Fremont OH Newspapers to Chronicle State's Civil War History on Website

Historic Ohio Newspaper Now Online at Library of Congress

(COLUMBUS, OHIO)— Civil War re-enactors, researchers and enthusiasts have cause to celebrate: the hours spent poring over pages of Ohio’s historical newspapers in search of news from the warfront and soldiers’ letters back home is now reduced to minutes thanks to the Ohio Historical Society. Three Fremont newspapers, the Fremont Journal, Fremont Journal Extra and Fremont Weekly Journal, are among the Civil War-era Ohio newspapers that are being digitized and uploaded to the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website at www.chroniclingamerica.org. At this site, a researcher can use a term such as someone’s name, hometown or military regiment in the “search” function to instantly find occurrences of that word in the newspapers.

The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, a part of the National Digital Newspaper Program developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, will enable the Ohio Historical Society to digitize 100,000 additional Ohio newspaper pages published from 1845 to 1894. These pages will join the 14 papers—over 100,000 Ohio newspaper pages published between 1880 and 1922—that are already available on Chronicling America through the project’s first phase. This is welcome news to blurry-eyed researchers and genealogists who scour old microfilm in search of clues to history’s mysteries and family histories.

“The Fremont Journal tells more than just the local news,” said Tom Neel, Library Director for the Ohio Genealogical Society. “Sandusky County is home to the future President Rutherford B. Hayes, General Ralph P. Buckland, and General James McPherson, and this Civil War period newspaper is truly a national weekly record of life in that restless and uncertain era 150 years ago today.”

“Searchable newspaper images from 1853 to 1875, now online at Chronicling America, are enhanced by a Civil War correspondence index available through the Bowling Green State University Center for Archival Collections - www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/cac/bib/page41677.html - and by a database of Sandusky County Civil War veterans maintained by the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont - www.rbhayes.org/hayes/databases/soldiers/soldiers.htm,” he said. “The story of politics, economic life, social change, and military action may be explored in the eight years leading up to the first battle and then all though the war finishing at the start of reconstruction. It's the national story brought to you by small town America.”

About the Fremont Journal, Fremont Journal Extra and Fremont Weekly Journal
The Fremont Journal was established by I. W. Booth on January 27, 1853, in the seat of Sandusky County, Ohio. Said to stand on the side of morality, law, and order, the weekly paper supported Whig interests until 1854 when it began to align itself with the newly organized Republican Party.  John Mastin became the proprietor on December 24, 1853, and less than a year later, on May 26, 1854, Isaac M. Keeler purchased one-half interest in the press and paper.  The Fremont Journal continued publication under the firm name of Mastin & Keeler until Keeler eventually bought out Mastin’s interest on December 1, 1854, to become the sole proprietor and editor.

Keeler was said to have managed the paper carefully and ably in the interest of the city and county. Under his leadership, the paper temporarily produced a daily edition, known as both the Fremont Daily Journal and the Fremont Journal Extra in the spring and summer of 1861, coinciding with the outbreak of the American Civil War. Keeler continued to publish and edit the Journal until September 15, 1865, when he sold it to the Redway Brothers. The Redway Brothers’ paper was devoted to the “defense of Union Principles, and to the promotion of all the valuable and legitimate interests of the County, including Agriculture and other Industrial Pursuits, Education, Temperance and General Morality.”

On October 5, 1866, the Redway Brothers sold the paper to Alfred Gauld Wilcox and John H. Greene, who changed its name to the Fremont Weekly Journal. Over the next ten years, the ownership of the paper changed several times until Issac M. Keeler resumed control in 1877, renaming the paper as the Fremont Journal.

The frequent changes in ownership did not enhance the popularity or profit of the publication.  To be sure, during Keeler’s second run as editor-in-chief, the Fremont Journal improved in many respects, including its use of a Wells cylinder power press.  The publishing firm’s name was changed to I.M. Keeler & Son in 1882, reflecting Keeler’s employment of his son Samuel P. Keeler as associate editor.  Later, Lucy Elliot Keeler, daughter of Isaac M. Keeler, began to contribute to the paper and was the author of the regular column titled “Pot-pourri.” which as its title suggested, discussed a variety of topics from politics to cooking.  Her column represented the broad-spectrum of topics covered by the paper since its establishment, which included a mix of international and national political news, stories of local importance, poetry, and items of general entertainment.

In September of 1901, I. M. Keeler & Son sold the Fremont Journal to The Journal Publishing Co., which after two years sold the paper to Wilson Hamilton and Thomas J. Maxwell.  Maxwell assumed the role of editor, and the paper remained Republican in politics and was regarded as the central organ of the party.  The Fremont Journal is believed to have ceased publication in the year 1927.

Archived Newspapers Available at Ohio History Center
The Ohio Historical Society’s Archives/Library at the Ohio History Center in Columbus contains the largest collection of Ohio newspapers in existence. The newspaper holdings contain newspapers published from 1793 to present, 4,500 titles, 20,000 volumes, and over 50,000 rolls of microfilm of Ohio titles.

Much of the microfilm in the Society’s newspaper collection was created in 1971 as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities initiative called the United States Newspaper Program. Since then, the information published in the thousands of deteriorating wood-pulp newspaper volumes in the society’s collections has been transferred to more than 16,000 rolls of master negative microfilm. The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio builds upon this earlier effort.

Looking to the Future
“Thanks to a $334,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities last year, the Ohio Historical Society has been able to continue its efforts to digitize a select number of historical Ohio newspapers,” said Angela O’Neal, director for Collections Services at the Ohio Historical Society. “We are helping to create a national, online, keyword-searchable resource.”

According to O’Neal, both phases of the project have been limited to a small number of papers selected from 10 regions across the state by an advisory group of 18 librarians, archivists, curators, historians, educators and journalists. “This phase will add 26 more papers to Chronicling America,” O’Neal said. “With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we’ve chosen publications from before, during and after the war to provide greater access to researchers on this important time period in Ohio’s history.”

In addition to issues of the Fremont Journal from 1853 to 1866, the Fremont Journal Extra from 1861 and the Fremont Weekly Journal from 1867 to 1875, the selected publications include: Perrysburg Journal from Perrysburg, (1854-1880); Hancock Jeffersonian from Findlay (1857-1878); Tiffin Tribune from Tiffin (1856-1879); Cleveland Leader from Cleveland (1858-1866); Western Reserve Chronicle from Warren (1855-1873); Jeffersonian Democrat from Chardon (1859-1865); Ashtabula Telegraph from Ashtabula (1858-1880); Anti-Slavery Bugle from New-Lisbon & Salem (1845-1861); Holmes County Farmer from Millersburg (1860-1866); Holmes County Republican from Millersburg (1856-1862, 1870-1874); Stark County Democrat from Canton (1868-1890); Daily Ohio Statesman from Columbus (1861-1868); Dayton Daily Empire from Dayton (1859-1867); Urbana Union from Urbana (1862-1872); Xenia Sentinel from Xenia (1863-1865); Highland Weekly News from Hillsboro (1857-1886); Cincinnati Daily Press from Cincinnati (1859-1862); Gallipolis Journal from Gallipolis (1850-1880), McArthur Democrat (1855-1865), Vinton Record (1866-1874), Democratic Enquirer (1867-1873) and McArthur Enquirer (1873-1884) from McArthur; Conservative and South-eastern Independent from McConnelsville (1866-1871); and the Belmont Chronicle from St. Clairsville (1853-1894).

"We will continue to apply for NEH funds in upcoming grant cycles until we can complete the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio," O'Neal said. "Eventually, using microfilm for researching newspapers will be a thing of the past."

In addition to the Library of Congress site, researchers also will be able to access the newspapers at www.ohiomemory.org. For more information about the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, contact Jenni Salamon at 614.297.2579 or jsalamon@ohiohistory.org.

Established in 1885, the Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology, natural history and architecture.  For more information about programs and events, call 614.297.2300 or 800.686.6124 or go online at www.ohiohistory.org.

NOTE: The Fremont Journal is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85026050/issues/ The Fremont Journal Extra is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87076766/issues/ The Fremont Weekly Journal is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038229/issues/