Against All Adversities: The Pioneer Printers of Brookville, Indiana

Fredric Brewer


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 87, Issue 4, pp 303-333

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Against All Adversities: The Pioneer Printers of Brookville, Indiana

Fredric Brewer

They were fiercely independent craftsmen. They were gamblers, playing great odds against all the elements that seemingly conspired against their trade—shaky economics, contrary weather, limited and at times nonexistent supplies, transient help, and oppressive working conditions. Yet their industriousness persevered. They were the newspaper publishers and printers who "wested" when the American frontier reached across the Alleghenies and the Cumberlands to stretch into the dark forests and loping prairies of the middle lands. Despite hardships that plagued their makeshift printing offices, they knew there was civic importance to their labors. Their rickety machines turned out the endless forms needed to maintain records of legal, constabulary, land, and business transactions. But more importantly, the newspapers they printed kept their readers in touch with their distant government and the world. Never more than four pages in length and sometimes only two, the pioneer weekly newspaper was a platform for opinions, an alert to the goods and services available in an isolated settlement, a caution about shady schemes and the perils of intemperance and immorality, and an organ for intellectual reflection and even amusement.

The newspaper history of the American frontier is littered with the skeletons of failures. Yet that history is continuous as well, for although many an early publisher was restless, eager to establish a more stable and profitable foothold for his press, his failure almost always offered a challenge for still another newspaper. And because of that challenge, the frontier printer prevailed.

  • Fredric Brewer, a native of Huntington County, taught mass communications at Indiana University, Bloomington, for twenty-five years. He retired in 1989. Research for this article was done at the Indiana University Lilly Library, Bloomington; the Indiana State Library, Indianapolis; the Library of Congress; and at libraries, historical societies, and government offices of the various communities mentioned in the text and notes. He thanks the numerous people who assisted him.

The early newspapers of Brookville, Indiana, governmental seat of Franklin County,1 were typical of the period. Brookville was one of six Indiana settlements that had printing offices with their attendant newspapers prior to Indiana's transition from territorial status to statehood on December 11, 1816, but Brookville was ideally located during the early 1820s as the principal eastern gateway to Indiana's interior, the "New Purchase" of 1818.2 Yet even before the New Purchase, the end, in 1815, of the War of 1812 had ignited a great western surge of emigration. By the summer of 1816, land and river routes to Indiana were crowded with traffic.3Franklin County was to benefit from the emigration, and its growth made it a magnet for a printing press.4 As one mid-nineteenth-century commentator noted, "The agriculturalist hardly gets comfortably located in a new country when he is joined by the printer, with press and types, who comes to direct his politics, and keep him posted up on all subjects of ‘intelligence, forraigne and domestick.’"5

It is not unlikely that some effort was made in Brookville to attract a printer, because such attempts were not unusual. William Henry Harrison, Indiana's first territorial governor, wrote Secretary of State James Madison in November, 1803, for permission to employ a printer. Five or six months later, Elihu Stout arrived in Vincennes with press, type, paper, and the enthusiasm of a twenty-two-year-old.6 In 1816, John Francis Dufour, the founder of Vevay, Indiana, paid off a two hundred dollar lien on a press and type to bring their financially strapped owner, William Keen, to Switzerland County from Hamilton, Ohio, to establish the Indiana Register.7 The most likely person to tout Franklin County's attractions to a roving printer was Bethuel F. Morris (1792–1864), a resettled

  • 1Brookville was platted in August, 1808. Franklin County was formed on January 1, 1811, from parts of Dearborn and Clark counties. See George Pence and Nellie C. Armstrong, Indiana Boundaries: Territory, State, and County (Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. XIX; Indianapolis, 1933), 354–63.
  • 2 See James Albert Woodburn, "Local Life and Color in the New Purchase," Indiana Magazine of History, IX (December, 1913), 216; James Albert Woodburn, The New Purchase (Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. VI, No. 1; Indianapolis, 1919), 44.
  • 3 Waldo F. Mitchell, "Indiana's Growth, 1812–1820," Indiana Magazine of History, X (December, 1914), 369–95.
  • 4 A census taken in 1815 reported Franklin County's population at 7,370. By 1819, Brookville alone had a population of approximately 650. The 1820 federal census of the county tabulated 10,751 whites and 73 blacks. See August L. Reifel, History of Franklin County, Indiana … (Indianapolis, 1915), 80; letter signed "Looker-On" in BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Intelligencer, April 2, 1819; BrookvilleEnquirer, November 7, 1820.
  • 5 Joel Munsell, The Typographical Miscellany (Albany, N.Y., 1850), 146.
  • 6 Douglas C. McMurtrie, "The Need of a Printer in Indiana Territory," Indiana Magazine of History, XXXII (March, 1936), 34–37.
  • 7 Perret Dufour, The Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County, Indiana (Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. XIII; Indianapolis, 1925), 55.
Pennsylvanian, lawyer, and businessman. Morris would become Brookville's first newspaper editor.

The nearest place to look for a printer was Cincinnati, then the West's most bustling community.8 The town was also where printing offices opened, languished, and changed hands or closed so rapidly that printers probably needed little encouragement to resettle where competition was either minimal or nonexistent. The fact that Brookville was a county seat would also have been a strong selling point. Some time before October, 1816, Franklin County's first printers—Benjamin Ogle, Jr., and John Scott—arrived in Brookville, likely accompanied by one or two wagonloads of printing equipment.

Nothing is known about Ogle. A Revolutionary War veteran named Benjamin Ogle, who "wested" to become an Indian fighter, was living in Illinois Territory at the time the printer Ogle arrived in Brookville, but whether the printer was his offspring is questionable.9 John Scott was born in 1793 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, where he may have learned his trade in Carlisle, the county seat. Eventually he and printer Alexander Magee founded a printing office. At the time, though, at least four, possibly five, printing establishments, each of which published a weekly gazette, were active in Carlisle. The new office soon closed. With his wife Jane and infant son James, Scott set off for the West, perhaps accompanied by printing equipment he may have accumulated.10

In any case, Brookville's printing office was quickly set up for business for progress produced a pressing need for products only a printer could render, including "Books, Pamphlets, Handbills, Cards, Hatbills, Saddlebills, Duebills, Checks, and Blanks of all kinds."11 Blanks were forms such as property deeds, writs of replevin, sheriff warrants, and other official forms required for civic

  • 8 By 1816, one Cincinnati newspaper editor lamented that the town had become so civilized that "twenty sermons a week—Sunday evening Discourses on Theory—Private assemblies—state Cotillion parties—Saturday Night Clubs, and chemical lectures … like the fever and ague, return every day with distressing regularity." CincinnatiLiberty Hall, December 9, 1816, quoted in Richard C. Wade, "Urban Life in Western America, 1790–1830," American Historical Review, LXIV (October, 1958), 25.
  • 9 The Illinois Ogle was a Court of Common Pleas judge in St. Clair County when it was part of Indiana Territory. See Francis S. Philbrick, ed., The Laws of Indiana Territory, 1801–1809 (Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Vol. XXI; Springfield, 1930), cclix, ccxxix.
  • 10 In addition to printer, Scott may also have been an "exhorter," a layman authorized by Methodists to hold religious meetings and perform evangelistic duties. If so, he was probably welcomed wherever he tarried in his westward journey, able to provide frontier hamlets with spiritual and secular communication in exchange for a roof and food. See John Scott, The Indiana Gazetteer or Topographical Dictionary (1826; reprint, Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. XVIII, No. 1; Indianapolis, 1954), 7.
  • 11BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, February 19, 1819.
and court business. Furthermore, "gentlemen, who desire it," could have "INVITATION CARDS or other fancy work, PRINTED IN EITHER RED, BLACK, OR BLUE INK."12 Printers were also called on to print invitations to funerals, a service one Indiana pioneer found "a senseless custom of no manner of use except to put dollars in the pockets of printers."13 Frontier politicians especially were not mindless of the value of a printing press; besides stump speeches at the April and October musters of the militia, Fourth of July celebrations, and the collaring of town and country folk during breaks in circuit court proceedings, the politician relied on small announcements of candidacy in the newspapers and on handbills, which were extensively used in pioneer Indiana.14 Although the printing of blanks, funeral invitations, horsebills and the like—called "job work"—brought ready money into the printing office,15 a printer's most important service was the weekly newspaper.

Yet printers were constantly at the edge of economic disaster and were beset with seemingly endless frustrations compounded by the miles between them and the sources of their supplies. In addition to the printer as businessman, one also had to be skilled in the range of technical concerns that printing entailed.

The printing press used in early Brookville was probably a Ramage, named for Adam Ramage (1772?–1850), a Scot, who emigrated to America in 1795 to settle in Philadelphia where he began manufacturing presses about 1805. For thirty years, Ramages were the standard equipment in America's country printing offices, popular because of their economical price (between $130 and $150), transportability, and ease of repair. They were the ideal machine for the migrating printer.16

  • 12BrookvillePlain Dealer, November 5, 12, 1816.
  • 13 Quotation from the Will of John Badollet (1758–1837). He emphatically requested that no "tickets" be issued to his funeral. Gayle Thornbrough, ed., The Correspondence of John Badollet and Albert Gallatin, 1804–1836 (Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. XXII; Indianapolis, 1963), 21–22.
  • 14 Logan Esarey, History of Indiana (2 vols., 1915, 1918; reprint ed. 2 vols. in 1, Indianapolis, 1970), I, 189; Thomas D. Clark, The Rampaging Frontier: Manners and Humors of Pioneer Days in the South and the Middle West (Indianapolis, 1939), 267; Leander J. Monks, Logan Esarey, and Ernest V. Shockley, Courts and Lawyers of Indiana (3 vols., Indianapolis, 1916), I, 121. Some early Indiana weeklies demanded payment, from fifty cents to a dollar, for announcing candidacies. For example, see SalemIndiana Farmer, July 25, 1823.
  • 15 One Richmond, Indiana, printer frankly explained why he failed to print an issue of the Public Leger: "Last week we were so thronged with job work, as to render it necessary to neglect either the paper or the other work. As the jobs were paid for in cash …." RichmondPublic Leger, October 15, 1825.
  • 16 Milton W. Hamilton, Adam Ramage and His Presses (Portland, Maine, 1942); James M. Wells, "American Printing: The Search for Self-Sufficiency," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, XCIV (1985), 277; Elizabeth Harris, "Press-builders in Philadelphia, 1776–1850," Printing History, XI (1989), 11–24. Wood Ramages were constructed in several sizes, from a small proving press that stood on a table to larger sizes for newspaper and book printing. Ramage did not begin building iron presses until the 1830s.

Generally, two printers operated the press, taking turns in their functions.17 One printer was the "beater," whose task was to ink the type. To do so, he slicked ink on a pair of leather balls stuffed with horsehair or wool and attached to short wood handles, and then "beat" the balls four or five times on the type. Meantime, the other printer—the "puller"—loaded the paper, dampened so ink would take to it, and prepared to make a pull. An apprentice, often called a "fly boy," stood by to receive the printed sheets and hand over fresh sheets, hence his sobriquet. From all three, speed, coordination, quick reflexes, and skilled hand movements were required.18

The Ramage used for newspaper work was a "two pull" machine, the bed long and wide enough to hold forms for two newspaper pages, thus requiring two impressions to print one side of a newspaper-size sheet or four impressions altogether for a four-page newspaper. The usual page size of Brookville newspapers was approximately 12½ by 20 inches,19 although page size obviously depended on the press's dimensions. The bed of the Brookville press accommodated not only the forms for two newspaper pages but, of course, smaller forms, such as one for a handbill.

Only one newspaper page could be printed at a time; thus, the bed was moved forward for the second page. Most often, a day or two separated the printing of the outside and inside pages, which not only allowed the ink to set properly from the earlier printing, but in offices where type was in short supply, type from the outside pages was needed to compose matter for the inside pages. When printing was completed and the paper was dry, sheets were hand-folded to create the folio.

Type was "set" by hand, a process no different than the one developed in the mid-fifteenth century by Johann Gutenberg (1400?–1469). Each letter, number, punctuation mark, astronomical

  • 17 Readers seeking detailed information about printing with the wood press should consult Herbert Davis and Harry Carter, eds., Joseph Moxon's Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing (2nd ed., New York, 1978). Moxon's work, originally published in London in 1683–1684, was the first manual for printers. After three centuries, it remains the most complete guide to the wood press, hand-casting of type, composition, paper preparation, and various printing office procedures and customs that continued well into the nineteenth century. A working replica of Moxon's seventeenth-century press is on permanent display in the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
  • 18 Although some experts maintain that 250 impressions per hour were attainable, one printing historian says "it was hard work for two men [using a Ramage] to print 75 copies on one side [two newspaper pages] in an hour." John Clyde Oswald, Printing in the Americas (New York, 1937), 497n.
  • 19 Measurements were taken of the early Brookville newspaper in the Newspaper Section, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis. Length and width measurements vary slightly from one page to the next due to the uneven deckle on handmade papers. Lacking paper cutters, pioneer printers almost never removed the deckle.


Courtesy Landis Valley Museum, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

sign, border piece, spacing material, and so on was a single piece of metal with a raised, reversed character, each separate character kept in a compartmentalized case. Brookville's printers called their type faces by names given specific sizes by William Caxton (1422?–1491), the first English printer.20 Type prices were fairly consistent during the first half of the nineteenth century, costing from thirty-two to ninety cents a pound according to size. Printers usually ordered new type by "bills," a bill being five hundred pounds. Until the early 1820s Indiana printers normally obtained type from eastern suppliers, which frequently was a problem due to the distance and freight charges.21 Added to the inconvenience of distance was the foundries' demands for payment in specie and the fact that the pioneer printer "was bedeviled by variations in line and design on what was supposed to be the same type face," Thomas Roy Jones has written. "Each foundry did as it pleased, and deliberately made variations in type faces to retain the trade of the printers who were its customers."22

Maintaining a steady and reliable paper supply was a constant problem, both for colonial and pioneer printers. Indiana printing

  • 20 See George D. Painter, William Caxton: A Biography (New York, 1977).
  • 21 Foundries were begun in Pittsburgh between 1817–1829, but all quickly failed. David Bruce, Jr., The History of Typefounding in the United States (New York, 1925), 16–17, 19; Rollo G. Silver, Typefounding in America, 1787–1825 (Charlottesville, Va., 1965).
  • 22 Thomas Roy Jones, Printing in America, and American Type Founders (New York, 1948), 30.
offices seem to have ordered their paper from three mills. One, "Samuel Jackson & Co.," founded in 1797, was on the Big Redstone near present-day Brownsville, Pennsylvania; another, "Craig, Parkers & Co.'s Paper Manufactory," which began production in 1793, was near Georgetown, Kentucky; a third, "Waldsmith & Co.," started in 1810, was on a bend of the Little Miami near Cincinnati.23 Paper was handmade, and there was an insatiable need for linen and cotton rags, which were the heart of paper. "RAGS! RAGS!" Brookville's Morris pleaded. "There is not less than one thousand dollars per annum carried out of this county to buy paper, but if the people would save their rags a sufficient quantity could be collected to buy all the paper used."24 For decades the going price was approximately three cents per pound, payable in cash. Printers also offered credit for rags toward subscriptions, advertising, stationery, and school books.

Added to the technical matters in making paper were problems with the weather, such as an unexpected rise or fall of rivers, upon which paper shipments often arrived. The "uncommon lowness of the water" in the fall of 1819 forced the BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph to conserve paper by printing on a half sheet.25 Although pioneer papermills could produce about twenty-five hundred sheets daily,26 production came to a standstill in freezing weather when the essential water turned to ice. In addition, snow and frozen mud made early Indiana roads virtually impassable. In Brookville, "the badness of the roads" had delayed an expected paper shipment in early 1819.27

When a printing office received the wrong size of paper, consternation and innovation obviously came to the fore. Two extant issues of the BrookvilleEnquirer are printed on sheets with a width of more than twenty-two inches, less than the standard of twenty-five inches.28

Although stock illustrations were available from typefounders, few were used in early Brookville, and Indiana printers as a whole generally did not begin using them extensively until the early 1830s.29 The BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, and the

  • 23 Dard Hunter, Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft (1947; New York, 1978); Frances L. S. Dugan and Jacqueline P. Bull, eds., Blue-grass Craftsmen (Lexington, Ky., 1959), ix-xxi; Marie Dickoré, "The Waldsmith Paper Mill," Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio Bulletin, V (March, 1947), 6–24.
  • 24BrookvilleEnquirer, May 2, 1820.
  • 25BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, October 8, 1819; issues printed in such a manner ran from October 22 through November 25.
  • 26 David C. Smith, History of Papermaking in the United States (1691–1969) (New York, 1970), 51.
  • 27BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, February 26, 1819.
  • 28BrookvilleEnquirer, March 23, April 13, 1820.
  • 29 See RichmondPalladium, April 9, 1831, which ran twelve illustrations.
BrookvilleEnquirer that followed, used an illustration of a spread eagle with shield, arrows, and olive branch, and an airborne winged angel adorned the Enquirer's "Miscellaneous" column, devoted to essays and verses about morality, death, unrequited love, and patriotism.30 The most dramatic illustration found in the early Brookville papers was of a "living African LION" used in an advertisement for an exhibition at the Brookville Hotel in 1819. "The form of this Lion is strikingly majestic," the ad declared underneath the cut. Probably the exhibitor owned the cut, and took it with him when he and his lion departed.31

Obtaining ink seems to have posed few problems, although the BrookvilleEnquirer once delayed publication "owing to a disappointment in receiving a supply."32 "Printing Ink," a mid-nineteenth-century source explained, "is a composition of two articles, namely, varnish and colouring matter," and to render the two into a substance suitable for printing, one had to mix and boil them, which apart from being a fire hazard created an overpowering stench.33

No doubt there was relief among Indiana printers when printer supply houses opened in Cincinnati and Louisville as early as 1819. In 1820, when John P. Foote started the Cincinnati Type Foundry and Printers' Ware House, one Indiana publisher noted that the establishment would "undoubtedly be of very great advantage to the printers in the western country generally."34 The foundry's reputation spread as the Union stretched west to the Great Plains, making it the principal supplier to numerous printing offices, which sprung up on the prairies like buffalo grass.35

And so, once printer and necessary equipment and supplies were obtained, Franklin County awaited the publication of its first newspaper. On or about October 22, 1816, with Morris as editor and part owner and Ogle as the principal printer, the Plain Dealer made its first appearance. For its motto Morris borrowed from William Shakespeare, "Yet, by your gracious patience, I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver." Morris omitted the final six words of the phrase, "of my whole course of love," which made no journalistic sense and would have raised readers' eyebrows.36

  • 30 The column first appeared December 24, 1819.
  • 31BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, May 7, 1819.
  • 32BrookvilleEnquirer, May 2, 1820.
  • 33 William Savage, A Dictionary of the Art of Printing … (1841; London, 1966), 416.
  • 34MadisonIndiana Republican, July 27, 1820. Also see Walter Sutton, "Cincinnati As a Frontier Publishing and Book Trade Center, 1796-1830," Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, LVI (April, 1947), 117-43.
  • 35 See Benjamin Drake and E. D. Mansfield, Cincinnati in 1826 (Cincinnati, 1827), 63.
  • 36 The phrase is from Othello, Act 1, sc. 3. Only two issues of the four-page weekly have survived. The earliest, volume I, number 3, is dated Tuesday, November 5, 1816.

In column one appeared "Terms of Publication," containing subscription and advertising information and a caveat that "All letters to the editor must be post paid."37 A yearly subscription was two dollars if paid in advance, but if the subscriber did not have cash, the Plain Dealer would accept country produce—wheat, whiskey, wool, sugar—and presumably any other item that had utility.38 The Plain Dealer's advertising rate for a notice "not exceeding one square" (approximately four square inches) was one dollar for three insertions and twenty-five cents for every subsequent insertion, with "Larger ones in proportion." Although advertisers were expected to pay for their notices at the time they were placed, there is no evidence that any early Hoosier editor was adamant.39

In the third issue Morris offered an explanation for the newspaper's name. It is apparent that he intended the Plain Dealer to be neither a sheet for personal trumpeting nor an organ of political favoritism or persuasion. He would be free, however, to criticize political actions when he felt it necessary. He also implied that he would not allow letters intent on character assassination:

Since the commencement of The Plain Dealer, I have frequently been questioned on the motives that induced me to adopt so strange a name for my paper. It is an opinion too generally received, that a newspaper, or public journal, is a kind of political engine, by which a few individuals endeavor to foist themselves into office, or traduce the characters of individuals, for the mere gratification of personal pique. That plain dealing, should be pursued in transactions of this kind; or in fact, in any thing that has any connection with politics, or the administration of government, is to many, an enigma they cannot solve. There are many, who judging from these premises, conclude that every protestation of honesty, or name indicative of impartiality, that is assumed, is but a refined manner of double dealing.40

  • 37 The CentervilleWestern Times, June 13, 1829, lamented that "There are hundreds of conceited scribblers throughout the country, who think they are calculated to shine in a newspaper, and forthwith they commence scrawling, and cramming their trash into the postoffice, directed to the printer … but not one time in fifty do they think to pay the postage."
  • 38 With few exceptions subscription rates for pioneer Indiana papers were $2.00 per year in advance, $2.50 if paid within six months, and $3.00 if settled at the end of the year, along with 50¢ for delivery by private post, usually hired by printers. See Milton W. Hamilton, The Country Printer: New York State, 1785-1830 (2nd ed., Port Washington, N.Y., 1964), 216, 218-19. Barter transactions, of course, were common. Recalled one Whitewater Valley pioneer, "I recollected going with my father to see the editor about subscribing for his paper, who traded him the old meatax by dressing it up and blacking it with pitch, and putting a new straight handle in it, for a year's subscription to the Public Ledger." A Native [John Macamy Wasson], Annals of Pioneer Settlers on the Whitewater and its Tributaries, in the Vicinity of Richmond, Ind., from 1804 to 1830 … (Richmond, Ind., 1875), 56.
  • 39 Readers who have occasion to examine early nineteenth-century newspapers may be mystified by the letters and numbers that often appear after ads. The Plain Dealer used td to mean "today only," tf for "till forbid," and t for "times"—3tl meant three times, first insertion. Some marks, however, defy translation. One advertisement in the Plain Dealer is followed by ewtdj& 1da!2.
  • 40BrookvillePlain Dealer, November 12, 1816.


Courtesy Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

Morris also sung the advantages of Franklin County. Brook-ville, he observed, had several hundred souls and "upwards of eighty buildings, exclusive of shops, stables, and outhouses." Industries included "one grist mill … two sawmills … four boot and shoe makers … 2 blacksmiths, a chairmaker … five taverns, 7 stores … a market house," a brick courthouse "nearly finished," and, of course, "one printing office." As for the land, "The last harvest produced several crops of wheat … that weighed from sixty-five to sixty-eight pounds per bushel; and the best crops of grass I have ever seen, are produced without the aid of manure. Corn, oats, rye, flax, hemp, sweet and Irish potatoes, &c. &c. are produced in abundance."41 This glowing account was obviously intended to attract settlers. Morris was aware that some of his fellow citizens would send their Plain Dealers "back home" and perhaps expected that some newspapers on his exchange list would reprint the item.42

Although there probably was enough business to keep the Plain Dealer going, at one point it apparently was suspended for several months.43 Interruptions in publication dates often occurred to Indiana's pioneer news sheets because of nonarrival of mail with its essential exchange newspapers, but it is unknown if mail problems plagued the Plain Dealer.44 Another common cause of suspensions was lack of paper.

The Plain Dealer contained a wealth of information. For instance, readers were informed that "DR. D. OLIVER HAS ON HAND, AND INTENDS KEEPING A VARIETY OF MEDICINE."

  • 41Ibid.
  • 42 If newspapers were not sent more than one hundred miles, the postage was one cent per copy; beyond one hundred, a cent and a half. For comparison, a small, single-sheet letter cost from six to twenty-five cents depending on the distance mailed. Congress permitted a newspaper printer to mail without cost a paper to each newspaper printer in the United States and its territories. Gerald Cullinan, The Post Office Department (New York, 1968), 28, 249, 255. The free exchange of newspapers between publishers did not end until March 3, 1845.
  • 43 "Whitewater Valley—A Garden Spot Equal in Beauty and Fertility to any in the World," The Indianian, III (1899), 119.
  • 44 The BrookvilleEnquirer on April 20, 1820, changed its publication day to agree with the "arrival and departure of the several Mails."
The doctor listed 127 items, among them laudanum, tincture of hellabore, Ching's Worm Destroying Lozenges, and castor oil. He also had paints, dye stuffs, and varnish for sale. John Swank, cabinet maker, warranted his work—bedsteads, sideboards, clock cases, "&c. &c."—"to be of the best quality." Luther Russell, a silversmith, had "a handsome stock of WATCH MATERIALS" and also made swords and dirks. Henry A. Read, at his new saddlery, was selling his merchandise "as low in price as in Cincinnati." Shoemaker William M. Copes was in urgent need of an apprentice as well as a journeyman cordwainer. Harrison J. Robinson also needed a boy "of moral and industrious habits (none other need apply)" to learn the tailoring trade. Persons in debt to the late John Stockdale were instructed to see the administrators of his estate at once and "make immediate payment." Christopher Dart needed "Good Clean Ashes." Daniel Hankins & Co. wished to contract for five thousand deer skins; tanner Samuel Goodwin also wanted hides as well as a "good MILCH COW with a young calf." Scotch snuff was available from James Winchill; in another ad he also asked those who owed him money to "come forward and pay." Jacob Ross lost his red morocco pocket book containing twenty-seven dollars in bank notes and a note "on Edmund Adams for fifteen barrels of corn." He offered a five dollar reward. John Garrison, who had agreed to buy a house and lot in November, 1815, for four hundred dollars, and in fact was living in the house, was anxious to find the owner so he could pay the money and receive the deed.45

The Plain Dealer contained news that, although not current, was fresh to the readers. Morris gleaned most of his news from the pages of the National Intelligencer, the quasi-official organ of the federal union.46 The November 5 Plain Dealer reprinted items from the National Intelligencer's October 7 through October 12 issues that, in turn, were filled with items dated as early as August 12 and as late as October 7. Thus, the news in the third issue of the Plain Dealer was between one and three months old.

Readers of the November 5 issue were offered a virtual potpourri of items—occasionally grisly and frequently sensational—the discussion of which likely enlivened a week of evenings. They learned that in early October Bostonians inhaled smoke from extensive forest fires in New Hampshire and Maine. In Sackett's Harbor, New York, an audience was lured to a wire dancing exhibition primarily to see "an Italian sailor, who promised to exhibit

  • 45BrookvillePlain Dealer, November 5, 1816.
  • 46 Founded in 1800 in Washington, D.C., the National Intelligencer had close ties with the administrations of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe and served as Congress's gazette for many years. See William E. Ames, A History of the National Intelligencer (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1972).




Courtesy American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.

wonderful feats, such as the spectators had never before seen. Curiosity attracted a full house." The sailor came out, placed a pillow on the floor, laid down then "drew from his bosom a pistol, clapped the muzzle to his ear, and blew out his brains! This closed the entertainment."

Brookville's native Virginians no doubt were interested in the account of a "smooth and genteel" dark-eyed gentleman named Vanhorn who arrived in Richmond, Virginia, and announced that he was an agent for a daring balloonist, one Venette "recent from France." Venette, he said, would astound the populace with a thrilling ascent "200 feet in the airy regions." An obliging printer made up, on the cuff, handbills and tickets, and Vanhorn sold several hundred. On the day before the ascension, Vanhorn chartered a seat on the mail stage and rumbled north, presumably to fetch Venette and his balloon. The next afternoon "a considerable crowd assembled on the Capitol Square; but no Venette, no Vanhorn … the Prince of Pickpockets…. His plunder estimated at 2 or 300 dollars."

The issue was also peppered with foreign news: Spain was preparing for a "great expedition" to South America and "Seamen are impressed to man the fleet." The American consul at Palermo, Italy, was found in his chamber at the foot of his bed, "bathed in his blood, and a pistol by his side." There was also a gruesome item from London—residents of a rooming house in Bloomsbury complained to the landlord of a nauseous stench coming from one of the rooms. Upon investigation, the skinned bodies of fifteen dogs were discovered, presumably butchered "to make into cheap-mutton pies, sausages or for some such purpose." Meanwhile, an American squadron was on the move in the Mediterranean, and there had been an earthquake in Scotland.

In the literary vein, Morris offered two poems printed beneath a small head that read "The Olio." One poem was titled "The Bachelor's Wish," the other "The Lady's Wish." An anecdote related a tale about a student who, desiring to learn to play the flute, discovered to his dismay that lessons would cost twice as much the first month as the second. He decided to "come the second month." There also is an extract of a letter from France to a gentleman in Boston describing Havre de Grace in France; an item reprinted from the Zanesville, Ohio, Express about an Ohio resident who claimed that he had been captured by Indians and forced to be a slave for five years; and a tale about Napoleon Bonaparte and his problem with a colonel who commanded Swiss guards. Farmers plagued by crows in their cornfields were given advice on how to get rid of them; the secret was to tickle the crows to death by threading grains of corn with horse hair.

The Plain Dealer survived for a little more than two years. Ogle was the first to quit the printing office. Perhaps he was a wanderer at heart, a common affliction of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century printers.47 The cash flow through the office may also have been weak. Whatever the reason, Ogle sold his share to John Scott and vanished from the Indiana printing scene.48 Whether Morris then assisted Scott with the printing is unknown. There may have been a salaried printer in the office, or perhaps a roving journeyman was taken on.49

In late 1817 Morris retired to become the county recorder.50 Morris then sold his share to Guernsey G. Brown, who was a Baptist preacher.51 By this time, the Plain Dealer's title may have been extended to the Plain Dealer and White Water Gazette, a title that is mentioned in an advertisement announcing lot sales.52 The proprietorial changes are evident from a notice that appeared several times during 1819 in Brookville's second newspaper when Morris, Scott, and Brown tried to collect the printing office's outstanding accounts.

Domestic Intelligence.


All persons indebted to MORRIS and SCOTT, for Advertising, Job Printing, Subscription, &c. are requested to make payment to John Scott on or before the 15th of October next.

Those who fail to comply with this request may rest assured that their Notes and Accounts will be put in suit, without respect to persons.


Those indebted to BROWN and SCOTT, are desired to make payment on or before the above date; those that fail to do so, will be dealt with in like manner.

We deem it necessary to inform those that have made payment to persons authorised to make collections for us are yet standing open; therefore, it is necessary they should present their receipts in order that the Books may be closed. And further we request all those that hold funds belonging to either of the FIRMS, to make their Remittances without delay.53

  • 47 Lamented one editor, printers "are the class of dissipated, careless, well informed good hearted men … without a settled habitation any where!" RichmondPalladium, June 15, 1833. See also William S. Pretzer, "Tramp Printers: Craft Culture, Trade Unions, and Technology," Printing History, VI (1984), 3-16.
  • 48 Coker F. Clarkson, who was editor (1883-1853) of the BrookvilleIndiana American, recalled that the Plain Dealer "as well as the publisher [Ogle], was ephemeral, as eighteen years afterward no citizen of Brookville could tell how long it was published or what became of the publisher." C. F. Clarkson to L. L. Burke, June 4, 1888, quoted in Reifel, History of Franklin County, 483. Newspaper printers were often referred to as publishers.
  • 49 Numerous "journeyman printer wanted" ads appear in pioneer weeklies.
  • 50 He was also a partner in a mercantile business with Robert John and cashier of the Brookville branch of the Indiana State Bank, for which John and his brother Enoch were directors. Atlas of Franklin County, Indiana … (Chicago, 1882), 95.
  • 51 Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 … (2 vols., Hamden, Conn., 1962), I, 138.
  • 52BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, February 5, 1819. The lot sales were in Vevay. Indiana.
  • 53Ibid., September 24, 1819.
There is no evidence that the three ever sued anyone.

How long Brown remained is unknown. Scott certainly was in charge of the office in January, 1819, for an apprentice was James Knight, "about 17 or 18 years of age," whose supervision was Scott's responsibility. Knight absconded from the printing office on January 14. "Stop the runaway," demanded Scott. "A reasonable reward will be given to any person who will secure him in any Jail in the United States so that I can get him again."54 It is unknown why Knight fled, but runaway apprentices to the printing business seems to have been the rule rather than the exception.55

Apparently subscribers had no interruption of newspaper service between the passing of the Plain Dealer and the birth of Brookville's second newspaper, the BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph,56 which began February 5, 1819. That same day Brown wrote the United States Department of State to inform it that he had sold his share in the Plain Dealer to "John Scott & Co.," thus transferring the responsibility of publishing the Union's public laws and official pronouncements.57

Scott's company included three Brookville lawyers who presumably would share the editorial duties, and perhaps brothers

  • 54Ibid., February 5, 1819. This notice must have also appeared in the last issue of the Plain Dealer, which has not survived.
  • 55 In 1837, for instance, twenty "gentlemen, connected with the Press of Indiana," convened in Indianapolis to consider what to do with, among other problems, footloose apprentices. They resolved that no editor should employ an apprentice "from the office of another without the approbation of the former." See IndianapolisIndiana Journal, June 3, 1837.
  • 56 "Telegraph" did not refer to the electric telegraph that Samuel F. B. Morse was to patent in 1840, but rather to a device named telegraphe developed in France between 1792 and 1794, which sent messages in code across distances by varying the arrangement of cross-bars atop high poles. In the United States, the term as a newspaper name was first used February 10, 1795, when the Telegraphe was founded in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Scott may have liked the term when he lived in Carlisle, although by then the paper had been extinct for several years. See Alston G. Field, "The Press in Western Pennsylvania to 1812," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, XX (December, 1937), 236–37; Boyd Crumrine, History of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1882), 406; Clarence S. Brigham, Journals and Journeymen: A Contribution to the History of Early American Newspapers (Philadelphia, 1950), 12–14.
  • 57 Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, I, 138. Brookville's early newspapers never benefited from state patronage, but undoubtedly the Plain Dealer had been awarded federal patronage by the State Department in 1828. Renewals for its successors continued until 1828. On April 20, 1818, the number of newspapers deemed "Printer of the Laws of the U.S." in a territory or state had been increased to three, and the matter to be published was expanded to include amendments to the Constitution, public treaties, and Congressional resolutions. Compensation was set at one dollar per printed page, an increase of fifty cents. Newspapers seem to have received around one hundred dollars annually.

    Printing offices also received money from their county treasuries. During the period between November 9, 1818—November 14, 1820, Franklin County expended eleven dollars for printing. Village postmasterships, finally, were also eagerly sought by printers, but none of Brookville's pioneer printers was so blessed. Hamilton, The Country Printer, 121, 134; House Executive Document No. 41, 19 Cong., 1 sess., 1825–1826, 5–8; BrookvilleEnquirer, December 12, 1820.

D. W. and Charles W. Hutchen, from Henderson, Kentucky, both of whom were printers who would acquire the printing office in 1824.58 It is unknown if the lawyers—William Drew, Daniel Caswell, and Miles Carey Eggleston—invested money in the enterprise.59

The motto of Scott's paper was "The Freedom of the Press without Licentiousness."60 Its prospectus, evidently drafted by the lawyers, filled nearly three columns in the first issue. The prospectus may have appeared originally as a handbill circulated by Scott before the news sheet debuted, which was common for many pioneer printers as a way of testing the waters before committing themselves to the economic responsibility of publishing a newspaper. In part, "Scott & Co." pledged:

Malicious calumnies whether directed against the public or its officers, as they serve no beneficial purpose, can never find a place in our columns. All libellous attacks, as they are only calculated, to embitter private animosities and to disturb the harmony of society, by sowing the seeds of dissention and diffusing the poisonous malignity of the passions, will also be excluded. Written communications from Correspondents, having for their object the promotion of any salutary purpose, relative to the government, or to the people, will be cheerfully inserted, if their style and content be such, as to authorize their publication….

Citizens of the State of Indiana, our strongest predilections and warmest sympathies are interwoven with her present and future welfare. Anxious to promote her interests and accelerate her growth, no exertions, contributory to these ends will be remitted. Gifted by the munificence of Heaven with a delightful climate, and a soil rivaling in fertility the loam of the Nile, and encompassing within her bosom an industrious and enterprising population, ambitious of every laudable pursuit, and emulous of every virtuous and patriotic achievement; she bids fair, under the auspices of a well conducted Press, and a wise administration of her government,

  • 58 The BrookvilleAmerican, June 12, 1958. In March, 1820, Charles Hutchen advertised 160 acres of land for sale, noting that "For further particulars enquire at the Printing Office." BrookvilleEnquirer, March 16, 1820.
  • 59 Drew and Caswell were law partners. See their advertisement in the BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, February 5, 1819. Well-to-do, Drew owned two thousand acres in Franklin County and many lots in Brookville. He was Franklin's state senator from 1819 to 1821. Atlas of Franklin County, 16; A Biographical Directory of the Indiana General Assembly: Vol. 1, 1816–1899 (Indianapolis, 1980), 106. Eggleston (1791–1851) was a native of Amelia County, Virginia. He came to Indiana Territory in 1815 after completing classical and legal studies at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, and settled first in Lawrenceburg. He then removed to Brookville and later to Vevay. Toward the end of his life, he taught law at Hanover College, Hanover. He was a second cousin to Edward Eggleston (1837–1902), author of The Hoosier School-Master: A Novel (1871). Blanche Goode Garber, "Judge Miles Carey Eggleston," Indiana Magazine of History, XVII (September, 1921), 195–200; William P. Randel, Edward Eggleston (New York, 1946), 3.
  • 60 Interestingly, the motto of Washington, Pa., Western Gazette, and Beaver, Pa., Beaver Gazette was "Free, but not Licentious." See Joseph H. Bausman, History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and Its Centennial Celebration (2 vols., New York, 1904), I, 455; Field, "The Press in Western Pennsylvania," 236–37.
to vie ere long, in strength, intelligence and resources, with the first Agricultural States in our Union.61

Page one of the maiden issue was almost wholly filled with Federal acts, among them a provision for removal of the Library of Congress to the north wing of the Capitol, an act to increase the number of clerks in the Department of War, and a resolution declaring the admission of Illinois into the Union. Of special interest was a letter from Indiana Senator James Noble at the nation's capital, in which he predicted that recent treaties with Wea, Miami, and Potawatomi Indians "presents pleasing prospects to the People of Indiana, and will be a means of aiding the future prosperity of the state."

Readers hopeful of easily gaining riches were tempted by a large advertisement announcing that tickets in the JeffersonvilleOhio Canal Company lottery were available at six dollars each. The company sought to build a canal on Indiana's side of the Ohio to bypass the Falls, where a drop of some twenty feet or so endangered downriver vessels and prevented upriver passage. The lottery was a failure; so was the canal.62

In July and August, 1819, readers followed the unfolding of a domestic quarrel in Brookville, reported through advertisements, which were frequent repositories of domestic turmoil. Elijah Owen published a notice that since his wife Anne "has left my bed and board without any just cause or provocation," he was "determined not to pay any debts of her contracting after this date."63 A week later his wife's rejoinder appeared. She accused him of threatening "to Kick me out of Bed and turn me out of doors, besides the abuse I received from his tongue; also, he has been so Lazy, &c. that there was no prospect of making a living for me nor his children. Hardly ever could I get a fire made without his casting reflections in sickness, in health or going and doing it myself, till my constitution is broke so that I could bare it no more."64 The estranged husband quickly replied, expressing wonder about how "could a woman's Constitution have been broken by making fires, when, in making her elopement she travelled at the rate of forty miles per day on foot with a large budget [personal possessions]."65 If there was a reconciliation, no evidence was found that Elijah Owen fetched the wood and made the fires thereafter.

  • 61BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, February 5, 1819. Two newspaper editors in particular were impressed by the salutary. See CincinnatiWestern Spy, and Cincinnati General Advertiser, February 19, 1819; Corydon Indiana Gazette, March 6, 1819.
  • 62 For more information on the struggle to get the passageway built, see Stuart Seely Sprague, "The Canal at the Falls of the Ohio and the Three Cornered Rivalry," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, LXXII (January, 1974), 38–54.
  • 63BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, July 16, 1819.
  • 64Ibid., August 6, 1819.
  • 65 August 13, 1819.

Within seven months the Enquirer and Indiana Telegraph's staff was in disarray. The partnership ended in September, 1819. Eggleston left and was soon elected presiding judge of Indiana's third judicial district. Around this time Caswell was thinking of relocating in Dearborn County. Drew may have been in poor health. The September 10 issue carried a notice that the newspaper "Will be sold on good terms one divided half: an excellent press, a quantity of good type comprising an assortment of job type."66 The notice claimed that the newspaper had a weekly circulation of eight hundred and that the office did "considerable JOB PRINTING." The newspaper's thirty-second issue, September 24, 1819, was the last under the control of John Scott and Company. Morris almost immediately bought back into the printing office.

Under "B. F. Morris & Co.," the newspaper continued without interruption one week after the dissolution of John Scott and Company. Morris's enterprise apparently consisted of lawyers Caswell and Drew, but there is no evidence that Scott stayed on with the new editorship. A significant change occurred with the March 2, 1820, issue when the title was shortened to BrookvilleEnquirer. If Scott was a shareholder, the change possibly came about through disagreement between him and Morris, for it seems that the relationship ultimately reached an impasse. In September Morris published a warning:


THE public are cautioned against taking an assignment of any NOTES given by me to John Scott as I have equitable claims against the said Scott to balance the whole.67

The Enquirer under Morris was no different journalistically than it was under Scott. The news columns were filled with federal acts and reprinted items. In December, 1819, Morris, perhaps exasperated by complaints his editorial decision elicited, published a piece likely copied from an eastern gazette. "It is hard for a Printer to please every body," the item reads. "Many censure the Printer for copying articles of news from other papers of the same state or neighborhood"; some want more advertisements yet others complain "your paper is filled up too much with advertisements….

  • 66 Evidently the printing office had a second press and type that were not for sale.
  • 67BrookvilleEnquirer, September 5, 1820. The notes would be signed slips stating that Morris owed Scott the amount written on each, and could be given as tender to third parties willing to accept them. If the "Caution" was truthful, Scott was equally in debt to Morris. The question of Scott and money survived even into the twentieth century. See BrookvilleAmerican, June 12, 1958. Nevertheless, Scott continued to found newspapers, including the Western Emporium in Centerville in 1824 and the LogansportPotawattimie & Miami Times in August, 1829, then Indiana's most northern weekly. He died in Logansport on July 15, 1838. Scott, The Indiana Gazetteer, 15.
Nothing is now left but to throw ourselves on the generosity of our readers, and beg them to reflect that ‘where there are many men, there are also many minds.’ "68

Local news of an ordinary nature received almost no notice from early Indiana editors. Only the largest papers could afford the luxury of a team of local reporters, and even they did not employ reporters until the 1840s. Obituaries and marriages were only occasionally recorded, and little space was given to local election returns. But local news of tragic, violent, or dramatic nature was almost never overlooked:

On the night of the 14th inst. [October 14, 1822] the Merchant Mill belonging to James Backhouse and Co. adjoining Brookville, was burnt to ashes. In it was consumed a considerable quantity of flour, ready barreled for the market, together with near 5,000 bushels of wheat and other grain. But, beside all this, shocking to relate, one of the millers a young man perished in the flame! it is said that he was seen sleeping on the bags in the evening, and immediately under the place where they lay, he was dug out of the burning ruins the next day, an awful spectacle! both legs and one arm burnt off, and the residue of him greatly disfigured! The young man was the only hope of his mother who is a widow, and who chiefly subsisted through his industry.69

Two of Franklin County's most dramatic events of the 1820s—a murder committed by a well-liked Brookville resident and his eventual hanging, and the last-minute pardon of an aged Brookvillian and Revolutionary War veteran who sat in a wagon with a noose around his neck—certainly warranted space.70

Literate pioneers, starved for reading matter, probably were as attentive to the paid notices in their little newspapers as they were to the columns that were stuffed with public laws, quirky letters, maudlin poems, tax lists, squibs preaching sobriety and virtue, and names of persons for whom mail was being held. A notice that appeared in the BrookvilleEnquirer in the summer of 1820 certainly set tongues a-wagging:


BY and in the presence of Almighty God, I JULIA C. NORTON, of Franklin County and the state of Indiana, do declare and solemnly swear to the following statement

  • 68BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, December 24, 1819.
  • 69BrookvilleEnquirer, October 22, 1822, quoted in CharlestownIndiana Intelligencer, and Farmer's Friend, November 6, 1822. Ironically, this tragedy figures indirectly in the early printing history of Indiana. After the fire the owner borrowed from the United States Bank at Cincinnati to rebuild. Several years later the business failed. James H. Speer of the Cincinnati firm of Phillips & Speer acquired the property and, in July, 1835, started Indiana's third papermill. The mill was the forerunner of what became a flourishing papermaking trade in Brookville, lasting into the twentieth century. See Reifel, History of Franklin County, 202, 206–208.
  • 70 The Brookville press likely treated the incidents fully, but most issues for the dates concerned are no longer extant. See LouisvillePublic Advertiser, February 2, 1820; BrookvilleEnquirer, January 14, March 16, 1820; Atlas of Franklin County, 16; James M. Miller, "An Early Criminal Case—Samuel Fields," Indiana Magazine of History, I (December, 1905), 201–203.
herein described, that it is the truth and nothing but the truth …. First, that this child I now have in my arms, and it being the child I am the mother of, and my first and only child, was begotted by THOMAS HARVEY, resident of Fairfield [north of Brookville] at the time the child was begotted: And that said child is the same that I swore was begotten by William Popeno, and that said William Popeno has not, at any time, had carnal knowledge of me. And further, that said Thomas Harvey did induce me to swear that such child was begotten by William Popeno, and promised to give me Fifty Dollars for so doing.

This acknowledgment is made by my own free will and consent, that justice may take place and the guilty be punished.71

The paid notices also provided information that later newspapers would treat as news: "Broke from the jail of Fayette County, on the night of the 17th of November, inst. a man who called himself John Brown, and who was confined in said jail on a charge of having passed Counterfeit money …. He is a rough black bearded, counterfeiting, jail breaking little rascal …."72 Probably one of the strangest notices appeared in the BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph:

I William McCleery, do acknowledge that on the 17th day of March Instant, I did assist in placing a Swine's Head, on the door step of Luther Russell, erroneously. I believe him to be clear of the felony which was commited upon a Swine, which was taken from the widow Mary Knight, on the evening before.73

On October 16, 1821, Morris's partner Drew died, and Caswell may have withdrawn.74 The printing office again went on the block and was purchased by Robert John, Morris's mercantile business partner, and Robert's brother Enoch. Morris left Brookville after an unsuccessful bid in 1822 to be the county's state representative. The following year he was an editor of the IndianapolisGazette, and by 1825 was appointed president judge of Indiana's fifth district circuit court. In December, 1830, he was elected the first recording secretary of the newly formed Indiana Historical Society.75

Under the Johns the Enquirer continued the federal patronage. Although few copies of their paper have survived, the weekly seems to have taken no new tack except typographically; column rules were removed from the first page. Their tenure with the paper, however, was shortened by their position as directors of the

  • 71BrookvilleEnquirer, August 5, 1820.
  • 72Ibid., November 28, 1820.
  • 73BrookvilleEnquirer and Indiana Telegraph, March 19, 1819. Russell, watch and clock repairer and maker of dirks, endorsed the notice that he was "hereby satisfied with the above acknowledgment."
  • 74Biographical Directory of the Indiana General Assembly, I, 106; Lawrenceburg Oracle, June 29, 1822. In 1824, Caswell was living in Delaware County. See RichmondPublic Leger, March 27, 1824.
  • 75 W. R. Holloway, Indianapolis: A Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City (Indianapolis, 1870), 30, 32, 38, 47, 265; IndianapolisDaily Journal, February 2, 1864; IndianapolisGazette, May 3, 1823; Lana Ruegamer, History of the Indiana Historical Society, 1830–1980 (Indianapolis, 1980).
Brookville branch of Indiana's first state bank. By January, 1822, the Brookville bank, its thirteen associate branches, and the main bank at Vincennes were fiscal shambles. The John brothers and their fellow directors of the Brookville institution could show deposits of only $8,630 while debts totaled $95,319.76 About the time the doors of the branch closed in March, 1822, Enoch left the Enquirer and the county to resettle in Lawrenceburg in Dearborn County. Shortly after his departure, the Enquirer printed a short playlet, presumably "communicated" by "Silentia," and which, slightly tinged with sarcasm, was a poor booster for Franklin County. The play opens in the "Brookville Hotel—candle-light—Mr. LUTESTRING a merchant reading the National Enquirer—enter Mr. KEEPMONEY, a farmer." Keepmoney has just returned from a tour of the New Purchase. "What a haven of rest is here[,] Mr. Lutestring[,] for the lazy and indolent," he remarks, "and what a glorious prospect for the poor industrious farmer of the east!"77 The play rattled on through two columns with Keepmoney uttering nothing but praise for the virtually untrammeled land west of Franklin County. Undoubtedly Silentia was moved to dramaturgy by recent events in Brookville.

When the Indiana General Assembly appropriated land for Fayette and Union counties, Franklin County lost much of its most valuable farming land and hundreds of its most prosperous farmers. Then in June, 1820, when the site for the new state capital was selected, there was "a stampede of the people" to Indianapolis. One source says "good houses were deserted by the owners, who did not wait to sell them to newcomers, and grass grew in the streets of the town. It is said that for some time many houses that cost from one thousand to five thousand dollars were occupied by sheep."78 The closing of the bank could not have kindled good cheer. And worse news was yet to come.

Enoch John's share in the Enquirer appears to have been picked up by John Scott, for the July 25, 1822, issue lists the publishers as "R. John & J. W. Scott." But it, too, was to be a brief partnership. By the end of the year, Scott seems to have put Brookville behind him and crossed over to Wayne County.

The next extant issue of the Enquirer, January 8, 1823, notes the proprietors as "R. John & J. Knight, printers." Presumably Knight is the former Scott apprentice who fled the printing office in early 1819. If so, he apparently was set to leave again, for his titularly status is missing from the January 3, 1824, issue that

  • 76 Logan Esarey, "The First Indiana Banks," Indiana Magazine of History, VI (December, 1910), 144–58.
  • 77BrookvilleEnquirer, April 2, 1822.
  • 78 Baskin, Forster, pub., Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana (Chicago, 1876), 233.
notes the management as being only "Robert John & Co." Likely Knight's share had been sold by this time to Isaac Newton Hanna, "a sprightly and talented young man" and a member of one of Brookville's pioneer families. In 1823, Hanna became the weekly's junior editor. By default, Robert John remained the senior editor.79 They appear to have constituted an odd couple.

Political differences between John and Hanna during the presidential election year of 1824 may have prompted the demise of the Enquirer. John was an ardent supporter of John Quincy Adams; Hanna was equally ardent about Henry Clay. The majority of Franklin County's farmers, however, thumped for Andrew Jackson, while most Brookville residents favored Clay. John and Hanna dissolved their partnership by mutual consent October 7, 1824. Neither John's nor Hanna's choice carried Franklin County.80

John and Hanna found quick buyers for the printing office—brothers D. W. and Charles W. Hutchen. The new owners changed the spelling of the newspaper's name from Enquirer to Inquirer and scrapped the former sheet's motto, substituting "With all who make our country's good their aim, we union seek and fellowship proclaim." The ownership change was warmly applauded by Edmund S. Buxton of the RichmondPublic Leger, who expressed the hope that the Brookville paper "will hereafter be conducted with more regard to decency and a firmer adherence to truth than it has been for some time past."81

At the very start of their Inquirer the Hutchen brothers were shaken by the possibility of competition. "Great exertions are being made to establish another printing office in this place," they remarked in an editorial, "and no doubt it has been suggested to the people as absolutely necessary. A word is sufficient—we can do all the business for this place and as much more."82 Nevertheless the threat was worrisome enough to cause them to scurry for a more encompassing name. With their November 6, 1824, issue, the gazette was changed to the BrookvilleInquirer and Franklin Republican, apparently chosen to impress the county's more populous farming community that its interests were at heart. Such a ploy could attract subscribers and elicit additional advertising.

A competitive weekly did not materialize, due in part perhaps to the residue of the Panic of 1819 and the transfer of government

  • 79 John M. Johnson, "Recollections of Early Brookville," Indiana Magazine of History, I (December, 1905), 197.
  • 80Ibid.; BrookvilleInquirer, October 23, 1824; Dorothy Riker and Gayle Thornbrough, comps., Indiana Election Returns, 1816–1851 (Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. XL; Indianapolis, 1960), 4–9.
  • 81RichmondPublic Leger, October 30, 1824.
  • 82BrookvilleInquirer, October 23, 1824, quoted in Reifel, History of Franklin County, 484.


Courtesy Donald L. Dunaway.

land offices from Brookville to Indianapolis in February, 1825; the latter was particularly ruinous for Brookville. But in a small way, the battered economy benefited the Hutchens: there was a need in town for scrip, which were printed pieces of paper worth a value of money, commissioned by a particular business.83

In late September or early October, 1825, the Inquirer's name was again changed, this time to the FranklinRepository. By then the Hutchens had likely concluded the sale of their press and type to Augustus Jocelyn, who probably was responsible for the new title. In November the Hutchens wrote Secretary of State Clay for permission to continue printing public laws under the weekly's new name, but their application probably was to insure that Jocelyn would not lose government patronage.84

Jocelyn's origin is unknown, but in 1798 he was stationed as a Methodist minister in Middletown and later Redding, Connecticut.85

  • 83 See Atlas of Franklin County, 95.
  • 84 James F. Hopkins, ed., The Papers of Henry Clay (9 vols. to date, Lexington, Ky., 1959-), IV, 822.
Around 1819 he accepted a call to become a circuit rider in the far country and migrated west with his wife and children, settling in or near Lawrenceburg. The following year he was appointed elder of the Brookville church and was instrumental in completing the first brick Methodist church in the Whitewater Valley.86

Jocelyn's first Repository motto strongly identified him with Indiana and its aims: "The Constitution of Indiana—sound republicanism—good order and steady habits." And unlike Silentia's Keepmoney, who saw the New Purchase as the shining future, Jocelyn encouraged local development, making his gazette a booster for progress. An early supporter of a Whitewater canal, he argued that an engineered waterway would help the region's strained economy and even led a delegation to Hamilton, Ohio, to discuss plans.87 His booster zeal was matched by his religious enthusiasm, too; occasionally he used his press to publish religious tracts.88

Jocelyn eventually dispensed with the front page nameplate that had been strung across the top of page one since the birth of the Plain Dealer. The nameplate was reduced to a modest head at the top of column one, and a new motto—"Intelligence is the Life of Liberty"—replaced the former. By this time, Jocelyn was in poor health, a condition that gradually worsened. In the autumn of 1827, he decided to sell the printing office:

The health of the Editor of the Franklin Repository, having been constantly on the decline, by a pulmonary complaint, for more than six months past, & which now confined him mostly to his house, and some part of the time to his bed, and forbids a hope of recovery, while he continues his editorial labours, induces him, rather than to terminate the operations of a press so well located for the public convenience and interest, and which, with a very little exertion, might be made handsomely lucrative to the owner, now to offer his printing establishment for sale at a sacrifice, which will reduce it to less than one half its real value, and will, (if required) give twelve months credit, with good security, for one half of the real amount of purchase …. An amount not exceeding from two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars, will be required to be paid at the time of purchase.89

No one accepted the terms, and the ailing editor continued his newspaper.

The federal patronage that Jocelyn inherited when he started the Repository was eagerly sought by Milton Gregg and David Culley, proprietors of the LawrenceburgIndiana Palladium. At the

  • 85 Elmer T. Clark, ed., The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury (3 vols., London and Nashville, Tenn., 1958), II, 164, 243, 344, 603. Asbury spelled the surname "Jocelin."
  • 86 Allan Wiley, "Introduction and Progress of Methodism in Southeastern Indiana," Indiana Magazine of History, XXIII (September, 1927), 239–332.
  • 87 Chelsea L. Lawlis, "Prosperity and Hard Times in the Whitewater Valley, 1830–1840," Indiana Magazine of History, XLIII (December, 1947), 369.
  • 88 See BrookvilleFranklin Repository, October 31, 1826.
  • 89Ibid.
tail end of the Adams administration, Gregg notified Clay that he and Culley were "again applicants for the public printing" (the pair had tried to pry the patronage loose in January, 1825) and claimed that their sheet had a larger circulation than their rival, which may not have been true.90 Somewhat surprisingly since Jocelyn was proadministration, Gregg and Culley were successful. "We have learned," wrote a disappointed Jocelyn, "That the publishing of the Laws of the United States by authority, has been withheld from the Franklin Repository, and the patronage conferred upon the Indiana Palladium, an Administration Opposition paper, that is plainly, neither one thing nor the other in that respect."91 It is likely, however, that the Indiana Palladium had subscribers in Boone County, Kentucky, just across the river from Lawrenceburg. A Kentuckian, Clay was also an opportunist to the core. Although put off by the patronage loss, Jocelyn was a sufficiently responsible editor to inform his readers that "we shall in the future publish them [the laws] by our own authority, and at our own expense …. [at] a suitable time we may say something further on this subject."92

Jocelyn went on to accomplish what may be considered a journalistic first in Indiana if not the nation by conducting and publishing a newspaper interview with a politician. He queried Governor James Brown Ray, who was seeking reelection on a ticket that embraced none of the national parties. Ray's opponent was Harrison County's Harbin Moore, an avowed supporter of Adams. At the moment Indiana enthusiasts of Andrew Jackson had no candidate for governor, but they immediately found one after the interview was published. Dr. Israel T. Canby was so confident that he would be the state's next governor that he immediately resigned his post as state representative for Jefferson and Jennings counties. In June, 1828, Ray appeared in Brookville, his former residence, and said publicly that he could back anyone who supported the American system. The governor's fence straddling alarmed Jocelyn, whose political loyalty was still with Adams and Clay, because he believed Ray's talk would be interpreted by Jacksonians as friendly toward their cherished "Old Hickory." The interview likely took place almost immediately after Ray completed his speech.

The governor's published replies to Jocelyn's questions are oddly brief and repetitious, unlike Ray's normally long-winded speech patterns. Jocelyn's questions, however, are stretched and

  • 90Hopkins, The Papers of Henry Clay, V, 851–52. Attempts to verify American newspaper and magazine circulations were not made until the end of the nineteenth century.
  • 91BrookvilleFranklin Repository, February 18, 1828.
  • 92Ibid.


Courtesy Donald L. Dunaway.

convoluted, suggesting that after the interview Jocelyn may have labored over the text until he got the effect he wanted. More importantly, the interview was to demonstrate how such reportage could affect an election campaign. "At the close of the conversation," Jocelyn wrote, "we observed to his excellency that we did not wish him to declare himself on either side of the Presidential question; meaning (and we presume were so understood) that what had passed already, made it sufficiently clear on which side his judgment and love of country had permanently placed him." Jocelyn asserted that he was appending his remarks "For the purpose of showing the opposition that there exists not the slightest pretext in fact, for their claiming the Governor of Indiana for Jackson …. when his name is used … they practice a foul deception upon the public, as well as upon their adherents."93

The interview created a political tempest among Jocelyn's fellow editors. The Indiana Palladium accused him of partisanship:

  • 93The issue of the Franklin Repository in which the interview appeared is no longer extant. The interview was reprinted in the IndianapolisGazette, June 19, 1828. See also Dorothy Riker and Gayle Thornbrough, eds., Governor James Brown Ray: Messages and Papers, 1825–1831 (Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. XXXIV; Indianapolis, 1954), 348–50.
"Your sentiments we must have, says the editor and down he sits and frames a dialogue between himself and Mr. Ray."94 John Allen of the SalemAnnotator in Washington County reluctantly reprinted the interview, attaching to it a saddened caveat: "Never since our connexion with a press has it been our duty to publish any thing … with so much regret …. if Gov. Ray has made the declaration attributed to him … he has forfeited all claims to the respect or support of either party."95 But the editorial hubbub only bruised Ray's ego and did not kill him politically; in fact, the interview may have earned him sympathetic votes, for he was returned to office.96

With Jackson's inauguration came the stuffing of Jacksonians into federal posts; in late 1829, publishing patronage went to the VincennesWestern Sun, the SalemWestern Annotator, and again to Jocelyn's bête noire, the Indiana Palladium. The latter conveniently swung from its neutral status to a Jacksonian paper after Gregg left the sheet. New editor Culley obviously studied the election returns. Meanwhile, Jocelyn's health continued to decline.

