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History of Amherst Bee Community Newspaper

The desire to work for the good of the community was the genesis of one weekly newspaper founded in the 19th Century, now a group of nine thriving in the 21st.

Bee Group Newspapers traces its roots to March 27, 1879, and the first edition of The Amherst Bee. Founded by Adam L. Rinewalt, the paper was proud of its country roots and homespun news.

Commercial printing was more than a side job at The Bee, with Rinewalt offering "Stylist type and auction bills in English and German." It was a time when farming and milling were still prominent commercial enterprises, but the weekly newspaper could boast it had the first telephone in Amherst.

The Main Street office was the community's information center, with boys running here and there delivering messages called in from Buffalo. For 15 cents, persons could make their own telephone calls at The Bee's wall-mounted link to the outside world.

Technology did not come as rapidly to all aspects of printing the newspaper. At its second home, the northwest corner of Main and Cayuga, a horse was walked in a circle to operate the press.

The office moved to Main and Rock Streets in 1914, then to its present location next door in 1941, a building now more than 160 years old. The Bee Building was at one time part of a larger structure that at various times housed a harness shop, barbershop and beauty parlor.

Rinewalt never lived to see his newspaper achieve the prosperity that lie ahead. In reporting his death in 1902, black lines adorned the gutters of Pages Two and Three. His name still appeared as the publisher for several weeks after his death, replaced by that of his wife, Sarah, in January 1903. She was later identified as the "proprietor" of the paper. His son, Allan, was editor.

Then on March 18, 1907, The Bee was purchased by one of his apprentice printers, George J. Measer, and Frank A. Measer. After several years, George Measer bought out Frank's shares of the company. It remains in the Measer family to this day.

Mr. George Measer began work at the pay rate of $2 per week, his salary increasing by a dollar for each year he was employed. He started with handset type, the variety now sought after at flea markets and antique shows. It would not be until 1918 that the "advanced" Linotype machine would be acquired.

The newspaper was composed of individual metal characters painstakingly assembled in page forms which each weighed more than 100 pounds. The forms had to be carried down to the Bee's printing press in the basement. When the newspaper was printed, each of the tiny letters had to be put back in its wooden type case for the next week's edition. Pages were fed into the press one sheet at a time, then folded and cut to size.

Mr. Measer headed the company until his death in 1965. At that time, his son, George J. Measer Jr., assumed control of the company and began a series of acquisitions and moves which eventually created a group of nine weekly newspapers.

His brother, Robert Measer, was editor of The Amherst Bee from 1936 until his death in 1963. Measer, famous for his bow tie, was publisher until his son, Trey, succeeded him upon his retirement on Jan. 1, 1994.

"Celebrating our longtime roots is a tribute to the entire community," said Trey Measer. "We have reported on the community's growth, endeavored to publish both sides of every story and be a sounding board for all of our readers.

The motto published by The Amherst Bee 125 years ago still applies today: "So doth the busy improve each golden hour."