The Traveler… the loss of a first…

July 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I traveled today to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the means of The Pennsylvania Gazette of July 16, 1767. Within the issue I found the report blog-7-17-2017-william-pennabout the death of the first child ever born in Philadelphia. “At Kennet, in Chester County, the 5th Instant, died JOHN KEY, in the 85th Year of his Age, and the next Day was interred in the Burial Place belonging to the People called Quakers, in the Township, attended by a large Number of reputable People, his Neighbours, and Acquaintance, —- He was born in a Cave, long afterwards known by the Name of Penny-Pot, near Race-street, and WILLIAM PENN, our first Proprietor, gave him a Lot of Ground, as a Compliment on his being the first Child born in this City… His Constitution was very healthy till about 80, when he was seized with the Palsy, and continued weakly till his Death, —- About 6 Years ago he walked on Foot from Kennet to Philadelphia in one Day, which is near 30 Miles…”

He sounded like a very remarkable man.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… William Penn’s estate…

May 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Yesterday I journeyed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through The Pennsylvania Gazette dated May 14, 1767.  On the front page of  the “Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette” which is entirely taken up with advertisements is for sale “…The Manor of Pennsbury, in Bucks County, containing about 6000 acres of land…one of the most valuable tracts that is now for sale in America…” with various details. This was the home estate of William Penn, now being sold for Ann Penn.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… battle by Washington D.C. … a little Harmony…

September 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I journey to Boston, Massachusetts, by the way of the Boston Gazette dated September 12, 1814. There I found the headline “Escape of the British down the Potomac”. “The Intelligencer of the 7th inst. states, that from several of the gallant officers, under Com. Porter, and our other naval heroes, who were stationed at the White Houses, a few miles below Mt. Vernon, on the Virginia side, we learn that a very severe Blog-9-15-2014-Harmony-PAengagement commenced between the enemies armed vessels, and the battery stationed at the formed place, about 2 o’clock on Monday evening. The battle lasted for some time, and ended in the loss of about 12 killed, and 17 wounded on our side, principally sailors. The seamen distinguished themselves by their usual intrepidity and coolness, and the militia stood their ground with much firmness… About 4 o’clock on Monday evening, the contest commenced between them and the battery under the command of Capt. Perry,… We have not yet heard how it terminated; but there is no doubt but Perry has severely mauled the enemy, and upon the whole, that the vessels have been so severely handled, that he will not hastily venture up this river again…”.

Also in the issue is a large advertisement for “The Town of Harmony with all its Improvements, and about 9000 acres of Land adjoining — on which are Three Villages, in the tenure of George Rapp and Associates is Offered for Sale…”. This town is located in Butler County, Pennsylvania, and the advertisement provides a detailed description of the town. George Rapp was born in Germany and began his own preaching – breaking away from the Lutheran Church. His group was banned from meeting, so he moved to America to be able to have religious freedom. Harmony was one of the towns that he established.

~The Traveler

What got the juices flowing for Thomas Paine…

June 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The Pennsylvania Magazine” was one of only two American magazines which published during the years of the Revolutionary War, including a June, 1775 issue containing a great coverage of Battle of Bunker Hill and Washington’s appointment as Commander-In-Chief, and ending with the July, 1776 issue which included the Declaration of Independence.

The Pennsylvania Magazine

The Pennsylvania Magazine

For most of its 19 month life, which began in January, 1775, it was edited by the famed Thomas Paine, employed by the publisher Robert Aitken. Aitken was often frustrated by Paine’s procrastination in providing material, as mentioned in Isaiah Thomas’ “History of Printing in America”:

“…Aitken contracted with Paine to furnish, monthly, for this work, a certain quantity of original matter; but he often found it difficult to prevail on Paine to comply with his engagement…Aitken went to his lodgings & complained of his neglecting to fulfill his contract…insisted on Paine’s accompanying him & proceeding immediately to business & as the workmen were waiting for copy. He accordingly went home with Aitken & was soon seated at the table with the necessary apparatus, which always included a glass, and a decanter of brandy. Aitken observed, ‘he would never write without that.’ The first glass of brandy set him thinking; Aitken feared the second would disqualify him, or render him intractable; but it only illuminated his intellectual system; and when he had swallowed the third glass, he wrote with great rapidity, intelligence and precision; and his ideas appeared to flow faster than he could commit them to paper. What he penned from the inspiration of the brandy was perfectly fit for the press without any alternation or correction.”

Not found in history books…

April 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It is often the commentary on events in history, as found only in newspapers of the day, which provide a window onto the events not to be found in history books. Such is joy of browsing through old newspapers.

Blog-4-25-2014-CornwallisA great example is an eye-witness account of the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown as told in the November 13, 1781 issue of the “Pennsylvania Packet” of Philadelphia. found very inconspicuously on page 3 is: “Permit me to congratulate you on the success of the allied arms, the fall of the boast of Britain! the flower of its army…The allied army was drawn up in two straight lines, facing each other, leaving a space for the British column to pass. The commander in chief with his suite on the right of the American line; the count de Rochambeau opposite, on the left of the French. Lord Cornwallis pleading indisposition, the British were led by general O’Hara, conducted by general Lincoln, their colours cased, and they not allowed to beat a French or American march. The British officers in general behaved like boys who had been whipped at school; some bit their lips, some pouted, others cried…”. Only in a newspaper would this commentary be found. What a wonderful hobby!

Pennsylvania’s first newspapers…

December 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It was only in Boston where a newspaper came off a printing press prior to any in Pennsylvania.  It was 15 years after the “Boston News-Letter” of 1704 (not counting the one-issue run of Boston’s “Publick Occurrences Both Foreign & Domestick” in 1690) when, on December 22, 1719, Andrew Bradford began his “American Weekly Mercury” (see image) in Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania’s first newspaper. This weekly would last until 1746.

But certainly the most successful newspaper in the colony, if not in all of colonial America, was the “Pennsylvania Gazette” begun in December, 1728 by Samuel Keimer. Within a year it was purchased by Benjamin Franklin. As Oswald notes: “…Under Franklin’s guidance, there appeared for the first time a colonial newspaper produced by a man of education who was in addition a capable printer, a versatile writer, and energetic news gatherer and an enterprising & resourceful businessman. This combination had the inevitable result of placing the “Pennsylvania Gazette” in the lead, and it thereby established a model for others to follow.” The “Gazette” would make Franklin a wealthy man and his name appeared on the imprint through 1765.

Pennsylvania has the distinction of having America’s first daily newspaper, the “Pennsylvania Evening Post & Daily Advertiser“, which started publication in 1775 as a tri-weekly and became a daily on May 30, 1783.

The Traveler… the frigate Huzza… struck by lighting!

July 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In today’s travels, I found the July 25, 1811 issue of the Middlesex Gazette from Middletown, Connecticut was carrying a lengthy article from Thomas Pickering to the People of the United States pertaining to Commodore Roger’s actions in the “Little Belt” incident.

There is also a report of the DIVING BELL which had just located the British frigate Huzza which had sunk during the Revolutionary war period. The frigate had 28 guns and was heading to Boston with money to pay the British troops when it struck a rock and sunk.

A death notice is also mentioned for Richard Penn, Esq., former governor of Pennsylvania. He was also the grandson of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.

Also within is a report from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, of a miraculous event. A boy was struck by lightning, which went through him and even instantly killed the horse he was riding. The boy escaped with but a singe behind his ear and his side somewhat scorched and blistered. He managed to make it the rest of the way to his home (less than a mile) on his hands and knees, and recollects nothing whatever of the circumstances.

~The Traveler

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… May 25, 1861

May 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We continue our weekly feature of reflecting upon the appropriate 150 year old issue of “Harper’s Weekly” from the perspective of a subscriber in 1861:

Today’s issue, dated May 25, 1861, has the entire front page taken up with a a very dramatic fire at Willard’s Hotel in the nation’s capital, showing the New York Fire Zouaves working feverishly to t out the blaze. One firemen is being held by his legs as he is suspended upside down with a fire hose!

Other prints inside deal more with the war, including: “Camp Cameron…” from Washington, D.C., a nice print of “Evening  Parade at Fort Pickens…” which provides a nice overview of the fort. Another print shows troops leaving from Dubuque, Iowa, aboard two of the large paddle wheeler boats which ply the Mississippi. The interior of the rotunda of the Capitol in Washington shows a Mass. regiment resting there, with support braces for the construction work going on evident. I understand the new dome is in the early stages of completion.

A full page print shows: “The  79th Regiment (Highlanders) ” of the New York Militia marching down the street in kilts! What a sight! And there is also an impressive full page print of “Camp Scott, York, Pennsylvania” showing many troops encamped there.

Yet another page has a map of the United States showing the strategic routes in the interior of the country. I always look forward to maps concerning the war as they provide a perspective which makes the battle strategies in the various parts of the country more understandable.

How things have changed…

May 3, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

The John Scopes trial of 1925, called the “monkey trial” for his teaching of evolution in the classroom against Tennessee’s anti-evolution law, drew national attention, particularly with two notable attorneys on the case: William Jennings Bryan and Charles Darrow.

The “Bethlehem Globe” newspaper from Pennsylvania, July 10, 1925, reported the opening of the case with the front page heading: “Evolution Trial Opened By Prayer; Judge Has A Bible”. Fast forwarding some 85 years one would wonder if a trial with such religious over-tones would have been permitted to open in such a way. For better of for worse, it was a different era. It is a headline unlikely to be seen today.