[transcribed by Janece Streig]

Pages 307-311




The Pioneer Newspaper, the Norwich Packet and the Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Weekly Advertiser-The Connecticut Centinel-The Weekly Register-The Chelsea Courier-the Courier-The Norwich Courier-The Daily Courier-The Norwich Evening Courier-The Morning Bulletin-The True Republican-The Native American-The Norwich Republican-The Canal of Intelligence-The Norwich Spectator-The Norwich Free Pres-The Religious Intelligencer-Total Abstinence-The Gleaner-The Norwich News-Paixhan Gunn, Needle-American Patriot-The Weekly Reporter-The Norwich Tribune-The Examiner-The Weekly Reveille-the Aurora-Daily Aurora-Daily Advertiser-Cooley's Weekly-the Vim-The No License Advocate-The American Conflict-The Observer-The Evening Star-The Norwich Daily News.

The Pioneer Newspaper. -The Norwich Packet and the Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Weekly Advertiser. This was the ambitious title of the first newspaper which appeared at Norwich. It bore the date, "From Thursday, Oct. 1, to Thursday, Oct. 7, 1773."

At this time the population of the entire "nine miles square"-Norwich, Franklin, Lisbon, Bozrah, Sprague, Jewett City, and a part of Preston-was 7321, and the population of the are now included in the limits of the town of Norwich only 2997.

The Packet was a small four-page sheet, varying somewhat in size and typography with the unequal fortunes of the colonists during the exiting years of its issue, but the pages were generally about nine by fifteen inches in size. Sometimes the title included the rude cut of a ship under full sail. At other times the cut was omitted. The name was sometimes set in highly ornate Old English type, sometimes in an ungainly, sprawling script, sometimes in plain Roman capitals. It was printed on paper made at LEFFINGWELL's mill on the Yantic, and this also varied greatly in quality. Generally it was fairly strong and heavy, but there were weeks during the Revolution when paper was evidently hard to procure, and anything was seized by the printer which was clean enough to receive an impression and show the ink, and of sufficient consistency to go through the press untorn.

The Packet was issued at first by a firm composed of Alexander ROBERTSON, James ROBERTSON, and John TRUMBULL, They were editors, compositors, pressmen, mailing clerks, business managers, publishers, and news-boys, all in themselves. The ROBERTSONs were brothers,--"Scotch interlopers" the Sons of Liberty were accustomed to call them,--and Tories in politics. There was so little political discussion in the papers of the time that this fact did not operate against them till the Revolution had fairly begun. A reference to the rare files of the Packet shows that its editors allowed the partisans of liberty as ample scope in its columns as the loyalists. Nevertheless feeling ran so high during the Revolution that the ROBERTSONs found it wise to leave Norwich, where it had been their manifest intention to make themselves a home. They put the paper into Mr. TRUMBULL's hands and fled to New York, where, in 1768, they had begun their journalistic careers, setting up a royalist paper there on their return.

The Packet was first issued from an office "at the foot of the Green, near the Court-house." In 1775 it was removed to a building "near the meeting-house." Whence it was issued up to the time of its discontinuance. Its price was 6s. 8d. per annum.

Mr. TRUMBULL continued to edit and publish the paper from the summer or early fall of 1776, when the ROBERTSONs left Norwich, until his own death, Aug. 14, 1802. Not long before his death the name of the paper was changed to The Connecticut Centinel, and was issued under that name for several years by his widow, Mrs. Lucy TRUMBULL, and his sons, Charles E. TRUMBULL and Henry TRUMBULL. The course of business, however, was already towards "Chelsea," or "the Landing," as the present city was then called, and the publication of a paper at the old town doubtless soon became unprofitable. It was discontinued, and had no lineal successor.

The task of preparing and issuing a newspaper in those days was utterly unlike that which now confronts the journalist. There was little news from abroad, and that weeks or months old, no editorial comment, and no reproduction of the local news and gossip of the town in the form now demanded. A very long diplomatic document, "elegant extracts: from standard authors, letters and messages from generals, governors, and presidents,--sometimes so long that one ran in serial fashion through four weeks,--these made up the bulk of the reading matter; now and then an account of some important affair was given, other than the official and governmental report; occasionally a "local item" appeared, showing a distant family resemblance to the columns of such paragraphs which are now issued every day. But in the main the Packet could not be called a newsy sheet. Not the least curious feature of the newspapers of that day is the character of their advertisements. Many of them consist of the briefest possible announcement of something wanted to buy or sell, and the conclusion "inquire of the printer." The printer was the general factotum, the repository of all news in the social or business world. He was expected to carry in his head a full description of all the cows for sale in town, with their prices and whereabouts; to know all about the morals and manners of the last new dancing-master, what his terms were, and where he lodged; to have at his tongue's end an inventory of all the goods to be sold at the next auction, and to be always ready to be "inquired of" on these and all other topics.

The story is told that an old neighbor of Mr. TRUMBULL, known as Barney, lay dying somewhere near the close of the last century. He had passed into a comatose state, and was near his end when Mr. TRUMBULL came to call on him. "He is beyond knowing any one; he will not recognize you," said the watchers. Mr. TRUMBULL persisted in seeing his old friend, and was admitted to the sick room. "Don't you know me, Barney?" he asked, lifting the dying man's hand, and holding it in his own. Barney opened his eyes feebly and uttered his last words: "If I don't, I can 'inquire of the printer.'" There was no doubt that the old man knew his visitor.

Register, Courier, Bulletin. -Nov. 29, 1790, appeared the first number of The Weekly Register. It was "published by Ebenezer BUSHNELL, 24 rods (the first number says '34 rods,' but this was a mistake of the printer, corrected in the next issue) west of the meeting-house." This was also a four-page sheet, eighteen by eleven inches, and competed vigorously for patronage with the Packet. June 17, 1791, Thomas HUBBARD, Mr. BUSHNELL's brother-in-law, joined the firm, and in October, 1793, Mr. BUSHNELL retired, and he assumed full control. Mr. HUBBARD continued to publish the Register at the old town till 1796, when the growth of business at "the Landing" led him to change his base. He opened a new office there, removed his type and presses, and on Nov. 30, 1796, issued his paper under a new name, but with no other change as regards character, appearance, or "make-up."

No. 1, vol. i., of this paper bore the title "Chelsea Courier, Norwich (Chelsea Society), printed and published by Thomas HUBBARD." Although it was really only a continuation of the Register, the fact that this number was the first to bear the name Courier, which has been steadily retained up to the present time thorough a flourishing existence of eighty-five years, makes a reference to its appearance and contents of especial interest.

It displayed under the local heading "the Proposals of Thomas HUBBARD for printing a weekly paper to be entitled the Chelsea Courier," in the following form:

"1. The Courier will be published in Chelsea on Wednesday, and delivered to city subscribers in the forenoon.

"2. It shall be printed on good paper of royal size (about eighteen by eleven inches).

"3. It shall contain the most important Foreign and Domestic Intelligence, together with such original productions, etc., as shall be thought worthy of public attention.

"4. The price to subscribers will be one dollar and sixty-seven cents per annum, exclusive of postage.

"5. One-half of the subscription will be expected on delivery of the first number."

The first and second pages contained a paper on "Cruelty to Inferior Animals," by Soame JENYNS; a proclamation by George WASHINGTON, President of the United States; foreign letters and news under dates from September 18th to October 7th, and news from Philadelphia up to November 16th, The matter under the "Norwich" head, corresponding to the present local items, consisted of an address by the New York Legislature to Governor JAY regarding WASHINGTON's refusal to accept another election as President, Governor JAY's response, a letter from Demerara, and "Pool's Marine List." A poem, several miscellaneous clippings, and a few columns of advertisements made up the paper. Not a very sensational table of contents!

Some of the advertisements in the early Couriers read strangely these days. Here is one from the edition of June 21, 1798:

"Ran away from the subscriber, a negro Boy named Polledore, about fourteen years of age, four feet high, thick set; wore away a short drab-colored jacket and tow-cloth trowsers. Whoever will take up said boy and return him shall have ten cents reward and no charged paid.


