The Newspapers of Norwich

Kevin Doonan

The following is an essay written 1929 by a Norwich high school student about the history of Chenango County newspapers from 1803 to 1929.


Over thirty-eight papers have been read and circulated by the people of Norwich since 1804. Not all these papers were published in Norwich, although they were obtained for reading matter.

The first newspaper published in Chenango County was the Western Oracle, which was published at Sherburne Four Corners in 1803. It was a single octavo sheet, at first of bluish paper, and contained very few advertisements and little local news. This latter feature was one which peculiarly characterized all our earlier newspaper publications and one which is greatly regretted at the present day. A newspaper of the early day, as rich in local details as are our present newspapers, would be invaluable to the present generation. This paper was discontinued in 1806. The Oracle was followed in the same year by the Olive Branch, which was established on the West Hill in the town of Sherburne by Phinney & Fairchild. Two years later Mr. Fairchild became the sole proprietor. The name was now changed to the Volunteer. In 1816 John F. Hubbard purchased the press and commenced the publication of the Norwich Journal, which he sold a year later to LaFayette Neal and J. H. Sinclair, who merged its publication at Norwich under the name of the Chenango Union. Mr. Neal then sold his interest to Harvey Hubbard, who also purchased Mr. Sinclair’s interest and continued its publication until his death September 14, 1862. The next year John F. Hubbard, Jr. became the sole proprietor and continued such for the next five years, when he sold to G. H. Manning. In 1890 it passed into the hands of Manning and Moore. Five years later (1895) it passed into the hands of Mr. E. S. Moore, who is still the proprietor and editor. The circulation of this paper is at present somewhat over eight hundred. It is the oldest paper of Norwich and Chenango County.

The Anti-Masonic Telegraph was commenced in Norwich in November, 1829, by E. P. Pellett. In a few years he became associated with Mr. B. T. Cook. The paper was published only on Wednesday mornings. The office was one door north of the Chenango Bank. If the paper was delivered at the subscriber’s home, a charge of two dollars per annum had to be paid. All letters and other forms of communication had to be sent by mail to one of the editors.

The Chenango Telegraph, upon the death of E. P. Pellett, passed into the hands of his brother, Nelson Pellett. Upon the death of Nelson Pellett, it was conducted for the estate by E. Max Neal and F. B. Fisher. It was later purchased by Rice and Martin, by whom it was then published.

The Chenango Semi-Weekly Telegraph was published in Norwich every Wednesday and Saturday morning. The office was in the Telegraph Block, which was at one time near the present Eagle Hotel. The terms were two dollars per annum, and if a person delayed in paying he was no longer allowed the paper.

The Norwich Sun was established in 1891. The city editor was George H. Smith, who came to Norwich from Oneonta. The managing editor was Reed Campbell. After the death of Reed Campbell on April 4, 1899, the newspaper came into the hands of the Norwich Publishing Company. The company also took over the publication of the Chenango Telegraph at that time, and William H. Clark became the managing editor, with Fred L. Ames as the city editor. Mr. William L. Clark continues as managing editor to the present day. Mr. P. L. Clark, one of our prominent business men, is at present the editor in charge. He had held this position since 1910. The Norwich Sun is the only daily newspaper in Chenango County and in Chenango Valley between Binghamton and Utica which has the Associated Press Service. Preceding the contract with the Associated Press the Norwich Sun was supplied by the United Press Service, and preceding that by the American Press Service. Service is available twenty-our hours of the day and comes by telephone and Western Union. The display advertisement rates are thirty cents per inch. The National rates are forty-two cents an inch or at the rate of three cents per agate line. The circulation has been above three thousand mark for the past ten years. There are more copies of the Norwich Sun distributed every night in the city than there are residences. The Chenango Telegraph, our present Norwich Sun, will be one hundred years old in January 19, 1929.

The Booster was established in May, 1926, by the Buell Printing Company. This paper is entirely an advertising medium and all money is derived from the printing of advertisements only. It is circulated to the people within a radius of twenty miles of Norwich. It contains from eight to ten pages and is tabloid in form. The advertising rate is twenty cents an inch. It is published only on every Thursday of each week.

Elizabeth Curley