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NEW YORK STATE NEWSPAPERS AND ITS EDITORS
General Historical Information Prior to 1927
NEW YORK STATE
The first newspaper to be published in Albany was the "Gazette", a
name much used for the first half century of newspaper history. James
Robertson printed the first copy in November, 1771; the last within a year.
At this time Albany was the second city in the State to have a regular
newspaper. The mortality of the early papers was very great. Jesse Buel came
to Albany and started the "Argus" in 1813. Judge Buel (he was appointed
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Ulster County in 1808) sold the
"Argus" after editing it for seven years. Judge Moses I. Cantine and I.Q.
Leake purchased the plant; the next year the "Argus" was made the State
paper and it was off on its career as a party organ, one of the most
powerful of that period. Edwin Croswell succeeded Judge Cantine as editor
and one of the proprietors of the "Argus" in 1823 under the urging of such
men as Martin Van Buren, Benjamin F. Butler, and Judge Duer, then leaders of
the Democratic party in the State.
A combination of the "Daily Press" of 1870 and the "Knickerbocker"
of 1843, made in 1877, is the morning paper of the city and county. It has a
circulation of 36,000 and is edited by Lynn J. Arnold, Jr.
Anti-Mason agitation seized hold on the State even to the extent
of becoming the basis of a political party. It was as an anti-Mason organ
that the "Evening Journal" of Albany was started in 1830 with Thurlow Weed
as its editor. It soon became a Whig organ, and as that party passed into
history, supported the Republican organization. Thurlow Weed made of the
"Albany Evening Journal," second only to the "New York Tribune," the leading
party journal in the State. Few editors in America possess more of party
tact than Weed.
* * * * * * * *
The "Albany Evening News," started by Knickerbocker Press
interests, later acquired the "Journal" and in a way is through it a direct
descendant of the famous "Evening Journal" of Weed. It is published by the
"Knickerbocker Press," and is under the same editorship. It competes for the
primacy of the evening journals with the "Times-Union," edited by Dan
Carroll. Each has a circulation in excess of 40,000. The "Times-Union" is a
combination of the "Albany Morning Times," founded in 1856, and the "Evening
Union," established in 1882. The two papers were purchased by J.H. Farrell
in 1891 and consolidated under the present title. One of the most notable of
the "Times-Union's" owners was Martin H. Glynn, former Governor of the
commonwealth, who retained his direction of the "Journal" until its sale in
recent years to Hearst interests.
Buffalo, the early metropolis of the western part of the State,
and also one of the first in the section to have a newspaper. In 1811, the
Salisbury brothers, Smith H. and Hezekiah, founded the "Gazette" and on
October 6 issued the first number. This was the only newspaper in Western
New York with the exception of one established in Batavia in 1807. One can
but admire the courage of the Salisburys in starting such an enterprise at
this time, for war was in the air and Buffalo was in the danger zone. The
village was burned in 1813, but the owners of the "Gazette" had been wise
and removed their plant to Harris Hill. The "Gazette" is credited with
bringing about the change in the name of the village from Buffaloe to
Buffalo; brought the first printing presses to this part of the State, later
introducing the first power press used in the town. An almost complete file
of the "Gazette" is preserved in the Buffalo Public Library. It was the
progenitor of the "Courier-Express".
COURIER - EXPRESS
After many changes in name and ownership it emerged as the
"courier" in 1846, and during Civil War times published weekly, evening and
morning editions. In 1897 the paper was sold to William James Conners who
consolidated it with the "Record" as the "Courier-Record." Two years prior
to this, Mr. Conners had purchased the "Buffalo Inquirer" of which Leslie
Thom was editor, and made Samuel G. Blythe, the well-known special writer,
editor-in-chief. The "Inquirer" was issued as a one-cent morning paper, the
only one in the city. The name was changed to the "Record" in 1897, and
later in the year combined with the "Courier," as has been mentioned; the
"Record" part of the title being dropped the next year. The "Express"
originated in 1845 and had a reasonably happy career for the half century it
existed as a separate journal. It was absorbed by the "Courier" in 1905, and
under the present combination title has been issued as the Conners
publication to the present time.
