History & Tourism, Literary Mansfield

Literary Mansfield Part Five: The Political Debunker

19 Nov , 2018  

Posted during the early days of 1812Blockhouse, we are updating and re-sharing our “Literary Mansfield” series to our expanded readership.

1812Blockhouse continues our series about individuals with Mansfield connections who participated in the literary world. To date, we have looked at the 19th century poet Salathiel Coffinberry, the Putlizer Prize winning James Lapine, current novelist Christopher Moore, and statesman John Sherman and his autobiography.

Today, we look to the life and work of Charles Scott Gongwer. Gongwer was born on October 12, 1873 either in Mansfield, as his Mansfield News Journal obituary shared, or in Mifflin Township in Ashland County, as other records indicate. In either case, by 1880 Charles was living on Fourth Street with his parents, Lewis, a carpenter, and Irena, a dressmaker. He graduated from Mansfield High School, and began his journalism career at the Mansfield News, forerunner of today’s News-Journal.

Charles soon moved to Cleveland for stints at the Press and Plain Dealer, and then to Columbus. About 1906 he formed his own legislative news agency, which continues to this day covering news from the Ohio Statehouse and also the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. The Gongwer News Service website can be accessed here.

Gongwer news bulletins were characterized by caustic writing and direct language. His December 30, 1935 obituary shared that Gongwer was “…the first to “debunk” Ohio governors, lobbyists, and members of the state legislature.” On occasion, he took a more direct role in politics, managing the unsuccessful Myron Herrick US Senate campaign, and the successful Theodore Burton US House of Representatives campaign.

Gongwer died of pneumonia in 1935. He is buried in Cleveland’s well-known Lakewood Cemetery, resting place of John D. Rockefeller and President James A. Garfield.


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