In June, 1889, Ashby J. Wilkinson and Levi Davis established the Grafton Leader, the third paper published in the interests of the Democratic party of Taylor County. At Mr. Davis’ departure from Grafton, the late Stephen W. Poe, assumed charge of the Leader, enjoyed a prosperous and very good circulation among the people of both parties. Mr. Poe’s popularity among the citizens of the town and county contributed in no small way to success of the Grafton Leader. His appointment as postmaster at Grafton took much of his time away from the publication of the paper and he had James Litzinger come to Grafton and assume charge of the Leader.
James Litzinger as a young lad began his typographical career on the Grafton Sentinel in the 70s and some years after serving in several occupations in Grafton was offered and accepted the position of editor of the Mountain Echo at Oakland, Maryland, and for 15 years guided the destiny of the mountain resort journal. In 1903, at the death of Stephen W. Poe, Mr. Litzinger was brought to Grafton by the stockholders of the Leader to assume charge as editor and manager of the Democratic weekly. HE continued in this office until 1914 and left the printers trade to accept a position with the Hazel-Atlas-Glass company at Fetterman.
The late John H.S. Barlow who seems to have been the most heavenly interested stockholder in the Leader took over the duties as manager and editor. In 1915m Mr. Barlow was commissioned postmaster at Grafton and to give his time to the duties of the office, he installed Carl L. Curry who had for long been connected with the Leader as editor. Mr. Curry was a fluent writer of items of interest that appeared in the Democratic weekly for some years in the past and was competent to fill the position left vacant by Mr. Barlow. In announcing his accession as the editor and manager of the Grafton Leader in the issue of December 29,1915, he said:
“With issues we emerge from associate editor and buckle of the mantle of editor-in-chief of the Leader, and in taking up the goose quill which is to direct the policies of the paper and espouse the cardinal tenets of the party, our feeling is that of responsibility rather than that of elation. The paper will in the future as in the past, proclaim the gospel of the Democratic faith- the expression of man’s utmost hope, of man’s utmost need. We shall strive earnestly to give the people of this community, than who, there are none better anywhere ,a distinctive love, newsy, local paper, second to none among the weekly journals of the state. We shall make no pretense at being scholarly. We shall draw few pen picture of finished rhetoric, but will endeavor to tell our readers the plain, homely news about men and measures and happenings that go to make West Virginia one of the foremost states in Columbia’s constellation, and Grafton the most promising city in the common wealth. In our editorial policy we shall wear no man’s collar nor hearken to the beck and call of prince or potentate. We shall know no ring or fraction, nor do the bidding of politicians with selfish ends to serve or private interests to gain. While devoted to the progressive principles of a true and unfaltering Democracy, we shall not be narrow minded nor partisan to the extent that we can condone corruption within our own household and shall be quick to discern and scathing in denunciation of putrescence coming from what source it may. The latch string always hangs on the outside. Enter without knocking and make yourself at home. You are always welcome.”
On May 30, 1907, a company organized under the name of the Republican Publishing Company established the Daily Republican, the second daily newspaper in Grafton and engaged G.A. Bolden as editor and D.G. Smith associate editor. In announcing the new venture in the political field in Taylor County the editor said:
“In giving the people of the city and county the new enterprise we feel that we are filling a long felt want in a newspaper way, and more especially in a Republican newspaper way. Republicanism is on the increase in West Virginia, as it has been for some years past and cannot have too many organs through which to set forth the principles of the Grand Old Party the party of Lincoln, Grant, of McKinley and of Roosevelt. The Daily Republican will endeavor to disseminate always the unanswering principles of the party, hoping thereby to materially aid in further increasing the pleasing majority throughout the state, to build up Republican institutions and add to the party’s prestige, in all that it attempts to do. It will not, however, aim to take undue, unfair or dishonest advantage of any opposing party, but pursuing a policy of right to all will hope to endear itself to all people, independent of political belief. creed. This paper has not been organized for the purpose of pleasing, representing or catering to any faction or wing of the Republican party nor will it enter into a factional fight at any time which might in any manner prove detrimental to the party at large, but it reserves the right to criticize members of the party who have been elected to office and who are not true to the trusts imposed in them by their constituency, or who display inability in office that would reflect upon that constituency. The Daily Republican hopes to be found always on the side of right and favoring candidates suitable to the offices and deserving of the honors they seek. There are no strings, political or otherwise, tied to this newspaper and it will enjoy the prerogative of doing as it pleases in all matters pertaining to the welfare of the community in which it is published.”