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Centre Democrat. [volume] : (Bellefonte, Pa.) 1848-1989
Place of publication:
Bellefonte, Pa.
Geographic coverage:
  • Bellefonte, Centre, Pennsylvania  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Wm. H. Blair
Dates of publication:
  • New ser., v. 14, no. 45 (Apr. 12, 1848)-v. 162, no. 25 (Sept. 6, 1989).
  • English
  • Bellefonte (Pa.)--Newspapers.
  • Centre County (Pa.)--Newspapers.
  • Millheim (Pa.)--Newspapers.
  • Pennsylvania--Bellefonte.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01220362
  • Pennsylvania--Centre County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01207265
  • Pennsylvania--Millheim.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01291359
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Editor: W.W. Brown, <1858>.
  • Issues for -Sept. 6, 1989 called also -whole no. 7489.
  • Publisher: W.W. Brown, <1858>, Kevin Southwick, May 10, 1989-Sept. 6, 1989.
  • Suspended 1862-1878; Aug. 22-Sept. 26, 1985; Feb. 25-May 9, 1989.
sn 84009409
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Centre Democrat. [volume] April 27, 1854 , Image 1


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Centre Democrat

Centre County, named for its location in the center of Pennsylvania, was created on February 13, 1800, out of Huntingdon, Lycoming, Mifflin, and Northumberland counties. The county seat, Bellefonte, was laid out in 1795, in proximity to a natural spring (even now producing 15 million gallons of water a day). According to local folklore, but unsubstantiated by the historical record, the town name was suggested by Talleyrand, a French diplomat, during a visit to the spring in 1793-94. Centre County had abundant iron ore, limestone, and timber needed for the manufacture of iron goods. Southeastern Pennsylvania ironmasters arrived, and a thriving iron industry was born. At one time, Bellefonte iron was shipped worldwide. Local wealth manifested itself in a streetscape of imposing stone and brick buildings.

Bellefonte was home to seven men who became state governors: five in Pennsylvania, one each in California and Kansas. Most famous of these was Andrew Gregg Curtin, governor of Pennsylvania in 1861-67, and a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln. Prominent Bellefonte men helped to found the Farmers High School, eventually The Pennsylvania State University, in 1855, donating money and land 13 miles away.  From 1860 to 1870, Bellefonte’s population increased from 1,477 to 2,655, making it by far the largest town in the county.  In addition to ironmaking, other industries, banking, and county government bolstered the economy.

The Centre Democrat was founded in Bellefonte in 1827 by pioneer ironmaster Gen. Philip Benner to support Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign. John Bigler, later California governor, was editor, assisted by his brother William, who later became governor of Pennsylvania. After several name changes, the title reverted back to the Centre Democrat in 1848. Samuel Townsend Shugert bought the paper in 1834. The Democrat was sold several times before coming to Mortimer P. Crosthwaite and William W. Brown in 1855, who purchased it to speak for the Know-Nothing Party. When the Civil War began, publisher and staff “to a man” enlisted in the Union Army, forcing the paper’s shutdown.  

Brown revived the paper after the war, but sold in 1879 to Shugert and Robert Henry Forster. Calling the Democrat “the largest, cheapest, and best paper published in Centre County,” the partners took their slogan from Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address, “Equal and Exact Justice to All Men, of Whatever State or Persuasion, Religious or Political.”  All aspects life in Bellefonte were reported, from personal news to business topics and politics. John R. Van Ormer and lawyer Ellis T. Orvis briefly allied with Shugert, but by 1884 Shugert was running the newspaper alone and stating frankly, “We need money.”  The Centre Democrat underwent suspensions and sales, but survived in some form until 1989.

Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA