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The true northerner. [volume] : (Paw Paw, Mich.) 1855-1920
Place of publication:
Paw Paw, Mich.
Geographic coverage:
  • Paw Paw, Van Buren, Michigan  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
John B. Butler
Dates of publication:
  • Ceased in 1920.
  • English
  • Michigan--Paw Paw.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01210936
  • Michigan--Van Buren County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01213240
  • Paw Paw (Mich.)--Newspapers.
  • Van Buren County (Mich.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 14 (July 28, 1855).
  • Editor: T.R. Harrison, <1861>.
  • Merged with: Free press and courier, to form: Courier-northerner.
  • Publishers: T.R. Harrison, <1861>; S.T. Conway, <1873>.
  • Republican, <1876>.
  • Whole number designation added: <Aug. 16, 1856>.
sn 85033781
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The true northerner. [volume] January 14, 1858 , Image 1


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The True Northerner

Paw Paw remains the seat of Van Buren County in southwestern Michigan, 16 miles west of Kalamazoo. The town lies on the east branch of the Paw Paw River, where it enters Maple Lake (created in 1907 to provide hydroelectric power for the community). Van Buren is one of Michigan's ten "Cabinet Counties," named after the members of President Andrew Jackson's cabinet in an attempt to secure his backing for Michigan's admission to statehood. The area around Paw Paw was first settled by John Agard, a man of mixed English-French descent, who had previously traded with Indians in the locality in the 1820s. Agard built a small cabin near the present site of Paw Paw in 1833, as well as a wharf and warehouse. His decision to invest here was based in large part on the proposed Territorial Road running from Detroit to St. Joseph. Paw Paw was first organized on that road as "La Fayette," and the first township meeting was held in Daniel O. Dodge's tavern in April 1838. Peter Gremps, later the community's first postmaster and storeowner, and Lyman I. Daniels surveyed and platted Paw Paw as the county seat in the spring of 1838.

The True Northerner was first issued in March 1855. A four-page weekly, the paper soon settled on Friday as its date of publication. It was established alongside the infant Republican Party in Van Buren County and held by George A. Fitch, owner of the Kalamazoo Telegraph. The True Northerner went through several owners and editors in its first years. Fitch initially sent John B. Butler to edit the paper, but by August 1855 Butler had retired. Fitch then sold the press and material to John Reynolds and E.A. Thompson, but undertook to continue publishing the True Northerner until March 1857, as Thompson was then serving as Michigan's Deputy Secretary of State. Ralph C. Nash was then employed as editor but retired in January 1856. In February that year, future State Senator Samuel H. Blackman became proprietor of the True Northerner alongside Silas F. Breed. By late 1857, with Breed as sole proprietor, an annual subscription cost $1. In late January 1858, T.R. Harrison bought the paper, remaining owner until 1866, although in the later part of that period he leased control to Charles P. Sweet. That same year, Harrison sold the True Northerner to Thomas O. Ward, who in turn sold it to S. Talmadge Conway in 1870. By then, the paper had adopted an eight-page format and was including more international news. By 1880, the True Northerner enjoyed a circulation of around 2,000 and was "rank[ed] among the leading Republican papers of Western Michigan." Managed by M.O. Rowland, it claimed the largest circulation of any newspaper in Van Buren County. In 1920, the True Northerner merged with the Paw Paw Free Press and Courier to form the Courier-Northern.

Provided by: Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library