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In the beginning of the present century, and probably about the year 1802, Mr. Benjamin Cory published the first newspaper in the county, called the Telescope, designed to uphold the interests of the federal party. In January, 1805, David Holt a (name long familiar to the people of the county) and J. B. Robins purchased Mr. Cory's interest in the paper and issued another instead of it, called the Farmer's Monitor.
The Monitor was continued until the summer of 1807, when it was discontinued for want of patronage; Mr. Cory having established another federal paper, which, as the lawyers and merchants of the village were mostly of that party, engrossed nearly all the advertising patronage.
The Herkimer Pelican established by Cory, was probably continued until the year 1810. The Pelican supported Governor Lewis, and the Monitor, it is said, was attached to the George Clinton branch of the republican party.
The fourth paper was established in January, 1810, by J. H. & R. Prentiss, called the Herkimer American; it was published several years by them and William L. Stone, afterwards of the New York Commercral Advertiser, when Edward P. Seymour purchased the establishment and conducted the paper to " its life's end" in 1831. Mr. Seymour always kept his paper to the true party lines while he controlled it, but he would not refuse to print tickets for the republicans when they had no press in the county.
The Bunker Hill made its appearance some time in the year 1810, established by Mr. G. G. Phinney? The political tendencies of this paper were pretty high-toned. The motto, " Live free or die! Death is not the greatest of evils," (Gen. Stark), showed its conductor was ready for the fight. Mr. Phinney brought out the Honest American about the year 1812. The editorial courtesy of those times was quite pungent, taking the following article as a specimen:
"A Mean Blackguard.—Captain Consequence, or in other words, Charley Holt, has been pleased, if he ever was pleased, to daub in his paper the following ridiculous paragraph against the editor of the Honest American:
"'A Dishonest American.—The foolish rascal in Herkimer, who to the disgrace of the name of an editor, is the lickspittle of the Public Advertiser, can not expect further newspaper notice, but will be silenced without disturbing our readers by so pitiful a subject.'
"Capt. Charley talks of ' silencing us,' but the captain is informed that he nor all the men he could raise while a captain in Hudson, will be able to silence us. Capt. Charley says we can not expect further 'newspaper notice.' God grant we may not receive any further notice from so mean a scoundrel. This 'pitiful subject' wishes not to ' disturb' his ' readers.' It is well known, that as far as Capt. Charley's influence extends, he has done more to disturb the republican party than any other editor in the state. An eternal good-bye to you, Capt. Charley, unless you intend to take other notice of us than that of' newspaper.'"
This language smacks some of an indictment or prosecution for a libel. These two papers, the Bunker Hill and Honest American were both discontinued before 1821, and in September of that year, Edward M. Griffin established the People's Friend, a democratic paper, at Little Falls, which was published by him until about the year 1832, when several of the leading democrats of the county, to prevent the sale of the establishment and discontinuance of the paper, bought out the concern. Messrs. C. S. Benton & Co., continued the publication of the paper under the title of Mohawk Courier, until the proprietors sold out their interest to Josiah A. Noonan. Mr. Noonan transferred his interest in the paper to Horatio N. Johnson who after publishing it some time, sold it to Elias G. Palmer, and again purchased it of Mr. Palmer, and now conducts the paper.
The Herkimer Herald made its appearance at Herkimer in 1828, under the direction of Mr. John Carpenter, and advocated the election of General Jackson.
Next in order of time came the Republican Farmer's Free Press, in 1830, an anti-masonic paper, established by an association, printed by David Holt and edited by B. B.
Hotchkin. Its life was short. Then came the Herkimer County Journal in December, 1837, a whig paper. It was owned by a company, commenced at Herkimer, under the editorial charge of J. C. Underwood, and printed by E. P. Seymour. In about one year Mr. 0. A. Bowe took charge of the paper and published it about six years. It was at different times edited by R. U. Sherman, G. W. Smith and A. H. Prescott. Mr. Orlando Squires took charge of the paper in 1849, and removed the establishment to Little Falls, where the paper is now published under the direction of Mr. Daniel Ayer, and has nearly reached the close of the 17th volume.
The Republican Farmer's Free Press was transferred to Little Falls, its name changed to the Herkimer County Whig, and published by Larned W. Smith, who also issued from the same press the Inquirer, a deistical affair. This was not a very long lived concern. It commenced its career in 1834, and closed I believe in about two years.
Mr. E. M. Griffin established The Enterprise at Little Falls in 1839, and continued its publication about two years, and then started the Mohawk Mirror, a quarto sheet which he published or pretended to publish twice a month. This paper died out in 1844.
Next in order of time came the Frankfort Democrat, established at Frankfort in the fall of 1842, by J. M. Lyon, now of the Utica Gazette. It was afterwards removed to Herkimer village, and the name changed to Herkimer County Democrat. Until 1853 this paper was the organ of the Bunker section of the democratic party, and enjoyed a pretty good patronage. Mr. Robert Earl, who succeeded Mr. Lyon in the proprietorship of the paper, sold out his interest, and the paper has since sustained the other section of that party.
When Mr. Bowe quit the Journal, in 1844, he established at Little Falls an abolition journal, called the Herkimer Freeman, which he published about six years, using the type and press of the Enterprise. Failing to accomplish all he designed and all"that his industry and application to his business deserved, Mr. Bowe in April, 1850, started the Mohawk Times at the village of Mohawk. Hope again with him " on trembling pinions soared," and the advocacy of " free soil" with a spice of "news and miscellany," was to conduct his bark to a haven of rest. Mr. Bowe soon abandoned this, his last enterprise in the state, in a short time, and established a press somewhere among the green hills of Vermont.
The Mohawk Valley Sentinel was established by L. W. Peters and G. W. Gould, at Mohawk in the winter of 1855. It has been conducted by Mr. Peters several months, Mr. Gould having left the concern. Its motto, "Put none but Americans on guard" (Washington), very clearly denotes tho political bias of the paper.
The Hum Independent, the last to be now chronicled in history, was brought out in February, 1855, at the village of Ilion by Mr. George W. Bungay. It seems to be devoted to temperance and advocates the prohibitory liquor law. Its motto," Liberty, Equality and Fraternity " show an enlarged and comprehensive benevolence.
Out of the seventeen or eighteen newspapers established in the county during the past fifty-four years, only three of them, the Courier, Journal and Democrat have stood the test of time. The Sentinel and Independent have not yet passed the ordeal. Fourteen have enjoyed a brief existence, have performed their mission and are now forgotten. The Herkimer American attained the respectable age of twenty-ono years. The Courier and People's Friend conjoined have seen thirty-four years. The Herkimer County Journal has thrown its banner to the breeze eighteen successive years and rallied its friends to many political defeats in the county; and the Herkimer County Democrat, although thirteen years an active campaigner can not claim always to havo recorded victories of its friends.
The reader will notice as an act of justice to J. Munsell of Albany, that I am much indebted to his interesting work, The Typographical Miscellany, for the important matter contained in this article.
Colleges And Academies.
Fairfield Medical College.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of the western district of New York, located at Fairfield, Herkimer county, had its origin in the medical school established by the trustees of Fairfield academy, in 1809. This school had acquired some reputation while attached to the academy. It was even such in the second year of its existence, as to induce the legislature of the state to endow it with $5,000, and when it received the rank of college, they generously added to its funds the further sum of $ 10,000.
The charter of the college bears date June 12, 1812, to which is appended the seal of the university of the state, and signed by Daniel D. Tompkins, Chancellor
of the University of the State of New York.
H. Bloodgood, Secretary.
In the charter, the following persons are named as constituting the first board of trustees, viz.: Westel Willoughby, Jun., Jonathan Sherwood, Luther Giteau, Solomon Wolcot, Isaac Sears, Abijah Tombling, Amos Hale, Simeon Ford, Clark Smith, Joseph White, Alexander G. Fonda, Oliver C. Comstock, John Miller, Isaac Sargeant, Reuben Hart, Amasa Trowbridge, Francis A. Bloodgood, William D. Ford, James Kennedy, Oliver Ellis, Andrew A. Bartow, William Smith, John Stearns and James Hale; they and their successors were to have perpetual succession.
At a meeting of the board of trustees, held Dec. 1, 1812, the following individuals were appointed officers of the college, viz:
Lyman Spalding, professor of anatomy and surgery. Westel Willoughby, Jun., professor of obstetrics. James Hadley, professor of chemistry. John Stearns, professor of the theory and practice of physic.