Newspapers, Songs, & Poetry

During the mid-19th century, newspapers were often very political in their outlook. While some called themselves "Independent," many others took up the cause of one political party or another, and their readers expected them to act as the Republican or Democratic news outlet. This could greatly affect the amount and type of war news reported as well as the tone of articles and letters published. The articles below describe the northwest Ohio newspapers indexed here.


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 Drumm became partners in editing the Democratic Union after the war.

Louis A. Brunner

From The History of Wyandot County (1884)

Hon. Louis A. Brunner is of German ancestry, and was born in Frederick City, Frederick Co., Md. He fully availed himself of the advantages of an elementary and classical education, and after a thorough course of theological study was licensed, in the summer of 1846, to preach at Columbus, Ohio. Subsequently, be entered upon the duties of the ministry, and served several Presbyterian congregations. In the spring of 1852, he was elected by the Presbytery of Marion, Ohio, Commissioner to the General Assembly, and attended the sittings of that body in Philadelphia, Penn., in May following. In 1860, his nervous centers gave way, prostrating him to such an extent as to force him to relinquish his chosen profession. However, having from a young boy dabbled in printer's ink, and being compelled to labor for a livelihood, he purchased a printing office and took charge of the editorial department, and, while not engaged in the duties of the tripod, worked at the case sticking type.

He has performed editorial work on the Odd Fellow, published at Boonsboro, Washington Co., Md.; the Pioneer and the Union of Upper Sandusky, and the Ft. Wayne Daily Sentinel, an interest of which he owned in 1868 and 1869. He has resided in Wyandot County since 1849, excepting four years passed in Maryland, from 1856 to 1861. He has served on the Board of School Examiners of Wyandot County, as a member of the Village Council, and was elected a member of the 61st, 62nd, 65th and 66th General Assemblies of the State of Ohio, occupying, during the session of 1883-84, the honored position of Speaker pro tem. In the 64th General Assembly, he served as Clerk of the House, and his large experiences as a lawmaker, and his peculiar fitness for clerical duties-the result of early training-made him one of the best clerks the Assembly ever had, and it was so acknowledged by the members of both parties. Hence, as a mark of recognition, embodying the admiration of members, he was presented at the close of the session with a costly gold watch and chain, which he still carries with pardonable pride.

Mr. Brunner's first year in the General Assembly was marked with ability and true statesmanship, and although it is seldom the lot of a new member to take prominence at the beginning, his experience was an exception, for before the close of the session he was the recognized leader of his side of the House, and this position he has ably and gracefully maintained during every term of his legislative career. His superior qualifications as a presiding officer attracted attention from all parts of the State, and in the 65th General Assembly he was the almost unanimous choice of his party for Speaker, yet his usefulness upon the floor, and his own inclinations for activity amid conflict, induced him to decline the honor, and to accept at the demands of his party the position of Speaker pro tem. He is perhaps the finest parliamentarian in the State, and we cannot better express this opinion than to give an extract from a letter written by a newspaper correspondent during the session of 1883-84: "The Wyandot Sachem, Brunner, as speaker pro tem., has demonstrated himself to be a superior presiding officer, fit to have held the gavel of the Long Parliament of Cromwell's days, and whose legislative career has given his solid little Gibraltar (Wyandot County) a cameo-like prominence in the State's councils."

In 1879, Mr. Brunner, in connection with Robert D. Dumm, purchased the Wyandot Union of D. J. Stalter, and by their united labors again made the old Union one of the best county newspapers in the State. It now enjoys a large circulation, and an enviable, widespread reputation. As an editor, Mr. Brunner has few superiors. He is logical, clear and very effective, and has gained many admirers from his humorous touches of local incidents; but his great force and efficiency is as a campaigner, filling his well rounded and emphatic periods in that direct and forcible manner, which leaves no room for effective reply. While a ready, spicy and able writer, he is equally as ready and effective as a speaker, which his prominence in the House, on all the important questions of state policy, has fully made clear. His polish as a gentleman, and his great tact in winning and retaining the admiration and esteem of his follow-citizens is due to some extent to his genial nature, thorough education and wide range of information gained through the avenues of an extensive and careful study of books and men.

In September, 1882, he, with his old partner, Mr. Dumm, bought a half interest in the Mirror, at Marion, Ohio, and although it proved to be a profitable investment, and their connection with the Democracy of Marion County highly acceptable and pleasant, after eighteen months they sold their interest to their partner, Col. J. H. Vaughan. A part of this time Mr. Brunner was editor of the paper, and in the memorable campaign of 1882 gained a host of admirers for his efficient editorial work.

Since the close of the legislative session of 1883-84, he has assumed a controlling interest and editorial charge of the Seneca Advertiser, one of the oldest and best newspapers published in Ohio, and he has fully made up his mind to make that city (Tiffin) his future home. He still holds his connection with the Wyandot Union with Mr. Dumm, but undoubtedly in the near future will sever that relation and give his whole attention to the Advertiser, which will advance under his influence and enterprise, and rapidly become the leading county paper of the State.

