Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sinnickson Chew (1830-1901)

Portrait from Prowell's  History of Camden County, New Jersey, 1886.

    A leading name in New Jersey newspaper publishing during the 19th century, Sinnickson Chew was for nearly forty years the owner and publisher of the West Jersey Press, a weekly newspaper circulating in the city of Camden. During a long life dedicated to  "forcible editorials and fair treatment of both friend and foe", Chew also found fleeting involvement in state political affairs, being elected as clerk of the New Jersey State Assembly in 1872. His two year tenure in that post was his lone instance of entering state political life but is enough to warrant his inclusion here.
   A lifelong New Jerseyean, Sinnickson Chew's birth occurred in Salem County on January 27, 1830, one of eight children born to Joseph Richards and Maria (Sinnickson) Chew. Receiving his unusual first name courtesy of his mother, Chew was a student in the "country schools" of Salem and at the age of just fifteen began learning the printing trade, joining the offices of the Woodbury Constitution in 1845. After becoming acquainted with the newspaper printer's daily activities, Chew became a "post boy" for the paper, riding a horse and cart to deliver newspapers to various locations throughout Camden and Gloucester County.
  Following several years of work on the staff of the Constitution Chew removed to Philadelphia, where in 1851 he was briefly employed in a type foundry. In that same year he returned to New Jersey, and after his return joined the staff of the National Standard in Salem County. Within a short period Chew and a partner, William Sharp, pooled resources and together purchased the National Standard, continuing in a partnership publication until 1862Sinnickson Chew married in May 1860 to Sarah A. Miller (1836-1918). The couple's forty year marriage would see the births of at least three children, including Lillie, William H. (1871-1962), and Edward. 
   In May 1862 Chew purchased the "entire interest" of the Camden based West Jersey Press, and for the next four decades was its editor and publisher. Chew's lengthy stewardship of that paper saw it become one of the leading Republican-leaning periodicals in the state, with Chew himself being remarked as
"A clear and lucid writer with a perfect command of the English language, which he always used with telling effect."
  Although the publisher of one of the leading Republican voices in Camden, Sinnickson Chew refrained from pursuing public office. This was the case until 1872 when he was elected by the state assembly to serve as it's clerk, a "responsible position" which saw him be acknowledged as "courteous and polite to all", regardless of political party. Chew's time as clerk of the New Jersey state assembly extended until 1874 when he was succeeded by Austin H. Patterson, a former speaker of the assembly.
   A longtime member of the Editorial Association of New Jersey, Chew continued to be affiliated with the West Jersey Press until his death and two years prior had given up "active management" of the paper, with control passing to his sons. Sinnickson Chew died at his home in Camden on June 26, 1901 at age 71. He was survived by his wife Sarah, who, following her death in 1918 was interred alongside her husband at the Evergreen Cemetery in Camden.

From the December 10, 1900 Philadelphia Inquirer.

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