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Country: United States
City: Mifflintown, Juniata County, Pa.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 1,347
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 5,414
Earliest Date: 22 October 1873
Latest Date: 19 December 1900
Mifflintown’s early turmoil belied its bucolic setting in central Pennsylvania. When Mifflin County was formed in 1789, the embryonic Mifflintown was designated the county seat. Governmental second thoughts led the title of county seat to be transferred to Lewistown, earning the wrath of Mifflintown residents, who fought the decision unappeased until 1831, when legislation created a new county called Juniata. The new county was named after its river, Juniata being a variant of the Iroquois word Oneida, meaning blue waters. Mifflintown duly became the county seat, and sparsely populated Juniata settled into a quiet agricultural life.
When the Juniata Sentinel began on December 9, 1846, founder Alexander K. McClure was 18 years old. While learning the printing trade at a Whig (Republican Party forerunner) newspaper in Perry County, McClure heard that the Juniata County Whigs wanted a newspaper. His father supplied $500 for secondhand type and a used hand-press. McClure sold the Sentinel in 1852 to John J. Patterson. Subsequent editor/proprietors were Adam J. Greer and Ephraim B. McCrum (1853); John M. Laird, William J. Campbell, and John H. Bentley (1857); Abraham L. Guss (1862); John L. Patterson again, with Henry H. Wilson, and then Wilson alone (1865); Martin L. Littlefield (1869); and Benjamin F. Schweier (1870).
William M. Allison launched the Juniata Republican in Mifflintown in April 1866, with William W. Davis as publisher. After Davis died, Allison published the Republican until October 1873, when Schweier bought it, merging it with the Sentinel. Benjamin Schweier’s son, Wilberforce (who spelled his name as Schreyer), took over after his father’s death in 1913. The Juniata Sentinel and Republican remained in operation until 1955.
In 1865, incoming editor Henry Wilson wrote that the Juniata Sentinel would “be devoted to science, literature, religion, agriculture, news, and everything necessary to make it a useful and popular family paper.” The 19th-century Sentinel fulfilled this editorial policy with little local coverage and much boilerplate material purchased from outside suppliers. Notable Sentinel writers, who provide colorful insight into rural American journalism during the Civil War, include the firebrand Abraham Guss, Juniata County native and Lutheran minister. In typical style, Guss urged his readers to vote for Lincoln, decrying his Democratic opponents in the October 26, 1864, issue: “with a nefarious record and history they impudently ask us to judge them by the past…their past is Treason and disunion – they promise nothing better for the future.” A week later, Guss referred readers to the current issue of Mifflintown’s Juniata True Democrat “for a striking pictorial illustration of its dirty, lying editor.” The following May, in the wake of Lincoln’s assassination, Guss wrote, “We have requests from all sections to skin certain sympathizers for rejoicing over the murder of Lincoln…it would give such silly fools a prominence and importance for which they are anxious, but to which the amount of their brains does not entitle them. Let the poor, miserable, half-witted copperheads bite and stink themselves to death.”
In October 1865 Guss bade farewell to the Sentinel, saying that “If the Press and the Pulpit had not resorted to unusual measures and spoken out in thunder tones in favor of loyalty, Jefferson Davis would this day be on his throne in Washington City.”
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