Jefferson County New York Newspapers

Jefferson County New York libraries, organizations, and societies have placed a considerable number of historical newspaper titles online. This set of Newspapers can be searched and we provide a link below along with each specific title available. Remember, that a search alone in online records like these is not considered a “thorough” search, as they rely on OCR capability and rarely have been edited by a human eye. Expect errors, so if you have an approximate date and cannot find the information, then check the corresponding issues of the local newspaper.

The American Eagle was begun at Watertown, by Henry Coffeen (Abram Taylor, printer), about 1809; Republican in politics, as the name then signified; but an acrostic, that was published inadvertently, brought ridicule upon the name, and it was soon changed. It was purchased in January, 1812, by Jairus Rich; its name was changed to the American Advocate, and by him it was issued several years.

In 1817, Seth A. and Dorephus Abbey, owners of a job office in Albany, concluded to start a paper somewhere west. D. Abbey and John H. Lord, Jr., a journeyman in the office, accordingly removed to Watertown. The press of Mr. Rich, being at the time of their arrival under a Sheriff’s levy, was bought, and soon after the Jefferson and Lewis Gazette appeared, in the spring of 1817. It was of the royal size (20 by 26 inches). Republican in politics, according to the light then had, and issued at two dollars per annum, until April, 1811), when it was stopped. Seth A. Abbey then commenced the Independent Republican, which was issued weekly until February, 1825, when the house and office of the publisher were burned. It was, however, revived in May, 1828, as the Independent Republican and Anti-Masonic Recorder, of five columns, two dollars per annum, and continued till 1830. 1)We are under obligations to Mr. Lebarge, Jr., J. B. Prind those in charge of the institution for the above items.

The Daily Despatch and Weekly Re-Union

These are the only Democratic papers in Jefferson County. They are published by the Watertown Printing Company, Charles J. Hynes, manager, George Moss, editor.

The Re-Union is one of the oldest papers in the State, having been established as the Watertown Freeman, on Jan. 29, 1824, by Mr. Perley Keyes, the then leader of the Democracy in the county. The Freeman was a folio, five columns, the sheet 20 by 24 inches; little more than half its present size. Its price then was §2.50 per annum, “delivered by carrier.” “Dr. Hough, in his history of Jefferson County, thus refers to the Freeman:

“A. J. Smith was afterwards editor, and during the campaign of 1832 it supported Jackson. Early in October, 1833, the name was changed to the Democratic Standard. It continued to be published by Smith until July 29, 1835, when it was united with the Watertown Eagle, and became the Eagle and Standard, edited by Alvin Hunt and Asahel L. Smith.” The Eagle was founded by J. Calhoun, September 11, 1832, and was a folio, weekly, six columns to the page, at $2.50 per annum, delivered to village subscribers, and Democratic in politics. On the 25th March, 1833, Alvin Hunt became associate editor, and in August following purchased the interest of Calhoun, and continued the publication until the consolidation with the Standard above mentioned. “In October, 1836, Mr. Smith withdrew from the Eagle and Standard, and on the 30th of November, 1837, the name was changed to the Jeffersonian, under which name, or that of the Watertown Jeffersonian, it has continued without change of politics until the present time.” (1854).

On the 15th of December, 1851, Mr. Hunt became associated with John W. Tamblin (now deceased); March 15, 1853, Mr. J. C. Hatch took the place of the latter, and in September Tamblin succeeded Hatch. In 1854, the paper was published by Hunt and Tamblin, at $1.50 per annum. The Daily Jeffersonian was begun at this office May 10, 1851, and continued two and a half years. There was also published at this office, by Mr. Hunt, during the campaign of 1840, a small sheet at 25 cents, edited by a committee of young men, and devoted to the support of the Democratic party. It was called the Aurora. On the 29th of August, 1846, the Democratic Union was founded, and in the April following it was owned by Stephen 3Iaitin and Lysander H. Brown. In September Martin was succeeded by John A. Haddock, and June 29, 1848, Mr. Brown retired from the editorial charge, which had been continuous from the commencement of the Union. Mr. Haddock continued the publication until November 19, 1851, when he sold his interest in the paper to Mr. Brown, who was again its editor (and publisher) until the latter part of 1854, when Mr. Haddock again became the proprietor for a short time, and was succeeded by Mr. Elam Comstock, who united it to the Jeffersonian, calling the combined papers the Jefferson Union. Messrs. Tamblin and Chamberlain were the next proprietors, and in December, 1856, E. J. Clark and Royal Chamberlain bought out Mr. Tamblin, Chamberlain retiring also at the end of three years. The paper remained under Mr. Clark’s management until 1st January, 1865. In that year the paper passed through several changes, and was purchased by Mr. A. H. Hall, who changed the name to the Watertown Re-Union. Mr. Hall conducted the paper until September 12, 1870, when he sold it to George Moss and Walter A. Boon. These two gentlemen, on June 24, 1872, started the Daily-Journal Despatch, and continued its publication, and that of the Re-Union, until March 31, 1874, when their interest was purchased by W. C. Haven & Co., George Moss continuing as editor. In July, 1876, Mr. Charles J. Hynes purchased the entire establishment, and in August following disposed of it to a stock company, which now publishes the daily and weekly, with Mr. Hynes as manager and Sly Moss as editor.

The office is located on Arcade street, in a fine brick block (three stories and basement), and is abundantly supplied with all the necessary machinery, steam engine, presses, type, etc., to constitute it a model printing-establishment m newspaper, book, and job work.

The size of the daily is 28 by 40 inches, and of the weekly, 32 by 46 inches. They are modern newspapers in every respect, fully abreast with the times, lively, entertaining, and reliable. The daily Despatch is the only morning newspaper published north of the Central Railroad in the State, and the only one receiving the dispatches of the National Associated Press.

The weekly is made up from the cream of the daily editions, and has a wide influence and extensive circulation throughout northern New York. It is the largest paper in the county, and contains by far the largest amount of reading matter, and its influence is believed to be unequaled. Speaking of the two papers, ” Pettingill’s Newspaper Directory” says, —

“The daily has a circulation of 1900, the weekly 3500. The Watertown Morning Despatch is a live daily, containing all the important news from abroad and throughout the county, latest telegrams, and corrected markets every morning. It is brighter and better than ever. Terms $6 per year, in advance. The Weekly Onion is a first-class weekly Democratic journal, devoted to the interest of the masses. It is filled to the brim with the most interesting news of the day, and has complete correspondence from every part of the county. It is the best advertising medium in northern New York. Price, $1. 50 per year. These are the only Democratic papers in Jefferson County, the population of which is 65,000.”

The establishment publishing these papers gives employment in its editorial, reportorial, and other departments to twenty-one people, several of whom are married men with families more or less numerous.

Thursday’s Post

Thursday’s Post, was commenced October 19, 1826, at Watertown, by Theron Parsons & Co., five columns, weekly; politics, Clintonian; sixty-six numbers were published, the last being January 17, 1828. The press was then sold to Henry L. Harvey, who (January 24) commenced The Register, with the same size and polities. Mr. Harvey had commenced a temperance paper, called The Genius of Philanthropy, previously, which afterwards united with the Watertown Register, both names being retained. On May 1, 1830, Benjamin Cory became a partner in the paper, and May 15 the name became The Watertown Register and General Advertiser. In May, 1831, Cory became sole proprietor and publisher. In the fall of that year, from being neutral in politics it became the organ of the Whig party in the county. September 19, the latter part of the name was dropped, and on March 25, 1835, its name was changed to The North American, with John Haxton editor. It was continued under this name till September, 1839, when its name was restored to the Watertown Register, under the direction of H. S. Noble; the size, terms, and politics remaining unchanged. Joel Greene was afterwards taken into the partnership, and he subsequently became the proprietor. In March, 1842, the editor and publisher was William H. Hough. Mr. Greene continued the paper as the Black River Journal from the spring of 1843 till August, 1846, and by him it was considerably enlarged. In the spring of 1846, Mr. Greene commenced publishing the Daily Journal, which failed to meet the expectations of the publisher, who changed it to the Watertown Journal, a tri-weekly folio of four columns to the page. This was continued until the press was sold and the name changed to The Northern State Journal, by Ambrose W. Clark, which was begun August 26, 1846, and, like its predecessors, was considered the organ of the Whig party in the county. In August, 1848, G. W. Smith and H. S. Noble (the latter formerly engaged on the Watertown Register) became the publishers. John Fayel subsequently became a partner, and September 18, Mr. Clark again became one of the publishers, since which time the paper was conducted by Clark & Fayel and others up to the year 1868-69, when the office and publication were purchased by Hon. Lotus Ingalls, and merged in the office of the The Watertown Reformer.

The Watertown Reformer

This is a weekly newspaper, published at the office of the Watertown Daily Times, of which establishment the Reformer was the original plant, and has become the trunk in the Times- Reformer office. It was commenced August 29, 1850, under the title of the New York Reformer, its founders being Lotus Ingalls, A. H. Burdick, and L. M. Stowell. The late Solon Massey, author of a series of articles of local biography and history, under the signature of ” A Link in the Chain,” giving reminiscences of Watertown and its pioneers, was one of the editors, as was also AVm. Oland Bourne, for a time. John A. Haddock, Isaac M. Beebee, and L. J. Bigelow were also subsequently connected with the paper, both as proprietors and editors. Like the Times, since its first appearance the Reformer has been a discriminating champion of the principles and measures of the Republican party since its organization in 1855, having previously been independent in politics, and devoted to temperance and general reform. Its present proprietor, Beman Brookway, became associated in its ownership and editorial management March 1, 1860, and has been connected with it, to a greater or less extent, ever since. Mr. Brockway is a native of Hampshire county, Blass., where he was born in 1815. He served a regular apprenticeship at the printing business, and entered on the first experiences in his long and successful career in journalism at Mayville, the capital of Chautauqua county, N. Y., at the close of the year 1834, when only nineteen years of age. He remained in that establishment most of the time, as proprietor and editor, until the spring of 1845, when he removed to the city of Oswego, to take charge of the Oswego Fulladiuin, which he had purchased. The publication of the Daily Oswego Palladium was begun under his auspices, and continued through his ownership, which ceased by sale in 1853, when he removed to New York, and took a position on the editorial staff of the Tribune. This he resigned from choice after two years of arduous but acceptable service, and returned to Oswego to engage in other pursuits. In the fall of 1858 he was chosen member of assembly from the third district of Oswego county, and took a prominent part in the deliberations and actions of that body. He removed to Watertown in 1860, to re-enter the field of journalism. While thus engaged as associate editor he was, on January 1, 1865, selected by Governor Fenton as his private secretary; but he had discharged the duties of the office but it few months when he was appointed a canal appraiser. This responsible position he filled with unquestioned fidelity and credit until the close of his term in January, 1870.

In June, 1870, Mr. Brockway returned to Watertown, and, in connection with Lotus Ingalls and Charles R. Skinner, again devoted himself to the cares and toils of daily newspaper life, by engaging in the editorial management and control of the Daily Times and Weekly Reformer.

Having successively purchased the interests of Messrs. Ingalls and Skinner, he finally became the sole owner and manager in 1874, and has since continued as sole proprietor and editor-in-chief to the present time.

The Watertown Daily Times

The Watertown Daily Times, which is now the peculiarly representative issue of the establishment, and the offshoot of the Reformer, was commenced in 1861. It was founded in response to the growing wants of the city and its vicinity, and in its infancy was a small sheet, and indifferently conducted. Under better auspices and a more enterprising spirit, as well as greater diligence and ability in its management, it has become one of the most respectable and influential dailies in the interior of the State, and reflects credit on the beautiful town in which it is published.


The Times and Reformer Printing-House

The Times and Reformer Printing-House, which is a complete newspaper brick building of four stories, situated on Arcade street, belongs with the establishment, the institution representing a capital of forty thousand dollars, employing a manual force of from thirty-five to forty hands. Its machinery, which is ample in the news and jobbing departments for all classes of printing work and binding, is driven by steam, the several apartments of the building, together with the counting-room, situated in the Paddock Arcade, being warmed by the same agent. The establishment does a business of some forty thousand dollars per annum, the circulation of the daily Times being fifteen hundred, and of the Reformer three thousand. The advertising in each journal is very large, and the job work very extensive. The heads of the different departments and operative parts of the establishment are as follows: B. Brockway, editor-in-chief; L. L. Pratt, news editor; B. D. Adsit, city editor; J. W. Brockway, general superintendent of operative departments; H. A. Brockway, cashier, presiding in the counting-room.

The Censor, an anti-Masonic paper, was commenced by Theron Parsons, at Adams, July 1, 1828, and continued until Jan. 13, 1829, when it was removed to Watertown. It was a small weekly folio of five columns to the page. In June, 1830, Enoch Ely Camp was announced as the editor. The bitterness of party spirit was at the time excessive, and its enemies having christened it The Cancer, its name was changed by Camp to the Anti-masonic Sun. It was afterwards published thirty-nine weeks by Dr. R. Groodale, commencing Dae. 13, 1830, as The Constellation, and subsequently it passed into the hands of Abner Morton, now of Monroe, Michigan, who enlarged it to six columns, called it the Jefferson Reporter, and published it till Jan. 21, 1834, when he removed west, taking his press. Elder Joel Greene, after selling the Journal, in January, 1847, began the Watertown Spectator, a paper devoted to the temperance reform. At the end of the second year it was stopped, with the view of enlargement, when it was prevented by the great fire of 1849, which destroyed the form on the press.

