The newspapers of the county are twenty-seven in number, of which
eighteen are published in Erie,
as follows: Dailies -- Dispatch, Observer, Herald, Leuchtthurm.
Weeklies -- Dispatch, Observer, Herald, Sunday Gazette, Weekly Gazette, Leuchtthurm, Sunday Graphic, Weekly Graphic, Advertiser, Sonntagsgast, Lake Shore Visitor, Zuschauer,
and Jornal de Noticias.
Monthly -- Star of Liberty.
Of these, the Leuchtthurm, Zuschauer
and Sonntagsgast are printed in German, and the Jornal de Noticias in
The earliest newspaper printed in the county was the Mirror, started
in Erie by
George Wyeth in 1808, to advocate "Federal
Constitutional-Republican" principles, whatever that may have meant. It
was ten by sixteen inches in size, and the subscription price was $2 per
year. The editor was not firm enough to refuse contributions from
irresponsible writers, and in consequence of the publication of one of an
offensive character found it convenient to abandon the enterprise and leave
the town between two days. In 1812, the Northern Sentinel appeared,
with R. J. Curtis as editor. It was discontinued at the end of a year, but
revived in 1816 under the name of the Genius of the Lakes. John Morris
was the publisher and Mr. Curtis the editor. The title was again changed to
the Phoenix, and finally to the Reflector, and the paper was
printed in Erie till 1819 or 1820, when it was removed to Mayville, N. Y.,
where it lived but a short time. Meanwhile, another journal had sprung into
existence. This was the Patriot, founded in 1818 by Zeba Willis. It ran a course of one year in Erie, when the office was moved to Cleveland, and became the basis of the Herald
of that city.
The Erie "Gazette"
The first paper in Erie that came to stay was
the Erie Weekly
Gazette, established on the 15th of January, 1820, by Joseph M. Sterrett. It was issued from a log building on the west
side of French street, two doors north of Fifth, and was in size 17x21
inches, which was large for a back-country paper of that time. Mr. Sterrett was assisted in the editorial conduct of the
paper at various times by James Buchanan (not the President), J. Hoge Waugh, John Riddell, and others. The Gazette
supported Andrew Jackson in 1824, but when John Quincy Adams was elected by
the House it became one of his heartiest supporters, and from that time
fought the Democratic party under all the names assumed by the opposition --
Anti-Masonic, Whig, Free-Soil, Republican, etc. John Shaner
was associated in its publication from 1835 to 1842, when J. P. Cochran and
George W. Riblet took control. In 1845, Mr. Sterrett resumed charge, and on the 10th of September,
1846, he associated I. B. Gara with him, who edited
the paper till May 3, 1865, when it was sold to S. A. Davenport. The latter
not being a practical newspaper man was obliged to turn over the management
to others, and it had numerous editors during the period between 1865 and
1873. Among them were E. L. Clark, John R. Graham, R. Lyle White, James Hendricks,
B. F. McCarty, and perhaps others. On the 5th of June, 1873, the Gazette
was purchased from Mr. Davenport by F. A. Crandall, who retained possession
until February 1, 1882, when he disposed of his interest to W. G. McKean, the present editor and proprietor. Mr. Crandall
started the Saturday Evening Gazette March 20, 1875, and changed it to
the Sunday Morning Gazette on the 17th of June in the same year.
During its middle age, Hon. Gideon J. Ball and William Kelley were frequent
contributors to the Gazette. Altogether, Judge Sterrett's
connection with the paper extended over a period of forty-five years. The Gazette
was located some twenty years on the third floor of Rindernecht's
block, at the corner of State and Fifth streets. From there it moved to Eichenlaub's block, on State street, between the Park and
Seventh street, and finally to its present location in the Welsh Block, on French street,
opposite the Reed House.
Horace Greeley worked as a journeyman in the office of the Gazette
during the winter of 1830-31.
