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Publication Details

The Somerset herald.

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: Somerset, Pa.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 1,463

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 5,974

Earliest Date: 5 June 1872

Latest Date: 13 June 1900


The Somerset Herald

The Somerset Herald in Pennsylvania was the direct successor to the Herald and Whig and the Somerset Standard and a more distant relative of the Somerset Herald and Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Register. The Herald was a weekly newspaper from 1870 to 1929 (including a daily edition also called the Somerset Herald which appeared for one week in 1889 while court was in session) and a semiweekly from 1930 to 1936 when it ceased publication. Its nameplate carried the legend, “Established 1827”--perhaps a reference to the earliest Somerset Herald which began publication September 16, 1828, under George Mowry and which was also issued in a German edition.

The Herald’s early editor and publisher, Edward Scull (1818-1900), was born in Pittsburgh, studied law in Westmoreland County, and moved to Somerset in 1846 to start a legal practice. He was an active member of the Whig Party, and then a Republican after the birth of that party, and served as a political appointee and elected official. Scull was appointed collector of internal revenue by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and held that post until late 1866. He was appointed assessor of internal revenue in 1869, and again collector of internal revenue from 1873 to 1883. Scull was elected as a legislator to the Fiftieth, Fifty-first, and Fifty-second Congresses. After launching the Somerset Herald, Scull purchased the Somerset Standard and merged its subscription list with that of the Herald. Beginning in 1878, his sons, Edward B. and George R., were associated with him on the Herald.

The newspaper carried the usual country journalism characteristic of the late 19th century: a mixture of reprinted articles from other newspapers, state and national; local advertising and legal notices; with some editorializing on political and local subjects. Possibly the most arresting coverage in the Herald during Scull’s tenure involved the “Great Fire of May 9” (1872) in Somerset.  Sparks from a foundry ignited a nearby stable and the resulting conflagration destroyed most of the 30 acres of the town center in less than three hours. No deaths resulted, but the detailed description of the panic, the bravery of many citizens, and the magnitude of the financial blow to the town and its inhabitants is enthralling reading. Every place of business in the downtown with the exception of the public buildings was destroyed, including the offices of the Somerset Herald and the Somerset Democrat. “During the night after the fire, the telegraphic instrument which was saved from the fire was placed upon the head of a barrel in the street, and communication opened with Pittsburgh,” Scull related in one of the compelling articles in the June 5, 1872 edition of the Herald, the first issue published after the fire, using newly purchased press equipment rushed in by train and set up in Scull’s own home, coalhouse, and woodshed. Scull went on to inform readers of the makeshift locations of various businesses and services in Somerset, arranged in the weeks since the fire: a dentist’s office in the jail, the post office in the courthouse, and so on. Less than a month after the disaster, Somerset was getting back on its feet, as the Herald made plain. A large part of the beautifully rebuilt, post-1872 town is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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