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The Western Star
The Western Star is Ohio's oldest weekly newspaper and second oldest of any sort after the daily Chillicothe Gazette. It is published Thursdays at Lebanon, the seat of Warren County, by Cox Enterprises, the communications company founded by former Ohio Governor James Middleton Cox. The Western Star, which claims a circulation of about 21,000 each week, is also the oldest paper bearing its original name published west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Founding and ownership
It was first published February 13, 1807 by John McLean (1785-1861), who eventually became an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. For a century, no copy was known of the first issue, the paper itself lacking a copy. However, one eventually was found in the archives of the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.
McLean sold it in 1810 to his brother, Nathaniel McLean. Over the next four years, Nathaniel partnered successively with the Rev. Adjet McGuire, Samuel H. Hale, Henry Lazier, Joseph Henderson, and William Blackburn. In 1814, Nathaniel sold his interest to his brother William McLean (1794-1863) who published it with Blackburn until 1816 when Blackburn left.
In 1817, William McLean sold out to Abram Van Vleet, a justice of the peace, and John Eddy (1762-1824). Later that year they took on William A. Camron (died 1838) as a partner. Eddy subsequently left that year and was replaced by a man named Cunningham who did not last the year. In 1825, Van Vleet and Eddy sold to Anthony Howard Dunlavy , an attorney who served in the Ohio General Assembly and as Warren County prosecutor, and William A. Sellers, a member of the General Assembly in 1838. In 1827, they sold the paper to Camron and Jacob Morris, who was married to Dunlavy's sister and later was Warren County treasurer. In 1828, Camron sold to Dunlavy, who was partners with his brother-in-law until 1829 when Morris assumed sole control. Morris took on an apprentice circa 1830, William H. P. Denny. He became Morris's partner, and in 1834, sole owner.
In 1858, Denny sold his interest and left town. The new owner was Dr. James Scott, who served in the Ohio General Assembly, followed by William H. Corwin, son of the founder of Lebanon, and, by the late 1860s, Seth W. Brown, an attorney who later served as Warren County prosecutor. The paper at this time was a Republican journal.
On January 19, 1871, Brown sold to William C. McClintock (born 1845) and Clements Hardy. McClintock assumed sole ownership on January 16, 1873. He published the paper, then a seven-column quarto, and introduced steam printing presses. He owned the paper until circa 1893 when ownership was assumed by a corporation, the Western Star Publishing Company, which was controlled by McClintock until 1907, when John M. Mulford took over and owned it until 1921. In May 1902, a linotype machine to set type was introduced. On September 6, 1923, the Brown Publishing Company, the company owned by Congressman Clarence J. Brown, bought the paper and owned it until 1998.
Brown's first act was to appoint as editor and publisher Gardner H. Townsley (circa 1897-1967), whose claim to fame was having been the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale's college roommate. He expanded the paper from twelve to sixteen pages. He subsequently served as publisher over a succession of editors: Warren Nelson, Ed Thompson, Jamyes Myers, and David Schneider. Townsley served as publisher until his death.
His son Robert N. Townsley (died April 17, 1994) replaced him as publisher, with Schneider continuing as editor. In October 1968, Townsley was replaced by William Kreeger, who had the title "general manager" until March 1970 when he was named publisher. Janet Goode became editor in January 1970 and served until October of that year when she was replaced by John Nichols. Nichols served until August 1971 when Joe Falter became editor. Falter served until 1994, when replaced by Tom Barr, the current editor. In 1990, Fred Gibson became publisher and served until the paper's sale in 1998. Ann Hoffman is currently publisher.
In the 1998, Brown traded The Western Star along with the Star Press in Springboro, Today's Express in Morrow, the Monroe Times, and the Miamisburg-West Carrollton News to The Thomson Corporation, a Canadian newspaper company known for the poor quality of its publications, in exchange for three daily papers, the Piqua Daily Call, the Xenia Daily Gazette, and the Greenville Daily Advocate. When the company decided to exit the newspaper business, Thompson sold The Western Star to Cox on September 1, 2000, though only after Thompson's original plans to sell the paper to Gannett, owner of The Cincinnati Enquirer, fell apart.
From circa 1992 forward, the paper has issued a Sunday edition of canned copy that is used chiefly to distribute advertising inserts. Under Cox it surrendered its second class mailing permit, ceased its distribution in the southern part of Warren County, and began to be distributed free to homes in Lebanon and Turtlecreek Township. The paper does presently does not take a political stance and rarely runs editorials.
The paper was first published on Friday, February 13, 1807, under the name The Western Star and continued to Saturday, August 10, 1822, when it merged with another weekly, The Lebanon Gazette. Effective with the issue of Saturday, August 17, 1822 it assumed the name The Western Star and Lebanon Gazette, continuing under that name until Saturday, June 12, 1824. With the issue of Saturday, June 19, 1824, it shortened its name to the Star and Gazette, continuing under that name until the issue of Monday, September 5, 1825.
With the issue of Monday, September 13, 1825, it went back to the old name, The Western Star and Lebanon Gazette and published under that title until the issue of Saturday, July 26, 1828. Effective Saturday, August 2, 1828, the name was shortened back to The Western Star and continued until Thursday, October 27, 1859.
With the issue of Thursday, November 3, 1859, the titled changed to The Weekly Western Star. By 1866, the word weekly was dropped but with the issue of Thursday, January 26, 1871, it was once more The Weekly Western Star until Thursday, December 26, 1872. Weekly was once more dropped with the Thursday, January 2, 1873, issue.
It continued under this name until Thursday, February 16, 1893, the paper that week merging with another paper called The Lebanon Gazette. As of Thursday, February 23, 1893, the paper appeared as The Western Star and Lebanon Gazette until Thursday, January 12, 1899. The title was shortened back to The Western Star effective with the issue of Thursday, January 19, 1899 and continued as a weekly until the issue of Thursday, August 29, 1935.
The following Monday, September 2, 1935, the paper began a brief existence as a daily, publishing every day except Sundays. This continued to Thursday, December 31, 1936. The following week it resumed its existence as a weekly with the issue of Thursday, January 7, 1937. That issue also marked a change in the name of the paper to The Western Star and Lebanon Patriot with its absorption of another weekly, The Lebanon Patriot. The title went back to The Western Star with the issue of Thursday, July 7, 1938.
The paper then switched its publication day to Wednesday but returned to Thursdays circa 2002.
Much of the information on ownership and publication dates was compiled from the catalog records of the newspaper in the OCLC database with information from the History of Warren County, Ohio (Chicago, Illinois: W.H. Beers, 1883).
- Felicity Barringer. "Increased Consolidation in the Newspaper Industry". The New York Times. June 9, 2000. C2.
- Jon Bohmer. "Cox acquires papers." Dayton Daily News. September 2, 2000. 1A.
- John Eckberg. "134 papers on the block." The Cincinnati Enquirer. February 16, 2000. B10.
- John Eckberg. "Enquirer's parent buys Ohio papers." The Cincinnati Enquirer. June 9, 2000. D10.
- John Eckberg. "Cox buys 12 area newspapers." The Cincinnati Enquirer. July 15, 2000. 1C.
- Lynn Hulsey. "Gannett to buy Thompson newspapers". Dayton Daily News. June 9, 2000. A1.
- Lynn Hulsey. "Other papers to join Cox". Dayton Daily News. September 2, 2000. 1E.
- 1920-1995, Commitment to Community: Warren County. Lebanon, Ohio?: Brown Publishing Company, 1995.
- Matthew Rose. "Thomson Agrees to Sell 38 of 54 Dailies to Gannett and Community Newspapers". The Wall Street Journal. June 9, 2000. A6.
- Angela Townsend. "Newspaper chains trade". Dayton Daily News. June 11, 1998. 5B.
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