EARLY in the summer of 1824 a stranger, unheralded and alone, made his
advent into the sparsely built up, yet ambitious little town of Warren
(composed as it then was only of log cabins and low frame buildings scattered
here and there), and announced to the somewhat astonished inhabitants that
he was a printer by occupation, and that it was his purpose to establish a newspaper
in their midst. His appearance was exceptional, to say the least, and,
since he attained fame, but not riches, as the first printer and publisher to locate
in the county, deserves a brief description. A native of the North of Ireland,
or in other words a Scotch-Irishman, and apparently about thirty years
of age, his erect, well-proportioned figure of more than medium size was
clad in a threadbare suit, of which a long swallow-tailed coat and home-made
pants (cut with an eye to keeping the bottoms out of the mud, unless the mud
were six inches in depth), were the most conspicuous garments. A heavy
growth of red, or carroty-colored, hair curled outward beneath the narrow
brim of a hat long worn, while upon his face deep, thickly-pitted marks of the
ravages of small-pox, and a profusion of freckles disputed for possession. Of
his eyes, so changable were their hue, none could determine their color, but all
were unanimous in the opinion that they ever had an appealing look, as if continually
asking for help. Need we add, his name was Richard Hill, a former resident of
Mercer county, Pa.
The nearest printing establishments were then at Franklin and Meadville,
and about the only newspapers in circulation here were the Venango Democrat,
issued at Franklin, and the Herald and Crawford Messenger, printed at
Meadville. Therefore, although to this time no one in Warren had hardly
thought of starting a newspaper, Hill's proposition was well received, and, after
a brief discussion of the project, his forbidding appearance was overlooked by
the desire of having a home printing-office put in operation as soon as possible.
The few business men of the place enlisted themselves in the enterprise and
succeeded in procuring some two hundred subscribers. Soon after, Hill
brought on his family, and a press (1.) which bore marks of antiquity, and moved
into the house built by Robert Arthur, then in an unfinished state. There he
went to work. His rickety press was made to keep its place so that he could
use it by spiking one end of a plank on each corner, and the other end to the
The first number of Hill's paper, the Conewango Emigrant, was dated July
24, 1824. In form and size it was a folio of twelve by eighteen inches. It was
Jacksonian in its political tendencies, but treated John Quincy Adams with
fairness. Among other things, the initial number contained an account of the
trial of Jacob Hook at the previous June term of the Warren County Court,
taken from the New York Censor. The paper on which it was printed was
made before the art of taking the color from blue rags was brought into use,
and consequently partook deeply of that color. Andrew W. Morrison was
announced as the editor, and the prospectus shown in soliciting subscriptions,
as well as the first address to the Emigrant's patrons, were from his pen.
As he (Morrison) was the one who advised Hill to locate in Warren, he
also deserves a passing notice. Morrison had been a sojourner in this country
of pine woods and buckwheat cakes some years previously, and taught a
district school at the "Dam," now Russellburg, as early as the winter of 1816-17.
He was a fellow countryman of Hill's, though in no other way at all similar.
He was then a young man of genteel appearance, pleasing in his manners,
and of winning address. At the close of his school he had an exhibition-
the first school exhibition in fact to take place in the county. There
being no large room at the " Dam," except Captain Slone's bar-room, this
then grand affair came off in an upper room of Daniel Jackson's tavern in the
town of Warren. Morrison taught a good school and conducted himself with
the strictest propriety while teaching. But after he had received pay for his
services as a teacher, he proceeded to Warren and indulged heavily in what
he probably had not been unused to before, strong drink. During this carousal
he was seen one day mounted on an Indian pony behind a young squaw
of the Seneca tribe, bare headed and in his shirt sleeves, riding back and forth
from Dunn's and Jackson's taverns, ordering whiskey to be brought out to
treat himself and the squaw each time that he stopped. After spending a
week or more in debauchery, his money became exhausted and he started
down the river. From that time no more was heard of Morrison at Warren
until his name appeared upon Hill's prospectus as the proposed editor of the
It seems that during the years intervening from 1817, he had read law in
Mercer county, been admitted to the bar, and married a wife. It was now his
purpose to come here with Hill, edit the Emigrant and practice law. He was
admitted to practice in the courts of Warren county September 2, 1824, which
indicates about the time of his arrival, for it is remembered that he did not
come until after Hill had been here for several weeks. Prudently, as it would
seem, he left his wife in Mercer county. As a law practitioner, however, he
met with but little success. Thereupon, for old acquaintance sake, Lansing
Wetmore, esq., the prothonotary, who had met him years before while he was
teaching at the " Dam," gave him employment in his office. But it was all to
no purpose, for though Morrison wrote fluently a beautiful hand, the fell destroyer
— intemperance — had done its work; he could not resist the temptation
of drinking. Hence, after a stay of only a few months he again disappeared,
and was never more seen in Warren.
