Ohio Star (Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio) 1830-1854 [LCCN: sn83035044]
Digital Edition: September 1, 1852 – March 22, 1854
Portage County Democrat (Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio) 1854-1868 [LCCN: sn83035172]
Digital Edition: March 30, 1859 – March 16, 1864
Lewis L. Rice, a printer from New York, published the first issue of the Ohio Star on January 6, 1830, in Ravenna, with the financial aid of Cyrus Prentiss, a merchant who died approximately six months before the paper’s first publication, and Jonathan Sloane, a lawyer and Ohio politician. These early settlers of Ravenna, the seat of Portage County, Ohio, provided Rice with the capital necessary to operate a newspaper office. The Star’s establishment prompted another local paper, the Western Courier, to declare its official status as the Democratic organ of Portage County. The Star itself was Anti-Masonic and anti-Catholic, using as its motto the imperative “Be Just and Fear Not.”
Rice retired from publishing in 1834, and the paper came into the possession of Laurin Dewey, who continued to support the Anti-Masonic Party. When the political party dissolved in 1838, the Star became the organ of the Whig Party in Portage County. In March of that year, Lyman W. Hall purchased an interest in the paper and became sole proprietor in October when Dewey was elected Sheriff of Portage County. In December 1839, Hall sold the Star. Over the next decade, the paper underwent myriad changes in ownership until July 1848 when Hall repurchased it. Hall remained its editor and proprietor until the Star combined with the Home Companion and Whig, formerly the Portage County Whig, to form the Portage County Democrat in 1854.
The Democrat was a Free-Soil paper with Know-Nothing leanings. Lyman Hall, John S. Herrick– formerly of the Home Companion and Whig, and William Wadsworth, also formerly of the Ohio Star, operated the paper. Its masthead read: “A Family Newspaper – Devoted to the Dissemination of Intelligence, Agriculture, Commerce, Manufactures, Arts, Sciences, Domestic Economy, Social Improvement and the General Welfare.” In accordance, the Democrat covered local, national, and international news, and published agricultural news, economics, fiction, and poetry. The first issue ran on April 5, 1854, and by 1859 Wadsworth and Herrick had sold their interests to Hall’s son, H.R.W. Hall.
As the new Republican Party began to absorb the Free-Soilers, Know-Nothings, and Whigs, the Portage County Democrat became its local organ and supported the Union cause during the Civil War. The Halls published the Democrat throughout the war, began to expand it, and in 1868 changed its name to the Portage Co. Republican Democrat. By 1878, financial hardship prompted them to sell the newspaper although H.R.W. Hall stayed on as editor until 1882, when he was replaced by Arthur Marley. During that year, its owners also purchased the Portage County Republican and merged the two papers, which continued as the Ravenna Republican until 1928. In the following years, the paper underwent a number of changes in title and ownership. In its current incarnation, it is known as the Record-Courier.
Researched and written by Jennifer Seymour