The year was 1844. In January, the University of Notre Dame received its charter from Indiana, the second date for the Millerites predicted return of Jesus Christ came and went in October and James K. Polk defeated Henry Clay to become the president of the United States after the December 4 election. In May, an inventor named Samuel F. B. Morse sent the first electrical telegram from the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. to the B&O Railroad in Baltimore, Maryland, asking the question, "What hath God wrought?"
The year also saw the start of Van Wert County's first newspapers. "The Van Wert Patriot" began early in the year but in May a man named William Moneysmith began printing "The Van Wert Bugle" with the saying across its masthead, "Democracy is the institution of Government, by the Many, for the Common Good." It is a line from a speech by the famous historian, George Bancroft. Moneysmith would continue to guide the course of newspapers in Van Wert County for decades.
The name of the Bugle was eventually changed to "The National American" and then later just "The American." By now the editors, John W. Conn and O.W. Rose, had purchased the newspaper from Moneysmith. It is not clear if under his leadership the Bugle had been a Republican or Democrat publication. In those days and on into the early 1900's, newspapers made no bones about which side of the political fence they stood. Politicians from the other parties were "scoundrels," "scalawags," and sometimes just plain liars. However, Moneysmith had chosen the quote by Bancroft , a man who was a steadfast Democrat who once ran for governor of Massachusetts before being named the U.S. Secretary of the Navy.
The name of the newspaper changed to "The Ohio Weekly Bulletin" before going to "The Van Wert Bulletin" in 1859. H.C. Glenn had been the editor during the last name change and J.H. Foster took over guiding the publication from him. By now the publication was most assuredly a Republican product. That might explain why Moneysmith got back into the newspaper game in Van Wert County and started another newspaper called "The Watchman." He sold it in 1857 to a stock company and they immediately changed the masthead to "The Weekly Constitution."
Never one to stay away from the public eye for too long, Moneymaker and a former editor from the "Ohio Weekly Bulletin," A.C. Tucker, bought back the newspaper in 1865 and changed the name to "The Van Wert Times." W.H. Clymer bought the newspaper in 1870, and with the new ownership came a new name: "The Times." Now the publication was just as much a Democrat publication as the "Van Wert Bulletin" leaned toward the Republican side. To make the rivalry even more interesting, both newspapers had their offices on S. Washington St.
Finally, in 1936, the Van Wert Bulletin and the Times merged and became the Van Wert Times-Bulletin, completing the circle that Moneysmith had started in 1844 by joining the descendants of both of his newspapers.
The Times Bulletin has just completed it 165th year of publishing newspapers and is believed to be the longest continuous business in Van Wert County. On its 165th birthday, it is easy to see how much delivering the news has changed over the years. A copy of the February 11, 1847 Bugle shows front page news then was a list of letters at the post office that had not been picked up, legal notices for the location of a new county road (Wren-Landeck Rd.) and an estate sale, as well as advertisements for the Edson & DePuy Law Office and cabinetmaker James H. Long. There was also an installment of what used to be standard fare before the turn of the century, the next chapter in a serialized novel that readers could follow every week.
The Bugle printed every Thursday and if the customer paid for a year's subscription up front, it only cost $1.50. Any unpaid balance, however, could be hit with a 25 percent fee at the publisher's discretion. Advertising cost $1 for three weeks for a square, or one column inch. Every insertion after that for the same ad cost 25 cents.
Today, articles can be put on the Internet at www.timesbulletin.com in a matter of seconds after news happens. Stories that are printed in the newspaper can be enhanced with video or an event that can only have one photo in print can have 50 online for viewers to see. Mobility is changing news delivery as well with readers able to read articles from the Times Bulletin on their cell phones, iPod Touch or other mobile devices.
But it is still the names, faces and news of Van Wert County that readers want to see the most - no matter how much the delivery method may have changed. The Times Bulletin staff would like to thank all of its readers as they celebrate the newspaper's 165th birthday and they look forward to continuing to bring the news to Van Wert County for the next 165 years.