A fondness for newspapers

By John Conway

HURLEYVILLE – Myron Gittell admits he has a fondness for newspapers. That’s one of the reasons the Board member of the Sullivan County Historical Society spearheaded the recent exhibit of old Sullivan County newspapers at the County Museum in Hurleyville.
“We’ve got thousands of newspapers in our archives,” Mr. Gittell said. “No one could ever imagine the extent of the collection. Even those who use the archives for research likely only see a fraction of what we have, so I thought we should show it [the collection] off.”
So Mr. Gittell spent a recent Saturday greeting dozens of visitors to the Museum and sharing with them various anecdotes about more than a century of newspapers, dozens of which were mounted under glass or on display boards in the Museum’s expansive exhibit area.
Mr. Gittell says that, while most people would be hard pressed to name more than a handful of them today, Sullivan County has been home to more than 30 different newspapers over the years. These include the Sullivan County Whig, the county’s first paper, which began publishing in Bloomingburg in 1821, before eventually moving to Monticello and morphing into the Republican Watchman, and the Evening News, which was for a short time during World War II the only daily newspaper ever published in the county.
As unlikely as it might seem today, Mr. Gittell points out, dozens of communities in the county once supported their own papers, including Wurtsboro, White Lake, Livingston Manor, Narrowsburg and Hurleyville. And a few communities have had more than one paper at the same time.
For example, Monticello, the county’s largest community almost from the beginning, has been home to the Chronicle, the Herald, the Republican, the Republican Watchman, the Bulletin, and the Evening News. The Independent, the Register, the Gazette, and others have been published in Liberty. Douglas, the only city in Sullivan County’s history, once had the Journal and the Gazette. Jeffersonville was home to the Record, as well as the Volksblatt, a German language paper. The hamlet of Callicoon was also at one time home to two newspapers, the Callicoon Echo and the Sullivan County Democrat.
One by one these newspapers fell by the wayside, and while as late as the 1960s, there were still nearly a dozen papers in Sullivan County, nearly all of them were gone by the end of the Century. Now, thanks to the Historical Society’s recent display, at least they are not forgotten.