Hancock Jeffersonian series

Hancock Jeffersonian (Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio) 1857-1870 [LCCN: sn85042591]
Digital Edition: June 19, 1857 – December 31, 1869
Findlay Jeffersonian (Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio) 1870-1881 [LCCN: sn85026034]
Digital Edition: January 5, 1872 – December 27, 1878

The Hancock Jeffersonian began in 1854 at Findlay, the seat of Hancock County, Ohio, as the Home Companion. Established by Samuel A. Spear, the paper was not initially affiliated with any political party, but by 1855, it had begun to support the Republican Party. Spear changed the name of the paper to the Hancock Jeffersonian in 1857, explaining, “The title we have adopted we consider more in conformity with the position we occupy on questions of a political character.” The publication gave the Republican Party its “hearty support” and would continue to “as long as it preserves its integrity.” In November 1861, Spear suspended the paper for financial reasons. A few weeks later, David Ross Locke, previously of the Bucyrus Weekly Journal, moved to Findlay and revived the paper, reducing it from eight to seven columns in order to save money.

Shortly after taking over the Jeffersonian, Locke began to write and publish the Nasby Letters. Locke, a strong supporter of the Union and opponent of slavery, created the pseudonym Reverend Petroleum Vesuvius Nasby to garner support for the Union cause. Nasby was a Copperhead and Democrat who, despite vehemently defending the South, provided little active support for the Confederacy. The letters, written from the perspective of this bigoted, lazy, illiterate, and drunken character, relied heavily on irony and gained Locke a national reputation. Eventually, they were published by Republican newspapers all over the Union, and even Abraham Lincoln was known to occasionally quote them to his cabinet members. After the Civil War ended, the Nasby Letters were used to comment on the Reconstruction, portraying former Confederates in a negative and Republicans in a positive light.

In addition to the Nasby Letters, soldiers’ correspondence and political speeches appeared prominently throughout the paper during the Civil War. Hancock County contributed soldiers to over ten Union regiments, including the 21st and the 57th Ohio Volunteer Infantries. At this time, the paper boasted the largest circulation in the county. The Jeffersonian also printed items of local interest, such as advertisements and marriage announcements.

Editorship of the Jeffersonian changed hands often over the following 50 years. Locke left the paper in 1865 to begin editing the Toledo Daily Blade. In April 1870, the name was changed to the Findlay Jeffersonian, and it was enlarged to ten columns. Editor Eli G. De Wolfe stated, “Our paper is now the largest country newspaper in the State, and we shall work hard to make it the best.” The paper continued to dedicate itself to the best interests of the local community and to the dissemination of Republican principles, standing in opposition to the long-running Democratic Hancock Courier. In 1879, another Republican paper was established, the Findlay Republican, as some Republicans believed that the Jeffersonian was not “stalwart” enough to serve as the party’s organ. The papers ran in tandem until 1904 when they merged to become the Republican-Jeffersonian. The paper’s name changed in 1911 to the Weekly Jeffersonian, and publication ceased in 1921.

Researched and written by Jenni Salamon