In the development of
every community the newspaper play a major role. Ever
since Emmitsburg graduated from its short pants it has
been blessed with a paper.
The first paper, the
‘Emmitsburg Banner’ was published in 1840 by a Mr.
McClain. The Banner was published only a few times
before it ceased operation. Emmitsburg’s second
newspaper was the ‘Emmitsburg Star’. First published
in 1845 by a C. Grate, the Star was devoted to
literature and the fine arts.
Local news was scare in
those days, but the advertisement are interesting. For
instance: Hugh Sweeney ad with the words: ". . .
intending to move West, will offer at public sale . .
." Or John Kelly’s ad under the heading
"Grave Stone Cutting" Informed the public that
"he still caries on, in all it various branches,
the above business, at his old stand, four miles south
west of Emmitsburg." Or George Troxell’s ad
inviting the public to patronize his livery stable.
"His horse are of the best in this place and will
be hired out cheaper the anywhere else; his buggy is of
superior manufacture and will be let out on the most
accommodating of terms."
Samuel Motter, a
graduate of Princeton University, in response to
repeated suggestions for the publication of a newspaper
in Emmitsburg, on June 14, 1879, issued the first
editions of the Emmitsburg Chronicle.
In placing it before
the public, said Mr. Motter, in his first editorial,
"we hesitate not to say that we do we do so with no
little doubt and perplexity, least our readers may not
realize the expectations that have formed. Our first aim
shall be to present the Chronicle as a medium through
which the outer world may learn of our aims, our hopes,
and high resolve.
In the second number of
the paper, the editor called attention to his equipment
and gave fair warning "Sneakthieves are
warned to avoid this office. Go round, be distant. Our
weapons, offensive and defensives, consist of a carbine
nearby. Our apprentice has a single barreled pistol in
his vest pocket; the muscular development of the foreman
are just nicely symmetrical. He is skilled in the use of
his composing and shooting sticks, as well as, of good
solid mallet which he uses in a sinister way; the devil
has a way of grinning that is significant of his
capabilities; but best and most reliable of all, is our
pair of crutches, stout and seasoned, which have
sustained us in many an emergency, during not a few
years; we are thus in good practice; unoffensive we
trust, in deposition, but nevertheless on our guard.
The force of that time
consisted of Samuel Motter, Editor and publisher; Harry
Quinn, foreman; Paul Motter, compositor and John
Johnston, Devil. The plant embraced a Washington hand
press, a small job press, and several font types, pant
of which was purchased in Littlestown and brought here
on wagon. The room above Mr. James A. Rowes Shoe Store
was its home for the first 27 years of its existence.
On March 21, 1889, Mr.
Motter died and his widow, Mrs. C. Motter, took charge of
the papers. Paul Motter & Company, again, Mrs.
Motter and W. H. Troxell were successful publishers of
the papers before it was purchased in 1899 by William
Troxell, who in 1906, sold it to Sterling Galt.
Through the influence
of the Chronicle, under Samuel Motter, the correct
spelling of the name of the town was established. By
carelessness, the original name of Emmittsburg became
Emmitsburg. The Chronicle insisted on the single ‘T’
and for some time, its efforts were unsuccessful, but at
last it proved its contention and the Post-office
Department made the change. Mr. Motter started the
movement in the first issues of the papers.
The Chronicle took
active part in the fight for a water supply company and
was in a way instrumental in the piping of the mountain
water to the town. Mr. Motter and his successors were
untiring in their efforts for the advancement of
Emmitsburg and since it has had a paper interested in
its welfare, Emmitsburg has grown in business more then
in the 90 years it existed without the Chronicle.
On June 8, 1906, the
Chronicle was taken over by Sterling Galt. The next
issues contained the announcement of the great piano
voting contest. The people of this place and all its
subscribers immediately took interest in the winning of
the $375 Merrill upright mahogany piano which was
promised to the person or organization receiving the
highest number of votes by January 1, 1907. The
gentleman who consisted to be judges were Rev. Hayden,
S, N. McNair,and Mr. Schuff, then Burgress. Miss Helen
Hoke, with 90,934 votes, was awarded the piano. Miss
Anna Felex was second with 63,978 votes.
On Thursday, August 9,
1906, the morning after Edward smith was killed by Fred
Debold in the mountains several miles from Emmitsburg,
the Chronicle issued an extra, giving the full account
of the affair. This was the first extra issued by the
paper and it put the community in possession of all the
facts in the affair a few hours after the deed had been
On the 29th
of May, 1908, the Chronicle was turned over to the
ladies of the town and on that date they issues a 10
page paper full of interesting and instructive matter.
On Jun 1, 1909, the name of the paper was amended to ‘The
Weekly Chronicle.’ This was a natural result of
increased patronage and circulation. It has overstepped
the bounds of its heretofore limited scope of usefulness
in compliance with a demand of an appreciative clientele
resident in more cosmopolitan sections.
From its beginning to
the present the Chronicle has been alert to the best
interest of the people of the community and the county.
It has stood fro progress and expansion. It has upheld
every forward movement and has taken the initiatives in
much that has resulted in putting Emmitsburg in the
forefront of western Maryland towns. Good laws, good
roads, better mail facilities, clean methods of
politics, light, street and building improvements, every
measure that would benefit the farmer, the merchant,
public library, school and home, education in general, a
higher standard of morality - these are the things that
the Chronicle has effected. It exists for Emmitsburg,
the county and the state.
Following Mr. Galt’s
death, the ownership of the paper was assumed by William
Sugars, who published about 4 years. A combine pf three
local men then took over publication. They were Henry
Warrenfelta, Ward Kerrigan, and Michael Thompson.
On January 16, 1922,
this combine was dissolved and John Elder and Michael
Thompson operated the paper on a partnership basis.
During this period of ownership the Chronicle was
relocated from the East Main St. property, now owned by
Norman Flax, to South Seton Ave. Mr. Elder purchased the
old public school building on S. Seton Ave and the
entire plant was moved then to the Elder building, its
These two owners
maintained this partnership until 1927 when Mr. Elder
purchased sole ownership of the publication and
continued until his demise on January 31, 1943. The
ownership of Mr. Elder is believed to be the longest
span of operation for a single owner then any of his
predecessors - 21 years. It is to be noted here, that
during this ownership the paper survived one of the
Nations worst depressions - 1929 to 1937. After Mr.
Elder’s demise the chronicle remained suspended for
five years during World War II. Resumption of
publication was begun on September 16, 1948, when
another partnership commenced. Charles Elder, son of the
previous owner, and Edward Stull purchased the paper
from Mr. Elder, and are present owners.