hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


News May 2024


Cycling editor earned respect in newspaper fraternity

Maury Thompson


Editor Franklin Fishler’s preferred mode of transportation must have made it difficult at times to make deadline.

But it got him out into the far-reaching communities of Washington County to gather the news firsthand, setting him apart from his peers, who typically relied on correspondents based in individual towns to keep readers informed.

“Editor Fishler of The Whitehall Times was in town Friday on his way back from Greenwich, making a trip on a bicycle,” The Granville Sentinel reported on Oct. 10, 1890. “Mr. Fishler is a hustling newspaper manager and is making a great success of the Times.”

Fishler didn’t just ride bicycles. He also sold them during the several years he owned The Whitehall Times.

He was an agent for “The Cleveland” bicycle brand, which was known for its quality pneumatic tires.

“It offers the greatest amount of resiliency that can be required in from two to five minutes and is equal to any yet made for speed and easy riding qualities,” The Whitehall Times reported on March 16, 1893.

“It is a beautiful wheel, weighs but thirty pounds, and comes with it a written guarantee with the maker’s official seal attached,” The Whitehall Times reported on April 6, 1893.

Fishler also sold the “The Nassau,” a new bicycle brand manufactured by Peck & Snyder, as well as “The Rambler” bicycle brand.

Fishler was manager of the new electric plant constructed at Whitehall in 1891, perhaps an indication that the publisher and editor of a small-town weekly newspaper in the late 19th century needed more than one side hustle to make ends meet.

Or perhaps he just had an entrepreneurial bent.
Fishler also was one of 11 people who between them made an impromptu investment of $3,100 to establish a shirt factory at Whitehall, The Whitehall Times reported on Oct. 6, 1892.

Fishler invested $25, the equivalent of $858 in today’s dollars. Everyone who attended the meeting invested, with the largest single investment being $1,000.

“This was regarded as a pretty good start,” the newspaper reported.
Fishler, who held positions at various newspapers across northern New York and Vermont over the course of his lengthy career, was respected by his industry peers, or “brothers,” as they commonly referred to each other in the 19th century.

“Vermont will lose, through his retirement, one of its most-ablest and forceful writers, and his colleagues, while they rejoice in his advancement, regret to lose a true friend and an honored member of the Vermont Press Association,” the Middlebury Register wrote in an editorial published Sept. 12, 1902, when Fishler retired from his position as editor of an Essex Junction newspaper group to become a writer for Moody’s financial magazine.

Fishler was “a very warm friend” of David Bennett Hill, a one-time Democratic presidential hopeful who had served as New York’s governor and U.S. senator, The Whitehall Times reported on Oct. 5, 1911, a few years after Fishler had left the paper.

Fishler named his son Bennett Hill Fishler in honor of Hill.
When Hill died in the fall of 1910, he left $3,000 in his will to Franklin Fishler and $2,000 to Bennett Hill Fishler, The Argus of Albany reported on Dec. 2, 1910.

Fishler denied that he was on the short list for a gubernatorial appointment as state civil service commissioner, The New York Times reported on Dec. 30, 1889, as Hill was preparing to begin his second term as governor. Fishler said he was not a candidate for the job and that he and Hill had not spoken about the appointment.

Fishler, who most recently had been in charge of the Brooklyn department of the New York Star, bought The Whitehall Times in 1888 and operated it for several years.

“Mr. Fishler … has many years of experience in newspaper work,” The Argus wrote on Sept. 14, 1888. “May success attend him in his new venture.”

In December 1892, Fishler hosted his brother editors from around Washington County at a reception to show off the new Babcock press and Kendall folder he had purchased to upgrade printing of The Whitehall Times.

“They were much admired, and as new machinery in a printing office is a sure indication of prosperity, we congratulate Brother Fishler on his increased facilities,” the Salem Review Press wrote in an editorial that was excerpted — along with praise from other area newspapers — in The Whitehall Times on Dec. 22, 1892.

“We join in the congratulations being extended to our neighbor, The Whitehall Times, in the token of prosperity given by the furnishing of a new press and folder in its establishment,” the Cambridge Post wrote.

“It’s a beautiful working machine,” The Granville Sentinel gushed. “Brother Fishler is robust with work, gets good prices, and is happy. He is a genial, whole-souled, intelligent gentleman seven days a week.”

In 1909, Fishler established a politically independent afternoon daily newspaper in Plattsburgh, working out of the offices and presses of The Plattsburgh Republican, The Whitehall Times reported on May 20. Publication was expected to begin around June 1.

Other journalism positions Fishler held over the years included manager of the American Press Association in 1897.


Maury Thompson was a reporter for The Post-Star of Glens Falls for 21 years before retiring in 2017. He now is a freelance writer focusing on the history of politics, labor and media in the region.