The Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal is a weekly newspaper independently owned by Tidewater Newspapers Inc. A member of the Virginia Press Association, it covers the people and events of Gloucester and Mathews counties in Tidewater Virginia. The complete paper is published in print and online each Wednesday afternoon with a Thursday dateline.
The Gazette-Journal was formed in 1937 by a merger of the Gloucester Gazette (1919) and the Mathews Journal (1904).
Although the Mathews Journal was first published in 1904, our archives begin with the May 4, 1905 paper, when the Journal Publishing Company listed just one name on the masthead—John J. Burke, business manager. It was co-owned by Burke, Leslie C. Garnett and J. Boyd Sears. The paper was a four-page broadsheet, with the front and back pages preprinted in Richmond. The two center pages contained local news and advertisements and were printed in-house. A year’s subscription was $1.
In April 1907, H. Jeter Haydon of Urbanna purchased the paper and listed himself on the masthead as Proprietor, with Joseph R. Douglass as general manager. Within a month, Haydon’s name was off the masthead, and in July that year, W. Marvin Minter’s name appeared as editor, with Douglass still serving as manager. By October, Douglass was gone, as well.
In 1909, Minter purchased the Journal, retaining the role of editor, and in January 1910, he increased the paper’s size to eight pages, with six of them preprinted with national news, events and stories of interest.
Minter became an army officer in 1918, leaving the paper in the hands of James H. Peed as managing editor. A year later, Minter returned, and Peed was demoted to chief of staff before resigning to become a traveling salesman.
By 1921, most of the front page news was local, although preprint was still largely used in the rest of the paper.
In 1923, Minter decided to set up a law practice and sold the Mathews Journal to Paul Kline of Kingsport, Tennessee. The following year, Kline sold it to Paul Titlow and John J. Burke, owners and publishers, with Burke selling his share the following year to John L. Moore.
In 1930, Moore’s name disappeared from the masthead, leaving Titlow as the owner and publisher until the paper merged with the Gloucester Gazette in 1937. The last issue was published on Nov. 4.
The Gloucester Gazette’s first issue was Jan. 9, 1919. Alanson Crosby was the editor and publisher. The paper had four pages, two with local news and two preprinted, and a subscription was $1.50 a year. By May, the paper’s size had increased to six pages.
In 1920, the Gazette Printing Company, Inc. was formed, with Crosby as president, J.M. Lewis as vice president, and B.B. Roane as secretary-treasurer. Board membership changed over time, but Crosby remained editor and publisher until the Gazette merged with the Mathews Journal in 1937.
With the 1937 merger, Tidewater Newspapers Inc. was established as the company of ownership, and the merged paper was named the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal. Alanson Crosby was named president and editor, with Paul Titlow as secretary-treasurer and business manager. The main office was in Gloucester, with a satellite office in Mathews.
New equipment was installed, and while the paper only had eight pages, six of those pages were printed in-house, with a front page, editorial page, news pages and classified section that were all local.
In April 1939, Crosby announced his involuntary retirement, and two weeks later, John T. DuVal was announced president of the board. That July, Crosby started his own paper, and four months later a fire nearly destroyed the Gazette-Journal plant. In 1945, future president and publisher John Warren Cooke was elected to the board of directors.
Construction of a new Gazette-Journal office and plant began in 1947 at the paper’s current site at the corner of Main Street and Lewis Avenue, and the new site opened for business in August 1948. It was the first building owned by the paper, which had previously been in rented quarters.
In 1952, John Warren Cooke became vice president of Tidewater Newspapers, and in 1954, after DuVal’s death, Cooke was elected president and publisher. That same year, the paper’s Mathews office moved to its current site in the Farmers’ and Fishermen’s building on Court Street.
With plans to install an offset printing press, the Gazette-Journal made arrangements in 1972 to print the paper elsewhere. A new four-unit King offset press was installed in 1976 and in-house printing resumed.
A branch office of the Gazette-Journal opened in 1977 at Tidemill Shopping Center in Gloucester Point. Four years later, the Main Street building expanded with the acquisition of the adjacent Bailey Building. Four years after that, in 1984, a fifth press unit was acquired, and in 1985, the company purchased the building next to the Bailey Building. A sixth press unit was installed that year, followed by a seventh press unit in 1994 and an eighth one in 1999.
In November of 2009, John Warren Cooke died, and he was succeeded as president and publisher by his daughter, Elsa Cooke Verbyla, who formerly had served as the newspaper’s editor. Charlie Koenig was appointed editor. The Gloucester Point office was closed in 2012. In recent years, the Gazette-Journal has greatly expanded its ability to create posters, pamphlets, books and other commercial job work through the addition of new printing machines.