The Bellefontaine Republican was established in 1855 by James Walker and Judge William H. West in the seat of Logan County, Ohio. It was the second oldest paper in the county, preceded only by the Logan County Gazette. In its early history, the paper had several owners, including David Ross Locke, who had edited several other Ohio papers, including the Hancock Jeffersonian and Toledo Daily Blade and was famous for his satirical Petroleum V. Nasby letters. In January 1865, Locke sold the paper to John Quincy Adams Campbell who edited the paper for the next 40 years. Prior to settling in Bellefontaine, Campbell had grown up in Ripley, Ohio, where he worked for the Ripley Bee under his father, Charles F. Campbell. He also worked for the Jasper Free Press in Newton, Iowa, with his brother, Angus. John Q.A. Campbell left the Free Press in 1861 to enlist in the Civil War as part of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, returning to Ohio after his military service ended.
Under Campbell’s leadership, the Bellefontaine Republican was the leading Republican organ in the county and had over 2,000 subscribers. Initially it was issued as a weekly, but by 1892, the paper appeared twice a week. Campbell was a staunch supporter of the temperance movement, active in his church, and, according to Memoirs of the Miami Valley, known for his paper’s “fearless advocacy of political principles, morality and righteousness.” In 1920, the Bellefontaine Republican was referred to as one of the “most unique and influential publications of its kind in the country, and was quoted from Bangor, Maine to San Francisco” (Memoirs of the Miami Valley). The Republican printed a variety of content that kept its readers well informed about current issues at home and abroad and regularly featured correspondence from various areas of the county. In 1905, Campbell retired and the Bellefontaine Republican merged with the Logan County Index, also a Republican paper, to form the Weekly Index-Republican. The paper continued under this name until 1921 when it ceased publication.
Researched and written by Jenni Salamon