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Former Herald printer spells out paper's history in 1901 edition

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

While The Albany Herald is the legal organ of Dougherty County and has been the city's daily paper since 1892, there was previously a paper founded by creator of Albany itself, Nelson Tift.

Below you'll read, as it was printed in the April 7, 1901, edition of The Albany Herald, a letter from printer Thomas Cody who sought to set the record straight on the history of The Albany Patriot even while working in the Indian territory out west at the time.

Printer T.P. Cody

Writes from the Indian territory to correct Printer Freeman

About the sale of the "Patriot," Albany's first newspaper, by its founder, Col Nelson Tift -- Some interesting history and a tribute to Col. Tift by one who knew him well.

-- Hart, Indian Ter. April 6, 1901.

Editor Albany Herald:

I noticed in your issue of March 23, 1901, a statement from Mr. James M. Freeman of the Douglass Breeze, that the late Col. Tift sold The Albany Patriot in 1863 to E.H. Heenay. This is incorrect.

In the spring of 1856, Colonel Tift sold the Patriot to a young journalist from Tallahassee, Fla., by the name of John W. Wolfe, who paid only a small portion of the purchase money down.

Some time during the year of 1857 Mr. Wolfe died, and letters of administration were granted Mr. James Matheny -- then forman of the office.

Some months thereafter the paper was sold under this administration, and Col. Tift being the only bidder, again became editor and proprietor. On account of his inability to give the paper proper attention, he again sold the plant in the early part of 1858 to a gentleman from Macon, Ga., by the name of A.J. Macarthy.

Mr. Macarthy published the paper up to 1863, when the office was locked up, and he and the writer entered the Confederate Army.

In the latter part of the war, a disabled Confederate soldier by the name of E.H. Heenay bought the Patriot from Mr. Macarthy and published the same about two years when he died.

Heenan left a wife and one child, and there being nobody to administer upon the estate letters of administration were granted to Mr. John F. Cargile, Clerk of the Superior Court, who sometime afterward sold one-half interest to a Methodist preacher by the name of S.S. Sweet, and bought the other one-half interest himself.

Sweet and Cargile changed the name of the paper from The Albany Patriot to Albany News and in the course of two or three years sold out to Col. Carey W. Styles, who sometime in the "70's" sold to Weston & Evans.

The first issue of The Albany Patriot made its appearance sometime during the year 1840, with Col. Nelson Tift as editor and proprietor, and James M. Mercer as foreman. The writer entered the office in 1851 as an apprentice and served four years in that capacity.

Col. Tift was indeed the founder of Albany and Albany will honor herself by erecting a monument to his memory. He possessed many charming characteristics, prominent among which was his sterling integrity, and ever polite and gentlemanly bearing.

He was a man of untiring energy -- a deep thinker and a vigorous and graceful writer.

For a number of years, The Albany Patriot was the official organ of Baker, Thomas, Decatur, Early, Randolph, Lee and Dooly counties and probably several others that I do not recollect.

In those days we charged $1 per 100 for setting up and printing election tickets on a Washington hand press, and the "famous" shoemaker's knife was used as a paper cutter. Circus ads comprising as much as a half double column we charged from $50 to $75 for two issues, with ten or a dozen "complimentaries" thrown in as good measure. Albany was then in Baker County and Newton was the seat.

Mr. Freeman is correct in his statement that Col. Tift never allowed a paper to be cut or mutilated. After the compositor had set up in type what had maked, it was hung on the "dead hook" and every Saturday evening carefully counted, and tied up in bundles of 100 each and, when sold, the proceeds, the proceeds given to the youngest apprentice in the office to spend as he saw proper.

-- Thomas P. Cody.