Monongalia Mirror

Title: Monongalia Mirror
Available online: 3 January 1852 - 23 June 1855 (167 issues)

Place of publication: Morgantown, VA [W. Va.]

Simeon Siegfried Sr., a Baptist minister from New Britain in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and a printer with 33 years’ experience, published the first issue of the Monongalia Mirror in Morgantown, Virginia (later West Virginia), on August 11, 1849. Siegfried's son, Simeon Siegfried Jr., also a Baptist minister, served as assistant editor beginning in January 1852. The Mirror was a four-page weekly published on Saturday mornings, initially with six and later seven columns per page. Historians mention evidence of the appearance in 1849 of two other Morgantown newspapers, the Monongalian and the Jeffersonian, but both quickly folded leaving no trace of their existence.

Although he presented the Monongalia Mirror as an independent newspaper, the elder Siegfried's religious and political views are evident in his work. In addition to the Mirror, Siegfried published a statewide Baptist journal, the Mountain Messenger, and Baptist Recorder from September 1850 through at least July 1857. Siegfried reprinted editorials in the Mirror that were first published in the Messenger. Additionally, many issues of the Mirror had a front-page column titled “Religious and Moral” that gave spiritual advice to its readers. The pastor and publisher vigorously promoted temperance, rebuked atheists, contrasted the irrationality of Hinduism and Islam with the reason of Christianity, and took an aggressive stance against Catholicism. In other writing, Siegfried advocated for improvements in transportation, particularly in railroads, roads, and steamboat travel. Siegfried was particularly prolific, publishing the monthly official organs for several local social and religious organizations in addition to his newspapers. Siegfried’s use of exchanged and reprinted material was typical of both religious and secular journals of the period which benefited from federal laws allowing postage-free exchanges of newspapers between editors.

While remaining open to various opinions, the Mirror began publishing, allegedly by request, the objectives of the American Party or “Know Nothing” Party in 1855, although the purported impartiality is questionable given that the Mirror was transformed into an American Party organ shortly after the party platform was printed. The final issue of the Monongalia Mirror was published on June 23, 1855. Assistant editor Simeon Siegfried Jr. assumed responsibility for managing the paper. Taking the opportunity to promote the views of the American Party, he changed the newspaper’s name to the American Union and proclaimed his publication the Mirror’s successor.

Simeon Siegfried Sr. moved to nearby Grafton, to begin publishing and editing the Grafton Sentinel, the first of two newspapers he established in that town. No issues of Siegfried’s Sentinel are known to have survived. After Simeon Siegfried Jr. accepted a pastoral position in Belmont County, Ohio, the elder Siegfried took over publication of the American Union on April 16, 1858, and the paper dropped its affiliation to the American Party, shifting to a posture of independence on all subjects. The final issue of the American Union was published on March 19, 1859. Siegfried went on to establish the Grafton Guardian soon thereafter.