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Pickaway County, Ohio
History & Genealogy


History of Pickaway County
Source:  History of Franklin & Pickaway Counties, Ohio
Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
Published by Williams Bros. 1880



pg. 164

     REPORT, not so well substantiated as we could wish, has it that there was a small paper by the name of Fredonian, published in Circleville, for a short time, almost 1812.  It is said to have been started by James Jenny who, going into the service of the United States, left the newspaper, its appurtenances and fixtures to Robert D. Richardson, who removed to Chillicothe, and, it is alleged, never made any payment upon the property, but continued to publish the paper for his own benefit.  Extensive advertising has failed to bring out any facts in regard to thsi paper, in addition to those above stated, and even its very existence in Circleville is a matter of doubt.  If it ever was published in the village, it was only for a very short time, and probably in an irregular way.  It bore about the same relation to the subsequent early prints that the irresponsible, semi=nomadic squatter did to the true pioneer or early settler.


was practically the pioneer of Circleville journalism.  This paper, which was the beginning of the Herald, now the Union-Herald, was issued, for the first time, August 9, 1817.  It rejoiced in its name for several years, under varying degrees of success and under various auspices.  It was started by James Foster, a book-binder by trade, who came from Chillicothe.  He had no other knowledge of the "art preservative of all arts" than that which he had "picked up."  The heading of the paper bore the name "The Olive Branch, and an emblematic design: a small branch, stripped from the parent stem, across which was a scroll.  It was printed with small pica and log primer type, and the size of the page, exclusive of the margin, was sixteen and a half by nine and a half inches.  Its editor, as we might be led to suppose by the following passage from his "salutatory," and as we know from cotemporary testimony, was a "plain-spoken man."  He says:
     "It is customary for editors to introduce themselves before the people by saying that the only object that have in view is the public's good.  For my part I am not so disinterested - at all events I am too poor to be a public benefactor.  I therefore candidly declare that my object is to make money.  In doing this, it is not my intention to injure one man's reputation, while I puff up another's; neither will I do it by departing from those Republican principles, the remembrance of which will always remain warm within me.  An American by birth, and a Republican by profession, I will use every honorable effort to support the cause of my country and the perpetuity of the Union."

     At the time the Olive Branch came into being, there were about fifty or sixty papers in the State.  Among those then in existence, which still survive, are the Scioto Gazette, of Chillicothe; the Cincinnati Gazette, then Liberty Hall; the Lebanon Western Star; the Warren Western Reserve Chronicle; the Steubenville Western Herald; the Canton Ohio Repository, and the Ohio State Journal, then the Columbus Gazette.
     After a few months the publican of the paper was suspended for six weeks, and, January 20, 1818, the Olive Branch re-appeared, under the auspices of Renick, Doane & Co. - Gen. James Renick, Guy W. Doane and Joseph M. HaysMessrs. Renick and Hays, who formed, at that time, a mercantile firm in Circleville, became the possessors of the type and all the appurtenances of the office, taking them upon a debt.  The editorship devolved upon Mr. Doane, a young man of much ability, the

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junior member of the bar of Pickaway county.  The paper was printed by William Henry Benson for the publishers.  Three months after this arrangement was effected, Benson was arrested because of his yielding to the temptation to be better clothed, and breaking into a tailor shop.
     Mr. doan retired from the paper February 9, 1819, and an announcement was made to the effect that the paper would, in the future, be conducted by Joseph C. Olds and William B. Thrall.  The latter gentleman was the editor.  The motto placed at the head of the paper at this time was, "I was born free as Caesar; so were you."  Shortly after Mr. Thrall became connected with the paper, he was taken sick, and his wife dying, he was compelled, for a time, to sever his connection with the Olive Branch.  April 16, 1819, an interest was transferred to Silas S. Geohegan, a practical printer.  Mr. Thrall, after an absence of six months, returned, much improved in health, and devoted himself closely to the duty of editing the paper.  He filled the place with ability, and the journal had a number of years of prosperous life.  August 12, 1826, the paper was enlarged to a "super-royal" sheet, equal in size to the National Intelligencer, during the war of 1812, and its name was changed to the Olive Branch and Pickaway Herald.  In 1830 the paper appeared in an entirely new dress, and the title again underwent a change, this time appearing as the Circleville Herald and Ohio Olive Branch.
     About this time appeared a rival, the Ohio Observer, which was the nucleus about which grew the Watchman.  It was established by Messrs. Bently, Hedges, Brannan, Fry, Pike, Keffer, Boyle and Brainard.  In May, 1834, the proprietors of the Herald leased a moiety of the property to Jason Case, and the publication was continued under the name formerly standing at its head, and by Thrall and Case.
     The Herald prospered, and had a fair patronage.  On the thirteenth of May, 1837, S. R. Dolbee, then foreman in the office of the State printer, at Columbus, purchased an interest in the paper.  It was enlarged at this time, and vied with the bet journals in the State in mechanical execution.  New presses and material were purchased, and the office was better supplied than ever before.  Mr. Thrall was elected that year to the general assembly, but continued writing for the paper.  Mr. Dolbee left after one year's connection with the Herald, and removed to Illinois.  He was succeeded by Jason Case; the firm name was made Jason Case & Co., and Mr. Thrall retained his position as editor.  Mr. Thrall remained in the partnership until 1843,  when he sold out to H. H. Warren, who continued in partnership for one year; then Mr. Thrall again became owner of the paper.  In July, 1843, W. D. Bailey became interested in the publication, and was succeeded, not long after ,by John Hanna.   He continued in connection with Mr. Thrall and alone, until he associated with himself T. C. Jones  Still later the firm became Hanna & McFarland (A.), and in 1848 M. W. Dooddridge & McFarland  April 30, 1852, the paper appeared with the single name of a. McFarland at the head of its columns.  February 25, 1853, he gave place to Gamaliel Scott, who edited the paper for one year, and was succeeded by William Bremigam.  He conducted the paper alone until December 3, 1858, when F. A. B. Simpkins became his associate.  In 1860 Bremigam disposed of the property to John E. Ray.  In July, of the same year, it was announced that after that time the Herald would be published in the future by Mr. Bremigam and Samuel W. McCulloch, "but owing to the fact that certain arrangements between the parties interested had not been perfected," it was announced, a week or two later, that the proprietorship remained unchanged.  On May 25, 1860, the flag was hoisted for Lincoln and Hamlin.  In January, 1861, Bremigam became the owenr of the paper, and in February following took as an associate W. D. McPherson.  Mr. Bremigam's death was announced in the Herald August 23, 1861.  He had had control of the paper since 1854, with the exception of only one year.  After Mr. Bremigam's death J. A. Lutz, esq., acting as the representative of the faily, edited the paper until September 20th, when W. H. P. Denny, of Dayton, Ohio, purchased it and assumed immediate control.  The war having begun, the paper was devoted to the National cause, and hence the adoption of the name indicating its true character.  On the advice of leading Republicans, its title was changed to that of the Circleville Union.  It was published by Mr. Denny for four years, and at the expiration of that period, sold to Col. P. C. Hays.  April 16, 1869, he sold to E. Z. Hays, who conducted it until March 1, 1872.  About this time the paper suffered a decline in patronage and influence.  E. Z. Hays sold to B. F. Thomas and E. B. Fletcher, who conducted the journal under the firm name of Thomas & Fletcher; Mr. Thomas being the editor.  He was a man of considerable ability, and started upon his work with good promise of success and prosperity, but died Oct. 17, 1872.  The paper was then conducted by disinterested parties for his family, one year.  March 14, 1873, the paper was purchased by Alfred Williams, a man of thorough education and great talent.  He sold out, July 3, 1874, to Seneca W. Ely and William Leuthstrom.  Mr. Ely had formerly been one of the editors of the Scioto Gazette (Chillicothe), and was one of the pioneer editors in Ohio.  Messrs. Ely & Leuthstrom continued to publish the paper until December, 1875, when it became the property of its present proprietor and editor, S. Marfield, jr."  The old name of the paper was restored and hyphenated with the new, as the Union-Herald..  This journal is now in as flourishing condition as ever in its career, and through old in years, is by no means in its dotage.  The paper has always been, politically, either Whig or Republican.


     On the twelfth of April, 1834, Rev. John Russell and Jonathan and George Dreisbach, by authority of the general conference of the church of the United Brethren in Christ, bought a printing press in Circleville, and located there the Religious Telescope.  They bought, also, a lot and two houses for the use of the same.  The first number appeared December 16, 1834.  It was a medium

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sized folio, and published semi-monthly.  Its editor was the Rev. William Rhinehart, a man of much talent.  The paper was made a vigorous representative of the principles of the United Brethren church,, and its only official organ.  In 1839 Rev. William Hanby succeeded Rev. Mr. Rhinehart in the editorship.  The paper reached, in 1843, a circulation of two thousand copies, and in 1845 had three thousand subscribers.  Rev. David Edwards became its editor in the latter year.
     The paper was removed to Dayton, Ohio, in August, 1853, where it is now published.  It is now a large eight-page paper, and has a circulation of nine thousand.


