Front page - 1884

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.

Graduation day

In 2019, the average high school graduating class can number hundreds of students. It stands to reason then, that in 1884, the Daily New Era saw fit to dedicate the entire front page to the 43 high school students graduating from area schools. The School District of Lancaster was formed in 1836, making it the second oldest school district in the state, behind the School District of Philadelphia, which began in 1818.

The in-depth account of the graduation ceremony goes to show how the tradition has both changed and stayed the same over the past 135 years. For starters, family and friends of graduates can be thankful that the number of speakers has diminished greatly over time. For this ceremony, no less than 26 speakers gave speeches, recited poems and read personal essays. Some, such as Anna Kreider’s essay “The Love of Excitement,” seems to fall in line with the sort of message still given to students today: Young people are naturally excited to investigate the world after high school, and that excitement will hopefully never be diminished. At the end of Kreider’s speech, “the fair essayist ‘brought down the house’ when she said that base ball, once called ‘the national game,’ would soon be called ‘the national nuisance.’"

Other essays and speeches seemed to have nothing to do with the act of graduating. The topics of Abraham Lincoln, Mary, Queen of Scots and the importance of cultivating trees were all given ample time on the dais. One of the “new features” of the program was a “class prophecy” provided by local oracles. Though not much detail is given, the account includes that the consulted mystics predicted pleasantness and an “honored future” for all 43 students. The largest space of the feature by far is given to A. Wayne Bitner, who predicted where each of his fellow students would end up in the years to come. Some highlights:

-John Mercer, one of many “champion bass voices” who occasionally “drops into poetry” who Bitner predicts will one day be Lord High Chancellor of England.

-Walter Peters, dubbed a “fancy farmer.” “He will be known far and wide as one who introduces all new-fangled notions, such as windmill pumps and expensive breeds of stock.”

-Arthur Boardman, named the “class Beau Brommel (sp),” after the English fashion icon of the 19th century. “He is a good fellow and a charming druggist, whose investigations with the microscope will attract attention.”

Though no mention is made of the length of the ceremony, the New Era had no hesitation in proclaiming that the ceremony was the best in Lancaster’s history. While that fact may or may not be true, it can be said that no recent high school graduation garnered this much attention on the front page of the newspaper.

Sources: LNP archives; www.lancaster.k12.pa.us/who-we-are/