Jacob Reinhard was always something of a man in a hurry. Like many people who came to America in the middle years of the 19th century, he believed that a man could make of himself whatever he wished. If one career did not work out -- well, a new one could be found without much trouble.

Jacob Reinhard was always something of a man in a hurry. Like many people who came to America in the middle years of the 19th century, he believed that a man could make of himself whatever he wished. If one career did not work out -- well, a new one could be found without much trouble.

Unlike the Old World, with its restrictions of class and title, America was a new land.

Born in Bavaria in 1815, Reinhard came to America with his family in 1833. Arriving in central Ohio, the family took advantage of the inexpensive cost of land and settled on a farm near Columbus. One reason they liked the small capital city of 1,700 people was that it seemed to be a place that might soon become much larger.

They were right.

The National Road reached Columbus about the same time the Reinhards did, and was followed shortly thereafter by the Ohio Canal. By 1834, Columbus was a city of 5,000 people and more were arriving every day.

Quickly tiring of the farm, Reinhard soon was looking for work. He found it on the National Road, which was still being built west of Columbus. Reinhard became a contractor, providing the crushed stone that became the bed of the road. Over the next few years, Reinhard worked on the National Road and eventually became its assistant engineer while reading law in his spare time.

By 1843, Reinhard had made some money, started a family and was becoming active in state and local politics. A strong and outspoken Democrat in an area that was more Whig in outlook, Reinhard needed a voice to get his message to the large numbers of German Democrats living in central Ohio.

He needed a newspaper.

But Reinhard knew very little about what it took to operate a newspaper. He thought he had solved his problem when a paper called the Ohio Eagle was founded in 1841. But it only lasted for 18 months. Now Reinhard needed somebody to start a new one.

He needed Frederick Fieser.

Fieser had been born in the Braunschweig region of Germany in 1814. In 1836 he came to America and settled in Cincinnati. At the time, Cincinnati was the "Queen City of the West" and had more people in general and more Germans in particular than any other city in the Midwest. To a new immigrant it was a great place to live and work.

But he would not be in Cincinnati long. Fieser later remembered how he came to Columbus.

"In the summer of 1842, Jacob Reinhard came to Cincinnati to broach the subject of starting a German paper in Columbus as the Ohio Eagle was a thing of the pastÉThe prospects were good so I consented. Reinhard returned to Columbus, and I looked after the numerous small details, in which Stephen Molitor assisted me. Several names for the new paper were suggested, and we decided the question by writing the names on separate slips of paper and putting them all in a hat. A daughter of Stephen Molitor drew the name Der Westbote (Western Courier) out of the hat. It has been stated that the Der Westbote was printed with the type of the defunct Eagle, but such was not the case. I bought the type in Philadelphia and no secondhand material was ever used.

"The first number of the Der Westbote was issued on the second day of October, 1843, the publication office being on East Main Street, in a frame structure which has since given way for the handsome residence of Isaac Eberly. Columbus was in 1843 quite small and the German population not very numerous. You could count the German businessmen on your fingers. Besides that the Whigs were in the majority in both county and city, and the establishment of a German Democratic newspaper was therefore not an easy task.

"The difficulties were not overcome for years; but when once the turning point was reached, the improvement was rapid. The field of the Der Westbote gradually extended into other states and its influence steadily grew stronger, until in many localities in the state, the paper was considered the 'Democratic Bible.'"

The partnership of Reinhard and Fieser lasted for more than 40 years. In 1884, Fieser sold his half-interest in the paper to three longtime employees of the company who shortly thereafter joined with Reinhard to form a joint stock company to own and operate the paper. Der Westbote was a weekly newspaper for much of its history, although it experimented from time to time as a semiweekly and tri-weekly paper. Der Westbote would continue to be published until it closed forever with the outbreak of World War I in April 1917.

The main reason Fieser got out of the newspaper business was that he and Reinhard had become busy with other matters. Reinhard had become a powerful figure in the local and state Democratic parties. He was elected to Columbus City Council in 1852 and served for 20 years. For five of those years, he was president of the council and at the same time was a prominent figure in state politics.

To finance all of these various activities, Reinhard and Fieser needed a financial institution. Not finding one they liked, they formed their own in 1868. The Reinhard Bank was named for Reinhard, but it was really operated and managed by Fieser. Because the management of the quite successful bank took up most of his time, Fieser eventually turned over his interest in the paper to others.

Fieser stayed actively involved with a wide variety of charitable, civic and ethnic organizations until his death in 1891.

Having married in 1841, Reinhard and his wife, Catherine, saw six of their children survive to adulthood. Reinhard survived his old friend and partner by two years and died in 1893.

The two men had not only made their fortune in their new country. They also had given the German community of Columbus and central Ohio a voice and an identity in 19th century America.

Ed Lentz writes a history column for ThisWeek.