On July 13, 1822, Smith Edgar published the very first issue of the Bridge Town Museum & N.J. Advocate in a print shop on Main Street. That four-page publication is the original ancestor of the current NJToday.Net, New Jersey’s oldest weekly newspaper.
Bridgetown was both the name of a loose confederation of villages and a sometimes alternative name for Rahway.
The Advocate underwent at least three name changes in six years. By 1828, it had dropped any reference to “Bridge Town” from its name and had become the New Jersey Advocate.
The Advocate was a strong supporter of the Whig party in 1840, when it was being published by Lewis Moore. The paper backed William Henry Harrison in his bid to defeat Democratic President Martin Van Buren, who was running for re-election. The highly-charged political atmosphere gave rise to a rival Democratic newspaper, The Democratic-Republican, which was published by Joseph Shann.
By 1850, three papers were published in Rahway: our ancestor, The Advocate (which had been re-named The Advocate & Register), the Democratic-Republican (which had been re-named The Rahway Republican), and The Rahway Register (which later became The Register & American).
By 1860, the Advocate & Register was sold to Shann and merged with The Rahway Republican. Two new papers, The Rahway Advocate (not affiliated with the original paper of the same name) and The Rahway Times, had also appeared. The Times quickly merged with The Register & American, and the resulting publication was known as The Register & Times.
During the Civil War, the new Rahway Advocate merged with The Register & Times to become The Weekly Advocate & Times. Our ancestor paper, The Rahway Republican, merged with another of Shann’s newspapers, The Union National Democrat, and soon became known as The National Democrat.
By the turn of the century, The National Democrat had become The Union Democrat, and the Weekly Advocate & Times had become The N.J. Advocate.
In 1909, The National Democrat became The News-Herald. Around that time the competing New Jersey Advocate attempted to launch a daily paper, called The Daily Record. The daily format proved unworkable, and the publication was re-named The Rahway Record.
At that point (early 1911), The Rahway Record could only trace its ancestry back to 1847’s first issue of the Rahway Register. The News-Herald was the descendent of the Bridge Town Museum & N.J. Advocate. Later that year, though, the Record absorbed the News-Herald.
A new weekly paper, the Rahway News, started publication in either 1927 or 1930 (accounts differ.) It continued publication until 1946, when it merged with the Rahway Record. The resulting publication became known as the Rahway News-Record.
In 1981, Tabloid Lithographers, publishers of the Atom Tabloid, bought the News-Record from the Bauer family, who published the paper since the early 1970s. From 1981 until 1997, the Rahway News Record was published by Constantine “Red” Vigilante and his wife, Ellen.
Devine Media Enterprises, established by former Daily Journal reporter James Devine, purchased all of Tabloid Lithographers’ publications in 1997 and soon expanded the News Record distribution to surrounding towns, including Elizabeth, Roselle, Linden and the rest of Union County. The Atom Tabloid was expanded to provide coverage of the entire Middlesex County area.
The News Record, acquired by CMD Media in October 2006, was re-branded as NJToday.net in 2010 to link the weekly print publication with the newspaper’s website, http://njtoday.net
NJToday.net is now published by Lisa McCormick and proudly continues the proud tradition of providing the best in local news coverage and a forum for public debate on issues of concern to our community.