History of the newspapers of Beaver County, Pennsylvania

In writing a history of the newspapers of Beaver County, the author had two objects in view, first to get a connected history of each paper as to time and name, and second to place on record a sketch and portrait of every writer and printer who attained any prominence in the work, in any line he pursued.

The former it is believed has been accomplished with very few exceptions. Every public document bearing on the subject, and copies of newspapers that could be found, were carefully examined, and individuals conversant with any facts were seen or written to, and the facts thus secured were used, so that as a matter of mere historical sequence, the subject seems to be exhausted.

The second object has been but partially carried out, much to the writer's disappointment, and to the regret no doubt of the readers of the book. In the case of many of the early actors, a full sketch was not obtainable, and portraits were not to be had; but in the last half century or more there are many of whom pen pictures and portraits should be had, which could not be secured. Men yet living, in many cases, were the hardest to get. Weeks of time, and more weeks of labor, have been spent to reach this end, but have failed, so the work is sent forth incomplete in this respect. If it could have been made more complete, the value of the work would be greatly enhanced, yet the more prominent persons, with a very few exceptions, are given.

This history has been prepared as a tribute to the author's journalistic associates, editors, publishers and printers. The search for material, and the writing and putting it in shape for the printer, is the author's contribution, for which no compensation would be accepted. The portraits have been inserted at the cost of securing half tones, without profit to the author, and the only source of income to pay for the mechanical work, is the sale of the book to those who may have a curiosity to see it, or a desire to own it for its historic value.

The author's thanks are due to every one who helped in any way in preparing the book for publication, whose names are cherished in the mind of the writer, if they do not appear here.


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Beaver County, Pennsylvania, was erected March 12, 1800, and the county was organized for judicial purposes April 2, 1803, the first court being held February 6, 1804, in the house of Abner Lacock on Third street, with Hon. Jesse Moore judge. Jonathan Coulter, Joseph Hemp- hill and Denny McClure were designated to erect the necessary public buildings, and Beavertown was selected as the county seat, under the Act of Assembly forming the county. Two of the reserved squares were selected as the locations for the public buildings. The first building was the jail, the second story of which was used for the Court room until 1810, during which year the first Court house was completed, on the same lot as the present one, but east toward the old jail. It was a one story structure to which an eastern wing was added in 1840, and a western wing in 1848, for use of public officials and to preserve the records. The present jail was built in 1858-9.

With the advent of the Courts and the business of the county officials, came the necessity for advertising such public acts as the law required. There was then no paper in the county, and legal advertisements were placed in Pittsburg papers; and indeed after the establishment of a Beaver county paper, important legal advertisements were required to be published in the paper at "Washington, Pa., and the Pittsburg papers, from which two counties Beaver county was formed. The politicians depended mainly on the Pittsburg papers for a hearing and for access to the newspaper reading public.

A paper of that city which had most to do with Beaver county, was the "Commonwealth," started in Pittsburg Wednesday morning July 24, 1805. It was printed and published every Wednesday morning by Ephraim Pentland. Mr. Pentland was the son-in-law of Abner Lacock of Beaver, was a Pittsburg lawyer, and was admitted to the Beaver County Courts April 11, 1831. He was city recorder of Pittsburg for a number of years, but was best in those days in his stormy career as a newspaper editor.

Mr. Lacock was a frequent, indeed almost a regular contributor to the columns of the "Commonwealth." In the first issue of the paper, an editorial reference is made to a letter from Lancaster, Pa., to John Israel, register and recorder of Washington county, and editor of the "Tree of Liberty," no doubt the same Israel who was arraigned in the columns of the "Commonwealth," in its second number. In that number Mr. Lacock had an article two and one-fourth columns in length, defending his course in the legislature from the attacks of an "apostate printer." This was supplemented by an editorial commenting on the letter to Israel, from which the following is taken: "There certainly can be but one sentiment of disapprobation with all parties, towards the editor who wilfully mutilates and disfigures what is committed to his charge for publication. Israel knew Mr. Lacock's letter was unanswerable, and forsooth undertook to destroy the effect of his language by altering the spelling and punctuation. Oh, meanness unparalleled."

This "Tree of Liberty" is spoken of at later times, and in the "Minerva" of Beaver, October 8, 1808, a reply was made to articles that appeared in the "Tree of Liberty," which has led some to think that it was a Beaver county paper published prior to the "Minerva," but it is clearly established that it was a Pittsburg paper and was never published in this county. Mr. Israel sold the "Tree of Liberty" in December 1805. In January 1807, Hon. Walter Forward was editor of the paper, and he was Secretary of the U. S. Treasury in 1841-43.

In the issue of the "Commonwealth" August 7, 1805, a report is given of a meeting in Beaver county, in which it is said that a number of Democratic Republicans convened on the banks of the Beaver creek in order to celebrate the anniversary of our independence, with the usual toasts. One of the toasts was, "The Tree whose fruit is blasted, may it soon be despoiled of its branches, and the axe of the Commonwealth at its root." In the issue of the same paper of September 28, 1805, there appeared a call to the Republicans of Beaver county on the issues at stake, in the approaching election. Mr. Lacock had a number of articles in the paper on political questions, and many other Beaver county articles appeared frequently.

Abner Lacoek was born near Alexandria, Va., July 9, 1770, came to Beaver county in 1796, and on the 19th of September of that year, was appointed by Governor Thomas Mifflin Justice of the Peace for Pitt township, Allegheny county, afterward made a part of Beaver county. He was elected to the legislature in 1801; was appointed Associate Judge in 1803, and served in the first court held in his house in 1804, resigning to return to the legislature, where he served until elected to the State Senate in 1808; was elected to Congress in 1810, and to the United States Senate in 1813, serving six years, the first U. S. Senator from Beaver county. He was a strong friend of Presidents Madison and Monroe, but intensely disliked Andrew Jackson. He died April 32, 1837.

By act of the legislature September 28, 1791, Governor Thomas Mifflin was authorized to have surveyed, near the mouth of the Beaver river, on or near where the old French town stood, two hundred acres of land in town lots, and also one thousand acres adjoining and on the upper side thereof, as nearly square as might be, in outlots of not less than five nor more than ten acres each. The survey of the land was made by Daniel Leet in November 1792. Fort Mcintosh was established here in 1778, and prior to that time about twenty years, there was a town built by the French for the use of certain Indian tribes. By the Act of March 12, 1800, establish- ing the county of Beaver, the town was designated and fixed as the county seat. Then the beautiful plateau on which the town was built, was covered with a dense growth of shrubs and saplings. The town was regularly incorporated March 29, 1802, and entered upon its legal existence.