Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Newspapers - Chemung County
Chemung County NY
Article: Newspapers
Chemung County
Article by Helen Mac Dougall Samson (1909-1995) in 1976
Sent in by Walt Samson
Retyped by Debra Rickman
Postcard from Joyce's Collection 
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From the Past
By Helen M. Samson


Early life in the county was more than a struggle for the basic necessities of life. Desire for communication and knowledge of the rest of the world was satisfied at an early date. The first newspaper published was the Telegraph. It was owned by the partnership of Murphy and Prindle and the first copy came off the primitive press in 1815 in Newtown, later Elmira. His partner left the firm and Murphy continued the paper under the name, Vidette in 1818. In 1869, he started another publication, The Elmira Republican.

A rival paper, The Investigator appeared in 1822. The publisher, Job Smith changed the name to Elmira Gazette in 1828, the year Newtown became Elmira. It was published by Brinton Paine in 1831 and carried on by numerous other owners under other firm names. The Hazards were the owners in 1869 and, finally it was the Elmira Star-Gazette in 1907. Charles Barber in his exhaustive research on the papers of the county called the paper the oldest business enterprise in the area. It is now 148 years old. {And Still Going Strong in 2002}

Frank Gannett’s career began when he obtained half interest in the Star in 1906. He added the Sunday Telegram and the Advertiser in 1823. Mr. Gannett was accused of having a monopoly on the news when he bought these remaining papers and erased all competition but, Mr. Barber wrote that he knew that they were both offered to any interest that would operate them in a responsible manner but there were no takers. The Gannett chain is the third largest in the country.

There were other papers started by the dozens in the years before World War I. Most of the smaller towns tried several publications. Wellsburg had one in 1890 and the Erin News came out in 1893. Millport had two. One appeared in 1887 and another was published briefly by the Baptist minister in 1916. Van Etten had a paper in 1873.

However, the Chemung Valley Reporter remains. It was founded in 1858 as the Horseheads Journal. After 19 years, it moved to Elmira to become the Chemung Greenbacker, a name that suggests a political trend. After two years, it returned to Horseheads and took the present name. It is now 96 years old. If the name had never been changed, it could be called 118 years young. A venerable publication, indeed.

The editors through the years were many. George Mulford presided as editor for many years and Maxwell Beers, long associated with Elmira papers and the mayor of Elmira maintained the paper at the time of his death.

Horseheads has had other papers. The year 1855, the year Elmira College was opened, brought the Horseheads Philosopher. After two years, it merged with the Gazette, The Free Press started in 1873. After, it moved to Elmira and became the Elmira Sunday Herald. The Weekly Free Press, also started in 1873 was merged with the Elmira Gazette in 1878. The Weekly Bulletin of 1871-2 was another.

Names of newspapers were selected to tell something about the newspaper. An exception may have been the Daily Bazoo of 1877. Whether it was meant to be a musical instrument or had another meaning, a loud boastful fellow, no one seems to remember. The name was changed in 1882 when it became the Elmira Herald. Another of that name was "born in an hour of civic upheaval" in 1913 and lasted until 1920. There was a short lived Farm Life in 1947. There was also a Sportsman’s Herald and the Elmira Bowler lasted for 15 years. The 1930’s gave us a rash of tabloid type papers, none very original in name. The longest in life was the News which lasted for a decade.

Elmira College published an educational paper, the Calli_ophia and also the Octagon. Zebulon Brockway found time in his busy days to found The Summary at the Reformatory. It is believed to be the oldest inmate publication in the country. The temperance movement brought the Temperance Gem into being in 1852. Later there were four more, The Clarion, The Facts, The Defender and The Sentinel.

In 1833, Alexander S. Divan and Benjamin Satterlee got out the Fort Henderson Meddler. The origin of that name seems lost. The Chemung Democrat of 1851 later the Karlon, the Central Advocate also of 1836, were not long lived.

The Husbandman was started by the Farmer’s Club. It appeared in 1874 and was published until 1898 when it was sold and moved to Binghamton.

One of the most amazing publications on record was that of a 14 year old girl in 1874. In an era when children were seen and not heard – if possible, she must have had unusual parents. Her paper lasted for six years. That would have been a remarkable thing even today, when women have "come a long way, baby". Her paper was named The Enterprise and she covered the town, wrote, printed and circulated the whole thing.

First Added to the Site  on 31 DEC 2002
By Joyce M. Tice

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