     The Circleville Democrat and Watchman was started in 1837 as the Scioto Watchman.  There had been a Democratic paper started in Circleville in April, 1836, called the Peoples' Press, but it was short-lived.  At a meeting of members of the Democratic party in Circleville, May 27, 1837, it was resolved that one thousand dollars be raised by subscription "for the purpose of purchasing a press, to be devoted to the interests of the Democratic party."  The amount sufficient was subscribed, in a short time, by the following, then leading citizens and active Democrats:  Valentine Keffer, John M. Alkire, Henry N. Hedges, Nelson Franklin, Elliott Halstead, Samuel Diffenderfer, James Hurst, T. W. Morris, William M. Alkire, Thomas J. Winship, William Gill, M. H. Alkire, James Thompson, John Barnhill, John Allright, James Morris, John Morris, jr., Matthias Myers, Philip Jeiger, John Coffman, John Metzger, Benjamin Stout, Henry Morris, Richard Jenkins, John Bell, Abraham Park, David Rowe, G. Diffenderfer, John Morris, Nathan Perrill, A. L. Perrill, Thomas Duyea, Ezekiel Morris, Moses Morris, John Bonner, D. Kinnear, Samuel Dreisbach, John Irwin, Abraham Halstead, Stephen W. Lindsey.  Hon. T. J. Winship was the heaviest subscriber, taking three shares - seventy-five dollars.  Of this list of subscribers the following only are now living:  H. N. Hedges, sr., present probate judge of Pickaway county; Hon. A. L. Perrill, Hon. Nelson Franklin, of Carthage, Missouri; Ezekiel Morris  John Morris, of the vicinity of Circleville, and Joseph Brown, of Illinois.
     Nelson Franklin acted as treasurer, and collected the subscriptions.  H. N. Hedges was selected to purchase the necessary material, press, etc., and, about the first of August, 1837, the first number of the Scioto Watchman was published.  It was a six-column paper, and presented a very creditable appearance, for those days.  There is no file of the Scioto Watchman in existence, and we have to rely upon the recollection of old citizens for information.  For some time the paper did not give the name of publisher, publishing company, or editor, but it was run by the association of stockholders, and for a time - how long cannot be ascertained - Col. Valentine Keffer, who, for many years previous, had been conspicuous and influential in the political affairs of the county, was the business and editorial manager, with various local contributors - H. N. Hedges, sr., B. F. Brannan, now of Cincinnati, and Charles Fry, the printer, and others.  The association, after a few years, found that the publication of the paper was a losing business, and sold the material, etc., to the late Hon. Edson B. Olds, then “coming to the front” in politics, and, from that time until 1847, the paper experienced numerous changes.  In 1842, Samuel Pike. the noted and restless journalist, edited the Watchman, and was succeeded by S. P. Brainard, the paper then being the Circleville Watchman.
     On the ninth of August, 1844, the name was changed to Circleville Democratic Guard and Pickaway and Fayette Pilot, and Samuel Pike and L. D. Williard became the editors and publishers.  In the following November Mr. Pike withdrew, Mr. Williard continuing the publication.  In August, 1845, Jason Case was employed to print the paper, and the name of Watchman was  restored.  Mr. Williard retained the editorial management for some months, when he abandoned the concern, leaving Mr. Case to do the best he could with it, and removed to Washington county, but his name remained at the head of the paper for a year or more thereafter.  In the first part of 1946, Wm. McLaughlin was engaged as editor, and May 22d, of that year, was succeeded by Samuel Alburtis, who continued until January 15, 1847, when Mr. Case became the sole editor and publisher, continuing to successfully manage and increase the business of the paper until July 14, 1853, and O. E. Miles purchased the establishment and assumed entire control.  In October, 1853, Mr. Case again formed a connection with the Watchman, as editor, and in February, 1855, again retired, the duties of postmaster requiring his attention.  In February,1856, Mr. Miles disposed of a half interest in the office to Mr. Case, the firm name being Miles & Case.  Mr. Miles, having been elected county auditor, sold his interest to Joseph Gaston, of Belmont county, Ohio, in March, 1858.  Mr. Case remained in partnership with Gaston until July to, 1858, when his Mr. Gaston continued as editor and proprietor until August 1, 1859, when he sold out to John W. Kees, of Springfield, Ohio, who published the Watchman until June 29, 1862, when, connection with the paper finally ceased, the paper having become obnoxious to the administration at Washington, the office was seized and the paper suppressed, by order of the war department, and Mr. Kees arrested, taken to Washington city, confined in the old capitol prison, held for a short time and then released.  From April to June, 1862, Mr. Kees published the Daily Watchman, a small—sized sheet, which proved an unprofitable enterprise.  The establishment having become financially embarrassed, was sold at judicial sale, July 2, 1862, and purchased by the late Dr. Wayne Griswold, the principal creditor.  To evade the order of suppression, the name was changed to Circleville Democrat, and the publication resumed, with William Doane as publisher, who managed it with success until November 13, 1863, when the present editor and proprietor, A. R. Van Cleaf, purchased and entered into possession of the office, and has since conducted the paper, increasing its circulation from eight hundred to two thousand. and it now ranks with the first newspapers in the State.  In June, 1870,

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the old name, Watchman, was restored, and as addition to Democrat.
     Of those who have been editorially connected with the Democrat and Watchman, Valentine Keffer and Charles Frydied years ago, and a sketch of Colonel Keffer will be found in this work.
     Samuel Pike, after establishing more newspapers, in four or five different States, than any man in the country, died, only a few years since in Highland county, Ohio.  An an editorial writer, he occupied a high position.
     S. P. Brainard removed west, and of his subsequent history we have no information.  Neither are we informed of what became of William McLaughlin and Samuel Alburtis.
     L. D. Williard
, for many years a resident of Washington Court House, Ohio, prominent in public affairs there, afterwards emigrated west.
     Jason Case still resides in Circleville, and is the veteran printer of the county.  He learned the "art preservative" in the Delaware (Ohio) Gazette office, and for several years worked at the business in Columbus, Ohio.. For about a year he was foreman of the Ohio State Bulletin, and for four or five years was foreman of the Ohio State Journal office.  In April, 1834, he came from Columbus to Circleville, and entered into partnership with W. B. Thrall, in the publication of the Circleville Herald, which partnership existed three years.  In May, 1838, he again became connected in the publication of the Circleville Herald, the firm being Jason Case & Co., which terminated in 1843.  From 1845 to 1858, with two brief intervals, he was either publisher or editor of the Watchman a longer period than any other publisher of that paper, except the present editor and proprietor.  Mr. Case served as postmaster of Circleville eight years, from 1853 to 1861.  He was mayor if Circleville four terms, from 1861 to 1867,and 1875 to 1877.  He has been justice of the peace sixteen years, and is serving hi third term as coroner.
     O. E. Miles, who came to Circleville as a journeyman printer, and for several years was employed in the Religious Telescope office, is now one of the principal farmers and shrewdest business men in Pickaway county.  He served two terms as county auditor, from 1858 to 1862, and was a member of the State board of equalization, for Franklin and Pickaway district, elected in 1870.
     Joseph Gaston
removed to Oregon, where he engaged in  railroad enterprises, and accumulated wealth.
     John W. Kees
had previously published the Democratic Expositor, at Springfield, Ohio, and was clerk of the Ohio house of representatives in 1858-9.  He was partially insane, the result of the war excitement, when arrested in June, 1862.  Subsequently, he became totally deranged, and died in the Columbus insane asylum, November, 25, 1867.  When "clothed in his right mind," he was a writer of fore and ability.
     William Doane
, whose connection as publisher was intended to be only temporary, is now an honored and leading citizen of Circleville, as he has been for years, and is a member of the dry goods firm of Delaplane & Doane.


     The Circleville Herald was founded September 21, 1870, by Winfield S. McCallister and Francis Wolfley, both young men, natives of Circleville, fine practical printers, and with advanced ideas of journalism and the true office of the country newspaper.  Both had worked in the office of the old Circleville Herald, and that paper having been, on the death of William Bremigam, purchased by Mr. Denny, who changed it to the Circleville Union, it occurred to them to christen their new paper with the abandoned name of the old one.  The Circleville Herald soon began to be recognized, at home and abroad, as a live local paper, and Mr. McCallister received flattering offers of positions on various metropolitan papers, as well as acknowledged rank for his paper at home.  In 1873, he bought out his partner, Mr. Wolfley.  In February, 1874, his failing health led him to lease the office to Mr. John M. Rae, of Circleville, who conducted it with ability, till August, of that year, when Mr. McCallister again took charge, and remained in harness to the last, failing daily in body, but unquenchably bright in mind, and strong of purpose to the last hour.  He died December 9, 1874.  His widow, Mrs. Joanna McCallister, daughter of Judge T. N. Howell, retained the paper, as administratrix and guardian of her three young children.  It was leased, in May, 1875, to Miss Lillie C. Darst, of Circleville, who had edited it during the interim, and has continued the publication for over four years, the only instance in the State of a regular, first-class newspaper entirely edited and published by a lady.  In politics, the Herald is Republican, though never merely partisan.  It is devoted to the interests of the community, and strives to be a faithful chronicler of local events.  Miss Darst has been, for two years, secretary of the Ohio Editorial association, a body which admits no person not an actual editor and publisher of a bona fide newspaper, and is the only lady member.



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