The Watertown Post

The Watertown Post was founded in July, 1870, as an independent literary family paper, in connection with the job printing-office and bindery of Hanford & Wood, and was edited by George C. Bragdon, an accomplished writer and a partner in the newspaper venture of the office. In November, 1871, Mr. Bragdon sold his interest to William C. Plumb, who became the editor. He conducted its editorial columns for a year or so, when he sold his interest to his partners, Hanford & Wood, and retired from the concern. For a year or thereabouts the paper was edited by N. A. Oaks, late a crockery dealer of the city. In August, 1874, the entire establishment was bought by the present proprietor, Lotus Ingalls, who changed the form of the paper from a small eight-page paper, with a literary supplement published in New York, and folded into the issue at the office of publication in Watertown, to a large four-page paper as it at present appears. Mr. Ingalls also changed its character from a strictly neutral paper in politics to an independent Republican journal, which discusses all questions of public and political interest on the basis of the ” greatest good to the greatest number,” thus taking the paper out of the category of merely literary papers, and placing it on the side of journals alive to public interests, yet losing nothing in its literary merit and domestic features, and wielding an influence for good in the community. Another positive feature was given to the paper at this time, which still continues to mark its issues: it discussed the agricultural interests of the country, in which it is having a salutary influence by inducing better husbandry outdoors and better living indoors. The circulation of the Post, at the time of its purchase by Mr. Ingalls, was about 1500 copies, and this, too, among the influential classes, who took but little interest in the questions that agitated society. It soon, however, under its new management, gathered force, and ran up its circulation till it had over 4500 subscribers, adding to its list the active political and social classes; more particularly among the farming population of northern New York, so many of whom had in years past made the acquaintance of Mr. Ingalls as editor-in-chief of the Watertown Daily Times and weekly Reformer, papers which he was chiefly instrumental in founding, — the Reformer in 1850, as a temperance advocate, and the Daily Times in 1861, at the breaking out of the war, when a daily paper became almost a necessity in this part of the State. During the first years of Mr. Ingall’s editorial career the Reformer attained a circulation of 5500 copies weekly. As the agitation of the slavery question became fierce and threatening, the paper took the Republican side of the issue, and carried on at the same time a persistent advocacy for a reform in the assessment laws, Mr. Ingalls being the first man in the State to recommend the creation of a State board of assessors to equalize the assessments between counties; and he first urged the importance of a bill for the same, which was carried through the legislature two or three years afterwards. Mr. Ingalls, too, was an unceasing advocate of a free-school system, and was the first to urge, editorially, the distribution of the public-school money on the basis of attendance at school. In 1869, Mr. Ingalls took a trip to Colorado, corresponding with the papers of the county, which correspondence, delineations of Rocky Mountain scenery and incidents, increased his reputation as a descriptive writer, and lent an additional interest to the publications in which the same appeared. His relations of his California experience were characterized by P. T. Barnum as the most vivid descriptions of the wonderful visions there he had ever read.

These events, and the long editorial experience of Mr. Ingalls, served to draw to his subscription list of the Post, on his assumption of his management, thousands of his old readers who had been interested and instructed by his former writings.

The Post is a thorough reform paper, its editor believing the people pay vastly too much for being governed. It possesses the confidence of the people, and enjoys the largest circulation of any weekly paper in northern New York.

Old Fulton NY Newspapers

New York Historical Newspapers

Miscellaneous Publications

Besides these papers before named, there have appeared the following, generally from the press of the regularly established papers of the county: The Herald of Salvation, a Universalist magazine, by Rev. Pitt Morse, 1822-23, semi-monthly, printed by S. A. Abbey, afterwards by W. Woodward. It was united with a magazine in Philadelphia. The Monitor, a small folio, cap size, quarterly, beginning Jan. 1, 1830, and devoted to the record of the benevolent societies of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. The Student, one year, monthly, beginning Aug. 1, 1837, quarto, edited by the students of the B. R. L: & R. Institute, printed by B. Cory, and made up of original papers by the students. The Voice of Jefferson, summer and fall of 1828 (Clintonian), small weekly, quarto form, edited by a committee of young men, printed by Harvey & Hunt. The Veto, a small campaign paper, begun Sept., 1832. The Spirit of ’76, edited by a committee of young men, printed by B. Cory, three months in 1833. The Patriot and Democrat, a small campaign paper, was commenced Oct. 20, 1838, and seven numbers were issued. Printed by Randall D. Rice, for a committee, at Watertown. The Pioneer Phalanx and Independent Magazine, 8vo, in covers; edited by A. C. S. Bailey, and begun Nov., 1843, monthly; and it is believed but one number was issued. It was to be the organ of the Fourier association in Watertown. The Sinai and Calvary Reporter, quarterly, octavo. Rev. Joseph Livingston, begun Oct., 1852, first number issued at Watertown, and second at Gouverneur.

The Telegraph was a little daily, about the size of a commercial note-head, which was published a few weeks in 1858, by J. D. Huntingdon, then the telegraph-operator at Watertown, now one of the prominent citizens and dentists of the city. It contained the market reports and cable-grams of the then newly-laid ocean cable, and expired with the last echoes of the famous dispatch over the latter, ” All right ! De Sauty.” The Christian Witness was published monthly during the years 1875-76, by the Young Men’s Christian Association; Chas. E. Ilolbrook, printer.


1We are under obligations to Mr. Lebarge, Jr., J. B. Prind those in charge of the institution for the above items.

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