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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Utica Observer-Dispatch

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 261-262 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The Utica Observer made its first appearance on January 27, 1817. It was at that time a small weekly paper. The first editor was Eliasaph Dorchester. He was followed in a few years by Augustine G. Dauby, who soon took in as a partner Eli Maynard. The paper was continued under their ownership until about 1849. Other editors who succeeded were John P. Bush, John F. Kittle and Arthur M. Beardsley. On several occasions a daily issue had been tried with varying success. About 1833 the Observer is described as a daily paper with four pages, the total size being eighteen and one-half by twenty-four inches. Many shifts were made in those days, and several papers which had been started in Utica and different parts of the county were merged or absorbed by The Observer. The paper passed through the hands of several publishers, and in 1852 it was purchased by DeWitt C. Grove, with John B. Miller as editor. In 1867 E. Prentiss Bailey became associated with Mr. Grove and the publishing firm became Grove & Bailey. Mr. Grove retired in 1883, when the company was reorganized as E. P. Bailey & Company, with Thomas F. Clarke as business manager. Mr. Bailey continued editor of The Observer until his death in 1913. He was succeeded by his son, Lansing C. Bailey, for a few weeks, and upon his death William W. Canfield, who had been city editor of the paper for nearly twenty-five years, took the editorial management. Prentiss Bailey, the youngest son of E. Prentiss Bailey, took part in the management with Mr. Clarke, and a number of notable improvements were made in the paper. A new site was secured in Catherine street and a new and more suitable publishing house was constructed. Increasing success came to the paper and several attempts were made by other publishers to purchase it. Finally, in May, 1922, The Observer and The Herald-Dispatch were purchased by Rochester and Elmira newspaper men and were consolidated under the name of The Observer-Dispatch. Thomas F. Clarke retired from the organization. Prentiss Bailey and other members of the Bailey family retained their interests, as did also William W. Canfield. Mr. Bailey was made the manager of the consolidated paper, Mr. Canfield remained as editorial writer, and William E. Weed, who had been editor and manager of The Herald-Dispatch, became the managing editor of The Observer-Dispatch. The paper was greatly enlarged and improved and quickly attained a leading place among the papers in central New York. Mr. Weed's death occurred in May, 1924. M. V. Atwood, of the Cornell Agricultural College, Ithaca, became managing editor in July following.

The president of the company is Frank E. Gannett of Rochester, with Prentiss Bailey of Utica as vice president and Roy C. Kates of Rochester as secretary and treasurer. The company issues papers in Rochester, Utica, Elmira and Ithaca known as the Empire State Group. Mr. Gannett is the editor-in-chief of all the papers in the group.

The Utica Herald-Dispatch was a consolidation of the Evening Dispatch, which was established in 1898, and the Utica Morning Herald, which had long been a leading paper in central New York but which failed in 1890. The Herald-Dispatch was published by a company formed entirely of Utica business men. Its editor was William E. Weed, who had been for a number of years connected with the local staff of the Morning Herald. Upon the consolidation of the Herald-Dispatch with The Observer, all of the owners of the Herald-Dispatch sold their interests and did not become stockholders in the new consolidation. The Sunday Tribune, which also was owned by the Herald-Dispatch Company, became the Sunday Observer-Dispatch.

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