Friday, November 11, 2005

The Miami-Gazette Weekly Newspaper of Waynesville

The Miami-Gazette weekly newspaper is a remarkable document of the life of a small village. It is a well-spring of social and historical information. It fleshes out the lives of the people of the past and presents them in the full color of local, state, national and international events. Any genealogical study is advanced far beyond the bare vital statistics by reading though its columns full of chatty detail. It is a window onto a world long gone.

The first major paper in Waynesville was the Miami~Visitor weekly owned by J. W. Elliott. It was a six column, four-page paper that concentrated on national and international news with a little spattering of local news. It included local poetry and serialized stories. Shortly after its first publication in 1850, it was purchased by the energetic
John Wesley Roberts who emphasized that the newspaper was an organ of literature and increased the local news accounts. He was a great editorialist and wrote and responded to the big issues of the day in his own firery style. Two literary magazines were published in Waynesville during the 1850s: the "Little Traveler" and the "Message Bird".

After he moved to Kansas, J. W. Henley, then J. Drew Sweet and Joseph Collett acquired the newspaper. During the Civil War it was discontinued. It came back to life under the editorship of Misters Sands and Sweet at the conclusion of the war and would continue on for ninety more years. From 1875 till 1880 the paper was called the Miami Gazette & Harveysburg Reporter.

The glory days of the Miami~Gazette began in October 1881 when Thomas J. Brown and his wife Sophia Annie Stinchcomb Brown acquired the newspaper. In 1896 the Browns bought out The Waynesville News paper and the Miami~Gazette became known as the Miami~Gazette & Waynesville News. From 1898 on it reverted back to its original shorter title, the Miami-Gazette.

The Miami-Gazette was the weekly diary of Waynesville, Ohio. In it can be found the weekly events of Waynesvillians near and far. The grandchildren of the old pioneers who had traveled far beyond southwestern Ohio subscribed to the newspaper so they could maintain their roots in their home community. They would write to the editor and their adventures and comments were printed in the paper. One of those Waynesvillians who went west was Mariana Chandler, the daughter of Aaron B. Chandler and older cousin to Elizabeth, Ruth and Lewis Chandler. Mariana had moved to Denver, Colorado to pursue her teaching career.

She and other Waynesville expatriates appreciated the Miami-Gazette. After receiving the Special Homecoming Edition of the Miami-Gazette Mariana wrote to the editor (December 27, 1905):

Dear Gazette: The Home Coming Edition received and enjoyed. Congratulations upon your success. It is a worthy magazine and will warm the hearts of all "far away Waynesvillians" and bring them Home. Yours, Mariana Chandler.

In an age where people have forgotten the art of letter writing and the joy of newspaper reading, the letters from Waynesvillians who lived away from their home town to the Miami-Gazette reminds us of the importance of newspapers for maintaining relationships especially during the Gilded Age, which was such a time of expansion and growth. Most families were divided by distance. It was the time of the settlement of the far west and those who risked going west were still interested in their old homes. Another subscriber to the Miami-Gazette, as well as many other local newspapers, was Friend Clarkson Butterworth especially after he moved to Michigan. He often quotes from these newspapers in his personal Diaries. Unfortunately today, newspapers are often ignored in genealogical research because most newspapers are not indexed for names or events. However, much is lost if the researcher ignores this potent source of information. The plain truth of the matter is that much of the social life of the early Chandlers and other families would have been lost if not for the Miami-Gazette.

Since it was a great tool for communication near and far, the newspaper today is a marvelous genealogical tool. Microfilm copies of the Miami-Visitor and the Miami-Gazette are in the Ohioana Room of the Mary L. Cook Public Library as well as at: the Ohio Historical Society Archive/Library, the Warren County Historical Society, and the Western Reserve Historical Society.


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