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Martinsburg statesman-democrat. [volume] : (Martinsburg, W. Va.) 1906-1921
Alternative Titles:
  • Statesman-democrat
Place of publication:
Martinsburg, W. Va.
Geographic coverage:
  • Martinsburg, Berkeley, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
C.W. Boyer
Dates of publication:
  • Ceased in the early 1920's.
  • Vol. 39, no. 51 (Sept. 21, 1906)-
  • English
  • Martinsburg (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--Martinsburg.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224867
  • The title is not listed in the W. Va. Legislative Handbook after 1921.
sn 85059542
Preceding Titles:
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Martinsburg statesman-democrat. [volume] September 21, 1906 , Image 1


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Martinsburg Statesman and Martinsburg Statesman-Democrat

Under different titles and various publishers, the Martinsburg Statesman and Martinsburg Statesman-Democrat provided Democratic-leaning residents of Martinsburg, West Virginia in Berkeley County with weekly local, national, and international news in coverage bent through the prism of a post-Civil War Democratic perspective. In the aftermath of the Civil War Confederate veteran David Smith Eichelberger and his family moved to Martinsburg, West Virginia in the state's northeastern panhandle, and in 1869, Eichelberger and his son Robert founded the Valley Star newspaper before changing its name to the Martinsburg Statesman. In 1883 Robert sold the paper to another Confederate veteran W.B. Colston under whose name the paper ran until 1889 when Colston sold it to Westhaver and Boyer Proprietors. C.W. Boyer took over as editor of the self-proclaimed "only Democratic and Conservative Paper in Berkeley County" (January 20, 1874).

In September 1906, Westhaver and Boyer changed the paper's title to the Martinsburg Statesman-Democrat, a change in name only as it did not alter the paper's contents or political perspective. Finally, in May 1912, Westhaver and Boyer made the last known sale of the paper to a new publishing conglomerate called the World Publishing Company. This transition put the Martinsburg Statesman-Democrat under the editorial review of W.E. Hoffeins, former editor of the Evening World and primary editor for the new World Publishing Company. The World Publishing Company promised that the Statesman-Democrat would "continue as the Democratic organ" of the county, affirming that even though the paper fell under new management, its readership could rely on the same political coverage (May 3, 1912). While the Statesman-Democrat ran until 1921, the archived record of the paper only extends to December 26, 1913.

From its earliest days, the Martinsburg Statesman provided a platform for the publication of niche local news events, like the travel and social lives of local elites, alongside pointed political commentary. For example, an issue from January 1, 1905, berates local youth for New Year's Eve celebrations alongside a discussion of the evil of tariffs and the abundant possibilities of "absolute free trade" based on the Democratic party's economic platform (January 1, 1905). The coverage of these local and national news events provides researchers a window into the ways in which Democratic political and social culture emerged and was articulated at the turn of the century.

Under its new title and, in 1912, its new publisher, the Martinsburg Statesman-Democrat maintained its political tradition with outgoing editor C.W. Boyer boasting that the paper had "never been neutral" and had "caught the spirit of progressiveness" as it emerged in the early years of the twentieth century (April 26, 1912). The paper's new publishers dedicated abundant space to the critique of President Teddy Roosevelt, especially as the end of his second term loomed and he sought "an honest man to lead the Republican party," a task the paper suggested was analogous to the work of "Diogenes with his lantern" (September 21, 1906). As in its earlier days, the Statesman-Democrat printed pointed commentary on national politics alongside local news about prayer meetings, deacon elections, and arrest and sentencing records.

Beyond news coverage, the shifting nature of the Statesman and Statesman-Democrat's advertisements might be of particular note for researchers. The newspaper spans a crucial period of industrialization from the years immediately following the Civil War to consumption patterns on the brink of the World War I. The paper's shift from advertising dry goods and rye whiskey, to listing the sale of washing machines and leisure excursions to Niagara Falls offers a window into consumer history among the paper's readership in northeastern West Virginia.

Provided by: West Virginia University