EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part a series leading up to the Highland County Historical Society inducting five more into its Hall of Fame on May 27. This week, Moses Carothers is profiled. Carothers founded a newspaper in Hillsboro that is today The Times-Gazette, celebrating its 200th anniversary.
Two hundred years ago, Hillsboro was just 10 years old and went by the name Hillsborough.
Back in those days, every place in our nation was a whole lot younger. Highland County, founded May 1, 1805, was but a teenager, as was the great state of Ohio, which was founded March 1, 1803.
In 1818, a young man in his 20s, Moses Carothers, published the first newspaper in Highland County. Up until that time, the nearest newspaper was The Scioto Gazette, which was published in Chillicothe. A few folks in the area also subscribed to the Cincinnati Gazette, Liberty Hall and the Niles’ Register (the Register was published in Baltimore, Maryland), but the townspeople in Hillsborough began to clamor for a newspaper of their own.
Enter Moses Carothers, who was born in 1792 and would become known as the Pioneer of Hillsborough Journalism. According to history books, as early as 1815, a movement was made to have a newspaper published in Hillsborough; in fact, it was written that “its citizens began to agitate the project. However, nothing was done until early in the year 1818.”
In the autumn of 1817, Moses Carothers had come to town from Martinsburgh, Virginia. He had served an apprenticeship in the office of the Martinsburgh Gazette. The newspaper “was edited by the veteran John Alburtis, a disciple of Jefferson and the Virginia school of Democracy, and one of the most editors of the day.”
Young Carothers “had not only learned his trade well, but had embedded the political principles of his employer.” He was described as “an active, intelligent and energetic young man, of pleasing manner and sterling integrity of character.”
After arriving in Hillsborough, Moses Carothers consulted with the leading citizens of the town and decided to open a weekly publication and obtained a subscription list of more than 500 names, with the “patronage of other kinds promised.”
Now, it was time to procure the equipment to actually print a newspaper.
Captain Cary A. Trimble, who served in the War of 1812, was then a young and enterprising merchant of Hillsborough and one of Carothers’ warmest friends. Capt. Trimble went east in the spring of 1818, and Carothers made him an agent for the purchase of a press, type and other items and materials needed to start of a printing office. Trimble bought the items in Philadelphia and shipped them over the mountains with his stock of spring goods and they arrived in Hillsborough in late spring.
The press was called the Ramage, a lot like the one used by Ben Franklin when he printed his first paper, and was considered a very good press of that time period.
Carothers set up his office in a building on Short Street, which was owned by Gov. Allen Trimble, and the first publication of the Hillsborough Gazette and Highland Advertiser came off the press on the afternoon of June 18, 1818. According to legend, on that day, the windows and doors of the Gazette office were crowded by local bystanders anxious to see newspapers come off the press.
Many years later, it was written that, “This was an important and interesting event in the history of Hillsborough. It marked the first step of progress made by the citizens in the little village among the hills. … At this time, there were no newspapers in southern Ohio, except in Cincinnati and Chillicothe. The publication of this newspaper gave the town a reputation for intelligence and progress it never lost.”
Moses Carothers served as the newspaper’s founder, owner, editor, compositor and pressman – he probably even swept out the place. Carothers operated the newspaper for about a decade, and as the town grew, his publication prospered.
During his time in Highland County, Carothers was a Colonel of the 1stRegiment of Highland County Infantry, helped found Highland County Lodge No. 38 of Free and Accepted Masons in 1817, and later served as a Senator in the Ohio General Assembly from 1829-32.
Moses Carothers, the Pioneer of Highland County Journalism, passed away Dec. 18, 1843 around the age of 51 and is buried in the Walnut Creek Cemetery in New Martinsburg, located near Buckeye Hills Golf Course between Leesburg and Greenfield.
In addition to Carothers, on May 27, the Highland County Historical Society will induct Judge Richard Davis, along with the late Edwin Billingham Ayres, Helen B. Hoover and Wesley T. Roush into its Hall of Fame. In addition, the Lincoln Mothers will be recognized as a group during the ceremony, which will be held at the First Presbyterian Church on May 27 at 2 p.m., with a reception and social hour immediately following at the Highland House Museum. The Highland County Historical Society invites the public to attend and honor this outstanding group.
For more information on the Highland County Historical Society or the upcoming Hall of Fame ceremony, call 937-393-3392 or email the society at [email protected]
Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees.