Forest County
Chapter VII 

line.gif (994 bytes)






THE first and only paper printed in Forest county, and about the only one of the kind published anywhere, was issued by P. O. Conver, at Tionesta, from his office in the E. L. Davis building, February 5, 1867, its name being The Forest Press. In the second issue the publisher pays a tribute to E. L. Davis, who became personally responsible for the subscriptions of the people of Tionesta, together with giving advertising worth to the office $250, and the use of an office worth $150. Mr. Conver came here with $1.50, and died eleven years later worth over $10,000. Peter O.Conver, born in Montgomery county, Penn., February 2, 1833, died March 19, 1878. In 1839 his father, George Conver, moved to Venango county, and there, in the office of the Advocate, young Conver learned the printer's trade. In 1861 he enlisted in the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and after returning took a position in Young's newspaper office at Clarion. On December 25, 1866, he came to Tionesta, and within a week he had a Ramage press and an odd lot of type in a room donated by E. L. Davis. March 11, 1871, he married Amelia W. Stewart, who was born near Conneaut Lake, Penn., May 17, 1836. He lived at Tionesta very happily until his death.

On March 23, 1878, Mrs. Conver's name appears as editress, and also a notice referring to her husband's illness. Dr. Blaine contributed news items. On October 5, 1878, she wrote her valedictory, stating that Dr. W. O. Coburn would be the paper's future editor under the name of the Forest National, and would give it a Greenback coloring. She died May 14, 1883. From the historical collections of J. B. Muse the following notes on the character of Conver are taken: Mr. Samuel D. Irwin, a leading attorney of Tionesta, was an intimate friend of Conver, and always a great admirer of his genius. When on his deathbed he sent for Mr. Irwin to make his will. "The document was very short," said Mr. Irwin. "Conver could say more in a few words than any man I ever knew. He told me briefly what he wanted, and I drew up the document at his bedside. He left all his property to his wife, except a few trifling bequests to one or two of his relatives. I asked him if he wanted to leave something more to his relatives. He said he did not; that they had not done anything for him, and he would not now intrude on them on this solemn occasion. He kept up his drollery almost to the moment of his death. After I had the will to suit him he said: 'I was afraid you wouldn't get here in time to perform this little service, and so I sent a boy over to the train to sort of hurry you along.' He rested awhile, and turning his head on the pillow (he had one hand under his head) he said: 'Call in the old gal.' I opened the door into the adjoining room, and Mrs. Conver stepped tenderly to his bedside. 'Amelia,' he said 'I'm going' to turn my toes to the daisies. The doctors say it's all up with Pete, and I guess they know their business this time. You've helped me make and save what plunder I've got, and I've left it all to you. You'll find there's enough to keep the pot boiling and rig you up in a new gown to catch another husband - and heaven bless you, sweetheart.' I turned away and left them, and Pete's soul soon took its flight. 'And there cracked a noble heart. ' Some time after his death, besides the $6,000 or $8,000 in sight, Mrs. Conver found among his effects a couple of $1,000 county bonds, of which he had never told her."

Probably a stranger admixture of incongruities never lived. His newspapers, wherever he printed them, were always a reflex of his queer individuality. At times they would make their appearance set up in large job type -- but his readers soon came to understand the reason of this. Until the later days of his career Pete did his own type-setting. It was not an uncommon occurrence for him to take a jug of whisky, go off somewhere by himself and have what he would call "a high old lonesome." While he was communing thus with the gods he would make no attempt to issue his newspaper. On his return to business, either from a shaky condition of the nerves or some other cause, he would not be in "ship shape," as he expressed it, and consequently he would throw his paper together with big type. After a particularly long struggle with a stone jug, he issued his paper with an entire side filled with an egg-shaped cut, plain black, which he had sawed out of a board and placed in the form to "fill up." Underneath was the inscription:






He was an artist in the business of collecting and getting money for the gay and festive puff. He was miserly, a queer characteristic in a man of his peculiar bent of mind, and never made a bad bargain or squandered his money even when he was drinking - and he had an economical system of drinking. He would never hang around a bar-room and blow in his money treating a gang of loafers or buying his whisky by the drink. He would buy it by the jug full and go off somewhere, and go about the business of getting drunk in a rational and systematic manner.

In December, 1874, the old Ramage press, on which Conver printed his paper, got out of order. He was his own pressman as well as his own compositor, doing all his own work, with the help of a devil. He had tinkered away at the running gear of his press, but it defied his efforts. He thus apostrophized it in his issue of December 5, 1874:

Blast that old press; it is not properly reconstructed yet. The miserable print of the last issue made our heart ache, as it doubtless did the eyes of our readers. Maybe its days of usefulness are over, as all of ours, reader and printer, must be, sooner or later. But we don't like to give it up yet, and shall try to doctor it through a little longer. We have a peculiar affection for that old printing press. Both old pioneers. we came to Forest county together. Faithfully has it stood by us since, except a few spells of contrariness, like the present, which we always overlook when they are over. It has been our constant companion for nearly eight years. Together we have labored day and night, pulling out our daily bread and a few etceteras, through summer Suns and winter storms. No, we will not part with you, old friend, even if compelled to buy a new one. You shall have an honored corner, still, where to rest your weary joints in old age, for your life has been a toilsome and a chequered one. We respect you for the good you have done in the world. True enough, you may have pressed out many a whopping lie in your time, and doubtless have for all we know, for you were an old concern when we first fell in with you. But we have cussed you enough to make up for all your lying, and are willing to call it quits, if you will only press out clear print a little longer, till money gets plentier, when we promise you a rest that shall know no waking. Walt, pass around the saucer, and then take some more color.

The Forest County Bee was founded March 4, 1868, by J. W. H. Reisinger, with office in Knox's building. This was a Republican journal. The review of the Bee by Conver was modest enough for such an odd genius. He called it "a wasp or yellow jacket, and no bee at all, at all."

Forest Republican is successor of the Bee, the change of name dating to March, 1869, when a stock company purchased the office and appointed E. W. Smiley, editor. He was succeeded by R. J. McQuillan, who published the paper until November 1, 1870, when W. R. Dunn was, to use his own words, "glad to be among the grand old hills of Forest once more, and come to stay." On February 19, 1879, Jacob E. Wenk, the present editor, took charge. This journal and its predecessor, The Bee, have been the only Republican papers ever issued in the county. This office resembles somewhat that of the Reporter at Port Allegany. The files are all bound and kept with care, while type, presses, stock and even the make-up of the Republican show journalistic taste.

The Fagundas City Press was established in October, 1870.

In April, 1872, Prof. A. O. Porter purchased an office, and on June 1, issued the Independent Democrat.

The Commonwealth was issued August 20, 1880, by J. D. James, with the object of overturning those political heresies advocated by the leaders and papers of the Democratic and Republican parties. The names of Gen. James B. Weaver and Gen. Benj. J. Chambers were presented for President and ViceĀ· President; James Mosgrove, for congress; Joseph G. Dale, for representative; Chas. A. Hill, for associate judge, and Oliver W. Proper, for county treasurer.

In September, 1880, the paper became the property of the Forest Publishing Company, of which James Swailes was president; J. H. Dingman, secretary; G. W. Bovard, treasurer; S. Mervin, N. G. Cole, R. Brumbaugh, H. A. Adams, John Reck, and G. W. Delbridge, directors. On November 3, 1880, the motto, "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again," was adopted. On August 1, 1885, the office became their property. Mr. Dingman managed the paper until August 1, 1885, when J. B. Muse and W. L. Klinestiver purchased the office, and, changing the name to The Democratic Vindicator, have carried it on successfully since.

The Democratic Vindicator was issued under its new name August 6; 1885, by James B: Muse and W. L. Klinestiver. This journal is thoroughly Democratic. Its advent was hailed by one contemporary thus: "Its first 'cry' was the proper ring, and that it may grow in influence as it grows in age is our wish." As the Press recorded the valuable contributions of Samuel D. Irwin to local history in 1868-69 and 1876, so this journal printed the recollections of the pioneer, Daniel Harrington, after the first series were published in the Spectator. Mr. Muse has happily kept intact the greater number of such valuable reminiscences, and to him, in particular, the writer of this history is indebted for much material.  To Daniel Harrington must be credited the complete character of the chapter on the pioneers, for had he not written his personal recollections at the beginning of this decade, age and its infirmities would have hidden them away forever.

The National Democrat was issued April 16, 1880, with J. M. Kepler, editor and proprietor, but in May of that year Albert Hayden became part owner, and remained until June, 1885. In December M. L. Chadman became associate editor, and held that position until April 15, 1887, when J. W. Kepler succeeded him. Frank E. Bible, who came to Forest in July, 1889, takes an active interest in this. The circulation is about 1,700. Samuel Silman has been in the office over one year, while Harry C. Clarkson has served here about two years.



About the year 1824 Dr. Vars who practiced along the river, committed suicide at the head of the third island below Tionesta. S. H. Haslet, the owner of the island, discovered a grave there, in 1885, and pushing the enquiry, learned the above facts. Other physicians, such as Dr. Webster, came hither over the trails of pioneers and old settlers. Dr. Blaine was here prior to 1870. The physicians of Forest county, who registered under the act of 1881, are named as follows, and the date of diploma or practice given:

Registered in 1881: John W. Morrow, Jefferson College, 1873; Samuel B. Hartman, Jefferson College, 1853-57; W. C. Coburn, Philadelphia, 1865 ; Charles J. Harris, practice, 1865; J. M. Burkett, practice, 1863; Edwin W. Smith, practice, 1866; Nancy L. Henderson, practice, 1870; Samuel S. Towler, practice, 1868.

Registered in 1882: John W. Palmer, Cleveland, 1872; Milton Miles, practice, 1868.

Registered in 1883: Miles B. Cook, Hudson University, 1877; James B. Siggins, Michigan, 1883 ..

Registered in 1885: Charles C. Smith, practice, 1870 (registered in 1884); Curtis A. Thrush, Pennsylvania Medical College, 1885 ; Walter B. Hottel, Western Reserve College, 1876; Harry Navigo, practice, 1863~ Francis H. Sinning, Cincinnati Eclectic College, 1881-85.

Registered in 1886-88: H. P. Holt, Baltimore College of Surgery, 1886; Jeremiah J. Brewer, West Pennsylvania College, 1887; C. C. Rumberger, Pennsylvania University, 1872; .Alva E. Stonecipher, graduate, 1888.

Registered in 1889: John A. Ritchey, Jefferson Medical College, 1871; Howard Weber, L. I. College, 1887.

Source: Page(s) 879-882, History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. 
Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed November 2005 by Nathan Zipfel for the Forest County Genealogy Project
Published 2005 by the Forest County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project"

line.gif (2154 bytes)

Return to Forest County Home Page

(c) Forest County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project