The Carroll County Times celebrated a century of service to readers in 2011, and through all the decades the newspaper has continued to grow and change with our changing lifestyles.
The newspaper began as the Times on October 6, 1911, and was published by the Mather Printing Co. of Westminster. T.W. Mather owned the T.W. Mather Department Store in downtown Westminster, but it was his son, George, who was the moving spirit behind the paper.
Mather started the newspaper because of a belief that the county needed a newspaper with a strong Republican voice. In an editorial appearing in the first issue, Mather wrote, "In politics, the Times will be Republican, but it will adhere rigidly to the policy of malice toward none and charity for all. Biting sarcasm, mud-slinging or fault-finding shall have no place on our page."
On the editorial page every day, beneath the masthead telling of the newspaper's ownership and subscription information, the Times carried the motto "A Republican Weekly."
A major target of the newspaper was the long-established Democratic Advocate, which carried its political leanings in its title.
Founded in 1865, the Democratic Advocate in 1911 was well-entrenched in the county seat of Westminster. William F. Derr founded the newspaper as an advertising vehicle for his downtown department store, The Model Store. The front page of the early editions was typically given over to full-page ads for merchandise, much like current-day advertising circulars. By 1911, the publication had taken on a look more resembling a community newspaper, with news items appearing on the front page and advertising inside.
Despite their pledges toward civility toward the opposite party, both newspapers typically devoted much space in the early years to telling readers what was right with their political party and what was wrong with the competition.
During the election seasons, each paper ran extended articles about their party and their party's candidates. At the same time, they completely neglected opposing candidates. News articles in the Times told "Republican readers" where to vote. Similar articles in the Democratic Advocate gave Democratic readers the same information.
The flavor changed after World War II. After years of devoting considerable news space to bringing the country together in the war effort - from buying bonds to supporting the troops by conserving resources at home - the newspapers afterward never went back to their partisan leanings.
The newspaper changed hands several times over the years, but the Mather family always retained control. That changed in May 1947 when, because of age and other reasons, George Mather sold the operation to J. Rolling Hunter and John McCormick.
Elmer Jackson joined McCormick in ownership of the Times a few years later, and on July 5, 1956, the newspaper changed its name, rolling off the press for the first time as The Carroll County Times.
The paper continued to grow in the 1960s under the ownership of Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Berman, and by the late 1960s the Times purchased the Democratic Advocate.
Within the decade the Bermans sold the paper to Adam Spiegel, of Spiegel catalogue wealth. The owners continued to publish both newspapers until the early 1970s, when they combined into one edition publishing every Tuesday and Thursday.
In 1974, the era of the family-owned newspaper in Carroll County came to an end when Landmark Community Newspapers Inc. purchased the Carroll County Times.
The change of ownership was announced April 2, 1974, following a month-long acquisition process. General Manager William C. Eisenbeiss promised readers a change.
"Some of those changes will be subtle; others may have all the subtlety of a charging bull," the newspaper wrote in an editorial on April 2.
Still, Eisenbeiss also promised readers that their hometown newspaper would remain their hometown newspaper. Landmark, he said, had a tradition of letting local folks determine the news, and that wouldn't change.
"In Carroll County, we make this commitment to you, to publish the very best community newspaper possible," Eisenbeiss said.
In 1977 the newspaper took another step forward, first by beginning the year by changing the days of publication to Wednesday and Friday each week. Then, in March that year, the newspaper added Monday editions.
In 1978 growth at the Carroll County Times necessitated more space, and plans were made for a new building. With the help of $2.5 million industrial development bond from the county, the Times purchased an 11-acre site at the intersection of Md. 27 and Md. 140. General Manager Richard Oliver said construction was to start in the spring of 1979.
On Jan. 2, 1980, the Times announced that it would begin daily production in March, publishing Monday through Friday each week. The news, advertising and production stffs practiced a full two weeks before the first daily edition hit the streets on Monday, March 1.
In making the announcement, the newspaper noted that, "Rapid growth in circulation — some 3,500 during 1979 — and equally rapid growth in retail and classified advertising make it apparent that Carroll County is ready for its own daily newspaper."
The Friday before the switch to daily publication, the newspaper noted the end of one era, and the beginning of another.
"We feel a tremendous sense of appreciation and gratification from this response from you, our readers," wrote editor Troy Ferguson in the Friday, February 29 edition. "Without you, we would still be a fledgling semi-weekly hanging on with little future."
Ferguson noted that in the two months since the announcement, circulation had grown by another 2,000.
"We expect to express our gratification to you by delivering the best newspaper in the state of Maryland," he wrote. "We consider ourselves to be a community newspaper first, and news of Carroll County will be our top priority."
Four years later, on March 3, 1984, the paper added a Saturday edition. In a column published that first Saturday, Editor Gene Bracken noted that readers had been clamoring for a Saturday paper because they didn't like having to wait until Monday to get their news from the previous Friday. With many high school sports programs having games on Fridays, many people wanted to know what had happened.
"We are dedicating the Saturday edition to you, the readers, with special emphasis on local event coverage which has been a basic element of our growth to date," Bracken wrote.
Three years later, in March of 1987, the Times added a Sunday newspaper.
Today, the Times and Landmark Community Newspapers of Maryland Inc. continues in those early traditions of keeping Carroll County news our top priority.
We have also grown and adapted to changing times, today offering local news on our Web site, carrollcountytimes.com. Readers can also sign up for e-mail alerts on breaking news, and we continue to explore new ways to provide readers with the information they want, when they want.
© Carroll County Times