Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet The Press

Many can recall The Port Byron Chronicle but did you know there were other newspapers produced at Port Byron?

The Port Byron Herald was started in 1844 by Frederick Prince.  (He already owned another paper called The Weedsport Advertiser, later known as the Northern Phoenix which was produced at Weedsport.)

The Port Byron Gazette was founded in 1849 by Charles T. White which was continued with the help of his brother until the year 1860.  The paper was then sold to B. W. Thompson who in turn sold out to William Hosford in 1861.  Hosford then sold to Cyrus Marsh in 1862 who then changed the name of the paper to the Northern Cayuga Times.

Note: Some sources indicate the Port Byron Gazette was founded in 1851 by Oliver T. Beard.

The Port Byron Times was published by C. Marsh 186_-1870.
There is one additional paper that appears in the business directory on the 1859 village map of Port Byron, being the Citizen operated by N. Marble.  It is interesting that this paper is not listed in the article by the Auburn Morning News on Dec. 15, 1877, which was in tribute to the history of the press in Cayuga County from 1798-1877.  Perhaps this paper was produced elsewhere and simply sold here and did not make the list because it was not produced here.  I will make mention, as this paper was available.  

The paper with the most interesting history is the Port Byron Chronicle.  That is partly due to it being the longest surviving paper associated with our community, but also due to the folklore attached to it.  The Weedsport Cayuga Chief - Port Byron Chronicle issued on Dec. 10, 1964 had an article honoring the 90th anniversary of our paper.  It stated that L. H. King established the paper on January 1, 1875.  After Editor King's death, his son Richard T. King is listed as continuing the paper who later sold the paper to Mr. G. Welton Fickeisen.

It reports that in 1943, Mr. Fickeisen purchased the Moravia Republican Register and both our beloved Port Byron Chronicle as well as the Moravia paper were published from his plant in Moravia.  At the close of World War II, he sold the Chronicle to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fox who brought the paper back to Port Byron for publication.  In July 1947, George G. Valentine purchased the rights.  Mr. Valentine also published another paper, being Weedsport's Cayuga Chief, serving as publisher since 1916.

I will share a little about the Cayuga Chief.  This paper was established as a weekly paper in 1876 by Dr. Ira D. Brown.  It would later have changes where in 1877 H. D. Brown and Co. were publishers.  It was an independent paper and publicly claimed the following:

"Pledged to no party's arbitrary sway.  We follow the truth, where'er she leads the way"

Mr. Valentine would sell both the Cayuga Chief and our Chronicle to Mr. F. Howard Hosmer on November 1, 1956.  It would sell once more to Mr. Theodore Miller, who as of 1964 had an office at Mechanic Street in Weedsport.  You will note some papers have the title Cayuga Chief - Port Byron Chronicle which resulted from these owners with multiple papers publishing them together.

All of the above would appear to be in order but it does not tell the complete history.  The history of the press in 1877 provided an even earlier history.  Our Port Byron Chronicle was started by Charles T. White in 1871 who sold it that July to Edward Clarke.  By November 1873, it was owned by Marsh & Johnson.  Charles F. Johnson was the sole owner and publisher as of 1877.

Therefore, this is a wonderful example of how a biography can print yet not be historically correct.  L. H. King obviously could not have founded our paper but his family certainly can be credited with being its longest editors and publishers.

The King family indeed approached the Chronicle as a family venture.  Editor King's wife Carrie would gather news within the community and also wrote for the paper.  Even before the passing of Editor King, his daughter Lois was involved.  She was a freelance writer for the paper.  After studying music at Syracuse University, Lois returned to the Chronicle.  Her obit indicates she served as Editor.  She married in 1924 to Arthur Backus, the ceremony conducted by her brother Rev. L. H. King Jr.  He preferred to be called Harry.

Lois's husband would become Editor of the Buffalo Evening News.  She would then become involved in the American Pen Woman and became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor.  Even her brother was listed as an Associate Editor of the Chronicle in his marriage announcement.  In 1950, L. H. King Jr. served the ministry and was listed as Bishop of the Seventh Day Advent Church in Raleigh, NC.

Here's a book that shows Harry King worked for the Post Standard in Syracuse.
For those that are wondering what the initials in Editor King's name stands for.  L. H. King stands for Lasuvious Harrison King.  According to the oral history in our community, it is said that he was named after Mount Vesuvius, which had erupted two years before his birth.  However, it was misspelled resulting in the name Lasuvious.