About Us

(reprinted from the April 22nd issue)

Our History

It was quite a year.

Following his parents’ establishment of the Northport Journal, Joseph Robbins founded the Smithtown Messenger in 1887, but in Center Moriches. The paper has been going strong in several locations ever since.

To put 1887 in perspective, it was the birth year for legendary baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson, renowned painter Georgia O’Keefe, and the first President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek.

In February, the first Groundhog Day was observed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In July, construction of the iron structure of the Eiffel Tower started in Paris, France.

In November, Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective character Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance, in the novel A Study in Scarlet, published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual.

Move to Smithtown

Two decades after its founding, the Messenger moved to the corner of New York Avenue and Main Street in Smithtown by Robbins. Some fifteen years later, in 1907, Lawrence Deutzman assumed ownership of the paper, and also published the Central Islip-Brentwood Messenger, the Lake Ronkonkoma Messenger, and the Smithtown-Kings Park Messenger.

In 1909, the Smithtown Messenger was the only newspaper published in the Town of Smithtown, boasting an 18-page single column format – without photographs!

The newspaper suffered financial difficulties going through Depression in the 1930s, when cash was scarce.  Barter payments for advertising and printing were more often than not the way the business survived.

Still, records show a robust correspondence was maintained by the publisher with such luminaries such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Governor Al Smith, and General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing.

Deutzman suffered a fatal heart attack in 1952, with management of the newspaper passing to his wife.  Events also prompted another change of location to North Country Road, on a site north of the Smithtown Library.

A Republican Paper

The year of 1954 saw a change of publishers.  Edmund and May Hartung took over the reins and moved the operation to 15 Bellemeade Avenue, a location maintained through the paper’s centennial year in 1987.

Although started as a Democratic newspaper, the Hartung’s led a changeover to becoming a publication with a Republican orientation, and the paper helped elect the nation’s first enrolled Conservative to the U.S. House of Representatives, William Carney.  Smithtown’s U.S. Post Office is officially named in honor of Congressman.

In 1986, the Smithtown Messenger was sold to Robert Pastorelli.  During his tenure, the paper was far larger than 18 pages, included features such as a TV insert, and made free use of color and photography.

P & S Newspapers

In 1997, two partners, Phil Sciarillo and Sal DiPeri, purchased the Smithtown Messenger, and proceeded to further publish the Brookhaven Review and the Ronkonkoma Review, and later the Patchogue Medford News.

The traditions continued, with its Republican orientation, and innovations and improvements abounded.  As publisher, Phil Sciarillo was also active in numerous Smithtown organizations, including Sweetbriar Nature Center, the Smithtown Veterans Youth Program, and the Sons of Italy. With DiPeri’s unfortunate demise to COVID and Sciarillo’s desire to retire, 2021 became an apt year to pass the torch.

Messenger Papers, Inc.

With the April 1st, 2021 issue, the newspaper will say goodbye to Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Phil Sciarillo, who lost his business partner and co-publisher Salvatore DiPeri earlier in the year.  Their decades made a lasting imprint on the local community.

Please join the newspaper in saying a fond farewell to the latest in a long line of publishers.

We hope to make you proud.