The Circleville Democrat and Watchman collection includes 1875-1890.
The Circleville Democrat and Watchman was established in 1837 as the Scioto Watchman at Circleville, Ohio, after Democrats of Pickaway County raised $1000 by subscription to purchase a printing press “to be devoted to the interests of the Democratic party.” By 1843, the paper’s name had been changed to the Circleville Watchman. It was initially run by stockholders, but when the venture proved to be losing money, it was sold to Edson B. Olds, a local politician. A number of owners and editors managed the Watchman throughout the 1840s, including Samuel Pike in the earlier part of the decade and Jason Case, formerly of the Circleville Herald, who managed the paper from 1845 to 1858.
In 1859, the Watchman was sold to John W. Kees of Springfield, Ohio. He was originally from the southern United States and used the newspaper to openly criticize the United States government’s handling of the Civil War. His actions led to his 1862 arrest and the suppression of the Circleville Watchman. At the time of Kees' arrest, however, Dr. Wayne Griswold purchased the paper and changed its name to the Circleville Democrat to avoid military suppression, and it was only stopped for a week. Just over a year later, in 1863, Aaron R. Van Cleaf purchased the paper and remained its sole owner for several decades.
Van Cleaf, an experienced newspaperman and politician, restored the paper’s original name in 1870 when he changed its title to the Circleville Democrat and Watchman. The Democrat and Watchman was published weekly and continued to support Democratic candidates and interests. Subscriptions grew to 2,000 by 1880 and to 2,450 by 1890. It reported local, state, national and international news covering politics, society, economics and more. Local news items covering Circleville and Pickaway County were regularly included, along with business advertisements and legal notices.
The Democrat and Watchman, known as the Circleville Watchman starting in 1925, merged with its longtime Republican competitor the Circleville Union-Herald in 1927 to form the Circleville Union-Herald and Watchman. The “Watchman” was dropped from its title in 1929, and the paper continued to be issued on a weekly basis until 1956 when it ceased publication. Its daily counterpart, the Circleville Herald, is still published today.