Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

Emmitsburg's Newspapers of Old

(Originally published Aug, 31, 1951 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle)

In the development of every community the newspaper play a major role. Ever since Emmitsburg graduated from its short pants it has been blessed with a paper.

The first paper, the ‘Emmitsburg Banner’ was published in 1840 by a Mr. McClain. The Banner was published only a few times before it ceased operation. Emmitsburg’s second newspaper was the ‘Emmitsburg Star’. First published in 1845 by a C. Grate, the Star was devoted to literature and the fine arts.

Local news was scare in those days, but the advertisement are interesting. For instance: Hugh Sweeney ad with the words: ". . . intending to move West, will offer at public sale . . ." Or John Kelly’s ad under the heading "Grave Stone Cutting" Informed the public that "he still caries on, in all it various branches, the above business, at his old stand, four miles south west of Emmitsburg." Or George Troxell’s ad inviting the public to patronize his livery stable. "His horse are of the best in this place and will be hired out cheaper the anywhere else; his buggy is of superior manufacture and will be let out on the most accommodating of terms."

Samuel Motter, a graduate of Princeton University, in response to repeated suggestions for the publication of a newspaper in Emmitsburg, on June 14, 1879, issued the first editions of the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

In placing it before the public, said Mr. Motter, in his first editorial, "we hesitate not to say that we do we do so with no little doubt and perplexity, least our readers may not realize the expectations that have formed. Our first aim shall be to present the Chronicle as a medium through which the outer world may learn of our aims, our hopes, and high resolve.

In the second number of the paper, the editor called attention to his equipment and gave fair warning "Sneakthieves are warned to avoid this office. Go round, be distant. Our weapons, offensive and defensives, consist of a carbine nearby. Our apprentice has a single barreled pistol in his vest pocket; the muscular development of the foreman are just nicely symmetrical. He is skilled in the use of his composing and shooting sticks, as well as, of good solid mallet which he uses in a sinister way; the devil has a way of grinning that is significant of his capabilities; but best and most reliable of all, is our pair of crutches, stout and seasoned, which have sustained us in many an emergency, during not a few years; we are thus in good practice; unoffensive we trust, in deposition, but nevertheless on our guard. Avaunt Ye!"

The force of that time consisted of Samuel Motter, Editor and publisher; Harry Quinn, foreman; Paul Motter, compositor and John Johnston, Devil. The plant embraced a Washington hand press, a small job press, and several font types, pant of which was purchased in Littlestown and brought here on wagon. The room above Mr. James A. Rowes Shoe Store was its home for the first 27 years of its existence.

On March 21, 1889, Mr. Motter died and his widow, Mrs. C. Motter, took charge of the papers. Paul Motter & Company, again, Mrs. Motter and W. H. Troxell were successful publishers of the papers before it was purchased in 1899 by William Troxell, who in 1906, sold it to Sterling Galt.

Through the influence of the Chronicle, under Samuel Motter, the correct spelling of the name of the town was established. By carelessness, the original name of Emmittsburg became Emmitsburg. The Chronicle insisted on the single ‘T’ and for some time, its efforts were unsuccessful, but at last it proved its contention and the Post-office Department made the change. Mr. Motter started the movement in the first issues of the papers.

The Chronicle took active part in the fight for a water supply company and was in a way instrumental in the piping of the mountain water to the town. Mr. Motter and his successors were untiring in their efforts for the advancement of Emmitsburg and since it has had a paper interested in its welfare, Emmitsburg has grown in business more then in the 90 years it existed without the Chronicle.

On June 8, 1906, the Chronicle was taken over by Sterling Galt. The next issues contained the announcement of the great piano voting contest. The people of this place and all its subscribers immediately took interest in the winning of the $375 Merrill upright mahogany piano which was promised to the person or organization receiving the highest number of votes by January 1, 1907. The gentleman who consisted to be judges were Rev. Hayden, S, N. McNair,and Mr. Schuff, then Burgress. Miss Helen Hoke, with 90,934 votes, was awarded the piano. Miss Anna Felex was second with 63,978 votes.

On Thursday, August 9, 1906, the morning after Edward smith was killed by Fred Debold in the mountains several miles from Emmitsburg, the Chronicle issued an extra, giving the full account of the affair. This was the first extra issued by the paper and it put the community in possession of all the facts in the affair a few hours after the deed had been committed.

On the 29th of May, 1908, the Chronicle was turned over to the ladies of the town and on that date they issues a 10 page paper full of interesting and instructive matter. On Jun 1, 1909, the name of the paper was amended to ‘The Weekly Chronicle.’ This was a natural result of increased patronage and circulation. It has overstepped the bounds of its heretofore limited scope of usefulness in compliance with a demand of an appreciative clientele resident in more cosmopolitan sections.

From its beginning to the present the Chronicle has been alert to the best interest of the people of the community and the county. It has stood fro progress and expansion. It has upheld every forward movement and has taken the initiatives in much that has resulted in putting Emmitsburg in the forefront of western Maryland towns. Good laws, good roads, better mail facilities, clean methods of politics, light, street and building improvements, every measure that would benefit the farmer, the merchant, public library, school and home, education in general, a higher standard of morality - these are the things that the Chronicle has effected. It exists for Emmitsburg, the county and the state.

Following Mr. Galt’s death, the ownership of the paper was assumed by William Sugars, who published about 4 years. A combine pf three local men then took over publication. They were Henry Warrenfelta, Ward Kerrigan, and Michael Thompson.

On January 16, 1922, this combine was dissolved and John Elder and Michael Thompson operated the paper on a partnership basis. During this period of ownership the Chronicle was relocated from the East Main St. property, now owned by Norman Flax, to South Seton Ave. Mr. Elder purchased the old public school building on S. Seton Ave and the entire plant was moved then to the Elder building, its present home.

These two owners maintained this partnership until 1927 when Mr. Elder purchased sole ownership of the publication and continued until his demise on January 31, 1943. The ownership of Mr. Elder is believed to be the longest span of operation for a single owner then any of his predecessors - 21 years. It is to be noted here, that during this ownership the paper survived one of the Nations worst depressions - 1929 to 1937. After Mr. Elder’s demise the chronicle remained suspended for five years during World War II. Resumption of publication was begun on September 16, 1948, when another partnership commenced. Charles Elder, son of the previous owner, and Edward Stull purchased the paper from Mr. Elder, and are present owners.

Have your own memories of Emmitsburg's newspapers of old?
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

Back to Previous Page >