Tag Archives: dayton journal

Ex post facto reference : Where can I find the Dayton Journal?

I love looking at the list of “search engine terms” in the stats section of this blog. It is a list of the phrases that people typed into search engines that led them to some section or other of this blog. You can view this information in various time increments, including today, yesterday, this week, etc. For instance, the “all time” most popular term to lead people here has apparently been “post mortem photography.” Geez, do I really talk about photographing dead people that much? Oops. Sorry! More likely, that is simply a topic I have written about that has been of interest to the broadest number of people.

But, getting back to my title. Sometimes, I look at the “search engine terms” list and wish I had a way to contact the person because it sounds like they have an interesting research topic. Or, they have searched for a topic on which I know I could have helped them find some great primary source materials — maybe something in the archives where I work! Hopefully, that’s what led them to my blog, and hopefully, I said enough in whatever static page they viewed, that they found those resources eventually anyway. But it still makes me wonder.

I’ve often thought about writing posts in response to search terms I read on my list, especially when the “term” was phrased as a complete sentence, as a sort of ex post facto reference transaction. (If they looked for it once, maybe they’ll do so again. Or maybe someone else will, at least. And this will ensure that next time, that person finds at least one answer, if they didn’t before.)

So today, I’m finally going to actually write one of those ex post facto reference responses.

One of yesterday’s search terms was : “Where can I find the Dayton Journal?”

First a tidbit of history : The Dayton Weekly Journal was published in Dayton, Ohio, from 1826-1904. (There were also some earlier editions of various “Journal” newspapers in Dayton as well.) A daily edition of the Dayton Journal newspaper was published from 1847 until 1949. In 1949, the Journal merged with the Herald and was published as the Journal Herald until 1986, when the paper combined with the Dayton Daily News (which is now the only “main” newspaper in Dayton, Ohio).

Daily Dayton Journal, 14 Apr 1861

An original paper issue of the Daily Dayton Journal, 14 Apr 1861, announcing the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

The Journal was the Republican newspaper for much of its lifetime, whereas the Dayton Empire, Dayton Daily Democrat, and Dayton Daily News leaned towards the Democrats. This info about political affiliation might be pertinent, depending on the nature of the research to be conducted in the newspaper. For instance, the Journal might have been more likely to report the activities of a Republican political candidate—unless, of course, those activities were scandalous, in which case they might get more press in the Democratic paper! (If you are researching politics, it would probably be best to check both, no matter what. In any event, the politics of newspapers is something that should be kept in mind.)

Now, back to the original question : Where can you find the Dayton Journal?

The most complete run of the Dayton Journal available anywhere can be found a the Dayton Metro Library (where I work). We have a complete run of microfilm from 1862-1949, as well as many scattered earlier issues on microfilm.

Microfilm of the Dayton Journal at the Dayton Metro Library

Microfilm of the Dayton Journal at the Dayton Metro Library

We also have original paper copies for much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (However, for preservation reasons, use of the originals is discouraged, and researchers are asked to use the microfilm instead.)

Bound volumes of the Dayton Journal at the Dayton Metro Library

Bound volumes of the Dayton Journal at the Dayton Metro Library

According to Guide to Ohio Newspapers, 1793-1973 (edited by Stephen Gutgesell, 1974), the Ohio Historical Society has quite a few issues of the Journal as well, and a few other places appear to have a smattering of issues. You can also check newspaper holdings online — and this works for newspapers across the country, not just the Dayton Journal — at the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America U.S. Newspaper Directory. For instance, here are the results of a search for “Dayton Journal”. Note that the database lists each individual masthead — every variation of the newspaper’s title — as a separate entry, which, while perhaps being the correct way to catalog it, does complicate the results page a little.)

Now, hopefully, that has rather thoroughly answered the question of “Where can I find the Dayton Journal?”

I could probably stop right here, but since as an archivist, I have a bit of a passion for manuscripts — and for telling people about them — I have to do you one better.

I’ve already told you that the Dayton Metro Library has an extensive collection of issues of the actual Dayton Journal newspaper — as well as the other newspapers I mentioned, the Empire, Democrat, and Daily News (and a whole host of others I didn’t mention).

But if you’re interested in the men behind the newspapers, you might also be interested to know that we have manuscript collections for both William D. Bickham (MS-017) (editor of the Republican Journal for 30 years in the late 19th century) as well as his counterpart at the Democrat, John G. Doren (MS-011, unprocessed), of the same era. For some reason, I find it a bit hilarious that Bickham’s and Doren’s papers are stored within a few feet of one another, when the two no doubt spent years engaged in politically-charged media sparring.

[Dayton Metro Library doesn’t have any of Daily News editor James M. Cox’s papers, so if you’re interested in him, you’ll want to check out MS-2 at the Wright State U. Special Collections & Archives.]

All in all, I suppose that was a really long way of saying, “You can find copies of the Dayton Journal at the Dayton Metro Library, OHS, and a few other places.” But if I haven’t made at least a handful of statements that start off “you might also be interested in…,” then I’ve only done my reference job halfway.

Bio Sketch: William D. Bickham (1827-1894), editor of the Dayton Journal

William Denison Bickham was born March 30, 1827, in Riverside (near Cincinnati), Ohio, the eldest of seven [surviving] children born to William Ard Bickham (ca. 1798-1845) and Eliza Dennison (1802-1893).

[The other children of William A. & Eliza Bickham were: John C. Bickham, who died in Evansville, Ind., but is buried in Dayton, Ohio; Thomas H. Yeatman Bickham (usually called “Yeatman”), who died in Findlay, Ohio; Emily Bickham, who married Austin Glazebrook and lived in Louisville, Ky.; Angeline Bickham, who married John W. Chapin and lived in Columbus, Ohio; Eliza Lida Bickham (often called “Lida”), who married Dr. John A. Lair, lived in Dayton some years, and died in Washington, D.C.; Mary Ella Bickham (usually called “Ella”), who married Abram Darst Wilt, Sr., and lived in Dayton, Ohio; and one who died in infancy.]

W. D. Bickham

W. D. Bickham

William D. Bickham attended both public and private schools in Cincinnati, as well as Cincinnati College and Bethany College (in present-day Bethany, West Virginia). However, William’s formal education ended abruptly in 1845 when his father died and he had to return home as head and financial supporter of the family.

At that time, William started a two-year apprenticeship with the Cincinnati Gazette, where he learned typesetting, and thus began his career in journalism. Afterwards, he worked as an editor at the Louisville Courier, but his family’s finances forced him to return to Cincinnati in 1848.

In the fall of 1848, William took a flatboat journey from Cincinnati to New Orleans and back with his brother John. In 1849, William worked as a clerk at a mercantile business.

Then, in March 1850, William set out for the California gold rush. He spent more than a year in the mines near Grass Valley in Nevada County, California; then, in 1852, he represented El Dorado County, California, at the state’s first Whig convention. Eventually, he settled in San Francisco, where he was a customs officer; one of the founders of San Francisco’s first public library and its first librarian; and was, at different times, an editor of several San Francisco newspapers: Picayune, Evening Journal, Evening Times, and Morning Ledger. Meanwhile, he also still wrote home to the Cincinnati Gazette, describing life in California.[1]

William did not strike it rich in the gold rush, and he returned home to Cincinnati in April 1854. For a time, he worked on the Cincinnati, Hamilton, & Dayton Railroad as a brakeman and later a baggage master. Before long, he was involved in journalism again. He was a correspondent for the Cincinnati Daily Columbian and later the Cincinnati Evening Times.

On December 27, 1855, William D. Bickham married Maria Emily Strickle (b. Dec. 1833) at the home of her parents, Abraham Ellis Strickle (1807-1863) and Caroline Goodwin (d. 1867), of Wilmington, Ohio (more on Strickle family). Maria’s father Abraham was the director of the Clinton County Fair, and William had most likely met the family while covering county fairs for theCincinnatinewspapers, which was one of his usual assignments.

By 1856, William had become city editor of the Cincinnati Commercial, under editor Murat Halstead. In this capacity, William was a correspondent of political news in Columbus and Washington, DC. This afforded him opportunities to meet many public figures who would later rise to even greater prominence as governors, congressmen, senators, cabinet members, and even presidents, several of whom remained in correspondence with him for years.[2]

When the Civil War broke out, William spent two years as a war correspondent on the front, sending his dispatches back to the Commercial. He was first assigned to General William Rosecrans’ army, where he was a volunteer aide-de-camp with the rank of captain.[3] He also spent several months with General George McClellan’s army, before being transferred back to Rosecrans. He was present at the Battle of Stones River, and Rosecrans’ praise for his actions there earned him the rank of major.[4]

Bickham's Civil War album and one of Bickham's first issues of the Journal

Bickham’s Civil War album and one of Bickham’s first issues of the Journal

While William was reporting from the field, matters on the home front in southwest Ohio were heating up. On May 5, 1863, General Ambrose Burnside arrested congressman and Dayton resident Clement Vallandingham on charges of sedition.

Arrest of Clement Vallandingham, 1863

Arrest of Clement Vallandingham, 1863

Vallandingham was one of the most vocal leaders of the Copperheads, a group of Democrats who opposed the war. In response to his arrest, a Copperhead mob burned down the Republican, pro-Union Dayton Journal newspaper office.

A group of pro-Union Daytonians formed a committee to restore the Journal and sought help from Cincinnati Commercial editor Halstead in finding a new editor for the Journal. Halstead recommended William D. Bickham. The committee offered Bickham the job, and he accepted, moving his family to Dayton.

Bickham took over the Journal on May 11, 1863, printing a small issue for the next several weeks until the main press was repaired. A sum of $6,000 was offered to Bickham as a gift to get the newspaper up and running again; he refused the gift but accepted it as a loan, which he paid off in less than 3 years.

First Brick house in Dayton (built in 1808) was converted to the Journal Office in 1863

First Brick house in Dayton (built in 1808) was converted to the Journal Office in 1863

The first regular issue of the Dayton Daily and Weekly Journal reappeared on July 28, 1863.

Of the delay and the reopening, Bickham wrote in his “Salutatory” in the July 28 issue:

The delay between the destruction of the old office and the issuance of the Journal in its present form, was unavoidable. Circumstances not within the publisher’s control retarded operations. Some of the conditions were of a private and afflicting nature—with which the public have no concern.[5] Explanations would therefore be superfluous. Suffice it that the Journal is once more before the community, and in handsome form. Let it be hoped that it will move forward uninterruptedly in a career of usefulness and prosperity…

The publisher begs leave to say further, that being desirous to rebuild the Journal upon the foundation laid by the former able Editor, Wm. F. Comly, Esq., he purchased the press of the old Journal office which the wretches of the Vallandingham tribe did not succeed in fully destroying, and the handsome Journal which you now read was printed upon that splendid machine, rebuilt and put into working condition since the fire…[6]

When the Journal reopened in July 1863, its offices were protected by two loaded cannons. Bickham himself was reportedly threatened with bodily harm on numerous occasions through the end of the war. Nevertheless, he stood firmly behind his Republican opinions and his newspaper, throughout the Civil War and through the end of his life.

Journal Office in 1876

Journal Office in 1876 – note the banner supporting (Republican) R. B. Hayes for President

William Denison Bickham died on March 27, 1894, at his home on Monument Avenue[7] in Dayton. On March 30, he was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. His wife Maria Strickle Bickham lived 30 more years, dying on October 17, 1924, in Dayton; she was also buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Maria and W. D. Bickham graves, Woodland Cemetery

Maria and W. D. Bickham graves, Woodland Cemetery

William D. Bickham and Maria E. Strickle had six children:

  1. William Strickle Bickham (born Nov. 22, 1856; died June 16, 1912), who moved toSpokane,Washington.
  2. Victor Hardy Bickham (born July 4, 1858; died June 22, 1865), who drowned.
  3. Abraham Strickle Bickham (born Aug. 28, 1860; died Jan. 7, 1929), who married Amelia Herr in 1900.
  4. Thomas Burns Bickham (born May 13, 1863; died June 19, 1863).
  5. Daniel Denison Bickham (born Oct. 31, 1864; died Mar. 3, 1951), who married Anna Stout in 1888, then later married Sylvia.
  6. Charles Goodwin Bickham (see sketch) (born Aug. 12, 1867; died Dec. 14, 1944), who never married.

After W. D. Bickham’s death, his sons Abraham, Daniel, and Charles continued to operate the Journal, until October 1, 1904, when the Journal’s ownership was transferred from private ownership to a stock company.

[Items in brackets are additions to this blog post that were not written in the original finding aid biographical sketch.]

[1] For a more thorough description of Bickham’s time in California, see: William D. Bickham, A Buckeye in the Land of Gold: The Letters and Journal of William Dennison Bickham, edited by Randall E. Ham (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1996).Dayton Local History 979.404 B583B 1996.

[2] Some of their correspondence is included in this collection. [LPR]

[3] Whitelaw Reid of the Cincinnati Gazette was also a war correspondent with Rosecrans at that time. [LPR]

[4] For more information about Bickham’s time with Rosecrans and the battle of Stones River, see: William D. Bickham, Rosecrans’ Campaign with the Fourteenth Army Corps: or, the Army of the Cumberland: A Narrative of Personal Observations with…Official Reports of the Battle of Stone River (Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys, & Co., 1863).Dayton Local History 973.7416 B583R. [LPR]

[5] Bickham is probably referring to the birth and death of his son Thomas Burns Bickham, who was born May 13, 1863, two days after Bickham had purchased the Journal, and died a month later on June 19, 1863. [LPR]

[6] W. D. Bickham, “Salutatory,” Dayton Journal, July 28, 1863.

[7] W. D. Bickham purchased the home at117 W. Monument Ave. from Dickenson P. Thruston in 1872. It remained in the Bickham family until 1927 when it was purchased by the Dayton YMCA, which demolished both the Bickham house and the Thresher house next-door to build a new YMCA building. [LPR]

W. D. Bickham residence (right), 117 W. Monument Ave.

W. D. Bickham residence (right), 117 W. Monument Ave.


Dayton YMCA (now the Landing), 2012

In 1927, the a new YMCA was built on the site of the homes of W. D. Bickham and E. M. Thresher on Monument Ave; the YMCA is now known as The Landing. (Photo 2012)


This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2011 for the Bickham Collection (MS-017) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654. Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection and in the citations below. Please contact the library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

I have written a few additional blog posts about W. D. Bickham, including: “Bickham and the presidents” (Feb. 21, 2011) and “Civil War case exhibit, Bickham’s cartes de visite album” (Nov. 21, 2011).


Bibliography & Further Reading

Bickham, William D. A Buckeye in the Land of Gold: The Letters and Journal of William Dennison Bickham. Edited by Randall E. Ham. Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1996. Dayton Local History 979.404 B583B 1996.

Bickham, William D. From Ohio to the Rocky Mountains: Editorial Correspondence of the Dayton (Ohio) Journal by William D. Bickham. Dayton: Journal Book and Job Printing House, 1879. Dayton Local History T78 B583.

Bickham, William D. Rosecrans’ Campaign with the Fourteenth Army Corps: or, the Army of the Cumberland: A Narrative of Personal Observations with…Official Reports of the Battle of Stone River. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys, & Co., 1863. Dayton Local History 973.7416 B583R.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve. Dayton, Ohio: An Intimate History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1932. Page 245. Dayton Local History 977.173 C753DAY 1932.

Conover, Frank. Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., 1897. “William Denison Bickham,” pages 403-404. Dayton Local History 977.172 C753C 1897.

Drury, Augustus Waldo. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago; Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1909. Volume 1, pages 400-401. Dayton Local History 977.173 D796.

Foos, Katharine S. The Ellis Family. Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1900. Dayton Local History B92 E47F.

Hamilton, William J. Dayton Newspapers and their Editors: Selected from the Dayton Public Library Newspaper Files. Dayton:Dayton Public Library, 1937. Dayton Local History 071.7173 D276.

Santmyer, Helen Hooven. A Calendar of the Bickham Collection: Letters, Documents, and Mementoes of Possible Historical Interest. Dayton:Dayton Public Library, 1956. Dayton Local History 016.091 D276C.

The History of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882. “Maj. William Denison Bickham,” Book 3, pages 191-192. Dayton Local History 977.172 H673.

MS-017 Bickham Collection:

  • Box1, Folder 5: Loyal Legion of theUnited States.
  • Box1, Folder 7: W.D. Bickham: Biographical Notes – OhioStateUniversity’s Schoolof Journalism Hall of Fame. Daniel D. Bickham, “Tribute to Wm. D. Bickham, Civil Wartime Editor,” The Ohio Newspaper 17:4 (Jan. 1937), pp. 5-7.
  • Box2, Folder 15: Genealogical Notes on Bickham and Strickle Families.
  • Box2, Folder 14: C. G. Bickham: Letters concerning Military Career.

Dayton Local History Resource (LHR) File. Dayton Metro Library.

Dayton Pamphlets File. Dayton Metro Library.

Civil War begins! Reports Dayton paper

April 12th marked the 150th anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, SC. I was curious what the newspaper headlines looked like, so I decided to check it out in bound volumes of Civil War era newspapers at the Dayton Metro Library.

Here is what the front page of the Daily Dayton Journal for April 13, 1861, looked like:

Daily Dayton Journal, April 13, 1861

Daily Dayton Journal, April 13, 1861

Hmm…a bit bland. I don’t know why I’m always still surprised when mid-19th century papers don’t have a lot of pictures or graphics, but somehow I am. Here’s a close-up of the text from the center just under the masthead, so you can actually read the text:

Daily Dayton Journal, April 13, 1861 - headline closeup

Daily Dayton Journal, April 13, 1861 - headline closeup

Looks like capital letters, spacing, italics and exclamations points were the old-school tools of print media to get an urgent message across!

The Daily Dayton Journal was the Republican newspaper in Dayton at that time.

The Democratic paper was the Dayton Daily Emipire (of which notorious Copperhead and Daytonian Clement Vallandingham was an early part owner). Unfortunately, the library does not happen to have any issues of the Empire for April 1861. I did, however, look at a few issues from 1860, which included an interesting note on “True Republicans”.

If you know anything about the history of the press, you know that newspapers could be very political and papers with opposing viewpoints often sparred with one another. For instance, here’s another snippet from the Empire proclaiming to include “a great many things not in this morning’s Journal“.

Oh politics and the press… I can still remember a time when I didn’t realize the media was partisan. Ah, to be young again. Ha!

I have made a mental note to myself to check both of these papers for some other crucial dates and events of the Civil War and see what each has to say. I have some obvious dates in mind, such as the Battle of Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, the surrender of Lee and the assassination of Lincoln. (I hope both papers are available; there are gaps in the Empire especially.)

If anyone has any other suggestions of dates/events to look for, I’d be glad to hear them. And don’t forget, you can always visit the Dayton Metro Library‘s Magazines & Special Collections department (basement of Main) and review our historic newspapers for yourself! 🙂

(See more images from the Daily Dayton Journal and the Dayton Daily Empire on Flickr.)

Also of interest: The Dayton Daily Empire will be included in the next round of digitization for the Ohio Newspaper Digitization Project by the Ohio Historical Society.

Bickham and the presidents

In honor of Presidents’ Day (which is today), I’m going to share a little about a collection I’m processing (at the Dayton Metro Library) that has presidential ties.

For the past several months, I have been processing and creating a finding aid for the Bickham Collection (MS-017), which primarily consists of letters and news clippings pertaining to William Denison Bickham (1827-1894), the editor of the Dayton Journal newspaper from 1863 until his death.

W. D. Bickham

W. D. Bickham

The Journal was Republican in its politics, and after the arrest of Copperhead [anti-war Democrat] leader and Dayton congressman Clement Vallandingham, an angry mob set fire to the Journal office on May 5, 1863. (Read more about it.) The man who stepped up to the challenge of rebuilding (literally) the Journal was William Denison Bickham, a young war correspondent for the Cincinnati Commercial. The new Journal office would be at 25 N. Main (view photo) from 1864-1881. Bickham was said to have endured many threats for the things he wrote, but he never backed down.

What does this newspaper editor have to do with Presidents’ Day, you might be wondering. Well, I’m sure this will come as a shock, but politicians like to war with each other through the press, by writing letters and making sure their contents got printed.

(I say this only about half-sarcastically, because honestly, the idea of politicians attacking each other via the newspaper was something that I never really thought about until I was assigned to read Joanne Freeman’s Affairs of Honor in an Early American Republic course in 2003 – thanks, Dr. Wachtell! The book covers a much earlier period, but the sentiment is the same.)

But back to Bickham and the presidents. Depending on your specific criteria, Ohio lays claim to seven or eight U.S. Presidents. The problem lies with William Henry Harrison, who was actually born in Virginia; the other seven – Grant, Hayes, Garfield, B. Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Harding were all born in Ohio. Interestingly enough – something I guess I never noticed until today – all of those seven Ohio-born presidents were from the Republican party. [W. H. Harrison is an outlier in this category as well – he was a Whig, but that’s really just an “early Republican.”] Of the seven Ohio-born presidents, four served during the period when Bickham was editor of the Journal, and the other three were already active in Republican politics.

Again, what does this have to do with Bickham? Well, upon digging into the Bickham Collection last year, I had no idea what the collection was about or who W. D. Bickham was. It was just “on my list” of things to do. Sure, I’d heard about the mob burning the Journal office after the Clement Vallandingham arrest, and yeah, I knew the Journal must have started up again because it existed until, what, the 1980s? But believe it or not, your local history librarians don’t just “know” everything there is to know about local history. Even we have to look things up. A lot. Shocking, I know.

So not knowing what the collection was about, imagine my surprise – and awe – when I found folders (it was semi-processed) labeled James A. Garfield, Warren G. Harding, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley — containing actual letters from those people! Wow – cool stuff. There are also quite a few letters from some “less famous” late-19th century politicians – mostly Republican – mostly from Ohio. There are letters from several Ohio governors; a handful from Cincinnatian Salmon P. Chase; there are many from John Sherman, a U.S. Congressman and later U.S. Senator from Lancaster, Ohio – and younger brother of Civil War General William T. Sherman.

In most cases, these men wrote to Bickham in order to “share their views” with him – and in most cases, that meant, Please publish my views in your newspaper, kthanks. I found some examples in this collection of the original letter, as well as a copy of the news clipping where he had printed the contents.

If they didn’t want Bickham to publish what they wrote, they would mark the letter as “private” at the top. It seems a little strange that they would write these “private” letters, but I suppose he probably developed real friendships with some of the men. Or perhaps they wanted Bickham to understand their position or actions (so he would keep supporting them!) but weren’t ready to share it with the world yet.

The Bickham Collection is not very large – about 1 linear foot of manuscripts plus several scrapbooks (2 of which pertain to Bickham’s son Charlie’s military service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection). However, what it lacks in volume, it makes up for in richness and quality. This collectino is just full of gem after gem. I hold history in my hands every day, but some things just make you feel…privileged.

For the record, Dayton Metro Library does not restrict access to any materials based on perceived research “value.” Our collections are available for use by all. But for sure, any serious researcher of Ohio Republican politics in the late 19th century really shouldn’t miss this collection.