The Danville Register from Danville, Virginia on July 4, 1976 · Page 116
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The Danville Register from Danville, Virginia · Page 116

Danville, Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 4, 1976
Page 116
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The Register TK«B«« Bicentennial Edition: Sunday. July 4, 1976 9-C OVER 90 YEARS IN SERVING DANVILLE AND THE SURROUNDING AREA HARNSBERGER'S. Is Proud To Solute This Bicentennial Year Harnsberger's has operated longer in Dan- ville under the same name than any other mercantile establishment and has been a focal point on Main Street for over 90 years. It was founded by W. A. Harns- berger. In 1904 it moved to 315 Main Street from a location on the opposite side of the street. Isaac Schuster pur- chased it in 1911 and operated it until 1950 when he sold it to Carton and Carton, Baltimore, Maryland. Fred Rosenberg was assistant manager for I. Schuster when Harnsberger's was sold to Carton and Carton. It was operated as an aggressive discount store under the management of Rosenberg until his retire- ment in 1972. SBERGER'S Rorer A. James Building: Home Of Register And Bee 77 Years In James Family RB Prints The News X Over 145-Year Span By JOHN H. BRUBAKER III Associate Editor Any attempt to chronicle the history of this area would be incomplete without the story of The Danville Register and The Bee, the newsppaers which have reported the daily events of this area since the 19th century. Printed for over 145 y ears, with one brief interruption; The Danville Register has become one of the oldest publications in the state. Main Street carriers peddled the first issue of a Danville newspaper bearing the title "Danville Register" late in January of 1848. The newspaper actually had been started, however, in June of 1831. It then was called the Danville Reporter and Roanoke Commercial Gazette. CABELL AND MEGGINSON Published and occasionally edited by Benjamin W. S. Cabell and Joseph Megginson, the Reporter remained the single source of Danville news until a year after the city's incorporation in 1833. As most papers of the time, the Reporter was a four-page weekly, usually published on Saturday but on any other day of the week if ews was slow or the press broke down. InlBSt the title of the paper was changed to Dan r ille Reporter and Internal Improve nent Advocate. Its publishers became Whig supporters. Following several other brief part- nerships in the business, Richard W. Lyle purchased the paper in 1846 and changed its name to The Herald. The North Carolinian, later author of a much-publicized anti-drinking poem which issued from personal bouts with the bottle, improved the paper's standard with his youthful wisdom and wit. A. W. C. Terry bought the newspaper during the winter of 1848 and, as an editorial whim, changed the name of the weekly to the Danville Register, a title then popular with publishers across the state. A subscription to the weekly cost $2.50 · per year. NEWSPAPERS SWAPPED Publisher-Editor Terry wanted to leave Danville, so he exchanged papers with K. B. and J. W. Townley, a father and son team who had been publishing the Lyn- chburg Virginian. Col. A. S. Buford purchased the paper in 1852 and two years later sold it to Richard Lyle who returned to edit the weekly he had abandoned six years before. During Lyle's second stint as publisher, the Whig party, in its inability to please both sections of the country, disintegrated. The Register turned Democratic with Danville and the South. In 1856 the operation of the paper and advocacy of James Buchanan for the presidency was taken over by Publishers Abner Anderson and L. M. Shumaker. Shumaker left the enterprise the next year, but Anderson stayed on until 1884, developing the paper into a news sheet respected throughout the state. As the union collapsed, Anderson's editorials grew more and more caustic, After the War between the States began, editorialized reports appeared on all four pages of the paper. News was in such great demand during . the conflict that Anderson expanded the Register to a daily paper from early 1864 to the end of the war. It was one of three dailies published here during the conflict. LAST REAL NEWS OF WAR In early April of 1865 the Register was the first paper to print the last real news of the war as, with the fall of Richmond, that city's newspaper offices were closed. On April 5 the local daily printed the first announcement of Richmond's capture and on April 6 was the first paper to carry Jefferson Davis' final proclamation to his crumbling nation. Davis wrote the proclamation in his quarters at the Sutherlin Mansion, the Last Capitol of the Confederacy! Three weeks later the Register's press fell into alien hands as General Wright's occupation troops suspended publication of the local paper and for three weeks printed a daily Union sheet, The Sixth Corps. Anderson discontinued publication of the daily at the close of hostilities and returned to a weekly edition. For several months in 1867, he printed a semi-weekly edition along with the weekly, but the venture failed. After the Danville Daily Post went out of business in 1880, Anderson purchased the press and printing material of that operation. With the added machinery, he started an afternoon daily in February of 1882. A single copy of the daily sold for three cents, and the maximum number of pages printed in an issue remained at four. Judge A. W. C. Nowlin bought the paper from Anderson in 1884 and sold it the next year to Col. J. Richard Lewellen, a veteran of the Mexican and Civil wars and a for- mer newspaper publisher in Petersburg and Norfolk. Lewellen