August Heinrich Christian Julius Bonitz (1841-1891) debuted Die Suedliche Post of Goldsboro, North Carolina, on October 1, 1869. The German-language newspaper published every Friday and included news from around the United States and Europe. It also included advertisements for Goldsboro products and merchants, as well as items and businesses from elsewhere in the country.
North Carolina’s population of German speakers was relatively small. Die Suedliche Post‘s intended audience was recently arrived German-speaking immigrants living in the northeastern United States and German speakers still in Europe. Like other southern states after the Civil War, North Carolina was keen to rebuild its economy with workers living in the northeast and Europe. On April 8, 1869, the Tarboro’ Southerner reported on the first meeting of the Carolina Immigration Association, held several days prior in Goldsboro. The newspaper recorded that about 500 people from 16 North Carolina counties, largely in the eastern part of the state, had gathered to discuss ways to encourage immigration to North Carolina. An editorial in the newspaper noted, “It is gratifying to learn that the meeting was largely attended, that great interest was manifested and measures were fully inaugurated towards securing a fully supply of intelligent emigrants.”
Bonitz was one of several newspaper publishers who attended the immigration association meeting. A native of Germany, he immigrated with his family to Maryland in 1858. When the Civil War broke out, he sided with the Confederacy and joined its military ranks for almost four years. After the war, Bonitz moved to Goldsboro and began various business ventures, including running a general store, selling lumber, and manufacturing bricks. He met with varied success. Sketches of Prominent Living North Carolinians, published in 1888, records that Bonitz traded his poorly performing brickmaking operation for printing equipment from a defunct Goldsboro newspaper.
It’s unclear when Bonitz began publishing newspapers. He is listed as the “proprietor and business manager” in the April 28, 1868 edition of the Goldsboro’ Daily Rough Notes. An advertisement on the front page of the edition includes the words “Daily Rough Notes Revived!!,” suggesting that the title may have been the revival of an earlier Goldsboro newspaper, the Daily Rough Notes, which began publishing in 1860. An article in the October 25, 1869 issue of the Carolina Messenger, a weekly newspaper also published by Bonitz, suggests that the Goldsboro’ Daily Rough Notes changed its name to the Goldsboro Daily Messenger before ceasing publication in 1869.
Bonitz appears to have been planning to publish a German language newspaper almost a year before Die Suedliche Post premiered. The November 24, 1868 edition of the Old North State of Salisbury, North Carolina, includes a letter from Bonitz addressed to “the German population of North and South Carolina.” He announces his intention to publish a newspaper “to encourage immigration and to aid in the building up, the Southern States, which must be done at all hazard.” Bonitz said that the newspaper would be “strictly Democratic in politics” and titled the German Weekly Messenger. He suggested that he would publish the first issue in February 1869 if he had secured 500 subscribers. Apparently, Bonitz still had not found sufficient subscribers by April 1, 1869, when he printed a prospectus in the Daily Messenger requesting “friends everywhere” to subscribe to one or more copies to be “forwarded to the old country, as arrangements have been made to distribute gratis in the rural districts of Switzerland and Germany.” He referred to the proposed newspaper as Die Nord Carolina Staats Zeitung. In July, several North Carolina newspapers reported that Bonitz planned to publish the first issue of his German language newspaper, by then titled Die Suedliche Post, in mid-August. However, the newspaper again failed to appear, and in early September a massive fire destroyed 33 buildings in Goldsboro’s business district, including that of Bonitz’s Carolina Messenger. The Newbern Journal of Commerce of New Bern, North Carolina, reported on September 7 that “most of the type, material, etc. was saved, though in a damaged condition.” The Messenger returned to publication about two weeks later, followed by the premier of Die Suedliche Post on October 1.
The Morning Star of Wilmington, North Carolina, heralded the arrival of Die Suedliche Post, noting in its October 10, 1869 edition that “Germans of Europe and the immigrants landing in New York may be able to read in their own language the true condition of things in the South.” The Morning Star added that Die Suedliche Post readers would be “disabused of many false impressions circulated to our injury by parties interested in diverting the stream of immigration to the Northwest.”
It’s unclear how long Die Suedliche Post remained in publication. Only three issues are known to survive today. All of them are from 1869. Bonitz continued to publish the Goldsboro Messenger in Goldsboro until 1887, when he moved to Wilmington, to become the editor and publisher of the Wilmington Messenger.