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The Somerset reporter. [volume] : (Skowhegan, Me.) 1868-1909
Place of publication:
Skowhegan, Me.
Geographic coverage:
  • Skowhegan, Somerset, Maine  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Smith & Emery
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 27, no. 45 (Apr. 10, 1868)-v. 70, no. 35 (Sept. 2, 1909).
  • English
  • Maine--Skowhegan.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01217220
  • Skowhegan (Me.)--Newspapers.
  • "Independent Republican," <1876>.
  • Editors: W.K. Moody, 1871-1875; J.O. Smith, 1878-1880.
  • Merged with: Somerset independent, and: Union advocate (North Anson, Me.), to form: Independent-reporter (Skowhegan, Me.).
  • Publishers: Smith & Emery, 1868-1870; Smith & Brown, 1870-1871; Moody & Emery, 1871-1872; W.K. Moody, 1872-1875; Kilby & Woodbury, 1875-1878; C.A. Woodbury, 1878; J.O. Smith, 1878; Smith & Mayo, 1878-1880.
sn 84022565
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Succeeding Titles:
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The Somerset reporter. [volume] January 7, 1885 , Image 1


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Somerset Reporter and Independent-Reporter

The Somerset Reporter was a significant newspaper published in northwest Maine's rural Somerset County. Existing between 1868 and 1987 but going by the title Independent-Reporter between 1909 and 1955, the weekly was the hometown newspaper for communities from Mercer to Palmyra, Fairfield to Jackman, and based in Skowhegan, the county seat, known for shoe and paper mills along the Kennebec River.

Newspapers had been published in Somerset County beginning in 1823. The Reporter began in 1868 when Moses Littlefield sold the Republican Clarion to Colby College graduate and Civil War veteran Zembro Augustus Smith. The Clarion reprinted state and national news, but Smith changed the name and focused the Reporter on county and local news. Smith moved from the Water Street office to the old town hall, where the Reporter remained for 40 years, even through a fire in 1881.

The owners of the paper in 1870s were W.K. Moody, 1872-1875; C.H. Kilby and C.A. Woodbury, 1875-1878; and Joseph O. Smith (brother of Zembro) and his brother-in-law E.H. Mayo from 1878 on. J.O. Smith left the paper to become Maine's Secretary of State between 1880 and 1885, but he returned, buying out Mayo in 1886 and remaining until his death in 1905.

Elmer E. McNeelie joined the Reporter as a printer's apprentice in 1877, working his way up to writer, manager, and eventually proprietor in 1905.

Although other papers published concurrently, the first real challenge to the Republican Reporter came in 1892 with the Democratic Somerset Argus. The Reporter responded by adding a Monday edition to its regular Thursday edition, and then by buying out the Argus in 1895 and closing it two years later. The Reporter went back to one issue per week and lengthened each issue from four to eight pages.

Another challenge came from the short-lived Somerset Independent, owned and published by future U.S. Representative Clyde H. Smith. The offices and printing plant of the Independent were in adjacent buildings on Madison Street and Russell Street in Skowhegan. The Independent and the Reporter merged in 1909, absorbing another weekly, the Union Advocate, in the process. Publication of the Independent-Reporter began with vol. 1, no.1, September 9, 1909. C.H. Smith became president of the new Independent-Reporter Co.; McNeelie managed the business for another four years.

Roland T. Patten, who had started with the Reporter as a writer in 1903, was the controlling interest in the Independent-Reporter from 1913 until 1928. Patten left to edit a paper in Presque Isle, Maine, and then became secretary to C.H. Smith's wife, U.S. Representative and Senator Margaret Chase Smith.

George Lane, James O'Kane, and James O'Brien bought the 16-page paper from Patten and hired Seth Rounds as editor and Francis Croteau as business manager. After eleven years, they sold to Lionel Foster, Harold Roff, and Harry Chase, all of Skowhegan. John Fysche was hired as editor.

The Independent-Reporter reverted its name to the Somerset Reporter in 1955 and moved its offices to Water Street in 1966. The Bangor Publishing Co., owner of the Bangor Daily News, bought the Reporter in 1967. They sold it to Joseph Myerson, owner and publisher at the new Somerset Reporter Co. in 1976. The Reporter ceased publication in 1987.

Provided by: Maine State Library