Niles Got Its Name.
By 1834 Heaton's Furnace settlement had reached the proper proportions
of a village so James Heaton planned the streets, marked off the
lot division and named the village.
Until 1834 the settlement was appropriately called
“Heaton’s Furnace”, but James Heaton gave it
a new name ‘Nilestown’ in honor of Hezekiah Niles,
editor of the Niles Register, a Baltimore paper, whose Whig principles
Heaton greatly admired.
Nilestown remained the name until 1843 when the
Post Office Department for convenience shortened it to ‘Niles’
and that is how Niles got its name.
Issue #1 Volume #1 of the Niles Register.
Niles was born October 10, 1777, and passed away on April 2, 1839,
an early editor and publisher of the Niles’ Weekly Register,
which was a national weekly news magazine based out of Baltimore.
Also known as the Niles’ Register and the Weekly Register,
the publication of the Chester County, Pennsylvania born Hezikiah
Niles was rich in detail for many of the most nationally significant
events that occurred in Maryland. It covered not only politics,
but economics, science, technology, art, and literature.
Born to a Quaker family, Niles’ father
left that faith to fight in the American Revolution and in 1777
the family fled to Wilmington, Delaware, just paces ahead of the
British Army. There they took refuge in the home of James Jefferis
near Jefferis’ Ford on the east side of Brandywine Creek.
According to Niles, it was at this time that his not-yet-begun
life nearly ended, asserting that a Hessian mercenary threatened
to bayonet his very pregnant mother while she carried him.
He and his family survived the war and went back
to Wilmington where his father rejoined the Quaker faith he had
Not unlike another famous Revolutionary Pennsylvanian,
Benjamin Franklin, Niles was apprenticed to a Philadelphia printer
for three years. He later carried his trade to Wilmington for
a few years and tried to set up a printing business that went
belly up by 1801. Four years later in 1805, he published a literary
magazine called The Apollo, which had a very short shelf-life
and in 1805 he moved south to Baltimore. By 1811 he was editing
a daily Charm City broadsheet, the Baltimore Evening Post, which
was associated with the Democratic-Republican Party.
Letterhead of the Niles Register dated April
As a side note-the Niles Historical Society newsletter
is named The Register.
It was in 1811 that
Niles as a newspaperman really comes into his own in Maryland,
when he issued the prospectus for the Weekly Register and garnered
a total of 1,500 subscribers even before the first issue hit the
That first edition hit the streets of Baltimore
on September 7, 1811. He would edit and publish the Weekly Register
for 25 years, making it one of the most widely circulated magazines
in the United States. His news magazine was on a scale of a more
familiar LIFE in its day and Hezekiah became one of the most influential
journalists of his time. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezekiah_Niles