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Augusta Democrat. [volume] : (Staunton, Va.) 1845-1848
Alternative Titles:
  • Democrat
Place of publication:
Staunton, Va.
Geographic coverage:
  • Staunton, Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City State
Henry T. Wartman
Dates of publication:
  • Began with Jan. 1, 1845 issue; ceased in Dec. 1848.
  • English
  • Staunton (Va.)--Newspapers.
  • Virginia--Staunton.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204696
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 5 (Jan. 21, 1845).
  • Published on Monday.
  • Publisher varies: Vincent E. Geiger & Co., June 17, 1845-July 13, 1846 ; R.W. Stevenson, July 20, 1846-Dec. 25, 1848.
sn 86071886
Succeeding Titles:
View complete holdings information

Augusta Democrat, Republican Vindicator, Staunton Vindicator, Staunton Vindicator and General Advertiser, and Staunton Vindicator

Residents of Staunton and Augusta County started 1845 with a new choice of weekly newspapers. The Augusta Democrat was perhaps a welcome relief to readers who didn't appreciate the Whig perspectives of the existing Staunton Spectator. Through 51 years, four names, and a rotating cast of editors, the paper maintained its commitment to Democrat party perspectives as well as to the economic well-being of Staunton and the counties of central western Virginia.

Henry Wartmann, the paper’s founder, sold it to Vincent Geiger in June 1845. Geiger assured readers the Democrat favored a state constitutional convention to extend suffrage and opposed the establishment of a national bank. For seven years, the paper was edited at times by Geiger and at other times by F. J. Alfred, both of whom also sometimes held joint or sole proprietorship. When the paper became the Republican Vindicator in January 1849, Geiger explained the change as a way to keep accounts straight under yet another new joint proprietorship. The paper kept its motto of "Truth fears nothing but concealment," but by January 1854, when the paper was being run by an entirely new team, it was "A Democratic Journal—Devoted to Politics, Literature, Agriculture, and the Diffusion of General Intelligence, the Markets, &c.;"

This mouthful has the mark of Samuel McPherson Yost, an Augusta County native born in 1829 who had been trying to start his own paper since at least February 1849, when he advertised a prospectus for "The Valley Post." Six months later, he and J. F. Kurtz advertised a prospectus for The Virginia Messenger, devoted to "Literature, Science, Arts, Morals, Agriculture and General Intelligence." This met with more success, as Kurtz began publication in late 1849. Yost apparently wanted his own gig, however, and bought the Clarksburg West Virginia paper Harrison Republican in 1850. This venture was short-lived, as the Spectator noted three months later that the paper closed due to heavy losses.

Yost was soon hired as assistant editor of the Messenger. He also bought a confectionery, located beneath the Vindicator’s offices and during this time became affiliated with the Vindicator. Richmond’s The Daily Dispatch noted on October 18, 1853, that Yost, by then an editor at the Vindicator, and Gilmer, editor of the Messenger, "had a pugilistic encounter in the streets of Staunton." The dispute may have been personal, but it is possible that Yost’s political views had intensified from his earlier commitment to neutrality. A January 6, 1855 editorial mocked the emergence of a third weekly Whig paper in Augusta County: "This is virtually acknowledging the impotency of one, or even two, whig papers to stay the onward march of the Democratic party in this county."

In July 1856 Absolom Koiner bought Yost’s share of the paper, changed the motto to "The Union, based upon the Constitution," and sold the paper later that year to F.J. Alfred and Thomas J. Michie. Between January 1858 and January 1860, the paper became the Staunton Vindicator, the Staunton Vindicator and General Advertiser, and finally settled on the Staunton Vindicator.

Yost, meanwhile, had gone off to edit a paper in Missouri and be an Indian Agent in New Mexico, but was soon back in town and reintroduced as the Vindicator’s editor and publisher on March 30, 1860. Shortly after the outbreak of the war, Yost was called away from the paper, eventually becoming a major in the Confederate army. After the war, he bought the Rockingham Register, moved to Missouri and wrote for the St. Louis Evening Post, returned and bought The Valley Virginian, had a political change of heart in 1872 and became a Republican, and, perhaps fulfilling a life-long dream, founded Yost's Weekly in 1892.

Yost had sold the Staunton Vindicator in February 1863 to William H. H. Lynn, who promised not to resuscitate "old party issues" at the risk of disturbing Southern unity. When Union troops entered Staunton on June 6, 1864, they destroyed the press and type of the Spectator, and attempted to do the same at the Vindicator, but Lynn had hidden his type. Though the soldiers banged up the press, a quick repair enabled the staff to continue publication of the paper.

In 1872, Harry C. Tinsley joined Lynn, who sold his share in 1876 to Thomas C. Morton. By 1885, Morton's son Arthur had taken over the paper, which remained staunchly partisan, and aligned with the Democratic platform. The Staunton Spectator under R. S. Turk bought out the Vindicator in 1896, becoming the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator.

Provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA