• A visit to Union 2013. If you grew up in Union, West Virginia and you have not been able to return to Monroe County recently, chances are you will enjoy a little tour of Union and the area.

    View a Picture Tour of Union & Monroe County.



 The History of the Monroe Watchman – Newspaper for Monroe County – Located in Union, West Virginia


This story begins with Elbert Fowler, a native of Summers County.  He was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Fowler.  He was born at the mouth of Indian Creek in Monroe County.  Elbert joined the Confederate Army when he was a boy of 18. He was educated partly at Emory and Henry College and after the war he went to McGill University in Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia.  In 1871-1872, Elbert Fowler came to Union, West Virginia located in Monroe County and founded the “Border Watchman”  newspaper.  The newspaper began publishing on February 2, 1872 as the “Border Watchman”.  Mr. Fowler later on  sold out the newspaper to A. C. Houston.

Charles McLean Johnston, the youngest and only son of John M. Johnston and Mary Smith Johnston of Connecticut came to Union in the early 1850’s as editor of  “The Farmer’s Friend and Fireside Companion” newspaper. He left Monroe County for a period of time, serving in the war with Brook’s Battery of the Confederate Army.  He then returned  several years later to Union and purchased “The Monroe Watchman” from A. C. Houston.

Charles Johnston and wife, Virginia Lee McCormick Johnston arrived in Union, county seat of Monroe County, to make their home. Charles Johnston became the new owner and editor of the “Border Watchman” in 1876.  He published the news until his death in 1880.


Albert Sydney Johnston

Upon his death, his oldest son, Albert Sydney Johnston, being then only 18 years old took entire charge of the newspaper plant and establishment. Albert Sydney was born near Warrenton, Virginia., on April 2, 1862.  He became at this early age the proprietor, printer, publisher and editor of the “Border Watchman”.  In 1884, the name was changed from “Border Watchman” to “The Monroe County Watchman”.  It was one of the cleanest, strongest, intelligent and forceful newspapers of the state and the ablest edited papers in the country.

In 1894, Albert Sydney married Miss Izzie McNeer of Union, daughter of James W. McNeer.  To this marriage was born five children.

In 1897, the name of the newspaper was changed to “The Monroe Watchman”. The circulation of  “The Monroe Watchman” newspaper was one of the largest of any county newspaper in the state and going into many other states of the Union.

After Albert Sydney Johnston’s death, his son James Malcolm took over  the responsibilities of the Monroe Watchman. Malcolm attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Navy during World War II.  During his absence, his sister Izzie Johnston (later Izzie Johnston McCoy) served as the Watchman’s editor.   On February 4, 1983, at the age of 86 and retired from the Monroe Watchman,  James Malcolm became very ill and was claimed by death later that evening in the Greenbrier Valley Hospital in Fairlea.


Harold Harrison Mohler

Harold  Harrison Mohler was born on January 17, 1933, a son of Clarence Delifield Mohler and Annie Edward Mottesheard Mohler of Union.  Harry grew up in Monroe County and attended Monroe County Schools and  graduated from Union High School in 1953.  He became a part-time employee of  “The Monroe Watchman” while a student at Union High School.  In 1955, he became a minor stockholder in a corporation formed to operate the old newspaper.

In 1953, Harry left Monroe County for a tour of duty with the US Armed Forces  as a volunteer with the US Army’s Security Agency (ASA).

He was awarded a Congressional Appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  After graduating from prep school and passing the entrance exam, he was discharged from the U.S. Army and became a Midshipman at the Naval Academy, Class of 1958.

By 1965, Harry H. Mohler had acquired 50% ownership of “The Monroe Watchman”, at which time he was given the opportunity to purchase the holdings of the other major stockholder, the late James Malcolm Johnston, and became the Owner/Editor.

He married Dale Porterfield of Waiteville,  and together they had two sons; Harrison Craig Mohler and Roderick “Rod” Mohler.

Harold “Harry”  Harrison Mohler died January 23, 1997, while in the hospital in Roanoke, Virginia.  Upon his death, his wife Dale Porterfield Mohler  took over the responsibilities of  “The Monroe Watchman”. She became Publisher and General Manager and both sons, Craig and Rod have played active roles in the operations of The Monroe Watchman. His eldest son Dr. Harrison Craig Mohler became the Editor.  His youngest son H. Roderick  ”Rod” Mohler became Legal Counsel and Sportswriter.  Both sons were graduates of Union High School.

Harrison Craig Mohler


Harold Roderick Mohler

Since the first issue of “The Monroe (Border) Watchman came off the press in 1872, The newspaper has never failed to get out the weekly publication. At the closing of each year you will see “The Monroe Watchman” staff listed on the front page. It reads:

“The Watchman Team consists of Dale P. Mohler – Publisher and General Manager; Dr. Craig Mohler – Editor; H. Rod Mohler – Legal Counsel and Sportswriter; John W. Honaker – Advertising Design, Layout and Commercial printing; McKenzie Capaldo – News, Classifieds, Typesetting and Marketing; Harriet Kirby and Shirley Wikle – Mailroom; Betty Bostic – Local Correspondent; Marvin Hylton, Jr. – Guest Columnist; Reba Mohler – After hours Supervisor; Dr. Susan Mohler – L’amour de ma vie; R. Jackson, Issac H., Grant H., Madeleine W., Monroe M., and Harold C. Mohler – Futures Department; and the late Harold H. Mohler – Inspiration Department.”

To this day “The Monroe Watchman” publishes a weekly newspaper and it continues to be mailed out to all parts of the country.

To subscribe to The Monroe Watchman call 304-772-3016  or email:


This Historic building is the home of "The Monroe Watchman"

Some excerpts taken from the Monroe Watchman and Morton’s History of Monroe County.

Submitted by:  Linda Elmore Cohernour