History of the Waterville Times
In the early 1850s CB Wilkinson published the Waterville Journal. It lasted a year.
He then partnered with another man in his 20s. Both had experience working for newspapers in Utica. James McKibbin and CB Wilkinson on Jan. 24, 1857, printed and published their first issue and volume of the Waterville Times.
In the first issue, they outlined how their aspiration was to establish a first class family newspaper devoted to the interest of the village.
Their paper included news from correspondents of surrounding communities, something that continues in today’s issues of the Times.
Following the first two publishers, JH Yale served from 1860 to 1866, RS Ballard to 1870, James Guernsey till 1881 and William Histed and Frank Cutter till 1887.
Watson Hawkins took over as publisher from 1887 to 1913. The Times served as a local paper carrying national and international news. Mr. Hawkins moved the Times in February 1907 from the Berrill block to the Opera House.
The newspaper was typically an eight-page broadsheet, meaning full size. Its format rarely changed. It had one page of Waterville news, and on the back, news from Deansboro, North Brookfield, West Side, Brookfield, Paris Hill, Clinton and other communities.
Orrin Terry followed as publisher in 1913. He expanded the newspaper’s office, which was on White Street in the Opera House. Like many papers that owned a press, rather than operate it just once a week, the Times also did printing for businesses and customers.
Mr. Terry ran the paper till 1941. His 28 years is the longest tenure of any one publisher. He employed a large workforce. Some of the names of men at the time: Richard LaVallee, Al Rand, Nicholas McCabe. McCabe came to work at the Times in 1904 and spent over 50 years at the paper. In the early 1940s 33 people worked at the Times. In the 1920s Gerrit Hyde was editor of the paper.
Mr. Terry, some might remember, was active in the community, especially through his role as president of the Waterville Board of Education. One other publisher, Mary Cleary, served on the board as well as president.
Upon Mr. Terry’s death in 1941, Mr. and Mrs. George Westcott bought the Times.
George Westcott, a Waterville native, had already established his credentials in journalism in New York City working as an artist and cartoonist on the old New York Herald. After living in Paris working for the International Herald Tribune, he and Mrs. Westcott wanted to return to Waterville.
George wrote a book called An Editor on Main Street about his experiences as a small town newspaper publisher.
Mr. Westcott died suddenly in 1955. Without missing an issue, his widow, Emily, also known as Peggy, assumed the role of publisher, the first woman to head the Times. She called her editorials the Listening Post and she continued her husband’s view of promoting civic activities and events, giving praise and criticism when needed.
Following her husband’s death, Mrs. Westcott ran excerpts of his book in the Times.
Following Mrs. Westcott’s death in 1963, Doug Sexton purchased the paper in October 1963 from the Westcott estate.
He changed the look of the paper, going from Old English script to a more modern looking typeface. He made the hop blossom more prominent. He also brought the paper down to its current 11 by 17 inches size, known as tabloid.
Up through the first 120 years, the Times printed each week from its own press located in the building. However, the press Doug purchased had little life in it. One of Doug’s last issues was also the final run for the old Babcock press in the early 1970s. It was sold to a New Hampshire printing firm for parts.
Doug sold the paper in 1972 to Bill Jannone, a longtime Times press employee. Despite ill health through most of his seven years, Jannone kept the paper operating. Jannone’s office was on White Street.
Bill sold it to Mary Cleary in April 1979. Mary, who had grown up on White Street next door to the Times, couldn’t face seeing her hometown paper end as Jannone’s health hindered him from continuing to publish.
She returned the look and typeface to the Old English script. She moved the Times office in 1984 to 128 E. Main Street, the former Garrett’s grocery store. Mary changed the publication date from Thursday to Wednesday.
Patty Louise bought the paper from Mary Cleary in May 2001, becoming publisher No. 15.
The paper has been redesigned with a font that is easier to read. With help of artist PsBrown, we enhanced the hop leaf on the front page flag to commemorate the legacy of the Times as once the official Hop Reporter newspaper.
Computers are used in all facets of production. In June 2013 the office relocated to 129 W. Main Street.
In January 2016 the Times expanded its coverage area to include Clinton and Kirkland after the closure of the Clinton Courier.
When first printed, the Times cost 3 cents. Today, for a local subscription, $45. The Times is printed on Monday nights in Oneonta by the Oneonta Daily Star.