After Morrison's departure Hill applied to A, B, and C, for assistance in
the editorial department. Although a pretty good type-setter, and showing
some taste in his selections from books and exchanges, he could scarcely write
a sentence grammatically, or one that would convey a distinct idea of what he
wished to explain or illustrate. He worked on in dirt and poverty nearly two
years, finally changing the name of his paper to that of the Warren Courier.
It was of no use, however, for matters were drawing to a crisis. Of a jealous
disposition, he would without any just cause turn against and abuse his best
friends. He would publish any thing for money, and for a very small sum too.
No matter how scurrillous, if a communication was accompanied with a dollar,
or the promise of it, it would appear in his columns. Among other articles of
this character was one in the form of an advertisement, signed by " Naper
Tandy." Naper said that he had commenced the business of tanning in Sugar
Grove township, about two miles north of John I. Willson's tavern (which would
be about a mile north of the State line), where he was ready to tan all kinds of
hides on the shortest notice — especially carroty-colored hides from Hibernia's
Isle. He directed Hill to insert three times and send his bill. This, with like
abusive notices, together with his own editorial work, when he could get no
one else to write, brought his paper into contempt and ridicule. As a result
it ceased to exist; died of starvation in fact in less than two years from the
date of its establishment. Hill then returned to Mercer county, taking his
venerable press (which may have been historic, the veritable Franklin
instrument of torture) and other material along.
Foreseeing the inevitable fate of the Emigrant, and deeming it important
for the character and welfare of the county that a reputable newspaper should
be published in it, Archibald Tanner and Lansing Wetmore purchased a new
press and other requisite material, engaged Morgan Bates to attend to the
mechanical part of the work, and about the time Hill's paper ceased to exist, the
Warren Gazette made its appearance. The first number of the Gazette published
by Morgan Bates, for Tanner & Wetmore, proprietors, was dated February
18, 1826. It continued under their control about three years — the last
number being issued March 4, 1829 — the day that Andrew Jackson took his
seat as president of the United States. Thomas Clemons, who was the publisher
at this time, thus quaintly announced the event: "This day John Q.
Adams and I are both tipped overboard — ' How we apples swim.' "
Bates had removed to Jamestown, N. Y., in the spring of 1828, where he
published the Chautauqua Republican, which was established to promote the
election of Jackson, and had a large circulation in Warren county. The Gazette
supported Adams, and Mr. Clemons, who had been an assistant in the
office under Bates, continued its publication after the departure of the latter,
until it passed out of the hands of Tanner & Wetmore. We will here explain,
also, that the junior member of the firm (Wetmore) officiated as editor-in-chief
during the three years of their proprietorship.
Bates was a genial, good-hearted fellow, always ready for a frolic, generous
to a fault, and impulsive. Money never burdened his pockets a great while at
a time. Lacking discretion, however, he would say and do things which frequently
brought him into trouble. As the editor, and ostensible proprietor of a then
large newspaper (the Chautauqua Republican), he seemed to feel the
importance of his new position, and to look back on his situation in the Gazette
office with disdain. In a political way he commenced upon the Gazette people,
through his paper, in manner and language which was considered indecorous,
and was told so. This brought forth from him a prompt and rather insolent
reply. Thus began a war of words (common among editors during those
days, however,) which was continued for many weeks, when such epithets as
scoundrel, liar, knave, etc., were pretty freely indulged in. The last article in
the Gazette was answered by the service of a writ for slander. The suit was
continued from term to term until after the election, when it was withdrawn
by Bates at his own costs. He also embraced the opportunity at that time, or
soon afterward, of resuming friendly relations with his old friends of the Gazette.
After leaving Jamestown he experienced a variety of fortunes, some
prosperous and some adverse. In 1835 he was foreman in the office of the
New Yorker, the first paper published by Horace Greeley. He afterwards
published the Detroit Advertiser, in company with that prince of early editors,
Dawson, of the Rochester Democrat. They published the Advertiser during
the time the Whigs were in power, and did the printing for the State. He visited
Warren at about that time and displayed a large amount of Michigan
State scrip, which he had received in pay for State printing. He was afterwards
a commission merchant in Detroit. The last heard of him he was on his way to
California by way of Cape Horn.
In March, 1829, the Gazette establishment was transferred to the proprietorship
of Parker C. and Samuel A. Purviance. The former was a printer, the
latter a lawyer. They published it about a year together, when Samuel A.
withdrew. It was continued by Parker C. for some months after, when, like
its predecessor, it suspended for want of support. Both Parker C. and Samuel
A. Purviance were men of talent, particularly the latter, and the paper while
under their management was conducted with signal ability. Both returned to
Butler county, where Samuel attained a high standing at the bar. The course
they pursued in politics, for they were zealous, untiring Whig partisans, caused
the Democratic party to start a paper of their own.
Accordingly, in November, 1829, the first number of the Voice of the People
was issued by Thomas Clemons and William A. Olney. It continued under
their control about two years, when Clemons withdrew. Thereafter Olney
kept up its publication until his death, which occurred in October, 1835. After
Olney's demise Charles B. Cotter assumed control, but he proved to be
rather a weak brother of the "art preservative," and after a few more weeks
or months of tribulation its voice was hushed forever.
About 1830 J. B. Hyde, jr., began the publication of a paper termed The
Union. It advocated the cause of anti-Masonry. Mr. Hyde was a youngman
of fair talents, quiet and retiring in his manners, and honorable in his dealings.
He published the paper about two years, when he died, a victim to close
confinement and intense application to business.
The first number of the Warren Bulletin, the successor of the Voice of the People
as a Democratic organ, was issued May 11, 1836, by Norris W. Goodrich.
It was moderately Democratic — usually candid and respectful in its treatment
of political opponents. It was continued about three years, when Goodrich,
having concluded to apply himself to the practice of law, ceased his labors
as a newspaper man and retired. He was admitted to the bar in 1840, and
subsequently became a well-known attorney in McKean county. Goodrich's
paper was immediately succeeded, from the same office, by the Democratic
Advocate, edited by a certain Quincy Adams Johnson, a pretentious fellow
who brought good certificates but poor qualifications. He continued the paper
about eight months, grossly imposed on his party friends, got badly in
debt, and finally left both paper and debts to take care of themselves. The
Advocate was continued during the exciting campaign of 1840 by Mr. J. B.
Wilson, of Cincinnati, procured for that purpose, who left soon after the
presidential election. Thomas Clemons, who always stood in readiness to lend
a helping hand in case of a Democratic emergency, then took charge of it as
editor, and continued its publication until some time in 1842, when he transferred
his interests to S. J. Goodrich and T. T. Wilson. In the spring of 1843
Wilson withdrew and left Goodrich sole proprietor. He continued its publication
about a year and then sold half his interest to J. Y. James, and the Advocate
was continued in charge of James & Goodrich a few months, when the
latter transferred the balance of his interest to J. D. James. Under the pilotage
of J. Y. and J. D. James, the Democratic Advocate was continued during
the years 1845-46 and until March of 1847, when it ran aground, and the office
and material passed again into the hands of S. J. Goodrich. He changed
its name to the Warren Standard, which commenced in May, 1847, and was
continued until March 6, 1849, when the office and all materials were burned
in the conflagration which destroyed the old "Exchange Row." Books and
everything were lost, and no insurance.
Goodrich, however, immediately rallied, purchased new material, took into
partnership again T. T. Wilson, and on the first day of May, 1849, was issued
the first number of the Warren Ledger. They conducted it together about
two years, when Goodrich withdrew (he having received an appointment
as collector of tolls on the Pennsylvania Canal, at Harrisburg), and it fell into
the hands of Wilson alone. At the close of the fifth volume Wilson commended
his two or three hundred paying subscribers, but complained bitterly
of the four hundred who had failed to pay, many of them for the whole five
years, during which the paper had never missed a week nor published a half
sheet. On the 14th of March, 1854, S. J. Goodrich announced his return here;
and from April 1 to August 8, of that year, the Ledger was carried on by
Goodrich & Wilson, when the latter sold his interest to A. W. Stevens. It
was then published by Goodrich & Stevens until February 13, 1855, when
Goodrich sold his interest to Thomas Clemons, from which time it was
conducted by Clemons & Stevens until March 11, 1856, when Stevens sold out
to John Daily. Clemons & Daily commenced April 1, 1856, and continued
together one year, when they transferred their interests to, or for the use of,
D. W. C. James. Mr. James officiated as its editor and publisher from the spring
of 1857 to November 30, 1860, when it passed into the hands of W. J. Clemons,
who managed it alone until May 29, 1861, when Charles Dinsmoor became
its associate editor. They carried it on until April 22, 1863, when Dinsmoor
retired, and W. J. Clemons again conducted it alone until November 23,1863,
when he sold out to B. F. Morris, who, for more than twenty-two years,
with the exception of a few months, was its sole responsible editor and publisher.
On the 9th of November, 1871, J. Hamilton King, jr., purchased an interest in
the paper and appeared as joint publisher until the time of his death, September
20, 1875, when his interest fell back into the hands of Mr. Morris. On the 5th of
February, 1886, the Ledger was purchased by D. D. and F. E. Reed, who, to
the present writing, have retained Mr. Morris as editor. During all the changes
here noted the paper never suspended and never missed but very few regular
From 1831, the year the Gazette ceased to exist, until 1838 no Whig paper
was published in the county. In August of that year, however, a Whig organ,
entitled the People's Monitor, made its appearance under the management of
M. Millington. He remained about eight months, but the income of the paper
not being sufficient to maintain his extravagant ideas of dress and habits, he
returned to Harrisburg, the victim, it is to be presumed, of disappointed hopes.
The office and material then passed into the hands of Peleg S. Cole, who soon
after took into partnership a young man named Woodward. The firm of Cole
& Woodward continued about three years, when the latter retired and J. W.
Weaver took his place, holding it, however, but a short period of time, when
he withdrew, leaving Mr. Cole to continue alone until the Monitor ceased to
be a mentor for the people, for want of support. This event happened during
the year 1845.
There was then an interval during which no Whig paper was published
until July 25, 1848, when the first number of the Allegheny Mail appeared.
This paper was established by the efforts of a few leading Whigs, and was
continued under the management of J. Warren Fletcher, its first editor,
publisher, and proprietor, until March 7, 1849, when E. Cowan, a young man
who had been connected with the office from the beginning, became its owner
by purchase. On the 20th of November of the same year the name was
changed to the Warren Mail, a title it has ever since retained. About July
21, 1852, Mr. Cowan took Lucius Rogers into partnership, and together they
continued its publication until September 22, 1853, when Mr. Cowan dissolved
his connection with the Mail, temporarily, as it will appear, and was superseded
by L. Rogers and O. C. Bates. Mr. Cowan sought a larger field for his abilities
as a journalist at Buffalo and Erie, but, it seems, found the fields somewhat
barren. Meanwhile the Mail was managed by Rogers & Bates until
June 29, 1854, when Mr. Cowan suddenly appeared again as co-editor with
Rogers, and Mr. Bates as suddenly disappeared, without any explanation.
The paper was then carried on by Cowan & Rogers until the 19th of August,
1854, when Mr. Rogers retired. Thereafter Mr. Cowan paddled his own
canoe alone until June I, 1874, when his son Willis became associated with
him in the publication of the Mail, a business as well as a family relationship
which still continues unbroken. The Warren Mail now enjoys the distinction
of being the senior newspaper of the county, and has been known as an
unswerving exponent of Republican principles since the formation of that party.
The Youngsville Express was established by John W. Mason June 30, 1849.
Nuetral in politics, its publication was continued until November, 1853, when
it retired from view.
In Tidioute, after the oil developments had made it pretentious, a number
of newspapers, both dailies and weeklies, sprang into existence. The Tidioute
Journal, Commercial, and Chronicle all had their birth and demise, and have
now been succeeded by the Weekly News, published by Charles E. White,
which seems to be established on a permanent basis.
The Warren Mirror was established as a Sunday paper October 1, 1882,
by Walker Bros. It started as a folio, four colmns [sic] to a page, of 9 by 14
inches in size; was enlarged to a quarto November 12, 1882. On the 16th
of October, 1883, it passed into the hands of E. Walker, the present publisher
and proprietor. May 11, 1884, it was enlarged to five columns to a page, size
of page, 11 1/4 by 17 3/4 inches. A Saturday edition was first issued July 12,
1884, of the same size as the Sunday issue. Another enlargement to six columns
to a page, and columns increased to 19 3/4 inches in length, took place
February 14, 1885. The Daily Mirror, a folio, with pages the same size as
the Saturday and Sunday editions, was first issued March 24, 1886.
The Clarendon Record was started in the spring of 1882, about the time
the Cherry Grove oil field was opened. The first four numbers were published
by Dr. D. P. Robbins, and printed at the Times office, Union City, Pa.
Northrop & Thomas then purchased the business and moved their material to
Clarendon from Bordell and Duke Centre. About three weeks afterward
D. D. Reed purchased a half interest, and the paper was conducted by Northrop
& Reed about one year. Mr. Reed then became connected with the Warren
Sunday Mirror, and C. G. Thomas assumed the proprietorship of the Record.
In the fall of 1884 the office was purchased by B. F. Morris, of the Warren
Ledger, and for a period of about one year it was leased to Sanborn & Knight,
who changed the name to the Clarendon Herald. In the fall of 1885 the
entire outfit was moved to Warren and combined with the Ledger office. The
paper was then reduced in size, and was sold, with the Ledger, to the Reed
The Evening Paragraph was founded at Warren, September 22, 1884, by
E. L. Hempstead, F. W. Truesdell, and J. H. Kelly. On September 3, 1885,
the Weekly Paragraph made its appearance. On the 28th of October following
Messrs. Hempstead and Truesdell retired, when J. H. Kelley and T. F.
Tuohy became the publishers and proprietors, and still continue as such.
The Sugar Grove News was established at Sugar Grove in December,
1884, by J. Warren Fletcher, a veteran journalist, the first editor and publisher
of the Allegheny Mail, and appears to have gained a good foothold.
A copy of The Bear Lake Record, the latest Warren county claimant for
journalistic favors, lies before us. It is No. 7 of vol. I, and dated December 16,
1886, which indicates, barring mishaps, that the first number was issued
November 4, 1886, by J. H. and Frank Gardner, its publishers and proprietors.
Of the early newspapers published in Warren nearly all were printed on
what was known as the Ramage (2.) press. As a general thing, also, the early
printing establishments, having originally been purchased by the leading men
of either political party, and the use of them given to those who would publish
a paper, but very little money, and few promises to pay, were passed from the
ostensible buyer to the seller. Even then the publishers had a hard time of it
until, say thirty years ago. Nevertheless, that the papers herein enumerated
have been largely instrumental in promoting the growth, prosperity, intelligence,
and respectability of town and country, must be obvious to all; and,
with one or two exceptions, their editors and publishers, those who have toiled
and struggled and spent their time and substance in maintaining them, deserve
to be held in grateful remembrance.
(1.) It is stated in a volume published many years ago, entitled the " History of Pennsylvania," that
the press used by Parker C. Purviance, who published
the Warren Gazette in 1830, was
which was used by Dr. Ben. Franklin,
and on which the Continental money was struck.
This is a
mistake. The Purviance press was purchased by Archibald Tanner and Lansing Wetmore when nearly
new. If the old Franklin press was ever brought into
use within the limits of Warren county it was
the one utilized by Hill.
(2.) Adam Ramage, the inventor of the Ramage press, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He came
to America in 1794, and soon after located in Philadelphia. He died in 1850.