He was married in 1850 to Miss Jane Sherman, of Delaware, Ohio, who was a native of Watertown, N. Y. Their three children are Mary, now the wife of John W. Geiger, of Tiffin, Ohio; Addie, now Mrs. B W. Holman, of Washington, D. C., and Grace.


Robert D. Dumm

From The History of Wyandot County (1884)

Robert D. Dumm, the senior member of the firm of Dumm & Brunner, editors and proprietors of The Wyandot Union, was born in the city of Pittsburgh, Penn., July 3, 1835, being the fourth son of Andrew and Mary (Shall) Dumm. His father served in the American Army during the war of 1812-15, and his paternal grandfather, who was a native of Baden, Germany, served as a soldier during the Revolutionary struggle. His grandparents upon his mother's side were of English origin. In 1842, with his parents, he came to this part of Ohio, and settled at McCutchenville. Three years later he became a resident of the town of Upper Sandusky, and at the age of ten years entered the Pioneer printing-office as an apprentice under William T. Giles. He served with Mr. Giles four years, receiving during that time six months' schooling as per contract. During, the year 1849, in connection with J. Zimmerman, he published the Pioneer, with Elijah Giles as editor. In 1852, he published the paper alone, Elijah Giles still remaining as editor, and continued to be employed in that capacity until 1853, when he entered the Ohio Wesleyan University as a student. In 1854, however, he was induced to leave school and start a new Democratic newspaper at Upper Sandusky, termed the Vindicator, of which he was editor and publisher. This proceeding, was deemed necessary on the part of the Democratic leaders of the county, by reason of the fact that the old Pioneer had degenerated into a Know-Nothing organ.

Mr. Dumm continued to publish the Vindicator about eighteen months, when he sold out to N. W. Dennison, and began the study of law with Hon. Chester R. Mott. In the winter of 1856-57, he attended the Cincinnati Law School, where he graduated with honor and was admitted to the bar. Soon after he located at Freeport, Ill., where he remained nearly one year. He then returned to Upper Sandusky, married, and in February, 1858, purchased the then recently established Union, a journal which he conducted in a very successful manner for a period of eleven years. Having sold out the Union to E. Zimmerman, he removed to Fort Wayne, Ind., in November, 1868, and during the succeeding five years edited and published the Fort Wayne Sentinel,-a daily and weekly newspaper-with unwearied and, we may add, marked ability.

In August, 1873, he again returned to Upper Sandusky, purchased a one-half interest in his old paper, the Union (yet still retaining his share in the Sentinel), and with, L. A. Brunner as his partner, published the Union for a little more than one year, when Charles L. Zahm, by purchase, became the owner of the Union office. Subsequently Mr. Dumm disposed of his disastrous investment at Fort Wayne, and in the fall of 1875 was elected by a very flattering majority to the office of Clerk of Wyandot County. In 1878, he was re-elected to the same position, and thus served for a continuous period of six years. On the 27th of November, 1879, the Union again passed into the hands of its present proprietors-Messrs. Dumm & Brannon On the 1st of September, 1882, this firm purchased one-half of the Marion Mirror office, and during the political campaign of 1883 Mr. Dumm edited that paper with a vigor and ability not easily surpassed.

We have thus briefly outlined the active business career of a gentleman who has been closely identified with the interests of Wyandot County since its establishment. One who, although a strict party man, and a zealous worker for the success of the Democratic party, has ever bean consistent, and has so demeaned himself as to challenge the admiration of even the most bitter of his political opponents. His untiring efforts for the promotion of the material interests, and the general prosperity of his town and county, have also secured for him the gratitude and respect of Wyandot County residents in general, and to-day none stand higher in their estimate of character and true worth than Robert D. Dumm. As already shown, he has grown up, and has been educated in the printing office, and, probably, has done more to bring Wyandot County journalism up to its present proud position than all others combined. As an editorial writer he has acquired a reputation truly enviable, and which, indeed, is not confined by State limits. Ever careful, vigorous, versatile, brilliant and facetious, his readers are never disappointed in the perusal of an article prepared by him.

He was married on the 29th day of December, 1857, to Miss Sarah J., only daughter of Dr. R. A. Henderson, of Upper Sandusky. The results of this union are two sons, both of whom are young gentlemen of notable qualifications--William G., the present efficient Deputy County Clerk, and Frank E., who is now employed in the Union office.



Songs and Poetry

  • Milton E. Baker
    Poem: Tiffin Weekly Tribune: May 5, 1864
  • Homer Augustus Durfee
    Dirge: Seneca Advertiser: December 19, 1862
    Poem: Tiffin Weekly Tribune: April 3, 1863
  • Arthur A. Graham
    Poem: Tiffin Weekly Tribune: April 18, 1862
  • James G. Keenan
    Poem: Tiffin Weekly Tribune: December 5, 1862
  • J. A. McKee
    Poem: Bucyrus Journal: May 15, 1863
  • John McLaughlin
    Poem: Bucyrus Journal: July 22, 1864
  • Henry Troxel
    Poem: Tiffin Weekly Tribune: November 14, 1862
  • John Zoebaugh
    "Rallying Song of the Gallant 21st O.V.I." Hancock Courier: March 20, 1863