The Greenville Journal, located in Greenville, the seat of Darke County in northwest Ohio, is the county’s most storied newspaper. The Journal was established as the Greenville Patriot in the 1830s, but struggled to gain a base of subscribers in its infancy. Sold numerous times to different owners for the first several years, the name was eventually changed to the Greenville Journal. It was not until 1850, when it was purchased by E.B. Taylor and J.G. Reese that the paper had begun to hit its stride. The Journal, published weekly, strongly supported the Whig Party’s political views. The paper took its motto “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable” from a speech made by Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, a prominent member of the Whig Party. While supporting the Whigs, much of the paper was devoted to publishing Ohio’s laws. With the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, the Whigs stated that they were “willing to stand by the compromise measure, but no steps further.” The Journal wanted to ensure that citizens were obeying the law, no matter how unjust it was.
Once the Republican Party was formed by anti-slavery advocates in 1854, the Journal changed its political support and became the official organ of the Republican Party in 1855. It was a staunch supporter of Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in the election of 1860. That year, E.W. Otwell and James M. Craig would buy the paper with only an estimated 150 subscribers. Otwell would eventually buy out his partner to become the sole owner, publisher, and editor in 1869. With his own vision for how the paper should look and feel, Otwell decided to enlarge the Journal from a seven- to a nine-column folio, making it easier to read and turning it into the largest paper in the county at that time. To gain more subscribers, Otwell made the paper more family-focused and included articles that would appeal to women and children. The Journal dedicated plenty of space to national and political news but never forgot about local matters. Otwell was sure to always include a “City News” column that focused exclusively on the happenings in Greenville.
In 1879, Otwell decided to leave the paper business for a seat in a law firm, but kept the newspaper in the family by turning over publication duties to his son, Curt. By 1880, 20 years after Otwell took ownership of the paper, the number of subscribers had climbed to over 1,150. The Greenville Journal would almost last for another 40 successful years, publishing its last issue on July 4, 1918.
Researched and written by Kevin Latta