Portage Sentinel series

Portage Sentinel (Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio) 1845-1854 [LCCN: sn83035101]
Digital Edition: June 5, 1845 – August 16, 1854
Weekly Portage Sentinel (Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio) 1854-1861 [LCCN: sn85035102]
Digital Edition: August 24, 1854 – April 17, 1861
Portage Sentinel (Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio) 1861-1862 [LCCN: sn85035103]
Digital Edition: November 9, 1861 – February 15, 1862

The Portage Sentinel was first published in Ravenna, Ohio, on June 5, 1845, by Samuel D. Harris, Jr. and Roswell Batterson, beginning its run as a 22×32 inch, four-page newspaper featuring 24 columns at an annual advance subscription price of $1.50. The latest of several attempts to successfully publish a Democratic paper in Portage County, the Sentinel established itself as the local Democratic organ, claiming only to oppose “any system of laws which shall favor one class of the community at the expense of the other.” Quoting President James K. Polk, the paper’s motto first read: “The Constitution—The Safeguard of our Federal Compact.” In June of 1847, that motto became “Opposition to Tyranny, is Obedience to God,” quoting former President Thomas Jefferson; by October of 1852, it had been dropped from the masthead. The Sentinel featured articles concerning a variety of topics including business, politics and acts of the legislature, local news, medicine and health, in addition to poetry and anecdotal humor.

In 1851 and 1854, respectively, Batterson and Harris retired from the Sentinel, leaving the paper in the hands of Alphonso Hart and R. E. Craig, who began a new series after Harris’s departure and retitled the paper the Weekly Portage Sentinel. The firm of Hart & Craig enlarged the paper and continued its Democratic voice, adding the phrase “The Union—It Must Be Preserved” to the masthead and frequently publishing in opposition to the local Republican organ, the Portage County Democrat. In 1858, the Sentinel came under the control of James Somerville, who operated the publication until its cessation in 1862 and the sale of the office to Lyman W. Hall, owner of the competing Democrat. Portage County was then without a Democratic organ until Samuel D. Harris, Jr. emerged from retirement to print the Democratic Press in 1868.

Researched and written by Jennifer Seymour