The Slatington News:
The Early Years (1868-1897)

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In these early years, the newspaper established itself as a weekly devoted to the news of the expanding slate industry in the town and the surrounding region. Through these early decades, there was a succession of publishers, editors and locations. What is surprising is the prominence of many of the individuals connected with the paper. Let's start with a timeline of these early years.

2 September 1868, Wednesday, the first issue of The Slatington News appeared, published by Godshalk and Bright from the Marsteller Building on lower Main Street. The paper would be published each Wednesday and focus on slate news. Also, the first issue was not printed in Slatington as not all of the necessary machinery was installed in the building yet. The second issue would also appear late as the machinery was still not quite ready. Later issues by Godshalk were printed in Bethlehem where Godshalk was involved with another newspaper enterprise, but the type was actually set in Slatington.

So, where was the Marsteller Building? It appears that the building was across the street from the town hall on lower Main Street. Since the town hall was basically where the beer distributor is on lower Main Street (as of 2023). The Marsteller Building was probably 275-77 lower Main Street.

Later, the newspaper would move around to other locations in Slatington. For example, in June 1869 the paper moved to Kuntz Hall in the Seibert building (on the northeast corner of Main and Church Streets). Then in March 1883, the office moved to the Oplinger building (on the southeast corner of Main and Church Streets). In 1888, the move was to the basement of Rice's building, the future home of the Citizens Bank building (on the northwest corner of Main and Second Streets). Finally, in August 1901 the paper occupied its final location in Rauch's building at 420 Main Street, on the north side of the Main Street bridge over Trout Creek.

So, what do we know about the two men involved with publishing the newspaper? It turns out that both had long careers in newspaper publishing in the Lehigh Valley.

David John (D. J.) Godshalk (1836-1911) was involved in the newspaper business up to the day before his death in South Bethlehem where he was working on the South Bethlehem Globe. At his death, he was survived by one daughter, Hannah (1859-1942), and two sisters, Sidney Godshalk (1838-1928) and Matilda Armitage (1848-1922). According to one obituary, the "deceased was a born newspaperman."

Born just south of Easton, PA, Godshalk attended public school in Easton. In 1849, he began his long career in publishing when his father sent him to Doylestown to learn the printing trade. After several years involvement with different printing ventures, he went to New York. There he married Susan A. Seeley (1838-1861). After working at several papers, including The New York Times, in 1862 he enlisted in Company I, 22nd regiment, New York National Guard, a unit in which he served until mustered out in September 1862. He returned to Easton, and then about 1865 he started a weekly in Bethlehem called The Chronicle. Almost immediately after that, he collaborated on the first daily paper in Bethlehem, later known as The Bethlehem Times, which he headed until 1887. He also worked for a while in Trenton and with several other newspapers in the Lehigh Valley area. In 1889, he purchased the South Bethlehem Star, and then a few years later he became editor of the South Bethlehem Globe.

John C. Bright (1841-1890) was also a lifelong newspaper man up to his death in 1890 in Philadelphia. In the 1870s and 80s he was a printer by trade and employed first at the Moravian Publication office in Bethlehem and then at The Bethlehem Times where he was a foreman in the paper run by Godshalk. At some point in time, he moved to Philadelphia where he was an assistant foreman of The Keystone newspaper. His first wife, Emma Troxell, died in 1880. He was survived by his second wife Rachel Hichs (1845-?) and several sons and daughters.

3 February 1869 Almost six months into publication, the first of a series of ownership changes occurred when L. E. Schlauch and T. J. Smith took over the paper. Publication remained at the lower Main Street site.

I have been unable to find any information about T. J. Smith, who it appears did not remain in Slatington very long. A later note that appeared in the paper claimed that he had retired "to join some itinerant show or concert troupe."

Lafenus E. Schlauch (1836-1890) would remain one of the editors and a proprietor of the paper for nineteen years until he sold the paper in 1888. Born near Fogelsville in Lehigh County, he was a printer by trade at an early age. He died in January 1890 after a series of illnesses left him blind and disabled. His son Penrose (1862-1888), who had also worked on the newspaper until it was sold, preceded his father in death. His wife Lowina Peters (1837-1913) died in 1913.

22 September 1869 After a very short time, Smith retired and moved out of Slatington, and Henry Abraham Kline (1844-1923) took a position with the newspaper which was now published every Wednesday from a site opposite Mack's block on Main Street. Mack's Block was the set of buildings from the bank on the northwest corner of Main and Second streets up to the current Allen O. Delke Post 16 legion building. The newspaper office would have been across the street in a building that was located where the current Baptist Church is. Kline also took over a share of the bookstore and the stationary store.

Kline, born at Kline's Corner in Berks County, led a really unique life. He was a Civil War veteran, having enlisted 5 November 1862 in Company K of the 151st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment (volunteers). The regiment suffered extremely heavy casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg on 1 July 1863. Kline was among those wounded, and he was taken prisoner, but he was able to escape.

After leaving Slatington where he was an express agent before becoming involved with the newspaper, Kline went west. At about this time, he married Jennie Becker (1845-1925) who was from nearby Trexlertown, PA. He ended up in Buchanan, MI where he worked in a dry goods store. He eventually ended up in Chicago where he worked at different jobs over the years.

Around 1916, he and his wife returned to Allentown. According to the 1920 census, he was still working at the age of 74 as a laborer in a bobbin works. On a visit to his sister in Catasauqua, he fell ill and then died. His wife died three years later in 1925, and they were buried in Zion Union Cemetery, Maxatawny, PA.

22 June 1870 After about six months, Kline retired from the paper, and David D. (D. D.) Roper (1839-1904) became editor. Roper was one of Slatington's most prominent men of the late nineteenth century.


D. D. Roper

Born in Ireland, Roper and his brother emigrated to the United States in 1856 at the age of seventeen. Initially settling in Clinton, NJ, he became a carpenter. In September 1862 he enlisted in the 31st Regiment New Jersey Volunteers. Wounded in the leg during the war, he mustered out when the regiment was disbanded in June 1863.

After a stint in Iron City, PA where there was a high demand for carpenters and where the wages were good, Roper saved money and then moved to Allentown where he studied to become a lawyer. He was admitted to the Bar in 1866 and chose to settle in Slatington where he joined the law practice of Henry Kuntz, who was also an important slate entrepreneur in the area.

Roper was extremely active in Slatington affairs. He helped establish the National Bank of Slatington and served on the board of directors. He also played a role in setting up the Slatington Water Works and then later also worked to set up the Slatington rolling mill. He was town burgess for a term, borough solicitor for a long time, a member of the school board, active in the Presbyterian Church, quartermaster of the 4th Regiment Pennsylvania National Guard volunteers from 1876 to 1880, and he was the state representative for Lehigh County in 1887, 1889 and 1891. In 1893, with A. L. and Samuel Rice he founded the Hazel-Dell Slate Company, which operated just west of Slatington and which was famed for its roofing slate. Roper served as superintendent of the company.

He married in Philadelphia in 1876 to Amy C. Kernahen (1850-1951), a former public-school teacher of town. They had four daughters (Vida, Jennie, Minnie, Mamie) and one son (Winfield).

His home at 120 Second Street was constantly expanded, eventually reaching 25 rooms.

At his death, he was buried in Fairview cemetery.

1 May 1873 The partnership of Roper and Schlauch dissolved when Roper left because of the demands of his law practice. G. Bayard Fickardt (1853-1921), from Bethlehem, purchased Roper's interest in the newspaper.

There is only some sketchy information available about Fickardt. It seems that he was from Bethlehem and that he lived most of his life in Bethlehem, as he was listed there on the 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.

According to his obituary in The Morning Call, Fickardt learned the printing trade at the age of fifteen and worked for a while on a weekly paper in Ohio and then on several other metropolitan papers. He returned to Bethlehem and became the editor of The Bethlehem Times and later the assistant business manager and then the city editor. He was also a colleague of D. J. Godshalk while working in Bethlehem. After a short retirement, he returned to work at the Bethlehem Printing Company as a proofreader. A lifetime newspaper man, he never married. He was buried in Nisky Hill cemetery in Bethlehem, PA. Interestingly, he was actively involved in promoting professional cycling in the early twentieth century.

1 August 1874 Benjamin Patterson (1852-1933) took over from Fickardt as Schlauch continued his involvement with the newspaper.

Patterson was originally from New Jersey, but somehow wound up in the Slatington area. He probably already had some newspaper/printing experience. He was only in Slatington a short time, from 1875-1878, when he was enlisted in Co. H, 4th infantry Pennsylvania National Guard in Slatington. By 1880, he had moved and was living with his wife Rebecca Plummer (1845-1916), married circa 1877, and his son, Benjamin Carl Fickardt (1877-1932), in Langhorne, Bucks County where he was working on an unnamed newspaper. By the turn of the century, he was living in Woodstown (Salem County, NJ) where he was the editor of the Woodstown Monitor Register. This borough was just across the Delaware River from Wilmington, DE. Patterson died in 1933, but like many of his predecessors at The Slatington News, he had been a lifetime newspaperman. He was preceded in death by his wife and his son.

16 January 1878 Schlauch became sole owner and publisher when Patterson left. Later his son, Penrose Schlauch, became editor.

1 May 1879 The price of the newspaper was reduced to $1 from $2 for a year. This actually led to an increase in circulation, but we have no exact figures on the number of subscriptions from those years.

1880 While Schlauch served as census enumerator in Slatington for the 1880 U.S. federal census, George Samuel Marx (1854-1936) served as editor. In fact, the 1880 census lists Marx as a printer and as a boarder with Schlauch.

Accurate information about Marx's life after he left Slatington is difficult to track down. Census information places him as a farmer in Wyoming in 1910 and 1920 and then living with an older brother in California in 1930. He died in 1936 and was buried next to his brother in Roosevelt Memorial Park, Gardena, California. It is not clear if he ever married.

8 December 1880 The Allentown Democrat confirmed that "Mr. George S. Marx has severed his editorial connection with The Slatington News."

28 March 1883 The newspaper office moved to the Oplinger building (the southeast corner of Main and Church Streets).

7 December 1883 Samuel S. Woolever launched the daily newspaper, Critic, in Allentown. This newspaper would later become The Morning Call.

22 August 1888 The Slatington News passed into the hands of O. K. Mohr (1867-1953) and his brother-in-law E. E. Schoenly, of Macungie, PA. Schlauch, in a farewell column in the paper on 15 August, thanked the residents of town for their support over the years that he had been associated with the paper. He was forced to sell because of failing eyesight. In his words “Providence sent an affliction upon us.” Schlauch also remarked that Mr. Mohr “is a practical printer and thoroughly competent to assume the duties that will devolve upon him in the capacity of editor” and that Mr. Schoenly “is a conscientious business man.”

Mohr had trained as a printer in Macungie and remained in the printing business his entire life. He became a part of The Slatington News management team at a very young age, but he only stayed with the paper for three years before selling his share and moving to Allentown. There, he bought the former Keystone Press (524 Hamilton St. later moving it to 727 Turner St.) which he then operated as O. K. Printing Co.

Mohr was married twice. His first wife, who he married in 1890, was Sallie Haines (1869-1914), who was also born in Macungie. They had no children. He married his second wife, Sallie E. Schreiber (1872-1957), in 1915. They adopted Millicent Myrtle Mansfield as their daughter. Millicent (1919-1981) was the daughter of Oliver Mohr’s older brother, Edward K. Mohr (1854-1934).

Mohr’s partner at the paper was Emanuel Charles Schoenly (1860-1931), his brother-in-law through Schoenly’s marriage (1888) to Mohr’s older sister, Mieda Cornelia Mohr (1862-1899). They had two sons, Elmer (1888-1969) and Edward (1896-1985). That was with his second wife. His first wife was Elmira Gehman (1858-1886).


E. C. Schoenly

After leaving Slatington, Schoenly moved to Allentown where he worked as a printer. According to his obituary, he sold the print shop and opened a grocery store at 612 Turner St. which he ran until just a few months before his death.

7 August 1889 The newspaper office moved to the basement of Rice’s Block, the future home of the Citizens Bank building (on the northwest corner of Main and Second Streets.

25 November 1889 Mohr and Schoenly dissolved their partnership, and Mohr became editor and proprietor.

7 November 1891 The paper's weekly publishing date changed to Saturday of each week.

14 November 1891 The Slatington News, lately owned and edited by Mr. O. K. Mohr, was sold to a corporation known as The News Publishing Company. The local editor and manager was Henry Lester Work (1858-1899) of New York. Mohr thanked the readers for the support that he had received in the three years that he managed the newspaper. It is unclear if Mohr continued to remain with the paper in some capacity or some time.

Work came highly recommended. According to Mohr, he had at one time been the Washington correspondent of The Cheyenne Sun (Wyoming).

H. L. Work was born and grew up in Indiana County, PA where he began his career as a printer and a newspaper man. By 1880, he was living in Washington, DC where he was an employee of the government printing office. He was still listed as living in Washington in the 1890 census, but by some unknown means, he turned up in Slatington by 1891 to be associated with the newspaper there. When he left Slatington in 1893, it seems that he first intended to start a paper in Jefferson County in Western Pennsylvania, but as he was suffering from tuberculosis, he moved to Birmingham, AL where he died in 1899. He was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, DC. He had married Mary T. Judge (1863-1913) in Washington in 1899. They had one daughter Frances Justina Work Webb (1890-1960).

28 October 1893 Work, who had been editor for about two years now, relinquished management of the paper – basically he seems to have been forced out. He retained some share of interest in The News Publishing Company, the president of which was Frank Jacobs (1867-1916), of Allentown. I have been unable to identify other investors in the paper.

Jacobs was a prominent Lehigh County lawyer, born in Reading, who had lived in Slatington from about 1880 to 1890 before moving to Allentown. From 1890-1893, he had served as captain of company H, Slatington Rifles. He was married to Florence Lance (1871-1959) who was also from Reading. Both were buried in Fairview Cemetery.

James L. Mast (1841-1930) became editor and Colonel Clark “C. C.” Cortright (1872-1899) became the business manager and solicitor.

The paper also adopted a republican party affiliation.

James Mast

James Mast

Mast was a decorated veteran of the Civil War. He had been born in Venezuela to parents from Alsace-Lorraine, but the family moved to Reading when he was very young, and Mast grew up in that city. When the war broke out, he volunteered for the Ringgold Light Artillery, one of the units of the so-called “Pennsylvania First Defenders.” (The “first defenders” were five volunteer groups of Pennsylvania soldiers who were the first to respond to President Lincoln's call for militia in April 1861.) As Mast later recalled, “I was only 20 when Father Abraham issued the call …. I enlisted as a private and went with Capt. James McKnight to Washington on April 16, 1861.”

Mast served for the duration of the war during which he was promoted from private eventually to lieutenant and also decorated for gallantry. He participated in the Manassas, Antietam, South Mountain, Petersburg and Vicksburg campaigns before being discharged in June 1865.

After the war, he attended West Point and after graduation served in the regular army for thirteen years in numerous posts in the western United States.

After retiring from the army, Mast became a printer working for The New York Times and then the Reading Times before becoming associated with The Slatington News. In 1900, he bought the Slatington Star for which he served as the editor for seven years. Giving up the Star after the death of his wife, he drifted about the country before settling first at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Tennessee and then the National Soldiers Home in Hampton Roads, VA, where he died. He was buried in Reading.

In 1886 he married Elizabeth Gabriel (1839-1907) who was also from Reading.

C. C. Cortright was the son of Hiram Cortright, who lived in Walnutport, and he was a graduate of Lafayette College in Easton (1893). He only lasted with the newspaper for a few months before he moved on and became a public-school teacher in Easton. In December 1895, he married Laura Hope Kichline (1873-1930), and they had one daughter. He died in September 1899 and was buried in Easton Cemetery.

31 March 1894 Cortright left The Slatington News. Mast took over management of the business while Pearl Andrew Prutzman (1875-1910) served as solicitor and collector.

Prutzman was born at Lehigh Gap, just north of Slatington, and after his short time working for The Slatington News, he became a sales clerk. In 1900 he married Goldie M. Nolf (1876-1962). At the time she was living in Emerald and working as a dressmaker. She was the daughter of Amandus Nolf (1853-1926), with whom Prutzman entered into the business of operating a general store in Emerald. Prutzman and Nolf had four children: Larue, Mary, Elda and George. In May 1910 Prutzman died of tetanus blood poisoning (lockjaw) after about two weeks of suffering. He was buried in Union Cemetery, Slatington.

11 August 1894 Robert H. Dalby (1848-1911) became the newspaper’s general manager. Dalby was born near Manchester, England and arrived in the United States just after the Civil War ended; he eventually became a naturalized citizen. In October 1869, he married Martha Ransbottom (1846-1914) who was also from England. About 1880, Dalby and his wife moved into a house at 856 Main Street. Besides his association with The Slatington News, Dalby was involved with the Washington Slate Company and the local representative of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. He was also especially active with the Presbyterian Church where he was the organist and chorister for over twenty years. “He had a natural talent for music and took a great pleasure in this line of church work, having a splendid voice that retained its clearness until the last.”

1 January 1898 James G. Rauch officially became the sole owner of “The NEWS Publishing Co., Incorporated.” He made a slight revision to the name, “The News Publishing Company,” and Rauch returned the political orientation of the paper to independent. Mast remained as acting editor with Rauch responsible for general management and the job printing department. Note that both The Morning Call and the Allentown Leader newspapers had reported on the imminent sale of the paper (20 November 1897).

1 January 1899 Rauch assumed the responsibility of editorship. His staff as of 2 September 1899 included: John W. Roberts (1878-1917) associate and sports editor, Henry J. Leiser (1874-1939) printing job work, and Henry L. Rice (1883-1933) who had just succeeded Howard H. Pfaff (1885-1966) with the responsibility of artwork.

John William Roberts died young as a result of tuberculosis. He continued in the publishing business after leaving The Slatington News, and he was the proprietor and editor of The Slatington Herald from 1907 until a year before his death. He married Ella M. Shoenberger (1883-1971) in 1899. Both Roberts and his wife were born and raised in Slatington, and both were buried in Fairview Cemetery. They had five children.

Henry James Leiser was born in Schnecksville, and by the 1890s he was working as a printer when he joined The Slatington News. He would continue working for the News Publishing Co. in Slatington until his death in 1939. In 1902 he married Elizabeth Roberts (1876-1930), and they adopted two children. The family lived on South Main Street (school hill) near Friedens. They were buried in Union Cemetery.

Henry Leonard Rice (1883-1933) grew up in Slatington, and after a brief stint working at The Slatington News he moved to Wheeling, WV, where his brother was living. He became a clerk/salesman for a millinery story. When he died in 1933, he was buried in Slatington’s Fairview cemetery.

Howard Herman Pfaff was born and grew up in Slatington. He eventually moved to Philadelphia where he married Emilie Wolf (1884-1935) in 1905. They had one son. Pfaff later remarried, Ethel Wardwell (1888-1968) in 1935. Pfaff continued to work in the printing business in Philadelphia until he retired. He was buried in Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia.