When Joseph DeFord established the village of Bluffton, Ohio, in the 1830s, he first named it “Shannon.” In either 1861 or 1872, to avoid confusion with another Shannon, Ohio, residents renamed the village “Bluffton,” after the town in Indiana from where many of the residents had immigrated. Bluffton sits halfway between Lima and Findlay on the border of their respective counties, Allen and Hancock, in northwest Ohio. Abundant hardwood in the area sparked Bluffton’s first commercial industry. When oil deposits were found in the area, the industrial character of the town changed to accommodate mills, refineries, foundries, and factories. Despite Bluffton’s small population, a train station eventually popped up there, and its presence probably contributed to the success of manufacturing there.
The Bluffton News is the longest-running newspaper in Bluffton, Ohio, and it still publishes today. One other paper, known at different times as the Bluffton Times and the Bluffton Standard, published briefly in the village before moving to Dunkirk, Ohio, in 1875. That summer, Nelson Wilbur Cunningham moved from Lima to Bluffton to establish the Bluffton News in the absence of other newspapers. Cunningham envisioned this seven-column weekly paper to be politically independent and focused on local news. The 1880 population of Bluffton was 1,290, and in 1885 the Bluffton News had a circulation of about 1,100, suggesting it was widely circulated in the village. When Cunningham switched to the banking business, his successors, Jesse Huber in 1891 and N. Heminger in 1892, continued Cunningham’s editorial style. Heminger published the paper for eight years before transferring to the Findlay Courier. He sold the paper to B. F. Biery in 1900, who passed it to his son, Clarence Biery. The Bierys published the Bluffton News in the same manner until Clarence’s retirement in 1952, when he sold it to Milton I. Edwards, who still currently owns the paper.
In addition to municipal events, the Bluffton News publishes birth announcements, obituaries, and church event calendars. Social news, book chapters, and reprinted stories from previous decades entertain readers. Practical advertisements for groceries and household goods are common. During WWII, the Bluffton News kept an updated column on current mailing addresses for soldiers shipped out from the village area. As the primary newspaper for Bluffton for several decades, the Bluffton News mostly covers what appealed to local interests. It focuses on local farmers, workers, and school district updates and events.
Researched and written by Jen Cabiya