Columbus Westbote

Der Westbote (Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio) 1843-1871 [LCCN: sn85025947]
Digital Edition: September 3, 1863 – January 5, 1871
Wochenblatt des Westboten (Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio) 1871-1872 [LCCN: sn88077697]
Digital Edition: January, 12, 1871 – February 8, 1872
Der Westbote (Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio) 1872-1918 [LCCN: sn85025948]
Digital Edition: February 15, 1872 – June 11, 1895

Running from 1843 to 1918 in Columbus, Ohio, Der Westbote (“Western Messenger”) served German Democrats both in and out of the state. Its early history was not an easy one, as both groups were in the minority in Columbus. But after overcoming these challenges, the paper and its influence grew rapidly. In its early years, Der Westbote opposed constitutional monarchies in Europe and both slavery and abolitionism in the United States. In 1871, the paper was briefly renamed the Wochenblatt des Westboten (“Weekly Western Messenger”), but it returned to its original title the next year. By 1915, circulation had reached 15,000, and some referred to the Westbote as the “Democratic Bible.” Among its editors and owners were Friedrich Fieser, Jacob and Friedrich Reinhard, Leonhard Hirsch, and Charles F. Gerhold.

Germans living in Columbus, especially those on the south side in the German Village neighborhood, found the Westbote particularly important as it helped connect them to both their new and old homes by printing local items and news from abroad (usually under the heading “Ausland”) in their native language. Among its pages, readers could find: business advertisements; political news and editorials; poetry and serialized fiction; tax, land, and other legal notices; and more. The Westbote also documented mid-19th century German immigration to the United States. Most of its content was in German, although some advertisements were printed in English.

Initially a weekly, the Westbote was eventually issued in semiweekly, daily, and Sunday editions as well. In 1903, Der Tägliche Westbote (“Daily Western Messenger”) merged with its Republican competitor Tägliche Columbus Express (“Daily Columbus Express”) to form Express und Westbote, although both papers continued to print separate editions on a weekly or semiweekly basis.  During the First World War, anti-German sentiment grew in Columbus and other cities with large German populations.  As a result, by 1918, all editions of the Westbote and Express had ceased publication.

Additional issues of the Westbote have been digitized and made available via Ohio Memory: October 10, 1843 – August 28, 1862.

Researched and written by Jenni Salamon