Journalism and Literature in Trenton
BY JOHN J. CLEARY
I. Trenton Newspapers and Periodicals
FROM the day in 1839 when a local journalist aided in tearing down the town whipping-post in defiance of strong reactionary sentiment, the Trenton newspaper press has almost invariably been allied with progressive public policies. Indeed one may find at a still earlier period the proofs of courage, vision and loyalty on the part of the local publicist. It is recorded of Isaac Collins, pioneer printer and editor, that his New Jersey Gazette, the first newspaper printed in Trenton and in the State, devoted its columns to the support of the infant republic as against Tory propaganda issued from metropolitan print-shops; and yet, Quaker though he was, he valiantly asserted the freedom of the press by declining to supply to the Legislative Council the desired name of a political correspondent (1779).
"In any other case, not incompatible with good conscience or the welfare of my country, I shall think myself happy in having it in my power to oblige you," was his courteous but unyielding rejoinder to the legislative mandate.'
1 Sedgwick, Life of Livingston, chaps. VII and VIII. Quoted in Hall, History of the Presbyterian Church, Trenton, P. 329, ed. of 1859.
A few words about the doughty Mr. Collins and his paper may well introduce what we have to say upon the subject of the local press. Less than two years after the Battle of Trenton the New Jersey Gazette which had been started at Burlington on December 5, 1777, was transferred to Trenton as a more central publication point (March 1778). The Gazette continued to be issued here tip to November 1786, with the exception of a suspension of nearly five months in 1783. The State Library possesses one of the few files of the Gazette extant-a tiny sheet of four pages, each nine by fourteen inches. It carried such news as could be had of the military movements of the day and some peppery political epistles, together with letters from abroad, but few purely local items.2
2 Governor William Livingston is credited with encouraging the creation of the New Jersey Gazette. "In the establishment of a newspaper which should be at once a vehicle for the dissemination of military information and a tilting field where he could meet all contestants, he [Livingston] called to his aid a Burlington Quaker of ancient family, a strict non-combatant, but who, not fighting, would be willing to print. . . . For a year under the pen name of 'Hortentius,' Livingston [Governor of New Jersey 1776‑90] slashed, bit, satirized and made himself so obnoxious [in the Gazette] that he himself said the King's party in New York would rather cut his throat for writing than for fighting." Lee, New Jersey as a Colony and a State, Vol. II, pp. 279, 280.
The Colonial Legislature subsidized the Gazette to the extent of guaranteeing it seven hundred subscriptions within six months after its establishment.
It is interesting to recall the admitted importance of newspaper publication even in the primitive days of the republic, for we read that the Legislature exempted the publisher and his four printers from military duty. 33
3 Hall, History of the Presbyterian Church, Trenton, N.J., p. 329, ed. of 1859.
Friend Collins4 having abandoned the newspaper field, the Federal Post or Trenton Weekly Mercury made its bow to the public in 1787, having an office nearly opposite St. Michael's Church on North Warren Street. Scarcity of paper and other causes put it out of business within two years.
4 Isaac Collins was born in Delaware in 1746, and died March 21, 1817. Notable as he was in the newspaper field, Mr. Collins' fame extends more conspicuously still to his achievements as a book publisher. Dr. John Hall in his History of the Presbyterian Church, Trenton, N.J., gives on pages 198 and 199 a full and interesting narrative description of Collins' Bible (quarto edition in 984 pages) which, because of its accuracy no less than his triumph over difficulties of printing and marketing so formidable a job in 1791, has been highly and widely praised. His reputation as a printer was earned at an even earlier date. He had executed some excellent work at his Burlington office before coming to Trenton, but it was in his Trenton plant which he maintained after the suspension of his Gazette that he achieved the greatest results. Most of the early printers here, it is said, learned their trade in the Collins' printing shop. Without attempting to enumerate his publications, mention should be made of Ramsey's History of the Revolution in South Corolina (2 vols., Trenton 1787), a work unexcelled up to that time for the beauty of its typography.
There had been an American Mercury, 1719 - 47, but it was a Philadelphia issue which covered Trenton and other New Jersey localities in the absence of any newspaper in this State.
After the Trenton Mercury came another local weekly, founded in 1791, which bore various titles successively -the New Jersey State Gazette, the State Gazette and New Jersey Advertiser, and again the Federalist and New Jersey Gazette. The present State Gazette is the outgrowth of this hybrid (see later in this chapter).
So much for eighteenth century local journalism.5
5 Interesting is paragraph 98 from "Instructions from Queen Anne to Lord Cornbury as Governor of New Jersey, November 16th, 1702," copied from New Jersey Archives, first series, Vol. II, P. 534:
"Forasmuch as great inconveniences may arise by the liberty of printing in our said province, you are to provide by all necessary orders, that no person keep any press for printing, nor that any book, pamphlet or other matters whatsoever be printed without your especial leave and license first obtained."
The first half of the nineteenth century was prolific of newspaper life such as it was. But it is largely a story of many tiny sheets bravely started and incontinently snuffed out of existence. Not a few were electioneering issues and as such were characteristically full of political argument and personal laudation or abusive personalities, as served the purpose of the hour. Of news gathering as we understand it today, there was next to nothing. For the first forty years of the century, weekly publication, with here and there attempts at semi-weekly and tri‑weekly issues, fully met the demands of the reading public. Indeed, a "long-felt want" was never invoked as the justification for a new-born paper; there was no profit worth mentioning either from circulation or advertising. A spirit of rivalry between printers or a desire to promote some particular interest was the real source of inspiration when a fresh sheet made its appearance. Monopoly and anti-monopoly had their organs which waged fierce war, incident to canal and railroad development. The movement for the erection of a new City Hall in the late '30's had a stimulating influence on newspaper-making as upon town progress generally. In 1839 Joseph Justice, Jr., and Franklin S. Mills started the Trenton Daily, from the Emporium office (the Emporium was a literary and religious journal) next door to Justice's home on North Warren Street, but this first experiment in daily publication lasted only a few months; the local population at the time, including both sides of the Assunpink, did not exceed 5,000 souls. The Trenton Daily News was launched in January 1846 and the story of its difficulties, as told subsequently by Franklin S. Mills, who was associated with Samuel R. Glen in the proprietorship, is worth repeating. Although these gentlemen were young, enthusiastic and capable and were able to build tip a circulation of 1700 to 1800 (which was the largest attained by any local paper up to that time or for many years thereafter), the advertising patronage was so small and the rates paid were so pitiful that, as Mr. Mills naively confesses, the firm frequently labored under "severe pecuniary embarrassment." Many times the News was on the verge of suspension for want of white paper, which could be had only for cash, and the resources of the editors did not at best permit purchase of more than one day's supply at a time. An incident narrated long afterwards by one of the editors throws a light upon the resourcefulness of early journalism. On one occasion, after Mr. Glen had left the concern for the night, nine o'clock arrived without either paper or money and things began to look desperate. Mr. Mills, however, was equal to the occasion. He went out into the street and encountering the benignant Senator Wright (not otherwise known to fame) demanded and received the needful.
Mr. Mills blithely adds that this was certainly publishing a newspaper under difficulties. Mr. Glen retired, went to Boston, and obtained an editorial position where the "ghost walked" with less provoking irregularity. Mr. Mills towards the end of 1846 sold out to Brittain and Jones, proprietors of the Emporium, and from them Joseph C. Potts took over the plant in 1847.
MILLS AND JAY
Franklin S. Mills deserves more than passing mention. He not only was associated with a variety of newspaper ventures in a proprietary capacity and as a salaried member of various staffs, but he also figured prominently and honorably in the public life of this city during the half century of his residence here. He was for forty years the local representative of the Associated Press and was the first reporter to have a seat as such in the New Jersey Legislature (1835). Mr. Mills came to Trenton after learning to set type on the Village Record of West Chester, Pa., where also Bayard Taylor, the eminent traveller, lecturer and writer was at one time apprenticed. Simon Cameron, who later served as Minister to Russia and was Secretary of War under Lincoln, was a graduate of the same humble school of journalism. Mr. Mills' courage and high purpose were indicated soon after his arrival here, when he joined three or.four prominent Trentonians in organizing an attack on the whipping-post on Academy Street where men from time out of mind had been flogged for minor offenses, and laid it low, never to be reerected. Threats to invoke the law against so "high handed" a proceeding were indulged in but they came to naught.
Mr. Mills developed into an effective platform orator and won political success more than once on the Democratic ticket. He was elected mayor half a dozen times and held other offices, including that of justice of the peace when this position carried weight and dignity. When the City District Court was established in the '8o's, he was made the court clerk and so served through a serene old age to a serene death in his Mill Hill home, November 25, 1885, seventy‑one years of age.
