It required half the week to print the meager edition on the miserable presses then in vogue whereas today the large editions of the present county weeklies and dailies are thrown off in an hour or two on the modern cylinder press. The names of the subscribers to the old time weeklies were laboriously written at the top of the first page by the "editor," who frequently took a turn at the press himself. I recall the old press that used to be operated in the office of the Troy Times as late a the days of the Civil War, and I often envied the operator of the ponderous lever his strength./

In those days the industrious reporter was unknown. There was no county correspondence, no recording of neighborhood doings, no localizing at all. The old newspapers just plodded along. The publishers took nearly everything in exchange for subscriptions, wood, flour, garden produce, and even whiskey. There was no "display" in the few advertisements that found their way into the first newspaper's of the county, and the knack of writing advertisements had not been discovered. There were advertisements of musters, strayed animals, runaway apprentices, and little more. I believe that the newspapers of the past were as much read by their patrons as are those of the present day, because they had nothing else to read, if we except the few dry volumes that looked lonely on the bookshelf of the home. The papers then were read aloud at night to the household by the head of it, including the month-old news that filled the narrow columns. News not over a month old was considered "fresh", and if a paper printed anything with no more than a week's age upon it, it was looked, upon as a marvel of enterprise.

It amuses one to place side by side one of these old newspaper and the excellent county paper of today. But years ago the articles were written with a preciseness as to grammar and spelling, and the editor of the past was a man who prided himself on these things. He was always glad to get hold of an original article, and when some local poet burst upon the world and sent in an effusion, it was given a prominent place in the sheet, whereupon the author considered himself the equal of Milton or Pope. "Top of the page" and "next to reading matter" were terms which were not known in the editorial rooms till long afterward. The old-time compositor was usually a character. He tramped the country afoot, and when the editor was out of town, he "set up" the paper, worked the press himself, collected subscriptions and, in short, was the "whole thing." Some of these geniuses did not belong to the temperance societies and now and then the non-appearance of the paper was owing to their chronic indisposition," to use no harsher term. The "tramp- printer" has about disappeared, though now and then one puts in an appearance, works a few days and again becomes the "Wandering Jew" of the profession.

The first newspaper that appeared in the county was issued July 6, 1820, at Piqua. It went under the name of the Piqua Gazette, and its printer and editor was William R. Barrington. He was a Philadelphian. He was a man of considerable culture and his editorials were forcible and noted for their clearness. He became mayor of Piqua. Mr. Barrington continued the publication of the Gazette till 1837, when he sold the paper to Jeremiah A. Dooley, who changed the name of the sheet to the Intelligencer. Dooley did not conduct it very long, but sold out and the paper then passed through several hands and nu merous vicissitudes till it became the property of John W. Defrees, who afterwards established the Miami Union, at Troy. Mr. Defrees sold the Intelligencer to Writer & Brading. The former soon became sole proprietor and when the war broke out he exchanged the pen for the sword, went into the army and served creditably there. The Intelligencer advocated the principles of the old Whig party, but under Mr. Defrees' management it became a Republican newspaper and continued so until it passed out of existence.

In 1822 the Miami Reporter was started in Troy by Micajah Fairfield. Its motto was "Be just and fear not." It was an eight- page sheet, and its subscription price was two dollars and fifty cents a year. The editor announced that "almost every kind of produce will be received at the market price for subscriptions." Since eggs at that time were three cents a dozen and chickens a drug on the market at fifty cents per dozen, with whiskey at twelve cents per gallon, it took no inconsiderable amount of produce to keep abreast of the times. In the presidential campaign of 1828 the Reporter advocated the election of John Quincy Adams, and some of its onslaughts on Jackson were sharp and vigorous.

When Mr. Fairfield grew tired of supplying his readers with mental pabulum in weekly installments he sold out to John T. Tullis, who published the Reporter for eight years, when H.D. Stout took charge of it. Furnas & Little and Marvel & Munson afterwards published it and it fell into the hands of E. C. Harmon, still living, who christened the paper the Troy Times in 1857. It was published as the Troy Times till 1869, when it ceased as a newspaper. The Times was operated by Mr. Harmon all through the Civil War, and contained, among other things, many communications from the soldiers at the front.

In 1865 the present Miami Union was started by John W. Defrees. This gentleman opened a new era in Miami County newspapers. He was a lucid and fearless writer, a strong advocate of the principles of the Republican party, and drew down upon his head many sharp criticisms from members of the opposing political party. Once when a subscriber demurred to some of Mr. Defrees' editorial utterances and burst into the sanctum with, "I'm going to stop the Union!" Defrees calmly scratched his name from the books, escorted him into the printing room, and pointing to the press at work, said with a smile, "You see, sir, that the Union is still going right along." Mr. Defrees remained at the head of the Miami Union until his death, when his son, Lucius L., took charge of it and ably conducted it for some years. After the death of L. L. Defrees it passed under the control of the Miami Union Publishing Company, at the head of which is Walter S. Thomas. The Miami Union enjoys the largest weekly circulation patronage of any newspaper in the county, having a large corps of neighborhood correspondents who cover the entire local field and make the paper bright and newsy.

The Troy "sentinel">Sentinel was first published in 1871 by J. A. McConahey, but it soon passed into the hands of J. M. Kerr, who published it to its discontinuance in 1880. Its materials were then purchased by the Imperial Publishing Company and the name changed to the Troy Imperial. The paper did not exist very long and soon ceased to be published. Another newspaper called the Weekly Bulletin was published for a time by the Bidlack Brothers, had a short life and was no more. Later on the Troy Chronicle and Daily Trojan were published by Dr.C.H. Goodrich, but after a brief and stormy existence they fell into the hands of Frank Lowing and were no longer published.

The Troy Democrat was issued first by J.P. Barron, who ran it ably for some years as an exponent of the principles of the Democratic party. This newspaper is now published by Charles H. Dale and enjoys a large circulation and an extensive advertising patronage. It is one of the neatest and most progressive Democratic weeklies in Ohio and the office has all the facilities for excellent newspaper and job work.

Twelve years ago the Daily Record was established by the Croy Brothers and has continued to the present day. It has proved the only successful daily of the several that have been started in Troy. It enters nearly every home in the city and is much sought after. The Daily Record is Republican in principle and takes an active part in all political campaigns. The year 1891 found the late Captain Elihu S. Williams at the head of the Buckeye, a weekly with a purpose. Captain Williams was perhaps one of the most able and fearless editors that ever wielded a pen in the county. When he had anything to say he said it in a manner that admitted of no dispute. Under his management the Buckeye soon became a power in the county and it was amid general regret that he quitted the editorial helm. He sold the newspaper to O'Kane & Huffman. In 1902 Captain Williams again took charge of the paper and was editor of it when he died. Afterward it was published by Captain Williams' daughter, Miss Olive, who conducted it on the admirable lines established by her father till its purchase by the present proprietor, Mr.H.A. Pauley. The Buckeye was, a regular storehouse for local and pioneer reminiscences and cultivated a field not cultivated by any other newspaper in the county. It enjoys today a good patronage and is well and intelligently edited.

Returning to Piqua, the first Democratic newspaper that was edited and published by David M. Fleming in 1847. It was first published as the Enquirer, but in 1860 Mr.Fleming changed his politics from Democratic to Republican and the Enquirer became the Piqua Journal. He published the paper till his death, when a stock company bought it, with. E.M.Wilbee at its head, but the new regime was short lived.

The made its appearance in 1860, under the management of Horton & Teverbaugh, both of whom went into the army, when the paper was published by Samuel C. Cole, and subsequently by the Smiley Brothers. The afterwards came in to existence, under the editorial management of Isaac S. Morris, Republican and a strong advocate of temperance principles. The Helmet, under Mr. Morri's editorial supervision, was ably conducted and at one time had a large circulation. From the same office there was issued later on the Daily Call, owned by the late John W. Morris, but now controlled by other parties. The Call is edited by Mr.H.R. Snyder, an experienced newspaper man, who has edited the Dayton Journal and other newspapers of more or less note. Under his management the Call has been brought into the front rank of interior dailies and maintains a high degree of excellence.

The Piqua -Dispatch, daily, is edited and controlled by Henry Kampf, one of the most virile of the younger class of newspaper editors in Ohio. Kampf is a good editorial writer, fearless and aggressive and often throws his gauntlet into the newspaper arena by way of challenge. Under his supervision the Leader-Dispatch has become well known, not only in the county, but in every part of the State. It has a large circulation and is eagerly read by members of both political parties, though it is radically Democratic in principle, while its rival, the Call, espouses the Republican cause.

The only German newspaper in the county, the Miami Post, is published at Piqua, by A. Bartel. This newspaper circulates largely among German citizens and enjoys the good will of all.

As early as 1853 Tippecanoe City had a weekly paper named the Reflector. It was published by one Hudson, and after a brief existence it went out of business. It was followed some years later by the City Item, which, like its predecessor, the Reflector, dropped into an unknown grave. In 1869 Col. J.H. Horton issued the Herald, which he conducted till 1880, when Caldwell & Co. took charge of it. After passing through the usual vicissitudes incidental to newspaper life, the Herald fell into the hands of the present management. It is now edited by J. Maurice Ridge. The Herald is a strong Republican newspaper and enjoys a good circulation, especially in the southern part of the county.

S.W. Ely, one of the best known newspaper men in southwestern Ohio, established the Stillwater Valley Gazette at Covington in 1870. In May, 1883, W.F. and Robert Cantwell bought out the Gazette and continued its publication in Covington. Until the above date the Gazette had been published by W.A.Browne, now owner and editor of the Greenville Advocate. The Covington Gazette circulates everywhere through the Stillwater region. Robert Cantwell died in 1908, and the newspaper is now in charge o f his brother and partner, William. The Covington Tribune is another of the Stillwater Valley weeklies that has made good. It is a newsy, well edited sheet, making no loud pretensions, but an excellent journal, however, and well edited by J.H.Marlin.

The present West Milton Record, by the Radabaugh Brothers, has no rival on the west side of the county. It is a neat appearing weekly and receives the patrontge it richly deserves. A few years ago Dr. Pearson conducted the West Milton Buckeye, which was sold to Captain E.S. Williams and moved to Troy, where it is still published. Dr. Pearson moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he has resumed the practice of medicine.

The foregoing is a list of the newspapers that have been and are published within the limits of the county. During nearly a century of editorial toil and trouble, the press of Miami County is to be congratulated upon its good work and the success it has had in furnishing reading matter to the masses. It long ago passed through the incipient stages of newspaperdom to emerge into brighter and more profitable fields. Not all the newspaper ventures have lived or thrived, but the fittest have survived and so far as is known, their present appearance indicates prosperity. The citizens of the county are a reading and intelligent people and there is probably no home within the borders of Miami that some local paper does not enter.


In the production of general literature the county, during the first hundred years of its existence, has not been very prolific. Few books have been written and published by home authors. I have searched the literary records from the earliest years and flnd the name of home book-makers very scarce. The late G. Volney Dorsey was perhaps the first citizen to put forth a book. Dr. Dorsey was a gentleman of the highest culture and a deep scholar. He published many years ago a free translation of some of the famous Greek poets, a work which evinced much learning. In later years Mrs. W.C.Rogers (Margaret Douglass) issued a volume of verse, as did Miss Adeline E. Gross, while Mrs. J.P.McKinney published some interesting local reminiscences and Miss Fanny Fleming published an account of her travels in Europe in book form. This seems to have been Piqua's contribution to general literature.

Judge A.L. McKinney, of Troy, wrote two books, one of which was a life of I.N.Walters, a prominent minister of the Christian Church and Rev. J.P.Watson published "The Light of Other Days." N.H.Albaugh, from the southern part of the county, issued a poetical volume entitled "Wayside Blossoms," and Boyd E.Furnas, of Newton Township, put forth "Poems of Heart and Home. I Lawrence G. Gates, of Tippecanoe City, wrote and published a little volume called "Musings" which met with local success. Of the local authors east of the Miami, T.C.Harbaugh, who adopted literature as a profession in 1867, has published three books of poems, viz. : "Maple Leaves," "Bugle Notes of the Blue" and "Lyrics of the Gray," besides many serials., short stories and poems. J.M.Kerr, a former citizen of the county, has edited and compiled numerous standard law books, and his brother, J.A. Kerr, of Tippecanoe City, has had published a historical novel which was favorably commented u pon by rominent critics.

In 1885 Mrs. Sarah Furnas Wells, M.D., a Miami County woman by birth and education, returned to the home of her girlhood and published a book of travels entitled "Teia Years' Travel Around the World." This book told of journeys in Europe, Asia, North an d South America. It is well written and is a most entertaining account of the people of many lands. Mrs. Wells is now lecturing. Horace Rollins, artist and author, has also issued a book.

The above appears to be the whole literary output of the county since its formation. Many interesting reminiscences have appeared from time to time in the local press. Some of these should have appeared in book form, but the modesty of the authors doubtless prevented. About 1828 there arose in the county a local poet who rejoiced in the not very euphonistic name of Benjamin R. Bulfmch. He wrote rather voluminously for the local press at the time and his contributions were always accorded a generous welcome. His poems have never been collected, and even the autbor's name is forgotten. He touched upon almost every subject, but there were times when his muse became Anacreonic, as witness the following poem, which appeared in the Troy Reporter in August, 1828,:


Wert thou an artless village maid,
And I but an humble swain,
To only share with thee, you glade,
Would rapture be to power or gain.

Beyond the blue Atlantic wave,
Blest would I be with thee to rove!
To decorate our simple cave,
And taste again the sweets of Love.

Did I possess Golconlda's mine,
Fair lndia's domain all my own -
Circassian beauties look divine,
But you should grace my diamond throne.

Of valour, were those charms the prize,
Thy shaft, O Death! I would defy;
Approved only in thine eyes,
Would live with thee, or for thee die.

........Benjamin S. Bulfinch

Whether the beautiful maiden who inspired the foregoing verses by the heart and hand of the first Miami County poet became Mrs. Bulfinch or not history does not record; but she must have been indifferent to the wooings of her troubador if her heart was not melted into love by his "passionate" stanzas!

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