Monday, August 29, 2005

J. Drew Sweet (1839-1893) ~ Publisher of the Miami-Gazette

Drew Sweet was the esteemed editor of the Miami-Gazette weekly newspaper of Waynesville for many years. Mr. Sweet was also one of the founders of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Waynesville and a very active member. Drew was married to Mary A. Kearney Sweet, age 32, and had a little daughter, Annie K., age 4 (See, 1880 Census Place: Waynesville, Warren, Ohio; Roll: T9_1075; Family History Film: 1255075; Page: 487B; Enumeration District: 79; Image: 0387). Both Drew and his mother Thomasina were born in England. They both lived on Fourth Street according to the Wiggins & McKillop’s Waynesville Directory, For 1878. Drew Sweet died at the age of 64 in 1893 of malignant diphtheria.

Obituaries and a series of remembrances of J. Drew Sweet were printed in the Miami-Gazette on June 14th, 1893:

Died at his home on Fourth Street, Waynesville, Ohio, June 11, 1893, of malignant diphtheria, J. Drew Sweet, in the 4th year of his age. Drew Sweet was born at Tyrandneath, a little seaport town in Cornwall, on the south east of England, February 24th, 1839. He was the son of James and Thomasine Sweet. His father was a civil engineer and at the time of his death in 1846 was engaged in superintending the working of some copper mines on the island of Jamaica. Left a widow with the care of two children, Mrs. Sweet determined to come to America, and in the autumn of 1851 she with her son and daughter arrived in Waynesville. Drew very soon found employment with Mr. J. W. Roberts in the office of the Miami Visitor. Rapidly becoming an expert compositor and displaying a happy talent as a writer, he was employed as assistant editor of the Herald, of Astoria, Long island. In 1865 he effected a business arrangement with Jonah Sands and established the Waynesville News of which he remained editor and proprietor until his death. Mr. Sweet was married July 2, 1874 to Mary A. Kearney, who together with one daughter (Annie K.) and his venerable mother survive him. On Tuesday morning, June 6th, Mr. Sweet arose with quite a sore throat but regarded it only as a temporary trouble and insisted on going to his office, but at the earnest solicitation of his wife determined to spend the morning at home. His throat rapidly grew worse and a physician was called. The next morning his malady was proclaimed to be diphtheria and the health officer placed their house under quarantine. Eminent medical skill was called in consultation with his brother-in-law, Dr. Kearney of Knoxville, Tenn., but all medical skill was unavailing and death came at 11 o’clock on Sunday evening, June 11th. Respecting the wishes of the board of health, the funeral, which was held on Monday, was strictly private. The Reverend John F. Cadwallader read the burial service of the Episcopal Church after which the sad cortege slowly wound its way to Miami Cemetery where he was lain at rest in the family burial plat.

One of the remembrances was written by fellow newspaper publisher, Coates Kinney of the Xenia Telegraph:

The death of Drew Sweet, editor of the Waynesville News, announced here on Monday as having taken place the night before, was a shock to his many friends in this city who had not been apprised of his serious illness. And the intelligence that his sudden demise was due to malignant diphtheria and that, as a precaution against contagion, there was to be a hastening of this funeral (held Monday afternoon) made the shock the more grievous to them. With the unexpected news of his death came the implied warning that it was dangerous to be present at his burial. But those who were thus prevented from following his remains to the grave were none the less mourners. All who knew him are mourners for him; for all who knew him were his sincere friends. If he had an enemy in the world, it would be hard for his friends to believe that it was from his fault. He was a good and true man ~ the head of a man with the heart of a woman. He was a gentleman. He was a true Christian and a devoted churchman. He was an Episcopalian, individual and liberal in his thinking, but loyal to his religion every day in the week . . . If he had had the ambition to seek opportunity, his name might have been conspicuous in literature. Even as it was, with his limited opportunity, he was known to a large circle of intelligent appreciators as an unusually artistic writer and vigorous thinker. He was a most able and efficient journalist in his narrow field, and displayed talents there that would have brought him reputation and success in a field much more spacious, had his modesty not kept him from pushing himself to the front. He died prematurely; but in his half a century he lived a life worth living. It was a clean life, a hopeful life, a cheerful and cheering life, a life, though not large, yet largely influential for good. His monument is in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him. Coates Kinney.

Dr. Levi C. Lukens, one of the physicians in Waynesville, also mourned his friend:

Drew Sweet, the scholar, the perfect gentleman, the journalist, has passed to the mysterious beyond! To be suddenly deprived of a man who has devoted his life and talents to the promotion of every reform looking to the welfare of the community, means a loss that is irreparable. As we approach the silent, weird, open sepulcher that was to receive the mortal remains of our distinguished journalist and citizen, I turned to my friend and exclaimed, “Can it be possible that Drew Sweet is dead?” It seems but a moment since I had observed him near the window in his office. It was impossible to realize that he had passed away from among us forever. A broad-minded, public-spirited generous-hearted man; he was quick to discern the needs of the community and persistent in the advocacy of all measures promotive of public improvement. The loss to the community will be mourned by a legion of friends. L. C. Lukens.


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