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The family visitor. [volume] : (Pruntytown, Va. [W. Va.]) 1858-1860
Place of publication:
Pruntytown, Va. [W. Va.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Pruntytown, Taylor, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
D.S. Morris
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1858; ceased in 1860.
  • English
  • Taylor County (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--Taylor County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01216035
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 3, no. 2 (Jan. 20, 1860).
sn 86092339
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The family visitor. [volume] January 20, 1860 , Image 1


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The family visitor

Established in 1858, the Pruntytown Family Visitor only managed a few years of publication before the outbreak of the Civil War. Nevertheless, the newspaper managed to reside at the heart of political controversies wracking western Virginia in the antebellum 1850s. The four-page weekly thus reflects the growing divide between western and eastern Virginia, the contested place of slavery within society, and the growing sectarian divide between North and South.

The Family Visitor was the product of its founder and editor Daniel S. Morris. Morris was an experienced newspaperman, having previously worked for two Fairmont newspapers: the Baptist Recorder and the Democratic Banner. He moved to Pruntytown in the 1850s and quickly re-emerged on the printing scene with the Family Visitor. As the nation agonized over the issue of slavery and the prospect of secession, Morris utilized the Visitor's pages to espouse a conditional Unionism. He firmly believed that abolitionism was the root cause of the nation's ills. Abolitionism spurred secessionism, and for Morris, these two movements threatened the Union. "Down with north abolitionism and southern disunionism," Morris opined, "and three times three cheers for our glorious Union." Given his hatred of abolitionism and love of Union, Morris used the Visitor to promote Conditional Unionist John Bell's doomed candidacy in the election of 1860 (although Bell actually carried Virginia, indicating Morris's view probably found a willing audience).

Daniel Morris's sharp political views were not the only ones gracing the Family Visitor's columns. Throughout 1860, the Visitor hosted a number of articles penned by Francis Pierpont. A well-known leader from western Virginia (and later instrumental in creating the state of West Virginia), Pierpont's columns in the Visitor scathed eastern Virginia for ignoring the needs of the western part of the state. He critiqued slavery and lambasted the Democratic Party as the tool of wealthy slave owners, and vocalized his support for Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party. Although their politics didn't align exactly, Morris nevertheless applauded Pierpont as "a whole-souled, true hearted son of western Virginia," and admiringly admitted that "we never knew a series of articles from the pen of any man so universally popular."

The last known publication of the Visitor dates from November 1860, and given the looming Civil War, it seems probable that the newspaper ceased publication around that time. Family lore holds that Daniel Morris embraced the Confederacy during the war and used his pen to espouse the Confederate cause, even suffering imprisonment in Wheeling until his old friend Francis Pierpont secured his release. Yet after the Civil War, Morris moved to Fetterman, West Virginia and apparently assisted with the publication of the Republican Union Vanguard.

Provided by: West Virginia University