Place of publication: Weston, W. VA
Although its citizens’ loyalty was divided between North and South, United States troops secured the region around Lewis County, West Virginia, and it was spared much of the destruction of the Civil War. Low taxes and the construction of a new state hospital, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, along with thriving agricultural and lumbering industries, contributed to the area’s prosperity. In the growing county seat of Weston, the Weston Expositor debuted in 1865. George Cozad and James W. Woffindin, both attorneys and Union veterans, purchased the Expositor. They continued the issue numbering of the Expositor, but renamed the newspaper the Democrat. The inaugural issue was dated November 31, 1868, although it actually appeared the day after. Editor Cozad quickly asked readers to excuse the error in dating.
In introducing the newspaper to the community, Cozad emphasized his belief in “soft words and hard arguments” and voiced his strong support for the Democratic Party. The masthead of the Democrat carried the motto, “That government is best which governs least.” Although Cozad left the paper in May 1870, both he and Woffindin assured readers of the paper’s continuing dedication to the principles of the Democratic Party. The masthead motto of the Democrat was changed to “It’s the truth that hurts,” and on March 20, 1871, that slogan was displayed prominently under the title. On January 4, 1875, the Democrat was renamed the Weston Democrat, with Woffindin noting that although “in years past… his was the only paper in the State bold enough to openly avow its principles…now we have a baker’s dozen of papers, who come before the public with the name of 'DEMOCRAT.'”
However, by 1876, Woffindin was bitterly criticizing the local Democratic Party: “Instead of learning lessons of wisdom from the past, it divides itself into personal factions.” On September 4, 1876, Woffindin declared his exit from the party, and in the upcoming election, he substituted a Republican ticket for the Democratic ticket he had printed previously. On October 30, Woffindin announced the sale of the Weston Democrat to Thomas A. Edwards, a legislator, judge, and politician, who returned the newspaper to its Democratic roots and enhanced its quality and reputation. The Democrat’s chief rival at this time was the Weston Republican, which first appeared in February 1879 bearing the motto “The Union, The Constitution, and the Enforcement of the Laws.”
On June 20, 1891, ownership of the Democrat was transferred to two of its former employees, Robert L. Bland and Richard H. Harrison. The latter became sole owner when Bland retired on October 1, 1892. On April 1, 1899, the Weston Democrat Publishing Company, owned by Harrison and Bland, acquired both the Weston Democrat and the Weston Sentinel, the latter a descendant of the Weston Republican. In the May 7, 1904 issue, readers learned that the Weston Democrat had been sold to James Hoffman Edwards, eldest son of its former owner Thomas A. Edwards. The Weston Democrat continues to this day and is the only newspaper published in Lewis County, West Virginia.