Stafford Springs Press
LCCN: sn84022401, Tolland County Press, Stafford Springs, Conn. (18??-1883)
LCCN: sn92051501, The Press, Stafford Springs, Conn. (1883-1935)
The Stafford Springs Press proudly traced its lineage from the first paper published in Tolland County, Connecticut. In 1883, publisher James McLaughlin described its mission as serving Stafford so that it could be rated “well up in the list of great and wealthy towns of the state.” “[F]oul excrescences … will crop out in any community, “he said, “but will flourish best when there is no paper to war against them.” The compiler of the Stafford Illustrated, an 1895 sketch of the town, described McLaughlin as a person unwilling “to attract readers by lurid appeals to morbid tastes.” Instead, the Press provided a “virtually complete” compendium of and town and county news and produced editorials on all public questions written in “the spirit of justice and fairness.” It offered commentary on issues such as tariffs, the homeless, high-profile criminal cases, claims of starving textile workers, corruption scandals, Fourth of July rowdiness, and the placement of railroad lines to the advantage of certain industries and towns.
Special features included “Forty Years Ago,” a column of great value to local historians; “Legislative Notes” which covered state lawmaking; and occasional supplements devoted to local industry. In addition, a reader of the Press could expect to find social and political news from the nearby towns of Tolland and Ellington and Hampden, Massachusetts. Large advertisements from department stores in Springfield, Massachusetts, made shopping seem like a visit to a museum or art gallery.
On April 5, 1883, James McLaughlin (who was soon joined in the company by his son Lewis) ruminated on the first quarter century of the newspaper’s life. He noted that “The Press by reason of its age may well regard itself now as an established journal.” Reflecting on the origins of the newspaper, McLaughlin remarked that in 1858 he had originally worked as a “devil” in the office of the Palmer Journal [LCCN: sn83020684] in Massachusetts, and had inked the first issue of the Stafford News Letter (also based in Palmer) ([LCCN: sn84022402], the title under which the sheet was first issued. In November 1866, the paper moved to Stafford, Connecticut. At that time there was no other paper printed in Tolland County, “though several had been established and died.” Soon thereafter, the Stafford News Letter was succeeded by the Tolland County Press and Stafford News Letter ([LCCN: sn92051500]; it was later renamed the Tolland County Press. In order to distinguish the newspaper from several others with “Tolland County” on the masthead, the title was changed for the April 5, 1883 issue to The Press. In 1936, The Press was succeeded by the Stafford Press [LCCN: sn92051505]. The last known issue was published on March 4, 1976.