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July 6, 2013

Richfield Springs started a seasonal daily newspaper in 1888

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The Daily Star

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The resorts and village of Richfield Springs made the summer of 1888 most memorable for their big city guests. If the guests couldn’t enjoy their daily newspaper from home, Richfield Springs did the next best thing. In addition to their weekly edition, The Richfield Springs Mercury began a new publication on Saturday, June 30, The Richfield Springs Daily. It was a seasonal publication that ceased around Labor Day each year, a tradition that lasted until around World War I.
“In commencing the publication of a daily paper in Richfield Springs we do not start out with the idea of rivaling the metropolitan press in any particular,” wrote the proprietors, Mungor and Seamans. “Richfield has many attractions and a multitude of warm friends and we shall earnestly strive to make this paper a medium for heralding the advantages of the place as a summer resort and keeping its admirers informed of passing events.”
The Daily began at a bit of a historic time in the village. “The new electric light system was put into operation for the first time Thursday evening,” it was reported. The service was “pronounced first-class in every particular. Those who are using the light express great admiration for it and it is bound to come into general use.”
The New American was a hotel that opened that week, and the fire department had a parade on Saturday night to compliment the new proprietor, Mr. Eugene M. Earle. What was called the Hook and Ladder company had a fine display of decorations on its cart, “and under the glowing light of the most brilliant electricity the procession presented an appearance which, to say was grand would only approximate the idea an appreciative mind would desire to express.”
Every day the Daily was published, you knew who had arrived in town, listed by name and from which city, at each of the resorts, such as the Spring House, New American, Darrow House, Cary Cottages and Derthick House. The listings included a maid or nurse accompanying them, in some cases.
Readers were encouraged to send in news items. One learned on June 30 that “Mr. Cole has laid a new plank walk in front of his vacant lots on Church street,” or “M. Tuller spread a fresh coat of paint on the front of his store, which is an improvement to the appearance.”
The Richfield Springs Daily also had “Weather Indications” each day, and it showed that the village’s Fourth of July was “warmer and fair with southerly winds.”
“Visitors Should” became a daily feature. On Thursday, July 5, the instructions were, “Listen to the concerts given by the orchestra. Buy a glass of that new drink, Fruimiz, at Smith’s drug store. Get a view of Richfield from Sunset hill. Send a copy of the DAILY to some friend. Take a ride on the steamer, T.R. Proctor. Enjoy a tour around Canadarago lake on the four-in-hand coach, ‘Mohican.’”
The Daily was most hopeful about the readers sending copies of the newspaper to friends. They sent copies to prominent hotels in New York and Boston. “We do this at our own expense, this season, hoping that the attention may thus be brought to Richfield’s many attractions,” the newspaper read. 
The last edition in 1888 for the Richfield Springs Daily came on Friday, Sept. 7. “Volume One Closed,” read one front page headline. It told of how the publication was not a result of long calculation, rather one that was made quickly in June. “Whether a profit or loss would be the result, was a mystery to the publishers.” They said the paper was well received and circulation exceeded their expectations.
“Volume Two will be opened the last of June, 1889.”
On Monday: A bit of the local life and times from July 1958.
City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.