January 3, 2009

The early years of The Bristol Press

From the 1907 history of Bristol – Bristol, Connecticut: "in the Olden Time New Cambridge", which Includes Forestville -- by Eddy N. Smith, George Benton Smith, and Allena J. Dates, assisted by G.W.F. Blanchfield. Digitized by Google here.  


THE founder, editor and for seventeen years proprietor of The Bristol Press, was С. Н. Riggs. The first number of The Press was published on March 9, 1871. The Presswas started in a small way upon prepaid subscription and borrowed money with very insufficient material and machinery, but it made the best of circumstances and held on its course.
The paper owed its origin to the suggestion of Rev. W. W. Belden, then pastor of the Congregational Church, and to the helping purses of Messrs. N. L. Birge, Elias Ingraham, J. H. Sessions and Josian T. Peck, each of whom advanced forty dollars in aid of the enterprise. All were repaid out of the first year's profits. The subscription list at first consisted of about two hundred and fifty names.
The first office occupied by the paper and connected job printing business was the second story of a frame building twenty feet square, adjoining Seymour's block, next to the railroad. Here, with a Washington hand press for newspaper work, and a Novelty job press, the editor started a five-column folio "patent outside" paper, the type for the inside being mostly what had been worn out and thrown aside in an office in New York state.
The editor had gained some knowledge of type-setting and printing while teaching school, but was far from being expert in the art. However, with the assistance of a girl, who was greener at the business than he was, he resolutely set to work, and in the face of difficulties, he entered upon his new career.
Before the first year was ended new quarters were secured in E. Root's factory on lower Main street where with power presses, the business greatly increased. In 1877 a building was erected by H. S. Pratt on Main street, opposite Muzzy's corner and to this building the business was removed, Mr. Pratt becoming a partner.
Mr. Pratt remained in the partnership less than two years, when Mr. Riggs resumed the entire ownership. In 1880 another office was built in the rear of what was then Gale's studio on the east side of Main street. This building about 1890 was removed to Riverside avenue where The Press was published for seventeen years.
In August, 1888, Mr. Riggs the founder of the paper, disposed of the business to Messrs. Haviland & Duncan, of Southington. Mr. Thomas H. Duncan became editor and manager and remained as such until December, 1891, when the Bristol Press Publishing Co., with a capital stock of $10,000, purchased the business. The first officers of the company were: O. F. Strunz, President; J. H. Sessions, Jr., Vice President; S. K. Montgomery, Secretary; Richard Baldwin, Treasurer. Mr. C. H. Riggs was employed as editor and manager until April, 1893, when he was succeeded by Mr. H. H. Palmer of New Haven. Mr. Palmer remained with The Press less than a year when Mr. Wallace H. Miller took charge of the paper as editor and manager.
The photograph herewith reproduced [at the bottom of this blog entry], represents Mr. Riggs and his office force, probably in 1882. At the left are Walter H. Royce and Miss Bertha Evans. In the door at the right stands George A. Fish; farther in front is Herbert E. Garrett, and seated by Mr. Riggs is Sidney M. Card. In the doorway at the left stands Rev. Asher Anderson, the pastor of the Congregational Church at that time.
Mr. Wallace H. Miller continued as editor of The Press and manager of the Bristol Press Publishing Co. until February, 1901, when he was succeeded by Mr. Chas. F. Olin. Mr. Olin remained with The Press as editor until June, 1907, but in March, 1902, he was succeeded by Arthur S. Barnes as manager. Mr. Barnes is a Bristol boy and was born on March 12, 1871, the very year and month in which The Press made its initial appearance before the people of Bristol.
Under Mr. Barnes' management The Press has been increased from a six column to a seven column paper and the number of pages from eight to ten, twelve and sometimes sixteen. Associated with him in carrying on the work are Wallace H. Miller as editor and Thomas A. Tracy as assistant. Mr. Miller returned to The Press in June, 1907. The officers of the Bristol Press Publishing Co. are—President, Gilbert H. Blakeslev; Secretary and Treasurer, Arthur S. Barnes; Directors, Gilbert H. Blakesley, Otto F. Strunz and Arthur S. Barnes.
In January, 1907, the land on Riverside avenue occupied by The Press building was sold to Mr. Wm. E. Sessions and a plot 53 by 90 feet was purchased from Mrs. Edward E. Newell on Main street, the former site of S. E. Root's factory. A two-story brick building has been erected there, and in September, 1907, The Press removed to its new home. This new building is 74 by 36 feet and is of mill construction throughout, and is situated on the very same spot where The Press was quartered in S. E. Root's factory from 1872 to 1877. 
The Press considers it as its first duty to faithfully chronicle local events in Bristol and to reflect public opinion on local affairs. In politics it is independent, believing that such is the only course that a local paper can take. It strives always to live up to the commendation of one of its former editors who spoke of it as "a high-grade, influential home newspaper, one that always works for the welfare of the town and its best interests."

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Getting ready for that last issue, Steve?