Early Printing in Dayton, Ohio

EARLY PRINTING

IN DAYTON, OHIO

 

BY DOUGLAS C. McMURTRIE

 

DAYTON OHIO

PRINTING HOUSE CRAFTSMEN’S

CLUB OF DAYTON AND VICINITY

MCMXXXV

 

One thousand copies printed in July, 1935

 

Composition by The Dayton Linotyping Company

Printing and Binding by The Thompson Printing Company

Photoengravings by Dayton Process Engravers, Inc.

Paper by The Central Ohio Paper Company

 

 

WITH SINCERE ESTEEM, THIS LITTLE ESSAY

ON THE WORK OF THEIR PREDECESSORS IS

DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR TO THE MEMBERS

OF THE PRINTING HOUSE CRAFTSMEN’S

CLUB OF DAYTON AND VICINITY

 

 

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION

 

            In May, I932, it was my privilege to come to Dayton to address the Printing House Craftsmen's Club of Dayton and Vicinity and the Dayton Advertising Club. During the course of my stay in the city, I spent as much time as possible in the Dayton Public Library, which boasts an enviable collection of early Dayton newspapers.

            In view of my active interest in American printing history, I made numerous notes regarding the work of the early Dayton printers and publishers. Learning of this activity, my good friends, John N. Taylor and the late Walter Wallick of The Dayton Linotyping Company, asked me to put in consecutive form my notes on Dayton printing history, and offered their services to set the copy in type. Mr. Carl P. Knab of The Thompson Printing Company supplemented their suggestion by offering to print the material.

            At the instance of these friends, therefore, I have undertaken to prepare this brief account of typographical beginnings in Dayton. The statements regarding the early press in city and county histories are brief and unsatisfactory. The one important contribution to the subject has been that made by Clarence S. Brigham in his "Bibliography of American Newspapers."

            There is known to me, therefore, no adequate account of pioneer printing in Dayton. This first effort, which does not pretend to the dignity of an exhaustive monograph, may, therefore, have some value and interest to those interested in typographic history in general, and to the present-day printers of Dayton in particular. At least it has the merit of being based almost entirely on original contemporary sources.

            I desire to acknowledge the courteous assistance of Mr. Paul North Rice, librarian of the Dayton Public Library, in placing its files of the Dayton newspapers freely at my disposal, and in answering subsequently a number of queries. Dr. A. W. Drury has kindly provided needed information, from his rich store of knowledge of Dayton's history. And I am grateful to Mr. G. Walter Zapf of the Dayton Process Engravers, Inc., for the photoengravings reproducing the examples of early Dayton printing.

 

DOUGLAS C. McMURTRIE

 

EARLY PRINTING

IN DAYTON, OHIO

 

 

            THERE is some uncertainty regarding the date of the first establishment of the press in Dayton. One of the early histories (1) of the community made the statement that Noah Crane brought a press over from Lebanon in July, 1806, and began to publish a newspaper, which was discontinued after a few issues. Crane is said to have become ill and returned to Lebanon. This state­ment has been repeated by every successive history of Dayton or of Montgomery County and has thus gained considerable currency. ((1) Maskell E. Curwen, Sketch of the History of the City of Dayton, second edition, Dayton, 1850, page 23.)

            We have no record of the name of the newspaper, nor can a single copy of it be found. Furthermore, investi­gators of Ohio newspaper history have found no mention in papers published in other towns of the establishment of the publication or the receipt of exchange copies. Also, no printing is known to have existed in Lebanon as early as 1806. Noah Crane was, however, associated with Nathaniel M'Clean in the publishing of the Western Star at Lebanon, about 1810. It is, of course, possible that a copy of this legendary Dayton newspaper may some time turn up, or that contemporary mention of it may be found, but in the absence of some satis factory evidence, we must deal with the story of the Crane paper as legend. From this point onward we are on firm ground.

            WILLIAM M'CLURE and George Smith printed the first issue" of The Dayton Repertory on September 23, 1808, to judge from the date of Vol. 1, No.2, which appeared on Friday, September 30. The office address was given as "Main Street".(2)   ((2) 'The date of this first issue is given incorrectly in several local histories as September 18, 1808. I endeavor, in this essay, to depend so far as possible on the first-hand evidence afforded by the issues of the newspapers themselves.)

            The Dayton Repertory was a small four-page sheet, 70 by 120 inches in size, with two columns to the page. From a publication statement on the last page of the second issue, we learn that it "Is printed weekly, at two dollars, paid in advance, or two dollars and fifty cents, paid at the end of the year.

            "Advertisements inserted for three weeks at the rate of one dollar per square, and twenty-five cents for each subsequent insertion. In all cases the money must accompany Advertisements.

            "No subscriber shall be at liberty to discontinue until all arrearages have been paid.

            "All letters addressed to the Editors must be post paid, otherwise they will not be attended to."

            In common with many midwestern pioneer printers, M'Clure and Smith were in need of assistance in the shop. In the issue of September 30, 1808, we find the following advertisement: "Wanted immediately, an apprentice to learn the printing business, a boy of reputable connections and good morals, between I5 and 16 years of age, will be taken on good terms - apply at this Printing office."

            Some of the other advertisements in this issue throw light on the early mercantile interests of Dayton. H. G. Phillips announced "Seasonable goods ... A large assortment of merchandise." David Reid offered "private entertainment ...." A house and lot in Dayton were offered for sale by Paul D. Butler.

            "Weaving is carried on" by James Hanna, who advertised "Coverlids, diaper, floor carpets, and woolen cloth." Apprentices to a. number of trades were advertised for. There were also published a number of legal and election notices.

            As to news, the greater part of the issue was devoted to reprinted dispatches from Spain, England, and France. Almost no local news, which would be of the greatest interest to us, was published. The pioneer editor evidently assumed that the residents knew what was going on locally.

            An important feature in the business of the early printing office was the sale of legal blanks and forms. So we find in the issue of October 7, 1808, the expected advertisement. "Magistrates' Executions and Blank Promissory Notes, may be had at this printing office." And "Blank Deeds, for sale at this Printing office."

            In the issue of October 14, 1808, Steele & Pierce offered "a general assortment of merchandise, consisting of Dry Goods, Grocery's, Hard Ware, Queen's and Glass Ware, Medicines, Stationary, Iron and Castings, &c., which they will sell low for cash, or such produce as will suit them."

            The printers advertised "Rags wanted" so that they could supply these to the paper mill from which they obtained the stock on which the Repertory was printed. And B. Van Cleve, the postmaster, advertised unclaimed letters.

            In the fifth issue, which was dated October 21, 1808, the printers made the following announcement: ''The office of the Repertory is removed to the south side of second street, between main & Jefferson streets - in consequence of which the publication of the paper will be suspended for a few weeks." They also advertised:

            "To Rent, That convenient room lately occupied as a printing-office. - Terms to be made known on applica­tion to the printers."

In this same issue, rags are again solicited: ''The highest price will be given for any quantity of clean Linen and Cotton rags, if delivered at this printing ­office."

During the suspension, Smith sold his interest in the enterprise to Henry Disbrow. The newspaper reappeared on February I, 1809, the definite article being dropped from the title which now read. Dayton Repertory and was embellished by flourishes. This was Vol. I, No. 6. The publication had been materially enlarged to a four­-column, four-page paper, measuring 83/4 by I8 1/4 inches in page size. The same terms and conditions were repeated.

            The Dayton Repertory was apparently the first print­ing and publishing venture with which George Smith was associated - but not the last. In I8n and 1812 he was in partnership with Joel Buttles in the publication of the Western Intelligencer at Worthington, Ohio, and in 1814 and 1815 was associated with Samuel Pelham in publishing the Ohio Vehicle at Xenia, Ohio. Part of the time independently and then jointly with John Eddy, he published at Lebanon, Ohio, the Western Star in 1816 and, from 1816 to 1818, the Farmer. A George Smith, probably the same man, was a member of the firm of Smith Be Bolton, of Indianapolis, who were printers to the state of Indiana from 1822 to 1830.

            With the issue of May 8, 1809, the flourishes disappeared from the heading, which again became The Dayton Repertory, this title being set in a typeface resembling our present-day Ultra Bodoni.

            In the issue of April 12, 1809, was announced the death of William M'Clure, sen., of Montgomery County --, apparently the father of one of the co-publishers of the Repertory. In the issue of June 7 of the same year, we learn that William M'Clure, the printer, was a trustee of Miami University.

            By July 26, the publishers were evidently producing their newspaper comfortably, for they begin advertising in the issue of that date for outside work: "Printing of every description executed in the neatest manner and on the shortest notice at this office." In the issue of August 9, 1809, they advertise: "Writing paper of the best quality for sale at this office, by the ream or quire, for which cash and rags will be taken in payment."

            They were also undertaking the business of bookselling, for in the issue of July 26 and succeeding weeks we find this advertisement: "School Books, Kentucky Preceptors., Webster's Spelling Books, Murray's First Book for Children, and Primmers to be at this office, for which cash or clean linen and cotton rags will be taken."      

            The issue of December If, 1809, is the last known copy of The Dayton Repertory.

 

            THE next newspaper to make its bow to the residents of Dayton was The Ohio Centinel, the first issue of which appeared on May 3, 1810, if we may Judge from the earliest located copy, Vol I, No.2, which was dated May 10, 1810. This paper was "printed and published" by Isaac G. Burnet. In its masthead was this quotation from the words of Washington: "With slight shades of difference, we have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles."

            In the issue of May 10 appeared the ubiquitous advertisement: "Wanted immediately, at this office, an Apprentice to the Printing business; a lad between twelve and fourteen years old would suit best."

            The most interesting advertisement in this issue, however, concerns the earliest known project for book printing in Dayton. There were set forth "Proposals for publishing by subscription a book entitled The Christian Hymn Book." William M'Clure, one of the printers of the lamented Repertory, was a member of the committee compiling this volume. These proposals were repeated in subsequent issues, but the subscriptions apparently fell short of providing the needed support, for we find no record that it went beyond the status of a project.

            Burnet was a vigorous writer with definite-ideas and the courage to express them. Many of his editorials could be described as nothing less than acrimonious.

            In the issue of November I, 1810, we find this note:

            "The Editor is sorry to inform his patrons that it will be out of his power to publish a paper next week," but as to the nature of the difficulty we have no inkling.

            In the next number which appeared, dated November 15, Burnet rebukes a fellow-editor in Cincinnati: "We must request the Editors of Liberty Hall, not to extract from the Ohio Centinel, without giving us the usual credit. We hope this friendly hint will be attended to."

            On December 13, 1810, Henry Disbrow, another former publisher of the Repertory, advertises a reward of one cent for the return of a runaway apprentice, Ezekiel Chambers.

            In the issue of February 21, 1811, were advertised "Proposals by N. M'Clean & A. M'Guire, for publishing by subscription, a work entitled The Star in the East, A Sermon Preached in the Parish Church of St. James, Bristol, on Sunday, February 26, 1809. By the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, LL.D .... Lebanon, Feb. 1, 1811. Subscriptions will be received at the office of the Ohio Centinel." This advertisement is of particular interest in showing the make-up at that time of the firm publishing the Western Star at the nearby town of Lebanon.

            In the Ohio Centinel of April 18, 1811, Burnet refers to a newly established contemporary: "We have omitted to notice the establishment of a new paper at Lancaster in this state, called the 'Independent Press,' on account of its hitherto equivocal character. But the last number which has come to hand, proves its undeniable claim to the title it has assumed .... "

            The sermon which it was proposed to print at Lebanon appeared in due course, as we learn from the following notice in the Ohio Centinel of June 13, 1811:

            "Just published, and for sale at this office, (price 25 Cents,) The Star in the East ... Those gentlemen who subscribed, at this office, for copies of the above Sermon, are requested to call and receive them." In the issue of June 27, the statement is put more accurately: "Just received, and for sale at this office ... "

            We learn from the Ohio Centinel of June 20, 1811, that a library had already been established in Dayton. This is evidenced by the following notice, which was signed by Daniel C. Cooper, Joseph H. Crane, and Isaac G. Burnet as directors: "The proprietors of the Dayton Library will take notice, that at the July meeting, in 1810, it was resolved that those proprietors who did not, within one year, pay the tax which was then imposed, should forfeit the share on which such tax was imposed. The time allowed for this purpose, will expire on the first Monday of July next. It will, therefore, be necessary for those proprietors, who wish to prevent a forfeiture of their shares, to come forward and pay to the Treasurer the taxes due thereon."

            With the issue of October 17, 1811, which was Vol. 2, No. 73, there was a distinct change in the typography of the Ohio Centinel. A new and smaller body type was adopted, replacing the much worn fonts previously in use, and the heading was set in a new typeface much resembling our present-day exceedingly black member of the Bodoni family.

            In the issue of December 18, 1811, the editor sadly reports the death of his baby daughter: "On Monday last Sally Burnet, aged nine months; infant daughter of the Editor of this paper. She was another victim of that fatal disorder, the Croup, which is carrying desolation into almost every family. It appears to be incurable..." A number of other deaths are likewise chronicled.

            Burnet published the Ohio Centinel for three even volumes of 52 issues each. In Vol. III, No. 156, dated Wednesday, May 19, 1813, he announces its suspension: ''The present number completes the third year of the Ohio Centinel. I have disposed of the establishment and it will immediately pass into other hands.

            "I cannot take leave of my patrons without expressing my sincere acknowledgments to them in general for their liberal indulgence and punctual attention to the discharge of their accounts.

            "It is hoped that those whose accounts are still unsettled will give me as little trouble as possible. I earnestly request them to call and pay me the price of my labor. Those who have paid in advance for more papers than they have received, will get their complement from the new proprietors.          "Isaac G. Burnet.

            "The next paper will be published by the new proprietors and will not appear until Monday the 31st inst. The printing office will hereafter be kept in the building lately occupied by Doctor Edwards as an apothecary shop.

            ''The paper will hereafter appear on Monday."

 

            THE earliest extant issue of the Ohio Republican is that of November 1, 1813, which was Vol. 1, No. 23. Counting back from this date, however, shows the first issue to have appeared on May 31, 1813, as promised in Burnet's valedictory. This issue of November 1 was published by Pettit & Strain. This was M. S. Pettit, as we learn later, but Strain's first name or initials are not stated. Query: was he the Robert Strain who "formerly kept a public house in Dayton" and who advertised on May 29, 1815, his "Traveller's Inn ... brick house on the corner of Main and Fourth streets"? Robert Strain also advertised the opening of a store in Dayton in a published notice dated July 10, 1815. It would also be interesting to know Pettit's full name. Perhaps some Dayton historians or genealogists can throw light on these questions.

            From the data recorded by Clarence S. Brigham in his invaluable "Bibliography of American Newspapers" from copies in the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass., we learn that Pettit Be Strain had just assumed publication of the Ohio Republican with the issue of November 1, 1813, having purchased the interest of Capt. Abraham Edwards, the former publisher. To quote Brigham: "In March, 1814., M. S. Pettit became sole publisher, but with the issue of May 3, 1814, he disposed of the paper to Addison Smith Be Co. In the issue of July 18, 1814, Smith stated that James Lodge had become the proprietor, but the imprint of Addison Smith Be Co. continued until Sept. 26, 1814."

            When Pettit sold the Ohio Republican to Addison Smith Be Co., in May, 1814, he went to Cincinnati, in which city he began publication of the Spirit of the West on July 26, 1814, continuing this newspaper until April 29, 1815. From this point on, we hear no more of Pettit in the printing or publishing field.

            After his experience at Dayton, Addison Smith published the Philanthropist at Hamilton, Ohio, in association with Zebulon Colby.

            A new volume number was adopted with the issue of Monday, October 3,1814, when Burnet & Lodge became IN DAYTON, OHIO publishers of the Ohio Republican. The firm was made up of Isaac G. Burnet, former publisher of the Ohio Centinel, and James Lodge. They made the following editorial statement in this issue:

            ...Although the present Editors expect to pursue a course somewhat different from that of their {predecessors, they do not think it necessary to change the name of the paper. It will be the manner in which their paper is conducted and not its name that will constitute its merit ...

            "This paper has changed owners so often within two years past, that it becomes necessary for the present Editors, to secure the public confidence, to assure those who are disposed to patronize them, that they need not expect any farther changes in the Editorial department. - The present Editors are determined to keep the establishment as long as it will afford them a compensation for their labours."

            Also in this issue of October 3, 1814, was the usual advertisement, "Wanted immediately, Two apprentices to the printing business. Boys about 14 or 15 years of age, who are good English scholars, would be preferred. Apply at this office."

