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The Hartford Republican, established by Colonel Cicero M. Barnett in 1888, played an important part in the early political development in Ohio County, Kentucky. Since 1875, the county seat of Hartford, where the paper was printed, had been dominated by the Democratic Party and its newspaper, the Hartford Herald. The Hartford Republican was born in response.
From the beginning, the Hartford Republican enjoyed commercial success and celebrated several victories against the Hartford Herald, one of which came in 1894 when Ohio County elected a full Republican ticket. The paper kept the political scene in Hartford alive by providing a forum for debate among citizens and politicians, as well as by maintaining the long-standing quarrel with its rival, the Herald. The Republican's success was evident as the paper grew in size each year and, by 1899, boasted a circulation of 2,000.
Politics played an important role in the life of the Hartford Republican. Many of its editors served in public office and some were full-time politicians. Colonel Barnett, the paper's founder, was appointed by both Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt to the position of Collector of Customs for the Port of Louisville, in addition to serving as the chairman of Kentucky's Republican State Central Committee. Claude E. Smith, who served as editor at the turn of the century, also held positions as county attorney and later was elected attorney for the Commonwealth. Wilburn S. Tinsley, the last editor of the Republican, served as a representative in the state legislature and clerk of the Ohio County Court.
In addition to covering politics, the Hartford Republican presented content relevant to the daily lives of Hartford's citizens. This included local and international events and affairs, personal notes, agricultural reports, and even advice columns. One article directed at homemakers appeared on the front page of the newspaper: "What it Takes To Make a Typical Christian House."
During the 40 years of its existence the Hartford Republican had more than 10 editors, some for only a few months and others for over a decade. Barnett stayed with the paper until his retirement in 1892, when J.B. Rogers, who had worked alongside Barnett, assumed full editorial duties. In 1906, Barnett returned to the paper, working first with Claude E. Smith and then various other editors until his death in 1915. In 1926 after nearly 40 years, the Republican merged with its old nemesis, the Hartford Herald, to become the Ohio County News.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY