East Liverpool Historical Society

Chapter II, A Brief History of Newspapers in East Liverpool, Ohio, by the late Glenn H. Waight, former editor of The Evening Review.

Chapter II

McCord And 'The Review'

The city's enduring publication has remained The Review, persistent daily of William McCord who had come to the city in 1897 to start a weekly. A former city editor for The Pittsburgh Gazette, McCord and his brother, Robert, had bought the Wellsville Union and its job printing shop in May 1872.

William B. McCord was born Nov. 20, 1844, at Utica, N.Y., a son of Robert and Margaret McCord who had come to the United States in 1836 from Scotland by way of North Ireland (County Antrim). The McCords joined with other families to settle in central Illinois, but stayed only a year due to the unhealthy conditions of the low, flat prairie country.

By 1857 the family was in Steubenville where William at 14 apprenticed in a print shop. He became foreman of the newspaper shop at 18, then went to Pittsburgh to work as a printer for the Gazette. Apparently weakened by overwork, he returned to Steubenville in 1864 and enlisted in the Union Army as a private in what would be the 179th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Co. G.

He served ten months, and was mustered out in June 1865 as a non-commissioned officer. During much of his time in uniform, he was detached from his regiment, assigned to the First U.S. Veteran Volunteers doing guard duty and building block-houses along railroad lines in central and southern Tennessee.

Returning home, he went into the lumber business at Steubenville for a year, then spent a year attending the McNeeley Norman School at Hopedale. He went back to Pittsburgh for a printer's job, but soon gained a reporter post on a daily there, and by 1872 was city editor for the Gazette.

He had, however, decided to go into the newspaper business himself, and in May of that year, he and his brother purchased the Union at Wellsville. Robert dropped out after a year, and McCord continued operating the weekly until the fall of 1878 when he sold it. By next Oct. 29, William McCord had launched The Saturday Review at East Liverpool.

THE RIVER COMMUNITY was a village of about 5,000 in 1879, rapidly growing and larger than Wellsville (3,000) and Salem (4,000), but with unpaved streets and only a ferry linking it to the West Virginia shore where farmland and woods covered the present site of Chester.

The business section was centered along Second St. and lower Broadway, handy to the Ohio River's boat landings and the tracks of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad. The pottery industry was flourishing, and new workers and families were arriving steadily. Two years before, the city had annexed the West End along with Ohio City to the east.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer described it as the "liveliest business town in Ohio . .. trade is active, many new buildings are going up and it has grown rapidly in the last few years." The plentiful supply of natural gas wells for potteries, homes and street lighting was noted.

A month after McCord's first edition, the town's new waterworks was in operation, and complaints about crime and vice in a Review letter helped bring election of a town marshal -- John Wyman, the first true policeman. The whole 1870-80 decade had been one of major expansion. The population rose from 2,000, and the pottery industry mushroomed. In 1876 there were 19 firms in town - five producing whiteware.

By 1877 23 potteries were operating with 60 kilns and 776 workers. Just two years later the city had 64 potteries - 40 of them whiteware, the rest yellow and Rockingham. When the decade ended the work force totaled 1,118 men and women, an increase of 236 percent over 1870.

Thus, despite competition from Jere Simms' Tribune and David Martin's Gazette, McCord saw great opportunity for another "live" weekly to serve East Liverpool's ever-increasing readership.

He rented a shop in the W. L. Thompson building, part of the Thompson House hotel at Broadway and Cook St. (later Third Street). The nameplate of his Saturday Review included East Liverpool and Wellsville to attract attention in both towns. It was available for $1.25 a year "in advance" or $1 for a club of ten or more. Free samples could be obtained at the office.

IN HIS INITIAL EDITORIAL, McCord explained his purpose and hopes, and declared what the people wanted "and have a right to expect" in a weekly newspaper could be summed up in four words - "pith, point, parity and progress." His paper, he wrote, would be for "the farmer, the merchant, the mechanic, the professional man, the day laborer and the home circle."

Politically, the new weekly was Republican

and will cast whatever influence it can exert... in favor of absolute unity in the governmental economy of our great fabric of commonwealth, as opposed to the doctrine of states' rights; of purity of elections; of the right to liberty and equality among all classes in the exercise of independence in thought and action; of the government making good in her obligations, moral and financial, in letter and in spirit; and in favor of a protection to those interests which are the life and source of strength in our people. He went on to define the character of a "public journal"

to command respect and to wield a wholesome influence, (it) must be dignified, not lending itself to promotion of personal ends, nor pandering to the lower passions and propensities of human nature. The truth will be observed as a vital one in the conduct of the columns of The Review.

We can safely say that no paper has ever been started in Columbiana County with a better subscription list before the publication of a single issue, or with brighter prospects in every way. In fact, the success of the enterprise is assured already.

However, advertising in the first edition was skimpy, and virtually all from Wellsville merchants, including Fraser& Co. (lumber), J. A. Riddle (leather), Cyrus Bartholomew's combination store; Julius Goetz, (tailor), and C. W. Paisley (hardware).

The only East Liverpool advertiser was W. L. Thompson & Co. which sold pianos and organs "at your own price." The Review, of course, was in the Thompson building.

A business directory on the first page listed four attorneys - R. W. Tayler of East Liverpool and three from Wellsville (including J. W. Reilly who had been a Civil War general); two hotels, the Missouri House of Wellsville and the Brunt House of East Liverpool; plus various dentists, photographers, liverymen, stationers and a furniture maker - all in Wellsville.

Included in this initial edition was a report of the 50th annual Columbiana County Fair held the month before at Lisbon, termed "the most successful fair in this part of the state." The fair board was urged to make repairs to buildings and undertake other improvements.

The new weekly reported city street workers were installing a sidewalk in Seldom Seen (a West End neighborhood and part of the recent annexation). Two young men were in Squire Clark's court, charged with throwing stones at marchers in the Republican victory parade, and roof replacement was underway at the Presbyterian Church.

At Wellsville, a whiteware plant was being built by Morley & Co. at 9th and Commerce Sts., and at Salineville coal miners were back to work after a month-long strike. In search of more coverage, the paper invited correspondents to apply, advising them to include their names and to write briefly on only one side of paper.

About a year later, The Review was relocated from the Thompson hotel to Squire James McCormac's building at Union St. and Center Alley, a half block away and just north of Second St., the town's main thoroughfare.

McCord told his subscribers (which he counted at 1,080) that the paper would be hampered for a while in its new office, but an additional building was being erected for "more commodious accommodations."

NEVERTHELESS, BY JAN. 14, 1882, the weekly was moving again - uptown to the second floor of the "Post Office Building" constructed by Postmaster Harry Surles on E. Fourth St. next to the Presbyterian Church. The Post Office was on the first floor.

McCord had also obtained a new press - a Campbell Cylinder model - which, he claimed, provided three times more volume. He added, "and we are prepared to receive 4,000 or 5,000 more subscribers." The circulation at the time was 1,250.

Among the major local stories covered by the weekly was the 1884 Ohio River flood which hit in early February. It crested higher than the memorable 1832 and 1852 inundations, reaching into the Second St. business district and causing heavy damage.

A year later Annie VanFossan was under arrest in the poisoning of a seldom seen family and relatives, igniting intense news interest that would put The Review into daily publication which continues today.

The weekly converted to day-by-day reports of the young woman's trial, and the boost in sales for that short period convinced McCord the time had come for a big step.

On June 22, 1885, McCord announced in print, "We have come to stay." The new daily was a tabloid of four pages, five columns wide, selling for two cents a copy, ten cents a week, $4 a year. The Saturday Review continued as a weekly for several years.

Among McCord's ventures with both Reviews was annual publication of an illustrated almanac. The 1887 version was about five inches wide and eight inches long. It consisted of 32 pages with a cover, and included a small calendar with daily listing of the noon times for Washington, D.C. (this was before national Standard Time) along with the sunrise and sunset and moon's rise and phases.

The illustrations were woodcut drawings of scenes of lakes, mountains, children, forests, Moscow's Kremlin and one sculptured nude nymph with strategically placed fawns. Eleven pages of ads must have provided a profit for McCord even if one was for The Review and the other for brother Robert, printer and binder.

Success was enjoyed by the daily for about two years, then the aggressive new Democratic Daily Crisis was started by Dr. George Ikirt, cutting into advertising revenue and readership. By 1889, with business lagging, McCord feared his paper would have to suspend unless he obtained help.

A "syndicate" was organized by James F. Goodwin, raising $1,000 to continue the Republican Review. The loan was on a mortgage held by W. H. Vodrey as trustee. But McCord was unable to meet even the interest payments on the loan, and the "syndicate," weary of waiting for its money, decided to foreclose and sell.

Dudley P. Young of New York State had been connected with the Wellsville Union, and in the spring of 1882 went to East Liverpool to begin a weekly, The East Liverpool Enterprise. It lasted until August when Young departed, leaving his employees to produce the final edition.

Young became a commercial reporter for Dunn's Mercantile Agency at Pittsburgh. He also seemingly entered into talks with the "syndicate," because its principals met Nov. 31, 1891, at the offices of A. R. Mackall and foreclosed on McCord. The next day, The Review and its equipment were sold to Young for $1,648.25.

The paper had previously moved from the Post Office Building to the corner of Diamond Alley on the east side of The Diamond. Young transferred the paper from the alley to the Gaston Hardware Co. building on the west side of the Diamond - now site of Kozel's Custom Draperies.

BUT THE PAPER'S troubles continued. In February Young caught a cold, then was felled with typhoid fever, and died March 5, 1892. The body was taken to Troy, N.Y., for burial. (The Crisis explained he had died of worry and overwork" trying to revive a dead sheet.")

His inexperienced widow struggled with the losing operation, then found a purchaser in attorney J. E. McDonald, a 30-year-old Beaver County (Pa.) native who had read law under R. W. Tayler, later a Congressman and judge. On April 26, 1892, McDonald bought control from Mrs. Young who retained a small interest which she later sold after moving to Pittsburgh. The attorney continued publication with a salaried staff.

McDonald's activities reached much farther than the law and the press. He was instrumental in constructing the Chester Bridge, in the development of the new town of Chester and in the streetcar lines of rising entrepreneur C. A. Smith.

Meanwhile, McCord had decided to start another newspaper, and also in April 1892 produced the first East Liverpool News. He kept his job shop - not a part of the mortgage arrangement - but relocated it to the second floor of the new Wells Building at E. Fourth and Washington Sts., later the Moose Lodge and now The Evening Review parking lot.

The city of 12,000 now enjoyed three daily papers - The Review, The Crisis and The News - in addition to the Pittsburgh and Cleveland papers. But The News was short-lived. Both McDonald at The Review and McCord saw greater savings and sense in the two Republican publications joining forces rather than competing. They talked merger.

By August of that year, the News Review was created, with McDonald as president and McCord as editor and vice president. However, McDonald was busy with a law practice, seeking financing for a bridge to West Virginia, and preparing for major real estate development on that side of the Ohio River.

He learned from his brother, Allan McDonald, later Postmaster at Chester, that two McKeesport, Pa., men were looking for newspaper opportunities. Harry Palmer, business manager of the McKeesport Morning Herald, and Thomas W. Morris, editor, came here, negotiated, and on Aug. 29, 1892, bought into the News Review.

The board of directors reorganized with McDonald as president, F. H. Croxall as vice president, Morris as secretary and Palmer as manager and treasurer. Directors were McDonald, Morris, Palmer and Mr. and Mrs. McCord. McCord withdrew as editor, however, replaced by Thomas Morris, but declared his interests in the News Review would continue both friendly and financial.

McCord remained here, undertaking special newspaper work, and around 1895 became editor of The Daily Crisis. Then on April 1, 1901, he went to Salem as editor of the Salem News, owned by Louis H. Brush. After three years, he resigned in May 1904, completing 32 years of journalism in the county.

He continued writing, and undertook compiling and publishing in 1905 his "History of Columbiana County and Representative Citizens." His long interest in Republican politics led him to seek his first political office - State Representative - to which he was elected in 1905.

LATE IN THE summer of 1908, McCord suffered a paralyzing stroke, became weaker and died aged 63 at his Salem home Sept. 26. Ohio Gov. Andrew Harris commended the legislator as a man "of highest character, of splendid judgment and one of the most useful members of the Seventy-seventh General Assembly. He was always found on the right side of all moral questions."

Charles Galbreath of Lisbon, state librarian and McCord friend, noted that, "although of a modest and unobtrusive disposition, (he) had a comparatively wide circle of friends and acquaintances here, among them were many sincere friends who esteemed him for his qualities of heart and mind."

Galbreath said McCord, before elected to the House, had been a newspaper correspondent for the previous legislative session. "In this work he was conservative and careful. His aim was to deal justly with every person and every cause."

McCord had been a member and past commander of the local Grand Army of the Republic and past president of the County Pioneer and Historical Society.

Services were held at the family home, and burial was in Wellsville's Springhill Cemetery. The casket and entourage were met at the railroad station by State Sen. M. N. Duval and State Rep. Jones along with a contingent of Wellsville GAR and East Liverpool GAR leaders, including Postmaster William Surles.

William McCord had served his country in war, produced the first daily newspaper in the county, was editor of four newspapers, wrote a comprehensive history of the county and served in the Ohio legislature with honor.

Survivors included his wife, the former Helen Lydia Geisse whom he married in 1872 and who was a daughter of Phillip F. Geisse, a Wellsville industrialist. He also left a daughter, Edith Frances, and two sons, Phillip who joined a Cleveland telephone firm, and William Rollins McCord who became a Pittsburgh newspaperman.

Young Will McCord had been born at Wellsville in 1874, and at the age of 14, filled in as editor of The Review when his father was ill for a short time. He later worked at The Crisis, The Canton News and several Pittsburgh papers. He was city editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch for a number of years, and married Myra Webb who was a club editor at the newspaper.

He served with the Ohio 8th Infantry Regiment in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and raised funds for the Red Cross in World War One. He moved to New York where he was in publicity and fund-raising projects.

Will McCord died Oct. 3, 1927, aged 53, at his Riverside Drive apartment in New York. Burial was in Springhill Cemetery, Wellsville.

The county Republicans convened in October and nominated Atty. George E. David-son of East Liverpool (brother to Sheriff Will Davidson who was a former Mayor here) to succeed McCord as State Representative.

THE NEW OWNERS of the News Review claimed that the daily enjoyed a circulation 500 larger than any other in the county.

By November the claim was up to 900 more, and the expanding operation was in need of quarters larger than the two or three rooms in the Wells Building (into which the Post Office had moved from further down Fourth St.)

A half block up Washington St. at Drury Lane was the new four-story First National Bank building erected for $24,000 in 1889 by Robert Hall, local contractor. The bank occupied the northern side of the structure which stood on the site of the present National City Bank drive-in facility on Drury Lane.

In the basement was a barbershop, and on the upper floor a photographer, business college, telephone exchange and offices. The southern side held the C. T. Hard and Job Dawson furniture store.

The News Review signed a 10-year lease with the bank on Dec. 16, 1895, for the south side and basement sections of the building. Three weeks later the newspaper was moved into what would be its home for 53 years.

"One of the finest newspaper offices in Ohio," was the paper's page one boast in its Jan. 8, 1896, description of the new facility. On the main floor were the business office, divided by a railing, and the editorial rooms.

To the rear was the composing room where F. Leslie Trump was foreman. Here were the type cases, stones, proof press and other equipment where the printers worked. In another room was the job printing shop, headed by U. G. King, which produced the forms, flyers and other print orders sold by the paper to area businesses.

FOR JOB PRINTING were two presses for small orders along with a new Century pony press with a capacity of 3,000 copies an hour. The first such model was built by the Campbell Co. a year before, and six had been installed at Pittsburgh papers. It was described as "intended for the best and finest of color and half-tone work."

In the basement was the press room headed by foreman John Powell. The large newspaper press was driven by an 8-horsepower gas engine made by the Crouch Co. of New Brighton. This engine, "quieter and safer than a steam engine," also drove a paper cutter machine.

An elevator carried the page forms between the upstairs composing room and basement press. Here also was a sink where the forms were washed, and a stock room to which the newsprint and other paper was delivered and stored. Parallel to this room was the area where the newsboys received their quota of the day's edition.

The article termed the plant "a marvel of convenience and comfort," serving to make the paper even better than it had been. "All the news all the time" was the News Review motto - "a watchword that will be followed closely and carefully as hard work and earnest effort will allow," it concluded.

After the First National Bank erected the Neo-Classical columned building on Fifth St. in 1923, The Review took over the whole Washington St. building. Eventually, the composing room was moved up to the fourth floor. On the first floor were the classified and display ad staffs and circulation department on one side, the newsroom on the other, and the general manager's office in the rear.

Some 26 years later, the newspaper plant was relocated to the newly constructed art deco building on E. Fourth St. Many older readers recall the old dark brick structure up the street, some remembering the sports scores and war bulletins displayed in the front windows, the clatter of the old presses, others harking the days when as newsboys they picked up their allotment of papers.

The lady who has put up with me for more than four decades worked there as a receptionist and classified ad bookkeeper before she and the rest of the staff transferred to the new office.

A GREAT BOON for newspaper production came in 1885 with the invention of the Linotype machine. This marvelously complex device, with a printer at a keyboard, could rapidly produce lines of lead type, eliminating the painstaking hand assembly of individual letters. But the contraption was expensive, and only the major city newspapers could originally afford them.

In October 1898 the first such machine was installed in East Liverpool at The Daily Crisis. A few months later, Palmer and Morris obtained a used Linotype for The News Review, and it was placed on the first floor in the job shop at the rear of the business office. Not long afterward, a second used machine was bought, but due to limited space on the first floor, it went into the basement under the bank and opposite the press room.

Now the local papers could set all of their type within the plant instead of buying "boiler-plate" - already cast lead plates supplied by out-of-town agencies. This allowed The News Review to increase its eight page, five-column format to ten pages.

The Spanish-American War had begun in 1898, and Palmer - a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard - was called to duty. One source described him as a sergeant, another as a company commander; but he came to be called "Captain Palmer." He served in Cuba, and then in the Philippines awarded to the U.S. in the peace. (In 1895 a "Capt. Palmer" was listed among former Confederate prisoners forming a prisoner group in the area.)

In his absence, the business office was directed by his wife and editor Morris. On his return a surprise dinner was held in his honor at the Thompson House hotel on Third St. Mrs. Palmer thanked the staff's men and women for their cooperation and support.

He and the rest of management and workers now turned to the major tasks approaching for their business in the new century.

Early County Newspapers 3


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