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muriel j smith 120aThe Atlantic Highlands Herald you’re reading today was founded in 1999 by Allan Dean as America's first online-only newspaper. It gained a place in history as the first official electronic, newspaper in the nation when it was selected in January 2000 to be an "official newspaper" for the Borough of Atlantic Highlands. As a result, the Borough became a customer and published meeting notices in the legal section of the online newspaper. A copy of the original newsletter can be found here.

The Atlantic Highlands Herald is not the first by that name. There was another Atlantic Highlands Herald that spanned two centuries, half a dozen or more different owners, including one accused of writing an editorial favoring the torpedoing of the Lusitania in 1915, and an owner who also owned a string of other papers and was at one time a Congressional candidate. There’s also a story about the press that was run to the accompaniment of hymn singing. The fact is, the Herald has enough fascinating history to cover more than one column in History and Happenings!

It seems the first Atlantic Highlands Herald appeared June 1, 1881 and was published by C.C. Nobles & Co. with P.Y., Everett the editor and John C. Nobles the principal owner. It displayed a beacon light at the top of the editorial page and was four pages in size. Six months later, Mr. Nobles retired, and the Rev. Thomas Everett became owner, publishing under the firm of Everett Brothers. In 1885, he sold his interest, this time to two enterprising young ladies!

This duo of young, well-educated ladies, Ella S. Leonard and Caroline G. Lingle both graduates of Vassar, bought the paper and named it the Independent. They ran it for a year, then purchased a corner piece of land at First and Mount avenues and build the brick building, at the time, the tallest building in the area, and moved their paper operations to that site. That attracted the attention of E.H. Cook, who bought the building and business in 1888, and changed the name to the Monmouth Press.

In 1890, C.R. Snyder was named to be receiver by the Chancery, and kept the paper going for the next two years. That’s when William J. Leonard bought the property and was its editor. In a book by his relative Thomas H. Leonard, From Indian Trail to Electric Rail, we learn that William remained editor and wrote editorials “so as to profound the just and confound the unjust, by his depth of thought and fearless pen.”

Leonard remained editor of the Monmouth Press and through the end of the 19th century.

Also during the 1890s, it appears a second newspaper, this one once again called the Atlantic Highlands Journal, joined the Monmouth Press in relaying news. A gentleman named P Y Everett was its editor. The paper was published in cooperation with the Atlantic Highlands Association, who then sold it to the Atlantic Highlands Power Company who began publishing it the following year. That’s when A.C. Hart was named editor, according to a story in the Herald in 1895.

Next: The early 20th century Atlantic Highlands Journal