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Communication

Without telephones, newspapers or mail service, pioneers relied upon each to find out what was happening in the rest of the world. They welcomed visits from either friends or strangers. Oftentimes, travelers to an isolated home were very infrequent. The visitors gave everyone a break from the hardships of the day and brought fresh news about other places. Personal visits were the only way of exchanging news of events.

The first postal route in what is now Ohio was established in 1794. The mail went from Pittsburgh, overland to Wheeling, and then down the Ohio River by flatboat and keelboat, making stops at Marietta, Limestone, Kentucky and Cincinnati. This would take 7 to 13 days.  Postriders traveling on horseback, carried the mail in their saddlebags. Postal routes were farmed out to contractors who promised to deliver the mail within a certain area for a set length of time. When mail was first delivered to a town, the townspeople would have to come to a central location, usually the general store, to pick up the mail.

When post offices were established, the name of each was chosen by the Postal Department and many times was different than the name of the town. A Post Office might be closed for a time and later re-opened. Ray Zunk, a local postal history expert, provided the information at the end of this article

Sidney’s first newspaper, "The Western Herald Journal", was issued in 1831. The editor, Smith, appears to have been an eccentric individual, and it is said he frequently walked from Sidney to Cincinnati, a distance of ninety-eight miles, where he purchased his paper and carried it to Sidney on his back.

At times, more than one newspaper was being published in Sidney and some of the other towns in the county also had their own newspapers, (i.e. "Jackson Center Weekly", published from 1896 to 1948, "The Botkins Herald" published in 1898, "The Fort Loramie Progress" in 1915). These papers would go through a series of owners and usually name changes as well. Some other Shelby County newspaper names included "The Republican Herald", "Sidney Aurora", "The Sidney Weekly Journal", Democratic Yeoman", "The Shelby County Banner", and "Shelby County Democrat".

Early newspapers were published weekly. The first daily paper in Shelby County was published in 1883. The price of a local Sidney newspaper in 1891 was $1.50 per year, payable in advance. Today, the local newspaper is published under the name of "The Sidney Daily News" and is issued six days a week, excluding Sunday. An annual subscription is about $110. The only Shelby County newspaper not printed in English was the "Shelby County Anzeiger", which was started in 1891 and printed in German.

If there was any trouble for a pioneer family, there was usually nobody to help out. Traveling preachers, doctors and civil officials moved from place to place to provide necessary services. Couples who wished to marry would have to wait until the traveling preacher came along.

Sidney: Established March 24, 1821, Postmaster: Harvey B. Foote.  Anna: Established April 7, 1858, Postmaster: Fletcher S. Thinkield.  Botkins: Established January 29, 1877, Postmaster: Hiram V. Varner.  Jackson Center: Established April 17, 1858, Postmaster: Valentine McCormick.  Houston: Established November 13, 1835, Postmaster: Elisha Johnson.  Russia: Established September 6, 1860, Postmaster: Aesaine Pigny.  Ft. Loramie Variety of dates as McLean Township changed; from 1838 until 1910.   Maplewood: Established August 16, 1880, Postmaster: Ferdinand F. Fry.  Port Jefferson: Established December 19, 1882, Postmaster: William Lowe.  Hardin: Established January 28, 1820, Postmaster: James Wells. 

'Pioneer' segment written in October, 1997 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge

 

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