            In the following issue, dated October 10, 1814, was this communication to readers in arrears: "Printer's Notice. Those who are indebted to the subscriber for subscriptions to the 'Ohio Republican,' or advertisements, are earnestly requested to pay the same to Messrs. Burnet & Lodge, the present Editors, as the accounts are left with them."        "Addison Smith."

            And in the same issue was this advertisement for help: "A journeyman Printer wanted, to whom good wages will be given, by making application at the office in Dayton." The advertisement for an apprentice was repeated.

            In the issue of October 17, 1814, appears a prospectus of the Ohio Republican. This took the form of a flowery statement by Burnet and Lodge which is typical of the salutatories indulged in by editors and publishers of that period. It reads:

            "The freedom of the Press is a right, which is better understood and more extensively enjoyed at the present day than at any former period, and more peculiarly so, by the American people; it is ingrafted in the first principles of their constitution, and appears to have claimed from the vigilant and illustrious framers of that instrument, all the attention which its primary importance to civil liberty demanded. It is this feature, more than any other in the political institutions of our country, that distinguishes us from the despotic governments of Europe. When rightly understood and restrained within its proper and legitimate bounds, it is an invaluable privilege to freemen; by a general diffusion and information, through the circulation of newspapers and other publications, the people acquire a knowledge of their rights, which invigorates the public sentiment, and by bringing the conduct of rulers to the bar of public opinion, presents an effectual obstacle to the enterprises of the ambitious. When it is employed to enlighten the public mind, and to give a proper tone and direction to the public will; or when it is made subservient to religious and moral order, it is terrible to those only, who having been chosen the guardians of the public weal, have violated the sacred trust reposed in them, or in private life have disregarded the ties of moral obligation.

            "But while a free Press is wisely cherished as the surest pledge of our civil and religious rights, it must be admitted that there is much danger to be apprehended from its contempt of just restraint. Some degree of licentiousness is inseparable from its freedom. To fix the exact limits of a free Press is a task of some difficulty; those boundaries will probably remain unsettled while any other diversity of sentiment prevails in the world. On this subject, as on all others, to discriminate with the accuracy of a casuist, is of but little consequence; but to discountenance and repress those publications, which are by common consent deemed injurious to society, will be the only certain and effectual method of preserving this invaluable blessing for posterity. Although wholesome laws may be enacted to correct the abuses of the Press, they will prove worse than vain, unless aided by the moral sense of the people.

            "The Editors will not promise that their editorial conduct in this respect shall be entirely blameless: they may sometimes have mistaken views of the interests of their country, or of the general concerns of society, but according to their best abilities, and actuated by a sacred regard for the welfare of their native land, they will endeavor to make the 'Ohio Republican,' a medium of correct information, on all those subjects which come properly within the scope of newspaper publications. While they detest that servility to power, which eulogises without discrimination; and avow their determination to preserve the independence of their Press, they do not hesitate to assure the public, that they will never permit the violence of party rancour to swerve them, from what they honestly think the best interests of their country. But it shall, on the contrary, be their earnest desire, to repress the spirit of party, and to produce that union and concord among our citizens, which is indispensably necessary to conduct our country with honor and safety through her present struggle with the most powerful nation on the globe; a struggle, which however erroneously it may have been entered into at first, begins now to assume the appearance of a contest for our firesides."

            The newspaper was not Burnet's only interest, for we find the following advertisement in the issue of October 24, 1814: "Isaac G. Burnet & Co. offer for sale, on moderate terms, at their store in Dayton, a variety of cloths and cords by the pieces; also a barrel of pepper; do. of allspice and a number of other articles - They have also salt by the barrel."

            In the issue of Saturday, November 19, 1814, we are informed that "the Ohio Republican will in future be ready for delivery to subscribers every Saturday at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and not sooner."

            We learn in the issue of November 13, 1815, that Burnet is resigning his office as representative of Mont­gomery County in the state legislature. "With a view of promoting my pecuniary interests," he says, "I am about to remove out of the county . . . ." With the issue of Monday, November 20, 1815 (Vol, 2, No. 60) we find James Lodge as sole publisher. A special election was held December 7 to fill Burnet's seat in the state legislature.

            In an advertisement in the Ohio Republican of August 7, 1816, we find note of the earliest Dayton imprint of which we have record: "Just printed, for the Society for Promotion of Peace, instituted in Warren county, on the ad of December, 1816, and for sale at this office, (Price 12 1/2 cents) a pamphlet entitled War Inconsistent with The Doctrine & Example of Jesus Christ. Dayton, August 7, 1816."

            The last issue in the file of the Ohio Republican preserved in the excellent local newspaper collection of the Dayton Public Library is Vol. 3, No. 106, dated Wednesday, October 9, 1816. In this we find a statement by the publisher indicating considerable discourage­ment: "Number 104 completed the second year of the Ohio Republican since it came under the control of the present proprietor. On examining our books, we find that at least two thirds of our subscribers have forgotten or neglected to pay us any thing .... " He goes on to state that he has arranged for Mr. John Lodge to present the accounts personally for payment. Thus ends our record of the third known Dayton newspaper.

            With the probable discontinuance of the Ohio Repub­lican in October, 1816, James Lodge followed the example of Pettit, and went to Cincinnati to seek his jour­nalistic fortune. In September, 1817, he became associ­ated with Ephraim Morgan in the publication of Liberty Hall, one of the two important newspapers of Cincin­nati. He continued in this relationship for a number of years.

 

            THE next newspaper was The Ohio Watchman, established November 28, 1816, to judge by the date of the first issue located, that of October 16, 1817, which was Vol. 1, No. 47. This latter issue was "published by Robert J. Skinner, every Thursday morning, in Main Street, two doors below Col. David Reid's Tavern."

            This newspaper had a longer life than any of its predecessors in the field of Dayton journalism. Skinner continued as sole publisher for five years. He had, of course, the usual difficulties of a frontier publisher, foremost among which was inability to collect subscription accounts. In the issue of December 26, 1820, we find this plaintive yet sinister statement:

            "To Subscribers. The present number of the Ohio Watchman commences the fifth volume. According to our terms of publication, original subscribers who have paid nothing toward supporting our establishment, are each indebted to us the sum of twelve dollars. Of this class of our patrons we solicit payment in specie, or its equivalent, on or before the last of next month. Should they fail to comply with this request, their accounts will be placed in the hands of justices of the peace for collection. We also solicit payment of those who owe us for one, two, or three years' papers. Their speedy' compliance will essentially benefit us, as our pecuniary wants at present are many and pressing. Subscribers who reside at a distance may remit the amount of our claims against them by mail at our risk and expense. To those who have been punctual in paying us off, we tender our unfeigned thanks, and very respectfully solicit a continuance of their patronage."

            In No. 52 of Vol. 5, dated December 18, 1821, Skinner makes the following statement: "The present number ends the fifth and last volume of the Ohio Watchman. This day Mr. Houston takes possession of the office, and will have it removed to its former stand, next door to Mr. Darst's dwelling, where he will hereafter publish the paper under a new title."

            The new title referred to turned out to be a long one, for on December 25, 1821, the citizens of the town were presented with Vol. 1, No.1 of The Dayton Watchman; or Farmers and Mechanics' Journal. This was "Printed and published by G. S. Houston and R. J. Skinner." The salutatory, signed by George S. Houston, read as follows:

            "To the Public. In presenting the present number of the Watchman to the public, it will be seen that an alteration has been made in the title. - Having taken Mr. Skinner in as a partner with me in the business, the paper will, from this day forward, be published by Mr. Skinner and myself. His adherance to correct republican principles is well known. As respects myself, it may be expected that I should express my sentiments and views to the public: To those acquainted with me, during a residence of nearly twelve years in this place it is unnecessary: - to others, I would briefly state, that I am an American by birth and principle - firmly attached to the cause in which our fathers suffered, bled and died - an advocate for the manufactures of our country and national industry - a friend of the farmer - and, like the sage of Montecello, convinced that 'to be independent for the comforts of life, we must fabricate them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist.' - 'Manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort.' I am deeply impressed with the necessity of education in a republican government, and firmly of opinion that no government can be happy and prosperous, unless morality and religion are its basis, and these important points defended and supported. These subjects, and such others as I have considered conducive to the public good, I have, and shall continue to defend and advocate."

            With the issue of August 6, 1822, the paper was published by Geo. S. Houston & Co., and with the issue of December 24, 1822, which was Vol. 2, No. 1, the firm name was changed to G. S. Houston & A. T. Hays.

            On January 15, 1826, George S. Houston sold his interest to A. T. Hays and E. Lindsley, who continued its publication until its suspension with the issue of November 21, 1826.

 

            IN 1822 there appeared in Dayton an interesting and unusual publication entitled The Gridiron, which was a magazine rather than a newspaper. Its page size was 5 3/4 by 8 3/4 inches. The range of its interests embraced literature, poetry, politics, satire, and humor. The first complete issue in the file of the Dayton Public Library is Vol. 1, No.3, dated September 11, 1822. Its publisher was John Anderson. It was evidently printed at the office of the Dayton Watchman, as it was directed that proposals should be returned to that address. The last issue in the file is Vol. 1, No. 25, dated April 24, 1823, but of this issue only the first pages have survived. The issues are paged continuously, the last page in the volume being numbered 196.

            There are known to us few books or pamphlets bearing the imprints of the early printers of Dayton. We have already mentioned the advertisement of one pamphlet printed locally in 1816. In 1819 "An Apology for the Bible, in a series of letters to Thos. Paine," by R. Watson, a duodecimo volume of 190 pages, was printed in Dayton, Also in 1819 were printed the "By-Laws of St. John's Lodge, No. 13, Adopted, January 7, 1819, A. L. 5819." The lodge was located at Dayton and the pamphlet undoubtedly was printed there at the office of the Ohio Watchman.

            In 1823 was printed at Dayton by G. S. Houston and A. T. Hays, then publishers of the Dayton Watchman, ''The Report of the Wyandotte Mission, at Upper Sandusky, instituted and conducted by the Methodist Ohio Annual Conference," a pamphlet of 17 pages, copies of which are to be found in the Western Reserve Historical Society at Cleveland, and the Burton Historical Collection at Detroit.

            In 1826 appeared the "Compilation of the Ordinances, of the Common Council of the Town of Dayton," bearing the imprint of "R. J. Skinner, Printer." The only copy of this 45-page volume known to me is in the private collection of Rev. A. W. Drury of Dayton.

            In 1830 was published of special interest to the economic historian: "The Book of Prices of the House Carpenters and Joiners of the Town of Dayton. Adopted Friday, July 10, 1830." This volume of 29 pages, issued by the Master Carpenters' and Joiners' Society of Dayton, was "Printed at the Journal Office." Copies are to be found in the Dayton Public Library and in the private collection of Rev. A. W. Drury.

            For the year 1833, I have record of "Refutation of the Doctrine of Total Hereditary Depravity," by Aylett Rains, of which I know the location of no copy. "An Essay on the Theory and Treatment of Fever," by D. L. Terry, was printed in 1834, a copy being preserved in the Army Medical Library at Washington, D. C.

            This is a sparse and unsatisfactory record of Dayton imprints, but at the present writing there is no further information available. Perhaps the publication of this essay may bring forth information regarding additional issues of the Dayton press.

            As will have been apparent from this brief account of early printing and publishing in Dayton, the vocation was far from lucrative. From the most optimistic viewpoint, the prospects of any of the newspaper enterprises were far from bright, and when the returns were discounted by a high percentage of uncollectible subscription accounts, the net proceeds were little short of pitiful.

            The motives that led a printer to settle in a frontier town were not mercenary. Most of these typographic pioneers were spurred on by an indomitable confidence in the future of the communities which they adopted as their homes, and they speculated courageously on this future.

            Needless to say, their mechanical aids were few. Their equipment consisted of a few cases of type, usually badly worn, often bought from another printer to whom it had given long service. Only hand presses were available, and their bed capacity was usually such that only one side of the paper could be printed at an impression.

            Yet the printers of the frontier rendered service of inestimable value to the growing communities which they served. The newspapers they turned out were the publicity agents of the western towns, attracting to them more and more emigrants from the east. Locally, they promoted community loyalty, fought for the interests of their towns, guided their politics, promoted their commerce.

            These great services were ill requited, as we have seen. There is all the more reason, therefore, that the printers of today, heirs to many of the values which their predecessors helped to build, should do honor to their memory.