Development of Newspapers in Suffolk County

Footnotes to Long Island History

Development of Newspapers in Suffolk County



Thomas R. Bayles


       The first newspaper in the United States was the “Boston News Letter,” according to Ross’ History of Long Island, and was established in 1704.  The first advertisement of Long Island real estate to appear in print was in the issue of May 8, 1704, which read as follows: 

“At Oyster Bay on Long Island, in the Province of New York.  There is a very good Fulling Mill to be let or sold, as also a Plantation having in it a large new Brick house, and another good house by it for a kitchen, & work house, with a Barn, Stable & c. a young Orchard and 20 Acres clear land.  The Mill is to Let with or without the Plantation.  Enquire of Mr. William Bradford, Printer, in New York and know further.”

The first paper published on Long Island was the “Long Island Herald,” which was started in Sag Harbor in May, 1791, by David Frothingham, who came over from Charlestown, Mass., and established a printing office and book store near the “Landing,” at the foot of Main street, Sag Harbor.  As cash was scarce in those early days he took pay also in hog’s bristles, goose quills, old sailcloths, sheepskins and various other articles.  The paper continued under the management of Frothingham until June 2, 1802, when he sold it to Selleck Osborn, who changed the name to the “Suffolk County Herald.”  Osborn did not do very well with the paper and it was sold in February, 1804, to Alden Spooner.  He renamed the paper the “Suffolk Gazette,” and continued it under very discouraging conditions until February 23, 1811, when it was abandoned.

Mr. Spooner then went to Brooklyn and purchased the “Long Island Star,” and his later life was an important part of the history of that city.  In 1824 he printed the first edition of Silas Wood’s “History of Long Island,” and in 1826 the second edition, and again in 1828 the third edition of Wood’s history.

There was no newspaper printed in Suffolk county during the period that included the War of 1812, and it was not until the 19th of October, 1816, that Samuel A. Seabury of Sag Harbor came into the field with the “Suffolk County Recorder.”  He was born in Sag Harbor and had learned the trade from Alden Spooner.  The “Recorder” was discontinued in October, 1817, and the “American Eagle and Suffolk County General Advertiser” was started the same month.  This was a larger and better paper than any of the others had been and continued under the same name. 

The next paper in Sag Harbor was the “Corrector,” which was first published August 3, 1822, by Henry W. Hunt.

The next newspaper was the “Republican Watchman,” edited by Samuel Phillips, and the first number was issued September 16, 1826.  In 1844 it was moved to Greenport, and in 1858 was sold to Henry A. Reeves.

The next paper in Sag Harbor was the “Sag Harbor Express,” established by John Hunt, July 14, 1859.

The first newspaper in the county printed outside of Sag Harbor was the “American Eagle,” which was moved from Sag Harbor to Huntington by Samuel Seabury in 1821.  In May, 1825, the name was changed to the “Long Island Journal of Philosophy and Cabinet of Variety.”  This fancy sounding name was changed to the “Portico” in 1827 and was discontinued in 1829.

the “Long Islander” was started in Huntington in 1838 by Walt Whitman, who in later years became famous as a poet.

The “Suffolk Democrat” was established in Huntington in 1847 by Edward Strayhan, and in 1859 was purchased by John R. Reid and moved to Babylon.  Under the management of Mr. Reid the paper gained a large circulation and was the leading Democratic paper.  In 1865 it was again moved to Huntington and published under the name of the “Suffolk Bulletin” by Charles R. Street and several others.

The “Suffolk Times” was started in Greenport in 1856 by John J. Riddell.

the “Suffolk Gazette” was established in riverhead by John Hancock in August, 1849, and suspended about 1855.

The “Suffolk Union” was started by Washington Van Zandt in 1859 and publication ceased after the office was destroyed by fire in 1862-3.

In 1863 Buel Davis started the “Suffolk County Monitor” but it only lasted a year.

The “Riverhead Weekly News” was started by James B. Slade, March 3, 1868, and in 1875 it was sold to William R. Duvall.

The first paper in Patchogue was the “Suffolk Herald,” started about 1862 by Washington Van Zandt, but it was only continued for a few years.

In the summer of 1870 the “Long Island Star” was moved to Patchogue from Port Jefferson but after a few issues was discontinued.  When the office materials were sold they were purchased by Timothy J. Dyson, who started the “Patchogue Advance” the 1st of September, 1871.  In September 1876 it was purchased by Thomas S. Heatley, who was editor for several years.

The “Independent Press” was started at Setauket by Harvey Markham in 1865.  It was a small four page paper, but within a year was greatly enlarged, and in the spring of 1868 was moved to Port Jefferson.  It was suspended in August 1874.

The “Long Island Star” was stared in Setauket in 1866.  In 1869 it was moved to Port Jefferson, and in the following year moved to Patchogue, where it soon ceased publication.

The “Bay Shore Journal” was established July 4, 1873.

The “Suffolk County News” was founded in July, 1884, by Walter R Burling.  

The “Long Island Traveler” was first established at Cutchogue September 1, 1871, by L. F. Terry.  It was soon afterward moved to Southold.  In 1889 it was purchased by Joseph N. Hallock.  As an inducement to new subscribers Mr. Hallock bought up all the unsold copies of Richard M. Bayles’ “Sketches of Suffolk County” and offered them as premiums, which secured a number of subscribers and also circulated a valuable book.  (This book is hard to get now and readily sells for $10).

The “Port Jefferson Times” was established by Walter R. Burling December 14, 1878.  In October, 1879, it was purchased by T. B. Hawkins and L. B. Homan, the latter having been editor from the start.

The “Port Jefferson Echo” was founded by Charles A. Squires on August 6, 1892.

The “Moriches Messenger” was started in April, 1890.

The “Northport Journal” was established in 1885 by Daniel A. Arthur.

The “Islip Herald” was stared in 1900 by Walter R. Burling.

The “Babylon Budget” was founded by John R. Reid in 1876, and in 1889 was sold to Henry R. Livingstone and merged in the “South Side Signal,” which had been started July 7, 1869 by Mr. Livingstone.  This was independent in politics and had no editorials. 

The “Sea Side Times” was founded in 1881, when Southampton was growing rapidly.

The “Southampton Press” was established by George H. Burling, (a son of Walter R. Burling) in 1897.

The “Bridgehampton News” was founded by Frank W. Burling, (another son of Walter R. Burling) in February, 1895.

The “East Hampton Star” was founded by George H. Burling December 25, 1885.

The “Center Moriches Record” was founded by Walter R. Burling October 30, 1899.

The “Argus” was established in Patchogue September 6, 1884, by L. B. Green, and was first printed on an Adams hand press, the office force consisting of the editor and a boy.

The “Long Island Herald” was started at Islip about 1874 by William L. Cook.  It was the first paper that contained illustrations, and among them were pictures of the old Sayre house and Pelletreau house in Southampton.

Two other Suffolk County newspapers, The Mid-Island Mail, founded July 12, 1935 and suspended August 13, 1941 and The Moriches Tribune which was started April 2, 1937 and is still being published, were founded by Captain John T. Tuthill, Jr., publisher of The Patchogue Advance.  He also bought and published The Argus for a number of years in the 1930’s and suspended its publication in February 24, 1942.

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