The Wyandot Democratic Union
and the Wyandot Pioneer
Compiled by Daniel A. Masters
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Wyandot County was served by two newspapers, each an organ for their respective political parties. It is fortunate in this examination of the soldiers' correspondence to Ohio newspapers that this important county, one of the few to give a majority vote to Vallandigham in the gubernatorial election of 1863, had two fully functioning newspapers whose editions have survived to the present day. Elections in this county were usually decided by less than 200 votes, as evidenced by Vallandigham's victory, but the trend seemed to be a consistent pattern of Democratic victories at the polls. This close divide, in stark contrast to Wood County which at the time of the Civil War was decidedly Republican in character, makes reading the weekly editions of the these newspapers all the more fascinating.
The Wyandot Democratic Union, edited by Robert D. Dumm, staunchly supported the war for the first year or so but wavered in its support thereafter. The main turning point for the Democratic Union was the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, and the changing direction of the war. Supporters of the Republican party took to referring to the Democratic Union as a Copperhead sheet but the newspaper never swung that far; while critical of the war effort, the Democratic Union never advocated surrender or negotiated settlement with the Confederacy. However, as a party organ, it strongly supported Vallandigham for Governor in 1863 as well as McClellan for President in 1864. Interestingly, unlike many Democratic papers which ceased to print soldiers' letters after late 1863, the Union printed letters all the way through, albeit with decreasing frequency after the fall elections of 1864.
In contrast, the Wyandot Pioneer was a staunch supporter of the war effort from beginning to end. Edited initially by Mrs. Lou A. Wilson, wife of Colonel William T. Wilson who was the newspaper's editor at the outbreak of the war, the paper soon passed into the able hands of Louis A. Brunner who edited the newspaper for more than three years before being joined by war veteran Otho J. Powell. After the war, the newspaper again passed into the control of Colonel Wilson. Throughout the war, Brunner was a strong supporter of Lincoln, the Republican Party, and the soldiers in the field. After the presidential elections of the 1864 and the series of severe defeats suffered by the Confederacy in late 1864, the volume of soldiers' letters disappeared almost entirely from the Pioneer's columns as the local communities started to refocus themselves on issues of more local importance.
Biographical sketches, pulled from the History of Wyandot County, Ohio, of the two men most responsible for editing these newspapers are in order. Interestingly, Brunner and Dumm became partners in editing the Democratic Union after the war.