front page 2006

On June 18, 2019, LNP celebrated 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. 

Schoolhouse horror

In the world of newspaper design, it is a closely followed rule that enormous, page-filling headlines are not to be used lightly, and should only appear for truly momentous events.

The moon landing.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Such a headline was used in the Oct. 3, 2006, edition of the Intelligencer Journal to announce a local story – the horrific incident the day before at West Nickel Mines School, in which a gunman invaded an Amish schoolhouse and proceeded to slaughter its occupants.

Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, barricaded himself inside the Bart Township school on a sunny Monday morning and then dismissed the boys and tied up the girls. He then began shooting the girls execution-style. Three were killed immediately, and seven others were injured before Roberts turned the gun on himself as police stormed the one-room school. Two of the injured girls later died of their wounds.

All school shootings are horrific, but the circumstances of this one – a one-room schoolhouse filled with Plain-sect children, seemingly a window into a simpler past – magnified the horror and drew massive national attention. Media crews from Los Angeles, New York, London and other cities descended on the tiny community and joined local reporters in the quest to answer the biggest questions: “Why?” and “What now?”

Roberts was a truck driver and family man, the home-schooled son of a police officer. He was apparently tortured by the loss of an infant daughter nine years before the shooting, and also confessed to his wife that he had molested two young relatives 20 years earlier, when he was 12.

Emails, letters and donations poured in from all over the world, as people tried to reconcile the image of bucolic Amish country with the modern terror of mass shootings. Just as prominent as the shooting in the national coverage was the aftermath, in which the Amish victims’ families famously forgave the shooter and his family.

Forgiveness notwithstanding, the Nickel Mines shooting hovered in the local public consciousness for years after. The affected families and their neighbors, when they speak of it at all, refer to it simply as “the happening.” The school itself was quickly demolished, and today the place where it stood is an empty pasture.