Chronicles of The Messenger from the Buzzerd archives

The late Warren Buzzerd compiled a history of his family’s newspaper for inclusion in the Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society’s book “Morgan County, West Virginia and its people,” which was published in 1981. We reprint it as he wrote it that year.

The Morgan Messenger was established November 16, 1893 by S.S. Buzzerd and Lewis J. Frey, as joint editors and publishers. After two years Frey sold his interest to Buzzerd who remained owner until his death, May 30, 1959.

For approximately 35 years Buzzerd’s two sons, Lewis H. and James S. Buzzerd were associated with their father in publishing the paper. In May of 1961 Lewis H. sold his interest in The Morgan Messenger to his brother James S. and retired as editor.

James Warren Buzzerd, only child of James S., went with the publication in June 1959 and was named editor following the retirement of Lewis H. Buzzerd. James S. Buzzerd remains publisher of The Messenger which has a current subscription list of 4,600.

Currently associated with the publication are James Warren’s two sons, James David and Todd Buzzerd. Thus, the fourth generation of Buzzerds to be affiliated with the Messenger during 88 years of continual weekly publication.

During May of 1966 the concern purchased The Hancock News from Susan Bohler of Hancock, Md. who had edited and published the paper since 1947. Mrs. Bohler’s weekly newspaper career went back to 1921 when she began working for George Huber who established The News in 1914.

The Hancock News continues to be published by the Buzzerds with circulation being 2,400.

Currently (1981) engaged in publication of The Morgan Messenger and The Hancock News are James S. Buzzerd, publisher; J. Warren Buzzerd, editor; James David Buzzerd, Todd Buzzerd, Glen Waugh, Pauline Waugh, Linda Kay Johnson, Christine Bright, Janice Lee, John Douglas, Thomas Unger, Charles (Crow) Kyne, Sally Fost, Sandra Howard, Helen Layton.

Looking Back

Warren Buzzerd’s hand-written note specifies that this history of Morgan County newspapers was compiled by S.S. Buzzerd, his grandfather.

The Morgan Messenger presently remains the only newspaper to serve Morgan County but the history of county papers dates back to 1850, as far as can be ascertained.

The Enterprise, published by E.G. Day, and The Constitution, published by William G. Baker – both in the fifties – between 1850-1860.

The Mercury, established 1869, was published and edited by C.H. Hodgson until his death. John W. Trimble acquired the paper and later formed a partnership with Lewis J. Frey. A few years later Frey bought Trimble’s interest. At some point the word “Morgan” was added to the name plate and about 1890 Frey sold to D. Pratt Wright who held ownership until October 1893 when The Morgan Mercury was destroyed by fire and never revived.

A month after The Mercury burned, Lewis J. Frey and S.S. Buzzerd established The Morgan Messenger (Republican newspaper), first issue November 16, 1893.

A listing of Morgan County newspapers hangs in the offices of The Morgan Messenger today.

The Berkeley Springs News (Democrat newspaper) was established by Clarence H. Hawvermale on April 27, 1885.

Hawvermale sold to N.S.D. Pendleton about the year 1890, who owned and editor The News 40 years. Following his death W. L. Price, who was Pendleton’s printer, managed the paper until it was sold to Irving W. Dick, who two years later sold to a company, and during the company’s ownership it was edited by the late J. Charles Scott. Shortly thereafter Hugh Hunter and Fred T. Newbraugh took over the paper for a brief time until the owners, W. Jack Hunter and J.A. Proctor, in March 1934, sold to S.S. Buzzerd, publisher of The Morgan Messenger. The Messenger discontinued The News in 1968.

Another paper, The Republican, started about 1890 by Harry Sallade who came from Washington, D.C. J.W. Williams, a printer, was associated with Sallade. This made three weekly newspapers in a community of less than 600 population at that time.

Soon after The Republican was launched it was edited for a short time by H. C. Willis, who was also principal of Berkeley Springs Mt. Wesley Grade School. This publication was soon forced to quit business.

On May 10, 1906, because of bitter feeling between two factions in the Republican party, another paper, The Post, entered the field with H.D. Allen, a lawyer, as editor, and Lewis J. Frey manager, Frey having returned from Washington where he spent two years following his disposal of his interest in The Morgan Messenger. The Post was a stock company and well equipped, which made the going tough for the other Republican paper at that time.

Within a few years Frey moved his family to Charleston, W.Va., where for several years he held a position in the State Workmen’s Compensation department. He was succeeded as editor by Harry W. Bayer, a local attorney, who held the position until the office was destroyed by fire January 14, 1917. The Post was never revived.

S.S. Buzzerd’s history, dated March 30, 1950, includes these two additional paragraphs:      

For approximately 25 years we have had associated with us in the publication of the paper our two sons, Lewis H. and James S. Buzzerd, and Miss Mary Barker, machine operator and compositor. They, the faithful three, are in complete charge of operations.

For the names of the first two Morgan county editors we are indebted to Miss Katherine H. Hunter who has done a great deal of research work and has accumulated much valuable historical data of families and events here dating from Colonial days.