Holmes County Farmer
The fiercely Democratic Holmes County Farmer was established in 1828 as the Millersburg Gazette. Published every Thursday morning, the Gazette was the paper of record in Holmes County for many years. In 1840, the paper changed its name to the Holmes County Farmer and Free Press, then became known as the Farmer and Democrat in 1854 before settling on the Holmes County Farmer in 1857. As its name suggests, the Farmer represented a rural community predominantly composed of Amish. Though not specifically tied to any political party, the Amish related to the political philosophy of fellow farmer Thomas Jefferson and were ardent pacifists. By the 1870s, the Farmer’s circulation numbers had reached 1,800, more than its rival, the Holmes County Republican which could boast only 1,334 subscribers.
During the Civil War, editorials revealed an overall lack of support for the Union cause in the county. To the many French, German, and Swiss immigrants, the war reminded them of the enforced military service, governmental repression, and violent European nationalism of the early 19th century that they had come to America to escape. Republicans in Holmes County were far fewer, and their paper, established as the Holmes County Whig in 1835, known as the Holmes County Republican starting in 1856, was considered weak in comparison. According to James O. Lehman and Steven M. Nolt, the rival papers “engaged in ferocious political rancor” throughout the Civil War: “The more extreme language came from the Farmer, which pressed the Midwestern Democratic line of Ohio party leader Clement L. Vallandigham, denouncing Lincoln’s handling of the war and using vicious racial slurs and blatantly anti-African American editorializing against abolitionists. When only one person in German Township and Walnut Creek Township dared vote Republican in the fall of 1862, the Farmer dismissed the first as illiterate and the other as ‘an abolition preacher’”.
The Farmer was published by prominent local Democrat George F. Newton from 1854 until 1859, when it was sold to James A. Estill. Newton’s son, David G. Newton, became co-publisher of the paper with Estill in 1864. Like other county newspapers of this era, the Farmer published a variety of local, regional, national, and international news, including reports from the Civil War battlefield. Business advertisements, poetry, pieces of fiction, marriage announcements, and death notices also appeared in the paper. In 1926, the Holmes County Farmer changed its name to the Holmes County Farmer-Hub. The paper has been published as the Holmes County Hub since 1988 and still serves as one of the county’s main publications.
- Lehman, James O., and Steven M. Nolt. Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins Press, 2007.