The "Courier-Express" whose ancestry has been traced, has the
largest circulation of any State paper outside of New York City. The figures
for 1927 are given as 118,000 for the daily edition, and for the Sunday
circulation as 154,000. It is edited by W. J. Conners, Jr., son of the
With a present circulation of well over 100,000, is owned and
edited by the man who founded it in September, 1879, Norman E. Mack. Norman
Mack was born in West Williams, Ontario, Canada. While still but a lad he
started the "Detroit Saturday Advertiser," selling it a year later and
removing to Buffalo. He founded the "Jamestown Gazette" in 1878 and
conducted it for two years before selling. Meanwhile he had established the
"Buffalo Sunday Times," issued a daily morning edition in 1883, but changed
to an afternoon paper in 1887. Norman Mack has been conspicuous in the
Democratic political field of both State and Nation since he founded the
"Times," and has been the State Chairman of that party for nearly a quarter
of a century. His ability as an editor and financier has placed his paper
among the foremost in New York State.
The third principal daily of Buffalo is the "News," the most
widely circulated evening paper of the city. It was established in 1873 by
Edward H. Butler, father of the present editor, E.H. Butler, who succeeded
him in 1914. The older man learned the printing trade before he had reached
his majority and served as city editor of the "Daily Times" of Scranton,
Pennsylvania. He came to Buffalo just before setting up the "News," with
which he was so successful. There had been several failures in the attempts
to give the city a Sunday paper, and it was as the "Sunday Morning Times"
that Mr. Butler made his start. Within three years it had a circulation
exceeding that of all other Buffalo issues. Encouraged by this success, in
1880, he tried the experiment of publishing a penny daily under the title
"Evening News" and it is in the evening field that the "News" now holds the
lead. The "News" in the days when newspapers guided politics instead of
reported them, was a most influential Republican sheet, and was instrumental
in bringing about the election of many a candidate for high office. It may
be said of the publications of Buffalo as a whole that they have been of a
distinctively high grade, and wielded a commanding influence in the affairs
of Western and Central New York.
Everard Peck, a native of Connecticut, established the "Rochester
Telegraph" in 1818, evidently with large ideas of news, since he chose for
its title a word long afterward given to the Morse invention. This weekly is
worthy of note if only for the fact that Thurlow Weed was closely identified
with it when serving his apprenticeship and later. Thurlow Weed came to
Rochester in 1822 with a family on his youthful hands seeking work of any
kind. He found it running the press of the "Telegraph. His ability soon led
him into the editorial department, the control of which he assumed in 1824,
a year before he purchased the plant. He issued the paper as a semi-weekly
until he sold out to go to the " Evening Journal" in 1827. During the most
of its half century it was the principal news sheet of the town and city,
and for a great part of that time the leading Democratic journal.
DEMOCRAT-CHRONICLE & HERALD
The daily with the largest present circulation (81,000) is named
the "Democrat Chronicle & Herald." The Democrat-Chronicle" was the
hyphenated title given to the two papers bearing those names when they were
combined in 1870. The "Democrat" was an outgrowth of an anti-Masonic sheet
of 1828, and as the "Monroe Democrat" gave its support to William H. Seward
in 1838, and to William Henry Harrison in his campaign for the presidency
two years later. The "Chronicle" owed its start to one of the factional
quarrels which so often rent the politics of that day, and was intended to
be a rival of the Democrat. The enterprise, although well edited by Peck,
Collins, and Henry Daniels, all of whom won names for themselves as
journalists in after years, failed to be profitable and was absorbed by its
opponent. The third member of the present triumvirate "The Herald," started
with the backing of a corporation and entered the field in 1879 to give the
city a better, it was hoped, daily and Sunday newspaper. It soon neglected
the political bias of its first years, and when absorbed by the
"Democrat-Chronicle" had attained a wide circulation, especially in the
county, for the people were beginning to tire of party organs. The present
combination of all three of these journals of ancient birth and influential
existence is the most read newspaper of this section of New York. It is a
news purveyor before all else, and retains the literary tone that has
characterized many of its predecessors. Fred S. Todd was the general manager
traces its origin to the "Appeal,", a five column, four page paper
of 1877. It was issued as a mouthpiece of the striking printers of that day,
and half of its space was used in the statement of their grievances. It sold
for a penny, took hold on the popular fancy and was promptly taken over by
Louis A. Esson and published as the "Times," later as the "Evening Times."
Holding somewhat to its original character, it became recognized as the
advocate of the rights of the people. Much of this flavor is still retained
by the present "Times-Union," edited by Frank Gannet.
JOURNAL & POST-EXPRESS
When William Randolph Hearst desired a journal in Rochester he
found tvery sober and solid "Post-Express" ready to enter his fold. This
paper dated from 1859, and was christened under the name "Times" but soon
changed to the mentioned title. It went through many hands before becoming
established as a favorite of those liking their news served to them in
ornamented dishes. The "Post-Express" also specialized on local antiquarian
information; its back numbers have a decided value to the historically
Augustine Dauby seems to have been the pioneer in the newspaper
field, starting a "Gazette" in 1816 which he soon sold and which came to an
early end in 1827.
On April 2, 1823, the first newspaper made its appearance, known
the "Onondaga Gazette". Under various names it managed to survive until it
came into the hands of Lewis H. Redfield, who made a real and lasting news
sheet of it. Preceding this publication, Evander Morse, in 1816, started
another "Onondaga Gazette" with the poet-author William Ray as editor. The
name was shortly changed to the "Journal" by which title it was bought by
Vivius Smith, consolidated with other papers and issued in 1829 as the
"Standard" of Syracuse.
The "Standard" now crowding the century mark, and really dating
from 1816, in combination with the "Post" which was born of a political
faction fight of 1894, now form the "Post-Standard" of today. So many
journals have been absorbed by these two papers in their combined history of
140 years only an accountant could total them. The marriage of the present
pair took place in 1898.
The "Journal-American" is even more a combination of youth and
maturity. The "Journal" was a direct descendant of the "Gazette" of 1823,
and suffered all the vicissitudes that afflicted the newspapers during the
period preceding the Civil War. It survived fire and disaster, changing
politics and money panics. In 1844 it issued the first daily paper which
endured. For sixty-five years there was a weekly, semi-weekly or tri-weekly
"Journal"; for an even longer time it was a party organ. In 1906 it became
an independent in politics; and also a penny paper, then becoming the style
in the United States. It published the first directory of Syracuse in 1851.
In 1924 it was purchased by William Randolph Hearst, and with American added
to it, is now the most widely circulated of the city's newspapers.
The "Herald" was the pet child of a poverty-stricken graduate from
the editorial force of the "Journal," Arthur Jenkins, and began life in a
shop rented with borrowed money. The first "Herald" came out on January 15,
1877, and for several years the next issue was often in doubt. It not only
lived but eventually was setting a pace hard for others to keep. It
introduced many of the innovations in newspaperdom as they were developed in
larger centers. Jenkins saw the advantages to be gained from the printing of
syndicate articles; he published the first "comic strips" in Syracuse; the
rotogravure supplement was another of his introductions. Arthur Jenkins died
in 1903, being succeeded by his daughter, Mary E., who has since managed the
"Herald" with much inherited ability. For thirty years, Dr. John B. Howe has
been the editorial writers of the State.
It circulated in 1927 a daily average of 38,000. The "Observer
Dispatch" traces its lineage to a paper of the first name issued for the
first time in 1817 by Elisaph Dorchester, a much quoted and influential
Utica puts forth the claim to having had the first newspaper in
the State west of Albany, the "Whitestown Gazette" of July 11, 1793.
Of the olden days has come down to the present and retains the
original title. It is edited by Dudley T. Hill and had a circulation in 1927
Edited by Robert Bowman and published by Addison B. Parker,
circulates 17,000 copies.
One of the Frank E. Gannet group, had 25,000.
* * * * *
This completes the transcribing of all information pertaining to New York
Newspapers and its Editors prior to 1927.
Source: History of New York State 1523-1927
Publisher: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.-New York, Chicago.
Copyright: 1927 Volume I and V
Researched, Prepared and Transcribed
by Miriam Medina
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