In November, 1828, Jocelyn informed his readers that "we shall stop the press after having issued two numbers more … Several persons we well know, wish to possess themselves of our printing establishment … but knowing at the same time that we have long since determined, on account of our bad state of health, to close our business either by selling or stopping the press, they may perhaps be waiting until we have done the latter, with the expectation of obtaining the press and other materials of this office, for a mere song, as the saying is." He cautioned potential buyers that if they were thinking of getting the printing office at a bargain price "They will find themselves as much mistaken as we have been on the presidential question—for we have given them our lowest terms, under any circumstances."97 Since the electoral college vote was still two weeks away, "presidential question" undoubtedly referred to Jocelyn's controversial interview with James Brown Ray.

There still were no takers. Jocelyn then terminated the gazette. At the end of February or the beginning of March, 1829, Jocelyn and J. W. Holland98 published the first issue of the Western Agriculturalist and General Intelligencer. Announcements of the publication's founding were made in several Indiana papers, among them the LawrenceburgPalladium, whose item was copied

  • 94LawrenceburgIndiana Palladium, June 21, 1828.
  • 95Quoted in the IndianapolisJournal, July 10, 1828.
  • 96See Riker and Thornbrough, Indiana Election Returns, 140–41; James H. Madison, The Indiana Way: A State History (Bloomington, 1986), 133–34.
  • 97BrookvilleFranklin Repository, November 19, 1828.
  • 98Atlas of Franklin County, 96.
by the CentervilleWestern Times and to which the Times's editor, Septimus Smith, added a cheerful note:

Renewal.—We take pleasure in announcing the reappearance of the Brookville paper, under the title of "The Western Agriculturist and General Intelligencer," and in a pamphlet form of 16 pages. From its title we would infer that it is to be devoted principally to agriculture; and judging from the editorial matter, which runs much on the propagation of horses and horse bills, and the acknowledged talents of the editors, we have no doubt that it will be ably conducted. We hope their profits may prove commensurate with their deserts.

[As I have not received the paper which appears by the above article recently to have re-commenced in one of our neighboring counties, under a new title, with all my good wishes for its success, I knew of no greater compliment I could properly pay its editors, than by giving the remarks of those who seem to have examined the work … ED TIMES.]99

Apparently no copies of the Agriculturalist have survived.100 In mid-May, 1829, Holland quit the office.101 Six months later, Septimus Smith of Centerville noted in his Western Times: "Our old political and personal friend, Mr. Jocelyn, has disposed of the BrookvilleAgriculturalist—and though his age & past service, should exempt him from the further cares and labours of a printing office, we cannot take our final leave of one who has stood with us since our first commencement as an editor, without some emotions of sentimental regret." In the same issue, this comment by Smith appears:

Two more papers.—We have before us proposals for two more new papers, to be commenced in a short time, in this State—one to be published by W. R. Morris, and B. S. Noble, Esqrs. at Brookville, and to be entitled The Franklin Cadet. The other, to be published by Milton Gregg, Esq. at Lawrenceburgh, and to be entitled The Western Statesman, and Agricultural Register.102

Morris and Noble were young Franklin County lawyers. As far as is known their Cadet never materialized, suggesting that the two men may have been in negotiations with Jocelyn for the purchase of his printing office. The IndianapolisJournal noted the proposed Cadet and the Lawrenceburg weekly, as well as plans for sheets in other communities (including a rumor about a third paper in Indianapolis). Douglass Maguire, editor of the Journal, was not amused: "Newspapers, well conducted, are an incalculable

  • 99LawrenceburgPalladium (n.d.), quoted in CentervilleWestern Times, March 21, 1829.
  • 100 The paper seems to have confused bibliographers; it is listed as a serial in Winifred Gregory, Union List of Serials in Libraries of the United States and Canada (New York, 1927, 1517, but as a newspaper in her later work, American Newspapers, 1821–1936: A Union List of Files Available in the United States and Canada (New York, 1937), 146. The Library of Congress is the only archive cited by Gregory and later bibliographers as holding the publication, but searches produced no copies.
  • 101Atlas of Franklin County, 96.
  • 102CentervilleWestern Times, November 21, 1829.
benefit to the country, and deserve, to a greater extent than is generally afforded them, the countenance and support of the community. Notwithstanding this, we are firmly persuaded that the rage for establishing newspapers is too great, and will, we fear, be an injury to the public, to the individuals immediately concerned, and to the character and respectability of the press."103

If one Franklin County source is correct, the Agriculturalist held on for several more issues before Jocelyn terminated it, which may have been with an issue dated February 13, 1830.104 On February 24, the Indiana Journal noted Jocelyn's retirement:

Exceptions may have been taken at times to the course this gentleman pursued as an editor, where society is constituted as is ours,—with what justice it is not our purpose to inquire—but it is no less due to the purity of his principles than to his integrity of purpose to say, that he has evinced an inflexible regard to principle, even where it is known to have conflicted with personal predilection …. We trust that he may meet a more liberal reward, in whatever business he may in future engage, than we fear attended him in his late vocation.105

Jocelyn sold his equipment to Gregg. The printing press and type were hauled by freight wagon to Lawrenceburg where Gregg started the Western Statesman in March, 1830. He dressed his weekly with new type and in April advertised for sale "150 to 200 lbs of Small Pica type, about half worn. If carefully worked it will last and make a fair impression, for four to five years."106 It is possible this type was that which Scott and Ogle clicked into their composing sticks as they set copy for the Plain Dealer.Franklin County was without a newspaper until January 4, 1833, when William Seal & Company restarted the BrookvilleInquirer. Charles Hutchen, co-owner of the first Inquirer, was editor.107

The pioneer phase of Brookville's printing history was past, as it was elsewhere in Indiana. The ink-stained, cranky wood press was being replaced by the less contrary iron press, and although the early iron presses operated on the same principle as the Ramage, they were welcomed by printers whose common occupational complaint was sore back and arms. "I have just come from the printing office," wrote the editor of Posey County's New-Harmony Gazette in 1825, "where Mr. [Thomas] Palmer is working off one side of the paper. He has an elegant new Super-royal press of the kind called the Stansbury press, which requires less than one third

  • 103IndianapolisIndiana Journal, December 3, 1829.
  • 104Atlas of Franklin County, 96.
  • 105IndianapolisIndiana Journal, February 24, 1830.
  • 106Ibid.
  • 107 Hutchen was among the most indefatigable pioneer editors and printers that passed through Franklin County. He later was associated with ventures in New Albany, Aurora, Lawrenceburg, and Evansville. In 1851 he returned to Kentucky to found the Henderson Democratic Banner, later renamed the Reporter. Around 1858, he retired.
of the strength necessary for working the common [wood] screw-press … the labor of pulling the bar is comparatively nothing."108

The emergence of Andrew Jackson's democracy broke the hold of the aristocracy on American politics. As a consequence, journalism and politics split into separate camps with journalism becoming a separate profession.109 The editorial contents of many newspapers began to undergo a change, emphasizing the local and human interest aspects of news.110 The printer no longer was concerned with what to put into the news columns—the responsibility now went to editors and reporters.

And so the pioneer period ended. The early printers of Brookville—indeed, all the early printers of Indiana and others with whom they shared the frontier—had struggled against all adversities. They persevered. James Green, a biographer of Indiana Territory's first governor, perhaps stated their victory best: "The debt which the Middle West owes to its early printers and to its circuit riders and to the men who established schools and insisted on the three R's, is beyond calculation. Those were the men who kept alive the burning torch of inspiration, who added to life the finer and better things, the larger outlook and the wider hopes, which has put a great gulf between the country people of this continent and the peasantry of Europe."111

  • 108Harlow Lindley, ed., Indiana as Seen by Early Travelers: A Collection of Reprints from Books of Travel, Letters and Diaries Prior to 1830 (Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. III; Indianapolis, 1916), 384.
  • 109Charles H. Levermore, "The Rise of Metropolitan Journalism, 1800–1840," American Historical Review, VI (April, 1901), 451–52.
  • 110Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism (1941; New York, 1950), 228–52.
  • 111James A. Green, William Henry Harrison: His Life and Times (Richmond, Va., 1941), 97–98.

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.