It was a surprise when I opened an 1884 issue of the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat“ to find a print of Pat Garrett, the noted sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, who: “…did the world a great service in ridding it of Billy the Kid, the most cold-blooded and cruel desperado of modern times…” as the article notes. Never before have I seen a print of Garrett in any periodical. Is anyone aware of an earlier print, or any print of him from any date?
This issue is from over 3 years after he killed Billy the Kid, his likeness appearing in the newspaper because he attended a convention of cattlemen held in St. Louis at this time.
The April 8, 1882 issue of the “Garfield Banner” from Tin Cup, Colorado, has an interesting article on the front page reading: “Jesse James has been killed again. This time a member of the gang named Bob Ford, a cousin of Jesse, is the man who killed him. Ford had been with Jesse about a week seeking an opportunity to kill him,and finally shot him in the back of the head, the ball coming out over his left eye.”
They should have published why the first time he was killed it didn’t work.
An issue of “The Gunnison Advertiser” from Colorado, 1882, notes that it is: “Published Semi-Occasionally…”. Just what does this mean? If “occasionally” means it is not on any set schedule–printed at the whim of the publisher–how much more defining is “semi-occasionally”?
Just curious. Any ideas?
Collector interest in the personal effects of the famous and infamous is certainly strong, with news noting auctions of noted personalities reporting surprising high bids.
This is not a recent phenomena. The “St. Louis Globe-Democrat” of April 11, 1882, contains a front page report headed: “Jesse James Relics” which reports on an auction of household goods at the home of the infamous bandit who was killed just 8 days prior. Interest in his personal effects was high, with the report noting in part: “…The crowd began assembling at noon…several thousand people had gathered about the house. The goods sold were of little or not value, yet a large sum of money was realized. Six plain cane-bottom chairs sold for $2 each, and the one on which the outlaw was standing when he received the fatal bullet sold for $5…an old revolver, $17; washstand, $11…The entire lot would not, only for the name, be worth $10, but nearly $200 was realized…”.
Can you image what these Jesse James belongings would sell for today? A revolver (the one noted above?) owned by Jesse James was in a Heritage auction in 2013 & was expected to bring $1.6 million. It did not sell.
The April 27, 1881 issue of the rare “Elk Mountain Pilot” from the ghost town of Irwin, Colorado, has 3 interesting and unusual tidbits concerning the recent death of the noted outlaw, Jesse James: “Jesse James has climbed the golden stairs, (?) to interview those he has sent before.” and: “The papers throughout the country are publishing the picture of Jesse James and no two of them are alike.” as well as: “We have not heard of any one taking up a subscription to erect a monument to the memory of Jesse James.” Yet another tidbit mentions the death of Charles Darwin – making these mentions an interesting tandem.
A few weeks ago we had some interesting comments on what collectors thought was the most historic 20th century newspaper report. Let’s try the same with the 19th century. But given the tremendous diversity of events from 1801 thru 1900 I’m going to break the century into three parts: pre-Civil War; the Civil War; and post-Civil War. Let’s work our way backwards and discuss the post-Civil War era first.
There are many ways to approach “most historic”. My approach will be the most life-altering event with emphasis on “event”. One could argue that the second Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the world but it cannot be pinned down to a single date or event.
Several items come to mind: the first successful Atlantic cable in 1866 was a major step in causing the world to be much smaller–a trend which continues to this day; the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the United States was a major step in the westward expansion & settlement of the United States which changed the country in many ways; and then there is the Battle of Wounded Knee which was the last battle in the American Indian Wars and the official end of the Old West. Not to be omitted would be the invention of the automobile by gentlemen in Germany in 1889.
I’m going to go with the completion of the transcontinental railroad. In thinking of the multitude of events which played off this event and how it changed the fabric of America (pardon the ethnocentrism) I’ll vote for it as the most historic event of the 19th century post-Civil War era.
What are your thoughts?
*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at email@example.com.
Few eras of American history have been romanticized as the Post-Civil War 19th Century. For those who grew up in the 1950’s & 1960’s, television had more than its fair share of Western-themed shows. And the “Wild West” was a common feature on the silver screen as well.
Not only can one capture a flavor of that time when the American frontier was pushing further West, but actual historical events can be read as captured in newspapers of the day, when the events happened. This is the intrigue of collecting rare and historic newspapers.
From the moment the Civil War ended, the national focus was on the lands west of the Mississippi. It was common to find reports, even in newspapers from the big cities of the East, of skirmishes with Indians on the Great Plains and elsewhere. The Custer Massacre perhaps ranking as the most notable, but reports can be found on the Battle of Wounded Knee, Captain Jack and the Modoc Indian War, reports of Geronimo, Sitting Bull, the Apaches and others. Newspapers are a great resource for those wishing to explore/collect Native American history.
And what about Outlaws & Gunfights? Stage coach robbery reports are not an uncommonly found in newspapers from the 1870’s and 1880’s, and train robberies and bank robberies could be found scattered throughout newspapers of this period as well. It was a time when some of the more famous—and infamous–names of American history could be found in newspapers, including Jesse James and his gang, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp (yes, there are newspaper reports of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral), the Dalton Gang, Younger brothers, Robert Ford, Buffalo Bill, Jim Bridger, Vasquez, Doc Holliday, Kit Carson, Lizzie Borden, and on and on. Although “Jack the Ripper” was a name from London crime history his deeds made headlines on this side of the Atlantic as well. Reports of their deeds are not fictionalized; they are the events as reported in newspaper accounts of the day.
Some the famous towns of the Old West had their own newspapers and can be purchased for anyone’s collection, including titles from Tombstone, Leavenworth, Deadwood, Tucson, Reno, San Francisco, Leadville, Carson City, Denver, Salt Lake City, and many more.
Although crime reports were common, there is so much more in newspapers from this era. Politics certainly found their way into newspapers on a daily basis. Ulysses S. Grant and James Garfield were perhaps the most notable Presidents of the era, and reports on the latter’s assassination are commonly found. Science and innovation were the focus of the famous title “Scientific American” which began in 1845 and still publishes today. Within its pages were many reports on Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and their inventive work, plus illustrations of the creations of many of the devices and improvements we still enjoy today. Many were first unveiled in Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition of 1876 and the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.
It was a time when Brigham Young and the Mormons were venturing west, ultimately to settle in the Salt Lake City Valley. P.T. Barnum was making news with his circus, and Frederick Douglass & Booker T. Washington were coming to national prominence as spokesmen for the newly emancipated slaves. The Chicago Fire & the Johnstown Flood were but two disasters which changed the American landscape and graphic accounts were more brutal in the 19th century then they are today. As is the case with present-day newspapers, sporting reports were typically found, with baseball, football, tennis and golf gaining widespread popularity as diversions for not just the wealthy but for everyone.
As you see the post-Civil War era was very rich in history. And I only touched on a few of the highlights. Newspapers of the era reported not just the events & names we know of through history books, but captured the mundane events of daily existence which provide a fascinating flavor of life in America when the wealth & prestige of the United States was emerging upon the world landscape. A world awaits the collector who delves into this fascinating era of American history.
Few eras in the broad range of American history have the appeal as that of the “Wild West“, a romanticized period following the end of the Civil War thru the end of the 19th century. It was a time when America was healing from the wounds of war and the adventurous were pushing the American boundary further West. It was the 1849 California Gold Rush which sparked interest. Now with the war over, new adventures were sought by many.
Those of the Baby Boom generation grew up on western movies and cowboy & Indian television shows. Even Disney’s hugely popular Mickey Mouse Club and the newly minted Disneyland had the Wild West as a popular theme. What we remember are battles with Native Americans, saloon brawls, gunfights, and a multitude of other events which seem to define the era. And to the delight of collectors, all are found in newspapers from the Old West.
Geographically our “Old West” definition would be any from west of the Mississippi. Some 25 years ago we were fortunate enough to purchase a sizable collection of Old West newspapers which were deaccessioned from the Bancroft Library, including many titles which existed only there, then only in our inventory. With some regret many have long since sold out, but most remain available.
Ways of collecting this era are many. Some might pursue one of as many different titles as are available. Content is a lesser concern; they just want one of everything. Some might collect one from every state from before the 20th century. Many states would be easily found but others can be challenging, particularly Arizona, New Mexico & perhaps Idaho. Others might be more specific and collect only titles from before statehood, typically known as “territorial newspapers” (note: Arizona & New Mexico joined the Union in 1912 so early 20th century issues are “territorial”). Again, many can be easily found while others are more of a challenge. California became a state in 1850 (interesting how quickly Congress can act when a pile of gold is found in the backyard) and the number of titles which existed in the Golden State before 1850 were very few. For the best of collections, finding an early issue of the first newspaper to publish in each state can be a special challenge. But of course this is the fun of collecting.
