Major Bearss
MAJOR BITTERS. During the month of roses, in 1820, John Bitters, the son of a German soldier, who chose death rather than subserviance to George IV., was united in marriage at Martin's Creek, Northampton county. Pa., with Miss Sarah Ann Major, a young lady of Scotch parentage, to whom were born eleven children, Maj. Bitters, the subject of this sketch, being the eighth child and fourth son, born Sept. 21, 1835. When but eleven years of age Major Bitters went forth to earn an independent livelihood, and until 1854. when he took an apprenticeship at the Gazette oflfice, in Berwick. Pa., he paid his parents over three hundred dollars out of his very meager earnings. In less than one year's time he was advanced to the foremanship of the office and at the commencement of the Buch- anan presidential campaign, in 1856, published a campaign paper at Bloomsburg, Pa., with Frank Snyder as financial partner. Before election day the "Campaigner" suspended for want of patronage and the material was moved to Orangeville, Pa., where the publication of the Orangeville Democrat was established by the same firm, but the revenue was not sufficient to prevent a treasury deficit, and Major resolved to accept the advice just offered by Horace Greeley to go west and grow up with the country. As foreman of the Democrat (which was a republican paper) at Danville, Pa., he earned sufficient means to carry him to Indianapolis, Ind., where he served a few weeks on the Journal, and thence to Peru, about Christmas time in 1856, where he resided until the 6th of October, 1873. During his residence in Peru, on the 4th day of March, 1858, he was united in marriage to Miss Maria Rose, to whom were born three sons and one daughter. Two sons died in childhood. Albert and Maggie are yet living, both married and residents of Rochester. Major en- listed as a private soldier in Company K, One Hundred and Fifty- fifth Indiana volunteers, which was mustered in at Indianapcilis in February, 1865, and mustered out at Dover, Del, in August of the same year. But most of his time in the army was given as second leader of a regimental brass band. Under his skillful services the Peru Republican developed from an insignificant country paper, printed on a hand press, to its present proud proportions. The purchase of the Rochester Union Spy was a venture that no one with a less degree of adhesiveness would have undertaken, but the debt incurred was paid in due time and the office and the paper very much improved. Three years later he sold the Spy office and purchased the Union office at Rensselaer and changed the name to Rensselaer Republican. In July, 1880, he sold out and returned to Rochester, engaging in the real estate business with A. C. Elliott. In 1882 he established the Rochester Tribune, which he sold to W. I. Howard & Son a year later. In November, 1884, he repurchased the Spy office, which under the management of W. H. Mattingly & Bro. had been rechristened the Rochester Republican. On the 5th day of February, 1886, he added the publication of the Rochester Daily Republican, now in its eleventh volume, of which, together with the Weekly Republican, M. Bitters & Son are the sole proprietors. In 1892 they purchased the Rochester Tribune and consolidated it with the Republican. Major Bitters is a successful editor and publisher, but the principal qualification he possesses is adhesiveness. Early and late he is engaged in looking after the welfare of his paper, and largely through his progressive ideas Rochester has developed from the usual old-time conditions of a country village to an admirable little city, well ordered and beautified with elegant residences, commodious churches, school houses and other metropolitan advantages of which the people are justly proud. Politically Major Bitters was born and raised a democrat, and remained such until the democratic attempt at the extension of slavery, which aroused him to the support of John C. Fremont and soon after he identified himself with the republican party. Religiously he was born and raised a Presbyterian, but at maturity he united with the Methodist church and was an active worker for twenty-five years. In 1880 he commenced the study of evolution as presented by Darwin, Huxley, Spencer and others, and this knowledge is steadfastly maintained.
History of the United States and State of Indiana. Part 3
Special Edition for Fulton County

Elia Peattie, National Publishing Company, Chicago,Illinois, 1896