Mention of Franklin S. Mills inevitably brings to mind a notable contemporary, Charles NA1. Jay. Mills and Jay were closely identified in journalism, at times as partners, but more frequently as reporters on opposition newspapers in which capacity, with the freedom of the period, they often used their columns for sallies of wit and sarcasm at each other's expense. Stories beyond number are told of their professional rivalries and of the practical jokes which they played upon each other in convivial hours. Jay possessed a lively imagination and a ruthless pen. His witticisms had often a distinctly bitter flavor; Mills' retorts, while effective, were mellowed with the milk of human kindness. Mills lasted better than Jay. The latter had a son, Hamilton Jay, who went to Florida in the carpetbagging days after the Civil War and made a name as a poet and editorial writer in Jacksonville. Charlie Jay's was a checkered career. At times a publisher and editor, at others a reporter, he never failed to keep his readers awake either by the merciless virulence of his political attacks or the savage merriment evoked at the expense of whoever happened to be his target for the moment. He printed atrocious verses and appended the signature of some highly respectable citizen who vainly protested. He made a laughing stock of financial institutions which were churlish with their loans. In his final years, spent on a farm far from Trenton, the repentant scribe admitted that a vacillating character had led him to waste his talents. As an example of his versatility the Clay Banner, published by him in 1844, was a vigorous Whig campaign journal of the scalping-knife species and "lifted the hair" of some scores of Democratic journalists and politicians. It is quite refreshing reading of its kind even yet. In 1852 he published a Democratic campaign paper called the Republican Privateer which assaulted the Whigs very much as the Clay Banner did the Democrats.
On the political rostrum, his record was equally varied, for be appeared in 1840, as a Democratic speaker in the Harrison campaign and the following presidential year took the opposite side. He was a wayward genius who at ten worked in a brickyard but gradually forced his way to the front in politics and journalism. If the end crowns the work, all is well with Jay's memory for his final days were spent tilling the soil and hymn-writing. Among his effusions was the following confident apostrophe:
"To thee, 0 God, I lift my rescued soul
In holiest praise,
To bless thee for the saving hope vouchsafed My later days."
In the West, whither his wife had accompanied him, he wrote in 1874 a slender volume entitled My New Home in Northern Michigan, which, by contrast with his earlier writings, is a model of restrained speech and moral sentiment. He returned to Trenton for a brief interval (1875‑76) and edited the Free Press; then settled permanently in Michigan and died there December 9, 1884.
In the intervals of journalistic employment Jay held a political berth, by grace of the Democratic party, in the Philadelphia Custom House 1857). He served one term (1849‑50) as city clerk in Trenton and he also enjoyed the small emoluments of a legislative clerkship.
TWO NOTEWORTHY PAPERS
While a number of shooting stars were hastily passing across the journalistic sky in the days when comparatively no money and little credit were required to start a paper, two newspapers destined to live and to exert a powerful influence came into being. The State Gazette was one; the other was the True American. The former claims a continued existence from September 4, 1792. It was first called the State Gazette and New Jersey Advertiser and its infant days began in modest quarters on Warren Street opposite the Indian Queen Hotel (now the Trent Theatre site). Tri-weekly issues began January 14, 1840, and the journal became a daily January 12, 1847. The True American, which of course also started as a weekly, was cradled on State Street about where the Katzenbach hardware store6 was later located. March 10, 1801, was the date of the American's first issue, Matthias Day and Jacob Mann being the publishers. James J. Wilson, prominent in the politics of the period, was an early editor. 7 The American was discontinued for a time but on November 13, 1849, it had a re-birth, when Morris R. Hamilton as editor and William Magill as publisher absorbed the Daily News and the Emporium, a literary and religious journal, and created out of them the True American, locating the plant on Broad Street just above the old City Hall. About this time a sharp controversy ensued between the American and the Gazette as to Colonel Hamilton's right to appropriate the name "True American," indicating the hazy condition of local newspaper properties seventy-five years ago. It was a case of scrambling and unscrambling titles. The controversy is scarcely of present-day interest but it can be followed in the newspaper files of the period by anyone curious enough to seek the information. Colonel Hamilton won the war of words and the True American retained its name.
6 After becoming dailies, the True American and the State Gazette, as did the Trenton Times subsequently, retained weekly issues, but this practice was discontinued some years ago.
7 James J. Wilson was editor from 1801 to his death in 1824. He held the local postmastership from 1821. Among his experiences was that of being cowhided, particulars of which appear in both the Federalist and True American of July and August 1803.
For many years, the Gazette and True American maintained an easy local ascendancy, developing into staunch defenders of the Republican and Democratic parties respectively. Both by editorial ability and their location at the State capital, they received recognition as representative exponents of the policies of either political organization. Each bore the unmistakable stamp of partisanship. They were for many years four-page sheets and both conducted job printing plants, their prosperity resting in no small degree upon the official printing patronage which came to them from the State House, the county and the city, according to which party held control.
The True American's rise as an influential newspaper of state-wide reputation began with its purchase by David Naar in 1853. Judge Naar's career would supply enough material for a chapter by itself. He was one of the most forceful and dignified writers on public questions that Trenton journalism ever produced. He also was a stump-speaker of quality, becoming known by his virile campaign efforts throughout the State as "the warhorse of the Democracy." It was as an editor, however, that he exerted the widest influence. He wielded a trenchant pen but was strong without being abusive. Occasionally, however, he battled with a broadaxe after the fashion of his era. He was fearless in the expression of his opinion, as instanced by criticism of the government in the earlier stages of the Civil War, resulting in the visit of a mob to his office (then adjoining his residence at the southwest corner of Warren and Front Streets) and the compulsory display of the American flag. For seven months (August 2 to October 7, 1861) issue of the paper was suspended. 8
8 For further treatment of this episode, see p. 663, Chap. XIII, above.
JUDGE NAAR AND THE NAAR FAMILY
Judge Naar was honored with public offices, local and State. He was a member of the State constitutional convention of 1844, served as State treasurer in 1865 and was for some years secretary of the State sinking fund. An oil portrait of judge Naar (his judicial title was gained in Union County before he came to Trenton) hangs in the State House corridors, unusual distinction for a journalist. Having campaigned the entire State for Polk in 1844, he was appointed by the new President as United States consul at St. Thomas, W.I. (where he had been born November 10, 1800), and held the post for three years.
Locally he served in numerous official capacities. A man of erudition, speaking four languages, and personally of the highest integrity, he filled out a life of great usefulness and distinction, passing away February 24, 1880, in his eightieth year.
The Naar family, of whom the judge was the pioneer here, contributed several notable citizens to Trenton. The family, by the way, traces its history back over four centuries to the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal, an elaborately planned genealogical tree being extant which attests the lineage. Associated with Judge Naar were Moses D. Naar, his nephew, and later Joseph L. Naar, a son, both scholarly gentlemen but of dissimilar temperaments. Moses, the elder, was grave, serious, studious; of delicate physique, slender, with black hair and beard. Joseph L. was stout and ruddy, with reddish hair, of quick temper, and enjoying very much the contacts of public life. Upon Moses's death, January 10, 1885 (Joshua S. Day, business manager, also dying February 9, 1885), Joseph L. assumed editorial control of the American. Judge Naar had withdrawn from the publication and job departments in 1866. After a liberal education as a youth, Joseph L. Naar had learned the trade of printer on the True American while it was published by his father at Warren and Front Streets but this was only as a step in his training for future proprietorship. On assuming the editorship, he maintained the traditions of his father in making the paper an exponent of liberal Democratic thought. For over a quarter of a century, the True American columns scintillated with caustic, pungent comment upon current events. Ever courageous and resourceful in argument, he became a dangerous antagonist upon public questions. A close and intelligent student of the Constitution, he was equally at home in the use of the lighter weapons of the editorial armory, and his treatment of debated issues never failed to arrest attention throughout the city and State. He was private secretary to Governor Ludlow and had much to do with the successful establishment of the Trenton Public Library, serving several years at a trustee. His death occurred September 19, 1905, aged sixty-three.
DECLINE OF TRUE AMERICAN
During Joseph L. Naar's regime as editor and publisher, the True American plant was removed (January 1, 1893) to its own building on North Warren Street, from the leased quarters at the southeast corner of State and Broad Streets, which had been occupied since 1872. Simultaneously the paper in make-up and special features was brought up to modern standards, besides being enlarged. Political patronage, however, had fallen off, and it was difficult out of ordinary revenues to meet the expenses swollen by enterprising news policies. As a bid for wider circulation, the price of the paper was cut to one cent a copy, and as a further expedient the editor sold preferred stock to friends in the sum of nearly $50,000. Then came Mr. Naar's death, following which the once powerful local American experienced a series of misfortunes, including various changes of proprietorship, reorganization as an afternoon issue, and two receiverships. It was estimated that within a comparatively few years $350,000 had been sunk in the property, a large portion of which was in the shape of a subsidy from Woodrow Wilson supporters in his first campaign for the Presidency. Henry E. Alexander of Ohio, Professor Henry J. Ford of Princeton and William H. Gutelius, a New York publisher, were among those who tried to put the American on its feet again. On August 8, 1913, the property was disposed of at receiver's sale for $47,000, including the real estate, and the Trenton Times, with which the True American had latterly competed for the local afternoon field, acquired control and suspended publication of the century-old sheet.
SKETCH OF THE GAZETTE
The Gazette too has had an eventful history. It has seen its ups and downs through a lengthy career, but on the whole it was more fortunate in its business management than its competitor. Able men guided its policies from the start, among them the Shermans, Matthias Day, Henry Harron, E. R. Borden, and others, the story of whose work is told exhaustively elsewhere. 9
9 A detailed and illustrated history of the Gacette as a newspaper is given in Lee, History of Trenton, beginning p. 242.