Then there is a larger segment of collectors who pursue content, whether it be the iconic events of the Old West such as Custer‘s Massacre, Killing of Jesse James, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, capture of Sitting Bull, or just mundane reports of iconic events such as skirmishes with Indians, barroom brawls, bank & railroad robberies, and general reports of lawlessness. Yes, they are all found in Western newspapers of the day, and the search can be exciting.
As a subset of an Old West collection is Mormon content, as the story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is part & parcel of the westward expansion. Many titles from Salt Lake City are available and contain a wealth of Mormon content from shortly after their settlement in Utah. Another subset might be popular Western towns. Yes, 19th century newspapers are available from Tombstone, Sacramento, Deadwood City, Tucson, Albuquerque, San Francisco, Laramie, Reno, Los Angeles, San Diego, Leavenworth, and on and on. Of special intrigue is finding newspapers from ghost towns. Bodie, California is a great example of a once booming mining town which is currently a California State Park and popular ghost town attraction. Many of our titles from Northern California are from towns which are today a fraction of their size in the 19th century.
The world of Old West collecting is endless, and to the surprise of many prices for most newspapers of the era are unexpectedly low. Explore this interesting era of American history and discover a new facet of collecting!
We have many issues of the “Weekly Galt Gazette“, California, in our Old West inventory, but perhaps few of our collectors know this city–current population of some 23,000, in Sacramento County–had its start in the California Gold Rush.
In 1850, a group of farmers settled around the banks of a small stream, Dry Creek, close to Galt. Their plans were to grow beef and dairy products. In the year 1869, the town of Galt was laid out by the Western Pacific Railroad Company. The name Galt was given at the request of John McFarland, a local rancher, in honor of his home town in Canada. It was previously called Dry Creek Township after the stream by which they settled. By 1869, the community consisted of blacksmiths, dairymen and cattle ranchers. Raising cattle was the main occupation.
Galt was built almost entirely of wooden structures making fires the biggest problem for the town. However, many of the old original homes are still standing, in excellent preservation, around town.
In 1880, Galt had two general merchandise stores, one variety store, one hotel, one harness shop, two blacksmith shops, two wagon and carriage manufacture and repair shops, one wood yard, one livery stable, two barber shops, two shoe stores, two saloons, one meat market, one barely mill, Wells Fargo & Co.’s Express Office with three physicians and one attorney-at-law in town.
By the turn of the century, cattle raising and dairying gradually decreased and agriculture took over. The principal grain was wheat.
(credit: City of Galt)
Many of the newspapers held in our “Old West” category have a look very similar to most newspapers of the day, but have histories which tell an interesting story of the Old West. The newspapers from these towns offer a window into daily life and are much more interesting when the story of the town is known. From time to time we will provide a glimpse into the past of some of the towns in our Old West inventory.
We offer many issues of the “Gunnison Daily Review” from the early 1880’s. It was named for John W. Gunnison who first explored the area looking for a transcontinental railroad route, even though he only stayed in the town for 3 days of his entire life.
Gunnison first began to boom in the 1870’s along with the rush of mining activity in Colorado. The Ute Indians had been forced out of the area and many ranchers, traders and miners began to move in. Gunnison became the official seat of Gunnison County on May 22, 1877. In 1880 the railroad arrived, welcomed by not only miners but by the ranchers and farmers as well.
Gunnison saw one of the quickest boom and bust cycles ever as the mines and railroads came to town in the 1880s along with all the normal business increases it created. But, by 1883 a mining bust had come to town and half of the population departed. It seems the precious ore veins that were discovered turned out to be shallow and low producing. It was also at this time when the Earps, of Tombstone, and Texas Jack set up camp on the outskirts of Gunnison. Eventually, Wyatt took over a faro game (gambling card game) at a local saloon.
Today Gunnison is the home of some 5500 residents.
(credit: Wikipedia & the Gunnison Chamber of Commerce)