THE NEWSPAPERS OF WARRENTON
I am told that the first newspaper ever published in Warrenton was called the Warrenton Reporter and established about the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was owned and edited by "Dickey" Davidson, born in London and a naturalized Englishman. He was a small, dyspeptic, and very irritable man, living chiefly on toast and "content" (hot water and milk). From the reminiscences of Miss Ellen Mordecai, who knew him well, we have the following amusing story: Mr. Davidson's printing office was on the southeast corner of the Varell place (now Mrs. Van Williams') in one room, with his bed room above. It must have been on oak blocks as underpinning. He had given offense to some young men of the town, who to get their revenge, went at night and, with the assistance of several negro men, rolled the small house out in the street. He was waked up by the motion and was so much alarmed that his loud cries brought the neighbours. They were not in time to catch or identify the trespassers.
Mr. Davidson disliked most of the institutions of the State and was especially inimical to the University. It seems a singular fatality that when his will was opened it was found to be inoperative, because of the generality of its terms, so that his estate, of some value in lands and negroes, escheated to the University of North Carolina.
In his later years he owned and resided at the plantation, three miles from Warrenton, known as the Joe Drake Place, on the Louisburg road, more recently belonging to Mr. Stephen Daniel.
Mr. Davidson sold the Warrenton Reporter to Mr. Varell, who edited it up to about 1850. The name of the Varell paper was changed to the Warrenton News, and it was edited by Robert A. Ezell, who was principal of the Male Academy. A few years before the War Between the States, William A. Walsh, of Petersburg, came to Warrenton and became editor of this paper. Its publication was suspended during the war and Mr. Walsh and his family returned to Petersburg.
After the war the newspapers in Warrenton were edited successively as follows: The Courier, by W. A. Montgomery; the Indicator, by Rev. T. B. Kingsbury ; the Living Present, by W. A. Montgomery; the Gazette, by Charles W. Spruill; the Gazette, by Henry A. Foote; the Warrenton Record,. by John Hardy; and the Warren Record, now owned and edited by Howard Jones and his son, Brodie D. Jones. It was thought during its publication, that the Indicator, edited by the Rev. Mr. Kingsbury, was the best weekly paper, especially in its literary department, in the State.
Before the war there was a noted printer in Warrenton, a Mr. Pitcher, an Englishman, an expert in his line of work, and well educated. He came to Raleigh and was engaged in the newspaper office of Governor Holden until the war broke out, when he volunteered in the Warren Company, the 12th Regiment. He was a brave, true soldier, and gave his life for the country of his adoption. From the beginning of his service until his death, he kept a daily diary; he had given instructions to his closest friend that it should be sent to his fiancee, if he were killed. She lived in Raleigh, and was of a well known family. What a fine addition this would be to the Hall of History of our State.
Montgomery, Lizzie Wilson; Sketches of old Warrenton, North Carolina; traditions and reminiscences of the town and people who made it, Raleigh, Edwards & Broughton printing company, 1924.