sold an interest in the paper to W. Scott Copeland, and on June 1,1885, the two men changed the daily from an af- ternoon to a morning publication, calling it the Danville Daily Register. Col. Lewellen died in 1886 and his son-in- law, Robert Eldon Freeman, took his place as publisher. ONE OF FIRST AP MEMBERS Five years later, the Register was using United Press reports of national news. The change to Associated Press coverage was made six years after that, the Register being one of the first carriers of that service in the nation. In 1896, Freeman and a partner, Frank S. Woodson, returned the name of The Danville Register to the paper. Despite additions to the plant, including the first linotype ever used by the Register, the paper declined rapidly during the late 1890s as Freeman and Woodson neglected the business. On New Year's Day, 1899, the Register was sold at auction to pay its publishers' debts. THE JAMES ERA BEGINS Rorer A. James bought the business for 5,500 and changed the name of the en- terprise to The Register Publishing Company. After James purchased the Register, he immediately began to expand its cir- culation and news coverage. Enlarging each issue of both the daily and the weekly to six pages, he raised the price of a copy to five cents. In May of 1900, James bought the Danville Daily Bee, an afternoon paper which had been edited by Al Fan-brother since January of 1899. Fairbrother edited the Bee and the new semi-weekly Register and Farrago. The semi-weekly ran from 1900 until 190* when it was abandoned. Although it generally is recognized that James never actually wrote editorials, it was his policy always to fist himself as publisher and editor of the papers. Because of the omission of editors' names from records, the editorship of the Register and the Bee during several years of the early 20th century is in doubt. Harry C. Ficklen, Danville's second great wit after Richard Lyle, may have edited the Register from 1899 to 1900. Arthur H. Taylor may have begun editing the Register as early as 1909. He definitely wrote editorials for the paper until at least 1924. Several years before Taylor left Dan ville to edit the Greensboro Record, the Temple fell. Late in the evening of Jan. 3,1920, a wal of the burning Masonic Temple collapsed onto the offices and composing room of the old Register building, burying the presses with smoldering bricks. Publication never stopped, but for several weeks the Register and Bee were printed on the old Townes presses across the street. Then its own presses were cleared and again used. RORER A. JAMES JR. Congressman James died in August of 1921 and his son, Rorer A. James Jr., took over as publisher. He began construction Harnsberger's moved to its present location at 423 Main Street in May, 1972. Herman Shafer and Mrs. Selma Carton are the owners and operators, trading under the parent name of Whichard Bros. Co., Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland. After Rosenberg's retirement, Lafayette W. McKinney was appointed manager. at the corner of Union and Patton streets of a new building for the newspapers as a memorial to his father. In 1922 the weekly edition of the Register was discontinued forever, and the next year construction of the present Register building was completed. Gerard Tetley, an Englishman who had worked as a news and sports reporter for the Register and the Bee for several years, was editor of the Bee at the time the new plant was finished. He remained editor of the afternoon paper for at least four decades -- until Editors of the Register in the 1920s and 1930s included Hubert Clark, William Shands Meacham, Michael Bradshaw, R. T. Corbell and J. C. Emerson. In 1935 the publishing company pur- chased three units of the old Boston Herald-Traveller press to increase operations in Danville. The daily at that time averaged eight pages, and the Sunday issue usually con- tained two sections of 12 pages each. ELIZABETH STUART JAMES Rorer James Jr. died in May of 1937 and the business was inherited by his 17-year- I old daughter, Elizabeth Stuart James r (Mrs. Walter L. Grant). Acting as administrator for Miss James, the First National Bank became titular head of the newspaper from 1937 to 1941. In that year Miss James turned 21 and took over as sole owner and president of the Register Publishing Company. Control of the company's operations during the previous four years had been vested in Andrew A. Farley, general manager of the company since 1936. He continued as vice president and genera! manager after Miss James came into her inheritance of the newspaper properties. In the spring of 1940, W. Marion Saun- ders, the present editor of The Register, wrote his first editorials for the morning newspaper. A North Carolinian, he had j edited newspapers in his native state and in Virginia before coming to Danville from Suffolk. In September, 1945, Walter L. Grant returned from service in World War II and joined the management of his wife's newspapers. He was named vice president and publisher, posts which he held until his unexpected death in 1972. During his quarter-century as publisher, Mr. Grant i stressed the role of the newspapers as community institutions. I SONS TAKE THE HELM W. Lawson Grant, Jr., elder son of the publishing family, joined the company during the spring of 1972, shortly after his THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DANVILLE SERVING DANVILLE AND PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY SINCE 1872 MAIN OFFICE: DOWNTOWN · BALLOU PARK · NORTH DANVILLE · WILSON RIDGE · RIVERSIDE · FIRST NATIONAL EAST '104 Years Of Fa/thful Service'

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