Shinglehouse, Potter Co., Pa.

Submitted by PHGS Member Mike Henderson

Oswayo Valley Mail, Shinglehouse, PA, Potter County, June 28, 1956.

Charles A. Herrick, Editor of the Oswayo Valley from 1901 to 1941
Oswayo Valley Mail Began 70 Years of Service in Shinglehouse on May 4, 1886

In the spring of 1886, John P. Herrick had just completed a term of school in the Brownlee school house, located between Austin and Costello, when he was notified by his brother-in-law, Herbert L. Pearsall, then county superintendent of schools of Cameron county, that his brother A. A. Pearsall, a lawyer, had a newspaper plant for sale at Shingle House and urged John to accompany him to that place to examine it.

They arrived on April 1st and found Shingle House to be a farming and lumbering community of about 300 population. The plant was located on the second floor of the present Masonic building on Oswayo Street where a weekly newspaper, "The Palladium," had ceased the previous year.

Prior to that another publisher had failed to make a financial success of the business. The equipment consisted of a Cottage Army Press, with hand roller for each impression and was just large enough to print one page of a seven column newspaper. There was a small job press, an assortment of worn type, case and stands.

John P. Herrick made an offer which was refused and he returned home to continue his preparations to leave for Edinboro State Normal School on the following Monday, in company with O. A. Kilbourn who was superintendent of the Potter county schools 1899 - 1908.

On Saturday previous to their departure, Mr. Herrick received a letter from A. A. Pearsall accepting his offer for the newspaper plant. This offer changed his plans completely and he left on Monday for Shingle House to begin the management and editorship of "The Palladium".

John P. Herrick was only 18 years of age and had no newspaper experience. His first step was to employ Robert L. Earl, and experienced and competent printer and country editor. With a total capital of $300 above the purchase price of the plant, he placed orders for new stock and equipment. The first issue appeared on May 4th under the name of "The Sharon Leader".

A few weeks of experience in this work brought the realization that Shingle House was too small to support a weekly newspaper, and plans were made to include the village of Ceres in its publication. It had the advantage of two narrow gauge railroads as well as two saw mills, two hotels an opera house, and a number of stores.

On October 15, 1873, Jerry Barker began the publication of "The Ceres News" a small weekly newspaper, but it had long since ceased to exist. The merchants and business men of Ceres expressed themselves as being anxious to have a local newspaper and pledged their co-operation in its support.

Frank A. Chapman, proprietor of the Oswayo House, a pioneer hotel in the Oswayo Valley, offered to lease an empty store room in the opera house for a printing office at four dollars a month and to arrange for the publisher to board at the hotel at a reasonable rate.

Late in July the plant was moved to Ceres and set up in the well lighted opera house block. Two cases of type remained at Shingle House and there on Mondays and Tuesdays Mr. Herrick jotted down the local news, set the type by hand, read proof, and corrected errors.

On Wednesday mornings the galleys of type were carried by stage to Ceres for use in the "Sharon Leader" which was printed on Thursday mornings.

The papers were folded, addressed, and shipped by stage to Shingle House for mailing. The "Leader" was entered as second class matter and enjoyed free circulation in Potter County.

Mr. Herrick usually walked the five miles from Ceres to Shingle House on Sunday afternoons to be at work early on Monday mornings. The stage ran only on week days and he had no other means of transportation.

Robert Earl had agreed to remain as an employee for only three months. Before leaving he arranged for Harry D. Caskey, a competent printer, of Randolph, N. Y., to take his place. He had served an apprenticeship on a Randolph newspaper and had a flair for turning out artistic printing and advertising.

He remained about a year before entering the employ of A. J. Hughes who was establishing the Austin Autograph. Mr. Caskey later became the owner and publisher of the paper. The Austin flood of 1911 destroyed his newspaper plant and he moved to California where he resided until his death.

The name selected for the new weekly in Ceres was "The Ceres Courant." It consisted of four pages of seven columns. Two pages were ready print and two pages were printed in Ceres. The first number was issued on Thursday, August 5. 1886, and carried more than seven columns of local advertising.

In the spring of 1888, John P. Herrick realized that two newspapers were barely paying expenses. It was then that he conceived the idea of changing the name to the "Oswayo Valley Mail," to cover the entire Oswayo Valley, and increasing the size from seven to eight columns to the page.

This change required a larger press and new office equipment. He learned that George W. Fries of the Friendship Register, had a second hand Washington hand press for sale at $150.

Being unable to borrow the money Mr. Herrick adopted the method of saving every dime that came into his possession. When he had saved $60 he induced Mr. Fries to accept the dimes as first payment on the press and to spread the balance over a period of time. This proved to be a turning point in his financial affairs.

The old Army press was traded for a new display type and larger column rules. The first issue of the "Oswayo Valley Mail" was an improvement in appearance and was favorably received.

Mr. Herrick next visited all subscribers and convinced them that the newspaper was on a solid foundation and was there to stay. He also suggested that payment in advance might be helpful and many did so.

On Christmas Day, he had no debts and had more than $1,000 to his credit in the bank. "Nothing succeeds like success" and people like to do business with a winner. Mr. Herrick learned by experience the truth of the saying by Benjamin Franklin, "If you wish to learn the value of a dollar, try to borrow one."

Mr. Herrick next purchased a lot in Ceres from Mrs. Caroline Smith on which to erect an office for the "Oswayo Valley Mail." The building, 20x30 feet, was opposite the Oswayo House and was built by Benjamin Treat and Joel Price whose wages were $2.50 per day. The rough lumber cost about eight dollars per thousand and the glass front came from an abandoned store building in Richburg.

In April, 1890, he purchased the Valentine C. Smith house on the New York side of Ceres and came into possession of a permanent home for his mother, sister, and four brothers who had joined him in Ceres nearly two years before.

Charles A. Herrick, brother of John P. Herrick, was employed in the office of the "Mail" for several years. In February, 1898, he purchased the paper and became its editor and publisher. In 1901, Hiram Palmer and Sons, of Kane, sold their window glass plant in that place and in July began the erection of another at Shingle House.

Realizing the advantages which this industry would bring to that village, Charles A. Herrick purchased a building on Honeoye street in which he installed his newspaper plant on the first day of the following September. This proved to be a most advantageous change for within a year the population of Shinglehouse had increased from about 400 to 1,500 persons.

The paper was printed on the Washington hand press, afterward on a cylinder press with a gas engine for power. The type was all set by hand until a linotype was purchased in 1925. Later a newspaper folder, a mat casting outfit, and mailer were added to the equipment. Electric power and lights were installed in 1928.

Founder of the Oswayo Valley Mail
John Pierce Herrick

On Thursday night, April 2, 1903, the two story building occupied by the "Oswayo Valley Mail" was destroyed by fire and also nine other buildings on Honeoye street. There was no fire protection and the building was reduced to ashes in less than two hours.

A four page extra edition of the Mail was printed early Friday morning in the office of the Bolivar Breeze, edited and published by John P. Herrick. The Mail continued to be printed there until Charles A. Herrick bought and installed new equipment in the McDowell building on Oswayo street.

On the evening of March 31, 1909, fire broke out in the second floor of the store building of the W. A. Nichols and Son on Oswayo street, and consumed the Nichols building, the C. C. VanDeBoe building, George C. Hawley's residence and the E. T. McDowell building in which The Mail office was located.

The paper was nearly ready for publication and while the building was burning Mr. Herrick and his employee, Seymour Osincup, filled in the remaining empty columns and carried the forms to safety.

Again, as before, they drove to Bolivar where with the assistance of John P. Herrick and his office force the paper was soon printed with full account of the fire and was only a few hours late.

As there was no vacant building in Shinglehouse The Mail was published in the Breeze office until Mr. McDowell erected a new building on the same site which in July 1909, was again occupied by the Oswayo Valley Mail with entirely new equipment.

Collins Herrick, son of Charles A. Herrick, began work in the printing office at the age of nine, when he would climb upon a high stool, augmented in height by a large book, and "stick" type after school and on Saturdays. After graduation from high school in 1926 he learned to operate the linotype and to do some writing.

Joe Herrick, a younger son, came into the office in 1930. Six years later he was sports editor and supervisor of the job department.

In July, 1941, almost 40 years after moving the Oswayo Valley Mail to Shinglehouse Charles A. Herrick turned the keys to the office over to his two sons and retired from active newspaper work.

On January 1, 1942, Collins and Joe Herrick purchased The Potter County Journal in Coudersport of Mrs. Laura K. Barton and moved The Mail equipment to the county seat where they consolidated the two plants under the name of Herrick Newspapers. The two papers are still published separately.

In April, 1944, Joe Herrick retired from the firm and Mrs. Grayce V. Herrick became a partner in Herrick Newspapers. The Oswayo Valley Mail on May 3, 1956, completed its 70th year of service to the residents of the Oswayo Valley.

When renewing her subscription to The Oswayo Valley Mail recently, Mrs. L. V. Bridge wrote:

"I want you to know that I appreciate your CLEAN news sheet. I note there is no liquor advertisements. Here is wishing you every success and that you may be able to continue the Oswayo Valley Mail. It is the first newspaper I read -- then it was the Ceres Mail."

The Mail Office on Oswayo Street

"History of Potter County, Pennsylvania," by Victor L. Beebe, 1934, page 298-299

In April 1886, John P. Herrick, age 18, came to Shinglehouse, a town of 300 inhabitants, purchased the plant of the Palladium which had ceased publication the year previous, and on May 4th established a newspaper called the Sharon Leader. The next July Mr. Herrick opened a branch office in Ceres, Pa., a town of 300 population and established the Ceres Courant August 5th, often walking the five miles to Shinglehouse where he still published the Sharon Leader. In 1888 he consolidated the two newspapers under the name of Oswayo Valley Mail.

On the night of August 30, 1891, fire destroyed the printing office at Ceres, one day after Mr. Herrick had established the Bolivar Breeze. A new printing office was built and the paper published under a new title, The Ceres Mail. In February 1898, a brother of the editor, Charles A. Herrick, who had' been employed in the office, purchased the Ceres Mail. About three years later, a window glass plant at Shinglehouse had increased the population and the plant was
moved there to publish the paper again as the Oswayo Valley Mail.

Upon the retirement of their father on June 3, 1941, Collins and Joe Herrick, associates in the business, became owners and publishers. They purchased the Potter County Journal and began the publication of both newspapers in Coudersport on January 8, 1942. Beginning April 20, 1944, they were officially called the Herrick Newspapers, Collins and Grayce V. Herrick, owners and publishers.

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