After a political somersault or two, the Gazette under J. L. Swayze settled down about 1857 into a thoroughgoing Republican organ. Jacob R. Freese, the next in control, was a kaleidoscopic figure in the community for twenty years. He was many things in turn - a physician, an editor, president of the board of trade, provost-marshal of the District of Columbia during the Civil War, a city booster, a platform orator and finally a banker, meeting his Waterloo in the latter capacity. Brook and Vannote, one a hard-headed business man and the other first a printer and later a Methodist preacher, took over the Gazette in December 1865, but such a team did not promise well, and not until 1869 was the permanent success of the plant assured, with its purchase by Murphy and Bechtel. Both had been practical printers. Charles Bechtel retired after a few years and thenceforth John L. Murphy with his intimate knowledge of the printing trade and abundant native business capacity, accompanied with a delightful personality, proceeded to make of the Gazette a progressive, wideawake newspaper, equal to the best that a city of Trenton's standing could produce. The paper became noted for its excellent typography, in this respect setting an example for the general average of provincial newspapers of forty to fifty years ago.
Murphy and Bechtel were fortunate in finding on the Gazette staff at its purchase a former Freehold school teacher, William Cloke, who, after a short turn as reporter, was promoted and quickly gave the editorial page a reputation for distinction of style, a rich fund of humor and literary allusion and a breadth of information on national, state and local subjects. Between Cloke and Joseph L. Naar of the True American there ensued for years a series of passages at arms which were eagerly looked for in Trenton and were widely copied through the State. Naar was able and incisive, Cloke, more discursive but equally combative, possessed an exuberant fancy - each proved a foeman worthy of the other's blade.
In purely local matters, the Gazette almost invariably stood for progressive policies in public improvements, such as a public park, a sewerage system, etc., while the True American almost as certainly wanted the acid test applied before projects involving heavy financial burdens upon the taxpayer were adopted. Thus a wholesome threshing out of public questions was always insured. 10
10 Up to 1872, the local dailies adhered to the printing of Monday morning's papers on Saturday. But on Sunday evening, January 21 of that year, the Trenton Bank was robbed and Monday local sheets appeared without a line on the sensational occurrence, while the New York and Philadelphia papers of the same day carried the news. The mortification of so pronounced a "beat" led to an immediate order from the Gazette and American publishers thereafter to go to press Sunday night, for the following day's issue.
Messrs. Murphy and Cloke made an excellent combination. Both passed away some years ago, Mr. Murphy on May 4, 1900, and Mr. Cloke on February 5, 1909. Mr. Murphy had been honored with various federal positions of trust and emolument, and Mr. Cloke was officially and unofficially active in a number of directions looking to municipal advancement. Thomas Holmes succeeded Mr. Cloke as editor of the Gazette and after Mr. Holmes's decease, Forrest Dye filled the editorial chair. Henry C. Buchanan was for years in succession proofreader, news editor and confidential representative of Mr. Murphy. After Mr. Murphy's death, the State Gazette Publishing Company was formed with Henry W. Comfort president, Charles B. Case secretary and Charles H. Baker treasurer, and they assumed control December 26, 1900. In June 1908 the Gazette transferred its newspaper and job printing plant from its old stand, at the northwest corner of State and Broad Streets, to a handsome and commodious new structure on East Hanover Street, specially built for the purpose. This company on December 1, 1925, sold out to a new organization with Edward C. Rose president, Ferdinand W. Roebling, Jr., vice-president and Frank D. Schroth treasurer and publisher. These gentlemen introduced important improvements in the various departments.
Six months later, the Gazette was consolidated with the Trenton Times, James Kerney thus becoming editor and publisher of the Times, Gazette and Sunday Times-Advertiser. Mr. Schroth continued with the newly organized company in the capacity of assistant treasurer and general manager, and Messrs. Roebling and Rose remained as preferred stockholders. Its circulation is in excess of 16,000 daily.
JOHN BRIEST'S EMPORIUM
Coincident with the development of the Gazette and True American as two-cent morning papers, the Emporium, a smaller sheet at one cent a copy, was started August 5, 1867, by John Briest, who had been foreman of the True American composing room during the Civil War. Mr. Briest was a bright, talented, snappy writer and with the aid of his brother Charles as reporter and John B. Faussett as business manager kept the Emporium going for twenty-five years. It was first issued from the northeast corner of Warren and Hanover Streets but later from East State Street near Montgomery. John Briest, who had been mayor (1871-75) and had held various other municipal offices, was made city comptroller under the board of public works and in 1895 sold his paper which had a short life under the new owner, St. George Kempson, a Middlesex County publisher, who removed the plant to Perth Amboy about 1895. Mr. Briest died December 9, 1915, in his eightieth year.
Meanwhile there were various afternoon issues and weekly ventures, which failed to establish themselves as fixtures. 11
11 For a list of various local newspapers, see Raum, History of Trenton, pp. 210-20, and the City Directories.
THE TRENTON TIMES
One of the leading newspapers of New Jersey today, the Trenton Times, came into existence almost unheralded one October afternoon (October 12) in 1882. It exerted an instant appeal by its attractive make-up, the fresh sprightly manner in which the news was handled, and a certain dash and vigor of editorial expression. These were traits which up to that time had not distinguished the substantial plodding sheets of the town. The printing of more important occurrences of the day, without regard to whether they were local or general, upon the first page and under striking yet artistic headlines, was a new departure for Trenton, as was the absence from that page of all display advertising. The general appearance of the paper and its treatment of the news were closely modelled after Frank McLaughlin's Philadelphia Times, which indeed had set the pace for many other newspapers in typographical beauty and daring comment upon political happenings. Colonel A. K. McClure, Mr. McLaughlin's editor, rather gloried in the number of libel suits which he had to defend as the result of his outspoken policies.
The Trenton Times came naturally by the same characteristics, its founder, Lawrence S. Mott, having after his graduation from Princeton in 1877 joined the Philadelphia Times desk staff and having proved an apt student under Colonel McClure. Moreover, the men whose money supported Mr. Mott's local enterprise had as their motive a desire to smash certain political machinery in New Jersey. The Hon. Henry Stafford Little, long clerk in chancery and a power in Democratic politics, thought that the new newspaper might be useful in breaking the strength of United States Senator John R. McPherson, his political foe within the party lines. Others with various ambitions in public life rallied also to Mr. Mott's support, such as Garret D. W. Vroom, Judge Edward T. Green, and Mayor Frank A. Magowan, but none at the same financial risk as "Staff" Little. The Trenton Times accordingly proved a free lance in New Jersey journalism and before a great while had acquired some of the reputation of its big Philadelphia namesake as a breeder of libel suits, The Times devoted a great deal of attention to politics, local and state, it developed the personal interview to an extent never before known in Trenton, and it introduced "picture" journalism here. Edward S. Ellis, the novelist, was clever in delineating faces, and drew a considerable number of rapid sketches of members and attaches of the Legislature during the session of 1883, which were reproduced in the Times's columns and made a hit by the novelty of this feature. But while the Times had created an impression in the news field, it had found difficulty in building up a paying advertising patronage. There was, forty-odd years ago, little of today's eagerness for publicity and even the more wideawake business men thought they were quite liberal in patronizing the Gazette and True American, without taking on additional advertising obligations. The financial backers of the Times meanwhile had scarcely obtained the results that they had expected and were tired of assessments too often repeated. The dashing, doughty Mott lost heart in the enterprise where he had sunk much of his own money and was ready to withdraw from the field. On May 12, 1885, the property passed into the hands of Edwin Fitzgeorge who had originally printed it in his job office. Dark days followed with occasional flashes of sunlight to encourage continued publication. There were many readers, but cultivating a paying clientele of advertisers was slow work. The Times passed through the hands of various owners and had several changes of location. From Broad and State Streets (Fitzgeorge's corner) it went to 7 South Warren Street (November 11, 1884), where it shared quarters with the Sunday Advertiser until May 12, 1885, when Fitzgeorge took it back to its original site; a short time later it was published from offices over Washington Market. From here it was transferred in course of time to the Shreve Building on East State Street, whose site is now occupied by the Stacy Theater. For a time A. V. D. Honeyman of Somerville was its owner and later a Burlington County school principal named Walhradt purchased an interest. Charles W. Smith of Flushing, L.I., next made an aggressive effort to put the paper on its feet. However, the Smith regime ended in a receivership and Edmund C. Hill, who had advanced money at various times and in various sums, bid it in at the receiver's sale. Mr. Hill, who was one of Trenton's progressive citizens, deeply interested in every feature of municipal advancement, nailed to the editorial masthead the not original but quite effective slogan, "Keeping everlastingly at it brings success," and by playing up local news as never before, increased the circulation substantially. J. B. Shale, who had organized the Publishers' Press Association, acquired a half interest in order to have the paper subscribe for the Press dispatches. William O. Sproull, afterwards Governor of Pennsylvania, was interested in the Times for awhile. John A. Wallace and Charles R. Long, both of Chester, Pa., were respectively editor and business manager at one time.
Mr. Hill's connection with the paper lasted for about three years, until May 1901, when a new combination secured control, with A. Crozer Reeves as president, the Rev. A. W. Wishart vice-president, and Owen Moon, Jr., secretary and treasurer. Walter H. Savory, a journalist of reputation and unusual energy who had originally come from Rochester, N.Y., and later from Newark, N.J., became associated with the company also, having previously served as managing editor of the True American. Soon the Times began to attract attention, with, Dr. Wishart serving as editor.
A reorganization of the company was effected February 1, 1903, through which Dr. Wishart and Mr. Savory dropped out and James Kerney acquired an interest. With Mr. Kerney's coming, the Times took on a livelier and more aggressive tone and began to wear the earmarks of unmistakable success. The purchase of its own building on South Stockton Street, the installation of every latest mechanical device and the gradual enrolment of an army of employees in the editorial, reportorial, business and mechanical departments have gone hand in hand in the development of a many-sided newspaper to meet the demands of an exacting public.
John M. Hodgson and John H. Sines later became stockholders. Thomas F. Waldron was taken into partnership in 1912. Mr. Kerney at present is in control, Mr. Moon having withdrawn in 1924. The present daily circulation is upwards of 44,000.
The Trenton Courier, with offices at Clinton and Hamilton Avenues, began business early in 1928, first as a weekly and later as a semi-weekly, Rudolph J. Hiller managing editor and publisher.
THE SUNDAY ADVERTISER
The Sunday Advertiser, Trenton's first successful venture in Sunday journalism, was brought out by Andrew M. Clarke and William K. Devereux on January 7, 1883, a few months after the Trenton Times had been launched. It started modestly but found such favor through the exploiting of fields, practically uncultivated locally up to that time, such as sports in detail, secret-society doings, social events, industrial gossip, etc., that it grew in size and influence. Mr. Devereux having meantime disposed of his interest, Mr. Clarke, on February 19, 1888, sold out to Thomas F. Fitzgerald, Charles H. Levy and John J. Cleary, all seasoned reporters', who devoted themselves earnestly and enthusiastically to the work of developing a prosperous property. It was originally printed from the William S. Sharp's job-printing plant, West State Street, having editorial and typesetting rooms on the second floor of the Dippolt Building on South Broad Street. Within a couple of years, Mr. Clarke purchased a press of his own and located the entire quarters at 7 South Warren Street. It was the period when the Knights of Labor were flourishing and when under the leadership of President T. V. Powderly, American labor grew conscious of its power as never before. The Sunday Advertiser became a semi-official organ of the Knights in Trenton and for nearly a year ventured also into the daily field in that capacity. This was about 1884.
Soon after Messrs. Fitzgerald, Levy and Cleary became owners, they purchased the extensive three-story brick building at 33 West State Street which was the home of the Sunday Advertiser for the rest of the quarter of a century during which this firm held the reins; they brought the paper to a high journalistic level and established it in pronounced public favor. The circulation reached about 16,000, which was considered very large at the time.
The Trenton Times desiring a Sunday edition, made a favorable offer for the consolidation of the Advertiser with the Times plant in December 1912, and it was accepted. Thomas F. Waldron, who had lately purchased a one-fourth interest in the Sunday issue, alone among the members of the old firm continued with the consolidated property in a proprietary capacity. As the Sunday Times-Advertiser the newspaper has a circulation of 32,000.
Several other Sunday publications have been started in Trenton but none of them secured more than a transient footing. The Sunday News, transferred from Newark by Thomas N. Barr, the trolley magnate, failed to make the grade, and the aggressive little Sunday Press, together with a daily issue, disappeared when Harrison was defeated for President, the sinews of war failing at that juncture. Harry C. Valentine, William H. Koons, Captain John Matheson, W. E. Pedrick, John P. Dullard and Lafayette S. Hooper were connected with the Press in editorial, artistic, business and mechanical capacities. It was a cooperative enterprise. John Briest of the Emporium published also the Trenton Sunday Courier for a few months in 1900.
NOTABLE FIGURES OF THE PAST
Various of the vanished Trenton newspapers recall more or less notable figures in local life. The Daily Monitor which after a short experience of one and one-half years under Dorsey Gardner was merged with the State Gazette, December 20, 1865, had as its first reporter St. Clair McKelway, who afterwards achieved a national reputation as leading editorial writer on the Brooklyn Eagle and as a felicitous after-dinner orator. His father and grandfather were practising physicians in Trenton.
William S. Sharp's Public Opinion was for a time edited by Edward S. Ellis, the subsequently famous author of boys' stories, school histories and other literary works. Sharp himself was one of the most interesting human types ever figuring in local newspaperdom. He came here from South Jersey, built up a book and job-printing plant that had few equals in the State in capacity and quality of output, tried newspaper publication for a time, worked for years without substantial result upon the assembling of valuable data and pictures for a New Jersey history and, for a considerable time before his death, seemed to have no occupation but to haunt the legislative halls at the State House, effusively greeting the politicians and officials with whom he had been intimate in prosperous days.
"Glad to see you! What can I do for you?" was his stereotyped salutation to all comers, when he had little means to do for himself. When the Legislature was not in session, Mr. Sharp was a daily visitor to New York City on a Pennsylvania Railroad pass, going over about 11 a.m. and returning by an early afternoon train. In the black cape which he invariably wore, in place of an overcoat, he was daily familiar on State Street for years, radiating sunshine in spite of his own straitened circumstances, a pathetic, lovable figure.
Francis B. Lee, who for a time was on the editorial staff of the True American and contributed extensively to all the Trenton newspapers, also earned repute as a state historian of note, an important functionary at patriotic celebrations, a fluent speaker and an all-around popular citizen. 12
12 Francis B. Lee died in 1914, aged forty-five. For an extended account of his life, see Lee, History of Trenton, p. 197.
Frank W. Potter, connected for a time with the Monitor, afterwards served as United States consul at Marseilles, his appointment dating March 14, 1873, and continuing until June 11, 1878, when ill-health compelled retirement. He was a native of Maine.
John Y. Foster, afterwards prominent in New Jersey politics as a Republican speaker and writer and successively editor of the Newark Courier and Frank Leslie's Weekly, was for a period on the State Gazette staff.
Captain Ernest C. Stahl, founder of the Staats Journal (William C. Zenzer now editor), was one of the most prominent spokesmen for the G.A.R. in New Jersey, was nationally popular as an after-dinner orator and did more than any one good citizen's share to add to the good humor, gayety and picturesqueness of his period which lasted, so far as Trenton was concerned, from Civil War days to the recent past. Much of his public service was without financial reward. Once, returning home in a drenching shower after a hard day devoted to G.A.R. work in a neighboring town, he was greeted by Mrs. Stahl with a look in which reproach, sympathy, and humor were mingled.
"Well, Ernest," she remarked, "you at least will have a big funeral‑if it is a fine day!"
And truly there was universal regret when he passed away, June 24, 1921.
J. Madison Drake who started the Mercer Standard (a weekly) in 1854 enlisted in the Civil War and later organized Drake's Zouaves. Subsequently he took up his residence in Elizabeth but loved occasionally to return to the old home town and at the head of his colorful command, shaking his unshorn locks, parade Trenton's streets amid the admiring plaudits of a host of friends, including the printing fraternity. It was an interesting circumstance that Drake, his father, two brothers and a sister all "worked at the case" in this city at various times.
Henry B. Howell, who started the Reformer and New Jersey Advocate in 1852, was a philanthropic old gentleman of slender build with white hair and underchin beard who, apart from intense hatred of intoxicants, had no passion quite equal to that of maintaining in his popular toy store the best traditions of the old Kriss Kringle legend.
Colonel William H. Gilder, a star writer on the ephemeral Trenton News of twenty years ago, belonged to the celebrated Gilder family of Bordentown which in both sexes produced a number of literary lights, who shone in the metropolitan :firmament. The Colonel had served as the historian of the Schwatka expedition to the Arctic (1878‑8o), and his stories of strange adventures and peoples encountered in his travels made a delightful setting for many social gatherings at the Trenton Press Club. He published two books and died at Morristown in 1920.
Wallace M. Scudder, one of the founders and present proprietors of the Newark News, is a Trentonian by birth and received his early education here, studying law before embarking in journalism.
Frank A. Munsey, newspaper and magazine publisher of national reputation, attempted to establish a chain of weekly journals devoted to social, political, theatrical, and literary news and gossip, and interested Francis B. Lee to the extent of launching Trenton Town Topics, February 2, 1889. Only a few numbers were issued. Mr. Lee assisted in the production of Harry A. Donnelly's Town Topics two years later.
In addition to the long roll of newspapers devoted to general journalistic purposes, a considerable number might be listed which appealed to some special interest. Of this type have been R. Henri Herbert's Sentinel, published in the '80's for the furtherance of the welfare of the Negro race; 13 the Potters' Journal, founded by John D. McCormick and afterwards issued by Reuben Forker as the Trades Union Advocate; the Catholic Journal, with which at different periods beginning December 3, 1886, C. B. Cozzens, D. J. Wallace, Thomas Keating, John P. Dullard and the Right Rev. Thaddeus Hogan were identified; William Hy Beable's Anglo-American; John W. and E. G. Moody's Mercer County News, devoted chiefly to Chambersburg matters; Town Topics, a social, dramatic and political review of quality issued in 1891 by Harry A. Donnelly; Town Talk of the same general character, first published by George Holcombe and afterwards by C. M. Barcalow; and the Acme which Colonel William E. Pedrick, the artist, published. These were all weeklies and all have gone out of existence. Beecher's Magazine, an ambitious periodical, appeared as an illustrated and literary monthly in January 1870, its publisher being Joseph A. Beecher, who later became a member of the Bar. It at one time promised to take a place among the higher class of magazine publications but this hope was not realized. 14 The Arena, a Boston magazine of somewhat radical tendencies but ably edited by B. O. Flower, was transferred to this city, Albert Brandt continuing its publication for some years.
