Front page 1799

On June 18, 2019, LNP will celebrate its 225th anniversary. The earliest newspaper to which today’s LNP traces its roots was the Lancaster Journal, first published on June 18, 1794, by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks from a news office located in a tavern building at the King Street site of the current LNP building.

To celebrate 225 years of Lancaster newspapers, we present this series of 52 front pages from the history of the newspapers which would eventually become LNP. 

Buying and selling

As was typical for the time, much of this front page from 1799 is taken up with what would later be considered classified advertising. Sheriff sales, private real estate deals, job offerings, estate sales, homes for lease – even the sale of “elegant family Bibles” – were all listed on the front page of the local newspaper. (Those Bibles, by the way, were being sold for $10 each, which works out to $205.60 by today’s standards.)

Foreign news

Despite being a local newspaper, the Lancaster Journal did report news from around the world. A section of this page titled “Foreign Intelligence” offers brief reports from Europe, describing the bloodshed in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Coalition Wars of that era. Such news, relayed by personal letters, took a long time to reach Lancaster – the reports in this February issue are dated the previous November. To modern readers, seeing the exploits of Napoleon Bonaparte detailed as news in the Lancaster paper, alongside real estate listings, might seem bizarre. But the newspaper was the only way for such information to reach county residents in an era that predated not only radio and television, but even the telegraph.

A change at the top

The top portion of a newspaper’s front page that contains the name of the publication is referred to as the “flag” or “nameplate,” and this issue features the second version of the Lancaster Journal flag. Over the years, Lancaster County newspaper flags ran the gamut from clean, simple typefaces to swirling masses of gothic script, but this example, with its ornate decorations and Fraktur-esque calligraphic flourishes, is arguably the most elaborate.

The 1790s in Lancaster

The Lancaster Journal, first published in June 1794, is the earliest newspaper to which the current LNP traces its lineage. Its news office was at the Euclid’s Head tavern on West King Street, at the site of the present LNP building. The Lancaster Journal was joined by another weekly newspaper, the Intelligencer and Weekly Advertiser in 1799, the same year Lancaster became capital of Pennsylvania, an honor the city held until 1812.