- How the paper is printed
- Sentinel owners: A century of leadership
- A community mirror: The first 100 years
- Location, location . . .
- Miracle on Wednesdays
The weekly newspaper began on April 9, 1896, as the Mathews-Middlesex Herald under G. F. Palmer, publisher and editor. He described it as a "weekly journal published in the interest of Middlesex and Mathews and the adjoining counties and devoted to news, agriculture, politics, literature and advertising. A strictly first class local paper.”
At that time it was the only paper published in the five-county area of Mathews, Middlesex, Gloucester, Essex and King and Queen, all on the "south side" of the Rappahannock River.
When Walter H. Ryland and a group of local businessmen bought the paper less than a year later, its name was changed to Southside Sentinel and its coverage shifted to Middlesex and King and Queen counties. Ryland's partners were R.A. Davis, W.C. Walker, F.A. Bristow and W.E. Lipscomb.
Lipscomb became editor and Ryland was associate editor and business manager. The Sentinel's motto became "Pluck, Perseverance and Progress," still one of the most unusual in the nation.
Some time before June of 1901, Ryland became the sole owner of the Sentinel but later formed a partnership with H. Jeter Haydon. Haydon became editor and purchased a one-third interest in the business. The arrangement lasted until 1905 when Ryland bought out Haydon and once again became the sole owner.
Ryland brought a new level of credibility to the struggling little paper. He was well-known in the state and had served as Virginia's Commissioner of Fisheries. Unfortunately, he died in 1915 at age 45.
Two longtime employees, Carl R. Tomlinson and Julian Brown, bought the Sentinel from Ryland's estate in 1916. Tomlinson began working as a "printer's devil" at the paper when it was founded and he was still in school. Brown joined the paper in 1902 as a youngster right off a King and Queen County farm.
Tomlinson and Brown co-owned and co-edited the Sentinel for almost 40 years. When Tomlinson retired in 1952, Brown took over sole ownership of the paper and was the publisher and editor until he died in 1961. He had worked at the Sentinel for 59 years.
Brown's daughter, Reginia Dunn, a bookkeeper at the paper for years, took over the management of the Sentinel until it was sold in 1963 to attorneys John M. Bareford Sr. and William T. Bareford. They were concerned that someone would purchase the Sentinel and consolidate it with another paper.
Mrs. Dunn continued as the mainstay at the Sentinel for several more years while John Bareford, his wife, Marden, and son, John M., also worked in the business. The current owners, Fred and Bettie Lee Gaskins, purchased the paper in 1966.
Led by a dedicated staff, the paper has grown since the days of the 4-page Herald and a few hundred subscribers to today's circulation of over 5,500 and an average of 22-24 pages weekly. Besides this online version that is updated frequently, the staff also jointly produces The Rivah Visitor's Guide each month, May through October.
Modern quarters completed in 2004 are on Virginia Street in Urbanna.