13 Herbert's Sentinel must not be confounded with the Union Sentinel (1866) nor the Daily Sentinel (1870), both of which were started by Charles W. Jay and were short lived.
14 Beecher, by the way, later published the Essex County Press and in 1876 was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail for libelling Henry S. Little, clerk in chancery, in connection with acceptance of certain official fees.
Following two earlier publications-The Trenton Jewish World (Budson, Miller and Firestein, 1909), and The Trenton Jewish Weekly (H. Waxler, 1916)-The Community Messenger, a monthly in magazine form, has made a favorable impression as the organ of local Jewry. Sidney Goldmann is the editor-in-chief with an extensive staff. Sidney Marcus founded the original Messenger in 1919, but later Dr. M. H. Chaseman reestablished the magazine (1924). Publication is under the auspices of the Y.M.H.A. and Y.W.H.A.
Trenton, under the direction of the chamber of commerce, edited and issued by the Kenneth W. Moore Company, is "a constructive monthly review of people, facts and events which are making for a 'greater and better' Trenton." Additional strength is given to the publication by the fine finish of its illustrations.
The State Schools, the State School for the Deaf, and the Trenton High School have had publications. The Signal of the State Schools attained a reputation under Francis B. Lee's editorship. Special denominational, Sunday School and secret fraternity organs also have fostered the purposes of various organizations. To this formidable roll may also be added newspapers published for the several foreign colonies.
INFLUENCE OF THE PRESS
The influence of the local press from first to last has been of the first magnitude. No doubt Trenton's eminence as the State capital has aided in no small degree to establish it as a headquarters for public news of interest and importance. The state and federal courts located here have been the theaters of overshadowing events at times. Therein have been fought out many famous litigations. Celebrated trials have taken place within their precincts involving life, liberty and large property interests. Aside from the tribunals of justice, the state conventions of the great political parties have been held in Trenton, and state fraternities and bodies of citizens, combining for various important ends, have usually come to the capital to enunciate their principles and transact vital business. The annual sessions of the Legislature of course have been prolific of news. All this has enhanced Trenton's value as a center of information of public interest and has fostered the enterprise of newspaper publication.
Much official patronage in the past aided liberal expenditures to produce good newspapers, before the era of large advertising and big circulation began to enable publishers to stand on their own feet without the need of subsidies.
A FAMOUS PRINTING NEIGHBORHOOD
The intersection of State and Broad Streets, by the way, was during a full century notable for its newspaper and literary associations. Besides the Gazette at the northwest corner, the True American had in its early days been printed from a building almost directly opposite on Broad Street, and after spending the Civil War years under Judge Naar at the southwest corner of Warren and Front Streets, returned to the old neighborhood April 1, 1872, occupying the southeast corner of State and Broad Streets and taking over the entire building, the first floor of which had been well established by Charles Scott as a book and stationery store since the early '40's. At this southeast corner, C. W. Jay, F. S. Mills and Joseph Justice had commenced the publication of the Trentonian in 1848. The Trenton Daily News (1849) had its office on Broad Street a few doors above the old City Hall, the same site as the early True American occupied.
There was also a bookstore for some time at the northwest corner, under what was later the Gazette printing office, the bookseller being John A. Howell. Again the Trenton Times was first printed at the southwest corner of this same literary mart. All three papers - Gazette, True American and Times - had flourishing weekly issues for a time, and at each of the three corners there was a large output of printed matter from job offices.
It was at the southeast corner that Isaac Collins, famous printer of the Revolutionary period, had his plant.15 All in all, the junction of State and Broad Streets occupies a striking place in the literary annals of the town. Singular to relate, every vestige of its old character has disappeared within recent years.
15 "Some New Jersey Printers and Printing in the Eighteenth Century" by William Nelson (on file in the State Library) contains many interesting details about Isaac Collins and his publications. Like all early printers, Collins experienced difficulty in securing a sufficient supply of white paper. Notices like the following (New Jersey Gazette, December 24, 1777) are not infrequent: "A good price and ready money is given by the Printer hereof, for clean linen rags and hog bristles." Nor was scarcity of paper the only handicap. He had to eke out his scanty income by engaging in the sale of "a few chests of tea," "a quantity of capital medicines" and even "a Negro Boy nine years old, slim built but very active," all duly advertised. Books and stationery, tea, butter, cheese, Negro wenches, and a variety of other saleable articles were in Mr. :Collins' line. (See page 39 of pamphlet named above.)
II. Trenton Authors and Their Books
TRENTON has produced not only able journalists but men and women of distinction in the more permanent forms of literature. Having so many interesting associations with the past, it is not singular that works of history are conspicuous in the city's literary output. The standard works upon the important Revolutionary events which centered in Mercer and Monmouth Counties, are from the pen of the late General William S. Stryker, for over twenty years Adjutant General of New Jersey. General Stryker, with a military training gained in the Civil War and with a natural and scholarly bent for the study of military records, gave many years of his life to the preparation of his The Battles of Trenton and Princeton (1898). A posthumous work by the same author is The Battle of Monmouth (1927), which is equally authoritative and which was prepared for publication by William Starr Myers of the faculty of Princeton University. 16
16 Gen. William Scudder Stryker was born in Trenton, June 6, 1838, and was graduated from Princeton in 1858. He enlisted on the first call for troops for the Civil War and had a creditable military career. Ile was Adjutant General of New Jersey from April 12, 1867, until his death, October 25, 1900. He was president of the Trenton Battle Monument Association, and to him belongs much of the honor for erection of the shaft. He was also identified with numerous patriotic and historical societies. Besides his histories of the Battles of Trenton, Princeton and Monmouth, mentioned above, he wrote many valuable monographs, including Trenton 100 Years Ago, and compiled the New Jersey War Records of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Another work highly regarded for its accurate reference to many secular incidents, as well as for its illuminating presentation of early church progress, is the History of the Presbyterian Church, Trenton, N.J., by the Rev. John Hall, D.D., 17 which was issued in 1859 and was revised in 1912 by Mary Anna Hall, his daughter.
17The Rev. John Hall, D.D., became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church on August 11, 1841 ; he resigned because of the infirmities of age, May 4, 1884. He died May 10, 1894, universally regretted by the citizens of Trenton because of his nobility of character, great scholarship and many services to the community no less than to his church.
John O. Raum (1871) published a History o f the City of Trenton, containing general and statistical information of value. 18 Mr. Raum to a certain extent ploughed virgin fields, gathering his material from original sources with great industry and producing the first comprehensive history of the city. Mr. Raum also published in two volumes (1877) The History of New Jersey. Francis B. Lee (1895) edited a History of Trenton, N.J. under the auspices of the State Gazette. It supplemented Mr. Raum's history by the variety and scope of its information and by the number of illustrations, scenic and personal. which brightened its pages.
18 John O. Raum, author of the first formal history of Trenton, was a native of Mill Hill, Trenton. He served the community in various positions, -city clerk (1857-59), city treasurer (1867-71), bookkeeper and accountant in the quartermaster general's office during the Civil War, and clerk in tile office of the clerk of the Court of Chancery during his closing years. He was for sixteen years president of the Eagle Fire Company and always took a deep interest in the volunteer department, to which indeed he gave a rather generous share of the space in his history of Trenton. With Jesse M. Clark and Randolph H. Moore he issued in 1854 the first City Directory of Trenton, and he compiled a history of Trenton Lodge No. 5, F. and A.M. He was a contributor to various periodicals, lived a quiet, industrious life and died in his seventieth year, June 9, 1893.
The Genealogy of Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing (1883) was written by the Rev. Dr. Eli F. Cooley, pastor of the historic Ewing Church; it is now a rare book and sells for from $30 to $50 a copy. Dr. Cooley also wrote a useful sketch of Mercer County with a description of war incidents here in 1776-77, in Barber and Howe's Historical Collections (1844). 19 The Genealogy was prepared for the press by Miss Hannah L. Cooley. Dr. Cooley's narrative of the Crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton was first printed in a series of papers in the State Gazette (1843) and was based largely on conversations had with survivors from the Revolutionary period. 20
19 The Rev. Eli Field Cooley, D.D., was born at Sunderland, Mass., October 15, 1781, and was graduated from Princeton in 1806. He was pastor of Ewing Church, April 10, 1823, to July 19, 1857. He died April 22, 1860, and was buried in Ewing Cemetery.
20 This latter fact is interesting because Dr. Cooley held to the theory that the Continentals divided at Birmingham (now Trenton Junction) and not at Bear Tavern. Had the latter theory been correct, General Greene's Division, which General Washington accompanied, would have passed Ewing Church and the argument is made that so memorable an event could not have escaped the vigilance of the studious Dr. Cooley, who became pastor of the church within fifty years after the famous march, and of old parishioners who would have treasured and proclaimed their knowledge. The whole matter was apparently settled in favor of Birmingham through the adoption of that route by General William S. Stryker in his The Battles of Trenton and Princeton but Dr. Carlos E. Godfrey, after painstaking researches, read a paper before the Trenton Historical Society, March 20, 1924, in which he contended for Bear Tavern as the dividing point. See also the chapter, "The Two Battles of Trenton;" .by Frederick L. Ferris, in this History.
Dr. Carlos E. Godfrey has made many valuable contributions to the historical literature of the State and city, some of his publications being as follows:
The Commander-in-Chief's Guard, (1904, 302 pages) ; Organization of the Provisional Army of the United States in the Anticipated War with France, 1798-1800, (1914; originally printed in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography) ; The Dutch Trading Post (at Trenton), read before the Trenton Historical Society, March 20, 1919; The Lenape Indians, their Origin and Migration to the Delaware, (1919); Sketch of Major Henry Washington Sawyer, First Regiment, Cavalry, New Jersey Volunteers; Locating the Exact Site where Congress met in Trenton, 1784; Washington's March to Trenton on Christmas Night in 1776. All these are on file at the State Library, Trenton.
Among other contributions to local historical lore should be mentioned John F. Hageman's part in the preparation of the History of Burlington and Mercer Counties (1883). He wrote the chapters on Mercer County which include many facts of interest concerning Trenton and a number of illustrated sketches of early Trentonians.
Charles C. Haven wrote extensively upon the Second Battle of Trenton. or the Battle of the Assunpink, being the first to fix the real importance of that engagement. Several slender volumes like Thirty Days in New Jersey, Annals of Trenton, etc., present his narrative and argument. 21
21 Charles Chauncey Haven was the son of the Rev. Samuel Haven, LL.D., of Portsmouth, N.H., who "made saltpetre out of the unsunned earth taken from beneath his own church and other old buildings with which powder was made" to do service against the British, Portsmouth, it is said, having witnessed the first outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Charles Chauncey Haven, fired with patriotic impulses, took up early in life a study of such episodes as the Battles of Trenton. He settled in Trenton about the year 1846, being then sixty years of age, and he soon became prominent here. His historical studies led him to correspond with Daniel Webster, Mr. Adams, Mr. Choate, Mr. Clay, Bancroft, Lossing, Irving and others, all of whom professed a deep interest in his researches. He wrote freely to the newspapers on subjects of public interest and addressed numerous assemblages in support of patriotic causes, including the marking of the Trenton battlefield with a monument. The Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser of November 11, 1923, has a lengthy sketch of Mr. Haven who died September 8, 1874, in his eighty-eighth year, universally regretted. A daughter became the wife of the late Chief Justice Mercer Beasley.
Historic Trenton by Louise Hewitt (1916) and Trenton Old and New by Harry J. Podmore (1928) consist of illustrated sketches dealing with outstanding phases of local history.
In addition local history is covered by monographs upon various of our city churches, like General James F. Rusling's State Street M.E. Church 1859‑1886, the Right Rev. Monsignor John H. Fox's A Century of Catholicity in Trenton (1900), the Rev. Hamilton Schuyler's An Historical Sketch o f Trinity Church 1858-1910, The [Catholic] Diocese of Trenton, by the Rev. Walter J. Leahy, and others of that nature; there is much interesting historical information also in publications devoted to fire and police departments, the post office, various fraternal lodges, to local industries and to our financial institutions. Dr. Carlos E. Godfrey has compiled separate bound volumes dealing with the Mechanics National Bank, the Trenton Banking Company, and the Trenton Savings Bank.
A work of genuine importance ranking with the Rev. Dr. John Hall's Presbyterian history is A History o f St. Michael's Church, Trenton, 1703-1926, by the Rev. Hamilton Schuyler (1926). It is valuable not only as an ecclesiastical history but also because of its wealth of data upon civic affairs and its interesting sketches of numerous Trentonians who have bulked large in the public life of the remote and recent past.
Francis B. Lee wrote New Jersey as a Colony and as a State (1902), which was published in four large volumes by the Publishing Society of New Jersey. A genealogical and personal history entitled Mercer County, N.J., was edited by Mr. Lee in two volumes for the Lewis Publishing Company in 1907. Mr. Lee's additional literary labors covered a wide field, including much in periodicals of standing. William E. Sackett, although not a Trentonian, may be mentioned for his Modern Battles of Trenton (1895), a political review of State House affairs from 1868 to 1894, with a second volume carrying the history to 1914.
One of Trenton's newer additions to the ranks of authorship is James Kerney, editor and publisher of the Trenton Times newspapers, who sprang into fame overnight, as it were, with his The Political Education of Woodrow Wilson (1926). Among the many books, partly biographical and partly critical, written about the War President, Mr. Kerney's has been accredited a particularly high rank, because it gave what all recognized as a faithful picture of a baffling personage in the public life of his time. The Political Education took the most interesting and most crucial period of Mr. Wilson's career and neither praising unduly nor setting down aught in malice, revealed the man and the official as his most intimate friends knew him. The fact that the Kerney work has been adopted as a text-book in Princeton University and other universities of the land is perhaps sufficient proof of the place it has been awarded in American political literature.
Trenton has supplied the ground for scientific inquiry touching prehistoric man, two of the ablest and most painstaking students upon that theme having been Dr. Charles C. Abbott and Ernest Volk. The former wrote voluminously and with a literary style of rare charm, treating the paleontology and archeology as well as the flora and fauna of this vicinity, particularly of the section south of Trenton, where he resided, and which was his "workshop" for many years. Always a welcome contributor to prominent newspapers and magazines, he also wrote a lengthy series of works on such subjects as The Stone Age in New Jersey (1875) ; A Naturalist's Rambles about Home (1884); Waste Land Wanderings (1887) ;Recent Archaeological Explorations in the Valley of the Delaware (1892); Travels in a Tree-Top (1894); The Birds About Us (1894); and Ten Years in Lenape Land (1901-11), with numerous illustrations demonstrating prehistoric settlement.
The most important achievement of Dr. Abbott's career, in his own judgment, was the "Abbott Collection" at the Peabody Institute, Harvard University. His later years were spent in bringing together an archeological collection at Princeton University under the patronage of the late Moses Taylor Pyne. It may be worth while to quote some words from the distinguished student, fixing his creed with respect to primitive man. In his preface to Ten Years in Lenape Land (March 4, 1912), he referred to his declaration of 1877-78 when he "announced in most unequivocal terms ,that man's antiquity had been demonstrated by discoveries that associated him with at least the closing activities of the glacial period last occurring and, inferentially, that he dwelt here previous to this physico-climatic condition; that man witnessed the retirement of the glacier from the valley of the Delaware and was familiar with an arctic fauna that roamed through .the land and disported in the icy waters of the river, the mastodon, elephant, caribou, musk-ox, walrus and seal." This position was attacked and even ridiculed but the "most violent outbursts of protest have come from those who have never visited the locality."
Dr. Abbott's works possess an international reputation and his contributions in the nature of findings and reports are on file at several American museums. His Colonial Wooing has local historical interest. 22
22 Dr. Charles Conrad Abbott was born in Trenton, June 6, 1843. He was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania as a physician in 1866, but quickly turned to archeology as his chief life work. Timothy Abbott of the same family was a naturalist and scientist of note, and Dr. Abbott's maternal grandfather was professor of mineralogy and botany in the University of Perma. Dr. Abbott began explorations along the Delaware in 1872, first representing the Peabody Academy, Salem, Mass., and in 1876 transferring to the Peabody Museum of Harvard. His Primitive Industries (1881) was accompanied by five hundred illustrations. In 1889 Dr. Abbott resigned from Harvard and devoted himself to work for his own pleasure and for private individuals. The destruction of "Three Beeches," his old family seat, associated with most of his nature studies, was a sad blow a few years before his death, which occurred in July 1919.
Ernest Volk's fame rests chiefly on his printed report of 258 pages to Peabody Institute, Harvard University, entitled The Archaeology of the Delaware Valley, which embodies the results of years of indefatigable industry with the spade, and of intelligent and enthusiastic study. Accompanying the text are two maps, 126 original plates and 22 illustrations. 23
23 Ernest Volk was born in Baden, Germany, August 25, 1845. He came to the United States in 1867 and served for twenty-two years under F. W. Putnam of the Peabody Museum, amassing an almost incredible number of specimens of man's antiquity in the vicinity of Trenton. While most of his work is represented in the collection at Peabody, there are specimens of his findings in the Field Museum, Chicago, the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, and at the Universities of Pennsylvania and California. He was curator of a separate collection assembled at the World's Fair in Chicago after two years' explorations. He came to an untimely end September 17, 1919, the result of an automobile accident at Tunkhannock, Pa.
Among Trentonians who have produced notable books of a scientific nature is the late Professor Austin C. Apgar of the State Schools, whose Trees in Northern United States is the chief of his numerous writings upon botanical subjects.
Dr. Alfred C. Stokes was a lifelong student of microscopy who pursued his labors with a zeal equalled only by his extreme modesty. The scholarly libraries of two continents contain his Aquatic Microscopy (324 pages) while in more general circulation is his Aquatic Microscopy for Beginners, or Common Objects from the Ponds and Ditches, with 198 illustrations. Of the latter work four editions have been issued.
W. Y. Evans-Wentz, whose father was a well-known Trenton merchant, attended Leland Stanford University, California, as a young man and brought home several degrees, after which he took up his residence at Jesus College, Oxford, and has alternated there and in travel in various parts of the world. His name with the titles "M.A., D.Litt and B.Sc." appended, has appeared recently on a recondite work, The Tibetan Book o f the Dead, besides which he has written The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. In preparation of the former book he spent five years of research in India, while the latter represents years of study and observation in Ireland and other places. Tibet's Great Yogi is a later work.
Besides his historical work, alluded to above, the Rev. Hamilton Schuyler has produced in addition to occasional verses a bound volume- Within the Cloister's Shadow (1915) ; Liturgical Hymns for the Church's Seasons; a patriotic hymn- Lord God of Hosts, set to music by Professor Paul Ambrose of this city, officially adopted by the General Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and included in the hymnbook used by the cadets in the West Point Military Academy; The Battle of Trenton, An Historical Narrative in Verse (reprinted in full, below); The Incapable, a poem which received a prize of $200 in competition for the best poem antithetical to Edwin Markham's Man with the Hoe, the prize having been offered through the New York Sun by the late Collis P. Huntington in 1900.
Additional prose publications of Dr. Schuyler have been: Studies in English Church History (1897) ; A Fisher of Men, a biography of the late Churchill Satterlee, priest and missionary (1905) ; The Intellectual Crises Confronting Christianity (1911) ; An Historical Sketch of Trinity Church, Trenton (1910) ; An Historical Sketch of the Diocese of New Jersey (1928).
Several Trenton women have produced meritorious and noteworthy verse. Mrs. Ellen C. Howarth, under the nom de plume of "Clementine," attracted the attention of Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine, who thought so well of her work which had been appearing in a fragmentary way in the local press that he collected and published two volumes, The Wind Harp and Other Poems (1864), and Mrs. Howarth's Poems (1868), to which he wrote a eulogistic preface. During the Civil War period she wrote ringing lines that awoke patriotism, while in other efforts she gave voice to religious and tenderly sentimental emotions. Her 'Tis But a Little Faded Flower was set to music and after fifty years is still a favorite selection. "Clementine's" delicacy of thought and refinement of expression won the admiration of Julia Ward Howe and other persons eminent in American letters, and her modest home, in consequence, often entertained distinguished visitors from distant points. The fact that she had received little early education added to the marvel of her unsophisticated genius. 24
24 Theodore F. Wolf, M.D., a writer of much charm, had an article in Lippincott's Magazine of January 1900 (reprinted in part in the Trenton Sunday Advertiser of January 21, 1900) which, after a notice of Dr. C. C. Abbott, pays a beautiful tribute to Mrs. ("Clementine") Howarth. Her Thou Wilt Never Grow Old and Watching the Stars are singled out as poems of exquisite tenderness. She died in 1899, aged seventy‑two.
"Amy Hamilton" was the pen name of Mrs. Charles B. Yard (later Mrs. Henry W. Dunn), who wrote acceptable prose and verse, the latter of soft, rhythmic quality, not infrequently touched with humor. Her short poems had a wide circulation through the press of the country, and in 1893 a number were compiled at the request of the New Jersey Women's Commission to the Columbian Exposition and were published in a volume representative of the finer work of New Jersey women.
Not because it is representative of her best literary power, but because of its historic association which affected Trenton profoundly at the time, the following spirited lines from Mrs. Dunn's pen are worthy of preservation:
'Mid shrieks of storm and tempest
And whirlwind's fatal breath,
The heroes of the Trenton
Stood face to face with death.
"No storm-fiends ghoulish laughter
our funeral dirge shall be-
We'll drown their hellish chorus
With the 'Anthem of the Free.'
"Unfurl our starry standard,
Ring out 'Long may it wave'
O'er land and sea, in triumph
Above the true and brave.
"Back to your caves, ye demons!"
Cried every gleaming star;
No craven heart is beating
'Neath the jacket of a tar.
"We're sons of Dame Columbia,
And our mother won't deny
That when the worst comes to the worst,
Her sons know how to die."
* * *
Long live in song and story-
Proclaim it full and free-
Our country's flag and song
Have won another victory.
25 On March 16, 1889, a fierce typhoon found six American, English, and German warships in Apia Harbor. They were torn from their anchors and the Calliope of the British Navy alone was able to steam to the open see, the others being dashed on the coral reef. As the Britisher passed Admiral Kimberly's sinking flagship, the Trenton, he led his sailors in three hearty cheers which were answered by the English seamen amid the shrieking of the storm, the band of the Trenton meanwhile playing the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Mrs. Keturah (Bogart) Sansbury wrote occasionally in the '6o's for the local press over the signature "Charity," and her verse was deemed worthy of a place in the magazines. It was sprightly or sentimental as befitted the occasion.
FICTION AND MISCELLANEOUS
Trenton's leading fictional writer was Edward S. Ellis, already alluded to in his local editorial capacity. His Seth Jones was the first of a long series of wholesome, entertaining "dime novels" for boys. He also wrote school histories. 26
26 Edward S. Ellis was born at Geneva, Ohio, April 11, 1840, and received the honorary degree of A.M. from Princeton in 1887. He came to Trenton as a young man to teach, and became principal of the Trenton High School; later trustee, and then superintendent of public schools. Besides his local newspaper work and his numerous juvenile stories (including the "Deerfoot" series), he wrote Eclectic Primary History of the United States, 1885; Youth's History of the United States, 1887; History of Our Country, 1896; Standard History of the United States, 1898; The Story of the World's Greatest Nations, 1908; and also a history of New York and a history of New Jersey. His later years were spent at Upper Montclair, NJ., where he died June 21, 1916, at the age of seventy-six.
Edward Ansley Stokes wrote So Runs the World Away and A Sinner in Orders (novels), and a book of poems, Where Wild Birds Sing. Mrs. Mary Manville Pope, besides serial fiction, published an amusing story in book form, Up the Matterhorn in a Boat; and Leon D. Hirsch wrote The Man Who Won, a political novel (1918). Other local works are John S. Merzbacher's Trenton's Foreign Colonies; J. Wallace Hoff's Two Hundred Miles on the Delaware River (a canoe cruise from its head-waters to Trenton) ; Frederick Lucas's Barnegat Yarns; Louis C. Gosson's Post‑Bellum Campaigns of 1881-82; Dr. Charles Skelton's Early History of the Public Schools of the City of Trenton (1876), Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul Sustained by Modern Scientific Discoveries (1877), and other treatises; Charles W. Jay's My Home in Michigan; standard school books by Professor John S. Hart and Levi Seeley of the State Model Schools; General James F. Rusling's Across the Continent; and Mrs. Fisher-Andrews' Around the World by Auto.
Charles Burr Todd, originally a New England journalist, spent the last dozen years of his life in and about Trenton, and contributed many carefully prepared local historical sketches to the newspapers. A Washington's Crossing Sketch Book is a brief, readable work, descriptive and historical. He also wrote Story of the City of New York, Story of Washington, True Aaron Burr, In Old Massachusetts, and many other titles.
Joseph H. West deserves mention for the painstaking historical sketches which he produced, all remarkable for their accuracy and original research. They unfortunately have never been assembled in book form. He merits special credit for establishing Washington's route to Princeton from Trenton January 2, 1777, a change of roads having obscured public knowledge on the subject. In Stryker's The Battles of Trenton and Princeton (page 279) Mr. West's map is printed with due credit.
Moses D. Naar wrote Election and Suffrage, a book recognized by the legal profession of his day as authoritative.
The Rev. Alfred Wesley Wishart, then pastor of the Central Baptist Church, wrote a Short History of Monks and Monasteries (1900).
The Rev. Dr. John Hall, author of The Presbyterian Church, Trenton, N.J. (see above), also wrote Memoirs of Matthew Clarkson of Philadelphia, 1735-1880, who was the author's great-grandfather.
Dr. James B. Coleman, Trenton's leading surgeon years ago, was a scholarly writer whose contributions to professional and general periodicals possessed literary value.
Hugh Williamson Kelly, a former Trenton journalist and now a manufacturer at Woodbridge, N.J., has written much humorous verse upon contemporary politics and society, which finds a place in the Trenton Times newspapers.
Other volumes that have conferred distinction on Trenton writers have been Pastoral Letters by the Right Rev. James A. McFaul, Bishop of Trenton, and Sermons, Doctrinal and Moral (1915), by the Right Rev. Monsignor Thaddeus Hogan.
Sarah Byrd Askew, of the New Jersey Public Library Commission, has written The Man, the Place and the Book, and John J. Cleary, besides other historical monographs, has written "Catholic Pioneers of Trenton, N.J." in Historical Record and Studies.
Marvin A. Riley, Sr., has written magazine articles for Recreation, verses for Ainslee's and other magazines, and the play "Searchlight" in collaboration with Walter Fox Allen. Five musical books for the Trenton Y.M.H.A. and vaudeville, sketches are also among his literary products.
B. B. McAvoy has written a number of classic plays in. metered verse.
Thomas B. Usher is the author of various books on the departments of municipal government and on taxation. He was for fourteen years secretary of the State board of taxes and assessment.
The late Thomas F. Fitzgerald edited for forty years that admirable compendium of statistical and general information, the New Jersey Legislative Manual, besides during the same period publishing annually the Trenton City Directory. John P. Dullard has continued the Legislative Manual with Mrs. Fitzgerald as proprietor.
The first city directory was published in 1854 by Jesse M. Clark, Randolph H. Moore and John O. Raum. It contained the names and locations of all streets and alleys, numbering eighty-seven, a short history of Trenton, the original Act of incorporation, and a description of the Delaware Bridge, the Assunpink Creek, and the Battle of Trenton. The boundaries of the city were given, the boundaries of the several wards, the State, County, and city officers, churches and hotels, as well as a general directory of the names, residences, and occupations of the inhabitants. It contained one hundred and thirty-six pages.
The second directory published in 1857 by William H. Boyd contained two hundred and seventy-eight pages, a business directory, a history of Trenton, and State, County and city matters.
The third directory, published in 1859 by William H. Boyd, contained two hundred and fifty-five pages and a business directory of Burlington and Mercer Counties.
The fourth directory was published in 1865 by J. H. Lant (Albany, N.Y.) - 180 pages; in 1867 Webb and Fitzgerald of New York were the publishers, William T. Nicholson, local stationer, being their agent; in 1868 Lant figures again on the title page, and in 1869 William F. Crosley; in 1870 Webb Brothers were the publishers, continuing with an issue for 1871; Lant issued the directory for 1872; the Boyds resumed publication in 1873 and continued to and including 1876; Mains and Fitzgerald, both of Trenton, took up the work in 1877 andThomas F. Fitzgerald became sole proprietor in 1880, from that time forward.
In some of the early directories colored residents were listed separately, and in at least one edition houses of ill fame were indicated.
AN HISTORICAL NARRATIVE IN VERSE
The following narrative verses dealing with the most glorious episode in Trenton's history and inspired by a notable occasion are printed below, thus giving them the recognition which they are entitled to in the literary annals of the city.
"THE BATTLE OF TRENTON"
BY HAMILTON SCHUYLER
Recited by the author at the dinner given by the Trenton Historical Society in commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Battles of Trenton, December 29, 1926, and subsequently published in book form with illustrations by George A. Bradshaw.
Listen, my masters! if indeed ye deign
To hear in verse the story once again
Of how the troops of Washington's command
From Pennsylvania crossed to Jersey land
Upon a wild and bitter Christmas night,
And marched to Trenton ere the morning's light,
And took the Hessians with complete surprise,
A victory winning, glorious in the eyes
Of all who know the worth of that event;
How to the failing patriot cause it lent
A hope renewed, and gained us fresh support,
As was admitted at the British Court.
"All our hopes were blasted by that sad affair
Which occurred at Trenton"‑so they did declare.
The Crossing of the Delaware
The night is chill and dismal
With mingled snow and hail,
The bodies of the ragged troops
Are shivering in the gale,
The very ground is reddened
With the blood from shoeless feet,
But hearts are stout and steady
And high with courage beat.
The ice-floe on the Delaware
Is drifting fierce and strong,
As company by company
The river-banks they throng.
All silently they load the boats,
Nor dare to show a light,
Lest Hessian scouts take warning
And thus forestall a fight.
The Midnight March to Trenton
Assembled on the further bank
They march through drifting snow,
All safely led by trusty guides
Who well the country know.
Dividing then in columns twain,
Where forked ways are seen,
By "River Road" goes Sullivan,
By "Pennington" goes Greene.
And Washington, himself the chief,
Elects with Greene to ride,
Together with his gallant aides
Attending by his side;
Sterling, Mercer, Hamilton;
They are a valiant band,
And Forrest, Fermoy, Stephen;
None braver in the land.
The Philadelphia Light Horse comes
To join the dangerous quest;
And sturdy Knox, whose bulky form
Now serves to point a jest.
With Sullivan rides Glover,
And St. Clair, Hugg and Neil,
With Sargeant too, and Moulder;
All hearts of tempered steel.
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The way
Is perilous and drear.
Patience is the watchword
And Hope the soldier's cheer.
The icy winds are chilling
The body, limb and brain;
Not long can human nature
Endure the awful strain.
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The roads
Are iron-hard with frost.
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The victory
Must he won at any cost.
The Attack on the Town of Dawn
But lo! the day is breaking,
Behold, the town is near,
The Hessian outposts challenge;
They fire and disappear.
So, the alarm is sounded,
And now upon the run
The Continentals enter,
The battle has begun.
Hemmed in between two forces
The Hessians waver, break;
Confused and in disorder
Know not which way to take.
.Some seek to make surrender,
While others strive to find
A refuge from the galling fire,
Before, between, behind.
The riflemen with steady aim
From sheltering fence and wall
Pour murderous fire upon the foe
And threaten one and all.
Artillery upon the heights,
Where Federals hold the hill
Above the town, take dreadful toll
And rake the streets at will.
Hasten, ye Hessians! All is lost!
Capture or death your fate!
If ye would save your wretched lives,
Surrender! ere too late.
Christmas Night of Trenton
With Christmas toasts and greetings duly drunk
The village folk are deep in slumber sunk,
Dreaming, it may be, of the coming day
When British rule shall cease its hated sway.
Along the silent streets no footfall sounds,
Save that of sentry passing oil his rounds.
Four! five! and six! o'clock. "All's well!"
The watchman's voice drones out his hourly spell.
Though dawn approaches and the darkness wanes,
A dim light flickers still through barrack panes.
Some Hessian yagers, lingering yet, prolong
The festive hour with drinking .bout and song.
One rises up alert, with listening ear;
"Harken!" he cries, "What's that 'I seem to hear?"
"'Tis naught! 'Tis naught I Sit down and have a mug
Of this good ale; so tight we are and snug
On such a night. Let's take our well-earned ease,
While sentries go their rounds and numbly freeze,
And we, my mates, enjoy the warmth within
And by this cheery fireside toast our shin.
Come, Kamarad, calm thyself! Dost thou not think
The time has come to have another drink?"
"Mein Gott!" Again-"But that's a musket shot!"
"Du bist verruckt! 'Tis but some drunken sot
Of ours, just now, who's let his matchlock fall.
'Tis that ye heard. Our trusty Colonel Rall
He knows what's up. This very night he feasts
At Abram Hunt's. No fear those Yankee beasts
Will venture out and show themselves tonight;
Not they, Nein! Nein! They only know to fight
And run away. They never will attack,
They haven't got the spunk, besides they lack,
Those swine, the skill and arms to match our men.
If the 'Old Fox' doesn't quit his den
We'll dig him out some fine day soon
And make him caper to a Hessian tune."
"Der Teufel! Donnerblitzen! What was that?"
And now the musket shots ring out. Pat! Pat!
The bullets go. The buglers sound alarms-
"Der Feind! Der Feind! Heraus! To arms! To arms!'
The Hessian Commander Colonel Rall
At Abram Hunt's the Christmas cheer is spread
And Rall is feasted till the night is sped.
He lingers o’er the playing-cards and toasts.
Good easy man! He sees and fears no ghosts
A Tory spy, with message at the door-
"The foe they cross this night to Jersey's shore!"
Unread the warning till, alas! too late,
And Rall unheeding rushes on his fate.
Late to his quarters, in a tumbled heap
He lies upon his bed in heavy steep;
But what is that assails his deadened ear?
A voice cries out- "The enemy is here
And now attacks us in the very town."
Rall rises up with muttered curse and frown
And hurriedly throws on his scattered clothes,
Not yet believing it can be his foes.
Mounting his horse, the "Hessian Lion" stands
At bay, and hoarsely issues his commands.
Too late! Too late! For with the morning sun
The day is lost - the victory is won.
The Death of Colonel Rall
Wounded to death, amid the din and shots
They bring his body back to Stacy Potts'.
Rall lies there speechless, gasps a while for breath;
A valiant man, but rash, he welcomes death,
And Washington, the chivalrous and bold,
Attends his beaten foe, will not withhold
His meed of sorrow for the grievous state
Of one who bravely meets a soldier's fate.
His tomb is here; we know its place today,
Although no stone is set to mark the clay. 27
His epitaph- "Here Colonel Rall lies dead;
All's over with him" - so a comrade said.
Ay! "All's over with him" and his hireling crew
Long years ago; King George, his soldiers too.
And Washington, with those who won the fight
At Trenton on that memorable night,
They too, have passed, but yet their memories stay
As we to them our grateful tributes pay.
There but remains the record of those years
Of blood and battles, terror, death and tears,
Of victory achieved, of freedom won,
Of all we are and all we since have done.
My story's finished; only this word more-
Keep ye the faith the Fathers kept of yore!
27 Tradition says that Colonel Rall was buried in the graveyard of the First Presbyterian Church, but the exact spot is unknown.
© 1929, TRENTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY