In 1818, a movement set foot for the establishment of a newspaper at Gallipolis, the seat of Gallia County, located in southeast Ohio and bordering the Ohio River. This resulted in the founding of the Gallia Gazette, which was first issued on March 26, 1819, and managed by Joshua Cushing, who published the paper on rough brown paper on a homemade press built on a wood frame. From that time on, the paper was published under many different names and became a weekly visitor to its subscribers with few interruptions.
In 1825, the publication was continued as the Gallia Free Press by Joseph Tingley, who died that same year. It was then owned by James Harper, Sr. and published until 1831, when Joseph J. Coombs became proprietor and its name was changed to the Gallia Phoenix. The paper was enlarged and improved in 1832 when H. Maxon became co-publisher, and the name was changed to the Gallipolis Weekly Journal, and Gallia and Meigs Public Advertiser. In 1834, William Cary Jones purchased the office and changed the name of the newspaper to the Buckeye & Gallipolis Journal. When Joseph J. Coombs again took charge of it a year later in 1835, the title was changed again, to the Gallipolis Weekly Journal and Gallia, Meigs & Lawrence Public Advertiser. In 1837, the paper simply became known as the Gallipolis Journal. It was at this time and under Coombs’ leadership that the paper began to support the Whig cause until 1855, when the paper became Republican.
In 1839, the first patent lever press was introduced and used until one of Wells’ cylinder presses was purchased to take its place. With improvement in size and mechanical execution, the Gallipolis Journal became one of the largest county papers in southern Ohio by the 1880s. It described itself as a “family newspaper” devoted to the interest of all citizens of Gallia County. Regular columns about agriculture, as well as columns relevant to the merchant, mechanic, and businessman, combined with poetry and politics, helped ensure its popularity among a variety of readers. The Gallipolis Journal ceased publication in January of 1919 and was eventually absorbed by the Gallia Times which was taken over by the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, which is still being published today.
Researched and written by Kaylie Vermillion