The Erie "Observer"
The course of the Gazette during the anti-Masonic excitement which
sprang up about 1829, led to the establishment of the Erie Weekly Observer as an organ of
the opposite side in politics. The means for starting it were contributed by
P. S. V. Hamot, Joshua Beers, Daniel Dobbins, Edwin
J. Kelso, Robert Cochran, Smith Jackson and several others, all members of
the Masonic order, and warm political friends of President Jackson. It was
issued on the 29th of May, 1830, from the second story of a building on the
northwest corner of French and Fifth streets, only two doors from the
birthplace of its political rival. The first editor was T. B. Barnum, who was
succeeded in 1832 by H. L. Harvey. The latter printed a specimen copy of a
daily in 1836, but the encouragement received was not sufficient to warrant
its continuance. The paper passed into the charge of Thomas Laird in the
spring of 1837, into that of Hiram A. Beebe in the spring of 1839, and
finally, in 1840, J. M. Kuester and W. McKinstry became proprietors. It may be inferred from
these frequent changes that the paper was not in a healthy condition
financially, and this appears to have been the case; for Mr. Kuester failed, and the office passed into the hands of
E. D. Gunnison as receiver. During a few weeks of the time it was in Mr.
Gunnison's charge, William A. Galbraith tried his hand as editor, but he was
glad to quit the work for the more congenial profession of the law. In May,
1843, the office was purchased by A. P. Durlin and
B. F. Sloan, under whose management it acquired more prosperity than ever
before in its career. These gentlemen tried the experiment of a semi-weekly
for a few months in 1849. Mr. Durlin withdrew from
the concern on the 26th of January, 1856, and was immediately succeeded by M.
M. Moore. This partnership continued until January 1, 1859, when Mr. Moore
retired. On the 1st of January, 1861, Mr. Sloan sold the office to Andrew
Hopkins, brother of Hon. James H. Hopkins, of Pittsburgh. This gentleman disposed of it
to Benjamin Whitman and James I. Brecht on the 17th
of January, 1862. Their partnership continued until April 1, 1865. Mr.
Whitman then became sole proprietor and remained such until December 1, 1878,
when the office was purchased by Robert B. Brown, formerly of the Clarion Democrat.
The latter started the Daily Evening Observer on the 15th of October,
1881. From the day of its first issue, and under all the changes in its
management, the Observer has been Democratic in politics. During the
last twenty years, the office has had three different locations -- first, in
the frame building on State
street, opposite the Custom House; second, on
the third floor of Rosenzweig's block; third, the
present one, in the Noble Block. A Daily Bulletin was printed at the Observer
office for W. H. Harris, during the first month or two of the war for the Union.
The Erie "Dispatch"
In 1851, a small paper, named the Dispatch, was started at Waterford by Joseph S.
M. Young. When the railroad war broke out, it took such a lively part on the
side of the "rippers," or "anti-railroad men," that their
leaders induced Mr. Young to remove his office to Erie, where he might have a wider field.
This he did in 1856. In a short time after the removal, the office was
completely destroyed by fire. Its friends clubbed together and bought Mr.
Young new material, which gave him a great advantage over his competitors,
whose presses and types were inferior by comparison, and the office quickly
secured a large patronage. During 1861, a daily was started, which was only
continued a few months. The office was purchased on the 1st of February,
1864, by B. F. H. Lynn, who had long been Mr. Young's foreman and associate
editor, and who immediately added largely to its material. The daily was
revived on May 22, 1864, and has been printed regularly ever since. Mr. Lynn
became embarrassed, in a few years, and the establishment was sold at
Sheriff's sale. After that it was conducted by various parties, among whom
were S. Todd Perley, Azro
Goff, and W. P. Atkinson. It was purchased by Willard, Redway
& Cook, in 1869. In 1872, the firm name was changed to Willard, Redway & Seaman; on January 1, 1874, to Willard &
Brewer; and in April, 1877, to Willard, Brewer & Hooker. Mr. Willard
became sole proprietor on the 3d of September, 1878. In May, 1883, he
disposed of a portion of his interest to Messrs. Camp, Belknap
& Johnson, of North East. The Dispatch started as an independent
paper, but changed to Republican about 1860, and has ever since advocated the
candidates and principles of that party. The office has been located at
various times on the third floor of Wright's block, in a building on Fifth
street opposite the engine house, and in the block fronting the Erie Park
between the Reed and Ellsworth Houses. Its present location is in the
building once occupied by the old Erie Bank, on the south side of the East
Park, From 1864 to 1878, the Dispatch may be said to have been
practically the only English daily in Erie. Others were started at various
periods, but the most successful of them only lasted a year or two.
Other English Papers
The Lake Shore Visitor was commenced in 1874, as the organ of the
Catholics of the Erie Diocese. The writing was mainly done by Bishop Mullen
until 1875, when Rev. Thomas A. Casey became editor, and has continued in
that capacity ever since. The first publisher was B. F. McCarty, who was
succeeded by Thomas F. O'Brien. Since the fall of 1881, the paper has been
published by the Herald Printing Company. The original office was on the
third floor of the Welsh Building, on French street, opposite the Reed House.
From there it was removed to the Lafayette Hotel building, then to the
basement of Scott's block, and lastly to the Herald building.
The Erie Advertiser, the next paper in the order of age, was started
on the 1st of April, 1876, by John M. Glazier, who is still its editor and
publisher. The publication office has always been on Peach street, south of
the railroad depot. In politics, the Advertiser is independent, with a
The first number of the Evening Herald, a Democratic daily paper,
appeared on the 20th of July, 1878. The editors were James Burns and H. C. Missimer, teachers in the Erie High School. After it had
been printed two or three months the paper was purchased by William L. Scott,
and a weekly edition was added. Thomas F. O'Brien was placed in charge and
continued as manager until after the election of 1881. D. S. Crawford has
been local editor most of the time since Mr. Scott became the proprietor. The
present managing editor is Nelson Baldwin, and William P. Atkinson is
business manager. The Herald began in the building formerly known as
the Lafayette House, on French street. From there the office was moved to the
basement of Scott's block. It is now located in the building on the southeast
corner of State and Tenth streets.
The Erie Sunday Graphic was established by Boyle & McCauley on the
20th of May, 1880. In the spring of 1882, John T. Boyle purchased the
interest of his partner, and on the 27th of August, 1882, he sold the office
to Jacob Bender. Before that the Graphic was more of a society than a
political paper, but Mr. Bender immediately hoisted the Independent
Republican ticket. He also started the Weekly Graphic for country
circulation. Mr. Bender's interest was purchased by Charles M. Lynch in
February, 1884. The former, however, remains as editor.
The Star of Liberty is a monthly publication, established April 1,
1882, by H. R. Storrs, as an advocate of liberal views on the liquor
question. It is the successor of the Family Magazine, started in
Canada by the same gentleman on the 1st of January, 1877, and removed to Erie
in October, 1879.
German and Portuguese Papers
The first German paper in Erie was the Unsere
World (Our World) founded by Carl Benson in 1851. The name was changed to
the Frie Presse
(Free Press) in 1860. The paper went down in 1868. Its politics were Whig and
A Mr. Schuefflen started the Zuschauer
(Spectator) in 1852. It was purchased by C. Moeser
in 1855, and by E. E. Stuerznickel in 1861. The
paper was originally Democratic, but became Republican during the war. On the
1st of January, 1877, Mr. Stuerznickel sold the Zuschauer to F. C. Gorenflo,
who had been his partner for a year or two. The paper was enlarged in May,
1883, and Mr. F. W. Dahlman became associated with
Mr. Gorenflo, which partnership was soon dissolved.
The office is in the Perry Block, on the east side of State street, between
Sixth and Seventh.
The Weekly Leuchtthurm (Light-House) was
established in 1860 by Baetzel & Atkinson.
After numerous ups and downs, the paper became a part of the Dispatch
establishment, where it was printed for some time. It was purchased about
1873 by Merhoff & Wallenhorst.
Wallenhorst soon retired, and H. Merhoff assumed sole control. In April, 1875, Otto Luedicke became a partner with Merhoff,
and assumed editorial charge. The Daily Leuchtthurm
was started in June, 1875. Mr. Luedicke withdrew in
1879, and was succeeded by Merhoff, Boyer & Rastatter. Merhoff and Rastatter sold out, and John F. Boyer became sole
proprietor in 1880. October 1, 1882, Mr. Luedicke
resumed control under a lease from Mr. Boyer. The office is in Boyer's block,
State street, near the Lake Shore Railroad bridge.
The Jornal de Noticias
(General News) enjoyed the distinction for several years of being the only
paper in the Portuguese language in the United States. It was established on
the 27th of October, 1877, by A. M. & John M. Vincent, who still remain
in charge. It is independent in politics. The office is at 1022 West Sixth
The Sonatagsgast (Sunday Guest) is the
latest German paper. It was founded May 15, 1881, by Frank Weiss & Co.,
and is independent in politics. The office is in the Humboldt Bank building.
The papers in existence in Erie are few in number compared with those that
have been started, and given up the ghost, after brief careers. Of these the
most prominent were as follows:
The Erie Chronicle was started by Samuel Perley
in 1840, as a rival Whig organ to the Gazette. Mr. Perley
moved the office to Girard, where the material was used in the publication of
In 1846, a second rival of the Gazette made its appearance under the
title of the Commercial Advertiser, with J. P. Cochran as editor. Mr.
C. died in 1850, when the paper passed into the hands of A. H. Caughey, who at the end of a year and a half sold it to
J. B. Johnson. The latter changed the name to the Constitution, which
became the advocate of the "railroad men" as against the
"rippers" during the eventful era of the railroad war. A party of
"rippers" entered the office in 1855, "pied" the type and
threw the press into the street. The paper was resuscitated by R. Lyle White,
who kept it up for a short time. He issued a daily bulletin for some months
The first outspoken abolition paper in the city was the True American,
started by Compton & Moore in 1853. It was published for a time by James Perley and Henry Catlin. The
latter finally became sole editor and proprietor. Radical as the county was
on the slavery question, it never gave the True American a respectable
support, and the editor was glad of an excuse for abandoning it and going
into other business, which he did in 1861.
The Express, started in 1857 by E. C. Goodrich as a rival Democratic
paper to the Observer, was merged into the True American in a
few months. It was printed with the material of the Constitution.
The daily Republican was printed some two or three years, commencing
about 1867. During its brief life it has several editors and publishers, all
of whom were disappointed in their hopes of making it a prosperous
One of the latest newspaper failures was the Argus, which was brought
into existence mainly through the labors of S. Todd Perley.
As a basis for the enterprise, he effected a consolidation of the offices of
the Union City Times and the Corry Republican, the material of which
was moved to Erie on the 1st of May, 1875. A daily and a weekly paper were
issued for some months. H. D. Persons and Horace G. Pratt were associated
with Mr. Perley in the enterprise.
R. Lyle White published the Daily Bulletin for a few months about
The Lake City Daily, a penny paper, was printed by Woods, Constable
& Co., three young graduates of the high school in 1878, and lasted about
a year. It was ultimately merged in the Herald.
It will be seen by the above that the first daily paper in Erie City was the Observer;
the second, the Bulletin; the third, Harris' War Bulletin,
issued the first two or three months of the rebellion, from the Observer
and Dispatch offices, and the fourth the Dispatch. Since then
the following dailies have appeared in the order named: Republican, Argus,
White's Bulletin, Leuchtthurm, Lake City Daily
Herald and Observer.
The Erie papers used hand presses exclusively up to 1853. The first to
introduce steam power was the Observer, while under the management of Durlin & Sloan. The machine purchased was of the Northrup make. A steam engine was added on the 4th of
February, 1858, when the paper was under the control of Sloan & Moore.
The next to follow with a power press was the Dispatch, which employed
a caloric engine for several years. The Gazette stuck to its old hand
press until 1866.
The Northwestern Editorial Association, organized in Erie about 1865, was
composed of newspaper men in Warren, Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango, Butler and several other counties. It had two or
three pleasant annual meetings, and then quietly expired.
It is but fair to say of the press of our city and county, that, in
proportion to the patronage extended to it, it is and always has been the
equal of any in the State, both in ability and enterprise. The Gazette
and Observer, for more than thirty years, have had a reputation the
State over, and the leading papers of more recent date have well sustained
the credit of the county for progressive journalism.
Joseph M. Sterrett, the Nestor of the Erie press,
is still living in the enjoyment of the honors of a well-spent life. He was
County Commissioner from 1829 to 1831, State Senator from 1837 to 1841,
Associate Judge from 1850 to 1856, and Postmaster of Erie from 1861 to 1869.
George W. Riblet was Director of the Poor from 1878
to 1881, and has held numerous positions of trust in the city.
Gideon J. Ball was State Treasurer in 1869, Chief Clerk to the Sixth Auditor
of the Treasury from 1851 to 1853, member of the Assembly six terms,
beginning in 1847 and closing in 1860, and Paymaster in the army during the
Isaac B. Gara was Enrolling Commissioner for the
draft in 1863, Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth from 1867 to 1870, and
Postmaster of Erie from 1869 to 1876.
B. F. Sloan was Postmaster of Erie from 1853 to 1861, Clerk to the Pension
Committee of Congress in 1875 and 1876, and is now Secretary of the Erie
Benjamin Whitman is a resident of Erie, engaged in literary and business
pursuits. Although active in politics for twenty years, he has always refused
to be a candidate for office.
M. M. Moore still resides in Erie, where he has been elected to several city
offices, including Alderman and School Director.
Andrew Hopkins died recently in Washington, Penn., where he was publishing a
Robert B. Brown served as a member of the Assembly from Clarion County in
1869 and 1870.
J. R. Graham is a prosperous citizen of Kansas, where he has held several
F. A. Crandall is the principal writing editor of the Buffalo Express.
W. McKinstry is or was until recently one of the
publishers of the Fredonia Censor.
A. P. Durlin, after publishing a paper for many
years in Iowa, returned to Erie and established a job printing office.
Joseph S. M. Young went from Erie to Pittsburgh and became a specialist in medicine.
B. F. H. Lynn, after a varied career, was found dead in the house of a
relative at Mauch Chunk.
E. E. Stuerznickel was Sheriff from 1877 to 1880.
He is at present engaged in the confectionery trade in Erie.
Samuel Perley was Prothonotary
from 1851 to 1854.
A. H. Caughey was one of the professors in
Lafayette College, at Easton, for several years, and is now in business at
J. B. Johnson was a member of the Assembly in 1845, and State Senator from
1846 to 1849.
R. Lyle White died in Erie a few years ago.
Henry Catlin is still a resident of Erie.
Eben Brewer, after leaving Erie, held a position
for a while on the editorial force of the Philadelphia Times. He is
now practicing law in that city.
H. Merhoff is working at his trade as a printer
somewhere in the East.
All of the above are living except Messrs. Lynn, Perley,
Johnson, White and Hopkins.
Papers Outside of Erie
The papers of the county printed outside of Erie City, are ten in number, as
Corry -- The Weekly Telegraph and the Daily and Weekly
Union City -- The Weekly Times.
Girard -- The Weekly Cosmopolite.
North East -- The Weekly Sun.
Edinboro -- The Weekly Independent.
Wattsburg -- The Weekly Occasional.
Albion -- The Weekly Blizzard.
Mill Village -- The Weekly Herald.
The history of each of these papers is given in the sketch of the town or
city where it is published.