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Publication Details

Democrat and sentinel.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Pennsylvania

City: Ebensburg, Pa.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 605

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 2,429

Earliest Date: 26 August 1853

Latest Date: 20 December 1866


Mountain sentinel and Democrat and sentinel

Cambria County lies in the Alleghenies, a rugged section of the Appalachian mountain range. The county was formed on March 26, 1804; the name is a variant of an ancient name of  Wales (Cumbria), reflecting the region’s longtime Welsh presence. Ebensburg, in Cambria’s geographical center, became the county seat. Welsh roots here date to 1796, when colonists arrived from Philadelphia led by Congregational Minister Rees Lloyd, who named the settlement after his late son, Eben. In a rich bituminous coal region, Ebensburg thrived on mining and small industries, and it prospered in the late 1800s as a summer mountain resort for wealthy visitors including Andrew Carnegie and the Vanderbilts.

Both the Mountain Sentinel and its successor, the Democrat and Sentinel, were staunchly partisan Democratic newspapers, and their editorials offer interesting insights today into how state and national issues were received and interpreted in a small, remote mountain town. The usual contemporary mixture of fiction, stories reprinted from other newspapers, and local advertising accompanied the political editorials and full-text copies of political speeches and recently enacted state documents.

John G. Given, founding editor of the Mountain Sentinel (motto: “We go where democratic principles point the way; When they cease to lead; we cease to follow.�), launched the paper in 1844. He remained until the outbreak of the Mexican War when he left to serve with the Old Cambria Guards. Daniel C. Zahm then became editor of the Sentinel, publishing substantial war coverage. By this time, the Allegheny Portage Railroad, one of the most astonishing engineering feats of the time, was in full use. Situated about 12 miles east of Ebensburg, it was the first railroad constructed through the Alleghenies, about 36 miles long in a complex series of 10 inclines. The railroad operated from 1834 to 1854. The news stories about transportation activity (and deaths) on the Portage Railroad are intriguing history, as are the controversies over a regional plank road and canal.

Given returned as editor of the Sentinel in 1849 and was then succeeded in February 1851 by Andrew J. (Jack) Rhey. The Mountain Democrat, founded in Ebensburg in 1852 by Richard White, merged with the Mountain Sentinel in August 1853.  Handing over editorship to William B. Sipes, Rhey commented, “Often we have thought that one well-conducted Democratic journal at this place was sufficient for the good interests of the party.� The new publication’s hopeful motto was, “The blessings of government, like the dews of Heaven, shall be distributed alike upon the high and the low, the rich and the poor.� 

Under James S. Todd in 1863, the Democrat and Sentinel displayed Copperhead Democrat tendencies: sympathy toward the South, fierce opposition to abolition, and hatred of Lincoln. After Editor Todd was replaced by Michael Hasson in 1864, the paper’s Copperhead leanings lessened. Following Lincoln’s assassination, Hasson wrote sadly, “We can badly spare him at this time…He was about to restore peace and concord to a bleeding and distracted country.� After two editors came and went in quick succession, the Democrat and Sentinel  folded on December 20, 1866, and the Cambria Freeman soon took its place as the Democratic newspaper in Ebensburg.

Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA