In 1871, Barton, Vermont abruptly lost its weekly newspaper, the Orleans Independent Standard, leaving the southern part of Orleans County without a local paper. Printer Ellery H. Webster came to the rescue and started the Orleans County Monitor in 1872. A Civil War veteran, Webster named the paper after the Union iron-clad
warship, the USS Monitor.
Webster promoted his new paper with a drawing of the Monitor steaming up Crystal Lake toward Barton village. A large, cheering crowd on the lake shore is welcoming the vessel, which will reach, as a pennant on the prow proclaims, “Barton and all points north, east, west and south.”
The image is framed with information about the paper at the top and invitations to subscribers and advertisers on the sides. Below the drawing, there is a short poem that is both a patriotic tribute to the ironclad warship–“and saves the blue-coats from the grave”–and a sales pitch to subscribers–“tis dollars, two, per year.”
HURRAH, she comes! The MONITOR.
“A cheese-box on a raft:”
We’re all right boys! of course we are,
With such an iron craft.
She comes around the corner, too,
Just in the nick of time,
And saves the “blue-coats” from a grave
Beneath the ocean’s brine.
The flag is there, that good old flag.
The stars and stripes so dear!
We’ll get on board and sign our names,
Tis dollars, two, per year.
Webster began his Civil War service with the 11th Vermont Infantry in 1862 when he was 19 years old. In June 1864, he was captured at Weldon Railroad in Virginia along with over 400 other Vermont soldiers. He spent six months in four Confederate prisons, including Andersonville. Webster wrote a series of articles about his military experience for the Orleans Independent Standard in 1865 and for the Monitor in 1899 and 1900. Vermont’s Northland Journal published excerpts from Webster’s memoirs in Dan Taylor’s 2010 article, “Ellery Webster, Union POW.”
Issues of the Monitor from 1872-1912 are available on Chronicling America now; issues from 1913-1922 will be added during the
current phase of the Vermont Digital Newspaper project.
Contributed by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian,
UVM Special Collections