By Bryan Thompson
In the entire history of the town of De Kalb there was only one regularly published weekly newspaper. This paper was the Richville Recorder ad De Kalb Township Telegram.
The Richville Recorder and De Kalb Township Telegram commenced publication Wednesday, September 22, 1897. The paper was printed at the offices of The Watertown Standard in Watertown, NY.
The paper was in continuous publication for at least three years. The sole surviving complete issue, September 19, 1900, measures 17 by 22 inches and is eight pages long. Local news columns include: Richville, Beaver Creek, Coopers Falls, De Kalb Junction, River Road. Other columns include: Oxbow, Rensselaer Falls, Hailesboro, Gouverneur, Stone Mills, Sacketts Harbor, and Sterlingville to name a few. The first two pages covered state and national news. Page eight was reserved for county news.
The papers mottoes were: “The Recorder prints all the news that’s worth printing. In fact everything in the Recorder is news. ” “The Richville Recorder is the only up to date weekly published in Northern New York. ”
The newspaper was the brainchild of editor Willis P. Hendricks. Hendricks was not a novice writer having covered the Richville area for the Gouverneur Free Press for many years before he launched the newspaper.
W. P. Hendricks was born on the Hendricks Farm, Outer Depot Street, Richville, in the Town of De Kalb, December 2, 1856 a twin son of Stephen Van Rensselaer Hendricks and Helen Lynde. He grew up in the vicinity of Richville. He was one of eleven young men from the Richville area who went to Oberlin College in 1875. After three years of study he was forced to withdraw due to ill health.
He went into business with his brother in Easthampton, Mass. There he met and married Ida R. Palmer of Springfield, Mass. October 9, 1881. He was afflicted with respiratory problems through out his life and was forced to take several trips for his health to Colorado Springs. Upon his return to Richville he took up farming and was noted for the grand champion Aryshire cattle that he exhibited at local fairs.
He was active in civil affairs and held many offices within the Good Templar’s serving as Chair of the Richville chapter and secretary of the New York State organization, once serving as a NYS delegate to the national convention.
Hendricks failing health forced him to withdraw from agriculture. It was at this time he founded the Richville Recorder. His impact on the community is best summed up by his own Newspaper at the time of his death, “Richville is in mourning. Seldom, if ever in her history has the village and the community surrounding been so shocked and grieved as on Friday, February 2, 1900, when the announcement went from lip to lip that Willis P. Hendrick the worthy citizen, the conscientious worker, the versatile writer, the fraternal brother and the genial friend was no more with us. ”
The Recorder was a one-person show. Immediately after W. P. Hendrick’s death the paper was advertised for sale, his brother was serving as temporary editor. The paper continued at least until the end of its third year of publication as the one known issue is Volume 3 number 52. The editor of this final issue was Ida Hendrick widow of Willis Hendrick.
A few clippings from the Recorder survive in scrapbooks in the town of De Kalb Historical Association archives. Some articles were written in Welsh honoring pioneers at their passing!
If anyone knows of any surviving issues of this paper the Town of De Kalb Historian’s office would like very much to know about them
De Kalb Historical Association Archives Maine Richville Scrapbook page 7. De Kalb Junction, NY. De Kalb Historical Association Archives
The Richville Recorder and De Kalb Township Telegram Vol. 3, No. 52 September 19, 1900 De Kalb Junction, NY.
Gouverneur Free Press November 10, 1897 Gouverneur, NY. Northern Tribune: July 19, 1899 Gouverneur, NY.