Homestead Journal and Village Register

From Ohio History Central

The Village Register was established on April 12, 1842 in Salem, the seat of Columbiana County, Ohio, by publishers Benjamin B. Davis and Joshua Hart and editors Benjamin Hawley, James Eggman, John Harris and John Campbell. According to a sketch published in the first issue, Salem, which is situated about 60 miles west of Pittsburgh and 60 miles south of Lake Erie in northeast Ohio, had a population of over 1,000 and was "located in the midst of a well improved farming district." It boasted a number of businesses that provided residents with textiles, clothes, shoes, groceries, medicine, tools and furniture, as well as "three Lawyers and four Physicians, six Houses for worship and five schools." The Register, seeking to serve this growing and industrious community, was "Devoted to Agriculture, Education, Domestic Economy, Temperance, Morality, and General Intelligence." A variety of content filled the pages of the Register, including local, state, national and international news; business and agricultural reports; advertisements; poetry and literature; political editorials; and community notices such as legal actions, meetings, births, deaths and marriages.

In 1847, Aaron Hinchman purchased the Register and established a separate Homestead Journal: the two publications were to "be filled with nearly the same reading matter; the Register will be the principal advertising sheet, and will contain the local news of the village." Only one issue of the Homestead Journal was published, however, and the next week, the papers were combined to form the Homestead Journal and Village Register. Subscribers had complained that the number of advertisements prevented the inclusion of "more useful and interesting reading matter," so Hinchman promised that advertisements would be limited to four columns per issue. The Journal and Register continued to serve its readers' diverse interests, the masthead now proclaiming it was "A Family Newspaper--Devoted to the Advocacy of Man's Natural Right to the Soil,--to the Abolishment of ALL Slavery,--Morality, News, General Intelligence, Literature, Science, Agriculture,--Temperance, Health, etc." In 1848, Hinchman dropped "Village Register" from the title to form the Homestead Journal. Hinchman hoped that circulation would increase and lend further support to the Journal's political objectives.

The Journal and its predecessors were progressive and advocated for several reforms, including abolition, which Salem, Columbiana County and northeast Ohio had a long history of supporting. For a short time, the "Plan for National Reform" was printed in the paper's masthead. This asserted that the "'greatest good to the greatest number' should be the object of all Legislative Action," specifically surrounding issues of equality, "regardless of Color or Clime"; free elections, schools and soil; direct taxation; and labor protections. Of particular importance was land reform, and the Journal soon adopted the motto "Freedom of the Public Lands, Land Limitation and Homestead Exemption." Proponents of land reform wanted individual farmers to own and operate their own land, which was directly opposed to the landownership model used in the Southern United States, where the wealthy purchased large pieces of land and relied on slave labor, preventing free white men from owning land.

By 1851, the Journal had adopted yet another motto: "One Father, God.--One Family, Mankind.--One Home, the World." It continued to support national reform efforts, and in 1854, gave its allegiance to the Republican Party. Hinchman retired at the end of March 1854 due to poor health, and J.K. Rukenbrod and J.M. Hutton took over. The final issue of the Homestead Journal was published on April 4, 1855, with Rukenbrod changing its name to the Columbiana County Republican to reflect its new political affiliation. The publication continued to change hands and names over the next few decades until 1920 when it, then known as the Republican-Era after its 1890 merger with the Salem Era, was absorbed by the Salem News which is still published today.

Part of this newspaper have been digitized and are available for research via Ohio Memory: Homestead Journal and Village Register series, 1842-1855.

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