History of Early Amateur Journalism in New Jersey


AMATEUR JOURNALISM MADE an early appearance in New Jersey, and for many years, especially in the early period, the State has had a great influence in amateur affairs.


Leon P. Kuhl published The Knapsack from Copper Hills beginning in 1870, a four-pager with nine issues by March, 1871. With the tenth number the name was changed to The Monthly Bulletin. By November, 1871, printing quality was drastically improved and the size increased to a four column, four-pager and increased subscription rate to fifty cents per year. By October, M. M. Murrell was added to the masthead as co-editor and co-proprietor resulting from a consolidation with The Silver Sceptre which gave The Monthly Bulletin a circulation of over one thousand. The December issues announced the publishers’ move to New York City. Louis Claude Whiton and Cornelius Blauvelt Zabrinske published Kind Words in 1871 from Jersey City. Reed Campbell and S. S. LaBoyteaux claimed a tremendous circulation figure of 10,000 for their The Monitor, of Jersey City. It is a large, three column, eight-pager with substantial content. In their number for May, 1871, they claim to have three hundred exchanges. Nominally a monthly, they note in May that “owing to circumstances that are unnecessary to state, the March and April numbers of this paper were not issued.”


In August, 1872, a Jersey Blue A.P.A. was organized at Flemington with Lawrence S. Mott as President, and Bart L. Bonsall, Vice-President. In 1873 John F. Harned was President and John R. Hewitt Editor, the official organ being the Star of the East. The last President was Bart L. Bonsall. The New Jersey amateurs again organized, under the name of the Garden State A.P.A., in November, 1881, at Jersey City, Joseph Dana Miller, President. In Newark, November 30, 1882, J. B. H. Storms was elected President, and in November, 1883, at Bloomfield, Homer M. Green was chosen President, Storms being made Editor. It was re-organized May 30, 1885, with Charles R. Burger as President and Green, Editor, but it did not long survive. A number of short-lived organizations were formed later.


Local clubs have been formed at various times, the one in Jersey City having the longest life. It was organized September 6, 1899, with James M. Reilly, Jr., as President, and James A. Clerkin, Editor. In 1900 Harry M. Konwiser was President, in 1901 James A. Clerkin, in 1902 Albert B. Cull. A Newark A.P.A. was formed November 4, 1901, E. L. Klump being President. New Brunswick organized in April, 1899, and in October, L. M. Ayres was made President. A rival club was organized in 1902, Howard G. Brooks, President, but both soon disbanded.


The earliest amateur journalist of record in New Jersey was Nicholas G. Vreeland, who in la66 printed the Sunnyside in Jersey City on an Adams press. He was followed by one of the most prominent amateurs of early days, William L. Terhune, who in 1869, in Newark, began the publication of the Loyal Union. He consolidated this with the Young Sportsman and gained for it a very large circulation. Reed Campbell became an associate editor. In 1869, also, John J. Dailey, in Woodbridge, began publication of a mammoth sheet called the Excelsior. Next year, in South Orange, R. A. Maxwell issued the Boys' Gem; in Hudson City the Horton Brothers the Gim Crack; in Copper Hill L. P. Kuhl the Knapsack; and in Lafayette Ernest Huston the Shooting Star. In Jersey City, in 1871, L. C. Whiton and C. B. Zabriskie sent forth Kind Words and Henri Gerard the Comet. In 1871 Laurence S. Mott, of Flemington, started the Young American's Monthly, which he issued for three years, and in the same year in Jersey City E. S. Seymour published the Jersey Blue, continuing it for four years. It was revived in 1876 by Edwin Asa Dix, of Newark. In 1872, in Hoboken, Richard Gerner began a notable amateur career by publishing the Scientific Amateur, and the same year also in Hoboken the Busy Body, one of the foremost papers of its day, was founded by Max Kurth and Arthur Seitz.


In 1872 in Camden two prominent journals were started, the Spy, Bertram L. Bonsall, editor, and the Youths' Monthly, John F. Harned, editor. Next year Camden was the home of the Star of the East, John R. Hewitt, editor, and the Jersey Boy, Howard Ireland, editor. The Starry Flag was issued in 1872 from Newark by Grant Castner, and the same year saw the birth of the Comet in Cranford, R. A. Bigelow, editor; the American Star, in Vineland, A. C. Dalton, editor; and Our Jersey Friend, in Elizabeth, C. A. Ryder, editor. In Elizabeth next year Augustus S. Crane issued the Jersey Boys' Companion.


In 1875 another noted amateur poet and editor began to carry on the Gerner literary tradition. Maximus A. Lesser, like Gerner from Hoboken, issued the Jersey Amateur Journal, but was more widely known as an author. The same year in Vienna Zander Snyder issued the Boys’ Delight, later moving to Belvidere and publishing the Jersey Snyder. Vienna also had Our Enterprise, Austin C. Howell, editor, and the Vienna Imp, Edward A. Hance, editor. Other prominent journals from 1876 to 1880 were the Pastime, Newark, I. Harry Blanchard, editor; Nonpareil, South Orange, Lorenzo H. Abbey, editor; the Triumph, Summit, Newton Woodruff, editor; the Argosy, Jersey City, Joseph Dana Miller, noted amateur poet, editor; Independent Times, Newark, Frank N. Reeve, editor; the Hornet, Dion E. Woolley, editor, and the Amateur Banner, William F. Rexford, editor, both from Hammonton. In 1879 James B. H. Storms began the publication of Spunk in Park Ridge, which he issued for five years from there and Newark.


After 1880 New Jersey papers were not so numerous, although some of them were well known. Among them were Criteria issued from Newark by Horace Freeman in 1882; the Bergen Post, Jersey City, published the same year by Charles R. Burger and Homer M. Green; the Cape May Buzz, Lewis T. Stevens, editor; and the Budget and Today, John Moody, editor, later the noted financial authority. In 1897 Charles W. Heins issued the Literary Pioneer, and for many years afterwards he published Arrows. Leston M. Ayres, of New Brunswick, published Hebe beginning in 1899.


In later years Jersey City was the home of the Amateur Gazette, edited by Hubert L. Reid, and of a large and finely illustrated magazine called Genius published by Walter G. Muirheid. Still later George Andersen issued the Literary Messenger, and Vincent B. Haggerty Leisure Hours. In Newark soon after the turn of the century Harry M. Konwiser published the Bomb, and Mabel A. Klump Caprice. In recent years Burton Crane has sent forth Masaka from Elizabeth, Bernice C. McCarthy Happy Daze from Asbury Park, James F. Morton the Meliorist, and Robert Telschow Reverie from Paterson.


Back to States Listing

Back to Amateur Journalism