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Country: United States
City: Tionesta, Pa.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 2,173
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 9,346
Earliest Date: 11 October 1870
Latest Date: 30 September 1914
Tionesta, county seat of Forest County, lies in a wooded mountain wilderness at the junction of Tionesta Creek and the Allegheny River. Tionesta is purportedly an Indian word meaning either “waters meet” or “home of the wolves.” Forest County’s first inhabitants were Munsee Indians, followed in the 1790s by the first white settlers. Tionesta was settled in 1850, and the lumber trade flourished thereafter for more than a century. Wood was shipped as far as New Orleans, and towboats came up the Allegheny to pick up barges built at Tionesta. After the 1859 oil boom in adjacent Venango County, prospectors drilled in Forest County with some success, but lumber always was king.
The county’s first newspaper, the Forest Press, began in Tionesta in 1867; second was James W.H. Reisinger’s the Bee, starting on March 4, 1868. The Bee was published for only one year before being sold to the Republican Printing Company and renamed the Forest Republican on April 13, 1869. Edwin Wilson Smiley of Franklin was hired for a one-year term as editor. The four-page, seven-column issues comprised mostly “boiler plate”: national news, fiction, and humorous items purchased on plates ready for the printing press. Local news items and advertising ran mostly on the inside pages.
Russell J. McQuillen succeeded Smiley in April 1870, editing the Republican for seven months. He was replaced on November 1, 1870, by W.R. Dunn, a former Republican editor. “We again take charge of this paper,” Dunn wrote. “Forest County has improved greatly in our absence. Petroleum, the greasy greenback getter, is being produced in paying quantities in several localities in the county.” Dunn also mentioned the completion of the courthouse and other new buildings, and that, formerly ankle-deep in mud, “Tionesta now boasts of more good sidewalk than any other town of its size in the country.” Dunn’s remarks are typical of the mild, pleasant tone of the Forest Republican, which seemed to eschew the vitriolic political commentary and sensationalism of many contemporary newspapers. The Republican is a study in the simple rhythms and interests of an isolated, reasonably prosperous Pennsylvania village.
The newspaper experienced several changes in late 1872 and early 1873, reverting from Tuesday to Wednesday publication, shrinking to six columns wide, and with Dunn becoming publisher and editor. Dunn’s 1872 year-end review was cheerful. “In our immediate midst, peace and in a great measure, plenty, prevail….Lumbering, the principal source of our incomes, has been manufactured in greater quantities than at any previous year since the first tree of the forests about here was cut down. Good floods have come and floated the lumber to market…all our lumbermen are on their feet, doing more business than ever.”
In February 1879, Dunn sold the newspaper to Jacob E. Wenk, who had begun working as a printer’s apprentice with the Bee in 1867, at age 14, continuing to set type when it became the Republican. After Jacob’s death in 1922, his son Benjamin and nephew Henry Klinestiver became co-editors. From 1869 until Ben’s death in 1953, a Wenk was associated with the Forest Republican and the Forest Press, the result of the consolidation of the Forest Republican and the Marienville Express into a single weekly in 1952.
Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA