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The history and fortunes of Mathews County on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay have traditionally revolved around its waters and their tributaries. A shipbuilding center during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Mathews served as an official port of entry from 1802 to 1844 and became an important stop on the maritime highway in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Mathews Journal was established as a weekly newspaper in 1903 when steamboat activity and fishing were becoming prominent. This small county of 87 square miles with a population in 1900 of slightly more than 8,000 had forged close commercial and cultural ties with Baltimore at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. From its inception, the Journal covered topics of greater variety and wider interests than its size would suggest. As expected, local and regional concerns predominated, with reports on commercial, agricultural, legal, and political affairs. However, through the 34 years of its independent existence, the Journal also covered state, national, and even international issues, with a strong Democratic editorial slant. Complementing the more serious elements of the news were reports on fashion, fiction, poetry, recipes, and church and social announcements, along with classified and commercial advertising--and the ever present steamer schedules.

With the exception of the short-lived Mathews News Reporter (1912–14), the Mathews Journal remained the county’s principal print resource for news until 1937. By that time the financial circumstances of the Great Depression dictated a merger with the Gloucester Gazette in the neighboring county. The Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal was launched on November 11, 1937, and remains the predominant weekly in the area.

Provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA