”The Policy of Honesty – The Might of Right and The Expediency of Principle,” were words which appeared in large type across the top of the first page of The Advance when it was first published in September 1871. Now, celebrating its 150th anniversary, many changes have taken place in printing, personnel and location, but the spirit expressed then continues today.
The Advance is the oldest operating newspaper in Brookhaven Town, and the longest continually operated business in the Village of Patchogue.
The Long Island Advance, originally called The Advance, was first published on September 1, 1871, when Ulysses S. Grant was president. While the paper only cost 5 cents, there was a post-war depression, and the original owner Timothy J. Dyson, a former printer and newspaper correspondent from Brooklyn, received payment for many advertisements and subscriptions in produce and merchandising trade-offs. Dyson printed the first edition out of a small office in the Warren Conklin Building on West Main Street, using $500 worth of printing equipment he had purchased from Patchogue resident Austin Roe.
In 1876, the paper was sold to Thomas S. Heatley, who in turn sold it to Reverend S. Fielder Palmer, a former pastor of the Congregational Church, in 1885. Palmer sold the paper to H. Judson Overton in 1886, who renamed the paper The Patchogue Advance. Shortly thereafter, on May 18, 1888, the paper was sold to Martin B. Van Densen of Southold, who continued the policies of the paper and increased circulation to the ”four-figure mark,” according to the records of the paper. All of these gentlemen were characterized as ”country printers,” who set the papers by hand.
James A. Canfield was new to the business, but had dreamed of owning his own newspaper. On a spring day in 1892, as he was writing a letter of acceptance to purchase a weekly paper in Portland, Oregon, a Patchogue minister dropped by the newsroom while visiting relatives in Hudson. The Reverend Alfred E. Colton boasted of the beauty and benefits of a small Long Island village named Patchogue, and mentioned that there was a newspaper for sale there.
Canfield is credited for introducing the linotype machine to the business and building the newspaper into the powerful influence it enjoyed in the local community. In 1911 he hired Frank P. Johnson as a reporter, who quickly moved up the ranks to become associate editor, where he remained until his death in 1946.
Canfield’s son-in-law, John T. Tuthill Jr. was selling cars for the Nash and Chevrolet agencies in Patchogue and thinking of returning to the insurance business in Rochester when Canfield first approached him to work in the advertising department in 1919. ”Do you know, I had no desire to embark on a newspaper career,” Captain Tuthill said in a 1971 interview. ”I saw no future in it for me.”
Canfield passed away in July, 1924, shortly after another typesetting machine had been installed in The Advance plant. Under the terms of his will, the office of editor and publisher was given to his son-in-law, and Frank P. Johnson was named as associate editor.
The Advance grew so much that on April 7, 1925, the paper was changed to a semi-weekly, and published on Tuesdays and Fridays. In September, 1930, the Tuthills bought out their chief competitor, The Argus, and continued to publish that paper in The Advance plant, thus providing three issues a week to the people of the area.
Another newspaper, The Mid-Island Mail, was put out in 1935, and in 1937, The Advance began a fourth publication, The Moriches Tribune. The Mid-Island Mail was discontinued due to war shortages in 1941 and The Argus followed suit in 1942.
In May of 1961, The Moriches Tribune was merged with The Patchogue Advance, and the paper took a new name, The Long Island Advance. The following year, The Long Island Advance converted to offset printing, and printing operations were turned over to Photonews, Inc. of Bethpage.
Captain Tuthill died at the age of 78. The reluctant newspaperman had become one of the best-known weekly publishers in New York State.
On his father’s death, John T. Tuthill III became the paper’s publisher in June of 1972. Under his leadership, The Advance purchased The Long Island News in 1972, and The Suffolk County News and The Islip Bulletin in August, 1985, and has entered the computer age, enjoying the advantages of desktop publishing and the world wide network.
Finally, John ”Terry” Tuthill IV, after graduating from Boston University, and a three year stint as an automobile salesman at Patchogue Ford, followed his grandfather’s and father’s path and joined The Advance as an advertising sales account executive in June 1992.
In January 2005, Terry was named assistant publisher. Upon the death of John T Tuthill III, Terry took over as publisher.