History of Early Amateur Journalism in Maine


THE FIRST ORGANIZATION of Maine amateur journalists was formed August 13, 1879, at Old Orchard Beach, with J. Howard Burgess as President. It had a brief life, but it was succeeded by the Maine A.P.A., organized at Biddeford in October, 1883. Clarence W. Small, of Portland, editor of the Yankee Amateur, was chosen President, and was re-elected in July, 1884. In 1885, Fred W. Adams was President and was re-elected in 1886. At Portland, January 6, 1887, H. S. Chapman was chosen to that office. Its last meeting was at Portland, January 1, 1888, A. B. Leach, of Portland, editor of the Young Journalist, being elected President. In August, 1906, a Pine Tree A.P.A. was organized, but it was short lived.


The earliest amateur journalist of record in Maine was the distinguished publisher, Cyrus H. K. Curtis, who issued his Young America in 1865. He was followed in Portland in 1873 by Charles E. Williams, with his Little Hero, and in 1874 the Gazette. In Biddeford in 1871 W. L. Watson issued the Banner, and Walter E. Perkins the Snow Flake. In 1873, W. O. Fuller, of Rockland, later a prominent newspaper publisher, with Frank H. Converse published the Enterprise. In Portland in 1874 the Boys of Maine was issued by C. Edwin Quinby, and in 1878 J. Howard Burgess, of Lewiston, published the Phonograph, its heading having a woodcut of an old-fashioned phonograph.


The Phi-Rhonian was issued in1870 from Bath. It was nominally a journal for the Phi Rho Society and Bath High School, but it had an exchange column and was part of amateur journalism. The editorial in the number for November, 1871, (presumably written by the editor, F. A. Greenleaf) talks about the amateur press, the National Amateur Press Association, and the benefits to be derived by having school papers associate with the larger audience. In fact, it is worth noting that the editor shows some pique in the December, 1871, number, “The Pacific Youth, of Nov.23d, copies an entire article from the Phi-Rhonian, and every item in it was copied from the November “Fragments.” We are glad to see our paper so well received, and trust we appreciate the compliment, but couldn’t the Youth have given us credit for them?”


One of the foremost amateur journalists of Maine was Clarence W. Small, of Portland, who issued the Yankee Amateur in 1883, and later a larger paper called the Independent. At the same time H. E. Milliken, of Biddeford, sent out the Dirigo Oracle, while in 1886 Albert W. Davis gained prominence as editor of the Bangor Boys, and from Abbot Village Fred Cole issued the Globe. Cole later became famous as editor of Smiles and Satire. Dover was placed upon the amateur map in 1891 by the Pratt brothers. Orman T. Pratt published Our Free Blade, and Fred W. issued successively the Spy, Invincible and Today.


Maine's interest in and support of amateur journalism, though Portland was the center, was distributed through many parts of the State. In Augusta in 1884, Harry M. Bigelow, later to become editor of the Portland Press Herald, published the Chip; Burleigh and Whitehouse at about the same time issued the Boy's Herald; and Horace Hamlin and Co., the Pine Tree Echo. Other Augusta amateur journalists were J. R. Boardman, the Misses Hattie and Mattie Brackett, Gertrude Young, Will Perkins and G. 0. Smith. At West Waterville, in 1879, J. M. Parker published the Pine Tree Chip. West Pitch Echoes came from McDonald and Ross in 1887 in Lewiston. In Brunswick Charles F. Lincoln and Henry S. Chapman edited the Cumberland Monthly (1883-1886), which also became the official organ of the Maine Amateur Journalists' Association.


Saco, a few miles south of Portland, saw a flurry of activity in the early Eighties. In December, 1881, appeared the first issue of a weekly School Boy's Companion which endured for seven numbers, the first under Noyes, Lowell & Co., the remaining six with W. T. Abbott replacing Lowell. The Dennett brothers' activity was the most prolonged, J. Vaughan issuing the Star from 1881 to 1884 ("The Most Aged Paper in the State of Maine"); his brother, W. H., the Sun (1882-1883). Vaughan Dennett in the Star made the suggestion that a history of amateur journalism be prepared in every city and town; then these should be gathered together into a complete history. Alfred F. Lane issued one number of the Press in 1883; then changed to the Moon, 1884. A boy named Mitchell published in 1883 an amateur book, A Costly Mistake, and in the same year Vaughan Dennett issued another, Jack's Harmless Joke, 40 pages.


Portland saw the greatest activity. Besides Williams' Gazette there were the Portland Press (1883-4) by Fred Small associated with Fred D. Cole of Abbott Village; the Tomahawk (1884) by Ernest C. Warren; Our Amateur (1884) by Charles J. and Willis E. Bailey and Carl L. Houston; the Portland Eagle, by George Thornton Edwards, later to become a well known author and composer; he also was associate editor of Smiles and Satire (1887); the Monthly Gazette, by Fred A. Hamlin; the Young Journalist, by Arthur H. Longfellow, Arthur B. Leach and Horatio N. Prince (1887-8). Others in Portland were Fred L. Brackett and James F. Macy; the latter had published, in 1884, the New Bedford Amateur and the Rising Sun (a daily that endured for one week) in New Bedford.


In the 1880's Maine also was represented in amateur journalism by H. E. and Ralph Milliken and Miss Laura Goodman of Biddeford and Charles E. Clapp of Falmouth, where he published the Falmouth Gazette.


During the 1890's Maine was principally represented by Clement F. Robinson of Brunswick, who, with his two younger brothers, edited 20 numbers of Our Young People and then a like number of issues of We Young People from August, 1894, to July, 1898. Robinson went on to a distinguished career in law and politics and became State Attorney General from 1929 to 1932.


Since 1900 few have been the amateur journalists and papers from Maine. During the first decade of this century W. B. and Mildred L. Tracy issued from Hinckley the Pine Cone (1905) and R. F. Gerrish, of West Sullivan, the Village Chap Book and the Amateur Press. In the 1930's Charles Austin of Washington and Mary Morgan Ware of Thomaston contributed to the amateur press, and Clement Robinson in 1937 received the essay laureateship of the N.A.P.A. for "Galsworthy and the Law" and again in 1939 for "The Dreyfus Case," both published in the Californian.


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