Der Westbote

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Running from 1843 to 1918 in Columbus, Ohio, Der Westbote served German Democrats both in and out of the state. Its early history was not an easy one, as both Democrats and Germans were in the minority in Columbus, but after overcoming these challenges, the paper and its influence grew rapidly. By 1915, circulation had reached 15,000, and some referred to the Westbote as the “Democratic Bible.” It opposed constitutional monarchies and both slavery and abolitionists. Among its editors and owners were Friedrich Fieser, Jacob and Friedrich Reinhard, Leonhard Hirsch and Charles F. Gerhold.

Germans living in Columbus, especially those on the south side in the German Village neighborhood, found the Westbote particularly important as it helped connect them to both their new and old homes by printing local items and news from abroad (usually under the heading “Ausland”) in their native language. Among its pages, readers could find: business advertisements; political news and editorials; poetry and serialized fiction; tax, land and other legal notices; and more. The Westbote also documented mid-19th century German immigration to the United States. Most content was printed in German, although some advertisements were printed in English.

Initially a weekly, the Westbote was eventually published semi-weekly, daily and Sunday editions as well. In 1903, Der Tägliche Westbote (the daily edition) merged with its Republican competitor Tägliche Columbus Express to form the Express und Westbote, although both papers continued to print separate editions on a weekly or semiweekly basis. All editions of the Westbote and Express had ceased publication by 1918, due to the strong anti-German sentiment that resulted from World War I and was common throughout Columbus and other cities with large German populations.

Parts of this newspaper have been digitized and are available for research via Ohio Memory: Der Westbote, 1843-1862.

See Also