Another, of a somewhat earlier date, is written in a style that would hardly be considered business-like nowadays:

"Young ladies of Norwich, awake from your sleep; it is high time to rise and trim the lamp of life; it is now past daylight, and the morning school at the Landing has begun. Look at the prize before you; it is no less than a Silver or Gold medal for the best Scholar in Reading or Speaking-those young misses who wish to run the race in this field of Ciceronian honor will please to make application in season before this female society is filled. Methinks one single consideration will animate the rising Fair to excel and obtain this immortal prize-the very thought that this golden prize will be more durable than your natural life-will inspire you with redoubled ardor to gain the prize in view; yea, your Children and your Children's Children shall rise up with blessings on their lips and say: this gold medal was an honorary prize which my Grandmother won at school when she was but a very child.

"N.B. Application may be made to the master at his lodgings at Mr. SNOW's-the hours of evening school are from half-past six to half-past eight o'clock.

"Chelsea, March 15, 1797."

Aug. 9, 1797, the editor writes: "On Thursday last the President of the United States with his family passed through town on his way from Philadelphia to his seat in Massachusetts. This artillery company paraded in honor of the event, and fired a Federal salute, the intervals of which were filled by a band of music; after this a large number of gentlemen escorted him a few miles on his journey. As he rode through Chelsea, the bells rang peals of grateful respect." That is all about a visit from John ADAMS.

May 31, 1798, The Chelsea Courier appeared as simply The Courier. Aug. 6, 1800, the words "Chelsea Society" were omitted from the date-line, and "Norwich, Con.," substituted. Nov. 13, 1805, Thomas HUBBARD retired from the office, and was succeeded by his son, Russell HUBBARD. March 22, 1809, the name was changed to Norwich Courier. Feb. 12, 1817, Theophilus R. MARVIN joined with Mr. HUBBARD in publishing the paper, but his name was dropped out Feb. 17, 1819. Mr. HUBBARD continued as publisher until April 3, 1822, when he sold the paper to Thomas ROBINSON and John DUNHAM, who began a new series with the number of April 10th, adding four columns to the size of the paper and otherwise improving it. Mr. ROBINSON retired from the firm in March, 1825, and Mr. DUNHAM conducted the paper until Sept. 14, 1841.

The Courier then passed into the hands of the Rev. Dorson E. SYKES. Mr. SYKES was evidently a pushing man, for on March 7, 1842, he began the issue of a Daily Courier, a small sixteen-column, penny sheet, which failed to pay expenses and was discontinued Aug. 12, 1842. IT was promptly followed, however, by a tri-weekly, published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the weekly edition being steadily continued through all changes.

At this time the office of the paper was at No. 51 Water Street, but Oct. 28, 1845, it was removed to Franklin Square, an the next number appeared under the title Norwich Evening Courier, though still only a tri-weekly, and in an enlarged form. IN the spring of 1846, Mr. SYKES adopted the plan of advance payments from subscribers, and thereby put the paper at once on a better financial footing than it had ever before occupied.

With the close of November, 1858, the tri-weekly was discontinued, and December 1st the Daily Courier again appeared, D. E. SYKES, editor and proprietor; C. D. RICE, Manager. Mr. SYKES retired at the close of the following February, and George B. SMITH succeeded him in control of the paper. Mr. SMITH's career was short and disastrous, and Sept. 3, 1859, Mr. SYKES again assumed the management. The daily was discontinued once more, and a semi-weekly edition took its place.

Mr. SYKES' second and final valedictory appeared June 6, 1860. H. C. KINNE was his successor, and signalized the change by again styling the paper The Evening Courier. Aug. 20, 1860, a daily edition was once more started, but proved the shortest-lived of all. Both daily and weekly ceased publication at the close of November, and for two weeks there was a hiatus. During this fortnight the Courier was bought by Manning, Platt & Co., and revived as the weekly edition of the Morning Bulletin, in connection with which daily it has since been published.

The Norwich Morning Bulletin was established Dec. 15, 1858, by W. D. MANNING, James N. PERRY, I. H. BROMLEY, and Homer BLISS, under the firm-name of Manning, Perry & Co. Mr. BROMLEY was the editor, Mr. PERRY the business manager, and Mr. MANNING the superintendent of printing. The salutatory was business-like and to the point, with its columns were from the first well filled with the latest news put in a fresh and readable form. Soon after its first number the publication of a weekly edition, The Eastern Bulletin, was begun. The daily paper was in every sense an experiment, and that, too, in a field which had been peculiarly disastrous to similar attempts, but hard work and journalistic tact soon put it on a firm foundation. Sept. 7, 1860, the firm consisted of W. D. MANNING, C. B. PLATT, and I. H. BROMLEY, under the firm-name of Manning, Platt & Co. the purchase of the Courier was speedily followed by the discontinuance of the Eastern Bulletin.

I. H. BROMLEY was editor of the Bulletin from its first number till his enlistment as captain of Company C, Eighteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, July 26, 1862. During his absence in the army he retained his connection with the paper, though W. H. W. CAMPBELL acted as editor. At the close of the war he returned to the editorial chair, retaining it till the middle of February, 1868, when he was succeeded by Mr. CAMPBELL.

The Bulletin Association was formed in December, 1863, and published the Bulletin and Courier until 1870, when the papers were purchased by Campbell & Co. (W. H. W. CAMPBELL, William FITCH, and Charles SPALDING). March 1, 1873, the Bulletin Company was formed, and A. S. BOLLES became editor. May 1, 1874, Mr. BOLLES gave place to E. J. EDWARDS, the paper being under the general management of William FITCH after March 8, 1875. May 1, 1875, Mr. EDWARDS was succeeded in the editorial room by Mr. CAMPBELL, who again gave place to Mr. BOLLES, Dec. 17, 1785. Mr. BOLLES retired in June, 1881.

The business management of the Bulletin has been in the hands of C. B. PLATT, who retired Feb. 1, 1868; H. P. GATES, from Feb. 1, 1868, to Jan. 1, 1870; William FITCH, from Jan. 1, 1870, to March 1, 1873; E. C. RICE, from March 1, 1873, to March 8, 1875; William FITCH, again, from March 8, 1875, to Dec. 14, 1875; and Charles E. DYER, from Dec. 14, 1875, to May 1, 1880. The present business manager is A. H. HARRIS, and the managing editor A. P. HITCHCOCK.

The Bulletin was first issued from an office in Chapman's Block, Franklin Square. It was a four-page, 24=column sheet, each page about fifteen and a half by twenty-one inches in size. Early in August, 1866, the Bulletin Building was completed, and the Bulletin removed to it. Aug. 8, 1866, the paper was enlarged to twenty-eight columns, and the columns extended about three inches in length.

For many years the Bulletin has been accepted as the leading daily of Eastern Connecticut. It aims at being a worthy exponent of the principles of its constituents in this part of the State, as well as a live newspaper, giving all the news of the day and discussing it with freedom. It is and always has been Republican in politics.

Other Newspapers. -In June, 1804, Consider STERRY, John STERRY, and Epaphras PORTER began the publication of a political paper, The True Republican, devoted to the defense of Jeffersonian Democracy. It lived about three years.

In February, 1812, Samuel WEBB issued the first number of The Native American from a press at Norwichtown. In 1820, Mr. WEBB's press was transferred to Windham, where he, with Henry and Horatio WEBB, began the publication of the Independent Observer and County Advertiser, July 1, 1820.

The Norwich Republican was issued in September, 1828, by Boardman & Faulkner. In 1829 it came under the editorial control of John T. ADAMS, and the firm-name was changed to Adams & Faulkner. In the same year the Stonington Telegraph, which had previously been issued at Stonington, was merged with it. Mr. ADAMS remained in editorial charge till 1831. The paper was discontinued in 1838. During its last three years it was a Whig organ, published by Marcus B. YOUNG, and edited by Lafayette S. FOSTER.

In 1826 the prospects of a canal from Norwich to Worcester were widely discussed, and Levi Huntington YOUNG seized upon the theme of the day for the name of a new paper, The Canal of Intelligence. It was stopped in 1829.

Marcus B. YOUNG issued The Norwich Spectator in 1827, and The Norwich Free Press in 1830. Park BENJAMIN was the editor of the first, but both were short-lived.

The Religious Intelligencer, edited by J. HUNTINGTON, and published by J. DUNHAM, appeared June 11, 1831, but was soon discontinued.

In May, 1841, John G. COOLEY began the issue of Total Abstinence as a monthly. It was the first paper advocating total abstinence published in Connecticut. It was continued as a monthly about two years, and then followed by a weekly of the same name. Later the name was changed to the Spectator. It was afterwards sold to B. F. TAYLOR, who again changed the name, calling it the Norwich Gleaner.

The Norwich News, Paixhan Gun, Needle, and American Patriot were ephemeral publications of about this period.

The Weekly Reporter, which began in 1845, had an existence of three or four years.

In January, 1852, E. S. WELLS began the publication of The Norwich Tribune. The paper soon passed into the hands of C. B. PLATT and Edmund C. STEDMAN, who made of it the best paper Norwich had yet seen. It was too good to live, and ceased to exist in June, 1853.

The Examiner, an advocate of the Maine Law, Sabbath observance, and the improvement of the common schools, was first issued July 16, 1853. John G. COOLEY was its publisher and office editor, and among the other editorial writers were the Rev. H. P. ARMS, the Rev. J. P. GULLIVER, and the Rev. J. A. GOODHUE. It survived till Nov. 16, 1855.

A Know-Nothing organ, the State Guard, was published during a part of 1855 and 1856, and the Weekly Reveille ran a few numbers in 1858.

May 20, 1835, J. HOLBROOK began the issue of the Weekly Aurora. In the summer of 1838 it became the property of Gad S. GILBERT, and afterwards of William FRENCH, and French & Conklin. Aug. 8, 1844 it appeared under the management of John W. STEDMAN, editor, proprietor, and printer. During the year 1860 a Daily Aurora was connected with the office. Jan. 21, 1867, the publication of the Daily Advertiser was begun. It was a large folio, devoted to the dissemination of Democratic principles. Its last issue bears date of Aug. 1, 1874. The Aurora was discontinued Nov. 26, 1878.

Cooley's Weekly was established July 15, 1876, by the veteran printer and publisher, Mr. John G. COOLEY. Mr. COOLEY threw his whole energy and persistency into the new enterprise, and although it met with formidable competition, he succeeded in placing it upon a solid footing. It grew rapidly into public favor, and now takes front rank among the leading weekly journals of the State. It is a large (thirty-two-column) four-page sheet. In consequence of impaired health, Mr. COOLEY retired from the active management of the journal in 1880, since which time it has been conducted by Mr. John G. COOLEY, Jr., with Mr. David S. ADAMS as editor.

During the summer and fall of 1877, The Reformer was published as a temperance paper, under the editorial management of Rev. Hugh MONTGOMERY. The Vim was published by the same gentlemen from May to October, 1878, and The No License Advocate from May to October, 1879. The Rev. L. T. CHAMBERLAIN and the Rev. L. W. BACON assisted Mr. MONTGOMERY in editing the latter paper. In the fall of 1879, The American Conflict was begun by Henry BROWN, and it has since been issued as either a weekly, semi-weekly, or monthly. It is now published at Danielsonville.

The Observer, a weekly paper, was published by Daniel LEE from April 8, 1879, to May 22, 1880. The Evening Star, a daily afternoon paper, issued by Gordon WILCOX, lived from May 15, 1880, to June 25, 1881.

Norwich News. -March 19, 1881, the News Publishing Company began the issue of the Norwich News, a daily afternoon paper, with J. F. RATHBONE as editor. It is a wide-awake sheet, and justly deserves it present prosperity.

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