Napoleon Democratic Northwest series

Democratic Northwest (Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio) 1869-1894 [LCCN: sn84028296]
Digital Edition: January 13, 1881 – January 11, 1894
Democratic Northwest and Henry County News (Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio) 1894-1905 [LCCN: sn84028297]
Digital Edition: January 18, 1894 – June 24, 1897

On September 8, 1852, the inaugural issue of the North-West was published by Alpheas M. Hollabaugh in Napoleon, Ohio, the seat of Henry County. It was the first persistent newspaper in the county and supported Democratic interests and candidates. During its first years, the paper was small, printed few advertisements, and had low circulation. After John M. Haag became publisher and editor in 1864, however, the Northwest started to become more influential. After Haag left the paper, then known as the Weekly Northwest, in 1869, E.W. Trift published it for about a month then sold it to Thomas Coughlin and William H. Hubbard. They changed the name to the Democratic Northwest and enlarged the paper twice during their tenure. Soon after Hubbard died in 1872, Coughlin sold the paper to Luther L. Orwig, who published and edited it for the next several decades.

Despite multiple changes in ownership and meek beginnings, the Northwest was considered “one of the leading country journals in the State, and an accredited mouthpiece of its party.” It provided direction for Democratic Party policies in northwest Ohio, printing political editorials and articles. The paper published a variety of other content as well, giving it mass appeal. Among some of the items that readers could find were local, state, and national news; business advertisements; birth, death, probate court, and market notices; social announcements organized by town name; sermons; poetry; and serialized fiction.

The Northwest also boasted one of the best-equipped printing offices in the state. Two fires that destroyed the newspaper office, one in 1859 and one in 1869, allowed for improvements to be made in the newly built offices and the introduction of printing technologies that led to increased efficiency and improved quality. After the first fire, Haag incorporated the use of the first small “Alligator” press and, later, a full-size “Gordon” press. The old Smith press was melted down and cast into a cannon that was used at campaign and Fourth of July events until 1872 when it exploded at a political meeting. Coughlin and Hubbard purchased a Potter cylinder after the second fire, and Orwig later added steam power and stereotyping.

In 1894, the Northwest changed its name to the Democratic Northwest and Henry County News, the result of Orwig’s purchase of the Henry County News. This name stayed in place for the next ten years until 1905, when it was simplified to the Napoleon Northwest-News. In 1959, the paper dropped “Napoleon” from the title to become the Northwest News. The next year, it merged with its long-running Republican competitor, the Henry County Signal to form the Northwest-Signal, which still serves the citizens of Napoleon and Henry County today.

Researched and written by Jenni Salamon