Transcribed by Crist Middaugh
From Allegany County Reporter, May 10, 1883
Death of Horace E. Purdy
The Veteran Editor Passes Quietly Away at his Home in Belfast
We are deeply pained to record the death of Horace E. Purdy, the veteran editor of the Belfast Free Press. He had been sick for many weeks; gradually the lamp of life burned low, and finally went out. He quietly passed away surrounded by his family and friends, at his home in Belfast, Thursday night, May 3d.
Horace E. Purdy was born in Canisteo, Steuben county, in 1815. His parents early moved to Hartsville, being the first settlers in that town. He had but meager school advantages, and obtained his primary eduction from members of his own family. In the spring in 1831, when he was sixteen years of age he entered as an apprentice, the office of the Angelica Republican, now the Allegany County Reporter. Since that time Mr. Purdy has been connected with the newspaper press, winning and honorable distinction and enjoying a varied and valuable experience. With an insufficient education with which to start life, by earnest study and thoughtful research he overcame this barrier, and became one of the best informed and most able journalists in this section. After two years in the Republican office, he pursued his trade successfully at various places in western New York. In 1837 he went west, going by stage to Cuba and thence voyaging down Oil Creek and the Allegany to Pittsburg on a raft, and by steamboat to Cincinnati. He spent a few weeks as foreman of the Toledo Gazette; returning to Mayville, in Chautauqua county, he became editor and proprietor of the Mayville Sentinel - his first journalistic venture. A few years later he became business manager of the Elmira Gazette a position he held until 1841, when he bought the Angelica Reporter (the same paper with another name, upon which he began his trade). In company with Charles Horton, he published the Reporter three years. In 1845 he bought the Orleans Republican and conducted it a year. During that year he married Miss Emily f. Gardiner, of Nunda. In the spring of 1846 he started the Republican Era, at Rushford, then the most thriving town in Allegany county. The Era was moved to Oramel, in 1851, where Mr. Purdy was appointed postmaster by President Pierce, and was selected supervisor of the town of Caneadea. In the spring of 1852 Mrs. Purdy died of consumption, and three years later, he was married to Miss Phebe G. Hammond, of Wellsburg, N.Y. In the spring of 1857 he moved to Minneapolis, Minn, on account of his health, and soon after began the publication of the Plain Dealer. He remained in Minneapolis three years. Returning east he began the publication of the Southern Tier at Belmont, and in 1863 revived the Era. In 1865 he took charge of the Port Huran (Mich.,) Commercial, and on Jan 1st, 1867 he was offered and accepted an editorial position on the Detroit Free Press, which he held until the spring of 1872, when he took the management of the Albany (N.Y.,) Times. In 1873 he issued the first number of Horseheads Free Press, which was soon removed to Elmira, and issued daily, with Mr. Purdy as managing editor. A year or two later he sold the Free Press to a stock company, and for a time was out of the newspaper business. About two years ago he returned to Allegany County, and began publication of the Genesee Valley Free Press, at Belfast in which he was engaged at the time of his death.
He was a man of strong conviction, an earnest Democrat, upright and honorable in his dealings. The Allegany County History, from which we mainly gather the facts in this sketch, very truthfully says: “After an editorial career of nearly fifty years of rare ability and influence, he is able to make the honorable boast that money never controlled an article he wrote, a word he uttered, or a vote he cast.”
He leaves three sones, all of whom are engaged the newspaper business. Lee who had been the city editor of the Cleveland Penny Press; Fred who was employed on the same paper, and Clarence, who has been editing his father’s paper during the latter’s illness.
His remains were interred at Belfast, the funeral occurring at 3 P.M. Sat day. A long, busy, eventful, and honorable life is thus ended.