History of Bennington Banner
"In 1841, a group of prominent citizens in Bennington, Vermont, including Congressman Hiland Hall, founded the weekly State Banner to represent the views of the Whig Party in Bennington County. The long-running paper has appeared under a number of title variations. “Vermont” was added to the title in 1849. In 1858, it became the Bennington Banner. Two special editions appeared as the Bennington Daily Banner and the Daily Banner in 1877 and 1891. Beginning in 1894, the paper was issued twice a week as the Bennington Semi-Weekly Banner. In 1903, Bennington’s two competing papers were merged to form the Bennington Banner and Reformer, later renamed the Banner and Reformer. A daily edition, also established in 1903, was known originally as the Bennington Evening Banner. Since 1961, it has appeared as the Bennington Banner.
Three families dominated the publication of the newspaper for over one hundred years. In 1842, James I.C. Cook joined the Banner, and members of the Cook family were involved with the paper until 1870, with only a brief interruption from 1857 to 1859. Charles A. Pierce bought the Banner in 1870 and operated it until 1897. His son, Charles W. Pierce, served as editor from 1895 to 1897. Frank E. Howe acquired the Banner in 1902 and, along with his sons Paul and Edmund, published and edited the paper until 1956. When Howe died, the Banner noted that his articles contained “a homespun philosophy and personality all their own” and that he “rather enjoyed stirring up a hornet’s nest.” Howe’s grandson, Frank E. Howe II, ran the paper until 1960.
The Banner served southern Bennington County and the eastern part of New York. The paper supported Whig and Republican positions on various reforms, including the antislavery movement. Under Charles Pierce and Frank Howe, the Banner included increasing amounts of local and regional news, with regular columns for communities in Bennington County and nearby New York. In the 20th century, the daily paper gradually became the primary news source for readers in the region. When the weekly edition ended in 1956, the Banner was reprinting news from the daily mostly for a small group of former residents and winter vacationers.
From the beginning, the Banner helped record and promote Bennington’s historical legacy, which included the 1777 Battle of Bennington, an important American victory during the Revolutionary War. In 1841, Hiland Hall contributed 18 articles on the early history of southwestern Vermont to document the area’s transformation from a “wilderness to a state of cultivation” and from “the chaos of nature to order and good government.” The special daily editions, issued in 1877 on the occasion of the centennial of Vermont’s founding and in 1891 on the occasion of the centennial of statehood and the opening of the Bennington Battle Monument, were filled with articles about the history of the town and the state. In the 1940s, Frank Howe contributed articles about local history in his “Travel Talk” series. On its fiftieth anniversary in 1953, the Evening Banner produced a lengthy supplement that celebrated Bennington’s past."