***NOTE*** Through the generous contribution from the Firth family, photo images of the Sentinel from 1902-1908 will be posted. These will not be searchable.
The first copy of the “Spartansburgh” Sentinel was 2 pages and issued on February 28, 1885. The Editor was listed as RA Maxwell who published the paper from his home.
Shortly after, the paper was sold to Allen Tryon who moved the paper into a Main Street building later used as the post office. Tryon owned the paper for a short time working with A E Walling. John Wright was employed as a type-setter and after about a year, purchased the paper, and continued to work with Walling until about 1900.
Wright made many improvements and expanded the paper to serve other small communities. The Townville Breeze, Guys Mills Echo and Grand Valley Sentinel each were papers edited by John Wright. As his papers expanded, Wright determined that the use of a telephone would greatly assist in getting the news from these other towns. He embarked on a quest to have phone lines made available that eventually drew him away from the Spartansburg Sentinel. He was also appointed Postmaster at Spartansburg while he was Editor.
The paper was sold to HL Bowen who revived it in August, 1902
Through the continued attention of HL Bowen between the years of 1902 and 1924, the Spartansburg Sentinel attracted advertisers not only from Spartansburg, but also from Corry and the surrounding area. Reports of circulation numbers for the Sentinel ran about 700 and the combined numbers from the other communities and Spartansburg were reported in excess of 2800.
The paper usually shared some national or regional news on the front page, along with the reports from the other communities where the paper circulated. The local Spartansburg news, “Spartansburg Sparks” appeared on page 3 and sometimes continued on page 2 or 4. News was a bit different in those years. Some would consider the items as gossip, but it was really seen then as being interested in what was going on in neighbors lives. Reports of visits to relatives, trips to Corry, Titusville, Oil City and Erie made it into the columns. The many social clubs listed meetings and childrens’ parties were celebrated. If you put in a new sidewalk or painted your house or built a porch, you could read about it in the Sentinel.
Literary works such as printed-poems, short stories or lengthy series pieces were usually found on page 2. These stories were accompanied by supporting artwork to make the story come to life.
As Bowen indicated in the article when he revived the paper, it was a Republican paper. They reported on election results, but usually the candidates listed were on the Republican ticket.
In 1905, some editions of the paper expanded to 8 pages. At times, this was done to accommodate advertisements. Other 8 page versions included a “magazine” portion with additional literary offerings. The December 15, 1905 paper included a color Christmas wish for the readers.
The Sentinel Publishing Office had several homes on Main Street. In 1908, HL Bowen moved the office into what was known as the Tauber Block/Winans Block. The building was a very ornate 2 story building with a basement, and the Sentinel used the basement and 1st floor according to this article from the paper:
In 1912, HL Bowen was approved as Postmaster of Spartansburg. He continued to edit and publish the paper.
Throughout the years of publication, the Sentinel staff was not shy about taking on issues. Articles about the need for a water system, better sidewalks, street lamps, council decisions, roads and community pride were frequently prominent in the paper.
The Sentinel office also served to meet the printing needs of the community. Advertisements, letterhead, business cards, information sheets, wedding announcements and so on were printed in their offices.
In 1913, the Titusville Courier, a weekly paper, stopped publication and sold its existing subscriptions to the Sentinel. With the closing of the Courier, the Sentinel became the last weekly paper in Crawford County at the time.
In 1914, Bowen moved the paper again to the building that had originally been built as the New Era Temple. The paper remained in that building until October of 1924, when after 39 years, the end of the local news Spartansburg Sentinel came. Circulation had dropped and advertisers had found other ways to connect with customers. Bowen and his staff had made numerous appeals for advertisers prior to the closing, but response did not allow the paper to continue.