THE PRESS AND AUTHORS - THE POLITICAL CENSOR
This was the title of the first newspaper ever published in Clermont, and was a humble beginning in an avocation in which so many of its citizens afterwards distinguished themselves. The proud journalistic reputation of the county has been echoed throughout the land, and its press has achieved an enviable reputation for enterprise, and the ability and genius of the men who contributed to its pages, many of whom, in consequence, were sought out and transferred to other and more extensive fields of labor in the capital and other chief cities of the State and the great West. If the caustic Donn Piatt, the great national paragraphist, in his satirical article on Clermont, anathematizing her for being a county unprecedentedly prolific in office-holders and office-seekers, had said it was a county whose chief productions were editors, printers, publishers, reporters, and writers, he would have embalmed solemn truth in its grandest niche of historical fame, and immortalized his trenchant pen.
The Political Censor was printed at Williamsburgh, the ancient and honorable shire-town of the county, and its first number was issued on Friday, Jan. 15, 1813. Its projectors were evidently devoid of that superstitious feeling which has since obtained in some localities, or they would not have launched their frail newspaper-bark on the ill-fated day of "Friday." This pioneer sheet was published, owned, and edited by Thomas S. Foote and Robert Tweed, both well-known public men of that day; the former a noted lawyer, and for many years prosecuting attorney, and the latter elected coroner in 1824, and on Daniel Hankins resigning the sheriffalty in 1825 he filled out the remaining six months of his term. Charles D. McManaman, a "jour" printer of practice and long experience, set up the type for this journal, which was printed on paper fifteen and a half by nine and a half inches, and on a press (the old Ramage pattern) that was so small that only half of one side of the little sheet could be printed at one impression. The ink was applied to the forms with very small hand ink-balls, and the paper when printed was delivered to subscribers in town and country by trusty carriers. The printing-office was situated on Main Street, on the most easterly corner of lot No. 40, now occupied by the dwelling-house of Asa Smith. When Messrs. Foote & Tweed announced their intention of publishing a paper, the enterprise was encouraged by the people of the village and surrounding country, - most generally persons of education and public spirit, - and the day of its first issue was an event of considerable importance, so that the windows and doors of the office were croweded (and the streets filled with people waiting anxiously their turns) with persons desirous to see the then novel operation of printing.
The first Censor was a dingy sheet, like all the prints of that early day, and contained a few advertisements, no local news, and some items of national and foreign news two months old. The appearance of this newspaper marked a new era in the county, created a thirst for reading, and a desire for knowing the events of the age and understanding their drift and bearings. It was the means of gradually inducing the inhabitants to investigate the state of the country, and to subscribe for papers of Cincinnati and those of the Eastern States, and in its day was unquestionably a public-spirited agent. But owing to the meagre settlements and the troublous times attending the war of 1812, its lease of life was only of short duration, and from the data at hand we conclude that its period of publication did not exceed a year.
Its successor, and the next paper in the county, was THE WESTERN AMERICAN, also published at Williamsburgh. Its first issue bore date Aug. 5, 1814, and its proprietors were David Morris and George Ely. The former was the editorial head, and was a man of more than ordinary capacity, possessing great ability as a pungent writer; the latter is better known as the original proprietor of Batavia, and was probably the capitalist of the firm, who soon after disposed of his interest.
The Western American was printed on a sheet twelve by nineteen inches, folded into four pages of four columns each, and issued every Saturday. Its terms of subscription were two dollars a year, if in advance (within two months being considered in advance), and two dollars and a half at expiration of year. When sent by post there was an additional charge of fifty cents for postage, and wheat, delivered in any merchant-mill in the county, and such other country produce as might be approved was received, delivered at the office at market price. Advertisements not exceeding one square were inserted three times for one dollar, longer ones in proportion, and no paper was discontinued until all arrearages were paid.
The issue of Feb. 11, 1815, contains an account of Gen. Jackson's famous victory over the British at New Orleans, on the 8th of previous month, the particulars of which had just been received, and of the alarming contagious distemper prevailing among the people of Virginia.
Baymiller & Brinton advertised to sell at their store in Williamsburgh all sorts of dry and West India goods, and occupied a whole column, - and it was then considered an extravagant piece of advertising. Ellis & Sinks informed their friends of their receiving at the house of James Herbert, on Broadway, a fresh supply of dry-goods, groceries, hardward, etc.; and that in goods, at cash prices, they paid sixty-two and a half cents per gallon for whisky. Obed Denham advertised lots and lands at Bethel for sale cheap; and there were divers notices of black stud-colts, bright-bay mares, and those of chestnut-sorrel color taken up as estrays. The public were posted that Thomas Barker had begun the tailoring business at Williamsburgh, at the shoe-shop of Samuel Cade; and that Zachariah Clevenger would have a public sale at his residence, on the waters of Stonelick, near the Xenia road. Some foreign and Legislative news, with a few legal notices, made up the balance of the sheet.
The quill of Editor Morris cut right and left as a disturber of the prevailing wrongs of the day, and was always in favor of good order and the cause of education. The paper was published not to exceed two years, and the next venture was THE CLERMONT SENTINEL.
This journal was the third in point of time, but the first issued that incorporated as part of its title the name of the county in which it was issued, and to which it looked for its moral and material support. The first issue bore date July 4, 1818, and the place of publication was also Williamsburgh, at that time the great centre of wealth and intelligence in the county. The publisher was Charles D. McManaman, who was raised to this position from the jour's place in the Censor office. The sheet was small, only ten and a half by sixteen inches, but was newsy and edited with credit, ably representing the interests of the county, which was just beginning to recover from the effects of the war and starting out towards its present greatness. It was published on Saturday, but how long it was issued we are unable definitely determine. No annals of its history remain, but tradition speaks of the paper as an enterprising print, far in advance of the people, who soon permitted it to perish, and that McManaman was a noble genius, who, in his day, did much to crystallize the rough forms of advancing civilization.
THE FARMER'S FRIEND was the fourth paper that sought public patronage in Clermont County. Its place of publication was also Williamsburgh, and its editor was William A. Camron, who removed an office to this place from Lebanon, Ohio, the press of McManaman having been removed down the river. The Friend was begun in 1820, and was continued several years. It was a paper of merit, twenty-four by thirty-six inches in size, but lacking sufficient patronage was forced to discontinue.
THE WESTERN PATRIOT.
Batavia having become the permanent county-seat it was found necessary to meet the requirements of the place, as the seat of justice, to have a paper to publish the doings of the county officials, legal advertisements, and properly set forth the claims of the village as the future literary centre of Clermont.
The Patriot supplied this want, and was the fourth paper in the county, its first issue being dated May 24, 1824. The paper was twelve by twenty inches in size, and had four pages of four columns each. It was printed by Z. Colby & Co., on Water Street, in a building which stood where is now D. G. Dustin's tin establishment, every Saturday, at two dollars per annum, in advance, or three dollars after the expiration of a year. Payment in advance being to the mutual interests of all parties, that mode was solicited. No subscription was taken for less than six months, and all arrearages had to be paid before the paper was discontinued. A desire to discontinue the paper at the end of a subscription, without notifying the publishers, was not regarded. Postage was required to be paid at the rate of fifty cents per year on all papers sent by mail, and all letters to the editor had to have the postage on them prepaid, or no attention was paid to them. After the paper had been published six months, and the funds to sustain it not coming in rapidly enough to lubricate the machinery, it advertised in a leaded notice to receive corn, wheat, flour, whisky, oats, and pork in payment for subscription; and from subsequent issues of the paper it appears the publisher received a large amount of these articles of produce, including the pure extract of corn, distilled into pure whisky. This paper was non-partisan and devoted to the interests of the people, and being independent and preserving a high tone in its utterances, was productive of great good in its dissemination of news and advocacy of principles conducive to the wants of society. Local journalism was then unknown, and its local items were few. Its well-selected columns were usually filled with European news, as detailed by the last arrival of a sailing-vessel across the ocean, a condensed variety from the Congressional and Legislative proceedings, short tales, choice poetry, occasional brief editorials, scissored accounts of murders and other crimes, some legal and other advertisements. Journalism has made rapid strides in fifty-six years since the advent of The Western Patriot, and to-day the three papers of the county-seat are read at Batavia by five hundred subscribers, while the circulation of the daily Cincinnati morning and evening press is over one hundred and twenty-five.
Mrs. Sarah Colby, the wife of the publisher, carried on, in the room below his printing office, the millinery business, and received in part pay for her wares and fine sewing, flax, linen, bacon, flour, sugar, rags, etc.
In the issues of the first year appear the law cards of William H. Harrison, Jr. (son of the President), and of Gen. Richard Collins and Learner B. Collins, who practiced in the Clermont courts, - the former living in Cincinnati, but the latter keeping an office in Batavia, - also of Joseph S. Benham. Its columns show the vote of October, 1824, for Congress in the First District (Hamilton and Clermont Counties) to have been, - James Findlay, 2217; James W. Gazlay, 2181; David Morris (of Williamsburgh), 1194; and Benj. M. Piatt, 364.
On Christmas-day, 1825, Ezekiel Dimmitt notified his friends in this paper of his willingness to receive the whole or part of any person's subscription to the "county-seat question," as the strife was ended, and Batavia had secured it, and reminded them that it was heavy work to "move county-seats" and that they must pay up; from which it is inferred money was used in those days on both sides in fixing the seat of justice by paying committees and delegations to besiege the Legislature and liquidate printing-bills and other claims. In March, 1825, Capt. W. S. Patterson notified the members of his company (Batavia Light Infantry) to meet at the house of Samuel Shaw to receive their arms.
On May 14, 1825, the publisher, Z. Colby, announced his proposals for publishing a semi-monthly work in Batavia to be entitled the "Backwoodsman's Miscellany," which would consist of essays in verse and prose upon a great variety of subjects, as love, marriage, elegies, satires upon vices, follies, etc., and some thoughts on the return of peace, land and naval victories, casualties, orations on various occasions. He set forth that as the name of Backwoodsman had gone farther than the "Miscellany" would circulate, that he would only say that his uncouth rhymes and prosaic pieces had found their way from the infant towns of Williamsburgh, Georgetown, Augusta, and Washington to every State in the Union, and that his funeral elegies had drawn forth the sympathetic tears, and his satirical pieces had seldom failed to excite the risibility of the readers. The conditions were that the "Miscellany" should be printed on good paper and long primer type every two weeks, in numbers containing eight octavo pages to each, so as to form a convenient volume of two hundred and eight pages; the price to subscribers was to be one dollar per year if paid in advance, twenty-five cents more if paid within the year, and one dollar and a half at the expiration of the year; that the first number would be put to press as soon as a sufficient number of subscribers were obtained to justify his engaging in the work; but as there is no record of its appearance at any subsequent date, it is feared that the prospect of serial "funeral elegies" dampened the feelings of his expected subscribers, and they failed to respond to the prospectus of the editor.
On May 28, 1825, Mr. Colby announced the completion of the first volume of the Patriot, and that while personally he was glad of the choice of John Quincy Adams by the National House for President, he had not and should not in the future make his paper a vehicle of politics, would occasionally touch on the vices of the day (studiously avoiding personalities), and would furnish his readers with a view of the passing occurrences of the times as early as possible, and eloquently concluded by saying that sometimes printers stood in need of cash. That year its columns were full of the visit of Lafayette to our country, and the great honors being weekly heaped upon that noble French patriot, - the trusted friend of and worker with Washington.
On June 11, 1825, this paper, in fourteen lines, described the burglary of Daniel Hankins' store of two days previous, which event now would require at least a column of leaded type. The only patent-medicine advertisement was that of "La Mott's Cough Drops," - said to be efficacious, - and this elixir was certified by sundry clergymen to be a certain and sure cure for "coughs and consumptions."
The issue of July 9, 1825, is largely taken up with an account of the grand celebration of the "Fourth," wherein the Batavia Light Infantry Company paraded, and after the procession a big dinner took place at Titus Everhart's inn, and of the committee of arrangements the following noted citizens we notice: George Ely, Dr. Josiah Lyman, Benj. Harris, Israel Whitaker, Wm. N. White, Robert Townsley, Luther M. Goff, Wm. M. Ely, W. H. Robinson, and Wm. Curtis. There was a national salute at daybreak; raising of a "liberty-tree," with the star spangled banner proudly floating at its top; reading of the Declaration of Independence, by Learner B. Collins, and oration by Owen T. Fishback. There were regular toasts drank after removing the cloth of the dinner-table, followed by firing of guns and cheers; and then followed volunteer toasts by Jonathan D. Morris, Z. Colby (the editor), M. A. Bryan, Jesse Ellis, Richard McClure, and others.
At Milford, too, was the glorious day duly observed, under General Thomas Gatch, as chief marshal, assisted by Isaac Covalt, as deputy; and among those giving toasts to be drank (and they were drank) were Dr. Wm. Williams, Thomas D. Burrows, Josiah Broadwell, L. Pratt, D. F. Barney, Lain Ready, Captain Benj. Ramsey, Captain George Ramsey, Judge John Pollock, Peter Bell, Zaccheus Biggs, Jacob Broadwell, and John Emery. There were guns and cheers during the toasts; groans for the Turks, and cheers for the Greeks, - then fighting to be delivered from their oppressors. Colonel John W. Robinson was the orator, and the genial Dr. L. A. Hendrick read the "Declaration of 1776."
This issue also contained two important wedding notices in high life, the first on June 30th, by that eccentric circuit-rider Rev. George W. Maley, of General Thomas Gatch and Miss Lucinda McCormick, daughter of the great pioneer Methodist, the noted Rev. Francis McCormick; and the other on July 6th, by the same minister, of Dr. Wm. B. Chipley and Miss Sidney Ann Morris, daughter of Hon. Thomas Morris.
The "Fourth" was also splendidly celebrated at the "Withams' Settlement," with musketry and martial music, and on top of its lofty "liberty-pole" was a garland of green hickory. Several Revolutionary heroes were present and a larger number of the soldiers of the war of 1812, and speeches and toasts were in abundance, giving the British lion hail-Columbia before and aft. One cannot read these old accounts of how our ancestors celebrated the natal day of the country fifty or sixty years ago without seeing the deep love that then prevailed for America and the animosity that cropped out unmistakably against Great Britain.
The publisher advertised for rags, and to pay for the same at two cents and a half per pound in cash, or store goods; or three cents in spelling-books and writing-paper, - rags to be clean linen and cotton; and these spelling-books were the "New American Spelling-Book and Juvenile Preceptor," of which Mr. Colby was running a big advertisement in his paper, and for which he took them as pay. His terms of advertising were, - ten lines or less, three insertions for one dollar, and each continuance twenty-five cents, and larger ones in proportion.
In August, 1826, appeared the last number of the Western Patriot, its publisher, Mr. Colby, having sold out his office, type, and printing-press to David Morris.
THE SPIRIT OF THE TIMES
David Morris, who in 1814 had published the Western American, at Williamsburgh, merged the Western Patriot of Mr. Colby, when he purchased it and its good-will, into The Spirit of the Times, the first number of which was issued at Batavia on July 21, 1826, some seven weeks before the Patriot sold out, and was of the same size as that paper. In its issue of Dec. 27, 1828, Editor Morris said a few hundred-weight of pork would be received in payment of any debts due its office, - probably for his family use, and to fatten his printers and fill up the "office devil." In his report of Legislative proceedings we notice Thomas Morris, senator from Clermont, from the Judiciary Committee, reported a bill for the election of county recorders by the people, and from a select committee to whom was referred a bill to encourage the raising of sheep reported the same back with amendment. James Picken had a displayed advertisement of a very handsome assortment of goods and groceries, hardware, etc., in the old frame building on corner of Water and Main Streets in Batavia, now occupied by Carter & Son for their tin- and stove-store. There also appeared the advertisement of a very important branch of industry in those days, - carpet-weaving, - by a man who was afterwards sheriff of Clermont, and the father of three sons who have made most conspicuous and honorable marks in the county's history as journalists, - Michael Cowen. He respectfully informed the public that he had erected a loom at David Duckwall's, about one mile from Batavia, on the road leading there from to Milford, and was prepared to weave double and single coverlets in the best manner, and in the best, most elegant, and fashionable patterns.
Mr. Morris held control of the paper until its publication ceased, some time in 1829, when, after a short interregnum, he became the editor of a new paper, which took its place as a more outspoken partisan sheet. He tried to conduct the Spirit free from party bias, although in the later issues there was a disposition to favor the cause of the National Republicans.
THE CHRONICLE OF THE TIMES
This paper originated in 1829 as a political rival of the Ohio Sun, whose history is given in subsequent pages, and resembled that sheet in form and general appearance. It absorbed whatever remaining interests there were of the Spirit of the Times, and for most of the time David Morris was the editorial head. It was an outspoken National Republican, and bore proudly aloft this bold motto, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created free and equal," which, though the life of the Declaration of Independence, was deemed an audacious sentiment by some, and made the Chronicle a marked political sheet. Its course was distinctly opposed to that pursed by the Sun, and as the one became the organ of the Whigs, the other was decidedly Democratic. The Chronicle warmly espoused the principles advocated by the illustrious Henry Clay, and its columns teemed with devotion to the Sage of Ashland.
Its issue of Dec. 31, 1831, contained the proceedings of the National Republican Convention of that month, held at Baltimore, at which Henry Clay was nominated for President, and John Sergeant for Vice-President. The stockholders of the "Cincinnati, Columbus and Wooster Turnpike Company" were agreeably notified to meet (those in Clermont) at Milford, at Dr. Hendrick's residence, and receive their quarterly dividend of twenty-four per cent per annum, - and they all went, so tradition records. The "Batavia Colonization Society" (sacred relic of the past) was notified to meet on January 2d. Its columns disclosed the facts of the dissolution, on August 1st, of the firm of Farr & Hanley, at Goshen, and that Lemuel W. Slade was the fashionable tailor in Batavia. On Poplar Creek, in Tate township, Timothy Sprague advertised as having a mill for fulling, dyeing, and dressing cloth.
The Chronicle of the Times was well edited, and published most of the important news afloat, and was printed until the year 1835, when it ceased to chronicle the events of the times under that name, but was, after an interregnum of about a year, merged into a brand-new paper. The publication office was in part of the building now occupied by William Baum as a dwelling. About the first of the year the Chronicle ceased to exist for want of material support, and for a year the Whigs were without an organ. But there was yeat a little leaven left, and the following year was brought to light.
THE CLERMONT COURIER
The date of the first issue was March 19, 1836, and Andrew M. Gest and R. W. Clarke were the founders, using the same type, press, and room which had formerly belonged to the Chronicle of the Times. The latter was the editor, and had acquired his knowledge of the art preservative in the Sun office, and Gest had been a former employee of Morris in the Chronicle office. Milton Jamieson was the printer's boy, and set up all the selected matter of the first issue, and afterwards carried around the paper in Batavia. He says he remembers very well how happy the old Whigs were when they received the first number, and how the old Democrats frowned upon it, for every voter in the place received a copy. On the 24th of August, 1836, A. M. Gest took in as his partner Learner B. Leeds, and by them, jointly, the Courier was published until April 8, 1837, when R. W. Clarke ceased to edit the paper, and Messrs. Gest & Leeds became both editors and proprietors. This partnership closed abruptly about one month after it was formed, and then A. M. Gest became sole editor, publisher, and proprietor, and remained so until Jan. 30, 1846, when he sold a half-interest in the paper to Lorenzo Dow Morris. Then the Courier was edited and published under the firm-name of A. M. Gest & L. D. Morris, until March 26, 1847, when Gest sold out his interest to L. D. Morris, who continued its publication as its editor and publisher until Aug. 27, 1847, when A. M. Gest bought out Morris, and again became its owner, and took in R. W. Clarke as joint editor.
L. D. Morris was of Welsh descent and was born in Williamsburgh, Clermont Co., in 1818, and was the son of David Morris, editor of the Western American, in Williamsburgh, in 1814 and 1815, and afterwards of the Spirit of the Times, and then The Chronicle of the Times, in Batavia, in subsequent years. He was educated for a physician, but his constitution being too delicate for the labors of a regular practice, he abandoned the profession. He was married in 1843, and in 1848 moved to Iowa, and at Iowa City was foreman and assistant editor of the Republican there published, and was afterwards editor of the Western American and Republican, two papers published at Keosauqua, in which city he died Nov. 9, 1861, - a bright ornament of the Masonic order and a beloved member of the Congregationalist Church.
In the summer of 1848, R. W. Clarke retired from the Courier, and A. M. Gest again became sole editor, and conducted the paper until his death, in the latter part of 1851. No man politically or personally was better know in Clermont from 1836 to 1851 than A. M. Gest, who for over fifteen years was connected with The Clermont Courier as editor, publisher, and printer. He edited and controlled it in the Van Buren campaign of 1836; the Harrison avalanche of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," - hard cider, log cabins, and coon-skins of 1840; the Clay canvass of 1844; the Presidential fight of 1848, when Gen. Zach. Taylor was elected; the fight on the new constitution, in 1851, and while, like all strong partisan editors, he had political foes, his personal enemies were hardly to be found. He was a devoted Mason, and for many years Worshipful Master of Batavia Lodge, F. and A. M., No. 109, of which he was one of its first three to be initiated in the fall of 1837. In 1850 he was appointed by President Fillmore's administration to take the census of four townships in the county, and while so engaged Milton Jamieson edited the Courier.
For a few months succeeding Mr. Gest's death the Courier was conducted by his administrator, until, in the early part of 1852, John R. S. Bond bought out the whole establishment, and edited and printed this sheet until about Sept. 1, 1856, when he sold to John M. Kellum. Col. Bond was a genial gentleman, of warm impulses and great force of character, devoted in his friendships and as strong and bitter in his enmities. He made a splendid paper, and had charge of it during the stirring days of "Anti-Kansas and Nebraska" memory, in the Know-Nothing era, and while he sat on its tripod arose the grand old Republican party, in 1854, which soon swept the country by storm, and has been in power ever since. Col. Bond is now dead, but he left a monument to his ability and memory in the few years' files of this paper, so ably and honorably conducted by him.
John M. Kellum, a bright genius in editorial ability but lacking in newspaper business capacity, edited and published the Courier through the heated Fremont campaign of 1856 and up to Aug. 27, 1857, when he disposed of the paper to R. W. Clarke and M. Jamieson, and Mr. Clarke edited it until Aug. 19, 1858, when Mr. Jamieson became its sole editor and proprietor. About September, 1859, Mr. Jamieson sold an interest in the Courier to Thomas D. Fitch, who had been for some time a compositor on its columns, but continued to edit the paper until January, 1860, when he disposed of his entire interest to three brothers, Thomas D., Sidney A., and Charles T. Fitch, who all had worked before on the paper as printers. This closed the connection with the Courier of Milton Jamieson, who had helped print its first issue of March 19, 1836, who for some five years had been a journeyman compositor at its cases, and for three years its editor, publisher, and proprietor. He found an outlet and avenue for his unsurpassed executive ability (and which, in his editing and managing of that paper, had been characterized with rare success) in other channels, and soon became the best business man and most successful and largest capitalist in the county.
The Fitch brothers came to Ohio from Southern Kentucky, but were born in Danville, Caledonia Co., State of Vermont, near where the "great commoner," Thaddeus Stevens, was born, and of whom they were near relatives. They made a spicy paper, got all the news, and were equal to the times, which then called for bold, fearless men in the editorial chair and at the helm of the press, for the great gathering storm of the Rebellion was brewing, and the soundings of every man's loyalty and devotion to his flag, his country, and his hearthstone was fathomed as with a plummet. C. T. Fitch was a purser in the United States navy in the war, died at sea, and was buried off Key West. They managed the paper until July 19, 1862, and then sold it to Andrew B. Smith, who conducted it with such signal ability, and with the county printing for over two years, as to make, in less than four years, more money out of it than any of his predecessors in double that period of time. He had it at a most opportune time, during the war times, when money was plenty, excitement high, and the circulation of the press - daily and weekly - ran up to enormous figures.
After the close of the war, in the spring of 1865, Mr. Smith (since deceased) sold the paper to Charles N. and Frank Browning, two brothers born and reared in the old classic territory between the "Franklin neighborhood" and Boat Run, in Monroe township. Both these gentlemen had been liberally educated at Parker's Academy, were old school-teachers, and possessed high intellectual abilities and great social powers that made them able writers and editors and popular in the county. Under their administration the Courier achieved a proud name and position. Associated with the Messrs. Browning from the fall of 1865 for about a year was E. G. Orebaugh, at present of the Columbus Sunday News. In September, 1877, after an ownership of twelve years, Charles N. Browning, then the sole owner of the Courier, sold the paper to John R. Woodlief, and became a proprietor of the Clinton Republican, which he still owns and edits. His brother Frank died Aug. 10, 1878, having previously been one of the proprietors of the same paper.
John R. Woodlief, a number one business man, a good writer, and a man of deserved popularity, who had been sheriff of the county in the years 1872 and 1873, and who was admitted to the bar in September, 1875, was proprietor of the Courier until April, 1879, when he sold out the entire establishment to Charles W. Pegg, the present proprietor, who is a Batavian born and bred, and who was sheriff in Nevada, for four years, of one of its largest mining and business counties. Mr. Pegg years ago was in the drug business here, and brings to the paper high personal character and plenty of means.
The present editor of the Courier, and who for the past five years has had control of its columns, either as chief or local editor, publisher, or printer, is John H. Fairman. He was born in Medina, N. Y., March 8, 1839, and when fifteen years of age began to learn the printer's trade. Came to Ohio, served in the Rebellion in Co. F, 59th Ohio Regiment Infantry (Judge Thomas M. Lewis' company), and from 1866 to 1870 was printer-in-chief to the adjutant-general of the United States army at Washington, D. C. Feb. 7, 1865, he was married to Miss Carrie, youngest daughter of the late John M. Brown, Batavia's famous merchant for over twenty-five years. In New York City he was connected with the Herald and the Tribune as reporter, compositor, and in various other capacities; in New Orleans with the Picayune, in Indianapolis with the Journal, in Washington with the Globe, and on other metropolitan dailies. For fifteen years, at different periods, he has been on the Courier corps, and to-day is justly considered one of the best country local editors in the West, and as a paragraphist has few equals in Ohio. The Courier has but little official patronage, but, notwithstanding this fact, under Mr. Fairman's management the paper has achieved a stronger financial strength, and is now upon a better basis, than at any previous strength, and is now upon a better basis, than at any previous epoch in its long and eventful history.
The Courier office was in the building now occupied by William Baum as a residence from 1836 to 1837, when it was removed to the room in the Dennison building now used as a law-office by Swing & Brunaugh. In 1839 it was again changed, and to the room now used, in same building, by W. W. Dennison and Judge T. M. Lewis as a law-office; and in 1844 changed to the front room, now used by John W. Davis and W. F. Roudebush as a law-office, in the same building. In 1850 the office was removed to the second story of the frame building on corner of Main and Market Streets, now owned by Rachel Danberry, and in 1856 again removed to the Dennison building, over the present store of J. & M. Bicking; in 1857 to a building on the corner of the alley, on Main Street, just above the jail; and in 1864 to the Masonic building, and in the room now occupied by Dr. Bunn as a drug-store. In 1867 the office was removed to the Jamieson building, then completed, where ever since it has remained.
For over a third of a century this newspaper has been in the county a courier to many a household, whose inmates anxiously awaited its weekly arrival and eagerly devoured its contents; and in that time it was ever the vehicle of advanced thought in behalf of all great humanitarian sentiments and principles for the amelioration of mankind, whether in the cotton-fields and on the rice-plantations of the South, in the teeming factories of the North, in the shops and on the farms of its own county. Society in its best estate, morality in its broadest views, and governmental ideas in their most republican significance, ever found in its liberal columns an exponent of the highest type. It has witnessed great changes since it was founded, in the heyday of Jackson's national administration. It saw the coming reign of Van Buren, his terrific overthrow by Harrison in 1840, the defeat of gallant Clay in 1844, the success of "Old Zack" in 1848, the disaster to the Whigs in 1852, and the death of their party in 1853. But it then witnessed the origin, rise and triumphant success of the new party, - one republican in its true sense, - saw the election of Lincoln in 1860, and witnessed the crushing of the slave-holders' rebellion and the nation preserved intact. It saw its first editor, the sagacious R. W. Clarke, Clermont's greatest political strategist, sent to Congress, and its ever-trusted friend, Philip B. Swing, made a United States judge, and its other and ever-faithful advisor and former editor, Milton Jamieson, rise to be the monetary leader of the county. And it witnessed the placing of a native Clermonter, Gen. Grant, eight years in the Presidential chair, by the votes of the party whose organ through weal and woe it is, and expects to be, till it has outlived its usefulness.
THE CLERMONT SUN, FOUNDED AS THE OHIO SUN
On the first day of July, 1828, the first number of this paper was issued in the village of Bethel, and was thereafter published every Wednesday by Samuel Medary, although the enterprise was begun and for some time fostered by Thomas Morris. The paper was a folio of five columns to a page, which measured thirteen and a half by twenty one and a half inches, and up to that date was the largest paper ever printed in the county. This seemingly extraordinary size was looked upon by the wiseacres as a daring adventure, fraught with great risk and possible misfortune. But the man who established the Sun understood the wants of the people from having mingled with them, and his paper was a success from the very beginning.* The paper, too, set out as the advocate of the rights of the people, and assumed for its motto this ringing sentiment, "Unawed by the influence of the rich, the great, or the noble, the people must be heard, and their rights protected." This sentiment evoked the patronage of hundreds of people, and the masses have ever since looked upon the paper as their friend. The subscription terms of the Sun were two dollars per annum if paid in advance, or three dollars at the end of the year, and all kinds of country produce, such as wheat, pork, whisky, linen, feathers, sugar, beeswax, flax, wool, rags, etc., were taken at market prices in payment, and for advertising and job-work. To secure a general circulation agents were appointed at different places, as follows: Bethel, Thomas J. Morris; Perin's Mills, Samuel J. Perin; Milford, Mathias Kugler & Son; New Richmond, Col. Haines; Point Pleasant neighborhood, Thomas Lindsey; Chilo, John Everhart; Felicity, Robert Chalfant; Withamsville, Robert Fee; Ten-Mile, Chapman Archer; Point Pleasant, John Mollyneaux; Goshen, Dr. S. G. Meek; Moscow, W. K. Byrn and W. H. Abbott; Cincinnati, Stephen Burrows; Georgetown, Jesse R. Grant (father of Gen. U. S. Grant); and several for Warren, Brown, and Scioto Counties, and one in Illinois State. Mr. Medary was no printer at that time, but he edited the paper, helped the printer, and attended to the delivery and mailing, and the affairs of the office generally. After a few months' issues, or at the farthest in the first part of the ensuing year, the office was removed to Batavia, where ever since it has remained, diffusing light and information among the people.
In the issue of June 24, 1829, the county commissioners advertised the letting of the construction of the new Batavia bridge and the sale of the old one, to take place on the 23d of July, at which time also the public square in Williamsburgh, and the old county buildings thereon, were to be sold as the property of the county. This paper was Democratic in politics, and warmly supported General Jackson for President in 1828, and his administration through good and evil report.
From its files we glean a rich account of the grand "Fourth of July Celebration" in 1829, at Robert Fee's, in Union township, where patriotic toasts were given by Joseph Stone (a soldier in the Revolution), Robert McFarland, Dr. Wm. Doane, Col. Wm. Curry, Alex. Herring, Jr., Peter Emery, Jonathan D. Morris, Dr. Wm. Wayland, James Abrams, Thomas Morris, John Joliffe, Thomas Kirgan, John O. Comstock, Samuel Provost, Samuel Medary, Eben S. Ricker, Rufus Richardson, J. Lindsey, John Summers, William Tate, Samuel Shaw, and Wm. P. Richardson. Dr. Wayland presided, and Thomas Morris was the orator of the day, and five hundred persons partook of the dinner and firing of guns.
In the paper of Nov. 16, 1831, is an account of the arrival from Europe of the British ship "Arkwright," announcing the fall of Warsaw and defeat of the Poles, given in displayed head-lines.
In 1833, the name was changed to Ohio Sun and Clermont Advertiser, and as such continued some time. Mr. Medary, in his plain and resolute Saxon language, soon showed that editorial ability which was the precursor to his subsequent career as the great editor of the West in another and more extended field of journalism, and the leading political manager of Ohio.
Mr. Medary having been elected State senator in 1835, sold, early in 1836, the paper to his brothers, Jacob and Asher C. Medary, who changed its name back to The Ohio Sun, and conducted its publication until the winter of 1837 and 1838, when they sold to James Ferguson, who had been elected county auditor in 1835, and defeated for reelection in 1837. Mr. Ferguson (still living on his farm in Clay Co., Ind.) published the paper till 1839, but without success financially, as the business part of the establishment had run down.
Mr. Ferguson, though an able writer and a well-informed and most genial gentleman, lacked the special traits necessary to the business part of publishing a successful paper, so he gave it up to a committee of Democrats, who made a joint-stock concern of the paper, with Col. William Thomas (sheriff from 1833 to 1837) as chairman, Robert Temple, and several other leading Democrats of the county. This committee secured the services (through the medium of the then congressman, Dr. William Doane, of Withamsville) of a Mr. Gobright, of Washington City, who edited the paper with marked ability until November, 1840, when he left, after having gone down to Union township and notified Mr. Robert Temple of his intention and delivered over to him the books, keys, etc. The result of the Presidential election had frightened Mr. Gobright, but the committee were still more scared by finding that their investment was pecuniarily a sad failure, and its chairman, Col. Thomas, was out of pocket to the tune of four or five hundred dollars. Mr. Gobright remained in Washington, and was subsequently employed in the departments, and connected with various papers at the capital. He was the author of several statistical and historical books, and for a quarter of a century past (until the last few months) he has been the Washington Associated Press Dispatch general agent.
In the latter part of November, 1840, Learner B. Leeds purchased of the stockholders and its committee this paper, and issued his first number on Dec. 7, 1840. He began with less than two hundred subscribers, showing how this sheet had run down, as its former conductors had so badly managed its affairs, often missing two or three weeks without getting out a number, so that people had lost confidence in it. The county had given Gen. Harrison, for President, three hundred and forty-three majority (the only time, Presidentially, it was carried againt the Democrats, save in 1864, when Lincoln beat Gen. McClellan by two votes), which, with its business embarrassments, required time and labor to overcome. Mr. Leeds made it a point never to miss the publication of the paper on time and never to miss a week, and by untiring labor and strict economy he finally established the Sun on a good basis, so that its subscription list ran up to a paying number. Mr. Leeds adopted this motto: "The sovereignty of the people, the rights of the States, and supremacy of the laws constitute the fundamental principles of a free government." The issue of July 10, 1841, contained the "Fourth of July" address of William Howard, delivered at Withamsville, and announcements of Simpson Griffith and Edmund Spence for the Democratic nomination for recorder, and of William Stone and James Ward for that of sheriff.
The paper under Mr. Leeds' management was a grand success, editorially and financially, and his party had an increased majority, and Polk and Dallas carried the county handsomely. In the spring of 1850 he sold the paper to James Evans, who was a son-in-law of the old surveyor, John Hill, who conducted the paper until the 12th day of August, 1851, when he died. Mr. Leeds then again resumed its control until Aug. 19, 1852, when J. P. Thompson bought the establishment, and chose for his motto, "Be just and fear not. Let all the ends thou aimest at be thy country's, they God's, and truth's;" but before this Mr. Leeds, in 1844, had changed its name to The Clermont Sun, which it has borne to this hour.
On Feb. 2, 1854, E. T. Norton purchased a half-interest in the Sun, also doing editorial work, and continued on it till June 8th, when, having been chosen editor of the Daily Dispatch, of Portsmouth, he sold his interest to Will C. Walker. On June 24, 1854, Mr. Thompson died, in his twenty-ninth year of age, after an illness of short duration and unexpectedly to the community. He was born in Indiana Co., Pa., in 1825, and at seventeen years of age took charge of a newspaper in his native State, and subsequently successfully conducted the management of several others, among which were the Perry Freeman, at New Bloomfield; The Register, at Mifflintown; the Age, at New Richmond, Ohio; and the Clermont Sun.
On Aug. 3, 1854, the one-half of the paper belonging to the estate of J. P. Thompson was sold to Andrew J. Sprague, a practical printer, who had learned the art under an apprenticeship to Learner B. Leeds, many years before, and who had worked a long time on this paper, as well as on the leading Cincinnati dailies. The following from the Cincinnati Daily Gazette, of July 30, 1850, shows that Mr. Sprague was the best and fastest printer at that time in America:
"A TYPO AS IS ONE
"Mr. Andrew J. Sprague, one of the compositors engaged on the Daily Gazette, has, during the past seven consecutive working days, set up an aggregate of 90,750 cms, correcting his own proofs and distributing his own matter. This is an average of 13,000 cms per day. An old-fashioned day's work was 5000, and it is a good workman who now regularly sets 6000 or 7000 per day, and a quick one who averages 7000 to 8000. Mr. Sprague belongs to 'the fast line' most decidedly, and can 'go through by daylight' any time."
This was a handsome compliment to Mr. Sprague, and his big time at the case called forth all over the Union congratulations and encomiums from the leading journals and periodical press.
On Feb. 8, 1855, Mr. Will C. Walker sold his half-interest to Smith Townsley, a good printer, and for several years (until the past few months) connected with the Jackson County (Ohio) Herald. Messrs. Sprague & Townsley were splended printers, but had no taste for writing, and Mr. L. B. Leeds became the editor for them, and, in fact, in the year before had done most of the editorial work on this paper.
On the 24th of January, 1856, Mr. Leeds bought out Mr. Townsley's one-half interest, and the firm was Sprague & Leeds, and so continued until November 20th (after Buchanan's election as President), when Mr. Leeds bought out his partner, Mr. Sprague, who went into the drug business, and in which he has ever since continued. Mr. Sprague now bade farewell to the printing craft, and in his new pursuits and avocations has become one of Batavia's solid men, and one of its most public-spirited citizens. Mr. Leeds had the paper through all the exciting campaign from the Kansas-Nebraska trouble, and through the stirring events of the first three years of the civil war, including the famous and never-to-be-forgotten Vallandigham campaign. In 1860, W. R. Hartman had a one-half interest in the Sun, as editor and publisher.
Henry V. Kerr (the present State librarian) became the owner of the Sun in 1864, and Mr. Leeds retired to other fields of labor. He was so long identified with journalism in the county that a short sketch of this Nestor of the press will be read with general interest.
Learner B. Leeds was born in Clermont, of pioneer parents, July 16, 1816, and followed the occupation of a farmer till his nineteenth year, when (in October, 1835) he was apprenticed to the printing business, under the late Governor Samuel Medary, of The Ohio Sun, at Batavia. After serving out his apprenticeship with Samuel Medary and his successors, his brothers Jacob and Asher C., he went to Cincinnati in the fall of 1838, and worked until the ensuing spring on The Cincinnati Gazette, under the distinguished Charles Hammond (now deceased), its editor. In the spring of 1839 he went with Amos Derrough into a new printing-office at Georgetown, Brown Co., Ohio, which Mr. Derrough had established and called the Democratic Standard, and of which he was foreman for a few weeks, when he bought out the paper. He conducted this sheet as editor, publisher, and printer for nearly ten months, then sold out, returned to Cincinnati, and worked till late in the fall of 1840 on The Philanthropist, an able anti-slavery paper, edited at that time by the world-renowned Gamaliel Bailey. In November, 1840, he bought the Ohio Sun, at Batavia, which he conducted as publisher and editor from Dec. 7, 1840, to the last week of March, 1864, with the exception of less than three years during the time. He was elected recorder of Clermont County in 1847, and reelected in 1850, and served three years. In 1844 he united with the Masonic Order, at Batavia, was six years Worshipful Master of its lodge, and one year Most Excellent High Priest of the chapter. In 1854 he joined the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows, and in 1868 became a Royal and Select Master in the council. In these two orders he was always a zealous and an active member. In the spring of 1864 he purchased the Southern Ohio Argus, the Democratic organ at Georgetown, Ohio, of the Brown County Democracy, and changed its name to that of The Brown County News, which he to this day publishes. It is a large four-page paper of thirty-six columns, printed on a steam cylinder press; and in print and size of sheet, in able and manly editorials, and in extensive circulation and influence, is unsurpassed by any country paper in Ohio.
In 1869, Mr. Leeds was elected State senator for the Clermont and Brown senatorial district (the fourth), and reelected in 1871, and served four years as a faithful, able, and industrious member of the Senate, commanding the complete confidence of his friends and the respect and esteem of his political adversaries. On one occasion, while publishing the Sun, the mail-stage, which was then the only public conveyance between Batavia and Cincinnati, owing to bad roads and high water, failed to bring Mr. Leeds' paper for that week's issue. No alternative was left him but to either miss his issue or to go after paper; and, determined not to disappoint his subscribers, he procured a horse, saddle, and bridle, and started for Cincinnati about four o'clock P.M., and reached that city late at night. Next morning he secured his bundle of blank paper, took it on his horse, holding it before him, and rode back with it, and issued his paper on time. To carry a bundle of paper weighing nearly a hundred pounds on horseback for twenty-one miles was no easy task, but he had never yet disappointed his subscribers, and the Sun had to shine, whether or no, as far as horseflesh was concerned. At another time Mr. Leeds went to Cincinnati after paper, and during the night the Ohio River had risen very fast, and the back-water was over the levee west of the old Union Bridge across the Little Miami. He was in a light spring-wagon and alone, and concluded that he could cross the water was becoming deep, but there was nothing for him to do but "go forward," for to attempt to turn back was impossible. Large fields of ice were afloat on the water, and his horse was often in water up to his back, and he knew not how soon he and wagon and all would float off the levee, and, of course, all go down together. Twice he was compelled to stop for a time till the ice would float past and off the road, which he could not distinguish from the muddy condition of the water, so that he had to drive very carefully and steadily. Once the body of the wagon was afloat, and every instant he expected to be swept away; but he finally succeeded in reaching the time-honored old bridge, and arrived home all safe, and got out that number of his paper on time. Such were some of the hardships and perils he was compelled to encounter in order to conduct his business continuously, and that no disappointments should befall his patrons. Mr. Leeds during the first ten years of his editorial life never wrote his editorials, but set them up at the case, composing them as he set the type; and for many years he set up most of the Sun with his own hands, worked the press, did up all the papers in packages for the mails; in other words, he did most of the work on the paper from necessity, - the income of the office not justifying the hiring of a single journeyman, - keeping only one or two boys for assistance. Such was the work on the Sun from 1840 to 1850, and present publishers know but little of the labors and difficulties which befel the early ones, even as late as the year 1850, since which time improved machinery and various inventions have greatly systematized printing and lessened its multiform trials and labors.
H. V. Kerr (see his life as State librarian elsewhere in this book) brought to the paper great energy, tact, and editorial ability, and being one of the keenest politicians of the county conducted his business with astonishing adroitness, and imparted to this long-established paper a highly literary character and tone. He sold the paper, April 1, 1872, to Allen T. and Dale O. Cowen (brothers), who conducted it under the firm name of D. O. Cowen & Co.
Allen T. Cowen (now the learned, dignified, and popular judge of the Clermont Common Pleas Court) was born in Batavia, in the house now occupied by D. G. Dustin, and married, in 1861, Miss Kate Brown, a daughter of Mr. Carson Brown, of Hamilton County, and on her maternal side descended from the Stites, the first pioneers of Columbia.
Dale O. Cowen was born in June, 1845, in the jail building which his father then occupied as sheriff, and was married Feb. 11, 1873, to Miss Mary C. Dustin, daughter of the late Col. J. S. Dustin, an old Batavia merchant. They were sons of Michael Cowen, who was born in Bedford County, Pa., in 1804, and came to Ohio about 1827, and married Miss Mary Ann Roudebush on August 11, 1831. in 1841 and 1843 he was elected sheriff, and served four years. He was a high-toned gentleman, of an iron will, and true to every trust committed to his care, and died Sept. 16, 1854, at Milford, universally mourned.
In 1875, Allen T. Cowen sold out his interest in the Sun to his brother (the youngest), Willis M. Cowen, who was a practical printer, and thoroughly understood the business, and the name of the firm remained unchanged, and is to-day D. O. Cowen & Co., who are the editors and publishers of the Clermont Sun. On the 3d of January, 1877, Willis M. Cowen was married to Kate D. Kerr, daughter of the former proprietor.
When the Cowen brothers took the Sun it had only seven hundred subscribers, and now it has over fourteen hundred. They have erected on Market Street a fine brick building, on the very site where stood the old frame church where Henry Ward Beecher preached his first sermon when he came out to Batavia one Sunday, from the Lane Divinity School near Cincinnati, to make his first attempt in expounding the word of God. The Sun printing-office, in its appointments and equipments of one steam power cylinder press, two steam jobbers, and proof press, with its complete outfit of new type, and all the appurtenances necessary to a first-class establishment, is unsurpassed, and hardly equaled by any other country office in the State, and it is gratifying to record that the labors and enterprise of the firm have been generously appreciated by the people of the county.
THE NEW RICHMOND PRESS
The first periodical was issued in the days when New Richmond was the county-seat, and was called The Luminary. The publishers were four brothers, A., C., J., and W. Herron, and the printing-office was in the upper rooms of the Seneca Palmer fulling-mill, which stood where is now Willenbrink's feed-store. The paper was a small folio, the sheet being eighteen by twenty-four inches, and its first issue bore date July 3, 1823. It appeared every Wednesday for about a year at the subscription-price of two dollars per annum, if paid in advance (and payments before the fifth number were announced as being in advance). As a further inducement to subscribe, the publishers offered to deliver the paper free of extra cost by private mail when a sufficient number of subscribers resided at one place. If paid at the end of the year the cost of this paper was three dollars. The publishers set out with very exalted ideas, having for their mottoes these fine sentiments: "Truth our guide, and naught but the public good our aim;" and, "Enlightened minds and virtuous manners lead to the gates of glory." Of the editors little is known, save that Joseph Herron was one of the early teachers of New Richmond, and after the removal of the county-seat to Batavia the paper soon died for want of patronage.
In 1834, James G. Birney, the celebrated champion of human liberty and equal rights, began the publication of The Philanthropist, at New Richmond, in a building which stands on Walnut and Willow Streets, and continued issuing the paper there several years. Mr. Birney came to New Richmond with his paper, a large and well-printed four-page sheet, upon the assurance of the Donaldson brothers and other well-known anti-slavery men that he could there pursue his work unmolested. Although the sentiments of New Richmond frowned down any attempt to disturb Mr. Birney in his avocation, yet danger from mobs was several times apprehended. Lawless men from Kentucky and other places threatened to sack the office, and the abolitionists and personal friends of the editor of The Philanthropist rallied to defend the paper. At the signal of danger a meeting was held in the old market-house of that village, which was addressed by Caleb S. Walker and other friends of freedom, and the most emphatic assurance given Mr. Birney that they would stand by him, though it should require the sacrifice of life and property. On one occasion the villagers were violently alarmed by the report that a boat had been chartered at Cincinnati to bring up a party of pro-slavery men whose avowed purpose was to destroy The Philanthropist. Again the people of New Richmond assembled to take measures to sustain Mr. Birney, and some counseled a resort to extreme measures should the destroyers come. Happily, better counsels prevailed, and the boat did not leave Cincinnati; but all that night the friends of a free press patroled the town in front of The Philanthropist office to protect it from possible assault. Some time in the spring of 1836 Mr. Birney moved his office to Cincinnati, and on the night of July 30th it was destroyed by a lawless and infuriated mob, who scattered the type into the streets, tore down the presses, and completely destroyed the office. Afterwards the friends and supporters of this famous abolition paper subscribed and purchased a new outfit for Mr. Birney, and he resumed its publication, and in 1844 was the "Liberty party's" candidate for President, with Thomas Morris, of Bethel, for Vice-President. Mr. Birney often, in subsequent years, spoke in the highest terms of the good people of New Richmond and of Clermont, who so boldly in muscle and finances stood by him in the trying hours of the publication of his paper, devoted to the abolition of negro slavery and to the equal rights of all men.
The third attempt at journalism at New Richmond was made in 1851 by J. P. Thompson, as editor and publisher of The New Richmond Age, the real proprietor being Hon. Michael H. Davis, two years later the able and popular State senator from the Clermont-Brown district. This paper had four pages of five wide columns each, and was edited with considerable ability. It was devoted to the interests of the Democratic party, though not an official organ. The office of publication was in Sturges' building, and for a short time Hugh Herrick was its editorial head. This paper continued until Aug. 19, 1852, when J. P. Thompson bought the Clermont Courier and united the New Richmond Age with it, and the latter ceased to exist as a separate sheet, but upon its discontinuance the press was employed on job-work.
In 1854, Frank B. Strickland began the publication of The New Richmond Advertiser, an eight-page monthly, "Independent on all subjects, neutral in nothing." This paper being not well sustained its size was reduced, and in the following year was issued by Mr. Strickland as The Morning Welcome, but in one year its visits ceased to be welcomed at the houses of its old patrons, and it was among the relics of the past.
In 1856, Joseph Kerr & Co., booksellers, purchased the Welcome office, and, with Mr. Strickland as editor, issued the New Richmond Weekly Dispatch, a paper of respectable proportions and bearing a neat typographical appearance. It was independent in politics, and its printing-office was opposite White's wharf, in the third story of McMurchy's building. After some two years the Dispatch was discontinued, and for a number of years New Richmond was without its local paper.
In the fall of 1866, W. G. Barkley bought a job-press, which he set up in New Richmond and soon after began the publication of The New Richmond Telegraph. The paper started out with a subscription list of more than five hundred names, but was not a successful venture, and at the end of a year the enterprise was abandoned. Mr. Barkley was the grandson of William Barkley, who settled in Washington township in 1795. He was born in 1838, and had only a common-school education, but by diligent study was able to occupy positions wherever intelligence was required.
In 1868 the Browning Brothers, editors and publishers of the Clermont Courier, established a job-office at New Richmond, in charge of D. S. Croshaw, and issued The Advertiser, a four-page monthly for gratuitous circulation. The liberal patronage given this sheet induced Mr. Croshaw to begin the publication of
THE NEW RICHMOND INDEPENDENT,
a sprightly journal, which is continued to this day. The first issue appeared April 8, 1869, and after being successfully conducted for about five years by D. S. Croshaw, the Independent became the property of the present editor and proprietor, Winthrop Frazer, the son of the well-known Dr. Frazer, of Tate township. The paper is ably edited, making a specialty of local news, which is characterized for its freshness and correctness, and items pertaining to the townships along the Ohio River are faithfully noted. In this section of the county the Independent has a large and constantly increasing circulation. The paper is printed every Saturday, in a well-appointed office in McMurchy's Arcade Building, and presents a very attractive appearance. The office is supplied with a steam-power press for job-work, and is the only one in the county containing a full assortment of German type.
This was the name of a paper published at Bantam, in 1858, by Dr. John M. Kellum, as editor and publisher, and was conducted in the interest of the new project that year, which contemplated removing the county-seat from Batavia to Bantam, then alleged to be the grand geographical centre of Clermont. Dr. Kellum was a bright genius, - a poet of State celebrity, - whose contributions to the city and periodical press had given him much reputation in literary circles. A short time previous he had been the editor of the Clermont Courier, and his journalistic ability was unquestioned; but the Excelsior proved a failure, for lack of the necessary material support, and the seat of justice was allowed to remain undisturbed where it yet is, in the sequestered East Fork Valley, at Batavia.
In April, 1874, The Advance, a small but spicy independent paper, was started in Batavia, by Shepherd G. Norris as publisher and proprietor, and Daniel Hillin as editor. In April, 1875, its name was changed to The Patrons' Advance, and, greatly enlarged in size, it became the official organ of the "Patrons of Husbandry," otherwise generally known as "Grangers."
From 1873 to 1875 a very large number of granges were established in Clermont, and through the Patrons' Advance their proceedings found a public outlet, and it was a medium for the dissemination of the then current grange literature. The paper reported the lodge meetings, their doings, and the proceedings of the county grange, and devoted large space to agriculture, horticulture, and other subjects of general interest to grangers, and their principles, as inculcated in their rituals and constitutions of the thirty-odd subordinate granges of the county. In October, 1876, Mr. Norris sold the paper to James Robinson, the present owner and publisher, who in the summer of 1878 changed its name to The National Advance, and took in as editor N. B. Ross. The paper now became the official organ of the "National Greenback party," but continued to devote space and attention to the interests of the Patrons of Husbandry. In February, 1880, N. B. Ross retired from the paper, and on the eighteenth of that month Mr. Robinson, who now became the editor, as well as publisher, changed the name to its original title, - The Advance, - and as such it is yet ably conducted by him.
The Advance has taken a decided position on questions of reform and retrenchment, as affecting the interests of the county, and although the youngest newspaper in the county, it has carved out for itself an enviable place in the affections of many good citizens, who contribute to its pages or give it their patronage.
AUTHORS OF CLERMONT
Rev. Benjamin Franklin Morris, third son of Hon. Thomas Morris, United States senator of Ohio from 1833 to 1839, was a distinguished minister of the gospel of the New-School Presbyterian Church for over twenty-five years. He was born in Bethel, this county, and, after the election of President Lincoln and his inauguration, was appointed to an honorable and lucrative position in one of the departments at Washington. Eminent as a preacher and of fine literary tastes and capacities, he published and edited in 1856 the life of his honored father, Thomas Morris. This book is an elegant volume of four hundred and eight pages, printed by Moore, Wilstach, Keys & Overend, of Cincinnati, and was written with rare ability and singular good tact. It had an enormous sale, especially in Ohio, the scene for half a century of the labors of Senator Morris as a powerful advocate, honest legislator, and the incorruptible senator in Congress, and there the first on the floor of the American Senate to defy the arrogant slave dynasty. This life was a rich contribution to the historical literature of the State in its sketches of early pioneer scenes and legislative enactments and reminiscences, and was most favorably criticised by the press of the day. Published after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and during the exciting political campaign of 1856, it was also used in the canvass, and served to repel the haughty encroachments of the insolent slave oligarchy, then plotting for the direful rebellion that soon broke out in open revolt. This book established for its author, Rev. Benjamin F. Morris, a high niche in the grand literary temple of American fame, and conferred honor without stint upon the noble county that had given him birth and that had been the home of his illustrious father. This work, so dear to the lovers of liberty, was written in plain English idiom, but its every page teems with rare eloquence and periods classically rounded in its descriptions of its grand old hero's life and labors.
Near Bethel was born that most distinguished American divine, Prof. David Swing, D. D., and this bright ornament to modern literature and theology came of a family most early, honorably, and piously connected with Clermont's pioneer and subsequent history. Whether viewed as a professor in a theological institute or literary university, as a preacher in the pulpit or religious editor in the sanctum, as a public lecturer on the rostrum or author in his study, our country will be searched in vain to find a speaker more eloquent, a writer more finished or classical, or a teacher firmer and more steadfast in his devotion to truth as revealed to him in Nature and the Holy Writ. No man draws larger audiences before the literary, library, and mercantile associations than Prof. Swing, the idol of the literary men of the West, and the pride of his adopted city of Chicago. His voluminous contributions to the secular, literary, and religious press, periodicals and reviews, have made his name a house-word in our land, and given him an enviable reputation among the literati of the Old World. The published volumes of his great sermons have electrified the country, and while many may doubt his orthodoxy or disagree with his broad and liberal religious views, all admire his frankness and candor, and bow to his talents and genius, undeniably so great and majestic. His masterpiece of classical writing was his book of "Truths for To-Day," which put the cap-sheaf on his reputation as an author, and made him known wherever the English language is spoken.
Thomas Buchanan Read, the great poet and artist whose additions to American fame in poetry and art have given him a proud station in the galaxy of our Union's literary ornaments, was for years a resident of Clermont, on whose soil many of his happiest efforts were composed, and which have given him most illustrious renown.
Rev. Randolph Swing Foster, D. D., one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Clermont, at Williamsburgh, on Feb. 22, 1820. He was considered as rather a backward boy, and in his youth gave no manifestations of that wonderful power which characterizes him as an eloquent preacher or eminent author. He pursued his studies at Augusta College, Kentucky, and shortly after he was seventeen years of age entered the ministry. He was soon placed in important stations in the Ohio Conference. When in charge of Wesley Chapel, Cincinnati, he replied through the Western Christian Advocate to attacks made by the Rev. Dr. Rice, the distinguished divine of the Presbyterian Church, and his letters were published in book-form in 1849, with the title of "Objections to Calvinism." This book gave him a great name in the East, and the next year he was transferred to New York, and stationed in Mulberry Street Church, and while there he published a volume on "Christian Purity," which book added largely to the laurels before won by him in religious literature. In 1856 he was elected president of the Northwestern University, and after occupying that position for several years, returned to the pastorate, filling appointments in New York City and vicinity. In 1858 he was chosen as professor in the Drew Theological Seminary, and on the death of the lamented Rev. Dr. McClintock he succeeded to the presidency. He was a member of the General Conferences of 1864, 1868, and 1872. In 1868 he was selected with Bishop Ames to visit the Conferences of Ireland and England, and in 1872 he was elected one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Since his election, in addition to other work and various literary labors, he has visited the Conferences and missions in Europe, and also the missions in South America. His present residence is in Boston, where this great divine and gifted author ranks second to none in that most distinguished centre of culture on the continent. This son of Clermont sprang from a lineage - Foster-Swing - ever inclined to religious tendencies and scholastic teachings, but little did the good people of Williamsburgh think half a century ago that the little diffident boy of ten years old that lived in that vicinity, and who showed no signs of unusual mental powers, would in after-years astonish the land with his remarkable gifts as preacher, author, and bishop.
Charles Robb was one of the brightest minds ever born and reared in the county, and for many years the press of the country was enriched by his political contributions. His many and magnificent creations were never collected and published in book-form, but of his poems of rarest excellence we publish below one that cannot and will not die. It was written for the Ohio Valley Farmer.
THE MARCH OF MIND
We come, a race of noble blood,
Whose record dates beyond the flood,
And proudly tread the rich green sod--
Our titles sprung form nature's God.
We come, a band of noble lords,
With plowshares bright for gleaming swards,
With stately step and cheering words,
For thus alone come nature's lords.
Our court we hold 'neath the sylvan dome,
Where lovely Ceres makes her home, -
Where famine gaunt and sooty gnome,
Pale Want and Sorrow, never come.
Our march is onward o'er the land,
Like some enchanting signet wand!
Rich beauties spring on every hand, -
The world is growing, doubling grand.
The mighty ocean curbed and reined,
Gigantic rivers spanned and chained,
And harnessed down the lightning's power
To bear the tidings of the hour.
With "Progress" on our banner high,
Our watchword peals alongs the sky;
"Humanity" our battle cry,
Minds, peerless monarchs, never die!
And when we hold the plow no more,
Nor gather home the golden store,
In joy we'll tread the golden sand
On the goodly shores of the better land.
Rev. Stephen M. Merrill, D. D., one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born at Mount Pleasant, Jefferson Co., Ohio, Sept. 16, 1825. His parents subsequently removed to Clermont County, where he passed most of his young boyhood days, and later to Greenfield, Highland Co., where he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, Oct. 31, 1842. He was licensed to preach April 5, 1845, and admitted in 1846 into full connection with the Ohio Conference, and appointed to Monroe. To an elementary training he added, by careful study, a knowledge of a wide circuit of literature, and was honored with the degree of A. M. in 1864, from Indiana Asbury University. He was presiding elder on Marietta District when, in 1868, he was elected as a delegate to the General Conference. He took an active part in the debates of that body, and during the session was elected editor of The Western Christian Advocate. Having served four years in that office, he was in 1872 elected bishop. In the discharge of the duties of his office he has traveled extensively over the United States and has visited Mexico. He is the author of a work on "Christian Baptism," a book of standard authority in his church, and which gave him celebrity as a choice English writer. He formerly resided in St. Paul, Minn., but now at Chicago. His early residence in Clermont entitles him to a place in its history.
One of the sweetest of Clermont's female poets was Miss Mary E. Fee, born and reared in the county, and of a family well known in Southern Ohio. Her poems were contributed to the county press and to Cincinnati papers - Enquirer and Gazette - under the sobriquet of "Eulalie." In 1854 most of them were published in a volume of one hundred and ninety-four pages by Moore, Wilstach & Keys, of Cincinnati, under the title of "Buds, Blossoms, and Leaves." In the preface to the book she said: "In the long, still hours of solitude and loneliness my pen-taught lyre has breathed the strains I've gathered here. Hastily, and without arrangement, they were written, and thus are they bound together in this little volume; and like a tiny bark, freighted with human hopes and human fears, it is cast upon the uncertain tide of literature, to sink or swim, survive or perish, as friends do most applaud or critics most condemn." It swam and survived, and genius triumphed. Jan. 31, 1854, she was married to John Shannon, of New Richmond, and with her devoted husband sought a home in California, where, as "Eulalie," she lectured and recited her poems, drawing the largest and best-paying houses the Golden State ever accorded to any person. She did not live long to enjoy her brilliant triumphs, and after her lamented death her husband fell in a duel.
Among her choicest writings were the poems "Lines to Judge Burnett" (her early benefactor), "The Desert Burial," "The Gold Comet," "The Old Cedar-Tree," "The Bough that will not Bend must Breat," and "The Magyar Chief," a song expressly written for and sung at a grand concert given for the benefit of Kossuth at Cincinnati.
Of Abbie C. McKeever, the gifted young poetess of Williamsburgh, an extended sketch appears in the history of that township.
Another author born and reared in Clermont, in Monroe township, in the old "Franklin neighborhood," so prolific in giving birth to famous men and women, is Mrs. Dr. George Conner, of Cincinnati, formerly Miss Eliza Archard, and well-known "E.A." of the Cincinnati Commercial, on which paper for some ten years she has been one of its most sparkling writers, correspondents, and reporters. She married Dr. Conner, Jan. 1, 1869, and has since made Cincinnati her home and literature her profession. Born a genius, endowed with a fine classical education, of great native wit and force and strength of character, - seldom found in the supposed weaker sex, - her contributions to the editorial columns of the Commercial, and her rich, racy, and piquant letters from Washington to that great daily, have given to her only a celebrity her brilliancy and solidity as a writer justly demanded.
Milton Jamieson, now president of the Batavia First National Bank, was a second lieutenant in Company C of the 2d Regiment of Ohio Volunteers in the Mexican war, and after his return published a book entitled "Journal and Notes of a Campaign in Mexico," containing an account and full history of Company C, 2d Regiment Ohio Volunteers, with a cursory description of the country, climate, cities, waters, roads, and forts along the southern line of the American army in Mexico. It was printed in June, 1849, by the Ben Franklin Printing House of Cincinnati, and was an elegantly-written work of one hundred and five pages, and gives a better narrative of army life in the Mexican war, and of the internal affairs of that distracted country, than can be found in larger works of more imposing title. While Lieut. Jamieson in his most interesting history made no attempt at rhetorical display, or fine writing of classically-wrought periods, he gave a most concise and entertaining description of the formation of the company; its first going into camp at Cincinnati; its trip to New Orleans; the sailing over the Gulf to Vera Cruz, and the exciting and fatiguing march to Puebla. His book is particularly happy in its narrations of Mexican agricultural life and the indolent and shiftless character of its people, and his descriptions of the scenery and old church monasteries are graphic and beautiful. Brilliant delineations of the Catholic cathedrals and ancient pyramids, whose history has never been fathomed, add much to the reader, who gets interested as if personally inspecting these relics of dark ages. The movements of the armies; comparisons between the personnel of the American and Mexican; personal sketches of brave American officers and Ohio's grand part in that memorable campaign, all increase the interest of its reader as he peruses its choicely-written pages.
"BLOSS OF THE ENQUIRER."
George Manor Davis Bloss, born May 2, 1827, at Derby, Vt., was killed May 28, 1876, near his residence at Branch Hill, in this county, by being run over by the cars on the Little Miami Railroad, - a sad accident, that lost to the country the great editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and one of the ablest historical and political writers in America. Mr. Bloss came to Cincinnati about 1850, read law, and was admitted to the bar, but soon took a position on the Enquirer, on which great newspaper he remained a quarter of a century. In 1868 he wrote an elegant volume on "The Life of George H. Pendleton," and in 1873 published a splendid book of four hundred and sixty-eight pages, entitled "Historic and Literary Miscellany," comprising many of his grandest and most beautiful editorials, lectures, and writings on varied literary, political, historical, and religious subjects. It was printed by Robert Clarke & Co., of Cincinnati, and had a very large sale. Mr. Bloss, besides his magnificent editorial ability and literary culture, was distinguished by his peculiar chirography, much harder to decipher than Horace Greeley's, and only one compositor on the Enquirer force was able to read it, and he was kept for that sole purpose. Mr. Bloss was of a most lovable disposition, of warm impulses, and the best known and one of the ablest editors in the United States. He left a wife and several children, - the former a granddaughter of the noted Rev. Francis McCormick, a pioneer local Methodist preacher in Clermont from 1797 to 1810.
Several other of Cincinnati's pioneer newspaper men have originated from Clermont or made this county their home. To the latter class belongs Maj. A. J. Avey, of Fountain Farm, in Washington township. He is one of the oldest living reporters of the Commercial, and was with it when L. G. Curtiss was the editor. He belonged to the Fifteenth Regiment of Regulars in the Mexican war, and rendered conspicuous service in the late war for national supremacy. He has had a general connection with the press of the West as a correspondent, and at present writes for the United States Pension Record of Washington.
THE BACKWOODS POET
In another part of this book allusion is made to a miscellany which it was purposed to issue to contain the poetical effusions of the "Backwoodsman," who resided at various times at Bethel, Williamsburgh, and Georgetown, principally in the latter place. William Ormskirk Boulware was a rare, and at the same time singular genius. Without being thoroughly educated he possessed the elements of a common-school education, and was himself a pioneer teacher; yet he was richly endowed with a love for nature and its attendant elements, and was the author of several meritorious poems. Had he lived in a more cultured age and his talents been properly developed, he would have secured a place for himself among the bards of the West.
The verses which follow below were written by the "Backwoodsman" a short time after the incarceration of John Rowe* in the jail at Williamsburgh, for the murder of his own niece, Polly Maloney, after he had grossly outraged her person, and are, therefore, invested with local interest:
"On a calm night, when men to rest repair,
And owls and bats skim through the midnight air,
When wolves and panthers around the sheepfold come,
And droning beetles sing with drowsy hum,
"Of reading tired, I laid aside my book,
And straight my muse a rambling journey took;
It paid a visit to those drear and gloomy cells
Where keen despair and late repentance dwells.
"I saw where Rowe confined in irons lay,
To all the torments of his guilt a prey.
Like Cain, accursed for the blood he drew,
And all the horrors of that murderer knew.
"I saw sweet sleep refuse her friendly aid,
And peace of conscience from his bosom fled;
Tortured by guilt, alarmed by slavish fears,
His fancy aids him and he thinks he hears
"Polly Maloney, as to him she cried,
And all the groans she uttered when she died.
The bursting walls his fancy sees disclosed,
And to his view her bleeding corpse exposed.
"Lost were the smiles that once adorned her face,
And deathly symptoms brooded in their place;
An awful silence did the cell pervade,
And add new horrors to the gloomy shade.
"No chirping insect did the silence break,
While to his soul he heard the phantom speak,
With groans deep sounding from her tortured breast,
These words of terror she to him addresst:
" 'Wretches like thee no spark of pity know;
See my closed eyes; behold, my wounds still flow.
Thy murdering hand has stopped my vital breath;
Thy hand consigned me to the shades of death.
" 'With Tarquin's lust, with heart like Nero's hard,
Thou ravished that which duty bid thee guard;
To hid thy crime and to conceal thy guilt,
Hell pushed thee onward, and my blood thou spilt.
" 'Indian nor brute governed thy savage breast;
The devil alone thy cruel heart possessed.
From thee he banished every thought that's good,
And raised thy lust to quench it in my blood.
" 'No heart but melted my sad fate to hear;
No stranger's eye refused to drop a tear;
All human nature shuddered at the deed
Except thyself, who surely had most need.
" 'My blood for vengeance cries aloud to God,
Who bids eternal justice lift the rod.
Think not by fleeing to escape thy due,
Avenging justice shall thy steps pursue.
" 'Earth shall not cover, darkness shall not hide,
The blood with which thy guilty hands are dyed;
My injured ghost shall still be in thy sight,
And haunt thy slumbers in the shades of night.
" 'Friends thou hast none, acquaintances thou must shun,
Until on earth thy sinful race be run.
Haunted and hated, to new crimes you'll fly,
And doomed at last upon the gallows die,
" 'A poor, despised, unpitied wretch forlorn;
And men shall curse thee that are yet unborn.
May God Almighty help thee to repent,
For He alone can endless woe prevent.'
"These awful words now shook Rowe's trembling soul,
And a cold sweat in massy drops did roll.
He smote his breast and uttered many a groan;
But only grace can break a heart of stone."
The "Backwoodsman" wrote many fugitive pieces, some of them being of rare merit; and the one portraying the loss of Lydia Osborne was extremely pathetic. Some of the pioneers well recollect its being sung on certain occasions, so that all who heard it were affected to tears. He was the personal friend of Jesse R. Grant (himself a poetaster of more than common repute), and usually carried on his correspondence with him in rhymes.
THE POETICAL UNION OF CLERMONT AND BROWN
This was an association of poets, authors, and individuals of literary tastes, organized at Bethel, Feb. 4, 1859, and which held its meetings every three months at different points, - Georgetown, Chilo, Parker's Academy, and elsewhere. Its last president was Dr. Thomas W. Gordon, of Georgetown, and its secretary Charles Robb, of Monroe township. It ceased to exist after the death of J. Hunt, Jr., which occurred in January, 1860, and who was its brightest participant, and a poet whose brilliant effusions, published in the New York and Philadelphia periodicals, attracted most general attention and evoked for their brilliant author a marked literary celebrity in the Eastern States. At its meetings poems were read, lectures delivered on historical and literary topics, and general discussions had on various subjects relative to ancient and modern literature, and often spicy comparisons were made between the British classics and those of the Grecian and Roman period. The death of the genial Hunt and the war that soon ensued prevented the association from taking the rank its merits demanded.