BY TIMES BULLETIN STAFF
VAN WERT - The Times Bulletin announced today marks the start of the 170th year of operation of the local newspaper. On May 18, 1844, William Moneysmith printed the first edition of “The Van Wert Bugle,” setting in motion a series of events leading to today’s company.
“It is an amazing accomplishment when you think about it,” said Kirk Dougal, dhi MEDIA Group Publisher. “The Times Bulletin and its preceding namesakes have survived through 170 years of challenges. From the invention of the typewriter in the 1860s, the advent of radio and television in the 20th century, and in the past two decades the creation of the Internet and digital media products - the company has adapted with new methods and technology to remain a constant source of news for its readers. Even today with digital articles, video, mobile website, and our soon-to-be-released iPhone and iPad apps, the Times Bulletin is delivering information in new ways. But most importantly, none of this would have been possible without the continuing support of the local community and for that we are very grateful.” Dougal went on to say the Times Bulletin is believed to be the oldest continually-operating business in Van Wert County.
In May of 1844, 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 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.
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 other parties were “scoundrels,” “scalawags,” and sometimes just plain liars. However, a clue might be found since Moneysmith had chosen the quote by Bancroft , 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 South Washington Street.
Finally, in 1936, the “Van Wert Bulletin” and “The Times” merged and became the “Van Wert Times-Bulletin,” completing the circle Moneysmith had started in 1844 by joining the descendants of both of his newspapers.
Dougal said the Times Bulletin would hold periodic events throughout the year, culminating with the company’s birthday next May.