Place of publication: Point Pleasant, VA [W. Va.]
The Point Pleasant Weekly Register premiered on March 6, 1862, in Point Pleasant, Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia). George Ways Tippett, a printer from Maryland who had been working in Point Pleasant as a compositor since 1855, served as sole publisher and proprietor from 1862 until his death in 1902. The Register published four pages per week and played an important role in regional political discourse. The newspaper initially supported the preservation of the Union, though not the abolition of slavery. It favored the Republican Presidential ticket of Lincoln-Johnson in 1864 and advocated radical reconstruction following the Civil War. Its editorials were often antagonistic, and on October 23, 1862, Lewis Wetzel, the newspaper’s editor, was murdered for a bold editorial criticizing the local military. His killer, John Hall, a prominent Republican politician, was convicted of manslaughter and heavily fined. Following brief tenures by two subsequent editors, Tippett took over that role by August 1867.
The newspaper’s viewpoint shifted, apparently with prevailing political winds, to support for the Democratic Party in 1871, the year after Democrats swept both houses of the West Virginia legislature and the governorship. Tippet contended that the Register represented a Democratic county and should serve its patrons, and that he would always oppose John Hall. However, the newspaper’s contents suggest that Tippett had in fact lost faith in Republican rule, and he remained a loyal Democrat thereafter. Although he held a variety of local and state political posts from the 1870s to 1890s, Tippett eventually determined he could better serve the party as editor of the Register. His chief Republican rival was the State Gazette, published and edited by Livia Nye Simpson Poffenbarger.
The newspaper operated under constant fiscal strain during the late 19th century, but Tippett navigated financial difficulties more successfully than most of his contemporaries. He employed a variety of strategies to keep the Register viable, such as increasing both local and national news coverage, expanding into other markets, admonishing local businesses and local Democrats that their support would be in their own best interests, distributing free papers, and offering discounts for advance payment. The Register even printed St. Patrick’s Day issues on green paper. Like many editors in the era, Tippett compromised on moral positions to run advertisements necessary to maintain profits. For example, the Register published advertisements for alcohol and tobacco, at times juxtaposed with editorials propounding the virtues of temperance and dangers of tobacco use. The newspaper reached a degree of fiscal stability that sustained it through the 1884 Ohio River Flood that destroyed the Register’s office and much of Tippett’s personal property. Tippett’s success provided the capital to begin another Point Pleasant newspaper in 1895, the Daily Register. Tippett’s family added to his legacy; five of his six sons became printers.
From December 11, 1889, Tippett employed his son Frank Burner Tippett as the Register’s city editor. The younger Tippett held that position until the elder Tippett’s death on May 19, 1902. At that time, the son assumed the positions of proprietor, publisher, and editor, roles he performed until January 1909 when the Register Publishing Company purchased the newspaper, changed its name to the Point Pleasant Register, expanded to eight pages, and continued its strong Democratic viewpoint.